Book Review & Meet The Author – THE WINTERS by Lisa Gabriele

THE WINTERS

RWS RATING: 4/5 STARS

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 16TH 2018

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SYNOPSIS

A spellbindingly suspenseful new novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that can’t be escaped

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything. (Goodreads.com)

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First off, when I received this book from Penguin RandomHouse Canada, I fell in love with the cover!! (Yes, Guardian, I am going to comment on the beautiful cover because book covers are a perfect, artistic representation for both the author and the story, so tough luck). So, don’t be fooled by the beautiful cover of this book… because the story within is mysterious, obscure, and curious.

I opened up the book, read the first chapter, and was hooked

It starts off with the description of Mr. Winters, his castle, and his relationship with the protagonist. Then, it dives into the history of their relationship, and finally brings us to the present – the protagonist and Mr. Winters move into the Asherley Estate, and the protagonist meets his daughter – Dani Winters. Some creepy events take place, and the protagonist endures the bullying from her step daughter. This book had major Jane Eyre vibes. For those of you that don’t know, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is my favourite book, and I actually studied the book for a whole semester! After reading Jane Eyre, I read and studied Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

This book is a feminist and anti-colonial response to Jane Eyre. It describes Mr. Rochester’s marriage from the point of view of his mad wife, Antoinette Cosway. Antoinette is Rhys’ version of Bronte’s devilish madwoman in the atticAntoinette’s story is told from the time of her youth in Jamaica, to her unhappy marriage to a certain unnamed English gentleman, who renames her Bertha, declares her mad, and then takes her to England. Antoinette is caught in an oppressive patriarchal society in which she neither fully belongs to Europe nor Jamaica. Wide Sargasso Sea explores the power relationships between men and women and develops postcolonial themes, such as racism, displacement and assimilation. (Goodreads.com)

So, the reason why I bring this up is because The Winters is so alike to both of these beloved novels/stories: a strange estate, an independent woman who fell in love, an odd, rich gentleman with a secret past, and an eerie setting.

As I continued to read the story, the events taking place were getting spookier, stranger, and overall interesting. The most interesting part of the book, is that as a reader, we never find out the protagonist’s name. Through dialogue, description, thought process, her name is never spoken. I loved this part about the book because it added so much more mystery to the entire story. 

After reading this book, I was so lucky to have the author, Lisa Gabriele, come on RWS to answer a few questions! Check it out:

 

Who’s your favourite author?

I have to say Daphne du Maurier, and not just because my book, The
Winters, is inspired by her best known novel, Rebecca, but because of
the sheer range of her work. She has written speculative fiction,
historical fiction, suspense, horror, romance, essays and biography. But
there’s a through line and it’s her impeccable language and surprising
plots. She’s a damn great storyteller.

Favourite book or genre to read?

I have a new favourite book all the time. Right now it’s Less, by Andrew
Sean Greer, tied with Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid,
which you’ll be hearing a lot about before its publication in March, 2019.
I tore through both books recently, and they left me breathless and
excited about the possibilities of writing meaningful fiction that has
wide commercial appeal.

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?

I say this all the time but I am a far more passionate and talented reader
than writer. I love writing, but I fell in love with literature as a reader
first, devouring them once I learned how to read, and I’ve never
stopped.

What made you want to be a writer?

It was such a natural progression, I don’t ever remember not writing.
Since I was eight years old it’s been a compulsion. I have filled
notebooks with short stories and have written in diaries well before I
ever published a thing. What truly makes me a writer is an inherent
need to work something out on paper, usually through made up people.
Or to bring to life the stories that seem to float in the ether around me.
Writing is also a form of entertaining myself, something I have always
enjoyed doing.

What inspired you to write your latest book, The Winters? While
I was reading it, I got MAJOR Jane Eyre vibes!

Funny you should say that. My book is a response to du Maurier’s Rebecca,
which itself was a response to Jane Eyre. My mother was the one who
introduced me to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie version of Rebecca first, and whenever I miss her I reach for it. In the fall of 2016, in the despairing days of the U.S. election, I bought some ice cream and threw in the DVD to drown out the bad news. But this time, instead of comforted, it left me feeling deeply uneasy. I had to remind myself that in Daphne du Maurier’s book Maxim de Winter killed his sexually rebellious first wife, a fact that Hitchcock, due to Production Codes at the time, erased. I suddenly felt this strong desire to avenge Rebecca and punish Maxim. So I guess you could say nostalgia inspired me to reread the book, but anger drove me to write mine.
I found it interesting that we never know the protagonist’s name in the book…what’s the reason? 

