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Monday, January 29, 2018

Book Blast: A Reed in the Wind by Thomas Griffith - Win a $25 Gift Card



Inside the Book:


Title: A Reed in the Wind
Author: Thomas Griffith
Publisher: xLibris
Genre: Poetry
Format: Ebook


The book starts out with a very short autobiographical sketch.

The next piece is about lousy relationships. It begins by being about a cat who doesn’t like being a pet. Then a mouse is introduced. He doesn’t like being terrorized by the cat. I do some editorializing here too.

The third piece follows the four seasons. It starts with Spring, and I am in love. Then it moves to Summer, and I am having a hard time meeting the demands reality makes on me. Then comes Fall, and I write about the tragic sense of life. Then Winter, and I begin the long road of accepting and coping with being broken.

The fourth piece is about the first of the 10 LSD trips I took back in the hippie days. Millions of people have taken it, and the hippie sub-culture it spawned has profoundly positively effected our music, social skills, language, dress, literature, etc It really encouraged and facilitated my spiritual development. I heard that some colleges and clinics are experimenting with experiencing it.

The next two pieces are beautiful and my favorites. They embody and personify the mystical state of dreaming.

The talk about the relationship between seeing and dreaming. The next piece talks about the complex and crucial experience of inner space. Very little is known about inner space, but I believe it is the source of all life.

The next piece and the 11th piece are about sex. Sex creates all life on Earth. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc are foods which were made by nature to serve a reproductive purpose. People like to imagine sex is as simple as sticking a rod in a tube. But often the simplest things turn out to be the most complicated. Sex has a wonderful side and it has a dark side.

The next piece attempts to start the conversation about how we all are multiple personalities. It is a huge unknown territory. Multiple personality is a common psychiatric diagnosis.

The next piece is melancholy and pastoral musings about life.

The next piece is about sex again. Having a sexual orientation and perspective is a very difficult role to play.

The next piece is about how my teenage friends and I would come together and party.

The next piece has 4 sections: Women, children, men and teenagers. I try to describe the belief systems and purposes of each group.

I have written 2 other books: A Schizophrenic’s Notes and A Way with Heart.



I have taken psychotropic medication for the treatment of schizophrenia everyday for 40 years.  I was one of the founders of a mental health provider association that was staffed and run by mental patients.  It has a 15 million dollar budget.  I left it a few years ago because it had become like the system were trying to transform.  I have had 25 jobs, most of them were part-time, all of them were minimum wage.  I have volunteered umpteen times.  I went to 6 colleges as I moved around.  I have read a lot of classic and sacred literature.  I fool around with guitar and piano.

Giveaway

Thomas is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins January 22 and ends on February 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on February 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Book Blast: Fragments of Life by Anita R. Gibbons - Win a $25 Gift Card





Title: Fragments of Life
Author: Anita R. Gibbons
Publisher: XlibrisAU
Genre: Fiction
Format: Ebook


This story is in a sense a complex tale that commences at the end. It relates the tale of a developing “rocky” love affair between its two major characters as they each discover their capacity to fall in love with another woman, the charting of which is seen through the eyes of the survivor.

Maggie Cameron is a thirty-something single mother who has already established a moderately successful publishing business in Vancouver, Canada. She is also struggling to cope with the strain of a failing marriage and the needs of her growing daughter. Then into her life enters Carla Green as her young personal assistant.

Carla quickly becomes an invaluable player in Maggie’s business and family life. Then everything moves smoothly for a number of years until the confluence of two major events brings their developing relationship to a climax.

Carla is forced to confront the reemergence of her childhood demons on two fronts when a previous illness brings her mortality into question again. Maggie undertakes to publish a lesbian-focused story by a well-respected novelist under an assumed name. Maggie is deeply worried about the latter, even after Carla offers to play a role in addressing her major concerns. However, it is of even greater concern to both Maggie and her daughter, Stephanie, now in her teens, that Carla’s shattering prognosis will have severe repercussions on their developing comfortable family relationship.

