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First Chapter Reveal: THE DESIRE CARD by Lee Matthew Goldberg

 

Title: THE DESIRE CARD
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publisher: Fahrenheit Press
Pages: TBA
Genre: Crime/Suspense

BOOK BLURB:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.

PRAISE:

“Careful what you wish for, especially from a nefarious shadow organization, in this gripping start to Lee Matthew Goldberg’s fast-paced, highly compelling, buzz worthy new series. If you love characters morally compromised, richly drawn, and constantly surprising, you’ll love THE DESIRE CARD. I burned through the first book and can’t wait to get my hands on PREY NO MORE to see where this endlessly exciting story takes me next! Loved it!” – Daniel Palmer, critically acclaimed suspense author

ORDER YOUR COPY:

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Chapter 1

HARRISON SAT OUTSIDE THE OFFICE OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR AWAITING HIS FATE. The end of the month meant slash and burn time, but he had successfully avoided the axe for twelve months now. Something told him this wasn’t going to be lucky number thirteen. After almost twenty years of dedication, he swore he wouldn’t beg, wouldn’t give that fucker Thom Bartlett any satisfaction in letting him go. Thom, with his faux British accent even though he lived in the U.S. since he was two, his nose up the CEO’s ass at every chance, his chastising of Harrison’s “extracurricular activities,” even though Thom was just as guilty of similar vices. Harrison stared at this fucker’s door, as if by monitoring he could will it to stay closed and ensure that he’d forever remain a part of Sanford & Co.’s Mergers and Acquisitions team.

A sharp pain in his abdomen caused him to pitch forward. His stomach churned as a flood of bile crept up his throat. Thom’s door now appeared so out of focus that for a second Harrison forgot where he was.

“Bad lunch?” his buddy Whit whispered, from a nearby seat.

Thom’s ancient secretary glanced up at them from her fury of typing and went back to punishing the keys.

Harrison clutched his stomach and let out a stifled belch. The air now smelled like he’d been dining on garbage. His chronic halitosis had only been getting worse. He could barely recall the last time he’d kissed Helene like when they were young with an appetite to devour. At most he received a peck while she held her breath. It’s not like her body hadn’t also changed, and yet he still found her a knockout: whip-smart and sophisticated, alluring whenever she was in deep thought and chewed on the earpiece of her reading glasses. Only once had he participated in a particular “extracurricular activity” outside of their marriage. It was something he instantly regretted—but she had been treating him like a pariah in the bedroom for almost a year, and he found himself in the arms of another. So now he let her give those little digs about his hygiene, one of the small pleasures she seemed to have during the scant few hours a day when he was home.

Whit seemed to inch his chair away from Harrison’s death burp and occupied himself with the new Breitling hanging from his wrist. Here the two were about to be sliced up and gutted and Whit had spent last weekend dropping $10K on a watch. Sure Harrison indulged in more luxuries than most and hated his old Tag enough to go splurging, but unlike Whit, he had two kids in uptown private schools to worry about.

“Drinks at Mobeley’s later tonight?” Whit asked, placing his hand on Harrison’s shoulder. “Whatever the outcome of this summons might be?”

Harrison nodded with tired eyes.

“You’re a VP here, Harry. Higher up on the rung than me. You’ve got a better chance of surviving.”

Whit’s hand still massaged Harrison’s shoulder, but his encouragement was not convincing. He had probably expected a similar consoling reply, except the room was spinning too much for Harrison to care.

“You’re not looking well,” Whit said. Thom’s secretary seemed to glance up from her typing again to nod in agreement. The two of them caught each other’s eye, as if they were conspiring against him. Well, we couldn’t all look like Whit. Just a few years younger but still with a full head of thick black hair only slightly graying at the temples, something that made him appear even more distinguished. Pecs and abs that he never shut up about. A terror on the racquetball courts who slaughtered Harrison every time. The son of a well-known surgeon at N.Y.U Medical with a hot Japanese wife barely out of her twenties whose goal in life was to be at his beck and call. Whit had been made an Associate two years earlier than Harrison and was able to maintain a rapport with the higher ups that Harrison could never manage: calling the CEO Dougie to his face instead of Mr. Sanford and still having a job the next day.

The secretary picked up the phone on her desk while still typing away.

“Certainly, Mr. Bartlett,” she chirped into the receiver, and then turned her disapproving gaze to Harrison. “Mr. Bartlett will see you now, Mr. Stockton.”

Harrison gathered up his briefcase and overcoat. He had to hold onto the seat as he stood, his feet pivoting and almost sending him to the ground.

“Gotta watch those martini lunches,” Whit said, slapping Harrison on the back and pushing him toward his doom.

Harrison put one foot in front of the other slowly, avoiding Thom’s inevitable decision for as long as possible.

