Downs tells all

The Convenient Escape Book Cover The Convenient Escape
Robert Downs
crime, thiller
Black Opal
November 12, 2016

To Veronica Baird, escaping from an underground dungeon and racing through the woods, is anything but convenient, even as her captor in rubber mask attire proves rather persistent in his continued pursuit. Despite her apparent independence, she considers a partnership, albeit reluctantly, with a former classmate who may still have feelings for her. Pete Nealey still has flashbacks to Iraq and, with the bottle as his eternal companion, tends to fall off of barstools at the most inopportune moments or pass out face down in the tavern parking lot. But what he may lack in cheerfulness, he more than makes up for with his steadfast loyalty to the cause, even when he ends up handcuffed to an air conditioner in a shoddy motel.But unless Veronica can learn to trust Pete for more than just intermittent intervals, the slipshod relationship, and her freedom, won't last...


Robert Downs the Author

 Penchant for Vengeance 2018; The Convenient Escape 2017; LaCours Destiny 2016; Graceful Immortality 2015

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it?

I’ve always been fascinated with police procedurals, even though I had never written one before. I like challenging myself, so in this type of scenario, I often look at it as what’s the risk. If it’s no good, no one will ever read it but me. But I finished it, I sent it to my publisher, Black Opal Books, and they liked it, and here we are. I do believe I am growing and improving as a writer, and more than anything, I hope I show that with PENCHANT FOR VENGEANCE.


I grew up in a religious household, so there were themes in this novel that I wanted to explore, and that were important to me. It’s a bit of a departure from what I’ve written before, but I look at it as a good thing, not a bad one.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I believe in John Grisham’s approach to research. I do as little of it as possible to sound believable and creditable. With that being said, I love to learn, and I am always learning random facts that I may, or may not, use in one of my books. I am like a sponge, and I constantly soak up the world around me, because I never know when I will discover some tidbit that will set my story off on a new course. When I discover one of these, my first thought is that’s fantastic. I can use that.


My process, and it’s not the process that will work for every writer, is to write the story first, as fast and as furious as my fingers and brain can go. Over the course of this process, I’ll discover where I get stuck, and therefore what I need to learn more about. Once in a while, I’ll surprise myself with what I do know, and sometimes I’ll bend the truth a little in order to make the story work. But either way, I don’t want to spend more time doing research than is absolutely necessary, because I get more joy from writing than I do from research.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I’ve been rejected so many times I’ve lost count. Stephen King used to nail his rejection letters on a wall, and the story goes that he had to get bigger and bigger nails to hold up his increasing number of letters. Rough guess is I’m hovering close to 1,000 myself, but that’s over the course of seventeen years of writing, and making every mistake you can imagine, like trying to publish books before the story was ready for an audience. I’ve also discovered that as a writer you never stop being rejected, so I just take it as another part of the process. It’s much easier to say no than it is to say yes, because yes requires some action from the other party. I also have this personality quirk where I can take the energy from negativity, and turn it into a positive that works for me. I have no idea where this particular gift came from, but it’s absolutely fantastic.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

I did not. As writers, we shouldn’t compare our writing path to anyone else’s, because this can sometimes be a losing proposition. My journey has been to gradually build my writing career over time, and I have worked with some wonderful small presses thus far. If we’re being completely honest, some have been a bit more wonderful than others, but all have taught me valuable lessons about publishing that I will take with me for the rest of my life. That’s valuable, and when value is bestowed upon me, I consider myself lucky.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I’m gonna steal from my previous answers a bit, but I’ll try to do it with a slightly different spin. I would say writers need to look to carve out their own path, and not worry about what someone else has done. It ultimately depends on your goals as a writer, and how much control he or she wants to have throughout the writing process. Self-publishing gives you a whole lot of control, but you have to use that power wisely, otherwise it can end up wasted, or it might even blow up in your face.


When you’re starting out as a writer, the best thing you can do is write. After you’ve been doing this a few years and possibly published a few novels, the best thing you can do is write. That particular aspect never changes. Think of it like practice. You have to continue to show up and put in the work. If self-publishing is what gets you to write, and you use that platform to grow and improve as a writer, learn from your mistakes (most beginning writers make mistakes), and build your audience through marketing, hard work, and more writing, I don’t think anyone can fault you for doing that. It can be a great process if you use it right. I understand it as a process, but it just wasn’t the right process for me.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

That’s gotta be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, and it’s also one of the biggest myths about being a writer. Readers assume we’re all driving around in Porsches, and we have two or three homes, one of which is somewhere like Florida, Nantucket, or California. But we all can’t be Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, James Patterson, or Harlan Coben. Let me dispel this myth completely right now. The average writer makes $7,000 a year. If you can live on $7K a year, then I have to say you are a much better person than I am.


If that ever happens, I will certainly let you know. But I’m not gonna hold my breath on it ever happening, and I am not gonna build my retirement plan around such a farfetched scenario.

