Hope Never Dies: A Obama-Biden Mystery

Watching news clips of Barack Obama windsurfing off of Richard Branson’s private island, kayaking with Justin Trudeau and BASE jumping in Hong Kong with Bradley Cooper while he’s grouting tile in his master bathroom and playing darts on a board his daughter gave him years ago, Joe Biden, feeling left-out (he doesn’t even have Secret Service protection anymore), grumpily wonders why the 44th president hasn’t called him in the months since Donald Trump took office.  Biden’s grousing changes quickly when Obama appears in the woods behind his house late one night, coolly smoking a cigarette and delivering the terrible news that Finn Donnelly, the Amtrak conductor that Biden befriended as he traveled back and forth between Delaware to Washington D.C. has been murdered. On his body, Barack says, was a printout map of Biden’s home. Is someone targeting the vice-president?Shaffer, Andrew_Courtesy Andrew Shaffer

And so the bromance rekindles as the ex-president and ex-vice are back working as a team as they race to solve the crime in Andrew Shaffer’s Hope Never Dies (Quirk Books 2018; $14.99). The title is a parody of the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”  and the dime store detective novel-like-cover  depicts Obama, the wind whipping his red tie behind him, standing in the passenger seat of a Thunderbird convertible pointing the way as a determined Biden drives but the story itself isn’t farce. Shaffer, who is a New York Times best seller author, says that though the action is over-the-top at times—Obama roughing up a biker; Biden head-butting a villain and getting thrown off a fast moving to name a few—he resisted getting too campy.

“The book is more than a one-note joke,” says Shaffer.

Growing up in Iowa, Shaffer enrolled in the University of Iowa’s noted creative writing program.

“They teach serious fiction there and you’re reading a lot of serious authors like Phillip Roth,” he says.  “So I’m writing like I’m in my 60s, divorced and living in the suburbs. I was only 21 and I thought what am I doing? I wanted to write the type of fiction I like to read such as authors like Elmer Leonard, Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block.”

Shaffer had been thinking about writing a mystery with Joe Biden as the main character for years.

“I thought about maybe making it a cozy type of mystery,” he says. “But I got the idea for this when they’d been out of office for a week or so. I wrote a note to my agent asking how about a Biden-Obama mystery and she said really? I said yes.”

Inspired by the 1980s buddy cop movies he liked such as “Tango & Cash,” Shaffer says that the mystery isn’t just about Biden’s love of ice cream but instead covers serious topics such as the opioid epidemic. Since the book’s recent release on July 18, it’s been selected as an Amazon Best Book of the Month: Thrillers July 2018 and an Official Summer Read of Publishers Weekly.  He is already working on the next book in the series, Hope Rides Again.

“It’s a legacy in ways,” Shaffer says about the series. “”It’s for people, no matter what part of the political spectrum they’re on, need some kind of hope.”

Ifyougo:

What: Book signing with Andrew Shaffer.

When: Sunday, August 19 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL.

FYI: (630) 355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com

 

 

 

The World Is Awake, A Celebration of Everyday Blessings by Linsey Davis

Though she often reports on what’s worst in our world (the Las Vegas massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the sexual predator assertions against Harvey Weinstein), Linsey Davis, an Emmy award winning news correspondent for ABC News, wants us to look at the world in a more positive way, enjoying its delights with a sense of childlike wonderment and excitement.

“As adults we put on our blinders and just go about our day,” says Davis, author of the recently released children’s book, The World Is Awake, A Celebration of Everyday Blessings: (Zonderkidz 2018; $17.99). “Children are able to remind us about the beauty and joy of so many little things we often overlook.”davis, linsey_portrait

Her inspiration, says Davis, comes from watching her four-year-old son Ayden interact with nature, saying it gives her a buoyant and spiritual perspective.

“My son’s excitement when he asks me who opens the flowers or laughs when he sees a butterfly is contagious,” says Davis, who files reports for shows such as “World News,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and “Nightline.” “He sees with a child’s heart. I think children are able to remind us of that.”

With colorful and lively illustrations, Davis’s says she hopes the book stimulates parents to regain that childlike outlook. But even more so, Davis wanted to write a children’s book where the main character is a person of color.