Even if he wound up getting let go today, an outsider looking in might assume that his life was still going well: two decades of marriage, healthy kids, and a fantastic New York apartment; but he felt like he’d just been going through the motions for too long. A major chunk had been missing, a spark of excitement, adventure, and meaning. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was, just that he desperately longed for it to exist.

As he put his hand on the doorknob and turned, he tried to think of what would make him happy, something he wanted more than anything that would cause him to shoot out of bed every morning with a smile.

He squeezed his eyes shut, willing this desired vision to appear, but all he saw was darkness.

Who in their right mind didn’t covet Thom Bartlett’s office? High floor with downtown skyline views, fluffy clouds outside of the windows, a wet bar that Harrison eyed. Some good Scotch had already been opened. Harrison had forced himself to keep sober during a gobbled lunch of an Italian sub without his trusty flask to chase it down. Now his hands trembled at the thought of that Scotch burning his throat.

“Can I offer you something?” Thom asked, indicating the bar with a grand sweep of his arm, as if to say, yes, I have a bar in my office, which you, dear sir, never had here and regrettably never will.

“I might as well,” Harrison coughed, scooting over and pouring two shots worth into a glass. He sat across from Thom and put the comforting drink to his lips.

Thom fiddled with a stack of papers in a folder on his desk. He looked up at Harrison through the thick frames he kept low on his sloping nose, almost touching his top lip.

“So Sanford & Co. has become swollen lately. We’re too big for our own good right now and need to restructure–”

“Just spit it out,” Harrison said, knocking back half the glass of Scotch.

“I’m sorry, Harrison. We’re going to have to let you go, effective today.”

Thom delivered this news while fixing his Windsor knot, which Harrison figured had taken him numerous tries that morning to perfect. Harrison wanted to grab him by that knot and choke his tiny little bird head until it popped off.

“I’ve given practically twenty years to this firm,” he said, running his hands through his thinning hair. “I sleep here, I eat here. I barely exist at home anymore.”

“It’s the same for all of us, mate.”

“I’m not your fucking mate,” Harrison said, finishing the rest of the Scotch and starting to sway.

“Old boy, I am not the villain here. Every firm on the Street has been feeling this strain since the economy collapsed. Now we are offering you a solid severance package, which I think is more than generous. I’ll also save you the spectacle of having security escort you out.”

“What was Sanford’s reason?” Harrison asked quietly, not wanting to hear the answer but knowing that he’d be unable to leave without one.

Thom had already started pushing the folder across the desk, shutting Harrison up, getting this over with. His face looked exhausted from delivering executions.

“We’ve heard from some clients,” he said, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Heard what…?”

“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, huh, Harry?” he asked, his voice rising to the level of an uncomfortable squeal. “Your skin, mate…sorry, but you’re looking rather yellow, and your eyes, well there’s this permanent creaminess to them… I’m just using the client’s words–”

“Which client?”

“Which one hasn’t mentioned this is more like it.”

Harrison went to respond but now Thom was on a roll.

“As a VP, this is a face-to-face business. I go for manicures, mate, you think I like it–it’s a requirement. Maybe if you cut back on the drink….”

“I’ve advised some huge mergers here over the years.” Harrison pointed at Thom with his empty glass. “I didn’t realize this was only a pretty boys game.”

“You’ve let some messy pitchbooks slide through recently, as well.”

“Shouldn’t the analysts be blamed for creating them?”

“Don’t think they haven’t been dealt with, too.”

“So maybe I’ve gotten lax with a couple of pitchbooks for smaller clients, but never any of the big ones.”

“When…was the last time you’ve been to a doctor, Harry?”

“Doctors,” Harrison said, brushing them all away with a flick of his wrist. He had always believed that no matter what, doctors tried to find something wrong with you so you’d give them more business. And yeah, his skin had developed a yellowish hue as of late and sometimes his gut felt like it was rotting. Varicose veins had multiplied along his thighs and there were moments when he’d lose balance and have to go and dry heave in an empty stall once no one else was around, but he was a professional drinker just like his dad had been, and that son-of-a-bitch had put back a liter of gin and a pack of smokes a day up until the ripe old age of eighty-eight. Hell, who needed to live longer than that anyway? Life could be brutal, and if some booze, some smokes and some pills provided a relief from the banality of it all, then screw any doctor who’d tell him otherwise.

Thom tapped on the folder to indicate that it was time to wrap this up.

“I have to make sure that you understand what’s in the package,” he said, pushing it closer to Harrison until it practically fell off the desk.

Harrison opened it up and flipped through: six months pay, benefits as well, blah, blah, blah. He closed it shut and went to throw it in his briefcase.

