Saturday, April 16, 2016

#Book #Review. . .The Passenger


From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts.

 An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

M & J's Review
There is always that one book that comes along that will leave you spellbound and in awe for having read it.  It’s that one story which takes on a life all of its own.  I can honestly say I’ve read many good books over the years, but there are a precious few that make it onto my favorites list, and I’m proud and elated to say, The Passenger, has warmed its way into my heart, as well as the best book I’ve read thus far for 2016!  I know there’s more year left, but I don’t think I’ll find another quite like this one.  WOW!  The last time I read a book this good was when I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  The Passsenger is a story that I will never ever forget!! Never!  It had all the elements that make a great story, and I must say, the ending was out of this damn world!!!

When you were a child, do you remember playing make-believe?  If you didn’t play, I feel sorry for you because you missed out on a very important development in life—make-believe is what makes the creative come alive.  Imagine, for a moment, that you could be anything or anyone in the world, who or what would it be? 
Some actors get paid highly for living in make-believe and giving their audiences a couple hours of entertainment to make us believe what we’re seeing them portray.  So, can you imagine, if you woke up to discover your husband dead at the bottom of the stairs—what will become of your life?  Yeah, Tanya had a lot of things to ponder.  For starters, who will believe her?  The spouse is the first person-of-interest in a murder investigation, so obviously no matter what story Tanya concocted, the law wasn’t on her side, or so she believed.  What other choice did Tanya have?  Hmm. . .become someone else!  Oh, but wait a minute, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to Tanya because the woman she sees in the mirror is an imposter.  Confused?  You won’t be after you read The Passenger.  I read this book in a day and a half, and I could have finished it in a day, had I not had other books to review that I’d committed to. Lutz is a rarity in the literary world that you don’t find too often.  I'm reminded of another favorite author she reminds me of, Thomas Harris, writer of Silience of the Lamb.  She’s the type of writer that comes along once so many decades.  My, my, my am I glad I stumbled across this book.  I am still in shock after reading it. In fact, I was so into this story, I felt depressed a little after reading.  I totally forgot I was in make-believe, it felt that real.  If you don’t feel Tanya’s every move, you obviously don’t have a pulse!  Lutz hooked me from the first sentence, ‘In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...’ If that doesn’t make you want to delve further into the pages, you’ve got to be nuts! 
This story also brought to mind another of my favorite books, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The first sentence had me as my eyes sucked up the words like water through a straw.  I couldn’t let go!  The subject matter of The Passenger is so deep, I cannot go any further into what it’s about without giving away the crux of the story.  Trust me, readers, I haven’t steered you down the wrong path yet, and you gotta give it to me, when I tell you this book is that damn good, it is that damn good!
Mello & June gives The Passenger five stars and beyond.  Lutz’s words were beautifully woven and turned into a quilt that will be forever passed down for many years to come.  An impeccably outstanding read!  YOU will not be sorry to read this!  It’s worth whatever price is asked!  

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

The Impossible. . .
Running from Yourself!

Friday, April 15, 2016

#Book #Interview with J. Zachary Pike

Orconomics: A Satire

By J. Zachary Pike

Genre: Fantasy, Humor

Book Description

High Comedy Meets Hi gh Fantasy in a Best Selling Satire

The adventuring industry drives the economy of Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. On Arth, professional heroes are hired to slay fantastic creatures with magic weapons. The beasts’ treasure is hauled back to town and divided among investors.

A Fateful Decision

Since his career as a professional hero ended in failure decades ago, Gorm Ingerson’s life has been a cycle of petty crime, heavy drinking and avoiding the Heroes’ Guild. But when the Dwarf helps a Goblin secure its NPC documents, he quickly finds himself in the clutches of the guild’s enforcers.

A Deadly Quest

Guild justice means certain death for Gorm, but his captors present him with an alternative: to join a party of misfit adventurers on a quest to join a feeble priest with delusions of destiny. But the only clear thing about the work of the mad goddess is its danger: nobody has attempted to fulfill her prophecy and survived.

A Roll of the Dice

It will take all of Gorm’s Dwarven resolve to survive political intrigue, fundamentalist lizard men, purse kobolds, healing potion addicts, and worse. Yet even if he succeeds, it may not be enough to protect his party from the dark secret behind their quest.

