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Friday, March 06, 2009

Spotlight on Adam Blumer and Fatal Illusions

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ADAM BLUMER lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia. He works full-time as a freelance writer and editor. A print journalism graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC), he served in editorial roles for fourteen years at Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI) and Awana Clubs International Headquarters (Streamwood, IL). He has published numerous short stories and articles. Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI) plans to release his first novel, Fatal Illusions, on March 31, 2009.

FATAL ILLUSIONS
by Adam Blumer
Published by Kregel

ABOUT THE BOOK

Gillian Thayer's calligraphy business helps to keep her mind off two small headstones in the cemetery. Still healing from the death of her twins during birth, Gillian absorbs another emotional blow when she finds a love letter addressed to her husband Marc, a pastor and counselor. But before Gillian can confront him, a gunshot shatters her already fragile world. Gillian's family is forced to leave Chicago to escape the eye of the media. Together they seek refuge in Whistler's Point, a historic lighthouse on Lake Superior near the tiny town of Newberry, Michigan. But they are not the only new arrivals looking for a place to lay low. Haydon Owens, an amateur magician and accomplished killer, has also come to Newberry hoping to start a new life, but he isn't there long before he spots another potential victim.

Buy Your Copy of Fatal Illusions today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Frank Peretti's earliest supernatural thrillers taught me that Christian novels can do more than entertain. I wanted to write something not only suspenseful but also meaningful. My prayer is that the message will resonate with readers and maybe even challenge their spiritual thinking a little bit.

The novels of Mary Higgins Clark also inspired me. I studied the organization and plot lines of her novels and wondering if I could write something as good. I also like her shifting points of view and her short, numerous chapters. (Readers might notice a resemblance.) Her novel You Belong to Me especially inspired me to try my own hand at a serial killer, "female in jeopardy" suspense tale. Because most Christian readers are women, I decided to make my main protagonist female—in fact, a pastor's wife, a protagonist you don't read about very often. Add to that my love of true crime and forensic science, and I was on my way.

A past experience also provided a creative springboard. A church voted to remove from membership a believer who was sincerely repentant of immorality. I began to play the "what if" game in my mind. What if the person who was disciplined got really ticked? What if he or she became mad enough to kill? I thought a church discipline scenario created an unusual motive for murder—hence one of the subplots in Fatal Illusions. I also read Ruth Brandon's The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini. This biography of the famous illusionist fascinated me and helped me develop the characterization of my serial killer. In fact, readers will discover an important plot clue connected to Houdini.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

To some degree, my life experiences are always going to factor into how I create my characters. I made a special effort not to make the main protagonists just like me, though there are a few similarities. My female lead, Gillian Thayer, for example, works a part-time job as a calligrapher. In high school, I dabbled in calligraphy and won a few small awards. Gillian also loves solo piano music and Earl Grey tea—two of my favorite things. I'm also melancholy like Gillian. On the other hand, Gillian's pastor husband, Marc, isn't at all like me. He's an aggressive extrovert and natural speaker who played professional basketball for the Chicago Bull’s before God used a car accident to save his soul and change his life. I don't play a lick of basketball and know next to nothing about professional basketball, so I had some research to do.

Several traits belong only to my characters. Gillian has a habit of tracing imaginary calligraphy letters with her finger when she's tense. Marc struggles with a basketball addiction, but refrains from playing the sport due to anger issues. His daughter, Crystal, has been taking voice lessons since she was six and gets the lead role in a small-town musical. My serial killer, who enjoys listening to Broadway musical soundtracks, drives his fingernails into his palms when he's enraged. Chuck Riley, the retired homicide detective who helps the Thayers catch the killer, is addicted to Juicy Fruit gum.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Because Gillian is an artistic, literary type who scripts famous poems and quotations in calligraphy, she would be a classic, refined flavor like orange sherbet or French vanilla. She wouldn't be chocolate ice cream because she's allergic to chocolate. If there's such a thing as Earl Grey-flavored ice cream, that would fit her nicely. Because of his professional basketball background, Marc would be a bold, sporty flavor—maybe coffee, Mackinac fudge, or mint chocolate chip. If there's such a thing as Juicy Fruit-flavored ice cream, that would be Chuck Riley. Mocha latte-flavored ice cream would fit Chuck, too.

4. Are there any themes in Fatal Illusions that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

Mainly I probe the themes of secrets and deception (or "illusions" as my title suggests, though on a secondary level). As believers, how do we lie to ourselves and to others? Do we try to hide who we really are inside? What happens if we try to live a lie? Should spouses ever keep secrets from one another? What can happen if they do? I also encourage readers to think about how they would protect their families if they faced the same type of evil the Thayer family must confront. (My serial killer cyber-stalks his victims weeks before he makes his move.) Many of the novel's themes are areas I've had to work through in my own thinking. When life doesn't make sense, how do I respond? Do I trust God, even when His ways are difficult to understand?

