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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interview, Review, and Giveaway with L.J. Sellers, author of The Arranger


Hi, everyone! 

I am thrilled to participate in The Arranger Virtual Book Tour presented by NURTURE Virtual BOOK Tourz. We will be joined today by the author of The Arranger, L.J. Sellers. 

Author Bio:

L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist and the author of the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/suspense series: The Sex Club, Secrets to Die For, Thrilled to Death, Passions of the Dead, and Dying for Justice. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and Spinetingler magazines, and the series is on Amazon Kindle’s bestselling police procedural list. L.J. also has two standalone thrillers: The Baby Thief and The Suicide Effect. When not plotting murders, she enjoys performing standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes. 

 Author Interview: 

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, L.J.!

Do you recall when your interest in writing originated? 

I’ve been writing my whole life. I loved writing reports in school, and I earned a journalism degree from the University of Oregon. Creative writing was always more of a challenge though, and for a long time, I didn’t think I could write novels. At the age of 30, I was reading a novel and threw it down in disgust, thinking I could write something better. So I challenged myself to give it a try. I had so much fun writing that first novel that I immediately started another one. I’ve been crafting novels ever since, with only a two-year break, during which I wrote five screenplays. Storytelling is who I am now, and I’m not truly happy unless I’m crafting a story. 


Do you have a specific writing style? Any quirks or superstitious routines you stick to? Do you use a pen and paper, old-fashioned typewriter, or computer/laptop?  

I’ve always used a computer (or word processer) to write everything…except my daily to-do lists. Even my big to-lists such as for a book launch are kept in a digital file. My routines have varied over the years. Until recently, I worked full time as a journalist and had to write around my job schedule: early mornings, evenings, and weekends. Now that I’m a full-time novelist, I find that late mornings and afternoons are my best writing times. I think of writing as a craft, and not an art, so I’m not the least bit superstitious. But I am goal driven. So when I’m writing a first draft, I have a daily word-count goal of 2,000. I may not always make it, but I usually do and having the goal pushes me to stay on task. Social networking can be very distracting, so the word-count goal keeps me from frittering away too much time online. 


Any special music you like to listen to while writing, or do you prefer solitude? 

When my kids were young, my desk was in the family room, and I wrote novels with three young boys playing Nintendo about six feet away from me. That was noisy! Not to mention the swearing… So I’ve learned to stay focused amid all kinds of distractions. But the truth is, I like it quiet and I work best when it’s silent. But I do like music, and I take regular dance breaks throughout the day to get out of my chair and rejuvenate. My favorite music is funk…or anything I can really dance to. 


What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Despite dozens of five-star reviews for The Sex Club, some people don’t like it because of its politics. One of the protagonists is a Planned Parenthood nurse who dispenses birth control to teenagers, and some readers are appalled by that. But I don’t take those criticisms personally. They have their politics and I have mine. But for the second book in my series, Secrets to Die For, a journalist I’d met online and shared a group blog with criticized my characterization and called the book “predictable.” That hurt! But you have to be thick-skinned in this business, and I remind myself that hundreds of readers have contacted me to say what they like best about my stories are the characters and the surprises. Admittedly, I write lean, and my stories are fast paced, so for some readers, there’s not enough exposition.

The best compliment I received was from a reader who posted a review on Amazon saying she’d read all six of my books in six days because I was one of best authors she’d ever discovered and she ranked me up there with all the crime fiction greats. I will that cherish that review forever. 


What inspired you to write this book? 

This book came together from several different elements. One was the opening scene, which came to me in a flash as I watched paramedics carry someone out of a house and thought: What if they had witnessed a crime? I jotted that scene down, knowing I would use it someday. Eventually, I decided to write a futuristic thriller because I like the genre, and few authors write in it. There’s plenty of dystopian fiction and science fiction, but not many crime fiction thrillers set in the future, except of course for J.D. Robb’s series, which proves there’s a market for it. Eventually, the plot developed from my worry about the future and how chronic unemployment might have a long-term negative effective on our country. From that concern, my antagonist—who exploits the employment situation—was born. The hard part was finding a way to bring my two characters together in an overlapping story. It took a few brainstorming sessions to work it out. 


