Shattered Silence (Echo Falls Book 3)
July 31st, 2018
Shattered Silence by Marta Perry flawlessly intertwines a mystery with contemporary themes, while giving a sprinkling of the Amish culture. She illuminates
the differences between the Amish community and the larger urban society.
The plot begins with new divorcee Rachel Hartline attempting to
touch base with her ex-husband, Paul, to discuss putting their home up for sale. After catching him trying to download some sensitive company information things go very awry for her. First, she must deal with Paul’s disappearance, and then a private
investigator, Clint Mordan, hired by the CEO to locate the flash drive, suspects her of being a likely participant in her husband’s scheme. After having her house broken into, turned upside down, and having her life threatened she decides to seek
the haven of her grandparents. They are Amish and Rachel knows she will be safe with them. As Clint follows Rachel from Philadelphia to the tiny Amish community of Echo Falls, Pennsylvania, he figures out that whatever loyalty Rachel might still feel,
it doesn’t include lying or covering up for her ex-husband. As he and his partner hit dead ends he wonders why their client is keeping them in the dark, and becomes more protective of Rachel. As they begin to trust each other, both realize that there
are few people they can trust to ensure Rachel does not become a murder victim.
Perry does a great job of balancing the family element within
a suspenseful plot, which have moments of fear, dread, and tension. Once the first page is turned readers will be hooked, as they must navigate all the different twists thrown at them.
Elise Cooper: You contrast the city life versus the Amish life?
Marta Perry: I wanted to write something that would dramatize the modern life of the
character against the quiet secluded farm life. I have always lived in areas where there are Amish. As a child, I lived in Southern Pennsylvania where there was an old order of Mennonites. We all went to school together so I have several
friends in that community. I understood that there are some aspects of their life that are different than mine.
EC: It seems
stories involving the Amish are popular, including bestselling author Linda Castillo?
MP: I never met her but I have read her books. I think at first, people thought it was a fad and would
not last, but it has turned into a sub-genre. Readers enjoy it because they can react to the complexity of their modern life. They enjoy reading about those who live in the contemporary world but have a much simpler life. I have spoken with
some Amish who say, ‘if you like our reliance on family, rely on yours or build one; if you like the fact we are interconnected within our community, do it in your community.’ I think many wish they had the simpler existence, similar to when they
were growing up.
EC: Were you influenced by the Harrison Ford Amish movie, “Witness”?
MP: The movie was set in Lancaster County. At that time, I had insight on what they got correct and what they got wrong. They contrasted beautifully the differences in life style. The opening scene in the train
station with all the noise and confusion versus the hills, farms, and serenity of the Amish place. I wanted to give this type of an image in my book. I wrote of the suburban areas, for example, how the characters had to navigate during rush hour, all
that traffic. Rachel understood those in the city keep to themselves, reserving their private space.
EC: Rachel enjoyed
her time on her Amish grandparents’ farm?
MP: She felt safe and secure, but knew there would be no solitude because people are always around. If someone wanted to be solitary don’t
go to the Amish because family, Church, job, and community are all intertwined.
EC: The language of the Amish has guttural intonation?
MP: They speak Pennsylvania Dutch derived from the German language. It is an archaic language since they still speak the language of the 1700s. When they come across a word where there is no translation to
the Pennsylvania Dutch they use the English word, appearing like it is thrown into the middle of a sentence. Remember I am not writing their language but it is in English, and I need to use the same sentence structure.
EC: How would you describe Rachel?
MP: She is a Kindergarten teacher and I based her on some of the wonderful, kind ones
I knew. As a traditionalist, she is devastated by the fact that she couldn’t make her marriage work, always thinking she would marry for life. Those people in her life that are close to her let her down, a big element in the formation of her personality.
Although conscientious she has trust issues, including trusting her own instincts. I do not think she is as independent as she assumes. For instance, when she realizes she is in trouble and needs help she doesn’t flee to the nearest big city where
she can disappear, but goes back to what represents home to her, the Amish community, seeking security and safety.
EC: How would
you describe Clint?
