Castle Danger by Chris Norbury

Castle Danger

Castle Danger by Chris Norbury, 296 pages, Booklocker.com, Inc., April 26th 2016, Genre: Psychological Thriller. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Castle Danger is a suspenseful, engaging read. Taking place in northwest Minnesota in a frightful winter, the setting comes alive, menacing and life-threatening to any who lack the foresight and skills to survive. People who’ve been kicked in the teeth and were able to get back up again would call such a place home with pride. The winter’s not easy, but what in life ever is? It’s when things aren’t easy that one’s character and mettle are tested.

No good deed goes unpunished and this is doubly true for our protagonist, Matt. A quiet man, he’d rather watch, learn, and plan than chit-chat. Possessed of a strong personal code, Matt is on the run because he did the right thing against the wrong people. Try as he might to hide from the world, he happens upon a man who will die without his help. Naturally, Matt chooses to do the right thing. It costs him and nearly kills him. Luckily, he passes out in front of The Halcyon, a restaurant owned by Allyson Clifford. Matt awakens the next day to discover Allyson has nursed him back from death’s door. Since her chef has skipped out on her, she offers Matt the job as her cook. Matt is a man of mystery, refusing to reveal much about himself. He is reluctant to take up her offer, but given the situation with the weather and the fact she really seems to need a cook, he repays her kindness by agreeing to stay on until she can find a full time replacement. Meanwhile, we learn that a hired killer is after Matt and gaining clues where he can find his prey. Just as we think Matt is the fascinating one with all the deep, dark secrets, it turns out Allyson has a few of her own. Her “husband” has come to town and wants her and his son back…or else.

Most of the characters were believable, interesting, and relatable. None were saints, and their crimes were understandable. Matt and Allyson were likable and the attraction between them realistic. The antagonist tried so hard to convince everyone he was really the good guy but it was obvious he didn’t believe it himself. I felt the antagonist would’ve been more enjoyable if he truly believed he was the wronged hero in his own tale. Nevertheless, the interplay and struggles between various characters kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next and how things would turn out. Well-paced with an interesting plot, Castle Danger kept me on the edge of my seat.

I’d recommend Castle Danger to fans of thrillers and suspense.

You can find it at Castle Danger.

Book Description:

***2017 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree***

***2017 Honorable Mention, Genre Fiction, Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards***

Fugitive Matt Lanier, unjustly accused of a violent crime, has been hiding in the northeastern Minnesota wilderness for nine months. The law wants him in jail. His enemies want him dead. He simply wants to survive the most brutal winter in decades.

After rescuing an injured trapper, Matt is forced to leave his primitive encampment. He undertakes a Herculean trek through a blizzard to Castle Danger, a small town on the rugged North Shore of Lake Superior. There he’s saved from near death by Allyson Clifford, a shrewd and beautiful restaurant owner with secrets of her own. Despite wanting to move on in order to evade his pursuers, Matt helps Allyson weather a business crisis as repayment for her benevolence.

Then Allyson’s estranged husband, Donnie Vossler, shows up intent on reclaiming their 8-year-old son, Josh. Caught in the middle of the custody battle, Matt learns about Allyson and Vossler’s criminal past life together and is torn between self-preservation and his growing feelings for Allyson and Josh.

Matt’s recent past has left him with little hope for the future, so when Vossler resorts to sabotage, kidnapping, and attempted murder to capture his son, Matt’s integrity, honor, and survival instincts are put to the ultimate test just as a hit man hired by his enemies closes in for the kill.

Review

Castle Danger is that one manuscript in a thousand that is waiting to become a bestseller–yet breaks new ground in doing so. Nonstop suspense, real characters, and a vivid setting in northern Minnesota make Chris Norbury’s work stand out from the rest.Castle Danger’s readership potential is as far-reaching as Lake Superior, with appeal for both men and women and fans of suspense, crime, romance and redemption stories. It is the best manuscript I’ve seen in a long time.”- Lauren O’Neil, Sharp Eye Edits

From the Author

Castle Danger is my debut novel. It started as a sequel to an earlier unpublished novel. I’m a born-and-raised Minnesotan (except for a few early childhood years in Wisconsin) and love the state and its people. The prequel and sequel to Castle Danger will also involve primarily Minnesota characters and locales.