Get to Know J. Zachary Pike

J. Zachary Pike was once a basement-dwelling fantasy gamer, but over time he metamorphosed into a basement-dwelling fantasy writer. He has written and directed several award-winning shorts, including Zelig Award winner "The Toll" and "Endurance Challenge: Mordred's Isle" starring Billy West.

1. Your book couldn’t have come at a better time, in light of this recent Presidential campaign that has turned out to be one of the worst jokes in America’s history. So tell us, Zachary, what made you write a satirical story?

I’ve been writing fantasy humor since I was in high school, but I always felt my writing lacked… heft. A connection. It was just gaming jokes. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was a satirist without anything to satirize. The financial calamity of 2008 changed that— I lost my job and gained a ton of perspective on how the actions of a privileged few can impact us all.

2. Without giving too much of your plot away, what can a reader expect after having read your book? 

I think it’s a fun take on both finance and fantasy tropes, woven around a character-driven story. If I’m dreaming big, I hope some readers will get a new perspective on the way the system can be skewed in favor of certain people, and recognize the meaningful changes we need to pursue if we’re to create a more just society. But I suspect most people just love the characters and laugh at the jokes, which is wonderful in its own right.

3. Since you write in the fantasy genre, who are some of your favorite well-known authors in the same genre? 

I’ve idolized Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams since I was a kid. Tolkien is the grandfather of the genre, and I was quite the Middle-Earth buff in grade school and high school. And I read a lot of Dungeons and Dragons fantasy by Weiss and Hickman or R.A. Salvatore.

4. I absolutely love the cover of your book. How did you come up with its concept?

Thanks! The easiest way I could think of to combine the concept of money and Orcs was to put an Orc on money, and that gave me an idea for the portrait. I originally designed my own cove; it was just the Orc-as-Lincoln portrait that I drew. That gave me the idea for bookmarks that look like 5 giltin bills—I still distribute these at comic-conventions I visit. 

When I went to James at Bookfly Design to redo my cover, I wanted him to incorporate the 5 giltin bill, while hinting at the violence and injustice in the book. He had the idea to put the bill on fire, which I think was brilliant. I’m still doing illustration for my books, but after working with Bookfly I’m done designing my own covers. 

5. What was Zachary’s life like growing up?

I won’t say it was easy, but any hardship I experienced was self-inflicted. I grew up in a forested New England neighborhood with loving parents who encouraged and supported me. Unfortunately, as a kid and teenager I was really opinionated, judgmental, and kind of mean, without being nearly attractive enough to pull that off. So I wasn’t terribly popular, either. 

I read a lot. I played a lot of games with friends. I did Drama club. I had fun with my family. I never knew how good I had it. There are loads of things I’d do differently, but overall it’s hard to regret a childhood like that.

6. How did you come up with the title of Orconomics?

I’m not the first person to use the pun. I heard it when playing with some D&D players back in college—they were actually joking about the economic system based on looting treasure. And I’m fairly certain there was a character named Orconomics on a Warcraft server that my old roommate used to play on. When I decided to give my story a satirical bent based on the great recession, it popped into my head and stuck there. 

7. If Orconomics became a motion picture, what actor would you like to play Gorm  Ingerson?

Ok, side note—if Orconomics was a movie, I’d absolutely love for it to be animated. Like a Pixar / Dreamworks kind of thing. I’m a former animator, and there’s some scenes the book that animation could just make more vibrant and funny and lively than live action. So even though he’s completely the wrong body type, I’d cast Gerard Butler as Gorm. He pulled of Stoick in How to Train Your Dragon, and he’d make an amazing Ingerson.

8. I hear you were a big time fantasy gamer. Is this where your world opened to write fantasy novels?

It’s a big part of it, and a lot of the inside-jokes in the books are based on games or gaming. A lot of fantasy gaming—especially RPGs—is about telling a story to yourself, or participating in a story with a small group. It felt like a natural extension to take away the mechanics and just keep telling stories.

9. If you weren’t a writer, what would Zachary be doing?

Probably gaming more. Definitely sleeping more. 

10. How many years have you been writing?

Since I was sixteen, so over two decades. Though as a disclaimer, I’ll add that most of it was horrible.