MP: He is motivated by a sense of duty. He is a very righteous person who believes in duty first and honor above all. Unlike Rachel he was raised in a very secure
and stable environment. Clint is haunted by the fact he felt he let his police partner down and is determined that now as a private investigator it will not happen again to Rachel. He would not talk about this issue because he is uncomfortable talking
about his feelings, forcing Rachel to develop a short hand to figure out what is going on with his emotions.
EC: How would you describe
the relationship between Clint and Rachel?
MP: They are basically made for each other, but it takes a long time to realize. They complete each other. Although they express it in different
ways, they are similar in their values at the deepest level of family, trustworthiness, and honestly.
EC: You made her husband
Paul a gambling addict?
MP: He stole savings and jewelry from Rachel. He put it ahead of her. He was always looking for that part of the gold that would transform his life.
EC: You also explore the issue of divorce?
MP: Most of us have seen that as a couple
they had this community of friends together. But after breaking up suddenly it becomes for the friends or the individual hard to navigate the separation.
EC: Family is an important theme?
MP: People should love unconditionally. This does not mean children cannot be scolded, corrected, or punished. It is similar to how her
grandparents loved Rachel no matter where her life took her. When a child leaves the Amish community, there is a sense of grief with a feeling that the child is denying the lifestyle and beliefs. As time passes they do maintain a relationship with
their son or daughter. They still go to all the Amish family picnics and birthday parties. They make the distinction they are no longer Amish, but still are family.
EC: There is a scene in the book where Rachel’s Amish family were willing to have a car drive them to her?
MP: It is common among the Pennsylvania Amish. They
do not own or drive a car, but if they need to make a long trip there is nothing in their rules to prevent them from hiring an English driver. The horse and buggy is the reason for the ban on owning cars since it is central to their way of life, with
everything needed to be a reasonable distance.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?
MP: This is the last book in this series, in which all are related by a place. My next series will start with a book about an Amish outsider, and will be related by characters. A man left the Amish community and married
an “Englisher.” The marriage disintegrated and then she was killed. He wanted to seek a place to recuperate with his eight-year-old child so he reluctantly turns to his Amish family after he becomes a person of interest. I am also going
to write an Amish saga that will be more complex; although it will be with another publisher.
Hard Rustler by bestselling author B. J. Daniels brings to life the Montana countryside in her latest novel. Readers will enjoy the characters, setting, and mystery. The plot is a modern-day version of past Westerns.
The story begins with a city gal, Annabelle (Annie) Clementine, traveling back to her home town of Whitehorse Montana. After high school, she decided to escape the monotony to become a famous model, leaving her love
interest behind. Now, thirteen years later, she is back to sell her late grandmother’s house and to get out of town as soon as possible. The one problem, she is destitute with no money and seems to depend on her ex-boyfriend, Dawson Rogers,
to rescue her. He helps by bailing her out so her car is not repossessed, siphoning off gas, and saving her life. It seems someone wants to find something in her grandmother’s house that has been hidden for years, and is willing to kill for an
answer. Annie and Dawson must sort out the mystery and determine what her grandmother was hiding.
Elise Cooper: You write so many books, where do you get the stories from?
J. Daniels: When I am not making a quilt or spending time at the lake I think of small ideas. With this story, I wanted to write about someone leaving their town to become famous. After becoming flat broke she decides to return and
sell her late grandmother’s house left to her. I knew I wanted to center the secret around the grandmother.
EC: The setting is very important to the plot?
I moved to Montana from Texas when I was five. I write what I see and know about. The Western way of life is all I have ever known. It is a much simpler way of life. We now live in a small town where most people are rancher cowboys.
As in the story, it is isolated, with the closest Target Store three hours away. Someone can be driving either sixty miles south or north and they will not see anybody all day. In the book, there is a scene like that where Annabelle had run out
of gas and she feels completely alone and secluded. This is all true to life. I always have food and a blanket in the car in case it breaks down, because cell phones do not work here.
You describe “Millionaire’s Row”?
BJD: These are basically larger houses, but not like the mansions in Beverly Hills. They have two-stories, four bedrooms, and a front porch with bigger
yards. There are about six of them in a row.
EC: How would you describe Annabelle?