Weather will always be a character in my novels set in Minnesota because we have some of the most extreme weather on the planet. I defy you to name another region on earth that has a temperature range of approximately 175 degrees (as cold as -66 F up to about +110 F!).

Weather of all sorts can disrupt plans, affect outcomes, and be downright dangerous, even lethal. Think tornadoes, floods, lightning strikes, paralyzing blizzards (three feet of snow in two days … at Halloween!), and prolonged cold snaps (weeks at a time where high temperatures don’t get above 0 degrees Fahrenheit).

Instead of writing about “glamorous” main characters who are spies, government agents, ex-Navy Seals, or brilliant trial lawyers or detectives, I prefer writing about more or less ordinary people with normal occupations who I can insert into extraordinary situations and have them fight their way through without the assistance of super “powers,” special training, or unlimited resources and manpower.

At heart, my novels will explore one or more universal character trait found in all people and put a character’s moral fortitude to the test. For instance, in Castle Danger, protagonist Matt Lanier will have his integrity and survival instincts challenged when he’s put into a life-or-death situation. Thanks for your interest and I hope you enjoy reading Castle Danger.

Author Biography

Chris Norbury is a freelance writer and novelist. He independently published his first novel, “Castle Danger,” in April 2016. In June of 2017, “Castle Danger” was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion from indieBRAG.com. In October of 2017, “Castle Danger” received an Honorable Mention-Genre Fiction- Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

Chris is working on the prequel to “Castle Danger,” whose working title is “Straight River.” A sequel to “Castle Danger” is in the planning stages. He has also been a freelance writer since 2014. His areas of expertise include finance, investing, economics, politics, golf, wine, and current events.

His essay on wilderness canoeing, “Solo Challenge,” was published in the Spring 2014 issue of the Boundary Waters Journal. A second article, titled “Soloing for Solitude,” appears in the Spring 2016 issue of the BWJ.

He is a contributing editor to brokerage-review.com and writes weekly op-ed articles for thinkingoutsidetheboxe.com.

Chris is a long-time volunteer Big Brother (since 2000) and will dedicate a percentage of all sales of his novels to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota. Even if you do not buy his book(s), please consider volunteering for one of the best mentoring programs in the country and contact your local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

During golf season in Minnesota, Chris works on perfecting his golf game, an impossible dream but also an excellent excuse to get out of the office. He lives in southern Minnesota with his wife and golf clubs.

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The Itching Scars by Mohy Omar

the itching scars

The Itching Scars (The Scars Book 1) by Mohy Omar, May 9th, 2017, Genre: Anthologies/Psychological/Suspense. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

The Itching Scars is the first anthology of short stories released by Mohy Omar. It contains three short stories. The anthology currently sells for $2.99 at Amazon and is available through Kindle Unlimited for free reading at the time of this posting. The Itching Scars is a collection of stories tied together by a central theme, namely, that being human is hard and we all carry the scars of our failures and defeats. We can hide the scars, but even so, we know they’re there. They “itch”, affect our choices and behavior, and shape who we are as human beings. Omar excellently weaves this theme throughout three different genres in turn.

The first tale is “To Court Death”. In this story, the narrator reflects on those he has known who have passed into the great unknown. Gritty and dark, our narrator takes us on a journey into the past of these acquaintances and lovers, causing us to wonder where the tale is taking us. What lies at the end is horrifying, and it is only at the end that we see how these deaths linked together in the narrator’s mind.

The second story is “The Space Above, The Space Within”. We’re abruptly thrust into a dystopian future long after the Hate War ended. The authorities are taking Votum’s father to be slain for believing in God; in fact, they are executing him for opposing the ‘truth’ of the regime. Votum wants his father to live, wants to save him, as would anyone. Omar once more builds to a horrifying conclusion.

The final tale is “Under the Rust”. Told in a first-person perspective, this story focuses on a grim conversation between the narrator and a summoned demon. He confesses his sins to the demon. The demon is anxious to get to the root of his worst sin, to remove it from him and take his soul in the process. He wants desperately to unburden himself, but has difficulty admitting to his true crime. The ending is interesting and unexpected.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this anthology.  Much of the narrative style reminded me of the narration from “Sin City”; particularly in “To Court Death”. The most horrifying situations not only chilled me, but made me think about what I might do if I were in that character’s shoes. As the author writes, “They never said being human could be this hard.” As a fan of gritty, grim tales, I was left wanting more. My only complaint was that there were only these three tales in this anthology. I read the collection in forty minutes. I’d recommend this anthology to readers of short stories who love dark tales that examine the underbelly of humanity.

