Monday, September 29, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Benjamin DeHaven, Author

Benjamin DeHaven, Author
Benjamin W. DeHaven’s CONFESSIONS OF A SELF-HELP WRITER (THE JOURNAL OF MICHAEL ENZO)-fiction based on fact-has been described by reviewers as "Peculiar but worth reading" and “Quirky, eccentric, and insightful” and “funny.” DeHaven says he wrote it originally as “an act of revenge and an act of forgiveness.” He intended for people to laugh, but he may have ended up showing people the dark side of self-help books.

Currently residing in Las Vegas, DeHaven divides his love of cities between Chicago and New Orleans. He has written self-help books and screenplays, although writing screenplays is not his favorite. When not writing, he spends time doing volunteer work, mostly to help children.

Don't miss the giveaway opportunity following the interview.

Q: What drove you to write CONFESSIONS OF A SELF-HELP WRITER?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: CONFESSIONS OF A SELF-HELP WRITER (THE JOUNAL OF MICHAEL ENZO) is a work of fiction based on factual events. Originally, I wrote this work as an act of revenge and an act of forgiveness. As one reviewer put it, “The reader of “Confessions” is forced to question DeHaven’s motivation... Does he truly want to ruin Enzo’s legacy or is this an act of love? Reaching out to someone who is still lost.”

So in a way, yes, I was trying to flush him out. But that was personal and never meant to be publicized. I hoped people would get a great laugh out of the fiction character who was a con man, and who almost destroyed me. But now if someone found the truth, maybe this would be the last self-help book they would ever read-because it’s the mind of a mad man who was writing those books. CONFESSIONS OF A SELF-HELP WRITER was the #1 Most Wished For Book of the Year on Indie Bound for over 14 weeks and was getting amazing reviews as a book of  “fiction.” I was thrilled-but prior to that some of my original intentions came out and that’s what led to the PR below:

One reviewer said, “I think this is a multi-platform fail.” --I hope so, and wish the actual backstory would have never come out. I had no trouble letting this ride as a book of fiction and hope readers will enjoy it for that reason. If you want to believe that inside is the voice of a real person whom might have influenced you in some significant way, it’s an interesting way to read a book. There is a reason I don’t ask friends if they have seen any good movies lately—I want to go in with a fresh slate.

A Huffington Article in the next few weeks will also explain that the book is based on factual events and Radar is desperately trying to find out who Enzo really is. 

Q: How did you become interested in self-help books?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: Greed. Seriously though I have read a ton of self-help books and helped to write a bunch. My ultimate goal is to help people and my grandfather told me the greatest gift you could give another person was to empower them to be the best version of themselves. As I got older though-I realized self-help was more toxic than the diet industry. People will buy a hundred books on how to lose weight before they will consider changing their diets. This sickened me, and while Confessions is a fun book, it’s also a bit of an expose, because you will see the mind of someone who might be supplying your advice and guidance. Think about it this way-people don’t want to learn anything new-they want to reaffirm what they already believe.

Q: CONFESSION OF A SELF-HELP WRITER has been described as “peculiar” and “quirky, eccentric, and insightful.” Did you intend for its “quirkiness” to help tell the story? Does its “peculiarity” contribute to its “insightfulness?”

Benjamin W. DeHaven: I hope so. It’s written as a journal that was never meant to be read, so it’s brutally honest in its presentation and is a “thought in progress.” There are a ton of stylistic choices I made in order to secretly pay homage to other writers who had meant so much to me. My first editor Mimi Fast who is brilliant and brutally honest, and the best kind of friend you could ask for, often said, “I know what you are trying to do here-you’re failing.” Haha, it was great to have her because clearly I am not an American master, but I used what I thought I could mimic, stole the rest, and had been reading a ton of Ginsberg. So I hope that the reader is engaged, because everything is intentional, and there are many points where a strong reader might get distracted by a poor verb tense, or a misused word. This is not a mistake and there are passages where you might be reading a Haiku, and not even know it unless you are looking for it. I think that is what leads to the “quirkiness” of it. You might not even put it into words, but it can make you a little uncomfortable. And I think we all get a little uncomfortable before coming to a realization.

