Author Amanda Robson talks OBSESSION with Jewels

Jewels:  Congratulations on your fabulous book dealing with disturbed, impetuous characters! It is my favorite read of the summer!

Amanda Robson:  Thank you for your very kind words. I was thrilled to read your review.

J:  OBSESSION goes deep into marital relationships as well as mental illnesses. How long did you research the various issues before starting to write? 

AR:  I have been listening to friend’s problems over the years and empathising. Also, a very close friend of mine has just retired as a Relate counsellor, so all in all it has been a long term observational interest rather than anything I had to research specifically.

J:    How long did it take to write the book?

AR:  I had been writing a piece of historical fiction for many years which took a lot of research and re- drafting. I just missed getting it published and was so disappointed. The idea of Obsession suddenly popped into my head and so I decided to go for it and change genre. Writing a psychological thriller came to me much more naturally than historical fiction.  Obsession only took me six months.

J:   I find it fascinating that you previously co-authored a medical book on cyanide poisoning. When did you realize you wanted to write fiction?

AR:   I wanted to write fiction from being a teenager. I always loved writing poetry too. But because of my early scientific career and bringing up my children, writing a novel never got a look in. A few pieces of poetry for private consumption was the best I could do. It wasn’t until my children were late teenagers that I really felt I had the time. When I saw their lives moving forwards and mine stagnating, I realized this was the time to take control and do what I had always wanted to do.  

J:  I read that you wanted to be an actress in another life. Who would you like to see act in the role of Carly if OBSESSION was made into a movie (fingers crossed!)?

AR:  I would love Scarlett Johansson to play Carly, as she is so interesting and versatile. Scarlett Johanssan has a very expressive face, which is exactly how I imagine Carly.  

J:   Yes! I 100% agree! Scarlett Johansson would be absolutely perfect as the gorgeous, blonde, funny and intense Carly!

J:  I saw that one of your favorite contemporary authors is Chimamanda Ngozi. I loved AMERICANAH! Which of her books is your favorite and why?

AR:  Americanah is my favourite too.  It is so sharply and evocatively written, and the main character is so well drawn. I think it is a book of importance, challenging the West’s attitudes to race in a very haunting way.  The way Ngozi describes in detail the thoughts and feelings of a few characters, so that I can imagine their situation, rather than being bulldozed by statistics, works for me in a very powerful way.   

J:  Were you influenced by any other current authors in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre?

AR:  Definitely. I loved Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. Didn’t everybody?

J:  Yes, I certainly did! Both books are in my TWISTER HALL OF FAME!

J:   Without spoiling the ending for readers, OBSESSION does have a quite shocking one. How many various endings did you imagine for the book? Or was it always going to be the final product?

AR:  I did have another ending. But I changed it so that the reader could have more empathy with one of the characters. Guess which one?

J:   Hahaha! Yes I think I know which character you mean. And the ending definitely works! It is realistic, plausible and shocking. The best kind of plot twist.

J:  Please tell me you are working on a new book! If so, can you say anything about it yet?

AR:  I have just finished the second edit of my next book Guilt. It is another domestic thriller, in which two sisters get into a bad situation with the same man.

J:  I can’t wait to read GUILT, Amanda! Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to visit with me. Congratulations on OBSESSION!

Available on Amazon Now! Obsession: The bestselling psychological thriller perfect for summer reading

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Amanda Robson, author of OBSESSION. See my review of OBSESSION here.

10 INVIGORATING Bookclub Selections

What kinds of books do you like to read and discuss with a group of friends?  Does your bookclub go for the controversial themes or the safe ones, so that no one member feels offended? Nothing wrong with that. Some bookclubs are polite like that.

My bookclub “babes” tend to go….all over the place! We go through the historical fiction period for a few months until we get tired of that and switch it up with something hot and current. We always have more lively discussions with the “controversial” books. One book that was definitely a love it or hate it topic for us was ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS by Bryn Greenwood.

“I was lying on the tracks under a train I was in love with.”
― Bryn Greenwood, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Personally, I find this book absolutely heartbreaking and brilliant. The subject matter is tough and heavy, but honest. And definitely provocative. Talk about a conversation starter!

HILLBILLY ELEGY: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, is a fascinating book, more about the state of our nation than a memoir. I highly recommend it for a book club, so many topics ranging from Appalachian poverty to the Rust Belt and the coal and steel industry, and though the author does not even mention the word TRUMP, there is a widespread belief that this book, at least partially, explains Trump’s win over Clinton. He writes knowledgeably about education, unemployment and the general “angriness” of the white poor man in the United States.

“We don’t study as children, and we don’t make our kids study when we’re parents. Our kids perform poorly in school. We might get angry with them, but we never give them the tools—like peace and quiet at home—to succeed.”
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

No matter how you feel about the state of our country right now,  your bookclub may want to consciously choose books of importance, diversity, and relevance this year. In the last few months we have read HOMEGOING, AMERICANAH, THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. We have also enjoyed discussing EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, THE TORTILLA CURTAIN, THE ROUND HOUSE and THE INVENTION OF WINGS.  I can confidently say that any of these “NEW” classics are perfect for your discussions and observations. They are all immediate classics to add to your bookclub TBR.

Click on any of the images below to get your copy and start reading today!

Bloggers: What do you say about a less-than-stellar ARC?