11. What are you most passionate about?

I can get really, really wrapped up in my own stories. I think that’s the passion that encompasses the other ones. My political views, relationships, faith, hobbies, and lots of other little parts of myself get blended into this narrative that I go over and over in my head, all the time. I’ll laugh if I think about a funny scene, and even get a bit misty eyed when I think about some of the more poignant moments. And I used to think I was kind of silly to be that emotional over a story you made up, but I’ve learned to accept that my book is really the sum of my passions. 

Besides, if you’re book doesn’t move you, it’s probably not going to do much for your readers.

12. I see you’re an award-winning writer of shorts, have you reached your goals? And if not, what can we expect to see and/or read from Zachary in the future?

I have a lot of writing goals in the future. Orconomics is the first in a trilogy, and I could write Gorm for a long, long time, But my animation years are behind me. Animating was a wonderful experience, but writing is a better fit for me in a number of ways. It’s a faster way to create, and I’m slow at all of these things, so all the speed I can get helps. Plus, with kids and a career I don’t have a lot of time for collaboration, but I can write alone in my basement. And I do.

Side note: Thanks for having me on the blog. These were great questions, and I really appreciate the thought and research you put into them.

Aaw thank you so much for your kind words!  Mello & June wishes Zachary the absolute best!  It was great having him take time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and indulge a bit into the literary scene.  Please come back anytime, and best of luck on your novel and future works. Readers, make sure you show your love to this fellow author by using the links below.  There's 9 days left to the #Giveaway.  Hurry! Don't Delay! Good Luck!


The author is hosting an AWESOME giveaway during his tour:

Win A Kindle Paperwhite with a digital copy of Orconomics: A Satire –

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Whoever said you have to Write What you Know
doesn't have a Creative Mind!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

#BOOK #REVIEW: Silent Twin


I’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late. 

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found. 

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life? 

A darkly gripping, page-turning thriller that will enthrall fans of Rachel Abbott, Alex Marwood’s The Wicked Girls and Mark Edwards. 

Praise for Caroline Mitchell:

‘Fan-bloody-tastic! I enjoyed this book so much that I forced myself to read slowly as I just could not bear for it to end… I thought the story was brilliant. The characters were creative and kept me hooked. ‘The twists and turns kept me gasping for more… Could not recommend this book any more highly!’ Crime Book Junkie 

‘This is a well written supernatural detective story, with a surprising twist that I guarantee will keep you glued to the last page… at times I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough, it’s atmospheric, gritty and at times just plain scary, and what a twist at the end.’ The Book Review CafĂ© 

‘With a brilliant cast of crime characters, and a plot that was enough to make me feel dizzy, this was a compelling book that I just couldn't get enough of. Every word, every page, every murder, every guess... I couldn't wait for the final piece of the jigsaw to fit into place… the word 'thrilling' just doesn't do this justice.’ Becca’s Books.

M & J’s Review:

Twins have always been a fascinating mystery. And what better way to amplify it by writing a story about them. Hollywood and authors usually make twins out to be there’s one who is good and one not so good, but this author takes the reader on a different journey.

Abigail and Olivia are identical twins. They do everything together, except when Abigail goes missing, Olivia disappears within herself. Sure, Olivia is still with her parents, but she is silenced when something horrible has happened to her twin, Abigail. Who on earth would want to harm a child is what DC Jennifer Knight wants to know? The twins’ parents, Joanna and Nick, are beside themselves with grief and mental anguish. It’s one thing for the twins to be playing hide and seek, but for one of their precious daughters not to return from the game is a whole other ball of wax.

At first glance, one would find Joanna, the mother, a bit weird. She goes against everything the police have asked her not to do, which, I might add, doesn’t help that her husband is also a police officer, as she smiles sweetly for the camera speaking fondly of her daughter’s disappearance. Not only does she go on live television and display this odd behavior, but she gives away clues to the general public, which is precisely the reason the police asked the parents not to speak to the media unless they prompted them to. Nick, who also carries a badge and is usually the one on the other side of the fence, is now having to put down that shield and deal with his daughter’s disappearance from a parent’s point of view. How many times had Nick spoken to parents about how they were to act and behave when their child went missing? As Nick found out, it’s easy to give advice to parents when you’re not the parent having to deal with a missing child. He became withdrawn, haggard and extremely moody through the whole ordeal.

