I mentioned in a recent post that I did a lot of reading while the power was out thanks to Hurricane Irene’s wrath. One of the stories I read was Model Agent, a thriller by Massachusetts resident and one of my fellow BNFFs Sean Sweeney.
I ended up purchasing a copy of Model Agent the Friday night before the storm hit, I believe it was, knowing the hurricane was coming and would inevitably leave us without power for a few days.
Before reading Model Agent, I had read excerpts Mr. Sweeney posted from the third installment in the Jaclyn Johnson series and was greatly impressed. I had very high expectations, to say the least.
There have been very few books in recent years that have been able to capture my attention so thoroughly that I don’t want to put them down. This past year I’ve come across some really talented authors that I’ve reviewed/interviewed on this blog that have been able to enthrall me when so many others haven’t been able to.
Unfortunately, for some of those amazing authors that drew me in, life got in the way, and I could only read a little bit of their stories each day. (I know, it’s sad.) Not this time, though. I was able to read Model Agent in record time. In fact, I visited my parents during the power outage and told my mother I had to go home because I needed to finish the book.
If you’re a fan of thrillers, this story is definitely one to read. It grabs you from the very first page and doesn’t let you go until the very end, and even then you’re left wanting more, which, to me, is a sign of a great author.
Also, if you’re a fan of the Boston area, that’s another good reason to read this novel. Mr. Sweeney included many well-known landmarks and he described them with such detail that it took me back to my trips into the city over the years.
As far as characters go, my favorite was the lead, Jaclyn. While I don’t want to give away too much about her, I will say that she resonated with me. I love that the author included such a strong, vibrant female who can kick ass like no other female character I’ve seen. She definitely stood out and I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her over the next two novels. I’m rooting for her.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly give Model Agent 5 stars.
(And Sean, sorry for the delay in posting my review.)
The human body consists of two-thirds water.
As concertgoers on a steamy day in Boston find out, water can kill as much as it gives life.
A terrorist attack at City Hall Plaza has the authorities perplexed. The government, in response, sends in a capable but young agent – an agent born from the ashes of terrorism itself – to handle it.
But as her partner dies and the terrorist strikes again, Jaclyn Johnson – code named Snapshot – finds herself in a situation she has trained a decade to face: She’s up against a man with enough money to finance a war against his competition. With a deadline in place to stop him – and with a car holding enough hidden tricks to evade capture – Snapshot infiltrates his hidden installation and finds out her target’s true end game, a secret that could have the world fighting over water.
MODEL AGENT is the start to a brand new thriller series. The sequel, ROGUE AGENT, is also available.
The thought of flooding from Hurricane Irene worried me because I’ve seen the damage it can cause firsthand, but I was a bit excited for her to hit, as twisted as that sounds. (See photo to the left of what flooding did to this area several years ago.)
I, like others I know, get a kick out of storms. I’m in awe of them. I love the way storms make the air feel. I love what they do to the sky and the way they make trees dance in the wind, so that’s what I was excited to see.
Unfortunately, Irene didn’t really amount to much where I live. Sure, we lost power, and a few trees got knocked down, but looking around, there was far less damage than I had originally anticipated. We receive bigger whoopings from our infamous Noreasters and spring rainstorms. This was more of a yawn, at least to me. And yes, if you feel the need to call me crazy, go ahead. I never claimed I was normal.
Anyway, that being said, losing power for almost two days SUCKED. A sponge bath just does not compare to a shower.
Our power was finally restored this morning, and I could not have been happier. I hate to admit it, but I was tired of reading. I did, however, read a fantastic story. Model Agent by Sean Sweeney was a very enjoyable read and I did not want to put it down. (Review coming soon.)
So to those of you still without power, I empathize and hope it is restored soon.
I’m very excited about today’s interview with Allie Burke, one of my good friends…and my partner in crying. We’re sisters from different misters. She’s a fellow BNFF and someone I truly admire. I feel very fortunate and lucky to have her here today. So please sit back and enjoy her interview. It’s fantastic!