This was a trope I borrowed from Rebecca, which also has an unnamed narrator, mostly just to see if I could do it, write a book with a nameless narrator. Needless to say it was much harder than I thought it would be.

Did your writing process change at all when you began writing
more books?

Luckily, I have always been disciplined. I get up in the morning and have
breakfast and then just start writing. I write for four to six hours and
then take a nap. Then I try to exercise before supper. I keep my schedule
light when I’m writing, so I don’t break a mood. The thing that helps me
the most is having a deadline.

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?

Yes, I’m laying the tracks for my next book now, which I think will be in
the same suspenseful vein as The Winters, this one about an older
women, newly sober, who helps out a younger one, who may not be who
she says she is.

Do you have any advice for young writers out there?
Read like crazy, read everything. When you’re not writing, you must be
reading. And if you’re not reading, you must be writing.

 

Thank you Lisa, for coming on RWS to chat!

Gabriele’s novel The Winters, will be available in stores OCTOBER 16th 2018!

You can also visit her website: www.lisagabriele.com

MEET THE AUTHOR – Sonia Faruqi

THE OYSTER THIEF

RWS RATING: 3.5/5 STARS

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 2ND 2018

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SYNOPSIS

“It took her a journey across the ocean to learn what she knew of love and fear and hate, but the essence of it came to her in an instant, as she succumbed to the churning black depths of the deep sea.”

Coralline is a shy mermaid in the Atlantic Ocean whose idyllic life is ruined by an oil spill that gravely sickens her little brother. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir.

She encounters a human man, Izar, who’s left his life on land behind to find a cure for his dying father. He doesn’t tell her that his family runs Ocean Dominion, an enemy corporation whose ships plunder her waters daily.

Fate pushes the two of them together, even though their worlds are at odds. Accompanied by a colorful troupe of animals, Coralline and Izar travel through coral reefs and seabed cities, trailed by murderous adversaries and warring ships. Their secrets threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline remain with the world she knows, including her fiancé, or should she relinquish everything for a stranger who might betray her? And Izar holds a secret of his own—one that might cause him to lose Coralline forever.

Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is an enthralling fantasy destined to become a classic. (Goodreads.com)

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This is definitely different than my usual reads – but it was such a beautiful story! Faruqi has such a talent for building up such an incredible world through poignant, and fluid writing. Faruqi was able to eloquently create complex characters in a magical, underwater world. I loved reading Coralline and Izar’s adventures  through coral reefs, and Faruqi had such intricate details involved in this underwater world. This book is dreamy, refreshing, and heartening.

Sonia Farqui first made her writing debut with her book, Project Animal Farm. A novel about that the world’s food system inspired by her visit to a dairy farm. She dropped everything she knew, to travel and find solutions to benefit animals, health and environment. Now, Farqui has turned to imagination in her newest book, The Oyster Thief. 

I had the pleasure of having Sonia on RWS to answer a few questions! Check it out below bookies:

Who’s your favourite author?

People are often surprised when I say Ayn Rand. But I find her writing beautiful and I love how she combines purpose and art in her works, particularly Atlas Shrugged. Her life story is also inspiring—she arrived in the U.S. as a poor immigrant from Russia and became among the greatest literary voices of the last century.

Favourite book or genre to read?

I read across genres spanning nonfiction and fiction. Some books that have particularly resonated with me are The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?

I can’t think of one particular moment, but I’ve loved reading ever since I was a girl. I wrote my first stories when I was nine!

What made you want to be a writer?

I love lots of topics and have lots of interests. Writing is one of those interests, and also a way to explore my other interests through this channel of expression.

What inspired you to write your first book, “Project Animal Farm?”

One night, I arrived at the doorstep of a dairy farm looking for a rural volunteer vacation. I had no idea then that the visit would mark the beginning of a journey that would ultimately wind all the way around the world. Concerned by issues of animal welfare and the environment, I decided to search the planet for solutions. My journey took me from egg warehouses in Canada to dairy feedlots in the United States, from farm offices in Mexico to lush green fields in Belize, from villages in Indonesia to bustling cities in Malaysia.