This book can be found at The Itching Scars.

The Watson Girl by Leslie Wolfe

The Watson Girl
A Gripping Thriller!

The Watson Girl by Leslie Wolfe, 244 pages, Italics Publishing, 2nd Edition, January 21st, 2017. Genre: Crime/Serial Killers/Mystery and Suspense. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

The Watson Girl is a gripping serial killer thriller featuring an emotionally scarred, tough-as-nails female FBI agent, Tess Winnett. Agent Winnett has a perfect record. She always gets her man- though that usually means killing him in self-defense. After a harrowing near-death experience, Tess returns to the force early, despite her difficulties coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her first assignment is performing due diligence on the Watson file, a case they thought closed long ago. Fifteen years prior, the Watson family was murdered, with their four- year-old daughter Laura as the sole survivor. Laura is known as “The Watson Girl”.

Tess checks up on the claim of the alleged killer, “The Family Man”, that he didn’t kill three of the thirty-four families he was accused of murdering. After visiting him on death row, she double checks the case files, discovering several differences between the three crimes and the others The Family Man confessed to. With the aid of the local officers and MD who originally worked the cases, Tess puts together the pieces of the puzzle bit by bit. Meanwhile, Laura Watson appears on television talking about a new regression therapy she’s trying in hopes of regaining her repressed memories of the awful event. Tess races against the clock to identify and capture the killer before he can return to finish off “The Watson Girl”.

The style and plot structure is reminiscent of James Patterson’s books and had the mood of “Silence of the Lambs”. The well-woven story is told primarily in third person with occasional glimpses into the mind of the killer through first person internal narrative. I was particularly impressed with the portrayal of the killer himself. Wolfe portrays the malignant narcissistic psychopath to a tee. Tess naturally feels a connection to Laura, as they are both survivors of a horrible crime, both struggling with the anxiety and stress in their own ways. Laura’s survival is paramount to Tess in the scheme of things. If Laura can survive and thrive, so can Tess hope to overcome the inner scars of her ordeal.

Special Agent Tess Winnett also appears in Dawn Girl. Both stories can be read as stand-alone novels. Make time in your schedule to spend about four hours reading because you won’t want to put it down. The Watson Girl is disturbing and the reveal, horrifying; but if you love thrillers you won’t regret it one bit. I loved reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime novels, serial killer stories, police procedurals, and thrillers.

You can find this book on Amazon at The Watson Girl.

 

Watching You by J.A. Schneider

Watching You
High Stakes Thriller!

Watching You by J.A. Schneider, 281 pages, RGS Media, April 25th 2017, Genre: Psychological Thriller/Suspense, ISBN: 1544767927. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

“WATCHING YOU” says the text message each victim receives before their untimely demise. At first, it’s a mystery how the killer is choosing and tracking his prey. However, in this age of free-flowing information and cell phones, it’s much easier to stalk people than we like to think it is. A feeling of dread turns by degrees into horror as we realize how easy and plausible the killer’s methods are. Horror turns to panic as the reader realizes how difficult it would be to stop such a killer.  In this third installment of the Kerri Blasco series, J.A. Schneider takes us on a trip of terror we’re not likely to soon forget.

The first victim, Leda Winfield, was a treasure to society, a lovely young woman who volunteered at the local shelter, helping the homeless. She was coldly executed with a single shot to the back of the head, a note that says “Watching You” pinned into her back with a hatpin. Nearby, the cops discover the victim’s cell phone, with a message from a few days prior showing the same words as in the note. As the detectives interview family and friends, they discover that there were plenty of people who may have had reasons to kill Leda. The stakes increase as another unrelated victim is discovered. When our heroine, Kerri Blasco, becomes the next target, the cat and mouse game has the highest stakes of them all. The story turns into a race against time as they seek the killer’s identity before he or she can take Kerri’s life.

In this phenomenal third book of the series, we learn more about Kerri’s background and gain valuable insight into her character. The relationship between Kerri and Alex Brand, her boss and lover, deepens and intensifies. Kerri considers where the relationship is heading and how that may impact her career. This decision is not made by the end of the book, but it’s something Kerri won’t be able to put off forever. The characters presented in the book were believable and interesting. Most fascinating of all, J.A. Schneider allows us inside the terrifying mind of the killer as he stalks his victims.