“Tut tut,” Thom said, wagging his finger. “There’s something you missed that Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you saw.”

Harrison re-opened the folder and spied a card clipped to the first page.

[]

“What the hell is a Desire Card?”

Thom reached over and un-clipped the card.

“You have been a valued employee here. Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you understood that we’re not parting on bad terms. This is what’s best for everyone.”

Thom handed him the card. Harrison turned it over and over with his stubby fingers.

“It’s like…a phone or something too?”

“Of sorts, just to keep their network as secure and exclusive as possible. We didn’t include this in everyone’s package, so you know. This is an organization that Mr. Sanford has a long history with, very hush-hush obviously, very elite. If you want something…anything…they have the power to make it happen.”

“Can they get me my job back?”

“Cute, Harrison, don’t ever lose that charm.”

Thom reached over to take the empty glass away.

“So tonight, Harry, instead of drowning your sorrows in a bottle, give the Card a try and have them ring you up a girl I guarantee you’ll enjoy. Or whatever else you wish. We promise we’ll give a glowing report to any future job prospects so consider this the start of a paid vacation.”

Thom stuck out his hand to shake, the nails manicured, no rogue cuticles to speak of; but the hand was delicate and unassuming, not someone with the power to hold Harrison’s life in his palm, just a meager messenger. Harrison slipped the Desire Card in his pocket and shook Thom’s hand, squeezing hard as Thom grimaced.

“And see a doctor,” Thom replied, giddy now that this ordeal was over.

“Watch out, you’ll be gutted next,” Harrison said, rising and feeling his legs give out. He collapsed back into the chair as Thom let out a spurt of a laugh.

“You all right there, mate?”

“Piss on England.”

Harrison gave standing up another try. He gripped Thom’s desk for support. Thom looked worried that Harrison might take the whole desk down with him, but Harrison was doing his best to maintain even though it felt like he was viewing Thom through the wrong end of a telescope.

“You can go ahead and send Mr. Carmichael in,” Thom said, fixing his Windsor knot again that had become slightly askew. “Best to Helene and the children.”

Harrison slung his coat over his arm and gripped his briefcase as he headed for the door. After a few steps, his vision became cloudier and he could feel the creamy tears falling from his eyes. They stung his cheeks as he grappled with the doorknob and lurched into the hallway.

In the front office, Whit was leaning over the secretary’s desk; the two engaged in hushed words that stopped once Harrison emerged. Harrison ran his finger from one side of his neck to the other. Whit gave him a solemn nod back, but Harrison couldn’t hold it in any longer and puked up the barely digested Scotch.

“Oh my!” he heard the secretary say.

He stared at his sickness bubbling on the floor, a mix of half-chewed capicola and salami in an amber soup with specks of dark red blood throughout, the clots of blood so dark they looked like tar. He wiped his mouth and trudged past all the onlookers toward the elevators outside, glad that a part of him would remain embedded in Sanford & Co.’s carpet.

As the elevator arrived and he stepped inside, he wished for the undoing of everyone involved in his termination, knowing that only their collective downfall could get him to shoot out of bed with a smile.

 

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR (St. Martin’s Press), which was acquired by Macmillan Entertainment with the film in development. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The first two books in a thriller series, THE DESIRE CARD and PREY NO MORE, are forthcoming from Fahrenheit Press in winter 2019. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City. Follow him at www.leematthewgoldberg.com and @LeeMatthewG.

 

 

Character Interview: Tommy Cucitti from Arnaldo Lopez Jr.’s thriller ‘Chickenhawk’

arnaldo 3We’re thrilled to have here today Tommy Cucitti from Arnaldo Lopez Jr.’s new thriller, Chickenhawk.  Tommy Cucitti is a 34 year old homicide detective living in Long Beach, NY.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Tommy Cucitti.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? Well, in the book I notice that I’m portrayed as being a little immature and impulsive. It’s just that I like keeping it real, you know what I’m saying? Some people can’t handle that. So I guess that I wasn’t really portrayed fairly but I’m alright with that, I’m still good son.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently? Colorizing? What the hell is that? If you’re talking about like, my personality and stuff, then yeah it was okay. Only thing is like I said yo, he made me look a little immature. I’m a grown-assed man! Yeah, he should have taken that into consideration when he was “colorizing” my personality, you know, make me a little more serious about things. He got my love for Hip-Hop down right though!

What do you believe is your strongest trait? I’m a damn good cop.

Worse trait? Uh, I do have a temper.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)? Yo, Channing Tatum of course!

Do you have a love interest in the book? Yeah, my girl Daphne. She’s hot!