By way of devising a coping strategy, Maggie and Stephanie begin plotting a way to make Carla’s impending death as happy as possible for all concerned. However, Carla seems to be rejecting all their efforts until an opportunity emerges for Stephanie to spend part of her upcoming school holiday in France. After considerable persuasion, Carla finally agrees to accompany them on their planned grand tour of Europe. Hence, although the story is set primarily in Vancouver, Canada, it also incorporates their travels across Europe.

As they all set about arranging for and planning their holiday itinerary, Carla is also trying to address her long-held concerns about her own sexuality. She eventually discloses her fears to Maggie, whose initial reaction is less than positive, particularly as Carla also soon expresses her deep feelings for her boss.

This unexpected development causes Maggie to also attempt an analysis her own deepening feelings for Carla, but before she is able to draw any conclusions, an event immediately preceding their departure seemingly dooms whatever future their relationship might hold.

The saga then proceeds as a mini travelogue covering their adventures in France. Indeed, it is only when Maggie and Carla, having deposited Stephanie with her troublesome father, set off on their own adventure to Italy that they begin to address the changing nature of their relationship.

It is only when they reach the idyllic setting of the small coastal village of Positano that Maggie finally gives in to the perceived pressure from Carla and finally admits to herself that she has irrevocably fallen totally ‘in love’ with Carla. However, more problems emerge as they grapple with the issue of Maggie’s willingness to share her newfound knowledge with Stephanie and the outside world in general.




After she was born in the United Kingdom, Anitaís family moved to Australia when she was still quite young. She studied her BA (sociology/politics) and MA (womenís studies) at Victoriaís Monash University. She met her life partner at age twenty, and they spent thirty-seven years together in their small home in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. They both enjoyed traveling, sailing, and sharing their time with an array of pet cats. Her writing has consisted of short stories, poetry, and articles for professional journals. Following her partnerís death in 2007, this novel finally burst out of its shackles. Her other major pastimes include presenting a weekly program for Melbourne community radio and still traveling whenever possible.

GIVEAWAY

Anita IS GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins January 22 and ends on February 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on February 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Monday, January 22
She Writes
A Taste of My Mind

Tuesday, January 23
Books Are Love
Review From Here

Wednesday, January 24
A Title Wave
The Book Czar

Thursday, January 25
A Book Lover
The Literary Nook

Friday, January 26
Voodoo Princess
Write and Take Flight

Monday, January 29
My Bookish Pleasures
All Inclusive Retort

Tuesday, January 30
Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic
From Paperback to Leatherbound

Wednesday, January 31
Lover of Literature
Bent Over Bookwords

Thursday, February 1
PUYB Virtual Book Club
Fiction to Fruition

Friday, February 2
The Hype and the Hoopla
Inkslingers Opus

Book Blast: When Bad Backs Happen to Good People by Jordan S. Fersel, M.D. - Win a $25 Gift Card





Title: When Bad Backs Happen to Good People
Author: Jordan S. Fersel, MD
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Medical
Format: Ebook


Chronic back and neck pain is a thorny issue that plagues millions living in today’s modern world and has the power to take over a person’s life—not just physically, but also psychologically, emotionally, and physiologically. The good news is that there are effective ways of dealing with chronic pain that allows patients to return to a productive life without undergoing unnecessary surgery. Dr. Jordan Fersel is a board-certified pain specialist who relies on his diverse professional experience to distinguish the differences between acute and chronic pain, scrutinize the accuracy of an MRI scan to diagnose pain, examine the architecture of the spine, explain nerve injuries, differentiate between the various types of arthritis, and offer potential treatment options. Through included case studies and illustrations, pain sufferers will learn there is hope for managing pain through proper diagnosis and a treatment plan tailored to treat individual needs. It’s Not All in Your Head shares guidance from a trusted physician that explores chronic back and neck pain, its sources, and the many treatment options available.




Jordan Fersel, MD, is a board-certified, pain-management fellowship-trained physician who earned a BA in biology from Queens College and an MD degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He has been director of Pain Management Services at Trinitas Medical Center Oncology Unit for several years. Dr. Fersel and his wife, Esty, divide their time between Philadelphia and West Orange, New Jersey. 