  1. Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?

There are many writers who have influenced me over the years, and I feel like I discover more every day, since I am a reader first and a writer second. But I will go with the late Robert B. Parker and his Spenser novels. Spenser was a smartaleck, and Parker wrote some fantastic dialogue, and I adored the stories very much. Whenever he and Hawk busted a few heads, I was ready to stand up and cheer.

  1. In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?

Again, there are many writers I could place here, and all have a fantastic sense of humor, but my answer for today is Dave Barry. He comes up with fantastic characters and places them in the midst of fantastic situations, and he is just such a joy to read. I believe a lot of humor can be found in the extremes, and he utilizes this particular theory to a fine art. If you ever need a good laugh, I don’t think you can go wrong with Dave Barry. I know I sure haven’t.


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Whose eyes are they?

Eyes Like Mine Book Cover Eyes Like Mine
Sheena Kamal
thrillers, literary fiction

It's late. The phone rings.
The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.
Your daughter.
The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago.
What do you do?

A gripping story that you need to read through to the end. Quickly. And an anti-heroine, who does have friends that you root for all the way and wish for her a better life than fate has given her so far.

Immersive story-telling.

A tortured heroine – and who can blame her? A (previous) life style that ended in an horrendous attack, and, from which, whilst clearly still suffering from PTSD, she has gradually put together a new life. And has some hope for her future. Until her past re-surfaces in a most awful manner.


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Do a Crime – get Schooling? No Contest.

Lord of the Night Book Cover Lord of the Night
Rogues to Riches #3
Erica Ridley
history, literary fiction, romance
(20 July 2017)

Unlike proper debutantes, Miss Dahlia Grenville is secretly Robin Hood in a bonnet. Her home for wayward girls has too many dependents and not enough donations. But just as she’s about to pull off the heist of the Season, she tumbles straight into the arms of the handsome detective who has sworn to deliver Mayfair’s mysterious thief straight to the gallows. Highly principled Bow Street runner Simon Spaulding’s world is black and white. There’s no mastermind too clever, no criminal alive who can escape the hangman. Until he realizes the delightful young lady he’s been courting is a liar and a thief. Suddenly, his career—and his heart—are in peril. How can he bring her to justice when it means losing her forever?

And again Erica writes a good historical romance with a modern twist – or at least a feminist twist.

Here we have a nicely brought up young woman not only starting her own school for destitute and desperate young girls but also finding a way to support the school through somewhat illegal means – although she would point out that no-one was actually physically harmed, and anyway, those she took from could well have afforded to donate instead, but didn’t. So almost deserved it….

And we have the start of the Peelers to add to the mix. Which again will intrigue people who like their history and crime fiction…

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FBI go Paranormal

Agent of Enchantment Book Cover Agent of Enchantment
Dark Fae FBI#1
CN Crawford & Alex Rivers
paranormal, mystery, thriller, YA
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition
(10 April 2017)

The fae live among us. And one of them is a serial killer. I thought this would be a simple profiling case. Just another Jack-the-Ripper wannabe, prowling London’s streets, searching for easy kills. I was wrong. This killer is fae, and he’s as elusive as smoke on the wind. But I’m an FBI profiler, and it’s my job to track him down. It doesn’t matter that one of the main suspects--a lethally alluring fae--is trying to seduce me… or kill me, I’m not sure which. I won’t be stopped, not even when panic roils through the streets of London, or when the police start to suspect me. As I close in on the killer, I follow him to a magical shadow realm that’s like nothing I ever expected, where I’m hunted like prey. Fine. Bring it on. I’m an FBI Agent. And it turns out I have magical powers of my own.

I got bored by this overly complicated novel -and it lacked a compelling story-telling. Didn’t manage to complete.


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Who’s missing

Local Girl Missing Book Cover Local Girl Missing
Claire Douglas
August 11, 2016

FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE SISTERS - ONE OF THE BEST SELLING DÃ%BUTS OF 2015 - COMES A TENSE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER RIPPED STRAIGHT FROM THE HEADLINES . . . Twenty years ago 21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night. She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier - and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca. Now A body's been found. And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget. Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out. Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned. Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past. The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth. But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it? Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life . . . Praise for Local Girl Missing 'Compelling and page-turning, wonderfully written and impossible to second guess with a brilliant twist' Debbie Howells, bestselling author of Richard and Judy selection The Bones of You Praise for The Sisters 'Grippingly claustrophobic and unpredictable on every page: perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train' Marie Claire 'Tension oozes from every page . . . [an] addictive read that will leave you on the edge of your seat' Sun 'As soon as I finished the first page, I knew I wouldn't be able to put this down . . . I thoroughly enjoyed it' Good Housekeeping 'Unforgettably dark and complex' Woman & Home

Got 50% of the way through and it was very very slow and the suspense did not build. Seemed rather derivative of the genre. 2 stars.

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