Review of CLIMATIZED by Sally Fernandez

front-coverClimatizedA Max Ford Thriller / by Sally Fernandez

Released Oct 2016 by Dunham Books

Review by Heather Haven

It’s not often one comes across a genre novel which causes the reader to think long and hard about just what’s going on in the world today. However, Climatized is just such a novel. Filled with detailed information about politics, the environment, and global warming, author Sally Fernandez forces us to try to separate fact from fiction, truth from lies, and to consider the ramifications of what the human race faces in going toe-to-toe with Mother Nature. The watch word in that long sentence is ‘try’. Weaving real players in with fictional characters, Ms. Fernandez has created a taut fabric of a thriller.

The protagonist, Max Ford, has just opened her offices as a private investigator. Having recently left the States Intelligence Agency, she takes on her first case, that of investigating the supposed suicide of a U.S. senator. Put your roller skates on at this point in order to keep up. We have murder, chicanery, love, loyalty, deception and honor at every turn. Ultimately, what is introduced within the pages of this book are often mind-blowing. Be prepared.

Interview with Sally Fernandez

headshotSally Fernandez, a novelist of provocative political thrillers, wasn’t always twisting facts with fiction. Heavily endowed with skills acquired in banking, she embarked on her writing career. Fernandez’ focus on computer technology, business consulting, and project management, enhanced by business and technical writing, proved to be a boon. Her books of fiction also reflect the knowledge garnered from her business experiences, while living in New York City, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. Fernandez’ foray into writing fiction officially began in 2007 when the presidential election cycle was in full swing. The overwhelming political spin by the media compelled her to question the frightening possibilities the political scene could generate. As a confirmed political junkie, she took to the keyboard armed with unwinding events and discovered a new and exciting career. A world traveler, Ms. Fernandez and her husband, also the editor-in-residence, split time between their homes in the United States and Florence, Italy.

Tell us about your new release.

front-coverCLIMATIZED is my fifth novel and the first in the “Max Ford Thriller” series, featuring Maxine Ford as the female protagonist. Max debuts in her role as a private investigator and right out of the starting gate she is hired by the wife of a prominent senator to determine the cause of his untimely death. During her investigation, she discovers that three world-renowned scientists had lost their lives days before they were scheduled to testify before the late senator’s investigative committee on climate change. Meanwhile, a fourth scientist has gone missing. Max determined he is the key to unearthing the motives behind the deaths. Following the many twists and turns, Max uncovers a powerful organization responsible for the killings. Cogent evidence is provided to the president, forcing him to make a crucial decision—to cover up a diabolical plot—or bring down a multi-trillion-dollar world-wide economy.

What led you to write this book?

While conducting research for two earlier novels, I discovered that there is a disconnect between the scientific data and the public policy as it pertains to climate change. And I am sure we could all agree that climate change is a topic up there with religion and politics, one that creates not only heated conversations, but much confusion. As with all my novels, I weave fact with fiction, holding to the words of Francis Bacon, who said, “The truth is hard to tell, sometimes it needs fiction to make it plausible.” Therefore, using this style of writing, I believe Climatized will help the reader put to rest much of the confusion and shine a light on the real science.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

Tackling an area of science where I had only a peripheral peripheral knowledge level was challenging and provided an unexpected education as I delved heavily into the science behind the causes of global warming. It also forged some interesting acquaintances. With Climatized, I altered my style slightly by incorporating a few real-life experts in my fictional plot, unbeknownst to them. One happened to be a New York Times bestselling author and the others where NASA Apollo Space Mission veterans and members of The Right Climate Stuff research team. After the manuscript was completed, I decided out of courtesy, to contact these experts and offer them a copy of the manuscript to fact-check to substantiate my research. I’m proud to say that the scientific data I weaved into my plot was spot on and I received their acclimation and full endorsement. Their continued support has been invaluable and has opened other avenues.

Which is more important characters or setting?

For my storylines to be plausible, everything between the pages must be believable, especially my characters. They tend to develop alongside me, like any relationship—notwithstanding my vivid imagination as I thrust them into various situations. But most important, the characters must stir emotions, good or bad, leaving the reader to want to learn more about them. The scenes are as important and must be vivid, transporting the reader to that place and time. Often I’ll use locations and real characters where I’ve shared experiences as a basis, but I also use locations, hotels, restaurants, or streets where I’ve never ventured. In those cases, I believe it is crucial that they be described accurately to add to the realism. Thanks to the Internet and satellite maps there is no reason not to make them as real as possible. Given my reel-to-reel writing style the reader always has a clear vision of the local scene.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?