The plot is woven ingeniously. Usually I have figured out the mystery by the time the answer is revealed, but in this amazing new book, I was stumped. It delighted me that I never saw it coming. Fast paced, heart pounding, and riveting, don’t miss out on this gripping psychological thriller. I deeply enjoyed reading Watching You. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves crime, mystery, or psychological thriller novels.

This book may be purchased at Amazon Watching You.

 

Interview with RaShell Lashbrook

Rashell Lashbrook

Today, it’s my pleasure to interview the author of “Hidden in The Dark”, RaShell Lashbrook. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, RaShell!

Leigh: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a mom of six children, ranging in ages from twenty-one to seven years old. I own and operate a cleaning business, which gives me a great deal of time to think while working.  I have a tremendous amount of creative energy, and I’m happiest when I’m building something, whether that be a garden, a new recipe, or most recently, a book.

When I was around two years old, my parents got rid of our television so my childhood entertainment became books and creating things. I’ve always known that I wanted to write, but up until my early forties, I didn’t feel that I had anything to write about. I’d start stories in my head, but never put them onto pages.

Right around my fortieth birthday, personal challenges left me feeling frustrated, angry, and scared. Needing an outlet for my emotions, I began to write.  The release was amazing. I could kill people the legal way – on paper! I say this jokingly, but the writing allowed me to work through some things. In case you’re wondering, most of the awful things that happen to my characters in Hidden in the Dark never happened to me. My problems were far less interesting or horrifying.

I’d like to think that I could survive a zombie apocalypse, so I’m a bit of a lazy prepper. I go through phases of being all organic and self-sustaining, in fact I have a blog dedicated to this type of thing named Poppyjuicelivingwellforless.com. Then, I go through times of buying take-out food and sugar cereal. My kids love the lazy mom phase!

 

Leigh: “Hidden in The Dark” involves very serious subject matter. What drew you towards writing a thriller centered around familial abuse?

Although I was in a very unhealthy relationship at the time that I began writing “Hidden in the Dark”, the type and extremity of familial abuse that occurred in my story was a surprise even to me. I wasn’t in a happy place, and felt very controlled in my relationship. As crazy as it sounds, I had no idea what I was going to write about when I first sat down in front of the computer. At the risk of someone suggesting a psych evaluation, I truly felt as if the characters were revealing their stories to me as I wrote.

Perhaps I worked through some of my issues with the characters and storyline. At the risk of giving any spoilers, Genny was a victim, but by the act of not protecting her children in the way a mother should, she also became an abuser of sorts. Enabling and covering was something that she seemed to do naturally, whether it be her abusive husband, or her youngest daughter. Every female character in “Hidden in the Dark” has pieces of me.

As I got to know the characters, I played the game of “what if” – What if this happened? What if that happened? I was actually uncomfortable with the direction that the story took and initially tried to water it down. The resulting story was weak and had no real direction. Once I decided to give in to the story in my head, it began to flow.

 

Leigh: What do you find are common traps for new writers to fall into?

I’m not sure about other writers because I’m a bit of a hermit, but for me, I struggled with the need to be perfect in my writing. Once I understood that editing is where the magic happens, I could get my story down. I began to practice the act of writing whatever, even if it was crap. I would let it sit for a time, then go back and reread. This was so helpful, to be able to edit my work with fresh eyes.

Another thing that I struggled with was worrying about how my story was going to look, or appeal to readers. Concern about what other people might think caused me to hold back often. Initially, the fear that my spouse (he unhealthy relationship) would read it and dislike it caused me to write something that was very mild. Eventually, I began to write only to please (or disturb) myself. Then, the story began to really take shape.

 

Leigh: Is there a book on your shelf that you re-read more than once over time? What is it?

The Wizard of Oz was a book that I read often as a child. As an adult, I’ve only reread several books – “The Witching Hour” and “Lasher”, both part of a series by Anne Rice. Her writing is so intricate that I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any details.

 

Leigh: What were some of the literary works that shaped your love of writing?

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, works by Stephen King, and of course, Anne Rice’s works before she went back to the church.

 

Leigh: How many unpublished and partially completed books do you have? Do you work on multiple projects at once or focus on just one at a time?

