Friday, October 23, 2020

The Killer Outdoors (+ Giveaway)

It’s a pleasure today to be a part of author Jodi Linton’s Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for her latest release, THE KILLER OUTDOORS, the first installment in her Southwest Exposure Mystery series.
The Killer Outdoors
By Jodi Linton
*1st in Series: A Southwest Exposure Mystery)
*Cozy Mystery
*Independently Published (October 5, 2020)
*Digital ASIN : B08C72CMSV

Welcome to Bushwhack, New Mexico: home to tourists, the great outdoors, and murder...

Tourist season has hit Bushwhack and Andie Sullivan--owner of Sullivan's Adventure Company--is ready for her town to fill up with city slickers, snotty teens, and the dollars she needs to keep her business afloat after her messy divorce from Bucky Gunn--local celebrity rafting guide and Sullivan's main competition. With all her guided tours booked, it finally seems lady luck is on her side.

But then Bucky is found dead. Not great.

And she's the prime murder suspect. Double not great.

Being framed for murder sucks worse than a rabid chipmunk bite. Andie's determined to clear her name, and this time her survival training skills won't be used to fetch an ice pack. But how long can she stay one step ahead of a killer before she becomes the final victim?

THE KILLER OUTDOORS is available at Amazon

 Meet Jodi Linton

Hey Y’all,

I’m just a girl from Texas, minus the big hair…and oh, yeah, a horse. My crew consists of two kiddos, one which inherited my makeup addiction, and a husband still living out his garage band dreams, but in our closet next to my shoe collection.

I love to hang out with my readers, discussing books, recipes, and just everyday shenanigans. I got started in the romance community, which you might know a few of my books from there. Now, I’m all about the cozies…and the coffee. Yeah, can’t forget that.

I’d love for you to come join my reader group, Jodi’s Book Corner or come like me on Facebook to discover my books. And chat. Naturally.

You can connect with Jodi on the following sites:







Jodi's Book Corner:


You can follow Jodi on her tour by visiting the tour participants’ sites below. Be sure to enter the giveaway.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Isn’t it fun to find new cozy murder mystery series to follow?

October 12 – I'm All About Books - SPOTLIGHT

October 12 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 14 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 15 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

October 16 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

October 17 – Baroness' Book Trove - CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 18 – StoreyBook Reviews - REVIEW

October 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

October 19 – Socrates Book Reviews- SPOTLIGHT


October 20 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 21 - The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 21 - Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT

October 22 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 22 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 23 – Christy's Cozy Corners – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 24 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

October 24 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

October 25 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 25 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Dragon’s Song

I’m always delighted to find intriguing new books to share with you and when I learn the backstory of those books, it makes it even more thrilling.

Today’s I’m happy to tell you about a new book by authors Binh Pham and R.M. Clark, THE DRAGON’S SONG. This is a middle grade, refugee adventure that was released just this week.

THE DRAGON’S SONG is based on Binh's true story, when he, as a young man, fled Vietnam in 1980. Though some of the characters are fictitious, the story of Binh’s journey from Ho Chi Minh City to the United States is based on true events.


By Binh Pham and R.M. Clark
* Hardcover: 210 pages
* ISBN-13: 978-1947796850
* ISBN-10: 1947796852
* Product Dimensions: 5.51 x 0.63 x 8.5 inches
* Publisher: Intense Publications (October 19, 2020)

Eleven-year-old Bao Dang remembers watching in horror four years earlier as Communist soldiers dragged his parents from their home. Now an orphan, he begins a journey to escape the oppressive government of South Vietnam. The owner of a small boat, paid in gold, smuggles Bao and his cousin, Binh Pham, down the Saigon River at night to the South China Sea, where he and over one hundred other "boat people" pack into a trawler designed to hold fewer than thirty. For six days, they face danger from the police, weather, and pirates, not to mention the constant threat of capsizing as they take on water while living only on dry, rationed rice.

Bao, Binh and the others hope a refugee camp in Indonesia accepts them, but there's no guarantee. Word has it they may be turned away and even towed back out to sea to starve. Eventually finding a safe haven, Bao harnesses the power of music to heal and help endure months of harsh and dangerous living while he and Binh await word from relatives in the United States, hoping they'll obtain the ultimate gift: freedom.

Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to R.M. as he stops by to tell us about the “making of The Dragon’s Song.” Welcome, R.M.

