Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

L is for Literary Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

November 13, 2015

The Gates Legacy Blog Tour


23206881Hunted by Lorenz Font

Series: The Gates Legacy #1 Release Date: November 20, 2014 Genre: Paranormal Romance
BUY NOW Amazon
A horrible disease is ravaging the vampire community in New York City’s underworld. The Vampire Council is on a crusade to obliterate those infected. Harrow Gates is sick, alone, and hunted. A bounty hanging over his head, he is in no position to refuse when Pritchard Tack offers him not only a new beginning, but also a chance to rectify the chaos he created in the vampire world. Now the greatest threat Harrow faces is hope. Jordan is a reluctant new vampire and a woman on a mission. Her only focus is revenge. In her search for vengeance, a stroke of luck leads her to an underground facility. Once inside the bunker, Jordan meets a man who threatens to pull her heart away from her sworn mission. There is something behind Harrow’s dark lenses that unsettles the hardened female. Is love strong enough to override her thirst for vengeance?
  HUNTED EXCERPT Harrow looked up at the sound of her footsteps, his eyes unfocused. His sunglasses were on the table, and his eyes were almost opaque in color when they settled on her. He sat up on the bed. “Jordan, please go away.” He hissed and moved back when she approached. Her movement was slow and calculated. She was unwilling to startle him into action. “Darling, I need to draw blood from you,” Jordan said, as if appeasing a crying child with sweet offerings. His fangs were incredibly long. She wasn’t sure if she was imagining it, but she thought she saw them throb right before her very eyes. It had been almost two weeks since he’d last fed, and it looked like he had reached his limit. Harrow licked his dried, chapped lips and inched away from her. The lesions on his arms, legs, and around his neck were raw, almost glowing red and had grown bigger. He gritted his teeth as if to dispel the demons of his disease. Jordan was certain it had something to do with the burning pain from the wounds as well as the pang of hunger. Starvation was a tough opponent, because it would eat you up alive and spew out your carcass after it finished you off. “Make it quick, because I’m trying hard here.” Harrow appeared bone tired, his tone weary as he held out his arm after he made sure she was wearing gloves. “Move fast,” he reminded her as he eyed her jugular. The pulsing clearly began to excite him. “I know you won’t hurt me.” She kept her voice low and held his arm. He was burning hot, and she felt like her hands would melt on contact. Harrow rested his arm on his thigh as she tried to keep her hands steady. Harrow drew in a deep breath before exhaling with a curse. “Hurry up, Jordan.” Once she stuck the needle into his skin, Harrow hissed and began twitching again. After she filled the evacuated collection tube with blood, she pulled out the needle and applied a little pressure to the entry site with her finger before taping it up. “Get out now!” he screamed. “Now!” Before she stepped away, she held his gaze for a moment and whispered the words she’d been dying to tell him. “I love you, Harrow.” Time stood still as soon as the words were out of her mouth. Harrow’s breathing slowed, and his twitching ceased for just a moment. “I love you more,” he said. “But please, get out of this room now.” He didn’t scream the order, he whispered it as if it was a last ditch effort before he turned savage. Jordan walked out the door, which Leroy held open for her. Her heart was aching, but at the same time, it was soaring. How could her heart sing and lament at the same time?

