Author Interview: Blake Fontenay

One of the many authors included in the Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded anthology is Blake Fontenay with his story, “The Coal Torpedo.” Mr. Fontenay takes a few minutes to stop by The Book Diva’s Reads and answer a few questions about himself and writing. 

Thank you Mr. Fontenay for stopping by…

Q. You’ve described yourself as a “recovering journalist.” Did you find it difficult to transition from journalist to novel writer?

A. Writing a novel is much different from writing a story for a newspaper. As a newspaper reporter, you know you’ll be working on a story for a day, or maybe a few days, or maybe even a few weeks. But you know at the end of that time, your work will appear in print under your byline. (Or if the story doesn’t pan out, at least you know you’ll get paid for your time.) With novel writing, you don’t have those assurances. You work for months on end, not knowing for sure if your work will ever be published or if anyone will read it if it is. I think novel writing is a much tougher test of self discipline.

Q. The Politics of Barbecue was your first published novel; was it your first attempt to write a novel? 

A. Actually, I wrote a book called Scouts’ Honor before I wrote The Politics of Barbecue. On my first attempt, I didn’t have any luck finding a publisher for Scouts’ Honor. But after I got The Politics of Barbecue published, I re-worked Scouts’ Honor and it was published last year.

Q. Writing a novel can be a relatively solitary endeavor. Did you find it easier or more difficult to write your novels or the story for this anthology?

A. In newspaper writing, you’ve always got editors who are monitoring your progress. This can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because editors keep you motivated and focused on meeting your deadlines. It can be a curse if you’ve got an editor who is always breathing down your neck and trying to micro-manage you. At least I’m told that can happen with some editors.

Q. Do you have any rituals you adhere to while writing, such as dedicated writing space, typewriter versus computer, set hours to write daily, silence or music in the background or can you write anywhere?

A. I typically write in the evenings after I get home from work. Usually, that only happens after quite a bit of procrastination. I’ll flip on the TV and spend a while surfing Facebook or reading news stories online before I ever get serious about writing. But once I do get serious, I tend to go on writing benders. I’m not a big believer in forcing myself to write every day because if I’m not feeling it, the work product isn’t going to be any good. But when I am feeling it, I don’t want to stop writing.

Q. Do you need a detailed outline before writing your stories or do you allow your creativity free reign? 

A. I’ve written with outlines and without outlines. For me, I think it’s helpful to have a general skeleton of what the story will look like before I start writing. However, I’ve never done an outline from start to finish for a novel. I just try to outline the first few chapters to get me started, then I make up the rest as I go along. I like not knowing how a story is going to end. Until I have to write the ending, of course.

Q. If you had to choose a soundtrack for “The Coal Torpedo,” what songs would be included?

A. “The Coal Torpedo” is a really dark story. Since the story is set right after the Civil War and concerns events that happened during the Civil War, I think a really slow, creepy whispered version of “Dixie” would have to be on the soundtrack. Maybe the same kind of treatment for “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” If I had to go with something modern, maybe “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. But even that might be too upbeat to fit this story.

Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded
ISBN: 9781626818781 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781626818774 (ebook)
ASIN: B014RY2W00 (Kindle edition)
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Diversion Publishing

Bestselling authors Jeffery Deaver and Anne Perry join rising stars like Dana Chamblee Carpenter and Paul Gail Benson in a collection that proves Music City is a deadly place to be when your song gets called.

Featuring stories by: Donald Bain, Robert Dugoni, Jefferson Bass, Mary Burton, Jonathan Stone, Steven James, Maggie Toussaint, Clay Stafford, Heywood Gould, Jaden Terrell, and more…

Every year, some of the biggest names in the thriller world converge in Tennessee for the Killer Nashville conference, an event where stars of the genre rub elbows with their most devoted fans, where the bestsellers of tomorrow pick up tricks of the trade, and where some of the best writers of today swap dark tales of good deals gone bad, rights made wrong, and murder in all shades…

This collection of new stories features some of the biggest names in suspense, from bestsellers to ferociously talented newcomers. Grouped around the classic theme of murder, Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded is a first-class collection and a must-have for fans of the genre.