I am a tad embarrassed to admit that I tend to read the works of my male counterparts, attempting to step in the shoes of Thor, Baldacci, Silva, et. al. And while their plotlines stir me, I’ve never been overly carried away with their female characters. Maybe that is why I was so compelled to give Max Ford a stage of her own in this new series. But going through my “guilt” pile of books I’ve started reading Janet Evanovich and I’m loving her Stephanie Plum character. While Max may be my alter-ego, Stephanie is definitely Max’s.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

With all my novels, I have the same three goals: to create an entertaining read, to inform the reader, and to challenge the reader to ask the ultimate question, “What if?” In Climatized particularly, it is to arm the readers with the facts, so they can make an intelligent decision about a topic that is here to stay for some years to come.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals?

My writing environment may vary with the offices in my home in the United States and another in my home in Florence, Italy. And while these locations may somewhat inspire aspects of my plot, they primarily provide a quiet haven for creating. Then comes the hotel room somewhere in the world, when my husband, who is also my editor, and I need a change of venue. What does not change is my ritual. Each day starts with a morning workout to clear my head to prepare me for six to seven hours of steady writing and/or research. At the end of each day, I’m greeted with a glass of wine from my husband. That’s when we discuss the status of the book, what I am working on, what he is editing, or what is in the offing. Both of us are retired from our corporate careers, so we’re fortunate to be able to ignore the phones and the daily disturbances. And he cooks the dinners. It’s an amazing collaboration with our days being filled with all aspects of writing and publishing books. The only downside—is when we are not—my husband calls it our Post-Partum Publishing Syndrome. Overall, call me incredibly blessed!

Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books?

To quote another luminary, Pericles said, “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics, doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” As a long-standing political junkie, I take contemporary political events and weave them into a fast-paced, fictional, suspense thrillers. And you won’t be able to keep yourself from learning along the way.

Book Excerpt FOR WOMEN ONLY by Kayelle Allen

For Women OnlyIn this scene from FOR WOMEN ONLY, Khyff has just walked in the door after a month away working. Like many of us, he’s not the best at using tech, so when his electronic security system greets him, humor ensues.

“Welcome home, Mr. Antonello.”

Khyffen Antonello flinched at the disembodied android voice. He let out a frustrated sigh. “I am never going to get used to that. IdBot?”

The home security system pinged in response.

“Didn’t I ask you to call me Khyff?”

“Yes, Mr. Antonello. Would you like to know the dates of your requests at this time?”

“No, I would not. Just change the greeting. Call me Khyff.”

“Yes, Mr. Antonello. Greetings and welcome protocols are found in the home security system settings in the main system. Would you like to adjust them at this time?”

“No.” His shoulders sagged. “Remind me later. I’ve been away for a month, okay? I’m a little tired.”

“Yes, Mr. Antonello. A reminder has been scheduled.” Locks activated with an audible click, and a slight increase in pressure on his ears told Khyff the flat had been sealed. “Premises secure.”

Khyff dropped his travel bag. The long commute had left him stiff, and he rolled his shoulders. In the living area, he swiped two fingers across a table and frowned at the dust. The cleaning droids had been skimping again. Not every machine was as efficient as idBot.

“Might be a good thing.” Khyff stretched, working out kinks. “IdBot, play music.” The blare of hard rock made Khyff jump. He clamped both hands over his ears. Drums thundered and boomed behind a wailing voice he’d heard on tour every day for the past month as security liaison for Wind and Thunder. “End music.”

The silence made him groan with pleasure. “That’s better.” He lowered his hands. “IdBot, how did that music get on my setup?”

“Music added by roommate Senth Antonello.”

“My brother is back.”

“Affirmative.”

That meant trouble.

“You could’ve warned me my brother was home when I got in the door.”

“Yes, Mr. Antonello. Greetings and welcome protocols are found in the home security system–”

“Never mind.” Khyff rubbed his temples.

Publisher Romance Lives Forever Books This book is free on Kindle Unlimited Amazon http://amzn.to/1f7Ge0P Amazon (print) http://amzn.to/2eFKee5 CreateSpace (Print) http://bit.ly/bro-women-csp The prequel for this book is AT THE MERCY OF HER PLEASURE, also available on Amazon http://amzn.to/1f7FQ2h

Interview with Kayelle Allen

kayelle-bio-picKAYELLE ALLEN is a best-selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.

How important is setting to your story?

In FOR WOMEN ONLY, the characters meet on a world alien to the heroine. They continue and bond their relationship on a world alien to the hero. Being alien, being different, is vital to the plot.

Which is more important characters or setting?