Q: How do you enable readers to engage with your main characters, who reviewers say, are not all that likeable? How helpful is the concept of “heroes vs villains” to tell your story?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: I came to the understanding a long time ago that we are all connected, and while we should treasure our uniqueness, we should also explore our commonalities. “Hero of a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell should be on every storytellers reading list because it teaches us the line between heroes and villains is not always clear. Many reviewers hate the characters, one of which is myself, but some reviewers envy the life style of Michael Enzo and relate to him. I would say whether we like it or not the characters represent a part of us all-although in this case-most of us might have a dark thought-but never fall victim to making it a reality-(Or the courage-depending on your perspective.)

Q: Although fiction, CONFESSIONS OF A SELF-HELP WRITER is considered to be based on true life and “reads like a thriller but is true life at its best.” How do you turn it into a “thriller?” What makes us want to continue to turn the page?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: I spoke with a wonderful librarian from NY at BEA this year, who loved the book but couldn’t understand why the first two chapters were so choppy. I remember we were signing books and we stopped the line and I asked if anyone knew. A very young girl answered, “The intro chapters read like a twitter feed.” While that was almost correct, there is almost a complete thought or story in each sentence. The book reads really fast, and I wanted each line to exist on its own. A good friend called in anger and said, “I’m so mad at you-I’ve read this book a dozen times. And I keep trying to reflect on the ideas and build an opinion-but because it’s so short, I just keep reading it again.” I hope the chapters read as a complete story, or a short story if you will. Even though they are building to a central theme, they can each be taken separately and almost all of them end with a hanging question. It’s up to the reader to decide if they want to pull back the curtain. I was honored by this review, because I had not thought about it as a thriller-but I guess the tempo is similar. All I can say is what makes the movie Jaws so great-is you don’t actually see the shark till you’re an hour into the film.

Q: Did you write CONFESSIONS OF A SELF-HELP WRITER just to entertain readers; or were you intending to deliver a message about life?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: I was hoping to deliver a message, but a silent one. In fact I was a bit hesitant about how the book was marketed, because I wanted people to pick it up as something interesting. I actually thought the target market would be non-readers and my intent was to “sneak up on them” with a message. But so many people have had such strong reactions, that I might have failed in the overall intention. I had a one star review on amazon and I so badly wanted to comment to the reviewer, who ended her review with, “maybe that’s what I learned about self-help-it’s garbage.” Yes. You did understand-and if you picked up this book only because you are hoping to learn some insider secret about celebrities, and were angry it wasn’t the content you were looking for—then hopefully you’ll take the next step to understanding—Maybe you should beware of where you look for information—and what exactly are you looking for.

Q: You have written screenplays and journalistic writings, and now a novel. What’s your favorite format? Why?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: I actually hate writing screenplays. But they pay fast and are steady. It’s funny because if this book ever gets turned into a movie, I would hire someone else to convert it to a screenplay. I love to write constantly and free write characters and short stories, so I think all of that for me eventually converts to a novel.

Q: How helpful is humor to telling your story? The art and/or science of humor is difficult. How do you create it in your story?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: Humor is a must. I think you have to write for yourself, because you would be surprised how similar to the rest of the world you are and how they wish they had the strength to tell a story. You should be interacting and toying with the reader on occasion. If you are in fact brilliant, then you will need to tone it down- That has never been a problem for me. –You must be as true as possible to the characters in the story, or the narrator’s voice. No matter how shocking, or rude, or offensive-you have to free flow write exactly what’s on the tip of your tongue without a filter-because even the tough stuff- is funny to someone. I would also say lust, marketability, and a clear view at a huge cross section of America must always remain in plain site. You must offend at least one group of people at one point or another to be successful.

Q: What’s next?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: I’m lazy, followed by bouts of insane commitment. I am the type of writer that wants to help people, but never have Matt Dillon play me in a movie –(although he did personally request a copy of Confessions-Jesus save me) So next I am going to take a few months and reflect on this painful process of selling a book. LOL. But I just got the wind knocked out of me by an amazing woman, and I am going to give her my all. I am still amazed God had an Angel left for me and even if she’s not mine - a week before I met her, I was content with the fact I wasn’t worth loving- and she set me free from this prison.  I had started a novel but had a tough time writing about love and this person has made me unstoppable. I can’t wait to continue the story.