23206906Tormented by Lorenz Font

Series: The Gates Legacy #2 Release Date: November 20, 2014 Genre: Paranormal Romance
BUY NOW Amazon
Tor Burns is a noninfected vampire committed to saving his diseased comrades from certain death at the hands of the Vampire Council. He is the meanest, strongest, and most impulsive member of the team with a new purpose: guard the irresistible daughter of their fallen leader, even if it means having to cast his attraction aside. Allison Tack is an infected vampire and a walking target wherever she goes. She wants to learn how to protect herself, but no one is listening, so she sets out to prove that she can fight alongside the best of them. The harem leader, Melissa, is determined to discover her son’s fate. Time has made her desperate enough to wage war against Tor’s group, not realizing that she has fallen into a trap. Tormented by his past, Tor must decide between paying the price or risk losing the woman loves.
TORMENTED EXCERPT Allison held onto his neck as tight as she could, and they both fell on the mattress, Tor landing on top of her. She didn’t let go, even though the weight of his body was heavy on her small frame. “What the hell are you doing?” Tor shouted as he pushed himself up, but Allison locked her legs around his waist, trapping him. “Doing what I want to do,” she answered and moved her mouth to his. She felt his breath catch in his throat, and a look of terror crossed his face. This reaction was not what she had hoped for, and his rejection hurt. Tor moved his mouth away like she was offering him poison instead of herself. “You’re insane.” He held her shoulders with restraining fingers before he pushed her body away, despite her resistance. Her strength was no match for his, and he set her aside like a ragdoll, unwanted and rejected. He stood, his dreadlocks falling over his shoulders. Looking at her with disgust, Tor’s nostrils flared before he stalked out the door, slamming it shut. The silence that followed was deafening. Allison was left stunned and unable to move, her eyes stinging with tears of humiliation. What had she done?


23388214Ascension by Lorenz Font

Series: The Gates Legacy #3 Release Date: January 8, 2015 Genre: Paranormal Romance
BUY NOW Amazon
Rohnert comes from a long line of pure-blooded vampires, but he has broken away from the Vampire Council, which is being run into the ground by Goran, a former friend and ally. With the vampire race in upheaval, he allies with a group of freedom fighters. However, nothing could have prepared him for their determined human doctor. Shelly Anderson vowed not to fall in love, but her resolve quickly changes upon meeting the enigmatic vampire. After their one night together ends in a nightmare, Rohnert’s unexpected reentry into her life derails her plans once more. Rohnert soon realizes the lengths he is willing to go to keep Shelly and their child close and safe, even if it means violating a long-standing decree among pure-blooded vampires to keep their bloodlines alive. When harsh reality comes knocking, Rohnert must fight to save the people he loves before he loses them forever.
  ASCENSION EXCERPT Rohnert was already undressing Shelly with his eyes the moment the bolt on the door engaged. Man, it had been a while. This time, he would initiate every damn thing. He had a lot to make up for—the lost time, the way he’d left, and overall, his idiocy. He had led her to believe that he couldn’t love her. Who had he been kidding? She was the very air he breathed, the single reason why living was bearable. Now that she was carrying his child, he’d treat her just like the queen that she was. It didn’t take half a brain to know he’d screwed up, and he wouldn’t take her forgiveness for granted. Ever. “So we need to talk,” he said, running his hand along her collarbone. Shelly closed her eyes, and her expression told him that the talking could wait. She had better things in mind. She wanted to make love to him. He stiffened, and so did his cock. “What are we going to talk about?” Her voice took a nosedive, becoming husky, and she wormed her soft hands around his waist, her lips parted like an invitation to a playground. Okay, initiation on his part didn’t happen. The woman was fast. The scent of her lust wafted in the air, and his nostrils flared. “I want to show you how much to mean to me.” He threaded his fingers through her silky hair. “How much?” Her hand wound to the hardened bulge in his pants. Rohnert jerked on contact, welcoming the intrusion. “So much that I’m aching,” Her eyes spoke volumes, and her lips curved into a playful smile. “You like it?” He shifted, allowing more room for her to navigate. The pleasure of her fingers grazing his skin made him tremble, his knees weakening under her touch. “You have no idea.” So much for making the first move. Shelly was in the driver’s seat, and he was just going along for the ride—which was wrong. It was his turn to give her pleasure, but her hand cupping his erection made it very difficult to think. Rohnert moved his body to give her space to work. He was such a selfish bastard, but one look at her gave him absolution. She was enjoying this as much as he was.  

