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Monday, July 21, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - James Scott Bell and Try Darkness

I'll never forget when I first 'met' Jim Bell. It was just last year at the ACFW Conference in Dallas. He had been invited as our keynote speaker, and I (along with a good friend) was coordinating the conference bookstore. The day before the conference, we bustled about setting up the tables, the books, the displays and establishing the overall layout. For Jim, we had a spotlight section right up front for his books. As we stacked and featured them, a man walks into the bookstore and says:

"I hear this guy's an awesome writer. And he's a great guy too."

I turned around and recognized Jim from his picture, smiled and said, "Well, you should know, seeing how close the two of you are to each other." :)

And that set the stage for the rest of the conference. A memorable time had by all. You'd almost never believe the plots and situations he crafts in his masterful legal thrillers. If you or someone you know enjoys these types of books, you won't want to miss Jim's latest.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Try Darkness
(Center Street - July 30, 2008)
by James Scott Bell


James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He has also been the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles. His first Buchanan thriller, TRY DYING, was released to high critical praise, while his book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today.

by James Scott Bell
Published by Center Street


Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica's, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancée and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding. Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the underrepresented from his "office" at local coffee bar The Freudian Sip. With his new friends, the philosophizing Father Bob and basketball-playing Sister Mary Veritas, Buchanan has found a new family of sorts.

One of his first clients is a mysterious woman who arrives with her six-year-old daughter. They are being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest that Ty soon discovers is represented by his old law firm and his former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won't back down. He’s going to fight for the woman's rights.

But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm.

The trail leads Buchanan through the sordid underbelly of the city and to the mansions and yachts of the rich and famous. No one is anxious to talk.

But somebody wants Buchanan to shut up. For good.

Now he must use every legal and physical edge he knows to keep himself and the girl alive.

Once again evoking the neo-noir setting of contemporary Los Angeles, Bell delivers another thriller where darkness falls and the suspense never rests.

If you would like to read the first two chapters, go HERE.

"Bell has created in Buchanan an appealing and series-worthy protagonist, and the tale equally balances action and drama, motion and emotion. Readers who pride themselves on figuring out the answers before an author reveals them are in for a surprise, too: Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists."

"Engaging whodunit series kickoff...Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development."
—Publishers Weekly

"James Scott Bell has written himself into a niche that traditionally has been reserved for the likes of Raymond Chandler."
—Los Angeles Times

"A master of suspense."
—Library Journal

"One of the best writers out there, bar none."
—In the Library Review

Order your copy today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Like a lot of my ideas, it came by way of a random news item I read. Several years ago, a man shot his wife in South L.A., then drove to a freeway overpass, shot himself, and fell a hundred feet to the freeway below, hitting a car and killing the driver. My writer's mind kept thinking, what an opening. Now all I had to do was construct a plot to go with it. So I did.

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

Maybe it's more what drives me. Novelist David Morrell once said he writes according to his "inner ferret," the thing that gnaws at him. He can't write a book just "by the numbers," and neither can I. It has to be about something inside me.

Of course, my experience as a lawyer has a significant part to play in the plots.

One of the nice things about doing a series like this is that I can have my character do things I would never do, but maybe would have liked to. Like getting fed up with another lawyer and doing a tap dance on his conference table. Stuff like that.

3. What themes exist in Try Darkness that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

All my books seem to have a thread about fighting for justice in a dark world. Is it possible to get it? How? What do you have to give up? What part of you might die as a result?

I let the characters and story develop naturally, but it always seems to revolve around this.

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

Often, as I'm writing, a twist or turn will occur to me that I didn't plan. Or, a character may decide to do something quite against my wishes. Usually that's a good thing. Then the difficulty is making sure that's all layered in naturally in the story so far, and the story to come.

I love writing about the interplay between Ty Buchanan, my lead character, and the basketball playing nun, Sister Mary Veritas. That's really fun. Maybe the same way Hammett felt when he wrote Nick and Nora.

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

Deceived (Zondervan) will be out in early 2009. That's the story about a woman who makes a very bad choice, and tries to run from it, and what it does to her as a result.

* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Try Darkness.

** If you have any questions for Jim, leave them in the comments. He might just pop in this next week and have a little chat with you. :)

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

Make sure you leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com/net) or that there's a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. 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 anyone worldwide.

* * * * *


luv2read said...

Enter me in the contest. I enjoy Bell's books. spowell01(at)

Bethany said...

All of Mr. Bell's books have been great, but I especially enjoyed "Try Dying". I would love, love, love to have a copy of "Try Darkness"! Then my husband and I can fight over who gets to read it first! lol
Thank you,

SmilingSally said...

I've read three of James Scott Bell's novels, and I'd love to win this one.

Carole said...

I just Presumed Guilty, my very first James Scott Bell novel, and it certainly won't be my last. I'm a mystery fan and love legal thrillers. Thanks for the chance to win Try Darkness.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Carolynn said...

I haven't read any James Scott Bell books, but I look forward to, this one sounds great! Thanks for the chance to win!

Grateful Gramma said...

Sounds like my kind of book! Please enter my name in the drawing. Thanks!

haras w said...

Please enter me in the contest. I'd really like to try one of his books.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

From Jim:

Thanks for the interest everyone. I have really been having fun with
the "Try" series. In fact, just yesterday I turned in the first draft of "Try Fear" (July, 2009) to my editor. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do writing them! Blessings, Jim Bell.

tetewa said...

I'd love to give this one a try!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:


Congratulations! I've emailed you for your mailing information so we can send out your book.

FIVE other winners are announced today. Check out the spotlights from Robin Jones Gunn forward through Pat Casiello and Kathie Clare.

As always, thank you for your continued support.