Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Spotlight on Michael Robertson's Regret (writing as Dan Dawkins)

Oh what a tangled web we weave...this is a good way to describe Michael Robertson's novel Regret. What initially attracted me (besides the fact that it was nicely formatted and easy to read) was the use of language throughout the novel. He does a great job of turning a phrase. I also enjoyed many of the chapter endings and thought he did a good job of creating a hook that makes the reader want to keep reading. Here's an example of that:

"It was only a few hours after this that I awakened naked in Jenna's hotel, her body pressed against mine, under the sheets of the bed, and had then been propelled into the unbelievable and despair-filled horror that would become the rest of my life."

A lot of books these days are predictable, but not this one. There were twists and turns that I didn't see coming, and I can usually guess what's going to happen next, so I really enjoyed the suprise that came with not knowing what to expect.

The novel is well written and well thought out, and I highly recommend it. And you can get it for .99 right now on the KINDLE and the NOOK.


1. Tell me about yourself, how you became to be a writer, and why you are a writer.

Before you can even begin to write, you have to read—A lot! I was fortunate enough to have a mother who loved to read and did her best to pass the fascination with books onto me. She didn’t have to try very hard. From since I can remember I’ve always had a book by my side. I wrote a few stories when I was young, and enjoyed it, but didn’t really start and try my hand at seriously writing fiction until I was about 20. I’ve written two novels since then, but only published the second one, Regret.

2. Tell me about your book – what inspired it?

Regret is about a young author named Dan Dawkins who, just as all the pieces of his life begin to fit together, experiences a great tragedy, for which he blames nobody but himself…at first. As he tries to outrun his past he begins to become less and less stable, eventually adopting the persona of a character he’d written about. A character that isn’t so nice. The new Dan begins to think of revenge instead of guilt, and the outcome is pretty shocking. The story itself is a first-hand account told by Dan, detailing everything that happened, and offering up and explanation. This is why I published the book under Dan’s name, since it really is his story.

As far as inspiration, it’s hard to say. Regret is a classic case of the characters doing things that the writer didn’t expect. When I started writing the book the plot was a good bit different than the final product. Somewhere around the first 100 pages the story completely changed (for the better) and I never looked back.

3. What’s your favorite chapter in your book, and why?

A few of my favorites I can’t talk about because I don’t want to give anything away. But, I really enjoy the chapter where Dan spends his first night at The Sanderson Homestead. It’s where he meets Ralph, who some of my readers tell me is their favorite character in the book, and it was a lot of fun to write, bringing Ralph to life in that chapter.

4. How did you choose the title of the book?

I wrote the entire book without a title. Then I did all my edits without a title. The title is literally the last thing that I figured out with this book and ultimately settled on Regret because in the end regret is just about all Dan Dawkins had left.

5. How long does it take you to write a book, and what’s your daily writing schedule?

Regret took me a little over a year from first day of writing to final draft. Since I work my full-time job and at the end of the day just don’t always have the motivation to sit back down at the keyboard, to say that I have a writing “schedule” would be a lie. I simply wrote when time would allow and I felt that I was focused enough to do so. Sometimes this would mean starting to write at 9PM and go till midnight, sometimes it meant getting up at 5am and writing till it was time to go to work. Sometimes it meant actually writing at work (Shhh, don’t tell my boss). The most important thing, though, is that I wrote it. And that’s what matters.

6. What made you choose your particular genre?

They say that writers tend to write what they know, and what they themselves enjoy reading. Horror, suspense, and thrillers are my favorite genres, and really all I can ever imagine myself writing. I’ve written a couple short stories that don’t really fall into these categories, but they were simply ideas that wouldn’t go away.

7. Are you working on another book now – if so, what would you like to tell the readers about it?

Well, I have a collection of short stories and one novelette coming out in May called The Teachers’ Lounge, also being published as Dan Dawkins (readers of Regret will understand), and after that I’m going to start focusing on my newest novel. I don’t have a title yet (of course) but it will be a more supernatural tale compared to Regret, full of mystery and tension. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

8. Where can you be found on the internet?




Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review: Spotlight on Indie Writer Gary Ponzo - A Touch of Deceit

Today I am spotlighting Gary Ponzo. His latest novel is called A Touch of Deceit, and it's doing well in the Kindle market. Really well. One of the reasons for this is that I believe his book offers something a little different than many others out there, and the fact that he incorporates his Sicilian background into the story also helps.

