Monday, February 11, 2019

Foiled … and So Much More

It’s my pleasure today to welcome a new-to-me author who writes Children’s Middle Grade Historical/Speculative novels.

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Jeff Bolinger – better known as Author Carey Fessler from Melbourne, Australia. Carey has published four Middle Grade Action/Suspense novels and is here to talk about this books and writing. While I don’t have children nor grandchildren, I still enjoy books for all ages.

Welcome Carey. Please tell us a bit about your writing and your latest released, FOILED.

Where do you get the ideas for a book?

Ideas can come from everywhere, which is why I’m open to trying new things. The more experiences I have in life the more I have to draw from to inspire my writing. Coming up with the seed for a scene (remember, a story is just a series of scenes you weave together) idea is easy for me. All I do is say these three words: “What happens if …? (I brain storm the worst-case scenario, then dig a bit deeper and drop my MCs into the hole) 

For example, the seed for my book Foiled came after my brother in-law had showed me his three photographs of a UFO near Roswell, New Mexico. As an author I didn’t care if the photos were real or not. I just asked myself, “What happens if … in 1947, two Roswell kids obtain a piece of alien technology and become fugitives?”

Once I complete a skeletal scene-by-scene story outline, only then do I begin the actual writing process and flesh out the story by creating a couple of engaging heroes that serve as catalysts and a formidable villain who cross paths, blocking each other’s goals, which creates plenty of opportunities for tension, suspense, and action.

Please tell us more about Foiled.

Foiled is a Middle Grade pacey, page-turning novel set in 1947, featuring the famed Roswell UFO crash incident near Roswell, New Mexico.

The title Foiled has three meanings:
1.  Foil: noun - referring to the ‘magic foil,’ (piece of thin metal sheet) in the story, which is a piece of alien technology from the crash site of a UFO. On the front cover, you can spot the girl holding it in her hand. ;)
2.  Foil: noun - The two MCs contrast each other and so emphasize and enhance the qualities of the other.
3.  Foil: verb - prevent (antagonists) from succeeding.

What exciting story are you working on next?

I’ve just finished the last book in my sea-island adventure trilogy:
Shanghaied: Escape from the Blackwolf
Shipwrecked: Dragon Island
Sea Raiders

How did you come about writing?

I first started writing short stories for my son when he was very young. I made him the MC of each story, which featured his favorite toys as sidekicks. The stories were an instant hit … with him anyway. That was enough to keep me at it.

When did you first consider yourself an author?

The first time I came out of the closet and told someone other than my wife.

Do you write full-time?


Then what's your work day like?

Up at dawn, walk the dog, eat brekky, and write (from a small simple Ikea desk, which overlooks our leafy street) until noonish. Walk the dog, eat lunch, re-write/revise the previous day’s work until around 3pm’ish. Walk the dog, do errands, housework and make supper. Binge on Netflix. Fun read an hour before bedtime. (I like Clive Cussler). Rinse and repeat.

Fun related 😊:

I write while listening to either Classical or New Age music. Yes, I love Mozart and Enya.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An oceanographer. Probably from watching so much Jacques Cousteau on TV. Later, I took scuba diving lessons in college and then joined the Navy, serving on board nuclear submarines, so I came close-kinda.

Best piece of writing advice:

Anne Rice- The Vampire Chronicles. “Go where the pain/pleasure is.”

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

- I use the pen name Carey Fessler to honor the two people who encouraged me to read as a kid — my grandparents: My G’ma’s maiden name is Carey and my G’pa’s last name is Fessler … Carey Fessler worked perfectly.

- In my book Shanghaied: Escape from the Blackwolf, Scott wants to tell a lie to get aboard the submarine. In Foiled, Kate wants to help Billy hide from the authorities. Life is all about making choices: good vs bad. Sometimes people make a bad choice for a good reason. Either way, experience is a good teacher. Adults are constantly telling children what they can and can’t do. In Foiled, I set out to write a story about an eleven-year-old stumbling over endless physical and mental pits, picking herself up, and pushing herself on to discover for herself what she can do. I also wanted to ask, “Would an eleven-year-old stop at the established limits set by the grown-up world to save her friend and family, or would she break those limits?”
- One thing I like to do as an author is name a minor character after a person who has helped me by being a test reader. I do this as a way of saying ‘Thanks.’ Plus, people think it’s cool to have a character in a book with their namesake. Ex: In Shanghaied I named Golsh after a friend who read an early draft of the story and gave me some useful feedback. I find sharing my work with others is a great way to improve my writing.