GIVEAWAY

Jordan IS GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins January 22 and ends on February 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on February 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Monday, January 22
Splashes of Joy
The Book Czar

Tuesday, January 23
The Book Refuge
Review From Here

Wednesday, January 24
A Title Wave
A Taste of My Mind

Thursday, January 25
A Book Lover
Voodoo Princess

Friday, January 26
The Literary Nook
Write and Take Flight

Monday, January 29
My Bookish Pleasures
Harmonious Publicity

Tuesday, January 30
Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic
From Paperback to Leatherbound

Wednesday, January 31
Lover of Literature
She Writes


Thursday, February 1
PUYB Virtual Book Club
Fiction to Fruition

Friday, February 2
The Hype and the Hoopla
The Revolving Bookshelf

Authors To Watch: 'Good Girl's Guide to County Jail' Ellen Marie Francisco




Canadian born Ellen Marie Francisco worked in feature film development and production in Toronto on Canadian Content film projects partially funded through Telefilm Canada in the ‘80s. She was transferred to Los Angeles in the early ‘90s to help expand the production company into Los Angeles. Her work in the entertainment industry continued for decades under a NAFTA Investor Visa in Los Angeles, and environs with her catering company Amazing Graze. Her resort community Real Estate business Cabin Ready operated to the point of her untimely arrest.
                                                             
Francisco has also worked in the publishing industry. Along the way, she landed a job with writer Sidney Sheldon as a proofreader and fan mail response writer. That experience and her tenure in publishing helped shape her own voice. 

Her work as a photographer in Toronto and California in the early ‘90s landed her backstage access to Cirque du Soleil and one of her first print credits. She has sold and/or shown photographic works in galleries on the Big Island of Hawaii, in Los Angeles and Toronto. The book is filled with her raw and captivating vector artwork, a visual storyboard to her harrowing journey through the “Incarcer Nation.”

Francisco is the adoptive mother of two children and a Chihuahua named Piglet. They currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario. 


WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK




Millions of viewers have made the television series “Orange is the New Black” a pop culture sensation, but Ellen Marie Francisco (http://www.EllenMarieFrancisco.com) has no interest in watching it or reading the memoir, by Piper Kerman, which spawned the hit show.

Francisco has lived her own version of “Orange is the New Black,” an experience she refers to as “innocent in oranges.” “Oranges” is prison jargon for the orange jump suits worn by prisoners who have been charged but who have not yet been to trial, Francisco explains.

Francisco, an author and entrepreneur, describes her experience behind bars in her latest book, GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL (FOR THE BAD GIRL IN US ALL). A gripping and candid tale of her journey through three California jails for women, GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL (https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000025993982) also serves as a resource guide for navigating the legal thickets necessary to surviving what Francisco dubs the “Incarcer Nation”.

GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL “is a call to action to remedy the lack of support for pre-sentenced women sitting in jails across America who are not educated enough to understand what they’re negotiating in the courtroom,” Francisco explains, “and for the women who don’t realize how close they already are to the courthouse steps.”

Francisco was arrested in 2013 in Lake Arrowhead, California and charged with carjacking, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery after an incident involving her impounded car. The charges were ultimately dropped, but not before Francisco had served nearly two months in three county jails. While locked up, she talked to hundreds of women “each on a different path without a definitive end, each living with the certain fear that they were not in control of their own lives.”

Those conversations became the nucleus of GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL.

ORDER YOUR COPY:



Welcome to My Bookish Pleasures. We would love to get to know you and your book! When did you begin writing?
I began writing poetry in high school. Years later when I had a job in publishing, I started writing my first novel Moon Over Mandeville, a paranormal novel.
Describe your writing process. When and where do you write?
I write on my laptop. I take it with me nearly everywhere. I do like writing at home when my kids are at school or asleep. If I can see I'm going to be easily distracted I'll go to the library and work there instead, or I'll head to Starbucks and pull up my word doc and write until my drink is long finished.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Good Girl's Guide to County Jail for the Bad Girl in Us All: Your Guide to the Incarcer Nation is like a travel journal for the summer I spent in county jail in 2013.
How did you get the idea for the book?
I was sitting in county jail with a colorful array of women who were all fighting criminal cases for a myriad of different reasons. I'd been arrested when I'd reclaimed my own car from an impound lot. Our lives (and the lives of our loved ones on the outside) were dismantling around us. Even bad girl repeat-offenders who'd had paid attorneys had blind spots, and those like me who had never been in trouble before were lost as well, without resources to fight their cases effectively in court. Being in jail was such a different world than the one I lived in just forty-five minutes away from it, but it was like being in a foreign country. It made sense that I keep a travel journal of sorts and speak with the natives, the locals, and learn as much as I could from them.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
There were so many challenges - being arrested in the first place was no picnic, certainly. Having to revisit the emotional pain, and the physical and psychological trauma I'd suffered just prior to, and during my incarceration was the most challenging aspect of writing this book. The normal reaction would be to pretend it never happened and move on, but I was so disturbed by what I saw in there I felt I had no choice but to write it.
Do you find it easier to write nonfiction?
I do find it easier to write nonfiction because it's based on reality. I do find reality fascinating.
Do you have plans to write fiction?
I wrote my first novel in the nineties, my second novel Lip Service after that. I have a collection of short stories that work on here and there. I would like to start another novel, but I seem to be turning into a social activist of sorts. I worked with Sidney Sheldon years ago for a short while and learned so much from him. Funny enough, I'd already written my first two novels before that. I'd like to put his advice into practice.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on edits to I Stand Corrected which is the story behind the story of Good Girl's Guide to County Jail for the Bad Girl in Us All. It was written in tandem with this book, while I was in jail, but was content edited out last year. It's a much more personal narrative, and I wasn't ready to share it with the world quite yet. I felt it better if that stand on its own after this guidebook through the "system". 
And then there's Good Girl's Guide to Inner Peace for the Guru in Us All which takes this first GGG a bit further and offers guidance through self-awareness, self-healing, self-transformation, and self-preservation with more advanced tools and techniques for empowered living.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring nonfiction authors?
Write a proposal first, before you write the book. It will help you define what you're trying to accomplish with the book, and who you're doing it for. It's a pre-requisite for most agents to sell to a publisher, and it invariably saves time in the long run. You'll write a better book with it than without it. Writing is a lonely pursuit during the writing phase where confusion and self-doubt can wreak havoc on the minds of the most talented writers. Having a plan, and plotting the course will allow you to do your best work with the least amount of duress.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Chat with Gabriel Valjan, Author of ‘The Good Man’

Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series and The Company Filesfrom Winter Goose Publishing as well as numerous short stories. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen. You can visit him at his website. He’s here today to talk about his new suspense series.
Thanks for this interview, Gabriel. Tell us about yourself.
I hide my love of dogs from my cats. English was not my first language, and I read fiction in more than one language. I was a sponsored triathlete. Cancer survivor. I weighed one pound at birth. Hearing-impaired. Ambidextrous. I went to school with Peter Dinklage.
Have you always been creative? When did you start writing fiction?
As a writer, no. I drew and painted at a young age. I read voraciously as a child, but when I did take an interest in creative writing, it was poetry. My first publication was a poem in 1989.
In this your new series, The Company Files, you move from the present Rome of your Roma Series to historical post-war Vienna. Why did you choose this particular time period?
I should state up front that I wrote The Good Man before I wrote Roma, Underground. To answer your question…History interests me. For those who don’t know, Vienna was divided into four zones, the American, the British, the French, and the Russians after World War II. Vienna would become, for a brief time, a Wild West.
It’s not the first time a city or country had been divided after a conflict. Vienna, however, bears a crucial distinction in that it became the crucible for the Cold War and the birthplace for the post-war intelligence community. Modern nation states in Europe then were designated as either friendly to US-led Western Bloc or to Soviet-led Eastern Bloc countries. There is, of course, the fun of researching the social mores of the era. Leslie in The Good Man and Bianca in The Roma Series are a half-century apart, and yet confront similar issues of survival in a man’s world.
The book is described as historical noir. For readers who aren’t familiar with this genre, can you tell us about it?
First, noir is a cinematic term. Film noir is, in my opinion, a visual display of Existentialist philosophy. The prevailing undercurrent to film noir and the crime fiction it inspired is that the Average Joe is doomed no matter what he does. He’ll make one bad decision after another, whether it’s planning a heist that goes wrong, keeping found money and unwittingly inviting the bad guys into his life, or lusting after the wrong woman. His life is a blues song. If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.