I first met my co-author, Binh Pham, back in the 1990s when we were both working as computer scientists for the same defense contractor. In the 2000s, we were both switched over to Dept of Navy jobs, working in the same building. I knew from small talk and a few conversations that Binh had come over from Vietnam as one of the “boat people” of the early 1980s. He also mentioned some other tales of life in Vietnam. I was not a writer then, so his stories, although interesting, were just, well, stories.

I began writing in 2007 and got my first book published in 2012, with another to follow every year for five years. By this time, refugee tales were all over the news and I knew I was ready to tell his “escape from Vietnam” story, if he’d agree.

In the summer of 2015, I approached Binh and ask if I could chronicle his adventure. Since I am primarily a children’s book author, I had to convince him to have a fictional younger cousin go along with him and narrate the story (in real life, Binh made the journey without accompaniment). It would still be Binh’s story, but seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old orphan named Bao Dang.

Thankfully, he agreed and we went to work. We met in a break room once or twice a week. I told him to start at the beginning (why he left, how he paid for it, etc.) while I took copious notes. He went into vivid detail about the covert journey down the Saigon River with 14 others packed knees-to-chin in the bow of a small boat. Then it was on to the Hyvong (Vietnamese for Hope), a river boat that was used to transport Binh and over 100 other packed refugees to open water and beyond to a willing refugee camp. There were so many details about the trip I could never make up, they have to be experienced.

There were often others in the break room when we did this, and they, too, were enraptured by his tale. I frequently had to remind myself to keep writing as he spoke. It took most of the summer to get from escaping Vietnam to finally making it to the US (no spoiler needed), but I finally turned those many pages of hand-written notes into a nearly 40k word first draft manuscript called “Escape to America.”

First drafts are typically far from perfect, and this one was no exception. We removed unneeded scenes and fixed clunky dialogue. I had to make sure the “voice” sounded authentic by deleting all American-sounding phrases and mannerisms and infusing the occasional Vietnamese word or phrase for effect.

Something was still “off” with the next draft and that’s when I realized the point of view needed to be changed from third person to first person. We had to get inside Bao’s head and feel everything he was feeling and then some. To do this, I asked Binh to dig a little deeper and tell me what he was experiencing using all five senses. We needed the smell of the cramped quarters in the bow of the boat, the taste of the one cup of rice and one cup of water they were given daily as they made their way through the South China Sea. We needed the sound of the wind whooshing through the flimsy structures at the refugee camps. That version of the story was much better, but there still something missing. It read too much like a documentary. It needed more soul. That’s when it hit me. Bao, the fictional refugee needed non-human help to get him through the hardships of camp life. He needed music. He needed to hear The Dragon’s Song.

We rewrote dozens of scenes to add the element of music into the plot. Bao is given a small, bamboo flute called a sao truc. He soon realizes that he’s a very good player and that songs can soothe his soul. The music gets him through near starvation, bullying, overcrowded conditions, and worst of all, day after day of interminable waiting.

Now we were onto something. The title changed to The Dragon’s Song and we were ready to find a literary agent. After a few months and more than the usual amount of rejections, we found an agent from Texas who loved it. If we thought getting an agent was difficult, getting an editor at a major publishing house turned out to be an impossible task. We do give the agent credit for trying. She suggested several rewrites to add tension and humor. Unfortunately, her office was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey and she suffered some major health issues along the way, one of which forced her out of the business before she could make a sale.

We were free to shop the manuscript around on our own, so we did just that. In November of 2019, we sent the manuscript to Intense Publications in Texas and the editor, Jana Grissom, offered us a contract just four days later. The Dragon’s Song had found a home! Now, five years in the making, we present to you our story, a tale of faith and determination and courage.

We hope you enjoy The Dragon’s Song. We also hope you appreciate what many refugees around the world consider to be the ultimate gift: Freedom.

R.M., thanks for stopping by today and sharing this insight into this fascinating story.

Meet the Authors

Binh Pham
was born into his family of 9 brothers and sisters in Saigon, Vietnam. Binh tried his best to make a living for himself, pursuing a degree of medicine.

His life changed when the communist party took over Vietnam, forcing him to leave everything behind and embark on a journey towards America.

Binh now lives in Rhode Island with his wife, Chau. He has two children Hien and Liem.

R. M. Clark
is a computer scientist for the Dept. of Navy by day and children’s' book writer by night.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons. He is currently at work on his latest middle grade novel.