BJD: I just love her. I understand how she wants to do something
with her life, a desire to succeed. This happens a lot with Montana children who leave to get a job but often come home to raise their children. In this story, she comes home with her tail between her legs. I think at the beginning of the
story she is a snob, arrogant, and determined. Later those qualities come out as spunky, strong, and a risk-taker.
EC: It seems when Dawson refers to Annabelle as Annie she takes on a different
BJD: She is softer, more loveable, more dependent, and is a warmer person.
EC: How would you describe Dawson?
He is based on most of the ranchers out here. He loves the land, will never leave, and falls really hard for someone. They are quiet, very strong, and very dependable. If you are ever in trouble this is the kind of man you want.
EC: The community seems different than those in the city?
BJD: When someone is in trouble everyone pulls together. I love living here because of it.
Dawson’s mother represents Montana women who show their love through cooking. They are no nonsense people.
EC: What about the relationship between Dawson and Annie?
At first, they appear to be opposites where she has a driving ambition and he is satisfied with the simpler things in life. After being high school lovers, he knew he had to let her go and sensed she had this restless streak. This is why he did
not fight more for her to stay. When she came back she started to realize what was important in life. She had sowed her oats.
EC: The grandmother is a looming figure in the novel?
BJD: She trusted Annabelle to figure out her secret. What did her grandmother leave to find and why have only Annabelle inherit the house, instead of all three girls? I think she saw in Annabelle something of
herself. They both had a wild streak. Although she would never admit it outwardly, Annabelle was her favorite.
EC: Annabelle should be a role model for the MeToo Movement?
BJD: It was going on at the time I was writing the book. She said no and got blackballed. Yet, she did not cower or give in even if it meant her career was destroyed. When push came to shove there was more to
her than this good-looking model girl with ambition. She is the kind of woman we all want to be.
EC: A heads up about your next books
It will be a three-book series. This one come out the end of August, the next one will be about one of Annabelle’s sisters, out at the end of September, and the last sister’s story will come out at the end of October. I try to write
all my series around families.
Double Blind (Kendra Michaels Book 6)
Iris and Roy Johansen
St. Martin’s Press
July 17th, 2018
Double Blind by Iris and Roy Johansen is a heart stopping story. This series has a very original premise and this novel, in particular, has a killer that is unique. Blind from birth, the main character, Kendra Michaels, regained
her sight at the age of twenty. Now she is able to use her extensively distinct senses and acute analytical skills to help the FBI thwart bad guys.
This case literally came to her after a woman is found dead with
an envelope having Kendra’s name on it. It contains a memory stick of a wedding video. What soon becomes apparent is that the wedding party has been targeted by a serial killer who strives to get the maximum number of victims by inflicting
emotional and physical pain. Through the investigative process Kendra and company realize that the killer is connected to a mercenary organization.
This mother/son collaboration make a great team, able to write
edge-of-your seat suspenseful stories with compelling characters. The twists in Double Blind can lead readers to be blind-sided so be forewarned.
Elise Cooper: What is like writing with your
Iris Johansen: We write in the same manner and are able to play off one another. I take a part of the book and write some, then Roy does the same. We edit each other. It is great fun!
Roy Johansen: We talk a lot before we begin, discussing the characters and the story. We have a pretty good idea of the premise and where we are headed after six books. We are constantly surprising each other
in a way that we also want to surprise readers.
EC: Does one have veto power over the other?
IJ: We do not have veto power, but we do have argue
power. For instance, I wanted to kill off a character at one point, even though we both liked them. For me, characters are everything with our books. If you read something you did not know or think something is really clever, that is usually Roy.
With the characters, we consider them both of ours and have become invested in them.
RJ: Mom wanted to kill off this main supporting character in the very first book because she is blood thirsty with her characters.
I had to talk her out of that one. Everyone should rest assured, because at this point there is no way we could eliminate them. I know we made the right decision. After going on a book tour with mom, I saw how people love her characters and
are very invested in them.
EC: Both of you write the characters?
RJ: With one exception. Mom’s character, Eve Duncan, was featured the Kendra
books. It was just right for her to do those scenes. BTW: Kendra has actually appeared in three Eve Duncan books: Sleep No More (as a supporting character), Hunting Eve (a major character), Finding Eve (more of a cameo in the
first chapter), and Eve appears in the last quarter of the Kendra book The Naked Eye.