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? At the part where me and my partner Eddie get transferred to the D.A.’s office.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? I would definitely not want to be that fat, greasy, nasty S.O.B. Bob Avni, for all of the reasons that I just now mentioned.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away? The ending is real son! This go down in true New York fashion with plenty of gunplay and fists being thrown! I just feel kinda bad because of how me and Eddie end up but it’s all good.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it? Make me the main character next time and give me more love scenes with my girl!

Thank you for this interview, Tommy Cucitti.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? Oh absolutely! From what I understand the author is busy working on the next novel with me in it!

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arnaldo

Arnaldo Lopez Jr. has been employed by New York City Transit  for twenty-eight years and was formerly employed as a dispatcher with the NYPD.  Mr. Lopez is also a speaker and trainer, speaking on subjects as diverse as terrorism and customer service.  He created the civilian counter-terrorism training program currently in use by New York City Transit and many other major public transportation agencies around the country.

As well as writing, Mr. Lopez is an artist and photographer, having sold several of his works over the years.  As a writer he’s sold articles to Railway Age magazine, The Daily News magazine, Homeland Defense Journal, and Reptile & Amphibian magazine; scripts to Little Archie and Personality Comics; and short stories to Neo-Opsis magazine, Lost Souls e-zine, Nth Online magazine, Blood Moon magazine, and various other Sci-Fi and/or horror newsletters and fanzines.  He was also editor of Offworld, a small science fiction magazine that was once chosen as a “Best Bet” by Sci-Fi television.  Chickenhawk is his first novel.

Connect with Arnaldo Lopez Jr. on Facebook and Twitter.

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Title: Chickenhawk

Genre: Thriller

Author: Arnaldo Lopez Jr.

Publisher: Koehler Books/Café Con Leche books

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:

Chickenhawk is an urban crime fiction novel that showcases New York City’s diversity, as well as the dark side of race relations, politics, sexuality, illness, madness, and infidelity. Eddie Ramos and Tommy Cucitti are Manhattan North Homicide detectives after a serial killer that manages to stay below their radar while the body count keeps climbing in a city that’s turning into a powder keg.

Profile: Christine Amsden, Author of ‘Madison’s Song’

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“Writing has taught me the importance of self-confidence in becoming good at anything,” says Christine Amsden, who, in spite of having been diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision, has gone on to become the award-winning, bestselling author of the Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective fantasy/mystery series published by Twilight Times Books.

“My parents encouraged reading a LOT,” says this speculative fiction writer, who grew up gobbling up The Chronicles of Narnia, The Baby Sitter’s Club, andFlowers in the Attic. “I know they read to me too, but I was an advanced reader at an early age and preferred to read on my own when I could. I have memories of staring at picture books, making up stories about the pictures though I couldn’t understand the words.” At the tender age of 8, she wrote her first short story, about Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars. From then on, she wrote fairly consistently until 2003, which marked the beginning of her professional career when she attended a workshop with Orson Scott Card.

Amsden may be legally blind, but she hasn’t allowed that part of her life to stop her from becoming a prolific author, and nowadays she splits her time between writing, freelance editing, and coaching — with a keen focus on writing. She loves to write about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations, giving special attention to people and relationships, her way of making science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone. “I will continue to marry romance with speculative fiction because I simply love both genres,” states the author. “I love a good character story. I think character is more important than just about anything else, and a great character will have me reading any genre at all and loving it. I get a lot of people telling me that they like my books even though they ‘don’t normally read stuff like that.’ I think it’s because of the characters.”

In what she describes as her messy, cluttered desk, and with a special arm attached to her monitor to help her eyes and back, Amsden creates her stories rich in characterization and world building. Her latest book, Madison’s Song, a companion to her Cassie Scot series, is about a shy young woman who has suffered more than her fair share of betrayal in the past. A friend of Cassie (the only ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers), Madison now gets a chance to prove that she can be more than a plump, shy sidekick. When her brother’s life is in danger, she faces her greatest fear with head held high to save him. The story is equally about Scott, a werewolf who has fallen in love with a woman he doesn’t believe he deserves.

MadisonsSong_medAmsden’s writing style is straightforward and conversational, which is probably why most readers and reviewers describe her work as highly entertaining and fast paced. “I’m not the sort to hide the story behind flowery prose,” she says. “I like the words to get out of the way of the story.” She’s a fast writer as well, finishing the rough draft of the book in only two months, though she then put it aside for a year before revising it, a process that took her five additional months. Her writing process, though fluid, is different with each book. “My best story ideas are the ones that come to me while I’m doing something else, although this doesn’t excuse me from putting in my hours of conscious effort. No two projects that I’ve worked on have developed in exactly the same way, either. I like to try new strategies, mix things up, so life doesn’t get boring.”