Although I have three barely-begun works on my computer, there is only one that I consider a book yet. It is the prequel to “Hidden in the Dark”. I try to work on one thing at a time, but I never ignore an idea that won’t leave me. I’m afraid I won’t get back to it, and I’ll forget it completely. I have collection of notes in my phone that may be seeds for future books, or may get integrated into the book I’m currently working on.

 

Leigh: What are you currently working on?

The prequel to “Hidden in the Dark” is my current focus. Due out December 2017, “How a Monster is Made” is the story of Randall Carter, the abusive father in “Hidden in the Dark”. I wanted to understand how someone could do such vile things to their children and wife. I’m on a journey to reveal his past.

 

Leigh: What was the most difficult aspect of the book to write and why?

I struggled with the abuse scenes. I didn’t want to diminish the horrific aspect of the abuse, but I also worried that the abuse would be too graphic.

 

Leigh: Do you write part time or full time?

Part time. Whenever I can, but I dedicate every Monday to writing.

 

Leigh: How much research was involved in writing “Hidden in the Dark”?

I didn’t research much initially. After the story began to take shape, I verified that my writing jived with some facts. The multiple personality aspect of Raine wasn’t researched much, and I do worry that I will offend someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder.  One of my beta readers has a degree in psychology. She reassures me that I’m not terribly far off, so I’m taking her word for it.

 

Leigh: What other hobbies do you enjoy?

I adore gardening and anything DIY! I love to learn how to do something, master it, and move on to the next challenge.

 

Leigh: Do you find it is difficult getting honest, quality book reviews in today’s market? Are there any strategies for getting reviews you’d like to share with other new authors?

Initially, when I began to seek reviews, I had some offers to give me a good review for a price. I wondered if this was just part of promoting a book. Luckily, I question everything. I researched and found lists of book bloggers/reviewers that claim to give honest reviews. It is difficult in the sense that book reviewers get inundated and may not have time to review. The temptation is there to pay for good reviews, but I truly believe taking the high road will pay off in the long run.  My strategy thus far is to research reviewers, pay attention to the requirements of the individual reviewers when submitting, and respect their time. Understand that they are doing you a favor by agreeing to give an honest review. Never place all your hope in just a few reviews.  Also, don’t rule out the idea of giving books to social contacts in exchange for honest reviews, but be prepared to get less reviews that expected on your preferred sites. For example, I ran a free download promotion on Kindle for two days with the request to acquaintances to give an honest review in exchange. I received a good amount of positive feedback on Facebook, in personal messages, etc. but almost no one took the time to review on Amazon or Goodreads.

 

Leigh: How can others find out more about you and your writing?

Website:  RaShell Lashbrook

Blog: RaShell’s Blog  and Living Well for Less

Facebook: RaShell on Facebook

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PoppyJuiceBlog

Linkedin: RaShell LinkedIn

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/poppyjuice/

Amazon Author Page: RaShell on Amazon

Book Links: American https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06W2FZHSK

UK   https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Dark-Every-Family-Secrets-ebook/dp/B06W2FZHSK/

Goodreads: Hidden in The Dark at Goodreads

Thank you very much, RaShell, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Thank you, Leigh! It’s been a pleasure and an honor to participate!

RaShell’s Bio

RaShell Lashbrook 2RaShell Lashbrook2

RaShell Danette Lashbrook was born in Wellington, Kansas, the eldest daughter of Lyle and Marcia Pope Lashbrook. Her parents threw the television away when she was just two years old, so she spent her childhood in Mulvane, Kansas reading, exploring, biting her nails, and picking her nose.

Her deep love of reading always fueled a small flame of desire to write, but it wasn’t until 2012 that she began to practice the craft of throwing words onto paper and rearranging them repeatedly.

She is blessed to share her life with her first love – Mr. Man of the house, her six magnificent children and their friends, parents that anyone would be envious of, Andee (her best friend since the eighth grade), the best siblings in the whole world, a crazy Australian Shepard, a psychotic Siberian Husky, a mutt named Dojo, and a “top-shelf” circle of extended family and friends.

RaShell’s fascination with many different subjects has served her well in her writing. She prefers to think of her dabbling as “research”. Her lasting passions have been organic gardening, music, cooking, murder, mysteries, aliens, and people with mental disorders.

