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Take it in Stride with Patience, or Die

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Dave Matthes Author Interview

The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down explores the lives of three “downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living” people as they battle with their demons while leaning on one another. What were some of the stand out moments for you when writing this story?

Stand out moments… I would have to say some of the quieter, more introspective scenes in which the three main characters collide with from time to time. These moments of theirs are aimed to define them or break them entirely, or both. Particularly, some scenarios in which a resolution is expected to eventually come to fruition, but never does, because many times in life that is what happens. Or a resolution won’t be surmised for an unfathomably long time, and during those long stretches we can either take it in stride with patience, or die.

Once again you are able to amaze me with some realistically gritty characters. Where does the seed for a character start and what is your process for developing them through the story?

In most cases, any character I write, whether he or she is a major character or just an ornament on a mantle in the background, I begin with myself… as I’m sure most writers do. But where the emotion comes from, generally when I’m alone at night after a really, truly bad day at work. The birth of a character’s emotions can also come from the moments immediately following a delicious meal I’ve just enjoyed. So I can’t really say there’s one single place it all comes from. Almost every character I write, they start out as one type, and by the end of the book they become something entirely unintended, and not just because of the story. But because somewhere during the months of which the writing takes place, I think that a part of me sometimes changes depending on what’s going on in my own life, and sometimes… not always- but sometimes that bleeds out onto the page.

The title for this book is interesting. What was the inspiration for the title, and why did you choose a blank cover?

The cover was once full of color and pretty chaotic. But once I finished the first draft and really took a step back to look at everything, I felt a certain pull towards The Beatles’ White Album. And the theme of purity. In the book, the purity of the human soul is constantly at stake, whether it was lost long ago and there might be a chance to regain a sliver of it, or it’s literally on the brink of total collapse. How that theme is encompassed by all of the characters and where it steers them through their adventures, which can take them in very random directions, or keep them on a steady “forward” path, was a big part of why I chose the cover to be what it was. In a way, it serves as a figurative blank slate, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. The title, on the other hand, went through probably the most changes I’ve ever shifted through while writing a book. The title began as something very simple, I can’t remember exactly but it was very one or two-worded. Boring. And didn’t at all convey anything. The title that I landed on at the very end, I feel, paints a picture of emotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with any physical scene of the book, and for everyone I think it will be different. But for me, when I read the title, I picture a very, incredible quiet night. Like taking a deep breath, and being engulfed by absolute relief that the day is over with.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book I’m currently working on is another story involving Arlo Smith, of The Mire Man Trilogy. The book takes place between the events of Book II and Book III, during his mid-twenties, where he meets a person who introduces him to really good jazz, and a very particular kind of nightlife away from home, when “home” starts to sometimes feel like a prison. It’s a sort of a love-letter to Kerouac’s “On the Road”. It’s tentatively titled “Electric Gypsies Beneath the Whiskey Tree”, and I hope to have it finished by next year some time.

Author Links: GoodReadsFacebookTwitter | Website

Boots and Bonnets Inn, an isolated motel of questionable quality positioned just outside Moab, Utah, is home and haven to a handful of self-proclaimed societal outcasts who for better, worse, or much worse, have found their way here just in time to live out the rest of their lives. Among these longstayers is Wendel Trope, a slightly overweight almost-nihilist who survives within this little realm of “contentedness” by exercising his right to medicinal and alcoholic experimentation, while battling ruthless anxiety attacks and the “you owe me for last week’s stay” death stares of Jerry, the hotel owner. Holding his proverbial hand in an off-kilter, symbiotic friendship through this chapter of his life is Fag Bush Betty, the motel’s infamous “anything goes” prostitute, who may have more to her history than simply a catalytic reason to defile her own spirituality. And anchoring Betty, is Lotus, a young girl who harbors a shattered past and an as-of-yet untainted future that will inevitably bring her to the doorstep of Moab’s most unforgiving roadside motel. “THE SOUNDS FROM THE HILLS GO AWAY WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN” is a story without direction, without hope, and most importantly without a beginning or an end. It is simply an examination of the present moment during a fragment of time in the lives of several of what society considers downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living, and expendable, taking place in a corner of the world most only have fleeting nightmares about.