Over the course of living with farmers, hitchhiking with strangers, and risking my life, I developed surprising insights and solutions—both about the food industry and myself.

What gave you the inspiration for your newest novel, “The Oyster Thief?” Why the change in genres?

The Oyster Thief journey began as organically as the Project Animal Farm journey. I wasn’t planning it. The idea of an underwater world fell into my mind on January 1st, 2015. It was a freezing-cold morning in Canada, and I wished I could escape into tropical waters. But it was too expensive to book a last-minute flight, so I decided to escape in my mind. With a cup of tea in hand, I started inventing an underwater world. 

I found that I really enjoyed disappearing underwater for hours at a time through the novel, and I hope readers do as well!

Did your writing process change at all when you began writing this book, compared to any writing you’ve done before?

I had the impression that nonfiction requires research and planning, and fiction doesn’t. Boy was I wrong about that! After spending about two thousand hours on my manuscript, I decided to throw it all out and start from scratch.

Making the underwater world feel “real” required considerable research, I found. The challenge, however, is that researching the ocean is not like researching things on land. Parts of the ocean are less known to scientists than the moon. And of the millions of species thought to live in the ocean, the majority are unknown to us. To get my bearings underwater and depict the deep blue as accurately as possible, I snorkeled, scuba-dived, swam with sharks, and pored over books and countless articles about the ocean.

All the animals and algae you’ll see mentioned in The Oyster Thief are true-to-life. Even the names of all the characters are scientifically grounded, drawn from the sea and the stars. The Oyster Thief is also current in its themes. For instance, the book contains a premise of underwater diamond mining that was fictional when I started the book but has, just last year, become fact.

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?

There may be a sequel to The Oyster Thief.

Do you have any advice for young writers out there?

Don’t be afraid to take big, bold steps, including starting over. 

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Thank you, Sonia, for coming on RWS to chat with me!

Faruqi’s debut novel The Oyster Thief, will be available in stores OCTOBER 16th 2018!

You can also visit her website: http://www.soniafaruqi.com

MEET THE AUTHOR – Sara Blaedel

Detective Louise Rick at your service…

A world of missing persons, murders, and dangerous secrets come to play in Sara Blaedel’s novels with Detective Louise Rick at the centre of it all. 

Sara Blaedel is well known for her famous #1 international best selling detective series, featuring the character Louise Rick – originally a rookie homicide detective in Copenhagen, who quickly becomes enthralled with strange cases of all kinds. Blaedel’s novels are what most would categorize as nordic noir – a genre of books set in the Icelandic countries. Before writing her most famous novels, Blaedel wanted the genre of nordic noir to expand in popularity, and thus launching her own publishing company Sara B, to give those novels a chance to be seen and read.

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Blaedel’s success and talent does not go unnoticed – winning Denmark’s most popular novelist for the fourth time. She is also a recipient of the Golden Laurel, Denmark’s most prestigious literary award.

The genre of nordic noir always intrigued me – was it the icy, snowy setting? The intense dialogue between detectives, police, and suspects? The talented writing from Icelandic authors? Or could it be my favourite type of stories set in a world that I have not seen or discovered for myself?

I was so excited and honoured that Blaedel was able to come on RWS and answer a few questions! Check it out below:

Who’s your favourite author?

I am such an impassioned reader and book lover.  I’ve been reading for nearly as long as I can remember and have devoured works of all genres.  I hold so many authors in the highest esteem, and while I couldn’t possibly point to one single writer, I do have many favorites.  To name a few, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, and the Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdsdottier are brilliant storytellers whose imaginations captivate and rivet.  I’m always waiting excitedly for their new releases.

Favourite book or genre to read?

The answer to that question very much depends on my mood. Some days, a deliciously humorous story is just what I crave; other times, I’ll hungrily dig into non-fiction. Most often, though, I’ll have an engrossing and provocative work of crime fiction in my hands. I have always been a devoted and obsessive fan of suspense.

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature, more specifically, crime fiction?

That moment goes all the way back to my childhood. I fell madly in love with “The Famous Five,” by the incomparable Enid Blyton. Mysteries for children- how ingenious. I found it exciting and positively thrilling to get involved; to work to solve the cases.  I’ve been hooked ever since. It was truly love at first sight.

What inspired you to open your publishing company, “Sara B”?

