Not that this is such a bad thing for a writer.
We met Cynthia Vespia at Absolute Write. She was looking for an interview swap. In these kinds of swaps, as you’ve probably figured, each writer interviews the other, offers a book blurb related to the interview, flashes a cover image to entice the crowds, and hopes that someone, somewhere, is intrigued. The hint of intrigue becomes a burning curiosity, the novel is purchased, raves follow – and the best-seller list beckons.
That’s the plan, anyway.
We started with asking her one of the standard interview questions: Why do you write, anyway? There’s a big guy standing behind me with an axe, threatening to cut my head off if I don’t write. In all seriousness, I love to write. I have stories that need to be told. Besides, there really isn’t anything I’d rather be doing.
So, right off the bat, we’re a little concerned about this woman. There isn’t anything she’d rather be doing? Vacationing in Hawaii, diving into her own personal money pit, getting a full body massage by Jason Statham or Johnny Depp or both, in tandem?
Still, we forged together, pulling out Standard Question #2: When did you decide to become a writer? (It turns out, she was waaaay ahead of the game.) I was around 8 years old, she tells us, and the teacher asked everyone what they wanted to be when they grew up. Everyone parroted each others answers. The boys said ‘football player’, the girls said ‘veterinarian’. I said, ‘I want to be an author.’ The teacher stopped, saying to the entire class, ‘Did everyone hear that? That’s a good job.’ It still makes me smile when I think about that time.
It made us smile to think about a time when a school teacher thought “author” was a good job. Maintaining interviewer mode, we went to S.Q. #3: Why do you write what you write? Cyn said, I write what comes into my head; I’ve been told I’m multi-genre. Most authors are, really. It’s all about depicting emotion. Most of my novels are character-driven and full of suspense, regardless of genre. Labels really never mean much to me so I guess that’s why I write a lot of different types of stories.
One of those stories is the book she wants to talk about here, Sins and Virtues. We like the title. We like the cover. And Cyn likes her masterwork, too, obviously. She speaks clearly and elegantly about it. It was only after we saw her Authors Note for the thriller that we started to edge away from her slowly.
The Authors Note? It reads like this: The idea for Sins and Virtues came to me one day when I was on a trip towards the mountains and we passed a prison yard in the distance. It was further developed when I went to San Francisco and visited Alcatraz.
(Quick note: When WE went to San Francisco on our honeymoon, we visited the Golden Gate bridge. Fisherman’s Wharf. Chinatown. Clearly, Cyn is cut from different cloth.)
The Authors Note continues: I firmly believe that during my time there, a soul of one of the departed attached itself to me and followed me home. As I continued to write of Sam’s time in prison and subsequent escape, I started seeing images of things I should know nothing about. The Alcatraz inmate was speaking to me, so part of this story belongs to him…whoever he was.
At first we wanted to scoff at her but, then, we thought – What if Cyn is right? Do we want to piss off the soul of a departed Alcatraz killer? Or, if not a killer, a seriously dedicated shoplifter?
We do not. What we want to do is, recommend you give her book a gander. So, in that regard, we offer you a link to purchase the book, the official blurb, and even an excerpt from the novel.
BLURB – SINS AND VIRTUES
Purchase site: here.
A unique hostage situation is about to turn ugly unless author Ben Haskins can use his gift of words to befriend his captor.
Fantasy novelist Ben Haskins has taken a remote cabin in the wilderness to revive his shaky marriage and failing career. Within the peaceful surroundings he runs into real trouble when convicted murderer Sasha Mitchell breaks into the cabin after she escapes from prison. Marked by a dark past of abuse Sasha is volatile and ready to snap. It is up to Ben to use his writer’s gift of words to diffuse the situation before time runs out for them both.
Ben brought up his hands to signify he was not hostile, but before he could speak the woman made a surprising move. She dashed backwards and slipped a long knife from the wood block that stood on the counter. By chance or choice she’d yielded the butcher knife. Its large, flat edge gleamed from a spot of yellow sunlight breaking through the kitchen window as its master twisted it in her grip.
Now Ben was certain there was trouble. She could be unstable from a mental disorder, or drug abuse. Either way, she was now armed and double the threat.
Ben wasn’t about to take any chances with his life, woman or man. He had a family to support, a son to watch grow into a man.
His most logical decision now would be to bring the odds decidedly back to his favor. The mental image of the .12 gauge shotgun, flawlessly polished and resting inside the tomb of the foyer closet, sprung to mind.
The woman was about five feet in front of him, clutching the knife tightly in her right hand. Her eyes were steely and locked onto Ben’s every move. The lines of her body were contoured into an athletic looking frame, poised and ready to strike. She could be on him like a jungle cat, stealthy and quick, that he was well aware of.
The pulsing of his heart grew rapid and his adrenaline surmounted once again. But unlike the level attained in the weight room, it was now at a pace he could not voluntarily control. His shirt was pasted to his skin, clinging and delivering a feeling of constriction to his chest.
He wondered if he should speak, say something to let her know he wasn’t a threat to her. But in the back of his mind he wanted nothing more than to be out of harm’s way. Hoping to gain positive ground by using an obstacle as interference, Ben knocked over one of the chairs from the wicker dining set. Turning on heel he made a swift vault for the closet where the shotgun was located.
As he reached the handle to the door he looked back just in time to see the woman hurdle the chair with ease. Stunned at her athleticism he fumbled for the shotgun, unable and unwilling to take his eyes off of her.
Rather than pursue him, she stopped at her landing with a soft pad of her feet and marked him in her sights. She flipped the knife around to grasp its steel edge and launched it through the air with precision.
Ben tipped back just in time to narrowly avoid being struck in the face by the airborne blade. Instead, it grazed his left ear and temple as he fell ass backwards to the hardwood floor. His hand instinctively shot up to attend to the sudden coarse burning that spread out over his damaged flesh.
In mere seconds the woman was across the room and upon him. Ben had been on target about her cat-like quickness. A solid, brutal heel strike landed squarely upon his groin. Before he could even wail out in pain another kick caught him flush under the chin, gnashing his teeth together, almost severing his tongue.
Sparks of blackness rattled his vision. His body was overloaded with pain and dizziness soon followed. Regaining his bearings Ben thought for a moment he was dreaming. As his vision cleared he realized he was in a very real and waking nightmare. The woman stood above him, the barrel of the shotgun aimed at his chest.
The idea for Sins and Virtues came to me one day when I was on a trip towards the mountains and we passed a prison yard out in the distance. It was further developed when I went to San Francisco and visited Alcatraz.
I firmly believe that during my time there a soul of one of the departed attached itself to me and followed me home. As I continued to write of Sam’s time in prison and subsequent escape I started seeing images of things I should know nothing about. The Alcatraz inmate was speaking to me, so part of this story belongs to him...whoever he was.
Another interesting note comes from a true life tale so similar to the novel you just read. A man, down on his luck, wandered into a woman’s cabin while she was home alone. He was frantic and suicidal. During the standoff with police the female hostage took it upon herself to get to know her captor and talk him down into surrender and her release.
I’d never heard about this story until two months into writing Sins & Virtues. It is remarkable how things cross your path when you need them.
We are all born of two natures: 1 good, 1 evil
The side we choose to nurture defines who we are.