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Through the Planes of Existence

Alan Felyk Author Interview

Alan Felyk Author Interview

Damaged Beyond All Recognition follows a man who is unwilling to accept an afterlife that provides nothing more than eternal self-awareness. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this novel?

I finally got around to reading The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut just before I started my novel. I was blown away by Vonnegut’s masterful handling of such a complicated story. It was the type of book that I had always wanted to write. So, I thought I would give it a try and see what would happen. I had a short story idea about a fractured afterlife, and I took it from there.

I enjoyed reading about your unique take on God and how the Creator is dependent upon others. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing about this topic?

I always found it interesting that humans have such wide-ranging views about God. Some think that God controls our every action while others think He doesn’t even exist. We read about how God created man in His own image, but I haven’t run across too many who see him as another guy. What if He just has the necessary job experience that would come from living countless lives through the Planes of Existence?

I loved Paul and Maggie Mae’s relationship and admired their dedication to one another. Did their relationship develop organically while writing or was it planned?

That relationship is based on a college romance that I had with the real-life Maggie Mae. She is the subject of a chapter (“There’s A Little Black Spot On The Fun Today”) in my first book, Damaged Right Out Of The Box, a humorous and wistful autobiography of sorts. The description of how Paul and Maggie Mae met and how their relationship flowered tracks what really happened. And it was my girlfriend’s career drive that prompted me to walk away. I couldn’t see myself playing second fiddle at the time.

But now I regret what happened and how it happened. So, I thought I would extrapolate the what-if. What if Paul and Maggie Mae said goodbye, but not a forever goodbye? What if he would wait for her while she proved to herself that she could be all that she could be?

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on the sequel to Damaged Beyond All Recognition. It’s entitled Damaged And No Longer Under Warranty, and it continues the story of whether the Paraverse was really the answer to preserving eternity. I hope to have it out in about 18 months or less.

Author Links: GoodreadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Damaged Beyond All Recognition (Infinity's Trinity Book 1) by [Felyk, Alan]Extending the literary traditions of Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams …

Paul Tomenko is no stranger to the improbable. He became a magazine sweepstakes winner and celebrated counterculture writer by age 19. Now, after reaching for a can of Chef Boy-ar-dee spaghetti and meatballs, he’s traveling to and from God’s library somewhere outside the Universe to prevent the end of eternity.

Because of a DNA flaw, humanity no longer can ascend through the Planes of Existence after they die. They can’t access memories from countless past lives in previous versions of the Universe or acquire new recollections. That means no one will have the needed expertise to replace God when He dies. And, to complicate matters, Paul must enlist the help of his two lovers–Maggie Mae Monahan and Allie Briarsworth–because of their unique abilities. But the trio discovers the preservation of forevermore can turn someone’s soul inside out. Literally.

The novel chronicles the life of an ordinary man under extraordinary circumstances. Paul is unwilling to accept a broken Afterlife that provides nothing more than eternal self-awareness. He is also reluctant to choose between Maggie Mae, a brilliant geneticist who has the uncanny ability to “connect the dots,” and Allie, a novelist who inexplicably senses past and future events in the cosmos. The unexpected is to be expected from an unusual cast of supporting characters: Cher the Gatekeeper and Katharine Ross the Librarian, figments patterned after two celebrities for whom Paul has lusted; Gronk and Grita, two “resurrected” six-year-old neo-Neanderthals who are the most intelligent humans on Earth; Tsutomu Yamaguchi, an innovative bioengineer named after a Japanese man who survived nuclear bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and Dr. Peter Lexington Townshend, the head of a genetics laboratory that already has prevented the Russians from stripping politicians in Washington, D.C., of all their memories.

Be prepared for a book that examines our metaphysical questions with a mixture of mind-bending possibilities, laughter, and tears.

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Popcorn Thriller

Dylan Fairchild Author Interview

Dylan Fairchild Author Interview

My Name is Nelson is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, satire, and political thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I’d say it just happened. I started with a simple premise – an unstoppable weapon – and just went wherever the story took me. I have to admit I’ve been a little surprised by how focused readers have been on genre, (specifically, is a thriller supposed to be funny) because in my opinion, the style of the book really isn’t all that unique. Much like other satirical military works like Catch-22, MASH, and Doctor Strangelove, at various times it’s funny, poignant, romantic, absurd, heartbreaking, or action-packed.