Q: Tell us about Benjamin DeHaven. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Benjamin W. DeHaven: You would be surprised if you had read confessions, but I actually do a lot of volunteer work, mostly with children. I wrote this short piece for my blog (which has 9 followers! Woo) and I think it’s more fun to describe what a day for me is like:

Not as exciting as my social media profile would have you believe. A saying as a child that always prompted a giggle. - “Call me anything, but don’t call me late for dinner. The morning started in a familiar fashion--struggling through the CPAP machine wrapped tightly around my neck from rolling in circles all night as the Sodium Oxibate chased Morpheus through the back alleys of my dreams. Carradine would be proud. (Insert a Tag-IDK?)#Carradine  Awakened abruptly by the handful pills dispensing magic in my soul as I somehow had managed to swallow all nine off my bedside table without removing my mask. A glorious Halloween bag of success filled colors and shapes prescribed to cure my hypertension, high blood pressure, hypopituitarism, and narcolepsy. I always accomplished this snake oil task between the first alarm, which I snoozed through, and the faint smell of cigarette smoke and puppy dander that now filled my mask from the upstairs level of my aging parents Town Home, where I often found myself in the winter. I pushed my fears aside, cracked another Adderall in half and began about the morning ritual of testosterone injections, vitamins, compulsive cleaning and a sick stomach. Ahh-yes-pills need food. No… I, thank you—my precious body for keeping me healthy. Don’t let them call me late for dinner. Don’t haunt me throughout the day. I’m sorry America! I was the first Outsourcing conglomerate. My body is too expensive, lazy, worn out, or maybe too efficient in its quest for gross margin to produce anything of value in itself. And for over 20 years I have outsourced almost all its essential functions in a mixed argument of “they’re taking our jobs-and no I will not pick up that elephant shit for any amount of money!” The situps, the situps, I have to do the sit ups. But why? I am constantly concerned I might be in a situation where a beautiful Italian traffic cop asks me to remove my shirt and retrieve a child’s toy from the Trevi fountain, and being a brand whore I refuse to go in with my “PINK” dress shirt. But alas-its too late for the exercise. The speed is kicking in. I use my pork filled Kielbasa sausage fingers to shove my hairy old man belly past the European sized Label jeans. The computer is running too slow and my mind is racing.

So-pretty typical, usually followed by some self-loathing and a nap.

About Benjamin W. DeHaven

A Graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, Benjamin DeHaven keeps his heart in Chicago and his soul in New Orleans. He holds a MBA from Tulane and a film degree from Columbia. Once ejected from a community college for arguing Frost cried out for acceptance in Birches, he has since written screenplays, traded futures in Madrid, and was Editor in Chief of the Nola Shopper Newspaper, a free art newspaper and the 2nd largest monthly paper in the New Orleans, MSA. He also has a "shout out" in a Jay "Z" Song. 

DeHaven, who currently resides in Las Vegas began his writing career with Stone United, a Chicago based Film Company, which works primarily in independent film. As an unknown fiction writer, he feels the best description of himself, is a sarcastic one and is as follows:

Benjamin W. DeHaven was born on a pool table after a Waylon Jennings' concert in 1977. His personal success is outweighed only by his stunning good looks and adherence to unwritten moral guidelines. He has been described as a thinking man's Tucker Max as well as an idiot's Hunter S. Thompson. His goal is to die from an unwavering commitment to be more like Hemingway.

He and Michael Enzo were friends.

#1 Most-Wished-for-Book of 2014 on Indie
Bound for over 10 weeks!

Lunge into a funny, audacious, and devastating work of fiction based on factual events. As much a comedy as a tragedy, "Confessions is a unique piece of literature to be remembered for its originality as much as for its significance as a statement about living life in today's harsh reality." Explore the psyche of one of the world's most profound advisors: a Quixotic adventurer who admits freely to lurid depravity, substance abuse, and emotional complexity. Despite personal demons, he's fooled adherents into a unique reverence and might be responsible for saving more
souls than Mother Teresa and Gandhi combined. 

Hypocrite isn't a strong enough word for someone who writes self-help books purely for profit. Two of the world's ten wealthiest used Enzo as a ghostwriter and while they attribute their status in life to Enzo's words, not a single one willingly admits to knowing him. DeHaven, a patsy in Enzo's schemes and a recurring voice, shares his own perspective and often times paints himself in a very negative light, which adds a layer of credibility to such a fantastical story. Brief moments of compassion and insight are even more powerful and poignant from this perspective.

