Interview with Dan Newman, author of The Clearing



A couple weeks ago I read and reviewed Dan Newman’s book, The Clearing and I loved it! I also had the pleasure of interviewing him and here it is:

Hello Dan. I know that’s it’s been a bit of a struggle to get to this point and I want to congratulate you on The Clearing being published. You are an incredible story teller and I am so glad for you to have reached your goal of being published. I have a few questions for you and they are: 
Q:When and why did you begin writing? 

A: Hi Elizabeth, and thanks for saying such kind things! 
I think I’ve been writing in some capacity since I was about 8. I remember creating stories as comic book panels and becoming increasingly frustrated at my lack of ability to get the drawing to match the action in my head. But as far as novels go, I began about sixteen years ago, sitting down to bang out the first draft of a novel called The Cull after my father got sick of me saying that I would like to write a novel one day. I think his words were: if you want to write a book, write a bloody book! So I sat down and went at it. I still love that first one, deeply flawed as it is.

Q:  In a previous interview you’ve mentioned that the Bolom is absolutely real to you. I do not doubt that, but I’m curious if you’ve ever seen one?

A: The lore surrounding the Bolom dictates that unless you are the master of one of the great estates, you can’t see him – only the master can. So I’ve never seen one. However, I did spend time at one of these estates, and in the small hours – in that very black part of the night – something did come through the house. I heard it. I listened to it tear through the attic. So for the eleven year old me, the Bolom is very real.

Q:  Experiences from your childhood have worked their way into The Clearing, was there any parts that were emotionally difficult to write?

A: I’m not sure I’d classify it as emotionally difficult, but for parts of the story I did need to get myself right back into the headspace I occupied as a real kid, looking up at the ceiling in a very creepy old house and imagining some vicious, foul-smelling creature skulking around above me. It was important to scare myself a little, to get the hairs on the back of my neck up so I could remember the little details. And I was a quite surprised at how available that memory was. But that’s fear for you. It sears itself in deeply. Still, memory is a strange thing: it amplifies some elements and plays down others. Like the whole sound of the nutmegs rolling; that was the single most frightening thing I remember, but it was probably just a small by-product of whatever was moving through it.

Q:  Tell us about the cover and how it came about.

A: As a first timer, I have to say that watching the cover come to life was one of the most exciting parts of the whole process. That first draft, that first glimpse of your very own title; let’s just say your smiling muscles begin to hurt after the first few hours.
My publisher, Exhibit A, was incredibly collaborative on this, and my understanding is that not all publishers are. Before the first concept was designed they asked for my input; how I felt it should feel thematically, what imagery I’d imagine would be part of it – that kind of thing. It was really great to have a voice. My input really consisted of saying I felt it needed to be dark – that black should be the dominant shade – and that the title font should feel senescent, falling apart. Then I left it to them. They came back with two amazing concepts, and whoever briefed the artist really understood the story, and got the mood bang on. There were a few suggested changes – a key one from my brilliant agent, Carrie Pestritto, to make the light emanate from the hand of the figure as opposed to coming from behind it – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Q: What I took away from your book is that the past is the past. It is done, you can’t change it, so you’d better start accepting it. Also, I formed a new before bed habit of making sure along with the door, that all the windows are locked. *Snicker* Was there an additional message you wanted readers to receive?

A: Please forgive me but I’m glad I was able to creep you out! You’re absolutely right, the book deals with our personal histories – the past is there, sit on it if you like, but it won’t stay quiet unless you deal with it.
One of the things I hope readers consider is what the Bolom represents– beyond simply being a disturbing supernatural element of the story. For me, the Bolom is childhood lost, and even for those among us who had the most blissful, idyllic childhoods, there’s always something dark there, something we lost along the way that exists all on its own, back there, in the dark forests and clearings of our pasts. 

Something to think about.
Thanks again for letting me stop by, Elizabeth!
Dan Newman

Thanks again, Dan!


Shadow Tag by Marjorie Swift Doering



Shadow Tag by Marjorie Swift Davis

Published August 8th 2013 by CreateSpace

Pages: 258

Summary: Detective Ray Schiller is back in the second book of the series and he’s investigating the murder of Paul Davis, which was included in the first book, Dear Crossing. Paul Davis is a top ACC executive about to be named President when he’s found in the board room with a .38 snub nose revolver in his hand and a gaping hole in his head. Suicide, right? Ray Schiller thinks different. Ray and his partner, Dick Waverly are on the case!

My Thoughts: Shadow Tag is the second police procedural in the  Ray Schiller series. In this book, we revisit the “suicide” of Paul Davis that was briefly touched upon in the first book, Dear Crossing. I enjoyed this book more than I did Dear Crossing. 