The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Thank you for the compliment. It’s definitely hard to choose, because I’m extremely proud of all the characters. The socially dysfunctional mad scientist, the dejected, hard-drinking exotic dancer, the physics prodigy and her navy officer partner, the “jagoff” of a boss, the clever First Lady, the F.B.I. agents, the fighter pilots, the small-town sheriff…

The book is dedicated to all the men and women who work so hard to defend our nation, so there’s quite a few characters in law enforcement and the military. Ultimately, if I had to choose one, I really enjoyed writing the repartee between National Security Advisor Chet Addington and President MacIntyre. And Chet Addington gave us the book’s provocative subtitle!

What was your initial idea behind this story and how did that develop as you were writing?

I guess the idea was twofold. First, I had already written some very serious, intensely-researched novels, and I wanted to let my hair down and have some fun. I wanted to write a page-turning, popcorn thriller about politicians, a mad scientist, and an unstoppable weapon. Secondly, I started with the assumption that it’s impossible to write a modern page-turner without strippers. (Just kidding. Maybe.)

As the novel progressed, I found myself lurching into some weighty issues. Childhood trauma. Wealth inequality. Racial strife. The weight of the presidency. Particle physics. Broken lives renewed. Ultimately, I think there’s quite a bit packed into 222 pages.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I genuinely don’t know. We’re clearly well-positioned for a sequel to Nelson, so we’ll see. I’ve written quite a lot over these last two years, so I may just enjoy some well-deserved vacation time.

The audiobook for Nelson should be available this summer, however. To say I’m excited about the narrator would be a huge understatement. I never dreamt one guy could single-handedly do all the voices this novel requires, (not to mention the singing) but I think I’m about to be proven wrong.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

My Name is Nelson: Pretty Much the Best Novel Ever by [Fairchild, Dylan]From The Indie View: “A brilliant and unique novel…in terms of sheer storytelling mastery, it’s one of the best books we’ve seen in a while. We give ‘My Name Is Nelson’ five-plus stars and look forward to an equally well-written sequel…it’s a tremendously entertaining storyline with rich characterization and cinematic action scenes. It’s safe to say the author’s crafted a potential bestseller — and, possibly, a hit movie.” (Don Sloan)

President Andrew MacIntyre was having a pretty good first year in the Oval Office. Suddenly, during what should have been a peaceful Christmas season, he’s facing one of the worst national security crises in American history. And it’s being masterminded out of a sleazy, New Mexico strip joint? What the hell?

Is this a political thriller? Or is it science fiction? A zany comedy? Perhaps it’s a love story. Whatever it is, it’s a riveting page-turner with a little sex appeal, and a lot of laughs. If “Doctor Strangelove” can find the humor in nuclear war, then surely there’s a little bit of laughter lurking in unmanned aviation, as well as some serious, heartfelt moments.

It’s little wonder White House National Security Advisor Chet Addington* said this was, “Pretty much the best novel ever.” **

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Cruel, Ironic and Hilarious

Jason Phillips Author Interview

Jason Roger Phillips Author Interview

The Ice Factory follows hurricane victims as one struggles to get the only ice factory working again. The premise seems simple, but what ensues is a fun and engaging story. What was your inspiration for this story?

They say fact is stranger than fiction, the book is actually inspired by a true story, which was cruel, ironic and hilarious. I started writing after watching a documentary about a caribbean hurricane, which seemed a perfect metaphor for personal upheaval and survival.

I loved reading the differences and similarities between the way Joy and Audrey viewed the world. What were some themes you wanted to capture when writing their characters?

Joy represented old fashioned decency & dignity (values which i remember from the caribbean, especially of my grandparent’s generation).
Audrey shared the same values at heart, but surrendered her heart to a husband who slowly eroded those values over thirty years. just when all seems lost, with a little encouragement from those who saw the best in her, in rebuilding the ice factory audrey was able to rebuild herself.