Hidden in The Dark by RaShell Lashbrook

Hidden in the dark cover
Suspenseful, Tragic

Hidden in The Dark by RaShell Lashbrook, 268 pages, RaShell/Lashbrook, February 8th, 2017, Genre: Psychological Thriller. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

            Hidden in The Dark is a tragic, fierce psychological thriller, carefully woven to incrementally reveal the secrets that demolished a family. Genny and Randall have three adult daughters who no longer speak to Randall. Genny, tired of Randall’s abuse of several decades, decides to leave, sneaking out while Randall is passed out drunk. Her youngest daughter, Raine, whom she sees as the most reliable, picks her up and lets Genny stay with her. Her eldest daughter Lilly assists her in contacting an attorney, setting up her own bank account, and taking other steps necessary for Genny to establish her independence from Randall. Until Genny left Randall, the three sisters rarely spoke to each other or their parents, determined to leave the past behind and create better lives for themselves. Genny’s return to their lives draws them together once more, forcing them to confront each other, their mother, and their own personal demons about their own abuse at the hands of their father. Some will meet with more success than others, with catastrophic consequences.

RaShell Lashbrook portrays her characters realistically, each a victim of horrible and repeated trauma, using their individual, unique strategies they’ve developed to try to cope. The characters display an array of emotions, including guilt, sympathy, blame, self-shame, and rage. Genny was particularly authentic; over the years, the men she sought help from outside the family, such as policemen and pastors, told her the abuse was her fault for antagonizing her husband. When Genny’s friends stood up to Randall, Randall isolated her from them. Without support, Genny focused on keeping as much peace in the house as possible. The self-blame society taught her to feel for her predicament, she placed on her children. The psychological effects from abuse for each character were devastating and carried real world consequences.

I enjoyed Hidden in The Dark, a vivid suspense novel. It is an excellently executed tapestry depicting a family’s terror and tragedy. The subject matter is serious, disturbing, and grim. Domestic violence causes more injuries to women between the ages of 15 and 44 than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. There are 3,600 shelters for animals in the United States. There are only 1500 shelters for battered women. I couldn’t put this one down until I’d finished reading it. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime and suspense novels, and psychological thrillers. I look forward to reading more of RaShell Lashbrook’s work in the future.

Hidden in The Dark can be found on Amazon at Hidden In The Dark .

Interview with J.A. Schneider, Author of “Watching You”

J.A. Schneider

Today I’m interviewing J.A. Schneider, author of “Fear Dreams”, “Her last Breath”, and the upcoming third novel in the Detective Kerri Blasco series, “Watching You”. Thanks so much for the interview today!

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Leigh, and thanks for inviting me! Okay, I’m happiest being quiet, either reading or writing. Maybe because life before this was a bit tumultuous.

I majored in French Lit, spent my Jr Year Abroad at the Sorbonne; then, six days after graduating got sent with the US-USSR Student Exchange to the Soviet Union where with friends I promptly got arrested for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda – in our ol’ stinky hotel room, we’d been laughing our heads off at their pea-green-colored water, then heard pounding on the door, and, “Vwi aristoveni!” (“You’re arrested!”) Three broad guys in trench coats, no kidding. Our door had been closed! Who knew the room was bugged?

That was smoothed out; then, while hiking in the Caucasus mountains near Sochi with Russian, East German & Bulgarian students, I fell down a ravine and wound up in a Soviet hospital. Sochi doctors were nice, really.

Then came Newsweek, then marriage and children (a soccer mom!), then two books published by Simon & Schuster. Then Kindle and KDP, and I couldn’t be happier. So far, I much prefer going the Indie route. No 18-month-long waits because the editor got laid off & the book spent six months “orphaned” till somebody new got hired & caught up. Traditional publishing is slow and cumbersome!

 Leigh: What other books have you written?

Six medical thrillers in my Embryo series; then, more recently, the three so far in my Detective Kerri Blasco police/psychological thriller series. They are Fear Dreams, Her Last Breath, and Watching You. Plus, years earlier, the two Simon & Schuster books which were kinda my training wheels, plus a non-fiction book written with my husband, a physician, on health and weight loss to avoid or deal with type 2 diabetes.

 Leigh: What draws you to the Psychological Thriller genre?

I’ve always loved Hitchcock. What’s behind the masks people wear – and how not-nice people manipulate others – is scarier to me than any generic crime story.

 Leigh: Who do you picture playing Kerri Blasco in film?

I really don’t know, haven’t thought about it. Someone the camera “likes,” who can seem smart, tough, and tender all at once.

