Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Have the Right to Six Words - The Countdown Begins

It is that time of the week again. I've been going non-stop since last Friday and I'm bound to run out of energy here pretty soon, but the memoirs always give me a little pep. But, this week we're going to start the countdown. December 9th with be the final memoir date for this season. I've decided that I will continue to collect memoirs and have a Season Two start somewhere close to summer in 2010. In the interim, I have a couple projects I'd like to try out, gads of reviews to share, and many interviews that are in the works. Hopefully you'll keep visiting to share all this fun with me.

However, we still have four weeks of memoirs to present, and to think when this started I worried if I would even have enough to make four weeks of posts! This week we have a little bonus, so let's get started.

My first memoirist this week is a crime fiction writer in the making! Jonathan Quist is a life-long native of the Chicago-area. He spent much of his childhood running home at lunch time to watch WGN TV's storied version of the Bozo franchise, neither understanding nor caring that he was audience to one of the last incarnations of Vaudeville theater.

He made that connection years later, while researching his first novel, "Break a Neck", which is set in the world of American Vaudeville in 1919 Chicago. Frustrated by attempts to categorize a comical mystery featuring a Vaudevillian amateur sleuth into ever-changing genre definitions,he settled on "Humorous Historical Traditional Mystery".

On the verge of empty nesthood, Jonathan remains in the Chicago area with his wife of 21 years, Karin, also a Chicago native. After his day job in IT and work on the mystery, his remaining time is juggled between a second, non-mystery novel, old-time radio reenactments, and all the usual suburban suspects in the death of spare time.

I have to tell you that I absolutely love Jonathan's memoir because I think it connects to the crime fiction community so well. He explains that "very few of the things we accomplish in life are truly solo accomplishments. Whether literally baking pies, writing, or expending effort in any other worthwhile endeavor, I don't mind sharing the credit...but I'm not giving it all away," so...

Making pie; I expect my piece.
L.J. Sellers was born in California but was raised in Oregon. She still resides in Oregon today, after a short stint in Arizona following college graduation. While she earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, she initially didn't have aspirations of writing fiction. She worked in her chosen field until encountering a less than stellar novel one day. L.J. felt she could write better than that and set off to do so. While her first couple attempts at the novel didn't make the publication presses, her writing did cause Al Zuckerman to take notice. Zuckerman's interest was the impetus L.J. needed to persevere. During her time persevering, she took a job as an editor for PHARMACEUTICAL EXECUTIVE magazine where she learned about the other end of the writing table, the editor's role. When the magazine closed and L.J. was job searching, she was also working on the beginning of her series that WOULD see the publication presses. This was the time that L.J. wrote the first Detective Jackson series book, THE SEX CLUB.

While L.J. still juggles several jobs, including freelance work and working part-time at her local newspaper, she puts her fiction writing first every day. That work ethic has thus produced SECRETS TO DIE FOR that came out this past September and two more novels in the pipeline.

So, with all this dogged perseverance, I think her memoir is especially fitting:

Against the odds, never gave up.

Next up is a writing team. Alice and Roy keep their work all in the family. This husband and wife writing team is better known as Allyson Roy. Roy graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where he studied acting. Roy also spent time doing stand-up routines and in comedy and nightclubs. He says his inspiration stems from his contact with a wide range of people set against offbeat locations within Manhattan, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

Alice earned her philosophy and dance degrees from the State University of New York. She says that this degree combination is reflective of her attraction to the romantic suspense genre, "The genre blends elements of each, combining problem-solving questions and logic puzzles with a desire for physical action, sensuality and the creative possibilities that can happen when individuals meet."

Together Alice and Roy have written two acclaimed novels featuring sex therapist Saylor Oz. The first book in this series is titled APHRODISIAC and it was followed up this year by BABYDOLL.

So what do they each have to say for their memoirs? Alice asks,

Why walk when you can dance?

And Roy says,

I could have been a contender.

And rounding out this week we have the "CEO of Suspense," best selling thriller writer Joseph Finder. The recipient of the Barry and Gumshoe awards for Best Thriller and the Thriller Writers of America award for Best Novel, Joe's career actually stems from a non-fiction work he published in 1983 at the age of 24, RED CARPET: THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE KREMLIN AND AMERICA'S MOST POWERFUL BUSINESSMEN. His book revealed that the CEO of Occidental Petroleum had worked for Soviet Intelligence in the 20s and 30s. This controversial book resulted in threats of a libel suit. When Joe couldn't legally tell the "whole story" in this non-fiction work, he opted to turn to fiction and his first thriller was born, THE MOSCOW CLUB.

Joe continued to write thrillers, including HIGH CRIMES that would be made into a major motion picture, but his 2004 publication of PARANOIA parked Joe squarely on the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Publisher's Weekly best seller lists. This past April a movie deal for PARANOIA was also announced.

In addition, Joe published VANISHED this year, which is the kick-off to a four-part series featuring corporate security specialist Nick Heller. In addition to his fiction thrillers, Joe has also written on espionage and international affairs for publications such as Forbes, The New York Times and The New Republic.

Joe Finder could have gone in many different career directions. While in college at Yale he sang with the legendary Whiffenpoofs; he was recruited to the C.I.A.; and he spent time teaching on the Harvard faculty. But instead he chose fiction writing and he
Asked dangerous questions, got amazing answers.
The genre hasn't been the same since.

Once again, I am extremely honored to have this group of authors join us and share their six-word memoirs. Thanks to Jonathan, L.J., Roy and Alice, and Joe. I'm so glad you wanted to play along!

And thanks to everyone who's continued to stop by week after week. We'll do this again next week. I will be on hiatus until Friday when I post again for the Buy Books for the Holidays blog. This week I'll be talking about books I've read this year that I would recommend as holiday gifts. Hope you'll stop by to check that out and offer some suggestions of your own.

Until then...Happy Reading!

3 comments:

Naomi Johnson November 18, 2009 at 8:00 AM  

Always good stuff, these memoirs. Thanks, Jen.

le0pard13 November 18, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

Great news on the upcoming second season of these memoirs, Jen. Another great and clever set. Thanks.

Serena November 18, 2009 at 7:02 PM  

I love this feature...this one is great: Making pie; I expect my piece.

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