What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

As for the actual writing, the toughest element was the Gauntlet competition scenes. I had to envision scenarios that were completely fictitious, yet they had to be compelling, even breathtaking. I also had to write a fight scene that was challenging for me. Despite the difficulty, writing those scenes was the most fun I’ve ever had as a novelist! In all my other novels, I’ve strived for realism, and this was the first time I was able to be completely creative. 


Are any of the characters based on someone you know? 

The protagonist, Lara Evans, is like me in some ways, only much more intense. She’s who I might be if I were not a writer and didn’t have children—an adrenaline-junkie paramedic who’s in great physical shape. J The other main character, Paul Madsen, is completely fictitious. It was challenging to get inside his head and see the world from the perspective of an introvert with little self-esteem. Yet it was intriguing to experience his transformation. Paul’s story is important, because so many people feel alone and disenfranchised, and I hope readers will relate to his experience. 


Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

I try not to be preachy and to write complex novels that readers can come away from with a variety of feelings and information. In this story, if there is a message, it’s that every person you encounter is struggling with their own negative feelings—guilt or low self-esteem or a sense of failure. It’s important to see everyone as a valuable person and to make an effort to recognize them, even with a smile or a nod. 


What are your current writing projects?

I’m writing the next book in my Detective Jackson series and working on a new short story. I hope to make time to write some new comedy material as well. 


What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Like all successful novelists in this current publishing industry, I spend a lot of time social networking, blogging, and promoting. When I’m not working, I love to swim, dance, and ride my bike. I also do standup comedy performances every once in a while. That hobby came out of my script-writing stint. I wrote three comedy screenplays and took a class to sharpen the humor. At the end of the course, I had to perform my material. I was terrified, but it went well and I loved it. I wish I had more time for it. But as a clarification: The comedy and the novels are separate worlds for me. I don’t write humorous fiction….yet. 


Who is your favourite author and what really strikes you about their work?
 
My favorite all-time novelist is Lawrence Sanders. He introduced me to police procedurals with his Deadly Sin series, then I went on to read everything he wrote. He was incredibly versatile and wrote male and female characters equally well, often portraying women in very positive ways, back when few authors did. He wrote in many genres, including intense political stuff as well as the Archie McNally books, which are lighthearted. I admire his ability to write so effectively in so many styles. 


What book are you reading now? 

I’m reading Iron House by John Hart, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. I started it a while back, then put it down, and now I’m giving it another chance. I loved his earlier books, but in this one, I have trouble relating to his character. I prefer protagonists to be good guys. 


Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? 

I want to thank the thousands of readers who have supported my work and made it possible for me to write full time. I would also encourage new readers to check out my website and read the descriptions of my novels. There’s quite a variety, and I hope that at least one will appeal to you. 

Snappy questions and answers: 

Favourite colour? Purple.

Favourite food?
Grilled ribeye steak with a side of cold watermelon. 

Dog-lover or cat-lover? I currently don’t have any pets, but a dog once saved my life, so I definitely like dogs. 

Vanilla ice cream or chocolate? Chocolate anything!

Beer or wine? I’ve been sober since December 17, 1989 (the same year I started writing novels), but when I drank, I wasn’t picky.
 

Secluded mountain cabin or five-star hotel? Five-star hotel. I’m really not a camper. I like to be comfortable. I love the outdoors and I like to hike. I just want to sleep in a bed afterward.

If I could take an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, I would go to...
Italy. I want to see all the incredible art and the beautiful countryside.



Thank you so much for joining us today, L.J.! It was a lot of fun getting to know you better!

If you would like to learn more about L.J. and her books, her contact information is below: 

Email
Website 
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
CrimeSpace
Goodreads
LibraryThing

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TITLE: The Arranger
AUTHOR: L.J. Sellers 
PUBLISHER: Spellbinder Press
DATE OF PUBLICATION: July 1, 2011
FORMAT: Paperback, 264 pages
GENRE: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
ISBN: 978-0983213857 


SYNOPSIS FROM GOODREADS: 

The year is 2023 and ex-detective Lara Evans is working as a freelance paramedic in a bleak new world. She responds to an emergency call and is nearly killed when a shooter flees the home. Inside she finds the federal employment commissioner wounded, but she’s able to save his life. The next day Lara leaves for the Gauntlet—a national competition of intense physical and mental challenges with high stakes for her home state. She spots the assailant lurking at the arena and soon after, she lands in deep trouble. Who is the mysterious killer and what is motivating him? Can Lara stop him, stay alive, and win the Gauntlet? 