It was long before we experienced a crime fiction wave in Scandinavia, so the now explosively hot genre was not particualrly popular. But I was already a devotee- I wanted more, more, more availability and fabulous new titles.  So, my idea was to publish the novels in paperback and get them out everywhere. At that time, it was more common to publish all new books expensively, in hardcover. But I wanted to give people compelling and entertaining stories, reasonably.  Before that, only trashy novels were so affordable.

After opening your publishing company, what drew you to write your own novel that was published in 2004?

Actually, I no longer had my publishing house by the time I started write myself – stupid me! That surely would have been a better business model. I ran my press for 5 years, but also worked as a journalist,  It wasn’t until years later that the first story concept came alive in my head. And I think it all ultimately worked out perfectly. It’s been far better for me to have amazing teams to work with than it would have been to write and publish my own books.

What gave you the inspiration for the character, Louise Rick?

Louise emerged and came to life in my head. I did not plan it – or her. When she first spoke to me, I thought she was a journalist like I was, but then I realized that no; she had a different path.  She blossomed into a homicide police detective in Copenhagen. To be perfectly honest, for a long time I was really just telling myself a story; I had no idea that it would end up in a book. It started on a ”what if” note,  but at some point I grew really curious and started to do some research. And then it hit me- I knew that I was working on my first book.

Did your writing process change at all when you began writing your second book?

It didn’t.  I was still working as a journalist when I started writing the second as I’d done all throughout the first, but after the publication, I was able to quit my job and become a full- time writer.  Which meant I didn’t have to ”work” in the evenings and all weekend anymore. I felt (and still do) so incredibly lucky and filled with gratitude that readers discoverd and took a chance on me so quickly.  What an honor!

Would you ever write a novel in a different genre?

No, I don’t think so. But, as they say: never say never. Because so much of the process is born from the stories that appears in my head, I can’t really predict. Early on, I wrote biographies. But crime fiction, suspense, and mysteries- well, those are the genres which inspire and motivate me now.  And quite likely always will.

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?

Ohhhh yes! For now I have nine Louise Rick novels and a trilogy about Ilka Jensen who inherits a funeral home in Racine, Wisconsin. I have just finished the third and last book in that series, and I’m so excited- can’t wait to share them all with my readers. And the next book coming up will be a new Louise Rick novel.  I so look forward to spending some time with her again.

Do you have any advice for young writers out there?

For me, the most important step is getting to know my characters before I start writing in earnest. I create them intensively and with depth.  I create background stories and full personalities, so I really feel that I know them; that they are true beings who exist and breathe air. I must hear and get their distinct voices so that they can talk roots and inhabit me.  I cannot write them if I don’t believe they are alive and kicking.

I love when my characters take over – and then, I can also get annoyed when they take too much over.  The whole process is complicated and wonderful! When I write, it feels like a movie playing out in my head, for my eyes only.  I am the person with her fingers on the keyboard, making decisions that feel organic and authentic (that is what I endeavor to do).  I tell myself the stories first, and then grow and build them to share with my amazing readers.

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Without a doubt, Blaedel is one of the most interesting, and talented suspense thriller authors out there. With her dedicated passion for nordic noir novels, I am sure that genre will continue to flourish in popularity more than it is now!

Thank you Sara Blaedel for coming on RWS to chat with me!

Blaedel’s newest novel The Daughter, will be available in store AUGUST 28th 2018 at Chapters/Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, Google Books, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

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author-sara_blaebel

https://www.sarablaedel.com

MEET THE AUTHOR – Wendy Walker

What would it feel like to be in a constant competition with your sister and mother? Or struggling in a battle with your emotional memory?

Wendy Walker explores the topics of narcissism, judgement, and memory in her two novels, All is Not Forgotten and Emma in the Night.

Emma in the Night is an eerie mystery surrounding the lives of Emma, Cass, and their mother – Mrs. Martin. The relationship the three share is strange to the say the least. For starters, Emma and Cass never call their mother “mom”, but call her by Mrs. Martin. Already there, a separation has been created between the mother and her daughters.

Mrs. Martin is probably the most interesting character in this story. She is a self-involved, narcissistic mother who is always creating some sort of competition between her and her daughters. 

One night, Emma and Cass leave their house, and are never seen again. Until three years later, Emma shows up without her sister… and so begins the investigation of what happened to Emma, and where in the world is Cass?