One minor character, Stacey James, developed in unexpected ways during revisions. She's obsessed with Marc Thayer, a married man, and can't seem to let him go. At one point in the story, she recalls that her own father, a pastor, abandoned his family and the ministry for another woman. God opens her eyes to the fact that by pursuing Marc she is essentially repeating the past and taking on the role of this "other woman." But with God's help she can break the cycle and walk away. In many ways, all of us have past experiences that can lead us down the wrong path if we let them. This theme naturally emerged as the novel evolved toward its final form.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Like a Mary Higgins Clark novel, I chose a female protagonist. I believe this was the right choice, but it created challenges in making Gillian a three-dimensional character who doesn't think like me. Among several issues, she struggles with private grief and needs a godly female mentor in her life. Describing her struggles as a woman with unique emotional needs and insecurities was often challenging. Entering the killer's head was also sometimes difficult because of the darkness he had welcomed into his soul. Hands down, my favorite parts to write were the creepy cat-and-mouse scenes at Whistler's Point, a historic lighthouse where the Thayers live. When a snow storm cuts off the power, Gillian find herself being hunted by the killer in the dark without a weapon and miles from help. I loved writing that part.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

I work on the sequel, tentatively called Plagues, after my day job as a freelance editor. I can't say for sure when the novel will be coming out. I'll just work on it as the Lord leads and leave the rest in His hands. Readers may not realize that publication of a second novel often depends on how well the first novel does first.

In Plagues, the main characters from Fatal Illusions are reunited, this time at a Christian conference center in Michigan's north woods, which is where all novels in my hoped-for series will be set. Marc and Gillian Thayer think they are getting away for some much-needed R&R, but protestors with placards and bullhorns shatter the otherwise-peaceful surroundings. A Bible translation committee is holding its regional meeting, and a mob is protesting the committee's efforts to create a new controversial parallel Bible. While the protestors call down God's wrath, an apparent plague of blood strikes the facility. Is God displeased with the committee? Are the protestors somehow to blame? When a committee member turns up dead in a pile of frogs, Marc and Gillian put their vacation on hold, enlist the help of retired homicide detective Chuck Riley, and take a closer look at the bizarre plagues as they escalate in intensity. Mix in a true-but-fictionalized account of a mine disaster and an autistic boy who can apparently see the future, and you've got the gist.

I'm having fun planning and writing the sequel's twists and turns, and I hope readers will enjoy reading it, too.

Thanks, Tiff, for giving me the first interview of my hopefully long writing career.

* * * * *

Thank you, Adam, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Fatal Illusions.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love the themes that are running through Fatal Illusions. Communication is a first in marriage--no secrets. Sounds like a great thriller. Count me in the contest.

desertrose5173[at]gmail[dot]com

Thanks!!!

Carolyn said...

I love lighthouses, so your setting has already got my attention. I would like to know how long it took you to write this first novel. Please include me in your contest.

Carolyn said...

Sorry! I forgot to leave my email address: tassel9@bellsouth.net

windycindy said...

This is my kind of book! The various characters and story lines interest me. A good suspense book is a favorite of mine. Please enter me in your fabulous book giveaway drawing.
Many thanks, Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

mez said...

Whoa, this sounds exciting! Please include me, thanks.
worthy2bpraised{at}gmail{dot}com

mindy said...

sounds like an amazing book thanks for the giveaway minsthins(at)optonline(dot)net

techyone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
techyone said...

I love the interview, the book sounds great. I love Mary Higgins Clark and am interested in reading this one to see the similarities.

techyone at gmail dot com

ljsfunone said...

Great giveaway -- Please enter me. This sounds like a book I would truly enjoy. I plan on picking this book up (assuming I don't win a copy..LOL). Thanks for the giveaway!

BUSY BEE said...

Enter me please. Sounds like a great book!

whitten100@yahoo dot com

John said...

I really look forward to reading Adam's first book. As a fellow Christian, it's great to read purposeful fiction. May God give you many great books, Adam!

John Haynes
marfotic (at) gmail (dot) com

Addy said...

Looking forward to reading the book!

forrests(at)charter(dot)net

Chief Curtman said...

Having known Adam as a young teen, I am anxious to read this product of his godly imagination! I am especially anxious to delve into the character of Chuck Riley!

Alicia Vauters said...

Earl Grey ice cream - delicious. Can't wait to read this.

Rick Barry said...

I've been looking forward to this book by Adam Blumer for quite a while. I've been following the blogs and rejoiced when the publication date was announced. Hope to see more books soon, Adam!