I was in the dumps a few days ago. I love mysteries, domestic noir, suspense books anytime anywhere.  I even dig a good procedural like the excellent Tana French and Robert Galbraith books.

Being a new blogger, I joined NetGalley a few months ago and went straight for my genre of books. While I’ve read some good ones, I read so many lackluster, blah (boring) ARCs that I seriously got burned out. Also, how do you bloggers handle bad ARCs? Some, I can’t even finish. Then, what about the review?

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My husband (not a big reader) says I should be honest and tell it like it is – let people know if the book is lousy. In these cases, I feel too much for the author, the hard work he/she put in and their feelings, too. I just can’t trash a book publicly. It does irk me when a so-so book is heavily promoted and I see tons of other bloggers tweeting about how great it is.  Is that solely so they will get more free books to review?

I have tentatively decided to only write reviews for “good”  books. Or semi-good. I’m not a snob, I just WANT TO READ GOOD BOOKS!

Not knowing how this whole blogger/book reviewer big picture works, I at first accepted a couple of author’s requests to read their books. One self-published, one has been published about a year. Both really bad.

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Do I let them know their books sucked, I couldn’t finish, no way I can write a nice review? I’m really interested in your thoughts on this subject.  How do you handle bad books?

In case you care (you do, don’t you?) I climbed out of my reading slump by concentrating on my TBR list. First up, DARK MATTER. High fives all around. Perfectly exciting and different and well written. Now, Sharp Objects. It’s looking outstanding.

Happy Monday

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Ugh, I know. Mondays suck and we are waking up to a blistering hot forecast for the Pacific Northwest this week. We’re going to experience 3-4 days in a row over 100 degrees.  I grew up in Texas so I know temps like that aren’t a big deal. But, Texas is one big air conditioner in the summer. Everyone has A/C. Public buildings are kept very cool. It’s deadly not to have A/C in Texas.

A little different in Oregon. We generally have mild summer days and cool nights. Most people don’t have A/C at home and if stores and restaurants have A/C, it is not kept at a cold enough temp to beat 105 degree heat. Bless their hearts, Oregonians just don’t like to run air conditioners full blast.  So, when we have a heat wave like we are this week, we just hunker down, don’t move around, conserve energy and try not to melt. Perfect time to get lost in a book.

 

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Playster vs. Audible

July 13, 2017

I’ve been trying out the new Playster streaming service for a month free and have been cramming in as many audio books as possible, since they offer unlimited books, music, movies and games for the same price ($14.95 USD per month) as Audible (one book per month).

Unlike Audible, Playster does not have a player app for your device that allows you to stop and start your audio book and keep track of your spot in the “book”.  That one little detail is huge!!!  I have had so much trouble with the interface, it doesn’t even compare to Audible in ease. You know how it is….you’re out walking, got the earbuds in, listening to a great mystery. You come home, stop the book, take a shower, go back to listening while you cook dinner. When you go back to Audible, it’s a piece of cake. You click open the app and push play to get right back in exactly where you left off.   NOT WITH PLAYSTER!  Click open the app, you have to sign in every time(annoying) and literally start searching for the book every time.  THEN, after searching and finally finding it, you have to figure out yourself where you left off!!!  Even after selecting chapter 7, for example, sometimes it will start inexplicably at say, chapter 10. NOOOOOOOO!! That’s the very definition of a SPOILER –GEEZ…It’s frikkin’ frustrating as hell!

Multiply this process about a million times and you will be as ready to toss Playster to the curb as I am. If I hadn’t had the actual book, I would never know what chapter the audio version should be on. And usually you don’t have the real book, hence the beauty of audio.  They have a “My Audio Books” section that supposedly you can save your book to, but it must have a bug, because it doesn’t work. An obvious non-reader person designed the Playster audio book portion; that is the only reason I can come up with for such major inadequacies.

To sum it up: on Playster, yes, you do get unlimited books to listen to (they seem to have thousands of titles, I’ve listened to In a Dark, Dark Wood; Americanah; The Woman in Cabin 10) on Playster. Each book was excruciatingly painful to get through because of the unpredictable start and stop points.  In Playster, you do not own the audio books like you do with Audible. They live in the Playster app and you can revisit them as long as you are a monthly Playster member.  All the music is great and easy to use, similar to Spotify in graphics and interface.  I have not checked out the movies or games. But man, they have got to figure out the audiobooks. Hands down, Audible is a thousand times better for audiobooks, even if it costs more.

Have you tried Playster? Let me know your experience with it! Maybe I’m just too untechnified (made-up word) to figure it out.

What Makes a Plot Twist Work?

stormy-800pxThere are few things I love more in this world than a book or movie with a great plot twist.  Plot twists can occur throughout a novel (a constant rollercoaster ride) or there can be one huge twist at the ending after pages of suspense.  Not all plot twists work for me.  In fact, so many fail (BEHIND HER EYES).  It is a difficult thing to pull off and an author has to be quite skillful.  There are certain elements that a story must have in place for a plot twist to be successful.

  • element of surprise (duh)
  • foreshadowing/clues
  • believable, logical or plausible
  • red herrings

Of course, these elements only work if the characterization and narration of the story is compelling. Points of view are are also important. How well do we know the narrator? Unreliable narrators, such as Rachel in GIRL ON THE TRAIN, are all the rage right now and I for one, LOVE IT!! It is difficult for these aspects to all come together in a story, but when they do, HOLY CYCLONE!!  A thing of beauty.