I loved this novel when I read it just a few short weeks ago. The irritating yet interesting mother, and her odd relationship with her two daughters was intriguing to me that I just wanted to keep on reading. I only wish there was a separate book dedicated to Mrs. Martin!

Wendy Walker was a former family law attorney in Connecticut, who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She’s edited multiple stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul before writing her debut psychological thriller All is not Forgottenfollowed by Emma in the Night. Her first novel All is not Forgotten, is being adapted by Reese Witherspoon and the Pacific Standard!

I was so excited to be able to ask Wendy Walker a few questions! Check it out below:

Who’s your favourite author?

 

I really don’t have one favorite. I love different books by different authors. Denis Lehane’s Mystic River, for example, was a favorite. And I really enjoyed AJ Flynn’s Woman in the Window this past year. 

Favourite book or genre to read?

 

I read mostly in the suspense genre to stay current and also because I am asked to blurb a lot of books! 

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?

 

When I was in grade school and there was a reading contest over the summer. I was very competitive and read over a dozen books. I can recall understanding the feel a well-told story for the first time that summer. 

You were a former family lawyer and seem to have such an amazing educational background in law! What made you decide to start writing fiction novels – specifically, psychological thrillers?

 

I really wanted to do something that allowed me to spend time with children and decide how best to use my time. I knew I was a good story teller so I started writing!I wrote for many years before my agent suggested I try my hand a psychological thriller, and it turned out to be the perfect fit for my writing style and skills. 

What gave you the inspiration for your debut novel, “All is not forgotten”?

 

I read an article in the New York Times about memory science and how certain drugs were being used to alter the emotional component of traumatic memories in soldiers. The article suggested a possible use in civilian life and I immediately thought about the implications of this for survivors of crime. That became the basis of the novel.

How do you feel to see that your first novel is being adapted to the screen by Warner Bros and Reese Witherspoon?

 

It is incredibly validating to have people of that caliber interested in my work! 

I recently read your second novel, Emma in the night, and I loved the complex relationship between the two daughters and their mother – more specifically, I loved the theme of narcissism that you chose to tackle within your story. What made you pick that?

 

Having worked as a family law attorney, I learned a lot about personality disorders, including narcissism. I found it fascinating and knew it would make the perfect undercurrent for the novel. Most people don’t know about the fragile inner core that narcissists typically have, and it was my hope that I could bring this out in the book. 

I loved the ending in the novel, but I can’t help but think that there are so many more underlying issues within Emma’s character and psyche. Did you find it difficult having to wrap up the story?

 

Yes, of course! With a complex, twisted ending there are always many things to explain and wrap up. The final chapter is always the hardest because everything has to get pulled together so the reader does not feel confused or betrayed by the twist. 

Did your writing process change at all when you began writing your second book?

 

Not really. I write when my kids are out of the house. That’s it! I make myself sit down and utilize that time. I outline the plot and the chapters and have deadlines for completing them. If I didn’t do this, my days would be easily filed with a million small things that always need to be done! 

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?!

I just finished my third thriller. I love it and can’t wait until it comes out in 2019! 

Do you have any advice for young writers out there?

 

Keep writing. Take advice from people in the business. Don’t get stuck with a story that may not be right for the market if you are trying to write commercial fiction. Ego and pride can get in the way and lead you down dead end roads. So be smart about what you write and how you write it so that you can get past the gatekeepers and into the hands of readers!
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Thank you for your time, Wendy! We look forward to your new book in 2019!
Until next time bookies,
Sam A.

Meet the Author – Rene Denfeld

THE CHILD FINDER

4.5/5 STARS

Imagine getting lost in a forest in the middle of winter… and suddenly waking up in a cave like environment with a strange man hovering over you? Imagine being so young, and so innocent, that you don’t understand where you are, and result to convincing yourself that you are living a story right out of a book.

Rene Denfeld’s newest book The Child Finder is eerie, thrilling and a book of hope in some ways. When young Madison goes missing while with her parents, Madison’s parents hire Naomi, a private investigator but known as “The Child Finder” to find their daughter.

Denfeld is an inspiring writer, and was the chief investigator at a public defender’s office and worked with hundreds of cases that included sex trafficking victims and innocents in prisons. She has also been a foster adoptive parent for the past twenty years.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE CHILD FINDER:

I really enjoyed this book. It took me just a few days to finish because I couldn’t put it down. I loved how it would change between different character perspectives – it offered a very creepy, thrilling feel and kept feeding my hunger to find out what exactly happened to young Madison. The writing in this book was beautiful, but simple enough to understand human nature, and how PTSD can truly alter a person’s life forever. If you are a fan of thrillers/mysteries, I would definitely recommend this book! A must read for 2017 for sure!