The Ice Factory is your debut novel. What were some things you wanted to accomplish as a writer in this book, and what were some lessons learned?

I really had no expectations other than bringing out all the colourful eccentricity of caribbean characters, and seeing where that would lead. My characters became so vivid that I couldn’t wait to see what they would do next, and all I had to do was type what they revealed. The publishing experience, however, was a steep learning curve, the biggest lesson… never submit a final draft until you’re absolutely certain it’s FINAL, and confident enough to let go completely. There’s nothing worse than discovering a mistake after the book is published.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on an Australian epic set in the nullarbor desert, again inspired by a true story. The working title is ‘terra nulla’, which I hope to publish in 2018… fingers crossed!

Author Links: Website | Amazon

The Ice Factory by [Phillips, Jason Roger]When Audrey woke up on the kitchen floor, she didn’t expect to find herself in the news. But there she was, for all the wrong reasons, and now it seemed all of Trinidad & Tobago was laughing at her. By divine intervention, her path leads to the neighbouring island of Grenada – once a jewel of the Caribbean, the tiny nation faces its darkest hour in the aftermath of Hurricane Edna. The natives are restless: having no electricity, no homes, plenty of heat and no ice for their grog. Audrey is about to face the biggest challenge of her life, as the new owner of the Ice Factory.

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Literary Titan Book Awards May 2018

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

Don't Call Me Chip by [O'Donnell, Neil]A Game of Life by [Musewald, Anna]Descendent Darkness: Book Three: Redemption by [Macready, A.J.]

Stillness of Time (Seeker of Time Book 2) by [Buckler, J.M.]Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries by [Anastasiou, Mel]My Name is Nelson: Pretty Much the Best Novel Ever by [Fairchild, Dylan]

Returning Souls by [Colombo, Ernestine B.]Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul: A Conversation with a Touch of Class: Volume 1 by [Crawford, Keeshawn C.]The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birthing a Hero by [Brenner, Dawnette N.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Masks by [Restokian, Nataly]Beyond the Code by [Barthel, Kelsey Rae]

YEGman by [Lavery, Konn]The Ice Factory by [Phillips, Jason Roger]

In Darkness, There is Still Light (Wheeler Book 2) by [Zalesky, Sara Butler]Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us by [Elliston M.A.T, Sarah H.]

Fire in the Heart by [Mooney, Lesley J]

The Ghetto Blues by [Brooks, Tammy Campbell ]Man with the Sand Dollar Face by [CassanoLochman, Sharon]

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

 

Damaged Beyond All Recognition

Damaged Beyond All Recognition (Infinity's Trinity Book 1) by [Felyk, Alan]

No one has seen God’s library–or have they? According to Paul Tomenko, actress Katharine Ross is hanging out there. When he is chosen by God to visit his heavenly library and, in essence, save humankind, Paul obliges. Following his brush with death as a result of a car accident, Paul is matched by fate with the woman who almost killed him thus changing the entire course of his life. Author Alan Felyk’s Damaged Beyond All Recognition details the exceptional journey of Paul, the two true loves of his life, and their combined impact upon the universe.

Paul Tomenko is a truly fascinating character. From the trials and tribulations of his youth to his eventual discovery of his love for Maggie Mae and his work for the Creator himself, Paul is strangely relatable. I found myself cheering him on as his writing career reached extraordinary heights and grieving with him through his numerous losses.

Allie, Paul’s second first love as it were, is likely my favorite of the three main characters in Felyk’s work. It is virtually impossible to imagine a young woman so innocent and simultaneously capable of unknowingly holding the answers to the world’s most pressing dilemma. As Allie begins her writing career in earnest and essentially outwrites and outsells Paul, she maintains her selflessness and an unwavering loyalty to Paul. Her devotion to a man she isn’t sure she will ever have is stunning.

Not being a fan of science fiction, I fully expected to lose interest in the most detailed sections of text. Felyk, however, is a master at communicating the most intricate and advanced concepts. I found myself as engrossed in Paul’s visits to God’s library as I was in his relationship with Maggie Mae which he fought so hard to maintain through decades of trials.