EC: So how did the main character Kendra Michaels come about?
We started with Kendra even before we wrote one word of the story. The way mom writes characters influenced the creation of this person. I write most of the intricate explanations of what Kendra does. We wanted to create a classic detective
that could, with their powers of observation and deduction, seeing some things no one else could see. There was a lot of time spent on making sure she was different; yet, maintains the classic detective traits.
EC: Can you describe her?
IJ: She is complicated, brisk, cautious, loyal, and impatient. She has difficulty with those who she considers lazy in doing their job. She has
a colorful history from those wild days after she was given her sight. Kendra always speaks her mind, especially with her FBI counterparts.
EC: Kendra’s skills came from when she was blind?
RJ: We came up with the idea of having her formally blind for her first twenty years of life. Like most blind people she grew up fine tuning her other senses to compensate. Now that she has her sight, thanks
to a rare, successful stem cell surgery, she is able to pick up sounds and smells that most others do not even pay attention to. She soaks up the world around her, including her sight.
Is it hard to have Kendra deduce something, but make it believable?
IJ: We need to present the problem, explain it away, make sure the reader understands it, and that it makes sense to them. We
have to make sure that there is a balance and not put in too many of those scenes. We want to give a wonderful ride, but also make sure there is a balance and that those scenes are not overwhelming.
RJ: It is
hard to write these scenes because it must contribute to the flow of the story. What she observes must move the story forward. This is incredibly time consuming. I think the most challenging part of the book is to make those scenes work in
a variety of ways. We want to make sure Kendra does not have super powers. She can see, hear, and smell things, which anyone else can if they were paying attention. What makes her special is how she trained herself to pay attention.
EC: Did you speak to anyone who was blind?
RJ: I talked to a blind woman to get a sense about what it is like. I was impressed how she compensated
with other senses. It is something she does to make her way in the world. What she told me was very inspirational. One of our favorite fan letters was from a blind person who said she played the audio book and felt it was true to life.
EC: Why make Kendra’s other job as a music therapist?
RJ: It is based on my sister Pam’s profession. It is something Kendra could do even
when she was blind. It is how people can communicate, and is really unexplored territory.
EC: Can you describe the main male character, Adam Lynch?
Traditionally a loner, not a team player, sometimes of a prickly nature. He is a free-lance operative. Through Kendra he is learning to work and play well with others. He is very much his own man with a steely confidence. His hated
nickname is ‘Puppetmaster,’ because one of his talents is having people bend to his will. He can be very persuasive, a master of manipulation.
EC: The romantic tension heats up between
Kendra and Adam Lynch?
IJ: The relationship takes a major leap in this book. We do play around with this attraction. There has always been Kendra’s distrust of a commitment. Right now,
she is pulling back because she does not want to be hurt by this sexy, smart, cocky, and dominant man. Even though she sees everything, sometimes where Lynch is concerned she is blind to the clues he offers.
While she was blind, her determined, brilliant mother, Deanna, decided that Kendra was going to grow up to be extraordinary?
IJ: In Kendra’s world, she is and has been independent. Her
mom helped her in that personality. She would not be who she is today if not for her mom who was tough and caring. A mother can be a whole family to a child. This is why we put in the book quote about her mother who made “certain that
Kendra didn’t miss one bit of the experience because of the darkness, memories…the triumphs and hope and remember all the joys that she had experienced with her mother through the years. No one could have been a stronger or more loving mother
than Deanna. Kendra wanted to reach out, touch her, and relive those years that had bound them together in the darkness and in the light.”
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?
IJ: A murder takes place at Kendra’s former school for the blind. There will be some scenes where this book left off. My book out in October, Vendetta, is not an Eve book, but does bring back
a former character, Catherine Ling. There will be a surprising connection for those old Eve fans.
A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo is a powerful story. From the very first page, when a young Amish woman commits suicide, the plot takes on a dark and gripping tone, a very thought-provoking
novel. Bur readers should not be surprised considering Castillo books are always insightful and riveting.