The most disheartening admission presented is that Enzo would only fall back on his tremendous gift, of writing self-help, as a last act to pay debtors and sustain a ridiculous lifestyle. The reader of "Confessions" is forced to question DeHaven's motivation in publishing this journal. Does he truly want to ruin Enzo's legacy or is this an act of love? Reaching out to someone who is still lost. Enzo, wherever you are, pick up a self-help book and give it a read.  Who knows, you may have
written it. 


Purchase Links

Author Links


PRIZES INCLUDE: 5 signed hardback books.
 1 $50 Amazon Gift Card & 1 $25 Amazon Gift Cards

Follow the entire Confessions tour HERE
Brought to you by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours

Friday, September 26, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Traci L. Slatton, Author

Traci L. Slatton, Author
Traci L. Slatton describes her new book, BROKEN, as a “paranormal historical fantasy.” Set in Paris in 1939-1942, the novel tracks the activities of a fallen angel trapped behind Nazi lines. She creates credibility in her story by “paying attention to details” and assuring historical accuracy.

Slatton is currently working on Book IV of her romantic dystopian After Series. Her love of art has produced several books--both fiction and non-fiction; and she has also written a book of poetry. She lives in Manhattan, does yoga every day, loves wine, enjoys travel, and has been posing for her artist husband, who is sculpting her, for the past year (see photo below.)

Q: How did you conceive of the plot for BROKEN—a fallen angel getting trapped in a Nazi-occupied country? In what genre would you place BROKEN

Traci L. Slatton: I spent a month in Paris in 2013, researching a different WWII novel, one set primarily in Germany. I had meant to use Paris as a base from which to travel into Germany, because I love Paris and can negotiate the language. I found myself walking the streets of Paris when I should have been writing. For hours and hours every day, I wandered around Paris, starting from the Boulevard du Montparnasse and straying into every arrondissement. I got to know the city from the street level. Then I started taking the walking tours, and reading about the history of Paris. I find Paris incredibly sensual, with its white limestone buildings and the curving Seine and the sense of history.

Somehow all those kilometers of walking inspired BROKEN, and the sensuality of the city led into my protagonist’s sensuality.

I guess I would call BROKEN a paranormal historical fantasy. Does that work?

Q: How do you create credibility for your story? Is believability important to entice readers?

Traci L. Slatton: I create credibility by paying attention to details. In a historical novel like BROKEN, that means I have to get the details right for the time period. For example, Alia the fallen angel makes an offhand comment about her lover Pedro’s Brylcreem. It’s a throwaway line but fashionable men of the time used Brylcreem, and Pedro, who is a bullfighter and concerned about his public image, would have.

Yes, I believe that believability is important. It sucks the reader into a world that the author has created.

Q: What makes readers care about a fallen angel? How do you develop the character?

Traci L. Slatton: In some ways, a fallen angel is a character like any other character, and there are techniques for building likeability. For example, Alia loves her neighbor’s little daughter and is very generous to the girl. Kindness toward children is an appealing trait.

However, Alia, as a fallen angel, is also different from other humans. I imagined her as ethereal, tolerant, mirthful, and profoundly sensual.

Alia, I imagined, was ethereal, with a kind of appealing lightness and delicacy of being, because she had originated in heaven. She was tolerant because she had chosen to fall, which is a straightforward choice to sin. So she wouldn’t judge anyone for their choices. She was mirthful because she had a large perspective on things. She’d seen the panoply of history, after all.

The sensuality came partly from mythology, from the stories of Cupid and Psyche, Cupid being a winged being who had a sensual relationship with his wife Psyche. Cupid’s Greek counterpart is Eros. I also had in mind Canova’s deliciously sinuous sculpture of Cupid and Psyche, and the Biblical stories of angels mating with human beings. So these images combined to give Alia her erotic nature.

Q: Is the concept of villain vs hero relevant to BROKEN?

Traci L. Slatton: Yes. The Gestapo agent Knochen is a villain, both personally, because he is an evil man, and as a representative of the Nazis and everything they represent. Alia and her friends are heroes, and so is the city of Paris.

Q: Reviewers of some of your earlier books praise the emotion that you evoke in your writing. How do you create pathos so readers embrace your characters or the story?

