The Weather Report, June 29




JUNE 30: “DOWNFALL,” by Deborah Teller Scott and “BOILING POINT,” by Karen Dionne.

As a novelist, Deborah Scott is definitely old school, citing Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and James Thurber as her primary inspirations. Her goal, she says, is to produce books that “warm the heart, intrigue the mind and entertain the senses.” And, sometimes, along the way, kill off a few people, but Scott accomplishes this in classic cozy mystery style. “Downfall” is unique in that it is a very British novel written by an American. (Maybe it helps that the climate of Scott’s home in coastal Oregon is very similar to that of the UK). The main character, Detective Inspector Michael Dachemont, is enjoying a holiday on the south coast of England, giving him a break from a high-profile London murder trial, when … blast it! … another murder intrudes into his R&R.

Michael Crichton is gone, but certainly not forgotten, as Karen Dionne will attest. Nearly every review of the first two books in her “Point” series include the phrase … “If you liked Michael Crichton …” Not that Karen is complaining, but she brings her own style to a relative new genre known as “the environmental thriller.” In “Boiling Point,” she takes a real event — the volcanic eruption of Mount Chaiten in Chile (see photo above) — and tethers to it an intriguing range of characters and diverse subplots. She has obviously done the science, but there is nothing dry about this fast-paced tale and her writing (especially when describing the eruption itself) is often spectacular.

JULY 3; “FALLEN,” by Melinda Inman and “THE SECRET CORPS,” by Peter Telep.

As historical novels go, you can’t travel any farther back in time than Melinda Inman’s upcoming book, “Fallen,” a fictional treatment of Adam, Eve and the Fall of Man. Melinda is the most accessible kind of Christian writer, demonstrating a reverence for her subject but standing back far enough from them to avoid being preachy or dogmatic. And since the Old Testament is primarily a narrative without a lot of character development, it offers today’s writers a myriad of intriguing gaps waiting to be filled. As you’ll see, Inman has met the challenge of the very first one.

Like Karen Dionne, Peter Telep is inexorably connected with a recently deceased popular writer — in this case, Tom Clancy. Telep even spent years channeling Clancy in a series of books based upon some of the legendary military novelist’s unpublished plots. This time, however, he’s going it alone with “The Secret Corps,” a military thriller that takes a relatively minor event — a fatal home invasion in a small town — and telescopes it into a farflung tale with global implications. Telep’s trademark is accuracy, and he has relentlessly researched the Marine Corps Way to give his book the stamp of Semper Fi.Clancy and Telep

NEWS AND NOTES: Each in his or her own way, the four writers featured this week are dealing with today’s marketing challenges.

Peter Telep has been to the mountaintop — in this case, a mountain named Tom Clancy. Telep, a successful thriller author in his own right, was asked to produce several novels from Clancy’s legacy, giving new meaning to the term “ghost writing.”

“The Secret Corps,” however, is Telep’s first post-Clancy effort in several years As he explains: “I’ve been writing and publishing for over twenty years now, and I’ve worked for many big franchises, but I’ve never been more excited about a book. Why? Because The Secret Corps is all me. No marketplace influences. No publisher demands. No book contract. Just a story and a writer. My fuel was passion, and my inspiration came from dozens of military veterans who are some of the finest and most generous people alive. Nearly two years in the making, The Secret Corps is my debut novel as an independent author.”

Like Telep with his military insights, Karen Dionne has plugged into a hot genre — the environmental thriller. She is also aware that no matter how compelling their story may be, writers these days need to reach out and grab their audiences by any means necessary. We’re very pleased that she chose to add “Snowflakes in a Blizzard” to her marketing arsenal.

Or why not crowdsourcing? Melinda Inman has tried Kickstarter to plug her novel “Fallen,” and it’s the perfect vehicle for this — a definite niche book that can motivate readers not only to read it, but to help give it wide exposure.

And finally, Deborah Teller Scott has taken a different route, staying true to the hallowed tradition of the cozy mystery novel and not pandering to a mass audience. As she’s well aware, there are plenty of people out there who will read and enjoy her latest novel without her needing to compromise.


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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