Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview #4 - Sheldon Siegel (do I never run out of snappy headings?)

Sheldon Siegel writes one of my favorite series - the attorneys/legal partners/ex-spouses Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez.  He has written 7 and is working on #8.  They are all enormously entertaining.  As a bonus, they take place in San Francisco (work) and Marin County (home).

If you have been reading my blog (and you 3 know who you are), you'll know that I just reviewed Sheldon's latest book, The Terrorist Next Door, on October 16.  It's his first book that strays from Mike and Rosie.  In fact, it takes place in Chicago with a brand new protagonist, Detective David Gold.  I liked it a lot, as you will see if you check out the review.

I met with Sheldon a few months ago.  His story is pretty darn interesting.  Sheldon is an attorney.  And  he found that he had about 90 minutes each day, coming and going on the ferry, commuting between Marin County and San Francisco.  Around 1995, at the age of 37, he began to write.  It took him until 1998 to finish book one.  Along the way, in 1997, he took a writing class.  He wrote 100 pages, and his 2 teachers encouraged him to keep going.

When he finished book 1, Special Circumstances, he sent it to only one literary agent.  Folks, for those who don't know how this works, that is unheard of.  When Joni and her partner shopped their book, they sent the query letter to a string of literary agents.  That's just the way it's done.  So the one agent that Sheldon sent it to is a friend of an attorney in Sheldon's office.  Margret McBride got the manuscript on one day, read a 100 pages on the next day, and called Sheldon that evening to say yes, she would represent him.  2 weeks later, she had it sold to Bantam Books, a division of Random House.  And in the year 2000, Special Circumstances hit the bookstores.  Not bad, huh?

Sheldon has had several different publishers, but The Terrorist Next Door was originally self-published - until recently.  The book just got picked up by Poison Pen Press out of Phoenix (talk about alliteration!).  It's no longer available on Amazon but will come back out in June, 2013.  At that time, it will be for sale in hardcover, paperback, digital form, and audio.  Congrats, Sheldon.

This book took him 3 years to write.  Why did he decide to write a stand-alone?  There were 2 reasons.  The 1st being that he was just ready to try something different.  It was time.  The 2nd reason, which I learned from his website, is that he promised his mother that he would write at least one book that was based in his hometown of Chicago.  He has now honored that promise.

There is one thing in particular that Sheldon told me that was very illuminating.  He said that the 1st book was the easiest to write because there were no deadlines.  Since he didn't yet have an agent, an editor, or a publisher, nobody was putting pressure on him to finish the book.  For his 2nd book, though, he had a finish-by date.  After the 2nd one, he got more in the rhythm of writing within a timeline.

I told you that I've already written a very positive review of The Terrorist Next Door.  Well, so did The Huffington Post.  And I have a feeling that it might carry a slight amount more weight than mine does.  Go figure.  I've got it posted, in its entirety, below.

The Terrorist Next Door by Sheldon Siegel
Sheldon Siegel is the author of a series of books featuring the San Francisco based divorced legal team of Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez. They have been at the center of the action in his last seven novels. Now Siegel has come out with a new book, The Terrorist Next Door, and Mike and Rosie are nowhere to be seen. Siegel has created a new hero, Detective David Gold, and found a new locale, Chicago, Illinois. Those two things might have changed but his talent is still the same.
This new novel by Siegel is action packed from beginning to end. A "terrorist" is striking fear in the heart of Chicago by placing bombs in cars and then detonating them with cell phones. Gold and his new partner A. C. Battle are handed the case and are under the gun to get it solved, but even as they plunge into the case with everything they have the bombs continue to go off and there are casualties involved.
The two men find a few leads but nothing substantive, and then it gets personal. Gold finds out that those he holds dear are in the line of fire so to speak. Now he must go beyond anything he has ever faced and use his skills and brainpower above and beyond what he has done in the past in order to try to save them and save the city.
The book is 75 percent action and 25 percent characters. The fact the characters are so easy to identify with is what makes the horror of the terrorism so chilling. Gold and Battle are two men locked into a war with an unknown person. Battle is the supportive one while Gold is the go to man. It also helps that Gold has a big heart and nerves of steel. A lesser man would have just given up, but Gold is relentless in his pursuit of the unknown terrorist.
I always thought I just wanted Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez novels from Siegel. Now I am willing to go half and half with future Gold books. You only get a taste of who and what the man is in this novel. Most of the readers will want to know more.
The Terrorist Next Door is a "can't put it down" novel. Read it for the suspense, but also read it for the introduction of a new fascinating hero.
Jackie K Cooper

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