Denfeld was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me regarding her highly successful book! Check it out below!

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Q & A:

Who’s your favourite author?

Like many writers, I read voraciously. I have SO many favorites, I’m hesitant to start listing them all. I go through kicks where I will read all the works by one author, or return to old favorites. It’s not unusual for me to read a favorite book several times. I’ve been reading a lot of short story collections lately. One recent one is Margaret Malone’s PEOPLE LIKE YOU. For all time faves I might say Margaret Atwood, Jane Smiley, Louise Erdrich, Ken Kesey, Cheryl Strayed, Kia Corthron, Donald Pollock, Viet Nguyen…okay, I’ll stop!

Favourite book or genre to read?

I love all genres. There is so much to learn from other writers, whether it is nonfiction, literary fiction, memoirs, straight reporting, books of essays or short stories—and of course poetry. I love poetry and it probably shows in my novels. 

You’ve written quite a few books over the years… has your writing progress changed at all?

My writing changed dramatically when I went from nonfiction to novels. I was a decent nonfiction wrier, but fiction is where my true voice came pouring out, full of warmth and magic and wisdom. I love creating the characters of novels, and creating an exciting plot. Writing fiction for me is a joyous experience that brings out the best in me as a writer and person. 

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your novels?

I’ve been deeply inspired by my work and other life experience, including adopting my children from foster care. I have a very difficult background, and so I am able to explore such issues in my novels with authenticity and compassion. I try to write real characters—the kind of people you would really meet. They feel that real to me.  

You’re also a licensed investigator in Oregon which I find so cool! Would you say that being an investigator inspired you to become a writer?

Absolutely! To date I’ve worked hundreds of cases, from sex trafficking to death row exonerations. Every day people tell me their stories. They welcome me into their lives, and I get to help them. That’s profoundly inspiring. I get to witness and experience things that few people do, and writing is an opportunity for me to tell those stories and truths. For instance, I have witnessed so much redemption and healing in my work. In The Child Finder I show how people can save themselves and others, and our vast capacity to survive.
 

In your recent novel, The Child Finder, Naomi is an investigator that specializes in finding missing children and giving parents a sense of relief… is Naomi based on you at all?

She’s younger, and specializes in missing children. But a lot of the procedural stuff she does comes from my own experience. It was a fun part of the novel to include the real, nitty-gritty shoe leather investigation techniques. I like to say 99% of investigations is diligence. It’s knocking on door after door. It’s getting people to open up and talk. It’s finding forgotten records. Mostly it is keeping at it until you find the truth. In that way Naomi and I are the same—we are dedicated to finding the truth. But she is a much different person in other ways. I wanted to create a character that lived and breathed apart from me. 

Some Russian “fairy tales” were used in The Child Finder, are you a fairy tale fan? What would you say is your favourite?

Oh, I love fairy tales. I grew up immersed in them as a child—I would escape into my own made-up fairy tales. One of my childhood favorites is in The Child Finder. It’s called the Cow-Tail Switch. I was raised in an African-America neighborhood, and our library had a collection of such fables. I was greatly influenced by African and African-American fables as a child.

How has being an investigator, a writer, and a foster-adoptive parent changed you as a person?

It’s humbled me, and made me see the beauty in the struggle, the joy in the process. For every harm I have witnessed, I have seen countless acts of people being good. The volunteers, the teachers, the readers, the writers, the neighbors—our world is full of people who care, who want to help. Those people exist. As I write in The Child Finder, our future needs to be led by people who “have walked on the side of sorrow and seen the dawn.” 

Do you plan on writing another novel any time soon?

Fingers crossed—yes! 

Any advice for young aspiring writers out there?

If you write, you are a writer. Anyone can be a writer. Look at me. I was an abused child and homeless. But it takes lots of work. So my advice is this: read widely and read well. Good reading leads to good writing. Practice, and practice some more. Create a life outside your writing because that life will be your solace and inspiration. Find the magic. Roll around in life and come up covered with joy.
Rene – thank you for sharing your amazing talent with the world and for the work you do for humanity outside of writing.
R.Denfeld-61