25124764Reckoning by Lorenz Font

Series: The Gates Legacy #4 Release Date: July 4, 2015 Genre: Paranormal Romance
BUY NOW Amazon
Someone is exposing the vampires of New York City to the human world. This is bad news for Cyrus and his fighters. Events derail his plans to find Zane, who forced immortality on him. Cyrus soon finds himself torn between revenge and his responsibilities, and a beautiful pureblooded vampire who makes him rethink his priorities. Isidora can read minds, and Cyrus’ are filled with both anger towards Zane and a deep admiration for her. Although Issy has no idea what to do in the face of the outside world’s war, one thing is clear. She craves Cyrus, but his need for vengeance is clouding his mind. Should Issy pursue her feelings for Cyrus or wait until he can return her affection? Will Cyrus deny his attraction to Isidora so he can kill the man who made his life a living hell on earth? Every decision leads to a reckoning.

RECKONING EXCERPT Her skin was warm, sinfully warm, and Cyrus couldn’t handle the emotions that came with her touch. He drew his hand away. “It must be tough having to live with the bullshit you hear every day.” From her hunched shoulders and the way she ran her palm along the smooth surface of the table, he could tell she had something on her mind, and it wasn’t along the lines of yeah, I love the mind reading crap. “I want to you to take my vein.” Isidora’s statement was given with conviction, which made him curse. “You can’t be serious.” “I’m dead serious.” “Why would you do that?” It was difficult to erase the erotic images from his mind, especially when she was sitting across from him in all her glory—beautiful, caring, young, and oh-so-inviting. “Because I want to feel needed, wanted.” Her voice was low, as if the revelation had sapped all her energy. “What a na├»ve thing to say. Besides, you’ve been servicing Rohnert. I think you’re already doing a great service to the race doing that alone.” “Are you naturally callous or just plain scared?” Cyrus watched her with defiance oozing from his pores. How could she call him out like that? Did he look scared? He’d never had a reason to be around females who elicited unwanted emotions before, and he wouldn’t start now.  

Lorenz Font

Lorenz Font discovered her love of writing after reading a celebrated novel that inspired one idea after another. She is currently enjoying the buzz from her vampire novels Hunted, Tormented and Ascension, Books 1-3 of The Gates Legacy Series, Feather Light, an erotic romance, Indivisble Line, a romance thriller and Pieces of Broken Time, a military romance. Lorenz’s perfect day consists of writing and lounging on her garage couch, aka the office, with a glass of her favorite cabernet while listening to her ever-growing music collection. She enjoys dabbling in different genres, with an intense focus on angst and the redemption of flawed characters. Her fascination with romantic twists is a mainstay in all her stories. Lorenz lives in California with her husband, children, and two demanding dogs. She divides her time between her full-time job and her busy writing schedule.

GIVEAWAY Enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and two eBook copies of your choice in the Gates Legacy Series

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 12, 2015

Are blog tours worth doing?

by Donna Huber

Recently in one of the writer groups I belong to online an author posed the question, "Are blog tours worth doing?" As an author of a book about running successful blog tours I believe that if done well tours are an important aspect of a book's media campaign.

The point that I think some authors miss though is the "well done" part. I have pretty much stopped signing up for all blog tours. Why? Because the content I receive is of low quality.

I did sign up for a tour because I was interested in seeing what a particular company was doing and it was an author I have worked with before. I received the materials last week. And well let's just say I was less than impressed. There are approximately 15 blogs on a 5 day tour and we all received the exact same materials. It is not a book tour but a book blast and as I've discussed before that is nothing more than an advertisement. At least there are excerpts provided (it is a "tour" for a series).

Read more: book blast

Now I am not against syndicated content, but it must be high quality like the interview I ran on Monday. But that's not the content I'm seeing on these tours. When I was organizing tours I often heard from authors that they didn't have the time to write guest posts and do interviews. My answer (even if I didn't actually say it to them) was "too bad". Marketing is as important to the success of your book as writing it.

Read more: syndicated content

Authors who ran tours with me always saw book sales either during the tour or in the days following the end of the tour. So if you are not seeing sales then you need to consider two things: the quality of the content offered and the quality of your book.

Let's discuss blog content first.