Traci L. Slatton: Interesting question. I suppose what I do is create a character with whom readers identify, or with whom they empathize, and then I put the character into horrendous circumstances. Story is built on conflict and obstacle. Treachery, betrayal, suffering, torture, loss, disease, poverty, heart-break, and injustice are some of the best obstacles going—and they elicit strong emotion from readers.

Q: In BROKEN, how helpful is back story, ie, history of Nazi Germany, to creating a suspenseful story of tension? How important was historical accuracy?

Traci L. Slatton: I consider historical accuracy to be supremely important. Because this era was relatively recent and the population as a whole knows a lot about it, I researched this time in Paris thoroughly. Many of the details are accurate, such as the way Parisians were always hungry during the occupation. Several documents said that Parisians ate only about 800 calories per day at this time. Also, over a million French men had been taken into compulsory work service in Germany, so the Resistance drew on women, high school students, and the elderly. At one point, Alia the protagonist, who is a fallen angel, is walking down the street wearing a jaunty red hat. There are references to those red hats as a kind of subtle rebellion; French fashion continued during occupation.

However, sometimes I depart from accuracy to achieve truthfulness. Truthfulness and accuracy are different issues, and truthfulness is always the most important for me as an author. So, for example, in this novel, Sartre and Camus are together at a party at Alia’s apartment before the war, reading poetry and drinking wine. There are conflicting reports about when these great thinkers met, but it is generally agreed that they met after the war. However, for purposes of the themes of this novel, since they are not just people but also voices of their generation, I put them together at Alia’s before the war. This was a deliberate choice in which I diverged from historical accuracy.

Q: Your bio says that you are especially interested in Renaissance Italy, and I notice that you’ve also written books about art. Are you an artist? What drives your interest in it?

Traci L. Slatton: Ah. My hands are clumsy, such art as I possess is in my stories. However, my husband Sabin Howard ( ) is a famous classical figurative artist. He sculpts in clay and casts in bronze, and his works are likened in the press to Michelangelo and Rodin. The thing about Sabin is that he is all art, all the time. He has tremendous integrity as an artist—art is literally his first thought in the morning and his last thought at night. He’s been a wonderful role model for me in his relentless perfectionism and dedication to his craft.

Because of Sabin, and because of my own predilections, I have an abiding interest in art. Michelangelo and Da Vinci and Botticelli are regular topics of conversation at our dinner table. We go on vacation to Italy (where Sabin has relatives) and we go to the Met and to art galleries all the time. Art is my husband’s life. Luckily I love it too!

Q: Did you write BROKEN strictly to entertain? Or were you trying to educate or deliver a message?

Traci L. Slatton: I wanted to do both, to entertain and to deliver a message. Isn’t “both” more fun? The message is one, that the belief in an external, patriarchal, hierarchical God is the source of great evil; two, the power of love is infinite; and three, spirit informs everything.

Q: What’s next?

Traci L. Slatton: I am currently working on Book IV of my romantic dystopian After Series. I had thought to title it “Fire Storm,” but a friend of mine ranted that there were too many books on Amazon with that name. Also, Fallen, Cold Light, and Far Shore are the first three novels in the series, so maybe that is too many “F” titles.

Anyway, this novel is fun for me as an author because my male protagonist goes mad. It was always in him, but now it erupts in full force. It’s very cool to write a crazy character!

Q:  Tell us about Traci L. Slatton. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Traci L. Slatton: I have four daughters, three and a step. The big ones areout of the house (two have graduated college). The little one is 9 years old and still home, so there is always childcare to attend to. I am a dedicated practitioner of yoga—I do yoga every single day of my life. This isn’t because I’m terribly virtuous, because I’m not. It’s for the most sybaritic, Philistine of reasons: because yoga makes me feel good, peaceful and harmonious. I love to travel and I love red wine and I love to watch movies. I have two Labrador retrievers who think they are lap dogs, though each weighs 55 pounds. And for the last year and a half I have been posing at night for Sabin, who is sculpting a bust of me. (Jpeg attached). It’s not as glamorous as it sounds; I have to sit and hold a specific post for a few hours every night, and I’m convinced that this bust will never be finished.

