Book Review: VEIL OF CIVILITY by Ian Graham

In Veil of Civility, Ian Graham has crafted a dazzling thriller, breathing fresh new life into a genre filled with character cliches and tired tropes.

A time-tested plot formula for the thriller genre presents a former spy or special operations military guy trying to escape his past, reinventing himself to lead a normal life in peaceful obscurity. But then some person or event connected to his violent past re-enters his life, shatters its tranquility, drags him back into that grim world, and rekindles his lethal talents.

Veil of CivilityNow, to be sure, there’s nothing wrong with this formula. The “reluctant hero with hidden skills and a mysterious past” is one of the enduring plot tropes that literary scholars trace throughout the history of literature. (In fact, I use it myself in my own thrillers.) The creative challenge for a writer, however, is to take a popular convention like this and make it seem newly minted.

Fortunately, Ian Graham is more than equal to the challenge. Graham’s writing talent and fertile imagination transform tried-and-true thriller elements into something I haven’t seen before. His hero, Declan McIver, is not a super-spy or spec ops veteran. He is a disillusioned ex-combatant from the brutal “Troubles” in Northern Ireland — a man scarred by the blood-soaked violence of his youth, now enjoying a new life as a happily married entrepreneur in rural Virginia. But a pleasant reunion with an old friend on a famous local college campus suddenly turns horrific as international terrorism visits the peaceful setting. Without warning, McIver finds his world upended, and he and his wife fleeing a complex conspiracy whose tentacles reach from Chechnya to Mexico, from Ireland to Wales, from Downing Street in London to the Capitol in Washington.

Graham’s characterizations are rich and deep. So are the vivid details he provides about locales, history, the web of international terrorism, weapons and gadgetry, government surveillance, and much more — details that never bog down and overburden the relentless, headlong pace of this gripping tale. And in addition to colorful international settings, much of the non-stop, violent action transpires in rural Virginia, a refreshing departure for a thriller.

Above all, in Declan McIver, Ian Graham has given us a great new thriller hero for our troubled times. With his past now revealed to the world, McIver has been dragged back into the violent life that he had tried so long to escape. That is a terrible thing for him — but a wonderful thing for his fans. As one of them, I can’t wait to see what new “Troubles” the deviously clever mind of Ian Graham has in store for him.

See my interview with Ian Graham here.

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Interview with Vincent Zandri — Bestselling Mystery-Thriller Author

 

Vincent Zandri is the acclaimed New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 16 novels, including The Innocent, Godchild, The Remains, Moonlight Rises, and recently, Everything Burns. He also is the author of numerous Amazon bestselling digital shorts — Pathological, True Stories, and Moonlight Mafia among them.

Harlan Coben described The Innocent (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named Zandri’s The Shroud Key one of the “Best Books of 2014.” His novel Moonlight Weeps has been nominated by International Thriller Writers (ITW) for the 2015 Best Paperback Original.

Zandri’s list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out Books, Thomas & Mercer, and Polis Books, while his foreign publisher is Meme Publishers of Milan and Paris. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated in Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese.

VINCE ZANDRI bar shot

Bestselling mystery-thriller author Vincent Zandri

Recently, Zandri was the subject of a major feature by the New York Times. He also has appeared on Bloomberg TV and FOX News. And Amazon recognized him in a profile piece for his sensational success on their publishing platform. A freelance photo-journalist and author of the popular “lit blog,” The Vincent Zandri Vox, he has written for Living Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more.

These days, Vincent Zandri is a resident of both New York and Florence, Italy. I’m grateful that he took time from his prolific writing and promotional schedule to answer questions for The Vigilante Author.

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The Vigilante Author: Hi, Vince. Thanks so much for getting together with me. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. When I was first getting started back in 2011, you were one of my heroes, already burning up the bestseller lists. We’ll chat about your career and works in a moment. First, though, tell us about your latest book. I hear it’s been doing gangbusters in sales.

Vincent Zandri: Hi there, Robert. My latest is Everything Burns. It was released by Thomas & Mercer [an Amazon Publishing imprint] in January of this year. It was also selected by the editors for the Kindle First program, which netted something like 250,000 units moved.

The Vigilante Author: That’s incredible for a book that’s been out only a few months! And I see that it’s also garnered nearly 1,700 customer reviews in that brief period, which is just mind-blowing. So, what’s the book about?

Vincent Zandri: It’s about a writer who happens to be a pyromaniac and who gets back together with his ex-wife — only to discover that her former lover, also a writer, is not taking their reunion all too well. What ensues is a burning plot of deception, harassment, and eventually, murder. My most literary endeavor to date, I might say.

The Vigilante Author: So was this story a genre departure for you?

Everything Burns coverVincent Zandri: I write in several different genres. I’m most known for my standalone novels like The Remains and Everything Burns, which are psychological thrillers, but I also write hardboiled detective books, like the Dick Moonlight P.I. series and the Jack Marconi series. I’ve also had good luck with the Chase Baker action/adventure series, which takes me all over the world on research missions.

The Vigilante Author: I’m drooling. That’s got to be every writer’s fantasy: getting paid to travel the world and write fiction. Well, you’ve paid your dues and earned that lifestyle, Vince.

How would you describe the heroes of your tales? What characteristics do they have in common, and what things differentiate them?

Vincent Zandri: Dick Moonlight is unique in that he has a small piece of hollow point bullet lodged in his brain from a botched suicide attempt, and he could die at any moment, which is why he stops at nothing in order to get at the truth. Jack Marconi used to be a maximum security prison warden, which makes him different. And Chase Baker, like me, resides in both New York and Florence, Italy. He’s also a former excavator (sandhog), and he’s always on the go to some godforsaken part of the globe in search of an elusive treasure. He’s also unlucky at love.