You and you alone are the foremost authority on your book. If you are not comfortable talking about your book then you probably are not ready to launch. To judge how well you know your book and get ideas of what to share during a blog tour talk with your editor and beta reader(s) and now that Goodreads allows "ask the author" you can find other ideas for topics. (Discussing character motivations and themes are always great topics.)

As far as time goes, the truth is all marketing takes time. However, spending a bit of time on quality marketing is much better than spending little time on crappy marketing. Truth - spamming social media takes little time. Yet, what kind of return are you getting on that? You are probably better off spending that 15 minutes creating quality content.

Think about it. A traditional press junket would require several hours of interviews with media professionals as well as public appearances with fans. It isn't unheard of for a traditionally published author to spend 2 - 3 months on the road traveling to book signings and talks and giving several rounds of interviews at each new city. Can you imagine the time involved?

The city tour is what a blog tour is suppose to be replacing. To be successful with your blog tour, you need to treat it the same way you would a city tour. Instead of arranging for flights and hotel rooms, you are booking blog stops. For a city tour you would be prepping for reading selections and answers to potential questions for readers and media professionals. For a blog tour, you are selecting excerpts (remember everyone can go to Amazon and read the first chapter or so of you book) and writing out the answers.

Now if you have put in the effort of putting together an awesome tour and you still aren't seeing sales, then you may need to take a closer look at your product - your book.

To decide if it is your book or the content of the tour that isn't connecting with readers, you will need to do a little investigating.

Are people liking your blog content but then failing to buy your book?

Most url shorteners allow you to track the clicks. So you can provide a shortened buy link to the blogs on your tour and see how many times it is clicked compared to how many copies were purchased. If you don't see a lot of clicks then it is possible that the content of the tour didn't entice readers enough. On the other hand if there are a lot of click through but little or no sales then it is likely your product that is the problem.

There are a couple of problems with this method of data collection with which you need to be aware.

One, many bloggers are affiliates and want to use their own links in order to earn a few cents on sales. A solution to this problem is to have bloggers self-report the number of clicks they receive.

Two, readers will bypass the links all together and purchase the book. I have been told by individuals that they purchased the book, but my affiliate link records show no purchases. They are bypassing my links and going straight to Amazon, more than likely looking up the book and purchasing the ebook on their Kindle. I'm not sure of a solution to this.

If you suspect it is your product, then you have some decisions to make.

One, is your price point too high? I often recommend running a discount during a blog tour. There is a psychological basis for discounts. People love the "Save $5 today" or "50% off this week only". People like getting deals. It increases the chances of capturing impulse buys.

Two, did you run a giveaway of an ebook version of the title? I almost always recommend to not giveaway ebooks during a tour. You lose out on impulse buys because the person entering wants to find out if they win it before buying the book. By the time the giveaway is over, the book has fallen off their radar and been replaced with the next title in front of them.

Three, does your book need work? I know you have spent countless hours going over your book with a fine tooth comb. You've hired editor(s) to check for grammar and syntax errors (you did hire an editor, right?). You have received feedback on plot and character development from a content editor or beta readers (that weren't friends and family). However, there could still be problems. You may even be aware of the issues, such as the plot builds slowly.

The reviewers of Girl Who Reads participate often in the 1st Chapter, 1st Paragraph meme. It is interesting to me how often the cover will be great and the blurb sounds exciting and then the opening lines fall flat. I have read several books that have had lackluster opening pages, but turned out to be great reads. If you suspect this is an issue (beta readers and editors can help you determine this), then during your tour provide excerpts that show more of the "meat" of the story. Or you may decide to do a second edition and add a prologue to the beginning.

Another problem may be that your book is too generic or swings the other way and only is of interest to a niche audience. If it is the latter then you may need to cast your net wider during your media campaign to incorporate more blogs as well as identifying sites and other venues that cater more to your audience.

