Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adam Blumer - FATAL ILLUSIONS - Free Book

We're featuring debut novelist Adam Blumer today. Welcome, Adam. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

To some degree, my life experiences are always going to factor into how I create my characters. I made a special effort not to make the main protagonists just like me, though there are a few similarities. My female lead, Gillian Thayer, for example, works a part-time job as a calligrapher. In high school, I dabbled in calligraphy and won a few small awards. Gillian also loves solo piano music and Earl Grey tea: two of my favorite things. I'm also melancholy like Gillian.

On the other hand, Gillian's pastor husband, Marc, isn't at all like me. He's an aggressive extrovert and natural speaker who played professional basketball for the Chicago Bulls before God used a car accident to save his soul and change his life. I don't play a lick of basketball and know next to nothing about professional basketball, so I had some research to do.

Several traits belong only to my characters. Gillian has a habit of tracing imaginary calligraphy letters with her finger when she's tense. Marc struggles with a basketball addiction, but refrains from playing the sport due to anger issues. His daughter, Crystal, has been taking voice lessons since she was six and gets the lead role in a small-town musical. My serial killer, who enjoys listening to Broadway musical soundtracks, drives his fingernails into his palms when he's enraged. Chuck Riley, the retired homicide detective who helps the Thayers catch the killer, is addicted to Juicy Fruit gum.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

When I went on a trip to the Holy Land and met my wife. In the spring of 1995, still single and disillusioned with dating, I gave up on the idea of dating anyone ever again. I decided to go on a trip to the Holy Land as sort of a spiritual pilgrimage; I wanted to meditate on God and see what He wanted to show me about Himself. Wouldn’t you know it? What I least expected happened. At the Boston airport, I met Kim, a gorgeous brunette (her church group met mine) who’d brought the same novel to read on the airplane, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. No kidding. Then at London’s Heathrow Airport, the ticket person thought she and I were a couple and put us together on the all-night flight to Tel Aviv. Kim didn’t care for her sardines, so I ate them. The relationship appeared to be promising. To cut to the chase, we chatted in Jericho, conversed in Nazareth, and talked nonstop in Jerusalem. On the way home I sat beside her on the plane. A few weeks later, I visited her in Milwaukee and met her parents. By New Year’s, we were engaged. Pretty amazing, huh? I now tell singles not to look for a marriage partner. Seek God, and He’ll put you on a collision course if marriage is His plan for you.

That's really good advice. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I loved writing imaginative tales when I was a kid, but I didn’t start taking my writing seriously until I won a state high school creative writing contest. That’s when I realized that my writing was better than average and that perhaps God wanted me to do something with it. Because I loved writing and got good grades in English, I decided to get a journalism degree in college; it seemed like a smart vocational decision fitted to my skills. By then, it was pretty much a given in my mind that God wanted me to write. Exactly what I was supposed to write I didn’t know yet. For fourteen years I served as a staff editor for two ministries, but I always preferred writing stories.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

History, science fiction, classic literature, fantasy, true crime. I mostly enjoy Christian suspense, of course, authors like Terri Blackstock, Brandilyn Collins, Tim Downs, and Mark Mynheir. I also enjoy literature (Alexander Dumas, John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, Flannery O’Conner, Katherine Anne Porter) and some secular fiction (Leif Enger, Mary Higgins Clark, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks). When I’m not reading fiction, I enjoy history (John Adams by David McCullough) and theology (John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges, and others.).