Like the Cassie Scot series, Madison’s Song will also be available in audiobook format, which is how Amsden “reads” most books these days. “It was important to me, when I became an author, to make my books available to listen to as well as read, and not just for others with disabilities. Audiobooks are a terrific way to enjoy books for busy people whose reading time can be combined with a daily commute, or with housework.”

Like most authors, Amsden loves sharing her creative ideas with the world, something which can be understandably challenging. “Nothing is universally liked,” states the author. “I try not to read negative comments or reviews, but it’s almost impossible to avoid all of it. When someone ‘gets me’ I feel an almost euphoric connectedness to the world; when someone doesn’t, (in a really big way), it almost makes me feel isolated.”

The definition of success varies from writer to writer. For Amsden, it has changed since she started writing. “At one time (not too long ago), I had an unrealistic expectation of success that involved becoming a bestseller and making an upper-class living off of my books,” she confesses. “When the Cassie Scot series came out, I sold thousands of books but still didn’t make the kind of money that would let me ‘earn a living’ off of it. It made me rethink my definition of success, becauseMessyDeskby all measurable standards my books are doing well – I’ve got great reviews, I’ve won several awards, I’ve sold many thousands of books, and I’m making money. I feel most successful when I connect with readers who love my books. So maybe that’s what success is. I’d love to connect with more readers, sell more books, and make more money, but I’m becoming satisfied with who and what I am now. (Like Cassie.)”

At the moment, the author is waiting for her next book, Kaitlin’s Tale, to be released by Twilight Times Books. She’s also hard at work on a new series set in a completely different world and with a new cast of characters. Though it’s way too early to say much about it, readers can count on it being filled with romance and the paranormal.

A native of St. Louis, Christine Amsden now lives in Olathe, Kansas with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success, and their two beautiful children.

TouchofFateSigningBibliography:

Touch of Fate (Twilight Times Books, 2006)

The Immortality Virus(Twilight Times Books, 2011)

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Twilight Times Books, 2013)

Secrets and Lies (Twilight Times Books, 2013)

Mind Games (Twilight Times Books, 2014)

Stolen Dreams (Twilight Times Books, 2014)

Madison’s Song (Twilight Times Books, 2015)

Connect with Christine Amsden on the web:

Interview with Isidore Farrugia from Gabriel Valjan’s new mystery-suspense novel, ‘Turning To Stone’

character interviewTitle: Turning To Stone

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Author: Gabriel Valjan

Website: http://wintergoosepublishing.com

Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing

Purchase link: http://amzn.to/1N73WGy

We’re thrilled to have here today Isidore Farrugia from Gabriel Valjan’s new mystery-suspense novel, Turning To Stone. Isidore Farrugia is a fortyish-something detective living in Naples, Italy.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Detective Farrugia.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I do think that the author did a great job because I was in quite a mess, doing undercover narcotics work within a Camorra clan. Most readers know about the Sicilian mafia, but not much has been written about the Neapolitan criminal organization, or about the ‘Ndrangheta, which hails from my native Calabria. Each criminal enterprise has its own structure and Tomasso, another character in the novel, explains it well, although he gets a little poetic at times. As for me, the only quibble I had with the author is that he had me get shot at more than once. I took two bullets in a place that made me the butt of unwanted jokes from my colleagues. Please, give me a little dignity. It had better not happen again.

TurningtoStone_FlatforeBooks (1)Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

He was kinder to me than I am to myself. I’m a driven individual, often temperamental, although Claudio Ferrero, the journalist undercover like me in Turning to Stone, but with the ‘Ndrangheta, would pick a choice word to describe me. This time around, Gabriel managed to show me at my best. I began my career doing undercover work in Taormina (Sicily), where I made a name for myself before I started working narcotics. The author got it: undercover work is a combination of acting and gardening in that you’ve got to play a role and spread the manure just right because the stakes are high, and they were in this outing of the Roma Series.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Tenacity.

Worse trait?

Stubbornness. There are stronger words in Italian and even more in Calabrese, but I am pigheaded. Plain and simple: I am the one with long ears. I’ll get fixated on something and I won’t let go.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I can’t think of a particular actor, but if I could pick someone who could convey my energy and my moodiness then I would pick Idris Elba, but he’s too dark-skinned, though my mother was Spanish and dark and my father, Calabrese, and darker. Elba’s Luther has some of my energy, although I’ve been far more violent than him – by necessity, of course.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I do. Her name is Noelle. We met in Milan. Readers learned about her and my first experience with yoga in Book 3 of the Roma Series: Threading the Needle. Now, there the author put me smack in the middle of a thorn bush. In Threading, I had the Italian version of Internal Affairs on my back and the media chanting my name – all because I’d accompanied Bianca to a meeting and some college kid got gunned down in an alley. It wasn’t the first time I helped her. I flew all the way to Boston (Book 2: Wasp’s Nest) to warn her that a professional killer was after her. Hey, I think there’s a pattern here. Perhaps, the author doesn’t like me, but he gave me Noelle. No complaints there, and I’m more flexible, too. Win-win.