If your book is a bit too generic (or has the appearance of being so) and you are worried about reader fatigue (the "not another teenage girl falls in love with a 117 year old vampire story"), then you should be doing everything you can to point out the uniqueness of your story. You can do this with your blurb and during tour appearances.

Lastly, the problem may be your book isn't living up to the claims you've made. It is great to be able to claim your book will be loved by readers of JK Rowling. But you better be super sure that the writing is on par with her caliber. For indie or first time authors it is helpful to be able to claim similarity with well known books and authors. When I take on new clients one of the questions I ask is where does your book fit on the shelf among other authors. I recommend you do your homework before making claims. Just because you want to be the next Stephen King doesn't mean your book measures up.

Listen to your readers, comb through reviews to see if anyone is making comparisons. Look through the "also purchased" section on Amazon to see what other books readers of your book purchased. Your editor and beta readers should be able to help you as well. Reading other books in your genre will be of great help too.

As I said in the beginning, a blog tour can be an important aspect of your media campaign. Hitting up 15 blogs in the span of 5 days isn't going to give you longevity in book sales. You need to be continually getting your name and book title in front of readers' eyes. It has been said that a person needs to see something 7 times before they will decide to buy it. Your tour is 1 time.

Read more: media campaigns

Blog reviews are a great way to continually get your book in front of new audiences. Yes, it is time consuming to pitch to blogs, but it is important. I also recommend authors doing one or two guest appearances on blogs or other media outlets (podcasts, radio shows, etc) per month.

Marketing is not an easy task and it is something you will need to find the time to do. Even the greatest novel ever written wouldn't find an audience if readers never hear about. Traditional publishers have publicists as well as marketing and sales teams to help books find their audience. As the indie author doing it all on your own it means you are taking on the workload of at least 3 people.

I wish I had a magic bullet that would shoot you to the top of the bestseller lists, but there isn't even the guarantee that you will see any benefits from your hard work in this lifetime.

Check out these 9 authors who found success posthumously.

Even with the uncertainty, I still strongly believe that blog tours done well are worth the time and effort you put into it. If you need more help planning a successful blog tour, pick up a copy of my ebook Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour for just 99 cents today (you'll save $3 off the list price!).

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

November 11, 2015

Books for Boys

by Alison DeLuca

courtesy commons.wikimedia

"There are no good books for boys."

This was a statement I heard several times at a party this weekend. Apparently I'm not the only one saddened by a child who doesn't read a lot at home.

The usual series titles came up. I won't mention the writers or the books, but the problem was, according to these moms, that the books aren't written very well. I'm talking about extremely popular series shelved in every Barnes and Noble. Series that have 20 + titles are, according to my friends, to be formulaic and boring.

Only Harry Potter and The Wimpy Kid books passed the test.

With those 'famous' series brushed aside, I really had to reach to think of good books for kids, boys in particular. I used to love the Oz books, although they're female-centric. However, there were a few later books (such as the ones written by Baum's niece, Ruth) featuring very realistic boys. My favorite was Kabumpo in Oz. If you like retro stories with funny characters and exciting fantasy, I highly recommend old Kabumpo - who's an elephant, if you're interested.

Another set of books I read and reread was The Melendy Quartet. Again, this is a dated series. However, the characters are so real and funny they jump right off the page. I loved Randy and her brothers, Rush and Oliver. Even Mona, the glamorous actress sister, was flawed and completely lovable. The fourth book, Spiderweb for Two, is a long series of clues in a mystery solved by Randy and Oliver over the course of a school year.

My sister and I adored the C. S. Lewis books, but both boys had already read them. An alternative is the Victorian author E. Nesbit. Her books, especially The Story of the Amulet and The Railway Children, include exciting adventures and naughty, lovable kids who encounter magic and mayhem in universes Nesbit brought to life.

If you prefer more realistic stories, The Railway Children is about a family who has to face life after something terrible happens to the father. I won't say what it is, but it's something a lot of present-day kids have to confront each day. TRC does so in a lovely, sad-but-funny, angsty slow burn that leaves me teary each time, in a good way.

