Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blog Tour: Placebo (Review )

Sometimes you may find yourself wanting a little suspense and maybe some "keep you on the edge of your seat" excitement in your reading choices.

For those times, turning to a Steven James novel might just satisfy your craving. (Or at least keep you up until you finish the novel.)

In his newest series, James takes the fast-paced action he has become known for in his Patrick Bowers Files series, and introduces his readers to his newest hero, illusionist Jevin Banks.

Written in the same "bite your finger nails" style as the Bower series, readers will find James' new series dark, intense and suspenseful. They will also discover a story about a man who is trying to move past a tragic moment in his past - in order to move forward in his career, life and future.

It's a strong, solid addition to James' literary stable. I think people who have fallen in love with his writing style will find his portrayal of Banks to be intriguing.

But don't take my word for it.... I had a chance to toss James' some questions by email about his newest work - here's his answers.

1) Why a new series? What drew you to base this series on a magician, rather than a law enforcement figure? 
I’m still continuing the Patrick Bowers thrillers and The King will release next summer. However, I have gathered a lot of ideas over the last five or six years that would make great stories but were just not the kind of ideas that would fit well with the Bowers crime novels. So, finally I just decided I needed to launch a new series to be able to use the material.

I’ve always wanted to avoid the clich├ęd characters that appear in so many crime novels and thrillers, and I thought a new series needed a totally different approach—not a detective or a spy, but still someone who could investigate things and had an interesting skill set. 

An illusionist who debunks psychics and is one of the world’s greatest escape artists came to mind. Then, when I started the books, he became a character I really enjoyed writing about.

2) Both Bowers and Banks have troubled backgrounds. Why are you drawn to create characters who are facing personal challenges? 
At the heart of a story is tension, and at the heart of tension, unmet desire. So, stories are essentially about characters who want something and can’t get it. 

I like to have main characters who are working through difficulties because that tension, that unmet desire for peace or hope or love or forgiveness, drives the story forward. 

Also, on a more personal level, I think it might actually help me deal with issues of loss or disappointment in my own life. I don’t write for therapy, but I think there’s always something therapeutic about writing.

3) What did you hope to create with this new series? What do you hope readers take away from it? 
As always, I’m trying to first of all entertain my readers. There are plenty of distractions and diversions in our world today. If readers aren’t engaged in a story or emotionally involved with it, they will put it aside. So yes, first of all to entertain them. 

Secondly, I always like to ask big questions in my novels, and I would like readers to ask those questions with me. It may sound paradoxical, but I think novelists have an obligation of telling the truth about the world. Rather than sugar-coating evil or making it look attractive, I think we need to be honest about it. Hope, too. And grief. And grace. 

I don’t start my books with a message in mind, but rather a series of questions I’m asking myself and I’m hoping that readers will ask themselves, too.

4) What did you learn from writing this novel? How did God speak to you through your words?
This book opened my eyes up again to something I already know, but don’t put into practice enough—that my beliefs, my prayers (if it’s the will of God)--can have the power to change reality. 

As I wrestled with this issue, I came to understand the importance of my prayer life, my thought life, my heart life.

5) What's next for Banks? How many books do you see in the series?
I’m planning on writing three books in this series. The next is titled Singularity and will be released next summer. It picks up where Placebo left off and takes an interesting trip through the world of autonomous weaponry and thought-controlled robotics. Fascinating stuff.

6) So are you finished with the Bowers series? Will there be a "King"?
As I mentioned earlier, The King will release next summer and then, if all goes as planned, I would like to finish up the series with Checkmate. Who knows, there may even be a spin-off book called Raven featuring Tessa as the main character in the works. But you didn’t hear that from me.

On the scale of one to five, I give James' book a three and half to four. I like his writing style for two reasons. One, it feeds my "desire" for high suspense novels. Second, it meets that need without gratuitous violence and language. He's just as good as James Patterson, but I could easily recommend James to high school youth in my ministry without worry. (I couldn't say the same thing about Patterson.)

I think James tackles some deep issues - including the desire for peace, hope, love and forgiveness - as he crafts his storylines. James is a solid author, and one I highly recommend.

More About The Author
Steven James has penned 30+ books spanning the genres of psychological thrillers, prayer collections, dramas, monologues, a nine book series on creative storytelling, YA fantasy, and inspirational nonfiction.

He has received wide critical acclaim for his work including four Storytelling World Honor awards, two Publishers Weekly starred reviews, and 2009, 2011 and 2012 Christy Awards for best suspense.

His latest thriller, The Queen, won a 2012 ECPA Book Award and the 2012 Christy Award for Best Suspense Novel. Steven earned a Master’s Degree in Storytelling from ETSU in 1997 and is an active member of International Thriller Writers, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and International Association of Crime Writers.

He is a contributing editor to Writer's Digest, and has taught writing and storytelling principles on three continents.

He lives in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. When he's not writing or speaking, he's rock climbing, playing disc golf, or (shh....) slipping away to a matinee.

Online Resources
Check out James' Website
Get writing advice from James' Blog
Buy Placebo online.
Follow James' on Facebook

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of these books by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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