I was rather amazed at Felyk’s take on God. The Creator is ultimately dependent upon others, and this mystified me as I read. The notion that Paul is able to help God was a difficult one to get used to. Once I let the idea settle in, I became increasingly fascinated with God’s helplessness. Felyk brings a certain level of vulnerability to God–something virtually unheard of in books addressing Christianity in any sense.

The overarching plot line that kept me coming back for more revolves around Paul and Maggie Mae. To say that readers will envy their dedication to one another is a huge understatement. As years and miles separate them, they do not waver in their loyalty to one another. Felyk proves he is adept at fantasy and equally as skilled at writing heartbreaking romance.

I am giving Damaged Beyond All Recognition 5 out of 5 stars. I can’t imagine readers will find anything lacking in Felyk’s work. His characters have it all: humor, an undying loyalty in each other, a drive to save the world, and an appreciation for all things science. Paul, Maggie Mae, and Allie can hold their own against any characters in recent books of the same genre.

Pages: 367 | ASIN: B077VJGJCD

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My Name is Nelson

My Name is Nelson: Pretty Much the Best Novel Ever by [Fairchild, Dylan]

My Name is Nelson by Dylan Fairchild is a political thriller set in modern-day America. Nelson Troutman is a phenomenal scientist who has been working under the radar until one day he snaps at his treatment under his employer’s hand. Armed with an extensive background, tons of knowledge and access to weaponry equipment, Nelson moves into his familiar strip club with favorite acquaintance Tiffany Golden, where he sets up an office for himself. His plan is to begin exacting his revenge to teach both his boss and the thousands of bullies out there a lesson in how to treat people with respect!

From the very first page to the last, My Name is Nelson is a captivating read with spectacular prose throughout. The forthcoming action and story line are not immediately apparent in the first few chapters, as Fairchild develops our relationships with some fascinating and likable characters, such as the President Andrew Macintyre and his National Security Advisor Chet Addington, alongside Nelson’s favorite stripper, Tiffany Golden. There are also other enjoyable characters including a security guard named Walt and Julie the Presidents Science Adviser. I found I only had to read a few lines of each chapter and immediately felt a connection with every character in this thrilling story.

However, what I personally think is done to perfection in this book is Fairchild’s pacing as it all begins to come together. With many strands all initially unrelated, when the plot does start to take shape, each character and chapter is perfectly woven together, so much so that you continue to marvel at just how good Dylan Fairchild is as a writer!

It does feel at times, albeit naturally so, that the book weaves effortlessly between several genres, including that of political, thriller, sci-fi and even a hefty dose of humor! This only succeeds in making it a more approachable and enjoyable read for a broader audience.

Then there is the man himself, Nelson. When we are first introduced to him, it is perhaps not in the best of lights, more so as in awkward scenarios, as an odd guy who likes to frequent one particular strip club which is home to his favorite girl. However, Nelson is not your average strip club customer, and Tiffany has become more of a trusted companion and the club his safety net when things get tough with his boss, Hawthorne.

What follows is an enthralling, though peculiar, character whom you cannot help but root for as the story progresses, despite what Nelson intends to do. It does not take much for his character to pull you in and encourages you to begin thinking he just may have some form of entitlement, some sort of right, to continue on the path he has prepared for himself, after the way he has been treated throughout his childhood and indeed his adult life.

I could not find fault with this book and devoured it with enjoyment. My Name is Nelson is most certainly a worthy five-star contender.

Pages: 222 | ASIN: B07B4KCTYR

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Don’t Call Me Chip

Don't Call Me Chip by [O'Donnell, Neil]

Don’t Call Me Chip, by Neil O’Donnell, is the story of one determined chipmunk and the battle he undertakes to save his human and the creatures who share his yard from an ill-intentioned family. Mikey, an eccentric old man and former Marine names the adventurous chipmunk Timothy, provides him with a small store of seeds, and thus steals his heart. Timothy, having lost his home, takes up residence in Mikey’s yard and makes it his job to protect and serve as a way of showing his gratitude and love for the old man–his new friend.

I have to say, I did not expect to fall in love with Don’t Call Me Chip–but that is exactly what happened. O’Donnell has masterfully captured the thoughts and feelings of the wild animals in his work and presents them in a way not seen in any other book or short story. Timothy, telling his own story for the majority of the book, is boisterous, cantankerous, and contemplative. The reader is privy to all of Timothy’s thoughts as he evolves from a suspicious chipmunk to a loving and protective pet.

