Thursday, June 18, 2009


I'm on hiatus today, and I'm turning the blog over to one of my absolute favorite writers ever! I am so excited to welcome Chris Grabenstein!

As anybody who has read a Ceepak Mystery will tell you: Danny, Ceepak and I are crazy about Bruce Springsteen music. In fact, when I write the stories, I strap on my headphones and set my iTunes to shuffle randomly through the 534 assorted Springsteen Tracks in its memory banks. Right now, as I write this blog, Bruce is telling me he’ll work for my love (even though others might want it for free). I think I’m supposed to be a girl in this song. Or not.

MIND SCRAMBLER, the fifth book in my John Ceepak/Jersey Shore series (which, btw, is available wherever books are sold starting Tuesday June 23rd) was inspired by a single Springsteen album: MAGIC, which was released in 2007 (yep, we write ‘em almost two years before you read ‘em) and won a Grammy award for the song “Girls In Their Summer Clothes,” a Danny Boyle anthem if ever I heard one.

As it turns out, John Ceepak (who will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do) LOVES magic shows because he knows everything he sees and/or hears in the theatre will be an illusion (a.k.a a lie) and, therefore, he can relax.

In the MIND SCRAMBLER story, bad people manipulate reality to create illusions and cover their tracks. And then there’s a magician, too.

I had a blast creating my very own “centerpiece” illusion for the book, a little trick performed by Richard Rock, the Atlantic City casino headliner, called Lucky Numbers. To pull it off, I had to do a lot of research, get into the mindset of a professional illusionist. I read Magic For Dummies and a great book about the history of illusion by Jim Steinmeyer called Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear. So how, in 1918, did Houdini make an elephant disappear on the stage of New York City’s Hippodrome in front of 5,000 spectators?

He studied optics.

That means he used mirrors.

While I was writing the book, there was this summer replacement show on TV called “The Masked Magician.” The guy wore a mask because he would do a trick and then show you exactly how it was done, totally violating the magician’s code (yes, magicians, like Ceepak, have a code). What was amazing to me was how simple the tricks were once you learned “the trick" to it. Illusionists distract us -- with smoke and spooky music and sequined costumes and mystical moves and lots of mirrors -- to cover up what they’re really doing. We’re looking at the frenzy of distractions over here while they’re getting away with murder over there. Such is the case in Mind Scrambler.

In fact, some illusionists are so good, they can make us believe a lie to be true. And not all illusionists perform on a night club stage. Some create their alternate realities in the media, in politics, in personal relationships.

That’s why I love the lyrics in the title track from Springsteen’s Magic album:

I got shackles on my wrist
Soon I'll slip 'em and be gone
Chain me in a box in the river
And I'll rise singin' this song
Trust none of what you hear
And less of what you see
This is what will be, this is what will be

To give you an idea of how simple a magic trick is once you see how it’s done, here is a clip from Penn & Teller that was another eye-opener for me when I was researching MIND SCRAMBLER. Remember: trust none of what you see the first time through.

As Chris mentioned, his new John Ceepak novel, MIND SCRAMBLER, is available at bookstores on Tuesday. It is absolutely my favorite Ceepak and you KNOW that's saying a lot for me since I ♥ Ceepak. So, because I love it so much, I want to share it with you. I have an ARC copy to give away to a lucky winn- WAIT! HOLD THE PRESSES! (Sorry, I always wanted to say that.) Thanks to a very generous author (who also happened to be my guest blogger today) I actually have a brand spankin' new personalized, hardcover copy of MIND SCRAMBLER to give away to a lucky winner. So if you'd like to be included in the drawing for a copy of this awesome novel all you have to do is send me an e-mail to forbyone(at)yahoo(dot)com no later than next Friday, June 26th. Put "Ceepak" in the subject line and your name and mailing address in the body of the e-mail. Sorry folks, I can only accept entries from the United States.

Also, don't forget that HELL HOLE, the fourth Ceepak novel was released in paperback last month. So, if you were waiting for the paperback, now's the time to get it in its snazzy new cover!

Of course, I can't thank Chris enough for visiting my blog today. I'm so honored and thrilled!! I hope you'll visit again, Chris. And to everyone - Happy Reading!!


Corey Wilde June 19, 2009 at 9:04 AM  

Loved the Penn & Teller vid; may have to revisit this series.

michaelsean June 19, 2009 at 1:21 PM  

That sounds like a great book!

Meredith Cole June 19, 2009 at 4:04 PM  

Can't wait for the latest Ceepak! Chris is not only a fantastic writer, but also a great guy (so go see him sometime when he comes to a bookstore near you!).

Diane June 19, 2009 at 4:50 PM  

I love his book Slay Ride! Have you read it?

Thoughts of Joy June 20, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

I have promised myself to read Tilt A Whirl this summer. :)

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