For more information on R.M. and his writing, you can visit his author site:

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Don’t you find this to be a fascinating story? Do you enjoy books that are based on true stories?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary

This is another review I should have already shared with you so I’m here with hat in hand (so to speak) with an apology to the author and to you.

My delay had nothing to do with the quality of this delightful book or the author’s writing (just life). I hope you’ll give this book a closer look.

By Elaine Faber
* Paperback: 264 pages
* ISBN-10: 1940781256
* ISBN-13: 978-1940781259
* Publisher: Elk Grove Publications (September 6, 2019)
* Cozy Animal Mysteries, Women Sleuths

While Kimberlee searches for lost gold coins in Austria, she attracts the attention of a stalker determined to beat her to the treasure. Back home in Fern Lake, Black Cat and Angel face their own challenges. An elderly woman, bent on revenge, threatens Black Cat and Angel's lives, and a man who disappeared twenty-five years ago has returned to Fern Lake with plans to wreck financial havoc on Kimberlee's family.

Here are my thoughts.

If you like riddles, hidden treasure, and suspense, this story will fit that bill. Add in two cute cats and you have a fascinating book you’ll be hard pressed to put down.

The author has crafted two tales into a tantalizing read. One tale takes readers on a murder mystery journey while the other leads you on a quest for hidden World War II treasure. The author weaves vivid descriptions of landscapes to add depth and even more character to this story.

The two lovable cats are realistic and may remind you of felines you know. The cats’ interaction with each other is adorable, while their influence over the humans is entertaining.

This story blends past and present with beautiful settings, enchanting cats, and unique characters for an enjoyable read. Don’t miss this captivating tale of mystery, history, and so much more.

Thanks for stopping by today. Don’t cats (or pets in general) add something special to a story, especially when they guide us where we should be?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

I’m excited to tell you about author Simone St. James’ latest release, THE SUN DOWN MOTEL, coming out today.

This sounds like a fascinating story. Here’s some information on it.


By Simone St. James
*Paperback | $16.00
*Published by Berkley
*Oct 20, 2020
*352 Pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4
*ISBN 9780440000204

 Welcome to Fell, NY. It’s no usual place.

For decades, the small town of Fell has been a place where girls grow up being warned by their mothers to be careful or they’ll end up like Cathy Caldwell, the girl who was murdered and found under an overpass, or Victoria Lee who was killed and dumped on a jogging trail on the edge of town. There are a lot of dead girls in Fell.

One particular unsolved missing persons case is the reason behind Carly Kirk’s visit to town. Carly has always been fascinated by her aunt Viv, who disappeared in the 80’s while working at the Sun Down Motel before Carly was born. Using a small inheritance from her deceased mother, Carly leaves college to go to Fell and figure out what happened to her aunt thirty-five years ago. 

Soon Carly is mirroring her aunt’s life, working the same night shift at the motel, which hasn't changed since 1982. The guest book is still handwritten, the rooms still have actual keys, and the Wifi is spotty at best. But that’s not the only unsettling thing about the Sun Down Motel. Doors are opening themselves. Someone prank calls the front desk every night with only static on the other end of the line. Lights go out. And then there’s the mysterious smell of cigarette smoke with no smokers in sight.

As Carly uncovers more about the mysterious happenings at the motel and Fell’s secrets, she discovers that Viv had been trying to unravel mysteries of her own—including a possible serial killer working in Fell targeting women. If Carly can find the answers Viv was searching for, she might be able to solve the mystery that has haunted her family for years. But as Carly digs deeper, she puts herself in front of the same dangers that faced her aunt all those years ago.

The story moves between Carly Kirk in 2017 and her aunt Viv Delaney in 1982—two equally fearless women determined to uncover the truth.  James seamlessly weaves together both time periods and crafts a novel so scary and propulsive that readers will find themselves at the edge of their seats, ripping through the pages to connect the dots while simultaneously never wanting the ride to end.

Here’s an audio sample from Soundcloud for your listening pleasure. 

Meet the Author

Photo credit Lauren Perry
Simone St. James is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken GirlsLost Among the Living, and The Haunting of Maddy Clare. She wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school, and spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time.

She lives just outside Toronto, Canada, with her husband and a spoiled rescue cat. She is addicted to sushi, old 1970's gothic novels, rainy days, coffee, and My Favorite Murder.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest (though not all at once). * Photo credit: Lauren Perry

Thanks for stopping by today. Doesn’t this sound like one of those stories you’d have to read only during the daylight hours?