I enjoyed how the story unfolded. There is so much to discover in this book and I found it all very interesting. As did the first, this book kept me guessing! I had absolutely no clue what was coming and that was great.

This book felt real and more believable than the first and I enjoyed that aspect. 

I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about Ray after the first book, but after this book I definitely like his character. He now feels more genuine and I enjoyed the connection he has with his partner. 

I loved the ending to this book. My heart rate increased, it was intense, and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen. A really really good ending, very enjoyable. 

I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. There are some real good twists! I recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. 

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5.

Dear Crossing by Marjorie Swift Doering



Dear Crossing by Marjorie Swift Doering

Self-Published: April 8th, 2012

Pages: 277

Summary: The gruesome murder of a Minneapolis woman at her lakeside summer home shatters the peace of small town Widmer, Minnesota. Ray Schiller, a man with private demons of his own, follows the trail of evidence to Minneapolis where he teams up to investigate the murder with Homicide Detective, Dick Waverly. The scrutiny of the widower’s carefully guarded personal life threatens to ruin the executive’s bid for his father-in-law’s company. Ambition, greed, love and hate result in startling consequences, which threaten to stall the investigation while an unthinkable incident makes Ray the focus of a harrowing Internal Affairs investigation. His shaky marriage and law-enforcement career rest in the balanace. Meanwhile, Ray discovers the significance of several seemingly unrelated events, which turn the murder case on its head.

My Thoughts: If this book could be classified as only one genre, it would definitely be Mystery. It started off with the one big who-did-it question, but so much happened in the book, and I had so many questions! 

The story felt a bit slow to get going, but stick with it, because it climbs into a good story. Usually when I read a mystery, I get a pretty good idea of who the culprit is, but this story had me guessing until the very end.  If you guess who it is halfway through the book, it just doesn’t seem fun, so I liked the unpredictability of this story.

There were times throughout the story that I had to stop and say, “Whoa. What?”.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just some of the story line seemed a bit far fetched.   

I would recommend this book to you if you like mysteries. I enjoyed it and I hope you will too. Dear Crossing ended with a cliff hanger, so I’m very eager to start reading the second of the series, Shadow Tag.

Goodreads Rating: 3/5.

Up Next: Shadow Tag by Marjorie Swift Doering

Chainsaw Jane by Marie-Jo Fortis



Chainsaw Jane by Marie-Jo Fortis

Published: March 4th 2013

Pages: 297

Summary: When Dorothea Sishy disappears, the NYPD turns to Chainsaw Jane for help. Jane reads her tarrot cards and reads that Dorothea is not missing, but is in fact deceased. The NYPD asked where they could find the body and Jane gave them several locations as the body had been dismembered. The case turns urgent when Jane’s best friend, Cruz goes missing. It’s evident that the events are linked and the NYPD and Jane must work fast if they want to save Cruz’ life.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed how this book took a new spin on the murder mystery genre. I’ve never read or heard of a book like this and it was nicely done. Detectives turn to a psychic medium. That’s very creative. 

I also really enjoyed the character, Jane. She’s so different from any character I’ve read about before. She’s an old Russian who drinks vodka like water, smokes like a chimney, and curses profusely. She’s an old, rough, stubborn, psychic and I really enjoyed her character.

This story is a real page turner and does not disappoint. The only thing I would have liked to see was more mystery. As the reader, I felt a bit too informed. 

If you like murder mysteries, I definitely recommend you read this. It’s a unique story that I enjoyed. 

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars.

The Clearing by Dan Newman



The Clearing by Dan Newman

Published: October 29th 2013 by Exhibit A

Pages: 312

Summary: Ever have a traumatic experience as a child? Nate has and it’s the nightmare that has stuck with him. In 1976, four boys walked in to the jungle and only three walked out. Thirty years later, the truth is finally coming out. 

My Thoughts: This is not a book you want to miss out on! You’ll be hooked from the very first line! 

The moment you start reading, you are right there with those boys in the jungle and it is intense. It’s quite an intriguing story and that alone will hook you. I certainly was hooked and so eager to learn how this would play out. 

The characters feel so genuine! They feel like people more than characters. I liked Nate the best and was glad the story followed him.

This book will keep you guessing! The majority of this book, I couldn’t figure out where it was going. I thought it was this, and then that, and then I would be completely thrown. It was such a joyous ride. Towards the end, there is one little clue that gave it away. Don’t fret though, it doesn’t take away from the intrigue!

I don’t want to say much because I don’t want to chance spoiling anything. I recommend to fans of thriller and mystery genres! It certainly has made my Top 10 Best Books of 2013, which I’ll post at the end of December. Read this book, you will not be sorry!

Goodreads Rating: 5/5