MY REVIEW:

I received this e-book for review from NURTURE Book Tourz as part of the author's virtual book tour. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

Wow, this book is amazing!

This book takes place in the future, in the year 2023. The protagonist, Lara Evans, is a freelance paramedic in Oregon who used to be a police detective. In this futuristic world, the rate of unemployment is high and the government has made cut-backs in their services. Sellers creates a very convincing realistic future world, and it is a little chilling to think of what our world might become.

Lara is a fantastic character with so much depth! I just love her!! Sellers did a fantastic job developing her character. Lara is tough as nails, but she is her own worst enemy because of the guilt that she carries relating to an incident that took place while she was on the force.

When Lara responds to an emergency call requesting assistance, she encounters a man exiting the home who shoots at her. Inside, Federal Employment Commissioner Thaddeus Morton is wounded. Lara tends to the Employment Commissioner’s injuries but he does not want to report the incident to the police.

The following day, Lara leaves for Washington, D.C. to enter a national competition called the Gauntlet for which she has been training for the past two years. It is a grueling competition in which contestants are put through both physical and mental challenges. The winner of the Gauntlet will receive government financial support and guaranteed jobs for their state. When Lara spots the Employment Commissioner’s shooter at the competition, she fears for her own safety as well as the Commissioner’s.

From here, Sellers cleverly splits the book into two timelines: The current one where Lara is competing in the Gauntlet; and one that starts eight months in the past and leads up to the present. They merge together in the end, and it is very interesting to see the story from two different points of view.

I do not want to divulge any further details of the book, so I will just talk about Sellers: She is a fantastic storyteller, and she literally had me hooked from the get-go! I loved that she made Lara such a strong heroine, but also showed her vulnerability and flaws. It was so easy to connect with her, and I was even able to connect with the antagonist even though he is morally corrupt! Very well done, Sellers!

Although this book is marketed as a “stand-alone” thriller, I’d love to see more of Lara! I am extremely eager to read more of Sellers! 

MY RATING: 5 stars!! I loved it, and I could not put it down! Highly recommended! 

This book qualifies as:
#7 for my 2011 E-book Reading Challenge 
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 Tour Participants:

 September 7th – Mason C. @ Thoughts in Progres


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Now I know you all must be dying to get your hands on a copy of your own!!
 

L.J. has generously offered two copies of her book, The Arranger.
The paperback copy will be for a winner in Canada/United States.
The e-book copy will be for an international winner. 

To enter the giveaway, you must fill out the Rafflecopter below. 

There are TWO mandatory entries, so make sure you do both or you will be disqualified: You must both follow me on GFC and leave a blog post comment telling me in what country you live (this is for the purpose of determining whether you qualify for the paperback or e-book giveaway).

The giveaway is open until Thursday, September 22nd at 12:01 AM EST. 





11 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great book for me because I love this genre, though the futuristic plot puts a new spin on things. I live in the U.S.
    Thanks, Rae bestobooks@gmail.com

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  2. Great Interview! I write everything and keep all my info digital as well ;)

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  3. Let's see no cliffies... YES! Sounds like a great read! Thanks also for the interview. I would love to hear the story of the dog! :)

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  4. Great interview!!! And thanks for the giveaway :) This book sounds great!! I'm from the US :)

    teddybrgrrl@sbcglobal.net

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  5. Thanks, everyone, for stopping in. I loved writing this book. It was both challenging and exciting and Lara became very special to me. I'm starting to think there will be a sequel.

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  6. I laughed when I read that when shw isn't plotting murders she is doing stand up comedy. Too funny! I wonder if she ever mixes the two?

    Dorothy
    http://alaskanbookie.blogspot.com/
    Twitter -->> @akchocoholic

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  7. Squeak, I haven't mixed murder and humor yet, but it's on my list to write a humorous crime caper someday. Currently the standup provides a welcome relief from the gritty novels I write...and news in general.

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  8. You conduct a great interview. I really enjoyed it.

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  9. Melissa, sorry I missed your question. The dog belonged to my ex-husband, who had me on the floor and was choking the life out of me, and Spot (a Great Dane) bit him in the ass. As he chased the dog, I ran.

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  10. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! The giveaway is now closed, and the winners will be announced shortly.

    L.J. - thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of your tour! I can't wait to read more of your books!

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