Monday, October 19, 2020

Limitless (+ Giveaway)

by Kaylene Winter
*A Less Than Zero Rockstar Romance, #2
*Publication date: October 9th, 2020
*Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

“She snuck up on me and stole my heart…

Sexy Viking drummer Jace Deveraux used his genius marketing skills to help propel Less than Zero (LTZ) to the top.

Friends-with-benefits was the only thing he was capable of.

Until free-spirited social media influencer Alexandria LeRoux made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Their secret, spontaneous global hookups were decadent, erotic, extraordinary.

For the first time in his life, Jace wants it all

Including a future with Alex.

Will one fateful night destroy his chance with her forever?

“I’ll travel the world for him…”

Ethereal animal-lover Alex had one goal in mind:

Conquer playboy Jace before they both left Seattle.

Her plans for him certainly didn’t include forever.

But their first time was so sublime, it ruined her for anyone else

What’s a girl to do?

Enjoy him in as many countries as possible, that’s what.

Except Alex has her own dreams and they’re already in motion.

Will Jace ever follow her for a change?

Their lives orbit on different courses, but gravity always seems to pull them back together…

Unless a blast from the past blows their chance to smithereens.

LIMITLESS is book 2 in the Less Than Zero Rockstar Romance Series.

Goodreads / Amazon

Now here's an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

“Please tell me there are beers here.” Without thinking, I ripped off my sweaty t-shirt and grabbed a replacement LTZ shirt out of my bag.

“Um, yeah. Over there.” Alex’s eyes were transfixed at my bare torso as she pointed toward the deck. 

“Great. Well, let’s go.” I gestured, flexing my biceps. She quickly looked away, embarrassed at being caught ogling me.

Externally, I kept a neutral face but internally I was secretly pleased that she liked what she saw. Having a hot, young woman like Alex find you attractive wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Even if I’d never do anything about it.

We headed toward the makeshift bar on the deck. I grabbed a Manny’s and she grabbed a Coke.

“Sucks that me and Zoey can’t drink in front of all of the parents.” Alex pouted. “God, I can’t wait to be twenty-one. Or to be somewhere it doesn’t matter.”

“Ah, it’s not all that different.” I laughed.

“How old are you?” Alex asked.

“Twenty-three.” I smiled. “Too old for you.” 

God, her eyes were the most amazing combination of blue with dark flecks. Her skin a smooth, caramel-colored tan with the slightest pink tinge on her cheeks. With only a hint of mascara and lip gloss, she was quite possibly the most naturally gorgeous woman I’d ever seen.  Girl.  Not that I’d ever, ever, ever do anything about it.

“True, you’re an old man.” Alex’s eyes crinkled when she laughed. “You’re practically retirement age.”

“Ha ha.” I grinned.

“So, Zoey and Ty have really hit it off.” Alex gestured over to where our friends were tangled together, giving each other googly eyes. “They’re a little over the top.”

“Ty’s never had a girlfriend before, so she must be pretty cool.” I knew how girls worked, especially best friends. I wasn’t going to give up any intel to Alex on my man Ty.

“Was that redhaired girl at the club your girlfriend?” Alex cocked her hip and pulled a long drink on her soda. I couldn’t help but watch her lips as she took a swallow of her Coke, thinking that she was more beautiful than the models who usually advertised the beverage. Again, not that I’d ever do anything about it.

“Um, no.” I raised an eyebrow at her.

“Hmmm.  She raised her eyebrow back at me.

“We’re leaving on tour for six months.” I sputtered.

“Uh huh.” She held my gaze.

“She’s not my girlfriend.” I huffed. “Now is not the time for a girlfriend.”

“I said the same thing to Zoey.” Alex looked at me directly. “She’s going to college in the fall, it seems a little irrational to get serious about a dude this summer.”

“Well, I like to tend my own garden. Ty can tend his.” I glanced around, not super interested in the way the conversation was heading.

“Fair enough.” Alex took the hint good-naturedly, absentmindedly playing with a few of the bangle bracelets on her wrist. “I’m not going to college, I want to travel the world. It’s pissing my dad off to no end.”

“Really? Where will you go?” I was genuinely surprised, figuring Zoey and Alex were attached at the hip.

“Everywhere! That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about. I figure if I can get a good following on Instagram, maybe I could even start funding my travel that way.” She gestured excitedly. “I know it will take a few months, but maybe you know some shortcuts or ways to get there faster.”