At what point in the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I was deep undercover with the Camorra and I had to go to a meeting, which I don’t want to spoil for readers, but let’s just say that it went horribly wrong.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Tough question; come to think of it, it’s not one that would have occurred to me, to be honest.  Who among my fellow characters would I not want to be?  There are admirable traits among all of them, but I guess that — it’s still weird contemplating it — it would be Dante, because he has to put up with Bianca. She has formidable computer and research skills, and I admire her composure and utter equanimity under pressure.  What gets under my skin, though, is that she can be a bit abrupt sometimes, a little too direct, which strikes me as a very American trait. At times, I think she gets obsessive to the point that she is secretive and withholds information from the rest of the team. I do love her in my own way, but I don’t know how Dante does it. Perhaps, Bianca and I are too alike and I see myself reflected back at me. I know my answer sounds more like I wouldn’t want to be Bianca, but that isn’t the case. I just don’t know whether I could be Dante and have her around me 24/7. I’ll say this, though: they complement each other, but she is too much work for me. What’s that word in English I’ve heard used to describe people like her?  Don’t tell me, I’ll think of it. Ah, yes, I’ve got it: high-maintenance.

How do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?

We grew closer as a team, but my gut tells me that something bad is on the horizon. Bianca has become introverted, as if she were hiding something. Then, I heard that she was going to Boston, which says right there that something is wrong between her and Dante. Bianca says it’s work, but I know her. She is running away from Dante. She can say it’s Rendition, but I don’t believe it one bit. Gabriel always includes the first chapter of the next book in the Series at the end of his novels. Book 5: Corporate Citizen looks promising. But, why did it have to be Boston? I’m telling you that Gabriel has it in for me. So, my Italian is not exactly RAI, but Silvio, our translator, can help out. Oh, before I forget, Silvio has a pet in Turning. Tell me, who walks a cat?

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

  1. Please don’t have me shot at again. Please. I feel like Sergeant Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon. ‘I’m getting too old for this…’
  2. I’d like for him to bring up some of past work in Calabria. I’m proud of that time in my life. It was my work on the San Luca Vendetta that caught the attention of the late anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. The ‘Ndrangheta is impenetrable, but I got in and did my job.
  3. We both know that Alessandro has bad luck with women, but please find him a girlfriend soon. He’s got that puppy-dog look and it’s breaking my heart.

Thank you for this interview, Detective Farrugia.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Yes, you will. Readers can learn about me in the first three Roma Series books, and join me in Turning To Stone for an adventure in Naples. Loki, Bianca’s mysterious contact, is now giving her baffling anagrams. They seem to lead to a charismatic entrepreneur who has a plan to partner with organized crime to manipulate the euro and American dollar. Against a backdrop of gritty streets, financial speculation, and a group of female assassins on motorcycles, we discover that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.

author pic

About the Author:

Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing. His fourth book, Turning To Stone, came out 15 June 2015. Gabriel writes short stories, which are available online and in print. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Connect with Gabriel Valjan on the web:

Blog: https://gabrielswharf.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gabriel-Valjan/291400997547203

Twitter: @GValjan

Website: www.gabrielvaljan.com

Pinterest boards for the Roma Series books

Book 4: Turning To Stone | https://www.pinterest.com/gvaljan/turning-to-stone/

Book 3: Threading the Needle | https://www.pinterest.com/gvaljan/threading-the-needle/

Books 2: Wasp’s Nest  | https://www.pinterest.com/gvaljan/wasp-s-nest/

Book 1: Roma, Underground  | https://www.pinterest.com/gvaljan/roma

Character Interview: Dr. Bruce Markum from Jim Bailey’s medical novel, ‘The End of Healing’

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Dr. Bruce Markum from Jim Bailey’s new medical novel, The End of Healing. Bruce Markum is a 36-year-old surgeon living in Washington, DC.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

end_of_healing_bookThank you so for this interview, Bruce.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Look, this book has been a nightmare for me. I mean, it’s pretty clear that Bailey prefers that goody-goody Don Newman over me. He made me look like a big jerk and I’ve had to do a lot of damage control to salvage my reputation. People who know me will tell you that a lot of the stuff he wrote about me was completely bogus.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Well, he did a great job of entertaining the readers at my expense. Of course I would like to have been portrayed differently! How would you feel? I admit I’m the kind of guy who tells it like it is, but I’m not a jerk.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Confidence.

Worse trait?