Historical noir, as I use the phrase to describe The Good Man, is when characters make decisions within a certain context. The world is still morally compromised and fatalistic. The historical circumstances offer both flavour and plot device. The reader has the advantage of hindsight. November 22, 1963, for example, has only one inevitable conclusion. Genre sets the expectation, and I leave it to the reader to decide whether I abide by or violate those rules. Is there justice in the end? Does the guy get the girl?
Like in your Roma Series, you pay particular attention to team work among your characters. What draws you to this quality?
The Good Man is the result of my love for what I call the middle period of noir fiction, the 1940s. I’m not hard-boiled as Hammett’s Continental Op and Sam Spade from the 1920s, nor as violent as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in the 1950s. I envisioned a softer cynicism found in Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe.
In reading contemporary crime fiction, which I think harkens back to hard-boiled, I can appreciate the antihero and the protagonist who can’t catch a break, but I find most of it too nihilistic. While I don’t believe that Good always triumphs in real life, I found myself asking: Are we so cynical as to find value in the bleak and ultra-violent stories? Does it take visiting the darkest depths to feel better about our own lives?
Don’t get me wrong about violence and profanity. Mexican cartels are violent, but the Average Joe criminal is not that sadistic. My complaint is that there’s no glimmer of hope in a lot of contemporary crime fiction, unless it’s the razor blade on the sidewalk. Algren, Bukowski, and Fante wrote to show how the other half lived, but so did Upton Sinclair and Steinbeck. What is the point, if there’s nothing positive in the universe?
Writers have to compete with movies, with visual media, so why not work the vein of human relationships in close quarters? I’m not saying people can’t be flawed. The series Breaking Bad is a perfect example. People pushed to extremes are forced to work and trust each other, to some degree. In The Good Man, there is a triangle of characters who entrust their lives to each other. Jack, Walker, and Whittaker have a foundation – their shared war experiences – for trusting each other. Another triangle in the story is Leslie, Sheldon, and Tania: they have to prove themselves. There is history, camaraderie and debts, recognized and repaid.
Tell us about your protagonists and what makes them stand out.
Jack Marshall is the leader, principled but agile. Walker is the romantic, the fellow caught up in history’s current and unsure of his abilities. Whittaker is the doer, which doesn’t always require brains. Each man makes questionable decisions. Leslie is a woman with skills in an unappreciative world and she’s acutely aware of it. Sheldon is savvy, almost suicidal. Tania is precocious, another survivor, and a damaged soul.
Jack and Walker fought in the war together, depended on each other and owed each other something. In a life and death situation, would they choose friendship over duty?
Jack and Walker have a moment in The Good Man where they question Whittaker’s loyalty, but they extend the benefit of the doubt. Political pressure is hammering both men. Friendship and duty coexist and are in conflict with each other. The question is how long can they hold out. Jack and Walker choose Loyalty because of what they’ve experienced together. Few would understand it.
I found Walker and Leslie’s relationship sad. Does love have a place in their dangerous professions?
Their story continues in the sequels, The Naming Game and Diminished Fifth. My take on their relationship is that Leslie realizes times are changing and she is trying to hold onto her independence. The social mores of the day were especially hard on women. Women during the war years experienced a few years of financial freedom before the country asked them to return to the kitchen and home.
Leslie knows she has the credibility for a career in intelligence, but how much of that can she keep or maintain if she is perceived as ‘attached’ or ‘compromised’? I also believe Leslie is better grounded than Walker. He is trying to find his place in the world. I’m not sure Leslie can wait for him, or sacrifice what she has accomplished on her own. Their profession adds the complication that their lives are shrouded in secrecy and they must be ciphers to most people around them.
There are a number of intriguing secondary characters, like Sheldon and Tania. Were they difficult to write about? What challenges did you face getting into the mind of a vigilante and a 13-year-old Lolita-type character?
They weren’t difficult since I didn’t have to venture far to create them. As I mention in the Afterword, there were Jewish concentration camp survivors who were incensed that known war criminals were evading justice, so they became ‘vigilantes’ and hunted them down. Sheldon is a complex character and his “activities” are ambiguous, depending on your moral compass. The late Simon Wiesenthal hunted down former Nazis to have them arrested or exposed because so many escaped the courtrooms.
My opinion is that justice was selective and in the hands of the dominant player after World War II, the United States. There were businessmen and companies who benefitted from Nazi labor camps. Have a look at the I.G. Farben Trials, and note that none of the defendants was American, though Ford Motor Company, General Motors and IBM benefitted from their dark alliances with Hitler’s Third Reich.