My final recommendation is The Sword in The Stone by T. H. White. Although the series gets very adult in the later books, TSITS is all about young Arthur and his adventures with different animals and people, all under the aegis of the wizard Merlin. There are kings and dogs and dragons, and it's a wild ride.

Now, please, if you have some suggestions put them in the comments! I'll pass them along to my friends and their sons.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

November 10, 2015

Review: Dear Stephanie by Mandi Castle

by Donna Huber

cover Dear Stephanie

Dear Diary - no too cliche.
Dear Journal - no too formal.
Dear mystery person who will never read this - no, no.
Dear Stephanie ... hmmm. Dear Stephanie, I had a shit day. Dear Stephanie, I just had the most amazing sex. Dear Stephanie, I want to drown in my bathtub. Okay, Dear Stephanie it is. Here goes nothing.

The Review

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started reading Dear Stephanie by Mandi Castle. The story opens with a prologue featuring a suicide attempt. Then we get to know the main character, Paige Preston, in the first chapter. And I didn't like her.

Seriously she is a stuck-up, rich girl. A real *itch. And I really didn't think I was going to be able to get through this book listening to her whine about her fancy clothes and expensive partying. But then we get a glimpse beneath the plastic facade to the very troubled woman. And I was hooked.

Dear Stephanie was a very emotional story. The story telling method of diary entries was perfect. Even though the partying and other activities may not be something everyone can afford (Paige is seriously rich. She doesn't work but has the best of everything), the emotions and thoughts Paige has is something a lot of people can relate to.

The story wasn't emotional just because it featured a seriously depressed suicidal person, but because it is a "don't judge a book by its cover" kind of story. It would be so easy to look at Paige and ask yourself "what does she have to be depressed about?" But we get a look behind the facade and she the hurt little girl who was all but abandoned by her parents. It reminds us that we don't know what anyone else is going through.

I loved the secondary characters of Blake and Dr. Morea (aka D-Love). I was so happy for Paige that she finally had a psychiatrist that actually wanted to help her and not just take her money and hand out "fun" meds. Then there is B-Large (Paige likes nicknames), her hot neighbor who accepts Paige just as she is.

From the ending I wonder if there are plans to return to the world of Paige Preston. While many things are wrapped up, there is a bit of a what now feeling with the way it ends. I want to be sure Paige gets a happily ever after. There was a good deal of grief in Dear Stephanie and I want to know that there is happiness and good things for Paige.

Overall, Dear Stephanie by Mandi Castle was a great read. The characters and the plot are realistic and heart wrenching. While there are some happy times, this is not a fluffy read by any means.

Buy Dear Stephanie at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (290 pages)
published: May 2015 by Castle Press
ISBN13: 978-0996317504
genres: literary fiction, pychological
source: author
read: October/November 2015

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

November 9, 2015

Q&A with Jacob Rubin, author of THE POSER #MondayBlogs

Jacob Rubin
Giovanni Bernini, The Poser’s protagonist, is known as the World’s Greatest Impressionist. He’s born with the uncanny ability to imitate anyone he meets instantaneously. Throughout the literary spectrum, plenty of stories have been written about performers or performing, but not impressionists specifically. How did you conjure up such an interesting character?

The Poser began, oddly enough, in the trash. Years ago I was working on a not very good short story about a man who wakes up in a woman’s apartment after a one-night stand. Remembering little of the night before, he begins to root around in her garbage for clues. One of the items he finds was, to my surprise, a black-and-white photo of a famed impressionist, a man who could famously imitate anyone he met. As I soon discovered, I was much more interested in this unexpected performer than I was in the guy who discovered him. I scrapped the story right then and wrote another one, very quickly, about this character Giovanni Bernini. After many years, it became The Poser.

You have experience as a performer—both as a juggler for hire and as the lead rapper of the hip-hop group Witness Protection Program, opening for groups like Jurassic Five and Blackalicious, to name a few. How has your background as a performer influenced the creation of Giovanni Bernini?

