Mistakes, I’ve Made a Few

Architect of Courage accompanied me to the Princeton Public Library’s Local Author Day. I sat with friend and awesome fellow thriller-author Kevin G. Chapman, and the crowd was impressive. The library’s community room included dozens of authors, a number of whom publish children’s book, who decorated their tables with stuffed animals, princess crowns, and the like. One of Kevin’s book covers includes a knife-blade dripping with blood. And his titles include words like Assassin, Dead, and Fatal. We passed on having an appropriately themed display for our table.

Another local author visited with us and spent an excruciatingly long time at our table after telling us he doesn’t buy books. Instead, he re-reads favorites from decades ago. He then had a long—very long—rap about how, unlike Kevin’s Assassin, Dead, and Fatal covers, his bloody knives and corpses, the cover of Architect of Courage doesn’t signal “thriller.” I’d heard that before, but filed it in the category of “can’t do anything about it, so why worry?”

Kevin laughed when the next person to stop at our table said, “Oooh, I love that cover!” But she didn’t realize the book is a thriller. Of course. So, too late to reprint, I did finally take these comments to heart and ordered see-through labels that read “International Crime Thriller” to affix underneath the title of the copies I have, and I created a graphic that does the same. I’ve replaced the book cover photo on my website and used the new one in an ad I’m running this summer. So, that long diatribe we suffered through was actually helpful! Big smile.

Now I’m all set for The Flemington Summer Book Fest May 28, the Burlington County Book Festival June 3, along with pals from the Central NJ Chapter of Sisters in Crime, The Passaic County Book Festival June 10, and, later this summer, the Public Safety Writers Association annual conference! Hope to see you there!

Where Story Ideas Come From: Why Courage?

I didn’t set out to write a book about courage. In fact I was probably on a second or third draft, pestering myself with questions like, “what am I really trying to say?” “why might readers find this book not just entertaining but meaningful?” “do I find it meaningful and why?” i’m not a writer who can dash off several books a year; I have to think about them a while. And thinking about these questions, I finally realized I was missing an easy opportunity to express what it is about, without having to pen a preachy narration.

In the opening pages of my new book, Architect of Courage, Manhattan architect Archer Landis discovers his lover has been murdered. He’s afraid of the fallout if he’s caught in her apartment, and without considering the implications, he delays calling the police. Instead, he hastily returns to the business dinner he’d left not long before, determined to make the call from there. Alas, circumstances prevent it. What had he been thinking?

The dinner is to celebrate the important award one of his best friends is receiving and now he has to sit through it. The friend, Phil Prinz, takes this speaking opportunity to talk about courage. Now, we’ve all been to dinners where the speaker rambles on about some high-flown topic, and we’ve occasionally been pleasantly surprised to hear some nuggets worth remembering. Phil chose a worthy topic, but he’s no orator.

Still he breaks the topic down in an elegant way, describing four kinds of courage (briefly in the novel): physical courage, you know what that is; mental courage, when people dare to think in new ways; emotional courage, when they put their feelings on the line; and moral courage, when they do the right thing simply because it’s right. Landis doesn’t spend a lot of time then or later reflecting on Phil’s remarks—he’s too upset about what happened earlier in the evening. But I hope I’ve planted a seed for readers so they recognize that, despite his early failure, Landis displays all of four types of courage before the story ends. But if all you’re looking for is a lively adventure, there’s that too.

Available from Amazon on preorder!