Spouting off when I should keep my mouth shut. Wait – don’t print that.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Ben Affleck.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Frances, hello! She’s the hottest thing this side of the Rio Grande. Smart, too. Of course, she’s really pissed at me right now, but she’ll get over it. And by the way, don’t believe everything Bailey wrote in the book about what happened between us. Frances’ll come around. We make a good-looking pair — you can’t argue with that, right?

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

That trip to DC. Sampson was so naïve about how business gets done in this country. I knew then I’d made a big mistake going to study with him. Don’t get me wrong – Sampson understands a lot about the problems in healthcare and he means well. But it’s better to work the system the way it is. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, that’s what I say.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Don Newman. Let’s face it—he’s naïve. He just doesn’t get the way the world really works. Also, he’s a terrible dresser.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Well, I’m just glad I got out of there before that craziness with Don by the omphalos, or whatever they call it. I mean, does anyone really believe all that? I think the whole thing is ridiculous. Obviously Don had a nervous breakdown or something. Or maybe a hallucination from lack of sleep. How else would you explain it?

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it? 

Don’t. Please. Just leave me out of it.

Thank you for this interview, Bruce.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

Well, I’m not prepared to announce anything just yet, but I’ve formed an exploratory committee to study my options. Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know!

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Title: The End of Healing

Genre: Suspense

Author: Dr. Jim Bailey

Website: www.endofhealing.com

Publisher: The Healthy City

Purchase on Amazon

SUMMARY:  

Dr. Don Newman, a resident physician at the renowned University Hospital, awakens in a windowless call room in the middle of the night to the screams of his pager. As he runs to a dark ward to attend to a dying woman strapped to a bed, Don realizes that despite having worked long and hard to become a doctor—and having sworn to do no harm—harm has become his business.

So begins Dr. Newman’s quest to become a healer in a system that puts profits ahead of patients. Abandoning his plans to become a cardiologist, Dr. Newman enrolls in an Ivy League graduate program in health system science, where an unorthodox professor promises to guide him ever deeper into the dark secrets of the healthcare industry. Along with fellow students Frances Hunt, a sharp and alluring nurse practitioner, and Bruce Markum, a cocky, well-connected surgeon, Dr. Newman begins a journey into the medical underworld.

When Dr. Newman unearths evidence of a conspiracy stretching from the halls of Congress to Wall Street and even to his small campus, his harmless course of study becomes deadly serious. Will he be silenced? Or will he find a way to save his patients and others from needless torture? One thing is certain:  the path to healing is fraught with danger. Will this path lead Don to a dead end?

Jim Bailey Author Photo

About the Author:

Jim Bailey is a fellow in the American College of Physicians and professor of medicine and preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, where he directs the Center for Health Systems Improvement, cares for the sick, and teaches doctors in training. His research appears in many peer-reviewed medical journals, including AMAJournal of General Internal Medicine, and Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr. Bailey has an abiding passion for the classics, medical history, and ethics, and believes that sharing our stories can heal.The End of Healingis his first novel.

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Character Interview: Rudyard Bloodstone from Chris Karlsen’s suspense/thriller ‘Silk’

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Rudyard Bloodstone from Chris Karlsen’s new suspense, Silk.  Rudyard is a 31 year old Detective Inspector with London Metropolitan Police Service and living in London, England.

Silk HighRes (2)It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Rudyard.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Yes. Ms. Karlsen showed several different sides of my personality, which I appreciate. I’m not just a detective. I do have outside interests and friends. She also portrayed me as a bit rough around the edges, which I am. I’m not, and never have been, a smoothie. She was honest about me not being one spoiling for a fight but not afraid to mix it up either.

I’d like to clarify that it might seem like I don’t miss my family in Wales as I don’t speak about wishing to go for a visit or having them visit me. I do miss my family and the lovely countryside around Brecon where I grew up. But, I had nine brothers and sisters, most of whom are married with children of their own. Chaos rules the day when we’re all together. I always need a rest after, plus, my work keeps me busy. Opportunities to go home aren’t many.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

She mentioned my Victoria Cross for extreme valor in the face of battle. Those are the Queen’s words, not mine. I do not feel a hero. I did what was necessary at the time. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Steadfastness.

Worse trait?

I’ve a short temper.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Karl Urban

Do you have a love interest in the book?

There are two different ladies I see socially. Not at the same time, though. I enjoy their company, but I’m not in love with either.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When Chief Superintendent Effingham and Detective Inspector Napier from the City of London Police Department interfered in my investigation.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Viscount William Everhard. I never want to slip into madness the way he did and become fiend.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I approve. I was surprised and glad my partner and I finally discovered what we needed to solve the difficult case.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

I hope she does write another. I understand she plans to. I look forward to trouncing Napier who is, and always has been, a thorn in my side so please include him. I enjoy my police colleagues so I’d like to see most of them again. I’d like to have more fun with my adopted stray, Winky. He’s as incorrigible as a canine can be, but I love him.