Q: Hi, Allie, thank you for stopping by my site. Before we dive into the questions I have lined up for you, please take a moment and tell us a little bit about you and your background. Please include five unique things about you.
A: About me. Wow. Okay. Um… I’m from Southern California. I was born here, raised around the widely feared streets of Los Angeles. (Well, Sun Valley. But, no one knows where the heck that is. And if you do, I’m sorry.) Deep down (somewhere), I do love my home. Very much. I just, I wished it rained more often. I really do hate the heat. The sun, in general.
When I was fifteen I met the man that I now call my husband. We went to a show with some friends—some punk band I really don’t remember. I said goodbye, “nice to meet you”, and I went home. It wasn’t until two years later, when I was seventeen, that I saw him again. We started dating. After graduating high school, because I wanted to be closer to him, I moved, out of my dad’s house, and more than an hour’s drive to a place us cool people like to call the I.E., or for those of you less adept with the coolness, the Inland Empire.
Seven years later, I married him. Our first wedding anniversary is coming up in three months.
My reading career started with a book called Intensity, by Dean Koontz. I read The Husband next, and was hooked on words. It was not until about a year before I got married that I finally realized I wanted to give writing a shot.
Five things. Hm. Well…
I hate cake. I know, it’s hard to believe. Who hates cake? Right? I do. It’s disgusting. Sorry.
My parents are divorced. They have been divorced since much before I can remember, which I’m told was when I was three years old. I have a very good relationship with both my parents, in alternatively different ways. If you asked, though, and my mom wasn’t here, *looks over shoulder*, I would tell you I’m a daddy’s girl. It’s true. He spoils me to death.
I’m a ditz. I know. I’m sorry. I forget things. I lose EVERYTHING. I like to attribute this factor in my life to something I call #WriterBrain. It doesn’t shut off. Ever. It refuses. I suffer from Insomnia because of it. Swirling up there are words and images and feelings and voices and love, and I just don’t have the capacity to remember where my car keys are or to figure out why my mother is so mad I didn’t call her back yesterday.
Writing is my passion. Music is my love. They exist as one. They cannot be compared or torn apart. Music and writing is… me.
I love Nicole Ireland. <3
Q: I have to admit, I’m in love with the covers of the stories in your Enchanters series. Can you tell everyone a little bit about the books in the series?
A: Oh, thank you! I should probably admit that I kind of love them, too.
Gosh. Um. The Enchanters.
The Enchanters are a tight-knit group of elementals that, if born with “the energy” and are deemed “fit to handle it”, so to speak, are passed one elemental gift. They carry auras—the color depending on the element that shapes them—except of course if you are Jane. Or Abby. Then your aura is purple, and you get to do some really awesome stuff that no other Enchanter can do.
My Enchanters, or the ones that the story follows, live in the fictional town of Jasmyn Lake, a California mountain town that has its… oddities. Scary trees and funny water. Leaves that don’t change colors when they’re supposed to. No humans reside there—at least, they don’t anymore. Not after Jane was done with them.
The story is based around true love—destiny—but of course you have your—conflicts—in a supernatural world. The series is a trilogy. Currently I’m writing the third and final installment, Amber Passion. I’ve tossed around the idea of a Prequel. I would love to do it. But… it would be so hard. (Laughs)
Q: What comes next? Are you working on something new?
A: Actually… yes. My latest “venture” or so I like to call it, has actually just been titled within the last couple days. Existence by Allie Burke. The story is told from the perspective of an underground musician who is very intellectual and… strange. In the bar where he plays with his band, a woman catches his eye. Aline Walker. She’s very beautiful, VERY smart—she makes him think, even more than he already does. There are things about her—things that can’t be explained by anything natural. When he is sure that she is the most intelligent, most beautiful—when he has convinced himself she is absolutely unique, in a world of beings he perceives to be robotic and all the same, someone else arrives. Someone… that might be just like her.
I don’t have a release date for Existence yet. I’m working with a cover designer right now. Though I would love to have it out before the year’s up, we’ll just have to see what my world brings me before then.
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: Ummmm! Shoot. If you would have asked me this two weeks ago, this question would have been very easy for me to answer.