And poor little nine-year-old Olivia who is the spitting image of her missing sister cannot tell her parents anything for she has become mute since Abigail went away. What happened to Abigail? Does Olivia hold the key to her own sister’s disappearance? This is what everyone wants to know, and it becomes painfully clear that the players in this story know a hell of a lot more than any of them were willing to say.

The story is very well written, but unfortunately, the one thing that drove me absolutely insane was that it was too much of a mystery. In case you don’t understand what I mean, let me try to explain. In most mysteries I’ve read, the author usually leaves a trail of crumbs for the reader to indulge upon. Hence, that’s the main ingredient for a mystery. And in most cases, those little crumbs add up as you go through the story. The scent was strong, and as soon as you reach out to grab what you think is going to be the prize, suddenly it’s like someone snatched several pieces away leaving you famished. In other words, I felt as if the secrets in the story were dragging on far too long and more clues could have been given instead of making you wait. For me, that was extremely frustrating. 

However, having said that, it left me so famished I couldn’t put the book down and kept me turning the pages, which of course, is what the author wants us to do, and I’d say Mitchell did a great job keeping me hooked. Even though she may have held her reader to the page a little longer than I would like to linger, it doesn’t detract from the story. It’s a very dark psychological thriller with interesting characters. I did figure out who the culprit was, but it took me some time to get there, due to Mitchell’s tricky use of mystery. (chuckle). She did an exceptional job in her description of Blackwater Farm—made the hair on the back of my neck stand to attention. This is a fast-paced read and one that I’m certain mystery/suspense readers will most definitely enjoy. I know I certainly did. 

Mello & June gives Silent Twin four stars. I wasn’t aware this was the third installment in the DC Jennifer Knight series. I’m most definitely going to check out the first two to learn more about Knight. I truly loved her character. She’s sassy, classy, smart, a girly girl and witty. I love those qualities in a strong female character. She’s always a lady, but doesn’t take any bullshit and looks good while handling her business. That’s what I’m talking about! Well Done, Caroline Mitchell.

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Twins Have More Fun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#Cover Reveal. . .Come, Bitter Poison

The Wait Is Over!!

Come, Bitter Poison

By Monica Knightley

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Book Description

Sexy film star. Long-held secrets. Murder by poison.

When international stage and film star Miles Elliot comes to Stratford Upon Avondale to play MacBeth, Maggie O’Flynn is thrilled. He’s been her actor crush for years. But when Miles ends up at the center of a murder investigation Maggie finds herself slipping back into the role of amateur sleuth. Before long many of her friends become suspects in not just one murder, but two. Maggie must discover who’s poisoning people associated with the Shakespeare Festival before one of her friends gets slapped with a murder charge. And she must do so while dodging paparazzi that are stalking her due to a supposed love affair she’s having with Miles Elliot.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, COME, BITTER POISON is the second book in THE STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery series. Though part of a series, COME, BITTER POISON can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.

The Book #Giveaway is Over, but that doesn't mean the fun is!  Pick up your copy today using the buy links above this sentence!  

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Don't Be UNdressed, Get Covered!

Monday, April 11, 2016

#Book #Blitz . . . Killer Pursuit

Proudly Presents. . .A Book Blitz
Featuring Author, Jeff Gunhus

Killer Pursuit

By Jeff Gunhus

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Seven Guns Press

When a secret webcam is found in the Georgetown bedroom of a murdered high-society call girl, everyone in Washington, DC wants the recording. . . especially the killer. 

After a high-society call girl is brutally murdered in her Georgetown home, investigators find two cameras hidden in the walls of her bedroom. One has its memory erased, presumably by the murderer. The second is a webcam with an encrypted connection...and no-one knows who's on the other end. Whoever has the recordings has embarrassing leverage against some of the most powerful men in DC, not to mention a video of the murder showing the identity of the killer. 

FBI Special Agent Allison McNeil is asked by beleaguered FBI Director Clarence Mason to run an off-the-record investigation of the murder because of the murder's similarity to a case she worked a year earlier. Allison knows the most direct path to apprehending the killer is to find the videos, but rumors that the victim's client list may include some of Washington's most powerful men makes her doubt the director's motives. As she starts her investigation, she quickly discovers that she's not the only one pursuing the recording...but that the most aggressive person racing against her might be the murderer himself.