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I’m not sure because life has been anything but sane lately with a regular day job and then a novel coming out. I guess I endeavor to keep my focus on God and to rely on His strength instead of my own. We all struggle in this area because everyone is tempted to be self-sufficient, including me. But I have to constantly remind myself that each breath, each moment, is a gift from God. The Bible tells me that if I seek God first, He will provide everything else I need. I believe that includes the strength and sanity to do what He has called me to do in spite of the rate race of this world.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I don’t do anything especially creative like looking up Latin meanings. If I’m stumped, I glance through a phone book and meditate on who my character is and what type of name would fit him or her. I definitely stay away from ordinary names because I always want my characters to have something special and different about them. I chose “Gillian” for my female lead because I like the sound of the name with her personality and because I don’t personally know anyone named Gillian. For her husband, Marc, I didn’t want to use “Mark” with a “k” at the end because I already know lots of men with that name. To make him unique I decided to use a “c” instead of a “k” at the end of his name. I’m not sure how to explain it except that I always want my characters to have something about them that make them unusual. If they don’t offer anything special, I fear they won’t offer the character depth readers find interesting.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Publishing my first novel, I suppose. I wouldn’t say that I take personal pride in the accomplishment as much as I consider myself blessed by God in spite of my failings. Without God, I can do nothing. I couldn’t have written the novel without God’s leading and without the encouragement from lots of dear friends and family members.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

An owl, I think. Nighttime is probably my favorite time. I love to watch life around me and observe what people are doing. The why of what people do is particularly fascinating to me. I don’t put a lot of stock in psychobabble, but there is a reason why we are the people God made us to be. The past is inexplicably woven into everyone’s personal identity. Perhaps that’s why I find the past—and how it affects all of us—so fascinating.

What is your favorite food?

Steak on the grill, pizza, shrimp scampi. Oh, sorry, that’s three.

Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

It’s a long story, but I’ll give you the short version. I always loved writing stories and wanted to be a novelist since I was a kid. I studied journalism in college, but I could never get away from my love of story writing. After college, I published articles and short stories. I also wrote several youth novels, but I couldn’t find a publisher. An editor somewhere recommended that I try writing for adults. I wrote a suspense novel, but again I couldn’t find a publisher or agent. In 2007 I contacted Kregel Publications to see if I could edit some of their books from home (I’m a full-time freelance editor.) When the managing editor saw on my resume that I had written several unpublished novels, he asked to see my latest project. Long story short, God opened doors, and Kregel bought my adult suspense novel.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I still struggle with the roadblock of time. I’m a full-time freelance editor who works on novels after my regular work is done. As many author husbands and fathers who are the main breadwinners will tell, time is a never-ending battle. The solution? I weed timewasters out of my life and try to use every moment for something productive. Most of my writing time consumes evenings and weekends. I’d love to write full time, but God hasn’t opened that door yet, so I do the best I can with the time He has given me. As a husband and father of two girls, I’ll tell you that finding sufficient time to write is my greatest challenge. But the Bible tells me that if I seek God first, He’ll provide what I need—including the time to write.

What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?

If you’re a writer who wants to be a published novelist, be patient and work hard, but keep in mind that doors will open for you only in the Lord’s timing. We can’t rush God. If He has prompted you to write, God gave you that desire for a reason. Explore what His will could be, but learn to wait on Him—perhaps even for a long time. When He’s ready, He’ll let you know. In the meantime, seek Him with your whole heart.

Tell us about the featured book?

Pastor’s wife Gillian Thayer is mourning the loss of twins who died at birth when she makes a discovery that shatters her world. She finds a love letter written to her husband, Marc. But before she can confront him, someone shoots Marc. He recovers, but the situation involving the woman who shot him is so complex and the media so relentless that the Thayers decide to take a sabbatical at a historical lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But someone else has also moved to the area, a serial killer and amateur magician who dreams of being the next Houdini. He strangled several young women in Cincinnati, but to pursue his dream of being a great magician, he must put the murders and his past behind him. He thinks he just needs time and distance, but of course he soon spots his next victim and can’t help himself. When Marc, the last person to see the victim alive, is arrested, he and Gillian find themselves thrust into the heart of a murder investigation and into the sights of a ruthless killer.

Please give us the first page of the book.

As dusk settled over the suburban Cincinnati neighborhood, the sodium-vapor lights along the quiet street blinked and came to life on cue. They chased the shadows from the grade school parking lot, now littered with dried leaves that scraped across the pavement and swirled
in their seasonal dance of joy.

Across the way, a man in a jet-black jogging suit eased behind a tree and checked his watch as the chilly breeze tousled his hair. He breathed deeply, noting the intoxicating aroma of burning leaves, and impatiently studied the faces of the pedestrians now strolling toward the school auditorium. Anxious children tugged at reluctant parents, their excitement barely contained.