“Hmmm, well, I have a marketing degree but in real life I’m not an expert at all. It’s been a bit of trial and error with the LTZ account. Basically, it’s all about watching your analytics and seeing what is working and what isn’t and just doing more of what resonates.” I explained. 

“Well, it will be a piece of cake then,” Alex said sarcastically.

“Look, I can help you get started, I’ve discovered a few shortcuts.” I took another pull of my beer.

“Oh, for the love of God. Get a room,” Alex muttered when her attention was diverted to the show our friends were putting on.

Ty and Zoey were full-on making out in the middle of the backyard and everyone was trying to avert their eyes, which was nearly impossible. I started laughing. Clearly, they didn’t care at all who saw. Why should I?

“Well, Alex the adventuress?” I nudged her with my shoulder. “Are you gonna stare all night or should we figure out a way to make you famous?”

“Yes, please. I’ll need a project because I’m pretty sure that I won’t be seeing much of Zoey for the rest of the summer.” Alex laughed.

I couldn’t help but flash her a smile, hoping my dimples were on full display. Chicks dug my dimples.

“So, um, Jace, just so you know I don’t want to be another annoying Instagram model. No cheesy, posey, pouty stuff. I mean, I’ll do what I need to do, but I want to find a clever way to travel and also raise awareness about animal rights.” Alex said as we walked over to an open bench seat.

“Piece of cake.” I followed her. “No fish lips, only fish.”

Meet the Author

When she was only 15, Kaylene Winter wrote her first rocker romance novel starring a fictionalized version of herself, her friends and their gorgeous rocker boyfriends. After living her own rockstar life as a band manager, music promoter and mover and shaker in Seattle during the early 1990’s, Kaylene became a digital media legal strategist helping bring movies, television and music online. Throughout her busy career, Kaylene lost herself in romance novels across all genres inspiring her to realize her life-long dream to be a published author. She lives in Seattle with her amazing husband and dog. She loves to travel, throw lavish dinner parties and support charitable causes supporting arts and animals.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you ever had a fantasy about a rock star?

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Friday, October 16, 2020

The Black-Marketer’s Daughter by Suman Mallick

It’s my pleasure today to welcome a new-to-me author to Thoughts in Progress to tell us about his recent release, THE BLACK-MARKETER’S DAUGHTER.

Praised by the jury of the Disquiet Open Borders Book Prize as a “very complicated and compelling story,” Suman Mallick’s debut novel, THE BLACK-MARKETER’S DAUGHTER, explores how traditional Muslim family values clash with an American love affair, and ignite a political firestorm fueled by winds of anti-Muslim hysteria. 

The Black-Marketer’s Daughter
By Suman Mallick
*Publisher: Atmosphere Press
*Publish Date: Oct 13th, 2020
*Distribution: Ingram
*Paperback: $17.99
*ISBN-13: 9781648261541
*Page count: 166
*Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction

When a Muslim woman in an arranged marriage is discovered having an illicit affair, violent, fatal consequences ensue, which catapult her into the epicenter of a political firestorm fueled by anti-Muslim hysteria.


When Zuleikha arrives in Texas via arranged marriage from Pakistan, she soon realizes how different life in America is from the portrayals in the confiscated contraband books and movies her father trafficked in to pay for her education and dowry. Having trained as a pianist without ever owning a real piano, she finally has one—a wedding present from her husband. As Zuleikha learns to navigate her new role as a suburban middle-class housewife, she begins to feel diminished by her seemingly kind husband’s regular dismissal. She offers piano lessons to the neighborhood kids, and in doing so begins to find her identity and independence.


Everything changes when Patrick—the father of her young son’s friend—signs up for lessons himself. Zuleihka and Patrick grow closer, and Zuleihka finds herself in love for the first time. Zuleihka is caught between being a good Muslim wife and obedient daughter, and following her heart. Despite how careful she is, the affair is eventually discovered, leading to horrific violence with gruesome and fatal consequences. The ensuing circumstances catapult Zuleihka into the glare of the public eye in a foreign land, where she finds herself at the epicenter of a political firestorm fueled by winds of anti-Muslim hysteria, with different people seemingly using her situation to advance their own hidden agendas.


Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Suman so is graciously answering some questions about his book and writing. Welcome, Suman.


What inspired you to write this story?