I can’t seem to get away from performance, in life or in writing. Personae, masks, fraudulence, disguise—all have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I think a lot about that Picasso line: that art is a “lie that tells the truth.” It seems to me this paradox can obtain in life, too. Like, I once read an article in the Times about a survivor of 9/11, a woman who had been in the south tower when the planes hit. After the tragedy, she organized these legendary support groups. They were these deeply cathartic events, arranged with great thought and care. Survivors and relatives of victims depended on her entirely, so strong was her empathy. Only later did it come out that this woman hadn’t been in the towers at all—she made the whole thing up. I find such behavior deeply disturbing, of course, but fascinating, too. The lie, for this woman at least, clearly felt like an emotional truth.
I did stand-up comedy for a little while, and I think the status of the stand-up comedian reflects a similar paradox: instead of a lie that tells the truth, maybe a stand-up states a truth so serious it has to be packaged as a joke. The stage offers a kind of loophole, a free zone in which what would otherwise be punishably inappropriate can be aired with impunity, even to applause. It’s what performance offers in general, I think: this magical, cordoned-off space where people can lie, hurl abuse, decompensate, and the crowd hoorahs! In The Poser, I wanted to explore a character who finds that his previously outrageous behavior is celebrated simply because it’s put on the stage.

A man with a million personas, Giovanni seemingly can be anyone except himself and at one point in the story undergoes psychoanalysis. Coming from a family of psychiatrists yourself, you must have some insight into analysis and some rather interesting stories, to boot. Will you talk briefly about growing up among psychoanalysts and how that may have shaped Giovanni as a character and the story as a whole? 

My grandfather, Theodore Isaac Rubin, was a very famous psychiatrist in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. He appeared regularly on the Phil Donoghue show and wrote many bestselling novels and self-help books, one of which was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie, David and Lisa. Largely because of his influence, my father, aunt, and uncle all went on to become shrinks. Suffice it to say, there is no dearth of introspection at our family get-togethers. (Somewhat notoriously, I informed a classmate of mine in the third grade that he was “projecting”; I am still living this down.) And yet I also wanted to show how beneficial therapy can be. I think portrayals of analysis in books and movies are often pretty lazy, framing it as this ridiculous or masturbatory exercise. I wanted to show that there is true empathy in it – a kind of warm detachment – that can really help people.

The Poser is told from Giovanni’s perspective, at a point in his life where he’s looking back at everything that’s befallen him. What compelled you to use first-person confession as the mode for telling the story?

The enjoinder to “show don’t tell” is important for every young writer to hear, and yet so many of my favorite books wholly disregard it. Notes from the Underground, for instance, or Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, the novels of Robertson Davies and Stanley Elkin. Everyone knows novels can’t compete with movies or video games for sheer sensory onslaught, but books, for my money, capture better than any other media the interiority of experience, the “music of someone’s intelligence,” as Richard Ford once put it. My favorite books promise just this kind of intimate—and for that reason, often scandalous—experience. Like, Lolita or Denis Johnson’s Jesus’s Son. You open those books, and you’re encountering this presence, this personality talking about something it shouldn’t have done in a voice unlike any you’ve ever heard. My favorite books, probably for that reason, feel like a secret, and you feel slightly cheated when you find out someone else read it. You’re like, “Hands off. She told that to me and no one else.”

Thematically, I thought the first-person narrative was necessary for The Poser as it’s about a man struggling to find himself, which he does, in the end, by telling the story. I also liked the tension of having someone act a certain way, as a performer or fraud, while narrating his often discordant internal experience. He says one thing, but thinks another. This is something I think fiction can do particularly well.

Giovanni’s world is noir-ish, vaudevillian, even a bit surreal. The story is set in an imaginary country that somewhat resembles America of the 1950s and 60s. What was your thought process in setting the story in a parallel, fable-like world?  Did you do any research to flesh out its wonderful detail?