Jeff Gunhus is the author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 100 on Amazon and have been Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists.

After his experience with his son, he is passionate about helping parents reach young reluctant readers and is active in child literacy issues. As a father of five, he leads an active lifestyle in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.



Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

The Meme Says it All!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weekend's Book Affair/#Book Tour:Once Upon a Lie by Michael French

Greetings, Intellectual Minds!

I'm sure you'll look at this post and think to yourself, "Hey, didn't I see this the other day?" Let's face it, you can't pull the wool over an intellectual mind's eye, not that we're trying to, but thought you should know we had a little hiccup and breakdown in communication regarding the interview segment of Michael French's Once Upon a Lie.  In other words, crap happens, but it's ok because we have Michael's interview ready to go.  I've been hearing quite a bit of buzz about this story and its characters, so much so, I've decided I'm going to add it to my roster of reading.  It really sounds like the type of book I'd love and one I'm positive you'll love as well.  So once again, please show your love for Michael French.  Happy Reading!  

Originally Posted Thursday, April 7, 2016 -- Interview Included Below!

Normally, Weekend's Book Affair wouldn't post in the middle of the week, but you're a part of a very special Blog Tour presented by Sage's Blog Tours!  Author, Michael French, is a graduate of Stanford University and has won several award-winning books, screen plays and many more.  You can find all his social media connections and book info. at the end of the post.  Please follow the links, buy the book and show your love for this talented writer. Without further ado, please give our special guest a warm welcome.  Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Weekend's Book Affair 
Proudly Presents, Author, Michael French

Book Description/Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Once Upon a Lie is about two strangers who become unlikely friends, only to unintentionally put each other's life in jeopardy. Jaleel Robeson, a gifted, eighteen year-old black man, falsely accused of murdering his father in a small Texas town, is on the run. He assumes a new identity in 1980s Los Angeles as a successful student on his way to college. Alexandra Baten, a restless sixteen year old while girl, lives in a privileged Toluca Lake family but feels trapped by her parents' values. One weekend, she rides her bike into a run down neighborhood, meeting a young black man selling lemonade. Thus begins a friendship between opposites, at least on the surface, but they learn they have more in common than they imagine. Told from each character's point of view in alternating chapters, we become involved in a gripping tale of two Americas where discontent and violence always lurk under the surface. When they erupt, no one is safe. Once Upon a Lie is both a family drama and a crime drama, as well as an exploration of interracial love, mother-daughter relationships, and redemption through courage.


Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family. In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals. He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His passions include travel, collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family. He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying "no" too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure. 

1. It’s quite impressive that you write screenplays. Michael, please tell my readers how you got into it?

When I first started writing screenplays, about five years ago, I thought creating dialog was everything. I like writing dialog in my novels, so it wasn't hard for me, but I soon learned that a film tells a story with the camera more than the pen. For me, watching films is mostly an intellectual exercise, including reflecting on the story's emotions. I want to understand how everything works together. You develop a sense of scene construction, camera angles, editing, music, actors' facial expressions and voice tone. Ninety percent of directing is probably casting. Getting the right actors is so critical, so if you're embarking on a screenplay, be very clear about the type of actor your characters call for. Two years ago my son and I penned a movie called Intersection, which he directed. We are fortunate that it has done well on the festival circuit and has distribution offers. We've just finishing a second screenplay, called The Reunion, and hope to begin shooting in September. It's a tale of a high school party that went terribly wrong fifteen years earlier, but those responsible kept quiet. When a class reunion comes years later, the truth works its way to the surface, and lives are altered. Lots of surprises.

2. Can you give us a little background into what Once Upon a Lie is about? 

Thematically, the novel is an intersecting tale of two Americas--the poor and the privileged--that starts in the eighties and continues to 2014. A young black man is on the run from a crime he didn't commit in Texas, and takes up a new life as a squatter in southern California. He has the talent and determination to pull off his reinvention in a new high school...until one day he connects by chance with a young white woman from a wealthy community. They are so different on the surface, but they share a connection that binds them to one another--a connection, however, that ultimately tears their lives apart...and then brings them back together. It's a love story that is not wrapped up in ribbons.