- I write my stories because they’re the kind of books that I would’ve wanted to read when I was a kid. The fact that other people—ages 9 to 99—enjoy reading my stories is a bonus.

- Talent is nice to have, but I relied more on practice and determination to achieve my dream, which was to write a book. When you’re passionate about something, it never feels like work. Dreams do come true, so don’t give up on yours.

- I’m hoping to turn kids onto reading by sparking their imagination.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is intelligence having fun.”

- Never underestimate how important you are to a book as a reader. Without the reader, the words are just ink marks on paper. Your imagination brings the story to life.

Carey, thanks so much for joining us and sharing this insight into your writing. I love how you came about your pen name. It’s a great way to honor your grandparents. You can find Carey’s books HERE.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Carey, here’s a bit of background on him in his own words.

Author Carey Fessler
I grew up in a military family and moved around more often than a gypsy. My favorite smell is green, favorite flavor is mist, and favorite day of the week is Funday. I wonder if fish wish they could wink, and trees wish they could walk. I think it’s bizarre that your belly button harbors more bacteria than there are birds in Borneo. I believe biographies are boring and think it’s fun to speak in silly-sounding sentences with wacky words that start with the same letters. Finally, I believe in exercising your imagination and secretly staying up past your bedtime. 

Find out more about Carey and his writing on his website.

Now here’s a synopsis of FOILED.