All really great books have those little moments that take your breath–moments that seal the deal for the reader. For me, that moment arrived when TImothy refers to Mikey as his new friend. It seems a small and otherwise benign line out of the many more humorous and action-packed passages, but it carries a hefty weight for me. Timothy, a loner like Mikey, misunderstood and underappreciated, makes a lasting connection in that moment.

The shift from first person to third person at the end of the book threw me for moment, but I enjoyed the change in point of view. O’Donnell gives readers the feeling of an age-old story by backing up and giving a broader picture of Timothy’s final ordeal.

I am giving Don’t Call Me Chip a solid 5 out of 5 stars. I truly loved the characters–big and small. Mikey, who could be anyone’s elderly neighbor, is lovable and the obvious underdog. Resilient and focused, Timothy makes for the perfect main character and, in his own right, tiny hero.

Pages: 85 | ASIN: B079GTSKZR

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Involve This Bear In A Crazy Plot

Susan Joy Clark Author Interview

Susan Joy Clark Author Interview

Action Men and Silly Putty follows Jack and Andy as they try to find what is so important about a teddy bear from 1915 that Jack purchases at an estate sale. What was the initial inspiration behind the setup to this fun novel?

This might seem strange, but I don’t know if I can even explain how certain ideas came to me, except that the bear and estate sale set up must have stemmed out of my interest in antiques. I watch both Pawn Stars and American Pickers and refer to them both collectively as “the guys.” I’ll pick up the remote and say, “Let’s switch it to the guys,” and, by that, I mean switch it to the History Channel for one of those two shows. I also have an Antiques Roadshow book at home, and in it, there is a … guess what? 1915 Steiff teddy bear. That is where I drew some of the details for the bear. I suppose that photo of the bear drew me in more than a lot of the other items in the book. How I figured out how to involve this bear in a crazy plot is harder to explain.

It might interest you to know that my Jack Donegal character first appeared in a short story that was not a mystery, featuring Jack and a supporting character, Ellen Danforth, the owner of the Salvador Deli. Andy Westin wasn’t yet even a character which is interesting for me when I reflect on it, because, by now, I’m equally attached to both characters! It was a friend who suggested that I write a mystery. I had already established Jack as a toy inventor before I entertained the thought of him as an amateur sleuth, so the estate sale and the bear was one way to get my characters to stumble into a mystery for them to solve.

Jack and Andy have a unique and often humorous relationship that lends well to the overall lighthearted mystery of the book. What were some themes you were trying to capture when writing their characters?

For a long time, I was interested in the absent-minded professor type character or the eccentric scientist character. I liked characters such as Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dr. Emmett Brown in Back to the Future and was interested in some real life stories about scientists or inventors in history who had some quirks. My dad is actually a retired scientist and inventor, although not in the field of toys and, as a child, earned the nickname of “absent-minded professor” from his family. Dad and Jack do not share all of the same quirks … but perhaps a few of them. I’m also kind of fascinated with the individualist, and Jack is that. He doesn’t mind being different or dressing in his own unique style. I thought I’d rather make him a confident individualist than an awkward nerd, although he’s definitely still a nerd too by some definitions.

I really wanted Andy to be, more or less, his complete opposite. He’s the sensible, organized, in-the-moment practical guy who also has a kind of humorous way of looking at things. I wanted the balance of the two different extremes, so they can help one another out, as well as the comedy from being a sort of “odd couple.”

I enjoyed the twists and turns throughout the book. Did you plan the novel before writing or did it come organically while writing?

It was more like the second option. The story developed more spontaneously as I wrote, but I might have planned several scenes or chapters ahead when the creative juices were really flowing.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I am actually working on several things. The next book to come out fairly soon is unrelated to this series but is an illustrated children’s book called The Journey of Digory Mole about a little mole who turns a mountain into a mole hill. I have one other “Action Men” book already available and that is Action Men and the Great Zarelda which is a little shorter, a Kindle book novella. The two guys have a mystery adventure with a suspicious female illusionist. I also have a mystery short story for Kindle, starring a female sleuth, English professor, Grace Darby. That one is titled The Lit Club Mystery. I have several stories in the planning for both mystery series and even hope to do a spin-off series for kids starring Jack Donegal’s niece and nephew. Right now, I have a related mystery serial, Action Men with Duct Tape as a blog on my website, https://susan-joy-clark.com. I will likely publish that as a book when it is complete.