Unless you’re writing a travelogue, it’s the characters. They are what people rave about and what they remember about a book. I’ve had many emails from readers who said they loved this or that character, but setting is mentioned only in passing. “I’d For Women Onlylike to live in the Tarthian Empire,” one wrote. But many have emailed and messaged me online about Khyff, Senth, Luc, Izzorah, and the other people in my stories.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life?

I will claim the fifth on that. Of course not. (Batting my eyes innocently.)

Do you people watch for character inspiration?

It’s a hazard of the profession. I’ve come up with some great characters after a trip to the dentist, airport, grocery store, park, you name it.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?

Ooh, I would totally love to meet Roarke, from JD Robb’s In Death series.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

That being yourself and accepting others is the best way to enjoy life. There are themes of betrayal as well. All of us have faced betrayal in some form. The thing is, how do you handle it? As my hero in Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas says “Enemies will never betray you. Betrayal is reserved for family and friends.” I deal with that in my books. But I also sprinkle in humor and hope readers will be caught off guard by a funny moment, and come away laughing.

Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?

I’m crazy organized with my writing and anything related to it. I will find the easiest way to do something and then organize it, label it, and stack it neatly where it belongs. But do not make the mistake of thinking I keep house the same way. Sad, sad, sad. Not the same world at all. I’m a writer. I’m entitled to be messy somewhere. It’s part of my inspiration. (You believe me, don’t you?)

Which book impacted you as a teenager?

Reading the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. That series made me think about how an effect now could change the future. I created the Sempervian race as a direct result of considering that. If you live forever, you would see the effect of what you did today. So that became the basis for many stories in which they’re found, including At the Mercy of Her Pleasure and For Women Only, books 1 and 2 in the Antonello Brothers series.

What social media do you participate in?

I love Twitter and follow the #Thranduil hashtag every single day. If you’ve seen the Hobbit movies you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, Google his name and you’ll get it. I also use Facebook every day, I actively host authors on my guest blog, Romance Lives Forever, and I share to Pinterest, G+ and my Tumblr. But the one that takes most of my time and attention is Twitter.

Book Excerpt: CHASING SHADOWS by Karen Harper

chasing-shadows-front-coverCHASING SHADOWS by Karen Harper

But it wasn’t her family at her hospital room door. It was a senior partner of Markwood, Benton and Chase, Attorney Nick Markwood, not decked out in his lawyer suit but in gray casual slacks and a bright blue golf shirt. He took the roses from the cop and came in to sit in the chair beside her bed, laying the bouquet beside her sheet-covered leg. Like an idiot, she hoped her hair and make-up looked okay. At least she had a robe over this stupid-looking hospital gown.

“I know that officer,” he said. “I asked him not to say it was me, or I figured you might not see me. We were adversaries, and I know you probably hate me for grilling you the way I did. But I have a proposal—a job offer—if you’ll just hear me out.”

“I don’t hate you, and I want to thank you for helping me yesterday. They gave me a transfusion, but it could have been worse if you hadn’t stopped my bleeding.” Still, she thought, that didn’t mean she trusted him. But if he was going to offer her a job at that prestigious law firm… “Okay, here’s the deal,” he said, crossing one ankle over his other knee. “I intended to talk to you about this just before you were shot. I could use your help immediately on an important issue in St. Augustine.”

“St. Augustine? Do you have an office there? With this situation—I have a young daughter too—I can’t really work outside this area.”

“I need your expertise and talents and so does an innocent woman who’s a friend of mine. If we don’t move fast, she may soon be indicted for murder. She’s the dead woman’s daughter, and the whole thing hinges or whether it’s an accident, suicide or murder. It will not only impact her, but the state of Florida. Needless to say, I’ll make it worth your while. I’d like to retain you as a consultant, have you conduct some interviews on site there. We need to prove that her daughter did not commit the murder.”

“If it were a local case, but St. Augustine’s about as far from here and still be in the state. As I said, I have commitments here.” “I hear you’re being released later today. I’m sure you’ll want to get home to your daughter, but can we meet to talk this over again soon, and I’ll give you more details? I saw your physician in the hall, and he said not to stay long right now.”

Her eyes widened and her lower lip dropped before she got hold of herself. The reach of this man amazed her. He knew the cop on her door; he’d consulted with her doctor. Wasn’t anything about her condition or release privileged? Was this master manipulator the kind of client she could trust? She really should not have trusted poor, dead Fred Myron either. But, she sure needed that job, and this one could be an entre to others. It had to be high-profile.