3. Besides the writing, which is half the battle to any good book, what else do you feel an author needs to have to make him/her a great storyteller?

Imagination can't be overlooked, of course, both in the plot and making interesting characters that are relatable and have something to risk in the story. You also have to create credibility by knowing your subject matter backwards and forwards. Readers quickly figure out whether or not you know what you're talking about. Finally, you have to be emotionally involved in your story, energized by it, in love with it, no matter how many time you rewrite it and might want to give up. The love for your characters can't be overestimated. 

4. How long were you in the U.S. Army and what did you do while serving, if you can tell us? 

I was drafted in 1968, during the Vietnam conflict, and because I had a Masters degree in journalism, I ultimately became editor of the Fort Ord weekly newspaper. There was nothing special about the paper, but in my two years I learned a lot about bureaucracy, fate, and street smarts. It was a tense time with a lot of soldiers being levied to Vietnam....I was fortunate enough to remain stateside. 

5. What types of movies do you enjoy?

I don't have a favorite genre--I see all kinds of movies, particularly indie and art house films. There are certain directors and actors and screenwriters I will go out of my way to track down. I love watching great craft unfold before my eyes, figuring out why it works. There is definitely magic in every art form.

6. Did you have a calling to be a writer, or did you happen, by accident, to discover writing was in your blood?

I started writing as a melancholy, semi-rebellious teenager. I had no idea what I was doing but my stories were therapy and got me through rough patches. When I got to college, I was attracted to great writers and books, wanting to figure it all out. I had some fantastic teachers/writers. 

7. Because you’re familiar with screenplays, how do you feel about Hollywood taking creative licenses to great literature and changing it into its own view, which I might add, vastly differs from the view my mind’s eye gave of having read a good book?

Reading a novel is a highly personal experience, as your imagination translates words into images that may be unique to you, and fills you with certain emotions. When Hollywood gets hold of a novel you never know what may come out on the screen, but everything is explicitly spelled out and you either like or don't like the director's interpretation. It's just a different experience, a different art form, a different set of aesthetic values, than a book. 

8. What character presented the most challenges in Once Upon a Lie?

Getting into the head and heart of Jaleel, the black protagonist, was tough at times. To stay in character, to get his moods and thoughts right, to make him sympathetic without being a stereotype....that took some work. Getting into the personality of the other protagonist, sixteen year girl Alexandra, was easier. Essentially, Alex was me, growing up in a real community called Toluca Lake. I hope that anyone living in Toluca Lake today who reads the novel agrees that I got the community subtext right. 

9. How do you balance your family and writing life?

When our son and daughter were growing up, my wife and I had a real estate company and everything was a daily juggling act. Baby siting, cooking, going to Scouts or tennis lessons, helping with home work...not easy. I'm sure it's even harder today. Being empty nesters now means more time to write, but it still seems that things get rushed if you aren't careful. 

10. If you could pick any famous mystery/suspense novelist, who would come close to your style of writing?

Stephen King blows the lights out in that regard. But there are many other masters of the genre...I respect them all. 

11. What sets Once Upon a Lie apart from other books?

Lie is a pretty rich tapestry that combines disparate elements: an interracial love story, parental betrayal, generational differences, crime, violence, foiled dreams, and finding hope in the most unlikely places. There are plot and character twists that are hard to see coming. I think the ideal novel informs and entertains in equal measure. 

12. Do you watch reality shows? If so, which ones are your guilty pleasures and why?

I'm not a big fan. Sure, reality TV is "real" in one sense, but some shows are excruciatingly boring, others offend me because of their values, and still others limp from one episode to another. If I want guilty pleasures, I watch cage fighting.

Mello & June would like to thank Michael for his time and we certainly apologize for having left out the interview.  Actually, in the nine years of doing this, I believe this may have been a first where wires crossed.  Luckily, Michael's a good sport about it.  Please make sure you check out Once Upon a Lie by clicking the links below.   Until next time, Happy Reading Everyone!  Keep those Minds Sharp!

Connect with Author/Buy the Book:


Connect with the Novels two main Characters online 

Alex Baten 

Jaleel Robeson 

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

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