The Vigilante Author: I’m sure that readers are now thoroughly intrigued, wondering about the background of a guy who could conjure stories and characters this diverse. So tell us a little about your early life.

Continue reading

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Revealing…the New Cover for BAD DEEDS

My stellar cover designer, Allen Chiu, has been redesigning the two existing Dylan Hunter book covers in order to develop a “branded,” integrated look for the series. I’ve already shown you the new HUNTER cover.

Here is the revised cover for BAD DEEDS:

RB_BADDEEDS_4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, here are the two side-by-side.

RB_HUNTER_4RB_BADDEEDS_4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, let me remind you that the first print editions of both Dylan Hunter books will have the new replacement covers shortly. So if you want the originals (which will soon become collectibles), you’d better order them fast! You can obtain the books from Amazon.com, or you can order personally signed copies directly from me, through this blog.

 

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A Great New Edition of WriteItNow Fiction-Writing Software

My favorite fiction-writing software, “WriteItNow,” has now been further improved in its newly released 5th edition.main_screen_screenshot_5“WIN5″ offers a ton of useful features for brainstorming and planning plots, developing characters, researching, organizing, and writing your Great American Novel.

I used WIN4 on both of my first two novels, and I offered some “beta” feedback on the even better WIN5. The software offers just about everything that Scrivener does, along with some great features that Scrivener does not have. Plus, folks who have compared the two programs say that WIN5 has a much easier “learning curve.” You can download it and try it free. Check it out. And to purchase the CD ROM version on Amazon, click here.

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May 16 Book Signing

 

With the cancellation of the Harford writers’ conference, I’m now able to participate in the annual local Kent Island Day celebration on Saturday, May 16, from 10 am – 4 pm, in Stevensville, Maryland. I’ll be with other local authors signing books and meeting readers at the “Writers’ Corner” in the Kent Island Heritage Society tent.

If you are in the area and want to have a fun time in this historic little community (founded 1631!), visit the home page for info and directions. I’d love to spend some time with you.

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Writers’ Conference Cancelled

I’ve just been informed that the Harford County (Maryland) “Writer’s Pen” Writers Conference, scheduled for May 15-17, has been cancelled. As I announced here earlier, I was scheduled to present three workshops at the event.

If you made plans to attend, I apologize for any inconvenience.

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Revealing . . . the New Cover for HUNTER!

As I mentioned recently, I’m having new covers designed for HUNTER and BAD DEEDS, in order to develop an integrated, “branded” look for the series. Here is the bold and dramatic new HUNTER cover:

HUNTER 2nd cover small

 

Once again, the cover was created by my super-talented designer, Allen Chiu. Allen is currently at work on a new cover for BAD DEEDS that will carry over this “look” and style. I’ll post that as soon as it’s ready. I hope you like them. Your comments — posted here, or sent to me privately — are welcome.

The first people to see this new cover were subscribers to my free monthly email newsletter, “Bullet Points.” They also were the first to be informed of the title of the next Dylan Hunter thriller — which I’ll reveal here eventually. In addition, three lucky subscribers were randomly selected to win cool prizes. Reid Wientge is receiving a new Kindle ereader, while Angie Killian and Jeff Morrone were chosen to get $25 Amazon gift certificates.

Subscribers will become eligible for new prizes every month. So sign up for “Bullet Points” right now! In the May issue, a $50 Amazon gift certificate will be awarded to the 15th person to email me with the maiden name of Dylan Hunter’s mother.  If you know — or care to look it up — email the answer to me right away at RobertTheWriter@gmail.com.

Finally, if you have not yet bought the print editions of HUNTER and BAD DEEDS that bear the original covers, they may well become collectables someday. For the next week or so, you will still be able to buy them on Amazon, until the new covers appear. Also, I have a limited quantity of the books on hand. If you prefer to buy copies personally inscribed by me, you can order them right from this site.

So, if you want to own the books with their original covers, act now. They’ll be gone very soon!

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So, You Want to Write a Thriller…

 

What, exactly, makes a story a “thriller”?

What are its essential elements? Is there a formula to building a suspenseful page-turner? How can you craft characters compelling enough to carry an ongoing thriller series?

Drawing examples from my own novels and those of many top thriller authors, I discuss in this YouTube video how to craft a non-stop thrill ride and create iconic action heroes.

This presentation took place during the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference at Chesapeake College, Wye Mills, Maryland, on Feb. 28, 2015. I hope you like it and find it useful.

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How I Write Fiction — A Talk


In this videotaped talk
, recorded on April 16, 2015 at the Grasonville, Maryland, Senior Center, I discussed the art and craft of storytelling with a local audience of avid readers and budding writers. I addressed such questions as:

* Why do we humans love stories?

* What are the basic elements and requirements of a compelling novel?

* How is the classic 3-act “story arc” structured?

* What are different methods used by famous writers to write their fiction?

The video runs 52 minutes before my camera stopped recording near the very end of my remarks. Hope you enjoy it.

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COMING SOON: New Book Covers

 

I’m having new covers designed for HUNTER and BAD DEEDS, in order for the series to have an integrated, “branded” look.

If you have not yet bought the “first edition” print copies, they may well one day become collectables. You can still buy them on Amazon while they last . . . or, if you want copies personally inscribed by me, you can get them right here from this site.

While working on the next Dylan Hunter thriller, I’ve finally settled on its title. Curious? Of course you are!

But if you want to know what it is, you’ll have to sign up for “Bullet Points,” my free email newsletter. That tidbit, plus other advance news about “DH3,” will be released in next month’s issue. And only subscribers will be eligible for monthly prizes, including free Kindles, Amazon gift certificates, and personally inscribed Dylan Hunter books.

So if you aren’t yet on the mailing list — why not? Those freebies are going to go to somebody . . .

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