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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Spotlight on Rick Acker and Blood Brothers


Rick Acker pecks out pages every day on the commuter train to his "real job" as a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice. Rick's other books include Dead Man's Rule and the Davis Detectives series for tweens. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Anette, and their four children.

by Rick Acker
Published by Kregel


In this intense sequel to Dead Man's Rule, lawyer Ben Corbin finds himself caught between feuding brothers Karl and Gunnar Bjornsen. The Bjornsens built a pharmaceutical empire from the ground up. Now they are developing a revolutionary new drug, a neural stimulant that increases strength and intelligence, but its potential for success is rapidly destroying them. Warring for control of the company and the drug, Karl sues Gunnar, and Gunnar hires Ben to defend him.

But the case involves more than bitter sibling rivalry. Signs of embezzlement, black market deals, and the grisly consequences of the Bjornsens' new drug begin to emerge. Soon, Ben and his wife, Noelle, find themselves in Norway where the case takes a personal and violent turn.

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1. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

The inspiration actually came from several different sources: intense courtroom battles I've seen between men who used to be close friends and business partners, Norse sagas from the very beginning of written history in Scandinavia, a couple of experimental drug trials that went badly wrong, and Christ's admonition that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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

I always (well, almost always) had a good relationship with my brother, so the conflict between the Bjornsen brothers at the heart of the story didn't come from something I've personally experienced. However, the lawyer's-eye perspective on that conflict comes from actual lawsuits I've litigated. And the ethically-challenged, entertaining, and highly skilled opposing lawyer is based on an attorney I know.

Also, a lot of the texture and factual detail in Blood Brothers comes from my experiences living in Norway and later working as a Chicago litigator. For example, I've tried to give readers a sense for what it's like to stand in a dimly-lit Viking hall surrounded by ancient wood carvings and thick shadows. (Travel tip: You can actually do this at the Folkemuseum outside Oslo.) And I did my best to put readers in the shoes of a lawyer who's going toe-to-toe in a courtroom fight where two men's life work—and possibly much more—is on the line.

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

I think our lives are governed by how we answer the following two questions: What is most important to you? What are you willing to do—and sacrifice—to get it? The answer Christ gave to the first question was both simple and hard: To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. His answer to the second was even simpler and harder: Everything.

The characters struggle with these questions and their fates are driven by the answers they ultimately choose. Some embrace Christ's answers, but some do not. And as implied by the title of the book, at least one character is tempted by the answers of Cain.

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

The hardest parts were the biotech scenes—I sweated over those for weeks. I'm a stickler for factual accuracy, and I had no idea what the inside of an animal testing lab looks like or how the FDA goes about deciding to approve drugs for human testing, for example. Fortunately, I had two experts who were willing to patiently explain it all to me—and then correct my manuscript when I got stuff wrong anyway.

I enjoyed writing a lot of scenes (especially the ending), but my favorite part was actually the dedication to my brother, who died while I was writing this book. In light of the themes of brotherhood and faith that permeate Blood Brothers, it was especially meaningful to be able to dedicate this book to him and to quote some of his final words: "Do not fail to seize the love of God, which is available to you in the all-embracing sacrifice of Jesus Christ."

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

Great question—I wish I knew the answer! My agent just started shopping my first post-Blood Brothers proposal. The tentative title is Devil to Pay, Inc., and it's the story of Allie Whitman (a professional whistleblower with a knack for sniffing out fraud in government contracts) and Connor Norman (a gifted litigator with courtroom polish to spare). Together they formed Devil to Pay, Inc., a shell corporation that files lawsuits based on Allie's investigations—and gets paid handsomely when the defendants settle. Allie and Connor have made good money recovering taxpayer dollars, or making the devil pay, as they like to think of it. But then one of Allie's targets turns the tables and blows the whistle on her. Suddenly Allie and Connor find themselves fighting desperate battles in and out of the courtroom against a shadowy company that has secrets much darker than padded bills.

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Blood Brothers.

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 or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. 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.

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windycindy said...

What an intense sounding book! I really enjoyed reading his answers to your questions. This book would be compelling to read. Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

Bethany said...

Wow! This sounds like a great book to keep me up at night! lol Definitely one both my husband and I would enjoy. Please sign me up!
Thank you,

Unknown said...

Sounds like a good book. Please enter me in the drawing. ervin[dot]beth[at]gmail[dot]com

Anonymous said...

how exciting! this sounds like something my son would enjoy reading as well :)

tetewa said...

This sounds very suspenseful, count me in!

cpullum said...

Love to win! I am enjoying my summer reading books!I live at Barnes and Nobles.

Carole said...

Thanks for the interview, and I must say that this book greatly appeals to me. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

kamewh said...

Sounds like a great book! Thank you for the giveaway!

Toystory said...

Sounds like it's full of favorite. Please enter me.

Kat Bryan said...

I'd love to read this book. Thanks!

Carolynn said...

Sounds exciting, please enter me, thanks!

ChristyJan said...

Wonderful interview! This sounds like a great book ~ please enter me.
hawkes (at)

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Wow! Just look at all these comments. It's fantastic!

We have a winner from this drawing, and that is:


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

Thank you to all for your support. Check out the other winners from the past 2 weeks' worth of drawings to see if you've won.