          Twelve-year-old Kate lives with her mother on the U.S. Army base near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. One night, just as Kate’s friend Billy shows her strange pieces of foil that his dad retrieved from the wreckage of what may have been an alien spacecraft, a CIA agent arrives at Billy’s house and informs his family of their reassignment to Germany. The agent demands the return of the foil. Billy, not wanting to move to Germany or return his treasures, begs Kate for help. Feisty and fiercely loyal, Kate agrees to help him find a place to hide. 
The two friends use their wits, their knowledge of the terrain and geography around the base, and sheer determination to evade capture.
            Hiding under the moonlit shadows at a gas station on the outskirts of town, Kate telephones her mother back on the Army base hospital, where she works as a nurse, to tell her of the drama and warn her of the death threat the CIA agent made against the family. Ignoring her mother’s order for the two children to come to the hospital, Kate is determined to warn her grandfather about the threat, too, since his has no telephone. Together, Kate and Billy strike off to reach him, more than two hundred miles away.
            Thus begins a cross-state adventure in which along the way, the two friends discover the foil has a mysterious power that’s… not of their world.
            Late that evening, disaster erupts into a fiery explosion when a diversion goes horribly wrong, at the gas station, as Kate and Billy sneak into the bed of a pickup truck that is heading out of town. When Kate discovers that their ride is traveling in the wrong direction, they attempt to stop the moving truck, which leaves Billy hanging on for his life, and the driver abandoning them out in the middle of nowhere.
            After they hitchhike a ride to the nearest town, Kate is torn between telling lies and reaching her grandfather to warn him of the threat by Special Agent Falco. With family coming before conscious, opportunity allows her to steal the car in a demolition derby-like get away, where she hopes a couple of driving lessons she’s had behind the wheel of her grandpa’s old jalopy truck will be enough to get the two friends to their destination—alive.
            At an all-night roadside diner, a cryptic phone call with her mother sends Kate spiraling into more worry. An encounter with a suspicious waitress leads to the arrival of a state trooper. Using the magic of the alien foil, which sometimes allows Kate to read minds, she is able to create another chance for escape. However, soon a second state trooper cruiser pulls into the diner parking lot followed by a car driven by Falco. Kate and Billy slip out a back window, abandon their stolen car, and thumb a ride with a friendly trucker that is short lived when they spot what appears to be a police roadblock on the bridge, leaving town. They exit the eighteen-wheeler, ghost back into the dawn darkness, and make the next leg of their journey, travelling down river by borrowing a small leaky boat.
            After escaping the venomous fangs of a rattlesnake, they plod across the burning sands of a mesa to arrive exhausted at Kate’s grandpa’s house—but can’t find Grandpa—anywhere. 
            Her Grandpa Clyde stirs Kate awake and she quickly retells the drama leading up to the present. But before the threesome can take flight, a deputy arrives at the property to take Kate and Billy into custody. Pushed closer to her breaking point, at what appears to be a trip all for nothing, Kate takes extreme action and pulls out a loaded rifle on the deputy, allowing Grandpa Clyde to secure him out of harm’s way. This bold action allows them to escape in the Piper Cub, her grandpa’s small, light aircraft.
            During a fuel stop in Albuquerque, Kate is unable to reach her mother by telephone and fears that Falco has made good on his threat. Using the magic of the alien foil, she discovers the man driving the refueling tanker is planning to stall them long enough for the law to show up. Kate’s quick thinking allows them to make a hasty departure, which is intercepted by the arrival of two speeding state trooper cruisers and flying bullets.
            Grandpa Clyde lands outside an Indian reservation to seek safety and overnight refuge from an old friend. The jewelry craftsman makes a special pendant for Kate, which has a secret compartment to hide the alien foil from unwanted eyes. The next morning, when Billy becomes too homesick and wants to return to his parents in Roswell, Grandpa Clyde drops him off at the nearby airport outside Santa Fe, where Kate must say goodbye to her best friend. 
            Soon after departing the airport, an Army helicopter intercepts the Piper Cub and tries to force them to land in the desert. Kate reaches her limits, fights back, and downs the helicopter with a surprise and inventive attack.
            Their victory celebration is cut short when Grandpa Clyde suffers a stroke and is unable to fly the plane. Kate is forced to take over the controls and must land the plane in nearby Santa Fe … to save her grandpa’s life.
            With only a few hours of flying experience under her belt, Kate crash-lands next to a park plaza in the center of town. Unable to pull Grandpa Clyde from the wreckage, and with the smell of leaking fuel, Kate refuses to abandon her grandpa. When she’s just about to give up all hope, a stranger from the nearby crowd hauls her grandpa to safety. Only when Kate sees Grandpa Clyde being trolleyed to the ambulance, does she melt into the growing crowd of on lookers and slip away.
            From a nearby post office, Kate follows her grandpa’s instructions, and calls another one of his trusted friends, who drives into town to rendezvous and rescue her. Days later, after Grandpa Clyde’s recovers enough to be discharged from the hospital, he secretly joins Kate where they decide to remain living on a ranch until her mother finds a civilian job so she can resign her commission from the Army, allowing them to start a new life beyond the tendrils of the CIA.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy reading books that are “technically” written for people younger than yourself?


  1. I refuse to be limited by genre or age group. And benefit.
    Love that Albert Einstein quote.
    Congratulations for following your dream Carey - and I love your naming conventions. Immortalising your beta readers is way cool.

  2. Lots of good walks for the dog in there! I feel like that helps with creativity and inspiration, too! Looks like a fun book. :)

  3. I give a lot of credit to any author who interests young people in reading. And the story sounds engaging! Wishing you lots of success.

  4. Congratulations, Carey. You did come close with that career choice. Thanks for your service.

  5. Carey, thanks for sharing your story with us. Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by.

  6. It’s morning here in the Land Down Under and I want to thank everyone for the kinds words.

    EC, Bravo Zulu (well done) for following your heart and interest when it comes to reading genres. And yes, my betas love the bragging rights that go with being immortalized in my books.

    Elizabeth, yes, after spending so much time in front of a screen walking the dogs does help recharge the batteries and get the creative juices flowing.

    Margot, I especially target those young reluctant readers, mostly boys. No guess what the competition is … computer games (sigh)

    Alex, thank you, sir.

    Mason, thank you so much for inviting me to your great blog for this interview. Much appreciated and very grateful.

    Time to walk the dog. ;)

  7. Foiled sounds like a great book! Interesting how you came up with your pen name.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.