 Leigh: What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before you start to write a book?

I don’t research much. I use Google a lot. The Kerri Blasco stories take place in NYC, where my husband & lived for five years before moving to the ‘burbs, but NYC changes so fast – so I google locations just to make sure they’re still there, see what they look like now. (A block of brownstones I once knew is now a huge Chase Manhattan). Then there’s the police stuff, which I’ve picked up from police detective friends in our Connecticut town…and for the morgue scenes, anatomy etc? My husband helps with that. I hate stopping the writing, so I cheat whenever possible. But that’s where imagination comes in, right? Rimbaud never saw the sea, Stephen Crane never saw a real battle when he wrote Red Badge of Courage.

Leigh: What was it like to write from the perspective of a killer?

Scary, compelling, pulse-pounding. Evil and psychosis do exist in this world. Plus villains are vital. What would Peter Pan be without Captain Hook?

Leigh: What was your favorite childhood book?

The Nancy Drew series. Also Treasure Island.

 Leigh: What is your favorite motivational saying?

“Every writer is terrified.” David Baldacci. All successful authors say what amounts to the same thing; i.e., “Do you have the guts to stay with it?” (Tess Gerritsen), and, “Just keep flailing away at the g-d thing!” (Stephen King)

Leigh: What are some of your hobbies?

I garden with a passion, so have really ugly hands. I battle boulders, grow rose ramblers that reach 20+ feet. Thorns? People ask if we keep big cats. I’ll prune anything that can’t run away. I also love watching good movies with my family, and good TV cop shows; could watch Dexter over and over…

 Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

 Website: http://jaschneiderauthor.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JASchneiderAuthor?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoyceSchneider1

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=J.A.+Schneider&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=J.A.+Schneider&sort=relevancerank

Book Links:

Fear Dreams getBook.at/FearDreams 

Her Last Breath http://getBook.at/HerLastBreath 

Watching You getBook.at/watchingyou 

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832782.J_A_Schneider

 

Leigh: Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Thank you so much for inviting me, Leigh! I was happy to participate in your beautiful blog!

Readers- don’t forget to check out “Watching You” here in digital at Amazon !

Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider

Her Last Breath
A riveting read!

Her Last Breath (Book Two of the Kerri Blasco series) by J. A. Schneider, 249 pages, RGS Media, October 21 2016, Genre: Psychological Thriller. Warning-May Contain Spoilers

“If it were her last breath, she could never harm anyone,” the title character’s husband assures Detective Kerri Blasco. But in this Hitchcock-style psychological thriller, nothing and no one are what they seem. In this second installment of the Kerri Blasco series, author J. A. Schneider once again hits it out of the park.

The book opens with heart-pounding, horrifying action, as Mari struggles to escape a blood drenched scene and to save her own life. She survives with the help of a kind, handsome stranger named Jay. When she awakens, she discovers she is under arrest for murder. Mari has no memory of the evening up until she awoke at the murder scene. Her estranged yet devoted husband Ted, a high-profile defense attorney, arrives quickly and stays by her side through the hastily arranged arraignment. Kerri’s keen instincts kick in, telling her to look further into the case. Caught between two men- her husband who wants her back and Jay, who saved her life-Mari feels conflicted. Realizing she was framed, Mari begins to see even those closest to her as a potential threat. The longer she goes without her memories, the key to the crime, the more Mari’s paranoia mounts. Piecing together the clues, Kerri realizes Mari may be in danger. As Kerri races to find Mari, the suspects collide, leading to a surprising twist ending.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a page turner that I finished in one sitting. I was immediately drawn to Mari’s character, a freelance writer. I sympathized with her precarious situation and building feelings of uncertainty. More of Kerri Blasco’s softer side was revealed, but she remained a stubborn force for good, determined to catch the person responsible. I recommend this book to anyone who loves psychological thrillers with plot twists. This book can be found at Her Last Breath.

Find other books by J.A. Schneider at J.A. Schneider Author Page.

Book Description:

“Stunning, unbearably intense. So engrossed was I that I didn’t realize I was three quarters of the way through till my phone started to lose battery and I realized it was dark outside!” -Best Crime Books

 

A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?