Sarah said...

Sound like a great read...I'd have to set aside a few hours of uninterrupted reading time because I might not want to put it down! :)

yours.trewly@gmail.com

marlene said...

I have been eagerly anticipating the release of Adam Blumer's book. As a thriller/suspense novel fan, this book being Christian based makes it even more exciting for me. Great job Adam!

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Adam, I can't wait to be able to read your book. Looks and sounds great. Your interview makes me want to read it now, but I'll read it soon enough. The sequel sounds interesting as well. Keep up the good work! Count me in on the drawing!

Lisa said...

As a huge fan of mysteries, I have been looking forward to reading this book. Knowing the influence of Mary Higgins Clark stories (she's one of my favorite authors!)only adds to the anticipation. Add to that a Christian viewpoint and you have the recipe for a great read. Can't wait!!
lpblumer@yahoo.com

carissa said...

This sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it...just hope I win it :)
jewelbelford@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I am really looking forward to this book. Enter me to win!!!
Thank you,
Judith Rivard

judyrivard@hotmail.com

adeline35 said...

Wow! I look forward to reading this book, I believe it will be a great inspiration to many people. It is nice to know that there are still good Christian writers out there, who are willing to stay true to their faith. God Bless!

adeline35(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Tim, Kristen & Megan said...

Sounds like a very interesting book!

K_Varner10@yahoo.com

Ross said...

Earl Grey ice cream...that actually sounds pretty good.

ro.olson@gmail.com

Lady Roxi said...

Love to have this.

Thanks,

darkfyre1(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

So excited about the fact that you are an author! Can't wait to read the book, it sounds so interesting. Definitely want in on the contest! Dawn dcurell@nbbc.edu

Anonymous said...

cannot wait to read this book! definitely enter me in the contest :)
jessica.stauff@nbbc.edu

Frank Sansone said...

Looking forward to reading this book. It sounds very interesting. Please enter me, as well.

fcsansone at gmail.com

Adam Blumer said...

Thank you to so many who have responded to my interview. Someone asked how long it took me to write the novel. I began writing the novel through a Writer's Digest novel correspondence course in 2002 and found my publisher in 2007. The actual writing, though, probably took between three to four years--lots of evenings and weekends after my regular day job. Then I began approaching agents and publishing houses, and the manuscript sat and went nowhere while I waited. For more about how God opened the door for me, visit my Web site at http://www.adamblumerbooks.com and check out my FAQ pages.

LORDs_diakonos said...

Sounds great Adam. I know you have wanted to write/publish fiction for some time now. Glad to see God has opened the door.

tabitha said...

Sounds liek a good exciting book to read my kids are looking into it as well. Ostermann

Anonymous said...

Adam, enjoyed reading the interview and learning about you. It was books by Mary Higgins Clark that started me on mysteries! Will look forward to this book and pray there will be many more. That's the way Nicholas Sparks started. I have also been praying for your Dad and thrilled with the way things are going.

dorway55@yahoo.com

Adam Blumer said...

Someone mentioned that her kids are interested in the book. I must caution everyone that the novel wasn't written for kids. It was written for adults and has adult themes. By that, I mean there's a married couple who struggle with trust and marital issues (think "Fireproof"). This is also a novel about a serial killer who strangles young women. I was careful in depicting the violence, but the evil is there nonetheless. So I'd hesitate before giving the novel to kids. Some of the subject matter also includes Internet stalkers, and I'd hate to give kids nightmares. Just wanted to give a word of caution. You know your kids better than I do, so it's up to you, but I'd feel remiss not to say something.

Hairgrove Hangout said...

Adam - This interview was very interesting. I loved the 'Earl Grey' duet between you and Gillian. Very cool. I am very anxious to read the 'cat and mouse' type of anxiety you wrote surrounding the lighthouse. Congratulations.

Matthew L. Pilch said...

I can't wait to read this, Adam - sounds exciting! I'm glad to see that you're finally getting to do a little of what you have been wanting to!!

Karis said...

I love to read, but I can't even remember the last time I read (an adult book) for fun -- reading to my girls is fun but not the same. Looking forward to the book coming out. I will buy one and have someone bring it out to me when they visit us. This story line sounds intriguing to me and to read for something beyond "entertainment" is a plus for sure.

danandkaris@gmail.com

MOMFOREVERANDEVER said...

love to read this one- hard to read adult books latelyu- we have reading time and I end up reading in a circle to all

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Wow! 38 comments. That might be a record...even when subtracting Adam's remarks and replies. :)

In any event, we have a winner from this drawing and that is:

KARIS!

Congratulations! I have emailed you for your mailing information so Adam can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.