Now… not so much.
Throughout the Enchanters books and Existence, I’ve been one of those… what do you call them? Pantsers?
I just wrote. I let the stories take me where they wished. A “translator”, so to speak, for those imaginaries with a story to tell.
However! Recently I was inspired to write an Adventure Thriller. Last week, I started outlining.
I know. What on earth is an outline? If you told me that I would say these words in an interview sometime in the near future, I would have laughed at you. I mean, I don’t DO outline.
Errrrr. I mean. I didn’t do outline. You know, before.
Oh, well. It happens. The story calls for it. For some SERIOUS research. Hours of staring into space with a pen in my hand while I battle with my brain what “should” occur. Something… totally new for me.
So, I guess… my writing process varies by the story I’m writing. Not unheard of, I don’t think. Or maybe it is. I really don’t know.
Q: What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
A: My most rewarding experience has been the friends I’ve met. The fellow Writers. Readers. Musicians. The support has been… unbelievable. The love I get to experience on a daily basis—from those who don’t think I’m absolutely nuts for how hard I work as in Indie writer—it’s astronomical. Beyond any experience or feeling, that I could ever have imagined.
Q: What has been the hardest thing to deal with?
A: Bad reviews. “Less than desirable reviews”, as I like to call them. While I understand the subjective nature of book reviews, it still sucks. No one likes to see—after months, years, of hard work, after insomnia and tears and bleeding your heart onto those pages—someone say they didn’t like your work. That they hated it.
There has been one review with words that—as an author, I felt personally attacked. A friend of mine went through the same thing, and his book was amazing. I loved it.
It is an unfortunate drawback. The Life of a Writer. Mostly, people love you for what you do. But sometimes, your words, your passion, can strike a wrong chord. Some—may hate you for what you do. Or—hate what you do, in general. Don’t sulk. Take it with a shrug. Or a shot of tequila. Whatever.
And then go write. Seriously. It will remind you why you put up with this crap. Because you love what you do. What you… are.
It’s worth it. Trust me.
Q: Who are your inspirations? What authors’ careers would you like to emulate?
A: Inspirations. Oh, man. I have so many inspirations.
Nicholas Denmon. I love his work. He really caught me off guard with his debut, For Nothing. I wasn’t expecting… all of that which he had to offer me in his story. I still daydream of his characters, of this world as he presented it. I read the book nearly two months ago, and then again a month after that. I’ve also read some of his other work. Short stories and excerpts from some other stuff he’s working on—the guy is brilliant. I really look up to him—his book, his work—he’s inspired me to be a better writer.
Chelsea Cain. Oh, Chelsea. Ever read the last page of a book, slammed it closed and began swearing under your breath in some effort to break free from the fear that you’re going insane? Yeah, she does that. She’s sick, and twisted, and I love her. I think she’s amazing.
Suzanne Collins. WOW. Here’s a Writer who took an idea, searched deep inside her mind and pulled out some characters that are more real than some people I know personally, and she wrote a trilogy that, quite literally, took the genre by storm. If you’d asked me to pick a favorite YA novel, I would probably answer with Mockingjay. I’ve been inspired by Suzanne Collins to… never write what the genre calls for or, “whatever everyone else is doing”. I write what I love, without thoughts of “what” I’m writing, largely because of The Hunger Games.
I really don’t know which authors career I’d like to emulate. It’s hard to say. I think I’d just like to be myself.
Q: If you could pick one author to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
A: I think I’d have to say Sarah Addison Allen.
The best advice I ever received from an author was this: Trust the process. This advice I read from an interview with Sarah Addison Allen. Trusting the process, my writing and my judgment—it has assisted me in discovering my style, my intellect, my… self.
Her writing is out of this world. Her books were a huge inspiration for my Enchanters series, and I admire her, not only as an author but as a person. Her unbelievable strength throughout her own battle with cancer touches my heart on levels deeper than I was aware existed. She’s a beautiful person that I look up to immensely.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
A: Nikki!! How the heck do I know? (Laughs)
Um. Oh, I really have no freaking clue. Writing? Definitely. Always. Forever. I hope to have a few more followers on Twitter. That would be cool. By then I hope that I would have met all my amazing my friends. Like, in person. I would love to hug you guys and sit down with you all and have the honor of participating in some ridiculously epic writing session, or something.