The story begins with
Amish teenager Emma Miller hanging herself and then fast forwards six months where Painter Mills police chief Kate Burkholder is called to investigate a body found in a burned barn. The initial reaction is that it was a freak accident, but as the evidence
builds up Kate suspects murder. This eighteen-year-old Amish boy, Daniel Gingerich, is found inside, burned alive, and barricaded in the tack room with no way to escape. She is baffled since it appears Daniel has no enemies in the world, yet, he
dies a harsh and cruel death. The investigation takes on twists and turns since Daniel has a secret life. Secrets are the heart of the story as the Amish community stays silent, basically attempting to stonewall the case. Kate begins to wonder
if this peaceful and deeply religious community is conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about.
As she wades through a sea of suspects,
she’s confronted by her own violent past, which made her leave the Amish community. She finds that there are many parallels to her past as the rape of Amish girls are hidden, and not talked about or reported. This part of the story is very relevant to
issues of today. It is an Amish MeToo Moment. What also makes the plot authentic is Kate’s reflection on the Amish sects, their principles, rules, and her ability to speak the Dutch language.
Castillo is a master at building suspense with intense and dark secret undertones. This harrowing thriller, with so many interesting characters, emphasizes how religious beliefs influence
the communities’ morality and the desire to obtain justice.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the series?
Linda Castillo: That’s a difficult question to answer without giving away too much but I’ll take my best shot. One of the elements of writing crime fiction that I love—and
always strive to find—is the unexpected. The unexpected in terms of motive. The unexpected in terms of the suspect. Those elements can never come from out of left field. They must be part of the story. I believe I achieved that
with A Gathering of Secrets. That’s about all I can say without including a spoiler.
LC: I’m not Amish although I have been asked that question on more than one occasion. I’m originally from Ohio’s farm country, so I’ve
always been aware of the Amish. As a child, I wasn’t particularly interested. As an adult, while I was working on the idea of writing a big thriller I made a trip to Amish Country. That trip prompted the core idea for the Kate Burkholder
series. I found myself fascinated by the culture, the history, the religion. I couldn’t think of a more interesting setting, especially for a thriller. As a writer, I was intrigued by that juxtaposition of the bucolic setting standing
in such sharp contrast to crime—or evil. In addition to the mystery, the books also offer an intimate glimpse into the Amish culture. I wanted to explore that culture. I wanted to write a protagonist that could immerse us not only in
the Amish world, but the “English” world as well.
EC: You write in the acknowledgements that this novel was
difficult to write. Why?
LC: It was because of the subject matter. The book opens with a young Amish woman committing suicide. Readers do not know why, but
as they turn the pages they begin to understand what happened to her. There is also this young man who was burned to death, a very sad situation. As the investigation takes on an ominous tone, I chose to explore the question, is murder justified?
EC: You write how suicide is viewed by the Amish?
This girl felt helpless. I hope I showed how one of the Amish beliefs gave her courage. This is why I wrote, “At some point, she’d begun to cry. But she thought they were tears of happiness, of relief. Mamm had always told
her that death was part of God’s divine plan. She knew the Lord would welcome her with open arms. He would see her through this.”
EC: How has the Amish community reacted to your stories?
LC: I am going to see one of my Amish friends when I am on tour in July. He loves these
books. On the other side, I did hear from another Amish man who is from a more Conservative sect. He was really upset after reading an earlier book, Breaking Silent, and told me he burned the book.
EC: This story did not show the Amish community in a good light?
LC: I think that we
should never generalize the entire community. But in this story, the community did try to sweep things under the rug. The mother of the girl who committed suicide was first seen as uncaring and not supportive of her daughter. The parent reactions
depend on how they were raised and which sect they were from. Another girl, Ruth, who became pregnant from a rape, had her mother decide to find her a husband to pass the baby off as her husbands. Each mother tried to sweep the secret under the rug.
EC: Why do you think the mothers had the attitude, “God doesn’t let things like that happen to good girls.
She must’ve done something to tempt him”?
LC: In my research I read that an Amish boy who does something terribly wrong, even raping someone, can get off.
If he confesses before the Church congregation, he is forgiven. This is why I wrote the girls not speaking up, some committing suicide, because they knew the boy would have been forgiven and they would be caught up in the stigma.
EC: Many of the Amish boys are not likeable characters?