“Yes, yes,” he overheard a woman tell a child. “We’ll get there in plenty of time. No need to rush.”

He smiled. He had been that overzealous child once, but that was a long time ago. He’d grown up, things had changed, and not every change had been welcome.

His smile faded as he continued to search for a certain bespectacled face. He’d been watching her for weeks and knew everything about her: when she got up in the morning, when she went to bed, where she went each day, how she spent her time. He even knew she was failing English for the second time, even after her teacher had given her a two-week extension on her term paper. Going through her trash, he’d discovered her addiction to Snickers bars, her affection for Ruffles potato chips and cream soda, and her preference for Pantene shampoo, which added luster to the blonde hair she wore long and wavy.

I'm hooked. How can the readers find you on the Internet?

Author’s Web Site: http://www.adamblumerbooks.com/
Freelance Editing: http://www.blumer.org/adam
Thank you, Adam, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link where you can order the book:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Don't forget to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.


Carly Kendall said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I love reading debut authors' novels.

mez said...

Great interview! Fatal Illusions sounds complex and compelling, please include me. Thanks.

Patti Lacy said...

Sounds like a great book from a fellow Kregel author!
I love the opening, with its use of scenery to create mood.


Rick said...

Wow Adam! What great publicity! Great interview! I would always love to own a second copy of you book. Count me in!

Abi said...

Since I'm a pastor's wife and from Michigan this book sounds like one I'd like to read.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Sally Bradley said...

Congrats on your first book, Adam. Love the Chicago connection.

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh thanks. Another great interview, and another interesting book.

I hope you don't mind, but I was given a sort of blog award and asked to pass it on. I listed you as one of my favorite sites, so feel free to accept the award if you have time, or just to ignore it if you don't. Thanks. ANd thanks for all the great interviews I read here.

mindy said...

sounds like a great read thanks for the giveaway

Rich said...

Great interview and sounds like an intriguing plot.

Adam Blumer said...

Hey, everybody! Thank you for reading the interview and for sharing your kind thoughts. If you get a chance to read Fatal Illusions, I hope you find it entertaining and faith challenging.

windycindy said...

This book sounds like a can't stop reading book! Please count me in!
Many thanks.....Cindi

Jenn said...

Cannot wait to read Adam's book. Being a friend of his from our crazy times in the "Roaring Twenties" I valued and was blessed by his friendship. I am telling all I know about his book and recommending it to friends where I am at now. God Bless you and Kim Adam!

Stacie said...

Please count me in.

liane66 said...

Good interview,
Thanks for the giveaway!

Carrie said...

I'd love to win this! I really enjoy suspense novels.

David Murdoch said...

I'm an historian and I've just started a potential part-time career as a christian writer by publishing a novel (see http://www.eloquentbooks.com/AnaMarkovic.html) and I really like what Adam said here in his advice:

'If you’re a writer who wants to be a published novelist, be patient and work hard, but keep in mind that doors will open for you only in the Lord’s timing. We can’t rush God. If He has prompted you to write, God gave you that desire for a reason. Explore what His will could be, but learn to wait on Him—perhaps even for a long time. When He’s ready, He’ll let you know. In the meantime, seek Him with your whole heart.'

Thank you very much, Adam...I have faith that if God has a purpose for what I do, that somehow He will accomplish it, even if I don't immediately see it.

lovedandamazed said...

I really enjoyed this interview! The part about meeting his wife was just great. :-) Please count me in for the giveaway.


Marla said...

Sounds like a very good book and one I would love to read. Thank you for the interview and entry.


sharon54220 said...

Another great interview on another interesting book. Please enter me.


Debs Desk said...

Please include me in your giveaway.

kalea_kane said...

Fabulous and inspiring interview. Thank you Lena and Adam! Please include me in your draw.

Kelly :)

Nora St. Laurent said...

This sounds really interesting. Thanks for the interview Lena. Please put my name in to the hat for this one.