“Claire, could I pick you up tomorrow and take you over to Lake Avalon mid day? I’ll bring lunch. We’ll talk, so I can explain everything. The case, the people—your fee, of course. Unless you’d rather not go out into open spaces right now.”

“I’m not going to cower under my desk. Besides, those bullets surely weren’t meant for me. Really, I don’t have any enemies…not someone who would do that.”

Just yesterday, she would have said this man was her enemy from his trying to tear her testimony to shreds. She shouldn’t trust him now. No way she was going to leave Southwest Florida to work for who knew how long in the northeastern part of the state. She might as well be going to Alaska for all she knew of that area. And this was something that would affect the entire state? This guy was good with words, with convincing people, but not her.

“I  really don’t want to do profiling of possible murderers,” she told him. “That can be tricky and dangerous. That would be what you’re looking for, isn’t it, I mean if it’s murder? In Lifeboat v. Sorento, I was only trying to establish that Sol Sorento was alive. I turned up nothing to prove his friends and family wanted him dead or would have committed murder.”

He put both feet on the floor and his elbows on his knees as he leaned closer and fixed her with his riveting, silver stare. “Think of it this way then. I’m not asking you to profile a murderer, but a victim. Surely, this woman’s daughter would never have hurt her. The deceased had panic attacks and was on powerful meds, so maybe she accidentally or intentionally overdosed. It would be what you called on the stand a forensic autopsy.

I want you for this. And then we’ll go from there.” I want you…And then we’ll go from there…And the woman had panic attacks…powerful meds… Claire closed her eyes for a moment. She felt for this poor dead woman and her daughter. And, she hated to admit it, but she was moved by Nick’s passion for this case.

Interview with Karen Harper

karenharperKaren Harper is the NYTimes and USA TODAY bestselling author of romantic suspense and historical novels. A former high school English teacher and college instructor of composition (Ohio State University,) Harper now writes full time. For years, she and her husband have divided their time between Columbus, Ohio and Naples, Florida. They love to travel to the British Isles. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award in 2006. Visit her at www.KarenHarperAuthor.com or www.facebook.com/KarenHarperAuthor.

–Tell us about your new release, CHASING SHADOWS. I’m excited to say that CHASING SHADOWS is the December launch book for a new romantic suspense series, although I’ve written each book to stand alone in case a reader picks up mid-series. The first three books will come out close together. Book #2, DROWNING TIDES in February, and FALLING DARKNESS in May. Claire Britten is a forensic psychologist who has gone through a divorce and is fighting the tough disease of narcolepsy. Nick Markwood is achasing-shadows-front-cover criminal lawyer with a dangerous enemy who hires Claire to help him with a case. Though they don’t trust each other at first, threats and attacks soon have them working together as a team, and spark fly from there.

–What led you to write this book? My husband and I were South West Florida snowbirds for 30 years—in Naples, to be exact. I fell in love with the glitz and glamour of the area, but also with the scary elements of the wild Everglades and “old Florida.” Eccentric characters and crimes galore somehow breed in south Florida. Ripped-from-the-headlines cases inspired me to partner Claire and Nick to delve into deaths that might be murder, or suicide—or even an accident.

–How important is setting to your story? Setting is so important that it becomes another key character in my stories. From the deep, dark Everglades, to Civil War Era plantation to the mysterious Ten Thousand Islands, Florida is a real gift for a suspense writer. The first two books also use tropical settings in the Caribbean such as Grand Cayman Island and even Cuba. Island are so unique and romantic.

–Have you ever written a scene that creeped you out? Absolutely! I try to write two or three of those in each book, especially when the hero and heroine are trapped. The fact that Claire must take some strong meds to fight her disease also helps the already scary settings and events. If she takes her meds wrong (or someone tampers with them—hint, hint) she experiences dreadful walking, waking nightmares on top of the fact she and Nick are under attack from their enemies.

–Do you read the same genre you write? Yes, but not when I’m writing it. When I’m not reading my own research, I binge read between books. The exception to that would be if I’m asked to give an endorsement of another author’s novel, and there is a deadline for that. I also write in two genres—romantic suspense for Mira Books and historical novels about real British women for HarperCollins—so I might read historicals while I’m writing a rom/sus. I really need a ‘brain transplant’ when I switch from one genre to the other since the dialogue, characters and cultures are so different.