Author Links: GoodReads FacebookWebsite

Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery (Jack Donegal Mysteries Book 1) by [Clark, Susan Joy]Jack Donegal is an engineer, toy inventor and the head of his own toy company but not a detective until he stumbles into a strange situation. While on a business trip, he stops to purchase a 1914 teddy bear at an estate auction. While still on the auction grounds, armed thugs, who mistake him for a Dalton Starks, seem to think he’s in possession of something they want. Although police rescue him from his first encounter with criminals, Jack and Andy Westin, his marketing manager, roommate and friend, begin to think there’s something special about this teddy bear to make it interesting to criminals. They engage in a cat and mouse hunt with various members of the criminal world, but who are the cats and who are the mice? With the help of their combined wits and various technical gadgetry including toy parts and prototypes, Jack and Andy help bring several criminals to justice. With two personalities like those of Jack and Andy, there is bound to be some silliness along the way in this comedy mystery.

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Action Men with Silly Putty

Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery (Jack Donegal Mysteries Book 1) by [Clark, Susan Joy]

Susan Joy Clark’s Action Men with Silly Putty features two comrades in the toy business on the adventure of a lifetime. Clark’s main characters are best friends who are attached at the hip and one another’s voice of reason. Jack Donegal and the book’s narrator, Andy Westin, set off on their journey to uncover the mystery of a mistaken identity and to find out what the heck is so important about the teddy bear from 1915 that Jack purchases at an estate sale in San Francisco. From their company, Out of the Box Toy Design, to breakdowns of Picasso’s private escapades to the Salvador Dali special–it involves eggs and a toast–Action Men with Silly Putty is filled with eccentricities at every turn and brimming with mystery!

I have always been a mystery fan and jumped in headfirst wanting, wholeheartedly, to love Action Men. I wasn’t disappointed. Jack Donegal, a character with every quirk imaginable, is as interesting a central character as I have seen. He appears as an amalgamation of whimsical leads from a handful of stories throughout the years. Incredibly well-read, dead set on having a plethora of alternatives to the traditional curse words, and a virtual fount of knowledge, Jack leads Andy on a wild ride with Andy doing little to challenge each subsequent request. Clark has given readers a vivid personality in Jack Donegal who is impossible to forget.

It’s fairly clear from the beginning that Jack is the book’s focus, but, for me, Andy sets the tone of the entire story. His obvious frustration juxtaposed with his allegiance to Jack is highly relatable. Readers will find common ground with Andy as he fights the urge to question his best friend while simultaneously appeasing him. I thoroughly enjoyed the repartee between the two and give full credit to Andy for the book’s future success.

Clark is consistent with her depiction of Jack as the absent-minded professor type character. She bestows upon him the same qualities that make one Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory the lovable and appealing guy he is. Andy, faithful to Jack to the bitter end, has some truly fantastic lines. Clark brings laugh-out-loud moments via many of Andy’s thoughts: “I thought of that famous photo of Albert Einstein, the one where he was sticking out his tongue and looking anything but genius, and felt reassured…slightly.”–my favorite line in the book as Andy reveals his never-ending stress over Jack’s idiosyncrasies.

I am giving Action Men with Silly Putty by Susan Joy Clark 5 out of 5 stars. Clark’s success with the business partners-turned-private investigators team of Donegal and Westin is tied up neatly in her narrator. As the solution to the mystery of the teddy bear is pursued through colorful secondary characters and unique settings, Andy simply shines. Clark is eloquent, creates one scenario after another to engage readers in her comedy team’s plight, and helps to define a new niche in the mystery novel. In addition, the path to the mystery’s solution is peppered with pop culture references which will appeal to a broad range of readers.

Pages: 214 | ASIN: B00Y49AUXU

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