Thank you for this interview, Rudyard Bloodstone.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Yes, sometime early next year, I believe.

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Title: Silk

Genre: Thriller

Author: Chris Karlsen

Website: www.chriskarlsen.com

Publisher: Books to Go Now

Purchase on Amazon

SUMMARY

London-Fall, 1888

The city is in a panic as Jack the Ripper continues his murderous spree. While the Whitechapel police struggle to find him, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner are working feverishly to find their own serial killer. The British Museum’s beautiful gardens have become a killing ground for young women strangled as they stroll through.

Their investigation has them brushing up against Viscount Everhard, a powerful member of the House of Lords, and a friend to Queen Victoria. When the circumstantial evidence points to him as a suspect, Rudyard must deal with the political blowback, and knows if they are going to go after the viscount, they’d better be right and have proof.

As the body count grows and the public clamor for the detectives to do more, inter-department rivalries complicate the already difficult case.

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Chris is a Chicago native. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was in her late teens where she later studied at UCLA. She graduated with a Business Degree. Her father was a history professor and her mother a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books.Her parents were also passionate about traveling and passed their passion onto Chris. Once bitten with the travel bug, Chris spent most of her adult life visiting the places she’d read about and that fascinated her. She’s had the good fortune to travel Europe extensively, the Near East, and North Africa, in addition to most of the United States.

After college, Chris spent the next twenty-five years in law enforcement with two agencies. Harboring a strong desire to write since her teens, upon retiring from police work, Chris decided to pursue her writing career. She currently writes three different series. Her historical romance series is called, Knights in Time. Her romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters, and he latest book, Silk, is book one in her mystery/suspense series, The Bloodstone series.

She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five wild and crazy rescue dogs.

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Character Interview: Tom Evanger from Joel Fox’s paranormal suspense, “The Mark on Eve.”

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Tom Evanger from Joel Fox’s new paranormal suspense, The Mark on Eve.  Tom Evanger is a 34-year-old newspaper reporter living in Los Angeles, California.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Cover (3)Thank you so much for this interview, Tom.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

The readers should know I’m a damn good reporter and that’s how I should be judged. My sex should have nothing to do with the assignments I get. I think I’m as fair and just in my dealings with all people no matter their gender. I don’t like to leave any doubts — I am not prejudiced against female reporters. I just think I can do the job and don’t like to be denied because of the way I was born. Sorry if that attitude offends anybody.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Not everyone’s as good a writer as me so I’ll give the author a pass. He did all right. Maybe he made me look a little sneaky, I’m not really that way, I was just doing my job. I could have gotten the information and the interviews without all the stealth. But, that’s not the way he colored me.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m aggressive.

Worse trait?

I’m aggressive. I tend to offend when I push for the truth but sometimes that’s the only way I’ll get it.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Brad Pitt. Right. Tough but good looking; good with the ladies, but faithful, too. I like that. At least, I try to be faithful.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, at least I thought so, but we started drifting apart. As to, Eve, very intriguing lady, but not love.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When they took the plum assignment from me. I was covering a presidential campaign and they kicked me off. Needed a woman to do the job. I’d never live up to my father’s superstar reputation if they wouldn’t let me do important reporting. Little did I know where the new assignment would lead me and how big a story that could be.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I would not want to be Governor Judith Rhodes. I don’t need to run for president. I don’t need the attention a politician requires. What I need is to take them apart. That’s what I’m built for. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of investigative reporters like me.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

The real ending, the last sentence makes a statement about me. I’m good with that. But there were some delicious reporting opportunities that ended in disappointment for me personally.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Make me the star. Give me an opportunity to show what I can do and let me do it.

Thank you for this interview, Tom.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

It’s up to the big guy, although I hate having to listen to another editor tell me what to do.  I’m told this book is a stand alone, whatever that means. But I’m available.

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Title: The Mark on Eve

Genre: Suspense

Author: Joel Fox

Website: http://www.joelfox.com/

Publisher: Bronze Circle Books

Purchase on Amazon  

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Joel FoxJoel Fox has spent over 30 years in California politics, serving on numerous state commissions, working on many ballot issue campaigns, and advising candidates. An adjunct professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University, Fox has authored hundreds of opinion pieces for numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal,Washington Post, USA Todayand Los Angeles Times. Joel Fox is also the author of the Zane Rigby mystery series—Lincoln’s Hand and FDR’s Treasure— in which an FBI Special Agent must solve a puzzle from the past of an American president to solve modern day murders.  A native of the Boston area, Joel Fox lives in Los Angeles.

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