The novel was inspired by an unpublished short story of mine, which itself was inspired when Malala Yousafzai was shot in a school bus for being an activist for female education in 2012. When Malala was shot, I found myself caring deeply for her, but just as much if not more about the untold stories of many other girls like her who suffer and sometimes die under very similar circumstances, but with nowhere near the same level of coverage or outrage. My initial short story was based on a girl like that; she was sharp but ultimately a bit hapless (as a pre-pubescent teen faced with a hopeless fate.) She tries to cope with her situation in a self-destructive way. But in the novel, that young girl has survived, and she is grown up, married, in the US, and dealing with new challenges in her life. I only started writing the novel itself while enrolled in my MFA program at Portland State University, in the winter of 2015, and finished it by the summer of 2016.


Your main character is a woman, how was it writing from a female perspective?



It was terrifying, challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding. I had an ambitious plan to do something totally different during my two years at the MFA: write in styles and from perspectives that were unlike my own, and also experiment with other forms in which I had no experience (like plays). This was the fourth of six stories with female protagonists that I wrote at that time… this one just happened to keep going and become long enough for a short novel.


But while writing it, over the course of a year I read about sixty books by women authors and with female protagonists, all the way from Alice Munro to Renata Adler to Lydia Davis, Willa Cather to Sue Kaufman to Elena Ferrante, younger writers like Téa Obreht, Jennifer Dubois, and of course the incredible Pakistani writer Bapsi Sidhwa (although I deliberately avoided reading The Pakistani Bride) until after I had written several drafts of my own novel, because I did not want to get any “ideas” from that book subconsciously seeping into my story. A lot of movies and shows were watched, a lot of friends consulted. Parts of the story were workshopped, and important feedback received. All that helped immensely, and at some point, I just got over this fear of “a man writing from a female perspective,” and realized I could do it, because I had done it.


What do you hope readers take away from reading your book?



A, that my book explores life as it often is: messy, and gray (as opposed to black and white), and B, that meaning can still be found of that messiness.


And finally, I think it’s especially applicable in these days of so much controversy about cultural appropriation: if a writer deeply cares about their subject, spends enough time exploring and learning what they don’t know and sets aside what they do, then yes, it is quite possible to write about the “other” (to borrow from Alex Chee’s famous essay) as it has always been.


What was your writing process like - a certain place to write, a certain time, quiet/music, etc.?



When working on this book, I wrote almost entirely during the day while at the university, in blocks of time set aside between teaching and attending my own seminars and workshops, preparing lessons and grading papers and completing assignments. At the university there was a MFA lounge with a gorgeous view and hardly anybody else ever used it, so I pretty much took it over. Occasionally, classes would take place there, and I’d walk over to the library or the quiet-study lounge areas to write. I do like to listen to music as part of the writing process, but only when taking a break or thinking of the next section, not when actually writing. And in those days I almost never wrote at night, because I like to read then.


What was your favorite thing about writing this book?



That’s easy: it’s what I learned when exploring and researching the things that the book is about, none of which is my area of expertise. As you can imagine, writing a novel from the point of view of a Pakistani woman who is a pianist and lives in America, encounters domestic violence, runs afoul of the mosque, and ends up in a legal quagmire, took a lot of research, because I’m neither Pakistani, nor a woman, nor a pianist, nor a lawyer, nor have experience with domestic violence, nor a religious scholar. I met incredible people in the course of my research and made friends with some of them, and that has got to be another favorite outcome of this process. The entire exercise was an opportunity to learn while also exploring my own creative abilities, and on those two counts this particular book is already a resounding success in my life.


Are you working on anything else at the moment?



Yes, I am always working on a couple of new projects, working one out on paper (the screen, really) while another brews in my brain. Although this year has been unusual to say the least. The pandemic and the political and economic crisis all have a direct impact on my day job, and that keeps me very busy, but on top of that getting this book out has taken a lot of work; time that I’d normally set aside to just write has been consumed by a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into publishing a book. But that said, I have a new story written during the pandemic that’s due out in The Gravity of the Thing this year, and another one almost completed, so I am happy about that.


Suman, thanks for stopping by today and sharing this insight into your writing. I think doing research for a book would be so interesting.


For those of you who are not familiar with Suman, here is a bit of background on him.


Suman Mallick received his MFA from Portland State University where he also taught in the English and Creative Writing departments. While his homes away from home include Calcutta, India and Portland, Oregon, Mallick currently resides in Texas with his beloved daughter and dog.


The Black-Marketer’s Daughter is Mallick’s debut novel and was shortlisted for the Disquiet Open Borders Book Prize.


Thanks so much for stopping by today. What are your thoughts on a man writing from a woman’s viewpoint and a woman writing from a man’s viewpoint?