A heart-stopping psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Alfred Hitchcock

What everyone is saying about Her Last Breath:

“Absolutely breathtaking! Another incredibly intense and thrilling psychological stunner by J.A. Schneider – unputdownable and I never guessed the ending!”- Brenda Telford Reviews

“Just finished, still gasping. Incredibly intense…I’ve read hundreds of books and I never guessed the amazing twist. Just stunning!” – Literati Literature Lovers

“This psychological thriller will send shivers down your spine…raise the hair off your neck. It’s non-stop action and suspense. Character development is terrific. They all come across as normal everyday people …. but are any of them really who .. and what … you think they are?” – Linda Strong Reviews

“Her Last Breath is another twisty, stunning mystery thriller from author J. A. Schneider, where the evidence coils and turns like an eel on a hook. Mari goes from trauma to paranoia and back again, her instincts pushing her towards uncovering the blocked memories that could make or break the case, even as she doubts her senses, her mind, and who she can trust. Husband? Friends? Nobody? It’s a rare pleasure to come across a mystery that’s so hard to guess, and J. A. Schneider’s books have a consistent winning streak on that score. Her plots go from strength to strength.”- J.C. Steel, bestselling author of Fighting Shadows

About the Author:

About the Author
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine. She is the author of the Embryo medical thriller series, and of the Detective Kerri Blasco Police/Psychological Thrillers: Fear Dreams, Her Last Breath, and Watching You.

She loves to hear from her readers. Her website is jaschneiderauthor.net, her email address is joyce (at) jaschneiderauthor.net, and come say hi on Facebook tinyurl.com/7fm44mk. She lives with her busy family in Connecticut, USA, loves gardening with a passion, and is working on her next Detective Kerri Blasco thriller.

Fear Dreams by J. A. Schneider

Fear Dreams cover
Psychological Thriller!

Book Review: Fear Dreams by J.A. Schneider, RGS Media, March 28th, 2016; 240 pages. May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

Fear Dreams is a tense, psychological, thrilling mystery. It has the atmosphere of the films “Dominique” and “What Lies Beneath”. The tension builds at a steady but palpable pace. As you delve further into the story, the tension builds, layer after layer, until finally things come to a head and all is revealed-but with a surprising twist.

Written in the third person narrative style, the book follows two central characters, Liddy and Kerri. Liddy is recovering from mild amnesia, a broken rib, and an injured leg after a car accident. Liddy can’t recall anything about the night of the accident, nor does she really want to remember. But her mind won’t let sleeping dogs lie. What Liddy tries to shove away by day surfaces in symbols and fragmented nightmares by night. Liddy fears she is slowly losing her sanity as the dreams begin to enter her waking consciousness.

The major characters are well developed. My favorite character was Kerri because I felt I could relate to her sense of justice. She is a champion for victims who everyone else has given up on; wants justice for victims of violence, especially women brutalized by men, and truly believes in the mission to “protect and serve”. Liddy crosses Kerri’s path when Liddy realizes she has drawn a picture of a missing girl, thinking she saw her on the street. Kerri is the cop assigned to find the missing girl. Together, they work on finding out her fate.

I truly enjoyed this book. Its foray into the depths of an amnesiac recovering her memories was fascinating. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves mysteries and/or psychological thrillers. This book can be found at Fear Dreams.

Look for this and other J.A. Schneider books at J. A. Schneider on Amazon.

Book Description:

A sensitive woman fears insanity. An intuitive Homicide Detective tries to unravel the truth of what really haunts her… Liddy Barron, an artist, was injured in a hit-and-run accident that left her with recurring nightmares, partial amnesia, and an increasing obsession in the disappearance of a coed named Sasha Perry. Was Sasha murdered? Insecure and nervous, Liddy’s turmoil grows as she begins seeing ghostly images. Her husband Paul tries to help but suspects it’s just her imagination…while Detective Kerri Blasco, also obsessed with young Sasha’s disappearance, senses that Liddy may have a key to solving the case.

About the Author:

J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine. She is the author of the Embryo medical thriller series, and of the Detective Kerri Blasco Police/Psychological Thrillers Fear Dreams, Her Last Breath, and Watching You.

She loves to hear from her readers. Her email address is joyce (at) jaschneiderauthor.net, her website is http://jaschneiderauthor.net, and come say hi on Facebook http://tinyurl.com/7fm44mk. Also join her website’s Newsletter to hear about sales and new books about to release! She lives with her family in Connecticut, loves gardening, and is working on her next Detective Kerri Blasco thriller.