I write one of them as a little weasel. He knew that girls were getting raped and did nothing. He even saw what happened to one personally and did not step up to the plate to stop it. It was very satisfying for me as a writer to have Kate
slap the cigarette out of his mouth.
EC: It was surprising to see the Amish did not object to some modern technology, such
as fire engines, autopsies, using the dentist/emergency rooms, and having cell phones?
LC: They have absolutely no problem using modern medicine. Many times, if there
is an illness they will first try folk remedies. If that doesn’t work they will go to a dentist or doctor. Regarding the cell phone or technology, if it is used for business many think it is OK. When it comes to business or making money they
are very enterprising. I think many are more lenient with their business life than their personal life. There are community phone booths. Teenagers on Rumspringa will buy a cell phone. This is a period in their life when they are not yet
baptized, and they have not joined the Church, so they are free to drink, have modern technology, and dress as an “Englisher,” with their parents looking the other way.
EC: Does it depend on the different faction of Amish?
LC: There are sub-groups of the Anabaptists that include
the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites. They were very persecuted during the Reformation in Europe because they believed in adult Baptism. Now there are sub-groups of Amish, which I write about in the book, the Beachy Amish and the Swartzentruber. One
of the girls, Neva Lambright, who was a Beachy Amish, could drive a car, use a cash register at her business, and wore clothes that were decoratively colored. But I contrast her with the Swartzentruber Amish who are much more Conservative. They
do not allow indoor plumbing, have no running water in the house, and do not have gravel driveways. They will not have windshields on their buggies, which makes for hard times with inclement weather.
EC: How do you come up with all those Amish names?
LC: Usually I go to Holmes County Ohio, the largest Amish
community in the world. I actually have an old Amish directory, a huge book that I go through. The most popular Amish name is Miller, which is why they are prone to use nicknames like Abe “chicken” Miller, the Miller who raises chickens.
EC: Why the pets of chicks?
LC: Kate and her beau,
John Tomasetti, both work too much to have a dog or cat. I wanted to use subtle symbolism for Kate and Tomasetti, as they put down permanent roots. In this story John gives Kate strength and support. Each are absolutely nuts for each other. I hope readers
see it as a touching scene. Chicks were chosen so Kate could relate to her past, since she grew up in a rural setting. Even though John is a city guy he is also really into the farm scene. I guess subconsciously I used chicks because I grew
up in a rural area.
EC: What do you want readers to get out of the story?
LC: Entertainment, but also a feeling that everything was tied up. I am curious to hear what they thought of this story.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?
LC: A mystery involving a murder that happens at the same time an Amish girl goes missing.
In future books, I know that in my writer’s mind John is holding back a secret as he keeps his cards close to his chest. I will play one of my favorite writer games, “what-if.” I need to make their relationship and John’s
secret relevant to the Amish Community.
Freefall (Pendulum Trilogy Book 2)
May 17th, 2018
Freefall by Adam Hamdy is the second book of a three-book series. The Pendulum has swung to this novel where all the main
characters are trying to survive. FBI Agent Christine Ash is still trying to prove her conspiracy theory, English DI Patrick Bailey is trying to recover, and war photographer John Wallace is attempting to escape his past. Although readers can probably figure
out what is happening it is better to read book one, Pendulum.
The novel starts out with the horrific scene of a London journalist, a mother having hung herself.
The death triggers an investigation that brings back together Ash, Wallace, and Bailey, hurling them into the path of an unknown enemy. They have one rule, “Trust no one.” Each have encountered these masked men that target them for the kill. It
becomes obvious that all three characters suffer physical and emotional pain as they find themselves in mortal danger. Suicide, attempted beheadings and IED explosions, are all described in graphic detail. The investigation leads them to discover that the
Pendulum killer was not working alone. As with the first book, the theme has Hamdy examining the internet and its excesses.
Tragedy, conspiracies, and deadly encounters
powers this adventure and action story. It is a pulse-racing read that is relentless and is not for the squeamish. Readers will empathize with the three heroes, hoping beyond hope that they come out of the danger with an emotional and physical
Elise Cooper: Is this a warning about the Internet?