About Traci L. Slatton

Traci L. Slatton is a graduate of Yale and Columbia. She lives in Manhattan, and her love for Renaissance Italy inspired her historical novel IMMORTAL. THE BOTTICELLI AFFAIR is a playful and suspenseful tribute to her delight in the Old Masters and rich passions. FALLEN is the first in a romantic trilogy set in end times permeated with love, loss, and strange psychic powers. THE ART OF LIFE, written with Sabin Howard, is a book about sculpture and the philosophy and history of art; DANCING IN THE TABERNACLE is her first book of poetry. COLD LIGHT furthers the dystopian tale begun in FALLEN, and FAR SHORE is Book 3 in this romantic cycle. THE LOVE OF MY (OTHER) LIFE is a bittersweet romantic comedy that addresses the question: What worlds would you move to be with your soulmate?


Power is pornographic

Can love sustain light when the forces of evil close in?

Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel is trapped in the web of German occupation. The deadly noose of Nazi control grows ever tighter, ensnaring her and two of her lovers, a bullfighter and a musician working in the fledgling Resistance. Can she save them and the Jewish widow and her child that she has come to love, or will betrayal take them all?


Purchase Links

Immortal, a historical novel, a rags-to-riches-to-burnt-at-the-stake story.
Fallen, a dystopian romance, Book 1 of the After Series, “When the world ends, all that’s left is love”
Cold Light, Book 2 of the After Series, “In the end, love demands everything” 
Far Shore, Book 3 of the After Series, “Love is Salvation”
The Botticelli Affair, an art history mystery vampire romp
The Love of My (Other) Life, a bittersweet sci fi romp 
The Art of Life, a photoessay on figurative sculpture through the ages


Author Links

 Twitter: @tracilslatton

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Anne Riley, Author

Anne Riley, Author
Anne Riley brings us AERIE reviewed as "An enthralling blend of business, technology, and romance!" an “engrossing, revealing look at developing technologies in the 1990s.” Riley chose to set her thriller in the early 1990s to focus on the world before it was dominated by the Internet. To entice the reader to turn the pages, she intertwined the business and the romantic “entanglements.”

Prior to becoming an author, Riley worked as an accountant where she learned about the corporate world. She lives in Oregon with her husband, is an avid biker, and has run eight marathons. AERIE is Riley's second book and her first novel. She is currently working on a new book “to keep readers on the edge of their seats.”

Q: What made you decide to write a novel? And once you decided to write a novel, how did you conceive of the plot for AERIE?

Anne Riley: I dabbled in writing fiction many years ago when I left my job to stay at home while my kids were growing up. But things got busy, and I put my writing away. In 2010, my husband and I decided to take a break from our jobs and see what this whole living thing was about. It didn’t take long for me to get bitten by the writing bug. In 2013 I published “Elusive Little Sucker,” a little book about my lonnnnng struggle to find happiness. I realized then how much fun it was to write and decided to return to fiction.

AERIE was born out of my training as an accountant and my experience in the 1980s and 1990s in the high tech arena. In college, I was trained to look for ways in which business systems could be compromised. When I went to work, to keep from getting bored, I would often think about how people could cheat the systems on which I worked. The high tech arena had more than its share of exploitable weaknesses. The most obvious to me was the clear mismatch in knowledge between the provider of technical services and the purchaser of those services. I realized it was not only easy, but often LEGAL to cheat customers who didn’t know what they were buying. That is the underlying conflict on which AERIE is based.

Q: One reviewer says, “The author clearly knows her way around the boardroom” and “creates a realistic, chilling portrayal of how businesses are fought over, won and lost.” Did your experiences ‘around the boardroom’ help to create credibility for your story?

Anne Riley: As an accountant, I dealt with confidential financial information, and often worked with controllers and CFOs as well as company officers. Those experiences definitely provided me with the background needed to give my story credibility.

For me, it was less ‘boardroom’ and more ‘board members’ that were important. I am fascinated by how people are motivated, particularly powerful people. Human beings are interesting and complex, and their motivations are often as interesting and complex as they are. It was really enjoyable to build characters with complicated motivations, place them in really difficult situations, and then make them work through their challenges. The business world provides a wonderful setting because money and power create such a rich and volatile mix.

Q: Why did you set AERIE in the early 1990s?

Anne Riley: I wanted to write a story about the world as it looked before the Internet was a daily part of our life. There are so many tools that we take for granted today that were just coming into being in the early 1990s. Cell phones were just starting to be used. Laptops were still new and rarely used by anyone except important business people. Modems were the tool for communication; wireless connections didn’t even exist. Most business emails were transmitted through dumb terminals. The Internet was a network of education and research institutions. Businesses linked to other businesses through slow, torturous modem connections that were complicated and often unreliable.