The plot for The Good Man revolves around Operation Paperclip, where the U.S. collaborated with allies to shield former Nazis. The physicist Wernher von Braun is a notorious example. His work accelerated the U.S.’s space program. Reinhard Gehlen, another example, traded in his Nazi Army shoulder boards to become a Communist hunter. Eichmann’s whereabouts were not a complete mystery to U.S. intelligence, but it took the Israeli Mossad to defy both the U.S. and international laws to kidnap him from his apartment in Buenos Aires in order to bring him to Jerusalem to stand trial.
Tania was a wonderful creation. She’s flirtatious and, like most victims of sexual abuse, she acts precocious and manipulative. Her pedigree as a victim, however, runs deeper. As a Slav, she had dodged the Nazis, who would’ve worked her to death in the camps; had she presented herself as a refugee seeking asylum in Vienna, the Americans would’ve seen her as a Communist. There is also her ideological heritage: her father was a casualty of a Stalinist purge. She is a young girl without a country.
Were you thinking of Sheldon when you came up with the title?
Yes, but I think the question, “Are you a good man?” can be put to Jack, Walker, and Whittaker, too.
Post-war Vienna came alive for me in the story. Tell us about the importance of settings.
Context and circumstances are everything. I tried to develop the noirish aspect of time and place. I mentioned earlier that Vienna was a unique historical situation. Vienna was a playground for intrigues and for the Cold War, the silent world war. Whereas Berlin had a literal wall to divide antagonistic ideologies, hotels and landmarks designated the governing powers in Vienna.
With the War over, the Americans and British were now uneasy allies. Russia, an ally for the Americans, was now the new enemy. The bad guys, the Nazis with special insider information, became tentative allies. That the entire drama plays out in a German-speaking Austria was not lost on me. Austria, Hitler’s birthplace, while German speaking, is not Teutonic in the sense that it’s Protestant and its division into Bundesländer, or city-states, came after the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy.
In the café scenes, I tried to capture this sense of a world that had fallen away from what Stefan Zweig called The World of Yesterday. Walker is out of his depth in not knowing the German language and Austrian culture well, and both he and Jack are also caught up in the clashes of American and European, and West with East, when they encounter Sheldon and Tania. 
What appeals to you about European settings? Have you been in the places that appear in your books?
Differences in perception and outlook. Travel and living abroad have educated me. My use of settings is more than just ‘colour’ in my novels. While I have not been to Vienna, I’ve visited Austria. I’ve travelled around Great Britain (attended graduate school there), been to France, Germany, Italy, and the former Yugoslavia. I try to illustrate and incorporate cultural differences; how people interact with each other and relate to authority. In the Roma Series, I explore the unresolved North and South divide in Italy, among other sensitive issues.
I witnessed a balance between Work and Life in Europe that does not exist in America, whether it was Ferragosto in Italy, or strikes in France by all workers to protest raising student fees in France. Americans work longer and harder and our health suffers for it. If American education and healthcare were run according to the business model of rewarding performance, then there would be true reform.
I find it morally reprehensible that, for a country of such wealth and resources, the U.S. has the worst rate for maternal deaths in the Developed World, with 26 deaths per 100,000 live births. Sense of perspective: The World Health Organization tracks 180 countries and the US ranks 137 on that list for maternal deaths. Other findings are sobering and irrefutable. Will McAvoy, a character on Aaron Sorkin’s The News Room, summarized it in his answer to the question, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?” You can find the clip on youtube.com
Experiencing Europe, I realized that Americans and European society are socially engineered around a different definition of ‘citizen.’ I’m not naïve: Europe is a tiered society and mobility is limited, but I think it’s disingenuous to think America doesn’t have a class society. I’m not blind to disconcerting parallels between the U.S. and Europe, such as the uncanny similarities between Berlusconi and Trump.