Hamdy: It is fascinating to me how we could be victims of crimes without realizing it. I really wanted to explore this subject so I spoke with a lot of people on how the Internet impacted their lives.
EC: It is a three-book series?
AH: The first book, Pendulum,
looks at the consequences of how one person can do someone else wrong. It deals with anger and fear. This book, Freefall, expands upon Pendulum and explores how technology can subvert government and financial institutions.
It looks on how each character can trust each other and the government. The third book, Aftershock, looks at our belief system and how technology has changed the way others can manipulate our beliefs, creating an illusion of facts. I call
it Fake News on steroids.
EC: Can you explain the book quote, “Concealing our identity only protects those with something
AH: I think technology is only in its infinite stage, and will end up rivaling the Industrial Revolution. No one asks questions about what we want out of
it. There are a number of parents who are upset that their children are addicted to social media. There is this perception that we are not living our lives for ourselves, but for an audience. Those on social media who are anonymous are far more
rude and aggressive. I am pretty sure if they are in front of the person they are goading they would not behave in that way. It gives people license to go further than they normally would.
EC: The opening scene speaks of someone committing suicide. It seems very relevant to today’s current events?
AH: Suicide is a delicate subject. Technology has opened up people’s access to information. There are positives, such as suicide support, anti-depression groups, and counseling services. But there are also negatives:
on-line suicide cheerleaders, and chat rooms encouraging people to film themselves as they take their own lives. What studies have found across the Western world is that the more people are aware of suicide the more they make the choice to end their lives.
EC: How would you describe Ash?
AH: She is a damaged
individual who had a difficult childhood. She became an FBI Agent to honor her murdered mother. Outside she has a tough shell, but inside is very fragile and vulnerable. Overall, she is tenacious, smart, paranoid, and wants to isolate herself.
EC: How would you describe Wallace?
He embodies the average person. He is on a journey of redemption and forgiveness.
EC: How would you describe Bailey?
AH: I think he is the only blameless character of the trilogy. He is a good guy who tries to do the right thing. He is compromised by childhood friends like Salamander, which is
based on my childhood friends. They came from the wrong side of the tracks who live their own moral code. Overall, he is smart, tough, dogged, and someone who keeps getting punched but gets back up. I have him suffering from PTSD because
police, law enforcement, and soldiers that go through life changing events quite often have serious repercussions and emotional scars.
How would you describe the main antagonist, Smokie?
AH: He is a psychopath. I met with some murderers who consider themselves the heroes of their own stories.
Smokie thinks that everything he does is justified, including all the pain and suffering he inflicts. He is very angry and believes that the end justifies the means. He has no morality.
EC: Interesting your filler characters have no names but are referred to as “scarred man,” “fatman,” and “bomber-jacket.” Why?
AH: I write from a character’s perspective. What they don’t know is what I, the author, as well as the reader, doesn’t know. These names go along with what Wallace, Ash, and Bailey have
named the characters in their heads. Readers experience the story through the eyes, ears, and brains of one of the principled characters.
EC: Those torture scenes are pretty intense?
AH: I do not think there is much physical torture, but more emotional torture. I am a great believer
that once you read the shock the fear is caused by the reader’s imagination. I think I only suggested the pain, but the reader takes it from there with their mind filling in the gaps. What makes it terrifying are the psychological aspects,
the loss of control and how it takes someone to their darkest places.
EC: Can you explain this book quote, equality
is “used to garner support from people who were too idealistic to recognize the darkness that lay at their heart?”
AH: Throughout history someone has used others
better judgement to their advantage. Sometimes it is too late before people realize what the others are truly after. In the next few years once the companies get more sophisticated, and more competent, we will see mass manipulation by the digital
mediums. No one ever comes to power saying ‘I want to be evil.’ They try to tap into the aspirational aspects of ourselves. Smokie comes to power by saying how he believes in equality. These people come along and sell us our dreams.
There is this ideological version of ourselves with all these wonderful words that are actually ugly.
EC: Can you give a heads
up about your next book?
AH: The antagonist in Aftershock, the third book, is the embodiment of pure evil. Ash will grow as a character and this novel
will be her story. Wallace and her relationship will be at the heart of the plot. I hope people find it entertaining, but also will ask questions about the Internet.