In the early 1990s, technology was moving fast, and there was a huge gap between a small number of technical providers and a vast population of non-tech savvy consumers. The opportunities for exploitation were huge. Also, because instant communication did not exist then as it does today, it was easier to hide manipulation and treachery.

Q: Reviewers tout the combination of learning about the technology of the early 1990s  “with suspense, greed, fraud & bribery, mixed with a little romance.” How do you manage to integrate back-story with your plot so that it is entertaining?

Anne Riley: That is the art of writing. I love reading thrillers, but I have always been dissatisfied when an author creates the opportunity for a romantic relationship, then leaves it unfulfilled. I wanted to write a story where the romantic entanglements and business entanglements were totally integrated so that each one affected the other. The book is not allowed to end until both parts of the story are united and result in a definitive and satisfying conclusion.

It takes a lot of effort to craft a story so that it seamlessly moves between two disparate elements. Believe me, I spent many hours editing for story content, character consistency as well as readability. I think that is the thing I am most proud of about AERIE: when a reader tells me that they couldn’t put the book down.

Q: In your bio, you mention that you are now using your accounting degree and MBA as “sparingly as possible.” Why? (I must confess that I don’t miss working in the corporate environment.)

Anne Riley: This is such a good question. I went into accounting because I was good at it and I wanted a job that would allow me to work anywhere (my husband was an engineer with more geographically limited options, so I wanted to have as many work options as possible once he decided where to land). What I learned pretty early in the game, was that I was not motivated by the typical desires of business people. The technical aspects of the job were always interesting, but ambition, the drive for profits, wealth, position, winning at the game of office politics, these aspects of business left me cold. The parts I do love about business: customer service, quality, fair play, creating win-win situations, often seemed to be at odds with the management emphasis I encountered. Work frequently ended up being a frustrating experience.

When I left my last job in 2010, I decided to examine my values and determine what was really important in my life. I was amazed to realize that a successful business career dropped down so low that I no longer wanted to pursue it. What has taken its place are things that really matter to me. Spending time with my husband. Volunteering in my community. Writing. Biking.

Q: How relevant is the concept of heroes vs villains to telling your story?

Anne Riley: Very important. Conflict is the basis of my story. The heroes represent honesty and fair business practice; the villains represent greed and dishonesty. In real life, people are not so one dimensional, but in writing, you need to make the definitions clear enough so the reader can get the ideas you are trying to communicate, but not so sharp that the characters become unrealistic. It’s a fine line. I made my heroes imperfect but likeable and worthy of respect. I made the villains nasty but smart and worthy opponents to the heroes. Then I let them fight it out in a battle that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Q: How do you make your characters engaging? Why do readers embrace your protagonist?

Anne Riley: This is where showing not telling is so essential to story telling. I show the characters in action, and let the readers draw their own conclusions about them.

When I read a book, I love to observe and discover the characters. I don't want the author to tell me what to think about the characters or the story. I want to figure it out for myself. That is the essence of the joy of reading. I kept this idea in mind at all times, when I wrote AERIE. I wanted the reader to discover what was happening just as the characters did. And I wanted to let the readers have their own opinions about how the characters behave and how the story unfolds. I am constantly amazed at how readers pick up different aspects of the story that I didn’t intend. I love when that happens.

I think readers love my protagonists because they are flawed but still worthy of respect and admiration. Sometimes they make mistakes, or draw the wrong conclusions, or trust the wrong people. But they also treat each other with respect, they admit when they screw up, and they don’t let failure get in their way. These are qualities the reader can relate to and ultimately admire.

Q: Did you write AERIE strictly to entertain your readers, or were you also hoping to educate them or deliver a message?

Anne Riley: First and foremost, I wanted to write a book that a reader will LOVE to read. If a reader is willing to part with a few hard-earned dollars to buy my book, I feel that it’s my responsibility to give that person an experience worth at least twice the purchase price. I hope I’ve done that. Not everyone loves every book, but I have had enough feedback with AERIE to know that most readers find it rich and satisfying.

For me, I love ideas and I fully admit to planting all kinds of them in AERIE. The reader is welcome to explore them. Or not. If a reader gets nothing from the book except a great reading experience, I am one happy author!

Q: What’s next? Will we see more novels from Anne Riley?