The novel opens well with the line, "There was a time when Nick Bracco would walk down Gold Street late at night and young vandals would scatter." I like this because it incorporates action right from the start and gives readers plenty of things to question such as:

1. Who is Nick Bracco?
2. What's so special about Gold Street?
3. Why were vandals afraid of him?

This keeps the reader reading, which is exactly what should happen. And from there the story moves along well and at a fast pace and Ponzo adds several cliffhangers at the end of chapters to keep the readers turning the page.

I liked the many visuals offered throughout the book such as, "The evil seeped through the door like toxic waste." He also sets up scenes where you think you know what's happening and it turns out to be something else.

The terrorist aspect of the book reminded me of a good episode of 24 and he switches it up and allows you to see what's going on through different perspectives with multiple POV.

Overall, I found Gary Ponzo's novel entertaining and full of suspense.

The Interview:

1. Tell me about yourself, how you became to be a writer, and why you are a writer.

I've always written even as a young child. I guess it became apparent I had some skill when my teachers seemed to pick my work to copy and show the rest of the class. The most memorable came as a senior in high school when I'd forgotten to write an English assignment and scribbled a couple of paragraphs while taking the bus to school. The next day my English teacher gave me an "F" on the assignment and wrote, "Who are you kidding" on top of the paper. Naturally I thought she was referring to the jumpy script from writing on a bus with worn out shocks. When I meagerly asked why I received an "F" she flatly told me I couldn't have written that work, it was simply too good. Of course I was flattered, but needed to prove my innocence. She told me to sit down in front of her and write two paragraphs of an action scene. I did it. When I was done she'd read the work and looked at me with a red face and said, "Why are you wasting your time in my class? You never raise your hand, you never join in conversation, you barely complete assignments--why are you not getting serious about this skill you have?" Of course it took me many years to take her advice to heart. Too many.

2. Tell me about your book – what inspired it?

My book is political thriller about an FBI agent, Nick Bracco, who recruits his cousin Tommy to track down a terrorist. Tommy, however, is in the mafia. It's this relationship between law enforcement and those who break laws which sets up the drama of the novel.

My inspiration was born out of working in my father's candy store when I was just sixteen. I used to work alone on weekends and my father had some Sicilian friends watch over me while I was working, especially at night. I guess I knew they were mafia at the time, but to me they were family friends. They'd sip coffee and talk about their kids, baseball, my school. I wanted to show how these people were actually very patriotic, so when a terrorist comes to America to bomb soft targets, these Italian Americans show how much they value their American side.

3. What’s your favorite chapter in your book, and why?

Probably the climax. When Nick finally does come face to face with this terrorist, he finds a way to straddle the line between becoming a vigilante and legally protecting his country. I think it's my most powerful chapter in the book.

4. How did you choose the title of the book?

I wanted to come up with something which would display the undercurrent of using the mafia to scour the underworld for these terrorists. The FBI become's desperate and actually hands over classified files to these Italian Americans to help find these assassins, so they use a Touch of Deceit. It also can refer to the time Nick Bracco lies to the president about capturing this terrorist so he won't acquiesce to the terrorist's demands.

5. How long does it take you to write a book, and what’s your daily writing schedule?

This one took me over a decade because I was still publishing short stories and trying to make a living and be a dad and a husband too. I write mostly at night when the family is asleep so I'm not interrupting anyone's lives for me to get my story down. But if I focused just on writing novels I could probably get one done in six months.

6. What made you choose your particular genre?

I guess it's what interested me. I'm Sicilian and I thought a Sicilian protagonist was interesting, but once I realized he would be an FBI agent, I knew my story would be a little different than most in that genre.

7. Are you working on another book now – if so, what would you like to tell the readers about it?

Yes, because of the success of A Touch of Deceit I'm furiously working on the sequel, A Touch of Revenge. A week doesn't go by without receiving a comment from one of my readers about the progress of the sequel. It's a very rewarding feeling knowing there are literally thousands of people waiting to read what I'm writing. I'm very blessed.

8. Where can you be found on the internet?


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