I knew I was taking a risk in setting the book in an imaginary place, a parallel America of the 50s and 60s, and yet it felt necessary for the kind of book I was hoping to write. The Poser, as I see it, is about Giovanni’s attempt to become a real person; it felt right that the landscape, too, might strain to be real, flickering between the evoked and the shadowy. I did do research about the corresponding time in America. Stuff about clothes, some slang, etc. I used as models for the noir prose style novels by favorites like Jim Thompson and Raymond Chandler.

I can’t seem to escape the surreal. In visual art, it’s always been my favorite: Giacometti’s sculptures, for instance, or the paintings of Paul Klee. I think I’ve always aspired to whatever the prose equivalent of such a way of seeing would be. For me, it is rare that when meeting a person I note what color nail polish she’s wearing or which kind of ankle boot (this can be very embarrassing, mind you, for someone meant to be observant). Encountering a person can be a pretty damn surreal experience, much more like meeting a Giacometti or a Klee. I think the same is true of places. Just walking around and seeing people yammering on their cellphones or driving around in these motorized chrome bubbles—we live in a sci-fi movie! My agent, Jin Auh, once relayed a line the author George Garrett had about Fellini’s movies. He called them “science fiction set in the past.” I loved that. I think that’s what I’m trying to write.

Bestselling author Sam Lipsyte praised you as “a great hope for comic fiction in the 21st century.” Did you set out to write a humorous book? Were there any books or authors—comedic or otherwise—who inspired you while writing The Poser?

Sam Lipsyte has made me laugh so many times, so I was on cloud nine when I found out he enjoyed the book. I certainly hope the novel’s funny. My old teacher Barry Hannah used to say that books should offer “deep entertainment”; the unkillable ham in me can’t seem to let go of the second word. All of my favorite contemporary writers make me laugh: Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte, Barry. Even very dark, supposedly depressing, classics are secretly knee-slappers. I’m thinking of writers like Knut Hamsun, Thomas Bernhard, Samuel Beckett, and Herman Melville. I read Paul Auster’s introduction to Hunger, in which Auster talks about how dark and miserable the book is (all of which is true, of course), but I also thought, it’s hilarious! The truly tragic is the funniest stuff there is! The fact that we live on a spinning ball in an endless void, or that we possess a seemingly infinite consciousness but will all die. It’s just so absurd. I think laugher is the sound of someone accepting their powerlessness and through that acceptance briefly somehow transcending it. And it shouldn’t ever be explained. And I now ruined it forever.

Besides working as a novelist, a magician, and a rapper, you also write screenplays. In fact, Times Square, a script you co-wrote with Taylor Materne, was recently optioned by Focus Features. In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference between writing a novel and a script, and do you prefer writing one form over the other?

I’ve found the two to be very different. In film, structure is king, so you really have to work out the entire plot as much as you can before setting off to write. It helps a lot to work with someone else to figure out what needs to happen when.  Of course, you often end up changing nearly everything anyway, but it’s almost more like assembling a watch or engine, some device that has to meet company-mandated specs. Fiction writing, for me, is a much more unwieldy, inefficient, foolhardy, and reliably meaningful experience. That said, I’ve always enjoyed writing dialogue, and the script stuff is a fun opportunity to pen snappy exchanges. In movie writing, you get to put down things like, “NO WAY OUT. The green creature on his heels, he GRABS the duffel bag and – screw it – LEAPS OFF the roof over the sea wall to the CHURNING WATERS of the GULF of MEXICO.”

The Poser is your debut novel. Is there a second in the works? If so, could you talk a bit about it? If not, would you mind divulging what other creative projects you’re currently working on?

There is a lengthy word file in my laptop that I hesitate to call a second novel, but perhaps it will be one day! It is too early to talk about it, but I hope it will be funny.

Buy The Poser at Amazon

About the Author:
Jacob Rubin’s writing has appeared in the anthology Best New American Voices,, New York magazine, Slate, n+1, and The New Republic. Times Square, a screenplay he co-wrote, was recently acquired by Focus Features. He lives in New York.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.