Anne Riley: Yes, I love fiction and am working on a new book. I have come up with a whole new set of ideas to explore, so I am busy massaging them into a rich complicated story that will once again keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Q: Tell us about Anne Riley. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Anne Riley: Well, I am no longer formally employed. Writing is my favorite hobby. I try to participate in some sort of writing related activities on an ongoing basis. Right now, I am marketing AERIE. I’m also drawing up the plot of my new book. I am a regular contributor with the Women’s group Women Who Rise, which is a fantastic organization dedicated to the idea that women can succeed and play nice at the same time. I have been a guest blogger on several websites and have done some radio shows. I generally just do things I like to do and that match my values. Oh, and I love to read.

I volunteer in our local community. I serve on the Budget committee in our neighborhood (that accounting degree does come in handy) and run our local pool in the summertime.

I started a website to encourage folks to put balls in parks so kids can play. It’s a very informal concept but one that I wanted to promote, so I built a website and threw it out into the world. You can take a look at the website at

I really enjoy physical activity, so in the summer I do a lot of biking in the Oregon area. I really enjoy it, though I suffered a pretty bad knee injury in April, and am only now finally back into riding shape. My husband loves to plan multi-day bike trips, so all I have to do is carry my pack and ride, usually a long way! I also swim and lift weights and walk. I have run eight marathons but no longer am injury-free enough to run regularly, so biking and swimming have been great substitutes.

My husband Tim and I have been married for 33 years and he still makes me laugh every day. We have three children, Jim, Celeste and Erin, all of whom have grown up and left the nest. They lead very interesting lives and I am so proud of them for being such fascinating and unique individuals.

I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to spend a little time with you. I have had such fun. You are most kind, and I am most grateful!

About Anne Riley

Anne Riley lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with her husband and better half, Tim. They are the parents of three children, Jim, Celeste, and Erin, all of whom have grown up and left the nest. They make their parents proud with their interesting and uniquely suitable lives.

AERIE is Anne’s second book and first work of fiction. It is a high-tech thriller set in the 1990s where intrigue, deceit and greed are pitted against love, honor and integrity. Anne’s business background as an accountant and MBA give the book a genuine feel for the world as it existed before the Internet became a daily part of life.

Anne surrendered to the writing bug in 2012 when she published her first book, a non-fiction work entitled Elusive Little Sucker, My Entirely Too Long and Totally Circuitous Search for Happiness. It is the completely true, and occasionally embarrassing, story of how she struggled with and finally found happiness.

Anne’s true love is writing fiction. She will continue to write rich and interesting stories that allow readers the chance to enjoy a delightful ride into the lives of characters who are forced to deal with complicated problems that exist all around us in this complicated world.


Liam Scofield has an idea, and it’s a good one. It is 1991. Liam is the president and CEO of Windwear, a flourishing hiking boot company located in Portland, Oregon. His growing company is planning to go public, and in anticipation of future growth, he has developed an idea for a new computer program to link his systems to those of his customers and suppliers. Always one to evaluate an idea using expert opinions, Liam seeks out Cara Larson, a systems analyst working at the technology giant, Pyramid, to assess the quality of this one. Cara disagrees with Liam. It’s not a good idea, she tells him, it’s a great one. She thinks it has the potential to become a saleable product and earn Windwear millions of dollars. 
Cara’s team begins working on the software, named Aerie, and after early initial success, runs into problems that have little to do with the complexities of technology. It seems Cara’s boss, Peter Whittington, thinks Aerie would be wasted on Windwear. He devises his own plans for the software and recruits Cara to aid him in his efforts. Then there’s Lauren Janelle, Windwear’s beautiful in-house attorney. She has designs on . . . well, let’s just say she has designs on many of Liam’s . . . assets.
It’s not long before Cara has to make difficult choices about how to proceed with the Aerie project. As Cara navigates her way through sticky ethical issues, she finds her respect for Liam growing into something more complicated and altogether unsettling. Unfortunately, Cara’s efforts to help Windwear take an unexpected turn. Where greed is involved, even good deeds can be manipulated, and Liam suddenly finds himself competing with Cara to be the first to bring Aerie to market.
It will prove to be a painful two-front battle for Liam. First, and quite inconveniently, he has fallen in love with his competition. Second, and far more problematic for the future of Windwear, he’s fighting the wrong enemy. 


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