“The Coal Torpedo” by Blake Fontenay 

The Civil War has just ended and historical figure Allan Pinkerton is in Washington, D.C. in the office of President Andrew Johnson on a mission to set wrongs right. But Johnson may have another agenda than the truth and – if Johnson has his way – the person responsible for the deaths of 1,700 American civilians may go unpunished.

Meet the Author:

Blake Fontenay spent more than 25 years as a reporter, columnist and editorial writer for metropolitan daily newspapers — including the Sacramento Bee, Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), Orlando Sentinel and Commercial Appeal (Memphis). Since leaving the newspaper business, he has worked as the communications director for Tennessee’s Comptroller, Treasurer and Secretary of State. He is currently the coordinator for the Tri-Star Chronicles project at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. He has two published novels: The Politics of Barbecue, which won an Independent Publishers Book Awards gold medal for fiction in the South region, and Scouts’ Honor.

Connect with the author:     Goodreads      |     Facebook      |     Twitter 


Enter to win 1 of 8 ebook copies of Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded via Diversion Books and the Killer Nashville Team. Giveaway ends November 30 and is open to US residents only.

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Book 228: FACEOFF Review

FACEOFF edited by David Baldacci
ISBN: 9781476762067 (hardback)
ISBN: 9781476762081 (ebook)
ASIN: B00GEEB3WK  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

For the first time ever the world’s greatest thriller characters meet head-to-head in 11 electrifying stories.

Where else will you be able to read about Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme meets John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport? Fans of Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone and James Rollins’ Gray Piece have waited for years to see those characters together. Then there’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher meeting up with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller in a bar in Boston. Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani becoming entangled with Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper. Plus, you can’t forget the ever-odd Aloysius Pendergast coming face to face with the scary world of R.L. Stine.

In an unprecedented collaboration, twenty-three of the world’s bestselling and critically acclaimed thriller writers have paired their series characters in an eleven-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers (ITW). Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci, FACEOFF is a who’s who of not only the most beloved contemporary thriller writers, but also their iconic characters–putting them head-to-head with their most worthy opponents.

As worlds collide, the characters you think you know best are thrown into unpredictable situations and partnered with, pitted against, and in some cases, romantically entangled with, characters you’d never suspect–and some that you would. With introductions to the stories that describes the writers, their characters, and a bit about the story’s creation, FACEOFF is truly a treasure trove for thriller fans.

Rhymes with Prey is the short story that features Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs from Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series and Lucas Davenport from John Sandford’s Prey series. I’ve read all of the Lincoln Rhymes books in the past and am a huge fan, but this was the first time I’ve read anything by John Sandford. (Yes, his books are going on my TBR list!) As with the other stories in this anthology, this was a fast-paced and masterful story. Lucas Davenport has been asked to come to New York to assist his friend, NYPD officer Lily Rothenburg in an investigation of a series of murders. Lily fears that these drug-related murders of Latino women may be affiliated with one of the NYPD’s Narcotics squad. Since she isn’t quite sure who she can trust in-house, she has requested Lucas to assist. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs have been dealing with the forensic evidence from these murders. This two-pronged approach to the investigation quickly reveals that there may be an artistic link to the murders, in addition to the possible police link. All four are pushed to race against the clock as political pressure is applied to the department to quickly solve the case. Can they bring in a suspect, the right suspect, and close the case before the investigation becomes a witch hunt?

Rhymes with Prey was, simply speaking, an amazing read. It was impossible to tell where one writer left off and the other began. The authors were able to provide just the right amount of background into each character to make them familiar to the reader. The action was nonstop and wholly believable. I actually read FACEOFF in one sitting even though I was fighting off a migraine episode. (Yes it is simply that good.)

I’m sure most of you have realized by now that I really enjoy reading mystery-suspense-thrillers. What you may now know is that I’m not really a big fan of short stories or anthologies. However, when you’re given the opportunity to read a collection of short stories featuring some of the best authors and characters in thrillerdom you obviously say “YES!” I just need to add that reading FACEOFF has changed my attitude toward short stories and anthologies for the good. The best thing is I now have a slew of new-to-me authors to begin reading and tons of books to add to my TBR list. If you are a fan of any of these thriller writers or just a fan of short story anthologies, then FACEOFF is a must read.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Media Muscle | BookTrib. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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