I’d like to see The Enchanters be adapted into a movie. Big step, I know. But, shoot. Ten years. Ten years is a long time. I could do it by then, I think. By then, I could do a lot of things. I think I just might.
Q: What made you decide to go the indie route?
A: Mmm. It just kind of happened, really. I wasn’t going to publish at all. I wasn’t going to share… at all. Not really. I just wanted to read it, originally.
… And then I wanted to write… more. A lot more.
I did some research, in my head weighed out my options, and I shrugged at myself. Oh, why not.
So I indie published.
Q: What do you feel are the benefits of self-publishing over traditional publishing?
A: Well, I don’t really know. Haha.
I haven’t traditionally published anything. So, it’s hard to say. I really have no idea what goes on.
But, for me, these days, the “self” part… it works. I like DOING. I had a lot of fun with my covers. I don’t mind editing, and I, well… I like to think I control my own destiny. I… like… self-publishing. I’ve met some really amazing people. I’ve read some PHENOMENAL books. Experienced support like… like nothing that exists anywhere.
I’ve fallen in love with… Indie. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: Even though you’re an indie author, would you go the traditional route if given the opportunity?
A: No. Probably not. I mean, I got nothing against traditional publishing. Seeing your book in a book store as you shop the stacks—that’s gotta be an amazing feeling.
… I won’t deny it. I would probably pass out.
But then, like I said. I love Indie.
And, there are other factors. I mean, you write the book, and then… really, it goes into the hands of who? And… the final result? The… cover?
There are books out there –in the bookstore—that I’ve passed over a hundred times. Books with covers so awful, I… refuse to read them. I know. Judging books by their covers. Sorry. I do it. I have a special love for book covers. And, if it’s awful, more often than not, I won’t read the book.
I’ve “heard” that authors who are traditionally published have no say in the cover. That it is designed and chosen and you get a picture when it’s done. When it’s already… decided. Without you. You, the Writer. The creator of that which lies behind that cover.
I don’t even know if this is true. But, if it is… I just, I don’t know. I don’t think I can handle that. This is… it’s my book. It’s the love of my life. It’s part of me. I think I would cry if it got ripped apart. If it wasn’t so much… me… anymore.
Traditional publishing, maybe just not for me. Indie… is.
Q: What advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
A: Write. Write your freaking heart out. I’m serious. I have so many pieces I haven’t published. Stories… napkins and envelopes and receipts scarred with words, reminders of emotions or experiences or… whatever. Write anything you want. On your blog. Promoting, marketing, all that… that’s great and needs to be done. But, writing is what you love. If you don’t have that, what do you have?
The Fun Stuff:
Q: If you were to create a soundtrack for one of your novels/stories, what songs would be on it?
A: I have actually thought about “theme songs” for my novels.
“Beyond the Gray Sky” by 311 for Violet Midnight, in reference to the rain and how it affects Elias throughout the story.
Jack Johnson’s “Breakdown” for Emerald Destiny, because of a specific lyric in the song which relates to the life of Evan Reed.
“Enchanted” by Taylor Swift for Amber Passion. The meaning will only become obvious when the book is released and you… read it. =)
Q: Who would you cast as the lead character in your story?
A: I haven’t much thought about who I would cast as the leads in Emerald Destiny. For Violet Midnight, however, I’m pretty set on Ashley Greene for Jane Wildes, Vin Diesel for Elias Linden, and Wentworth Miller for Christian Reed.
Q: Where can people find out more information about you?
A: On my blog =)
Q: What books are you currently reading?
A: Currently I’m reading Amaretto Flame by Sammie Spencer and loving it. Next up for my book club is The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I read The Shadow of the Wind, and I loved it. It’s one of my favorites.
Q: Where can readers purchase your books?
Thanks, Allie, for stopping by and answering these questions. It was truly a pleasure, and I look forward to having you come back in the future! Love you, chica!