“The characters in children’s books are not in sync with where we are as a country,” says Davis, who is African American. “More than 90% of protagonists in books for children are white. We’re at a time in our country where we’re becoming more colorful at the same time we’re becoming more divisive. Children need to find themselves in books and to see children in books who look like them. I think that is essential particularly now.”

Ifyougo:

What: Linsey Davis will discuss and sign copies of her book and participate in a Q & A.  at

When: Sunday, July 22 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave. Naperville, IL

Cost: This event is free and open to the public. To join the book signing line, purchase the book at Anderson’s Bookshop.

FYI: (630) 355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com.

 

 

Michael Koryta in Chicago to Talk About His New Book

Michael Koryta, the New York Times-bestselling author of 12 suspense novels of including Those Who Wish Me Dead and Rise the Dark talks with writer Jane Simon Ammeson about his just released “How It Happened” (Little Brown 2018; $27).Michael Koryta

“How It Happened” starts off with the so chilling confession and then suddenly we’re wondering okay, was it true? Is your book based on one specific case or did statistics from Project Innocence help shape the story for you or what shaped the story in your mind?

The confession in the book was inspired by a false confession that was given during the investigation of the disappearance and murder of Jill Behrman, who was a 19-year-old Indiana University freshman when she vanished on a bike ride on a beautiful spring morning in a small college town. Her bike was found near my childhood home, and I was 17 when that happened, and then I was 19 when I began to write some police beat articles about the case for the local newspaper. There was a search going on at that time based on a confession. Those memories are profound and tragic to me.

“How It Happened” is complex just like all your novels, do you plot everything in advance or does it more just flow? 

I don’t know how to outline, but I do know how to rewrite! I do many, many drafts.

And do you ever find yourself caught up in the feel of it all so that you’re where your characters are and experiencing what they’re experiencing rather than sitting at a desk writing about it? And do your characters take on a life of their own or are you in control of them?

If you don’t feel caught up in it, then it won’t be any good. If the desk doesn’t vanish, and if you don’t disappear into the story to join your characters, then how will the reader be able to have that experience? I don’t want to have any control over my characters so much as I want them to explain the story to me, and for them to surprise me. That’s the joy of it.

You’re books are so atmospheric, your characters haunted in many ways and there’s often a combination of the natural—caves, mountains, rivers, now Maine and the ghostly or the unknown. I’m familiar with Bloomington as that’s where I went to Indiana University and I love French Lick/West Baden, those marvelously restored early 20th century resorts in Southern Indiana. All this makes me  curious about how you look at these places and what makes them so haunting as if they’re characters themselves? And how/why did you choose Maine for this book?

I respond to places that have a combination of visual and emotional impact. Sometimes, that might be in an eerie or creepy way — the surreal experience of walking into another time in the West Baden Springs Hotel, or riding a boat on an underground river. In other cases, it is found in the collision of beauty and danger. This would be the Maine coast to me. I love a place that can be astonishingly beautiful in one moment, and turn threatening in the next. It allows me to bring the setting to life like a character.

Did you ever find  a book written by your female relative who was a published author back in the 1800s? What was her name?

I still haven’t been able to track one down, sadly. Jane Parker was her name. She wrote novels in the late 1800s, and was apparently well-regarded in her era, which is even more special because she was a woman writing in an age when not many women had the chance, let alone earned that critical respect. I am afraid none of her books have survived, but I will remain on the hunt!   

Will we ever get another novel set in French Lick and West Baden like “So Cold the River?

I think you will! I finally got the film rights back on SO COLD THE RIVER after it went stagnant with the studio that optioned it originally, and I am exploring ways to get that done with an independent filmmaker, and as I work on that, I keep thinking of new ideas in that area, and with those characters. I am very drawn to that area, and to the stories that abound there. I am feeling the call down there again, louder and louder.

Ifyougo:

What: Michael Koryta book signing

When: Tuesday, May 22 at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville, 123 W Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL

Cost: This event is free and open to the public.

FYI: To join the signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, How It Happened, from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase please stop into or call Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville (630) 355-2665 or order online at andersonsbookshop.com/event/michael-koryta-0