Americans, however, have drunk the ideological Kool-Aid and I’m afraid we are losing our standing in the world. I cited ‘citizen’ as an example, so let me provide an example of distorted logic. There were protests against Obamacare. The idea of national healthcare is still derided as ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism.’ Protestors claimed that in other systems, a patient died waiting for care.
There is no such evidence. President Obama himself said he watched his mother worry not about the ovarian cancer that would claim her life, but rather how she would pay for healthcare. I’ll set aside the obvious ignorance that Socialism and Communism are apples and oranges, but nobody has considered the European view that healthcare is a citizen’s right, and that healthy citizens are an investment in Society.
For this book, how much and what type of research did you have to do?
With any topic that is not native to your experience, research is required; it’s a matter of ethics. I had to read history books and memoirs about the period covered in The Good Man. I cited some of them in my Afterword. With respect to people who lived during that time, those I knew are dead now. I am aware that with people I knew, the material is anecdotal and subjective, the lens of history made hazy.
The Good Man tries to show decent people in terrible situations. Mistakes were made, people fooled, and terrible compromises made. There was also a consolidation of extraordinary power in individuals such as the Dulles brothers at the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. The United States would see a similar nexus of power again with the Kennedy brothers.
I do believe that the CIA was founded on the noble (and necessary) premise of national security, but the nature of spy craft and politics is such that it’s a losing proposition. When governments resort to secret agencies or programs, or leverage the methods of their former enemies Hermann Göring’s propaganda and Stasi surveillance methods are alive and well then what do we have? Enemies yesterday, friends today; and friends today, enemies tomorrow. Case in point: President Reagan continued Operation Cyclone to counter the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, funding mujahedeen leaders who would later become the founding members of the extremist al-Qaeda.
In general, what do you struggle with as an author?
Visibility. It’s a struggle because there are so many books out each month.
What is a regular day like for you? Do you set yourself a minimum amount of words or hours on a daily or weekly basis?
I write in the mornings. I find that my mind is clearer and focused then. While I understand setting goals as a form of discipline, Word Counts mean nothing to me. I don’t lack discipline. The way my imagination works is that I envision a scene and I write until it is done, whether that takes one day or several days. I see writers posting daily Word Counts, and I don’t know what to make of it. Quantity over Quality? A form of humblebrag? Jack Torrance sat every day at his typewriter and typed, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy …” and look how that turned out for him.
How do you set yourself challenges and grow as an author with each new book? For example, what lessons did you learn with your first series that you now implement in this new series?  What are you discovering about yourself as a writer while writing these new series?
I challenge myself by writing in different genres. Horror. Crime fiction. Cozy mystery. Genre gets bashed as low-brow, and not as “Literary Fiction,” which I think is nonsense. Genre is like poetry. You have to know the rules, the meter, and the expectation. Break the rules after you’ve mastered them, but learn them first and appreciate their inherent challenges. The same approach applies to reading in and out of your comfort zones. I mentioned earlier that I read foreign literature. Translators have made other writers available. Read a French ‘polar’ and ‘policier’ and observe the space dedicated to describing violence and exposition. As with any foreign culture, note workplace hierarchy and formalities.
What can readers look forward to in the sequel? When is the next book coming out?
The Naming Game delivers more of the Walker and Leslie relationship. Readers will become acquainted with the turf war between the nascent CIA and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI during the Red Scare in Los Angeles.
What do you look forward to as an author in 2018?  
I look forward to reading more of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano. I hope to meet readers at conferences such as Malice Domestic, and New England Crimebake. I have not made a decision about attending Bouchercon in Florida.
What else would you like to tell readers?
If you are at a conference and know that I am there, please stop me and say hello.