–Do you people watch for character inspiration? I think all authors do this, although I have never completely copied a character in one of my books (60 and counting!) I do, however, use a particular characters trait I might see or certain way of speaking. But if someone I know thinks they are “in” one of my books, that’s not quite true. However, since I write about real people in my historicals, that is a whole different thing, bringing people I have researched to life from another era.

drowningtides_concept_approved–What’s next for you? I hope to keep writing both romantic suspense (I’m ready to sign a new 3-book contract for more of THE SOUTH SHORES SERIES.) There are lots of changes in Nick and Claire’s lives, both domestic and professional. I’m having such fun taking them into a deeper relationship with each other—and Claire’s ex is on the horizon as one of Nick’s staff. I’m also writing another Edwardian story. Think Downton Abbey for that elegant era. THE ROYAL NANNY, out last June was the true story of the Cockney woman who reared two kings. Although I was first published in 1982, I never get over the thrill of seeing a cover for my new book, seeing it in the stores or in someone’s hand. I saw a woman reading a Karen Harper book on a Florida beach a few years ago and proudly told her, “That’s my book!” She said, “It is not! I paid for it at Barnes and Noble!” And so it goes. Happy, sunny and scary reading to all of you this winter.

Interview with BK Nault

51yq-1e0hhl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Tell us about THE KALEIDOSCOPE

“The Kaleidoscope” is about Harold Donaldson, a self-important fraud investigator who tries to show off by giving a homeless man a handful of change. Instead, the man insists Harold take a beautiful, handcrafted kaleidoscope that he insists Harold must protect. Soon, Harold finds out the ’scope has a supernatural ability to show viewers a glimpse into their future, and then wild adventures and chaos ensue as bad guys anxious to control the device close in.

What led you to write this book?

I had a couple of goals for this one. First, I wanted a character that was challenged to think outside his comfort zone. Someone who learned organically to the plot that no matter a person’s job or skin color or orientation, we’re all humans on this big planet trying to do the best we can. Except for the bad guys, but that’s another book entirely! Also, every story needs a good plot, so I wanted to explore how these different personalities would react if given a glimpse into their future. We allow our past to shape our future, but what if we could allow our future to shape our present? How would we be inspired to change or grow based on the good or bad news we receive, if that were possible?

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

I researched artificial technology and earth elements, like crystals, and found some really interesting developments going on. The examples Harold mentions in the book are based on that fascinating research, and I can tell you we are in for some mighty interesting developments in the not so distant future!

How important is setting to your story?

I worked backstage on set dressing and props for Community Theater for many years, so my settings are paramount to establishing the stage and adding to the texture of the story. In “The Kaleidoscope,” Harold starts out in his quiet, safe cubicle in a downtown Los Angeles office building, and then finds himself in the wilds of Yosemite National Park way outside his comfort zone. Setting has always been important to my process. I wrote an entire series based on a small town that is built around a walking path that “stitches lives together in life and love.” My Seasons of Cherryvale is based on characters doing life together in this unique setting. More and more housing developments are built on such a concept these days, so I guess it’s a common dream to be neighborly connected.

Do you people watch for character inspiration?

Yes, all the time. There is nothing better to a writer than watching and listening to people being candid and real. Always taking notes!

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

I want them first of all to be entertained. If the writing is good and the characters believable, that’s wonderful, but the plot has to be really interesting and move along. I still remember the feelings I had when I was a kid and that big box of Scholastic Books would arrive (do they still do that?) and the teacher would hand out the books we’d ordered. I couldn’t wait to escape into the adventures, the laughter, and to find new friends in those stories. I want to achieve that sense of escape and excitement for my readers.

Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?

Even though I love books and read just about anything written, I’m kinda creeped out by libraries. Go figure. Therapy needed?

What do you do when you are not writing?

I dabble in amateur photography, my husband and I often attend the theater, and we have a motor coach we travel in as often as possible. We’ve also recently taken up sailing, so I’m learning how to tack and come about and stow the gear, matey. I’m also the associate editor of “The Eastern Iowa Review” literary journal, so I read and evaluate a ton of submissions during our open season. http://www.portyonderpress.com/masthead.html

Which book impacted you as a teenager?

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” hands down.

Do you read the same genre you write?

I do, but I also read just about every genre to find out how other authors work their magic.

Do you have a recurring theme to your books?

A theme that occurs in all my books is finding fresh starts. Whether characters are seeking change to make their lives better, are facing a difficult life challenge, or just seeking adventure, starting anew is, to me, an interesting way to inspire readers…and myself…to do the same.

What are you reading now?

Anything I can get my hands on. Specifically I’m reading about Muslim and American relations for my next release, “Misdirect, A Novel of Spies, the Sahara, and Searching for God.”

What’s next for you?

I have a manuscript out to beta readers right now called, “Misdirect, A Novel of Spies, the Sahara, and Searching for God.” It’s about a CIA language expert who’s called into a mission to save the world. She’s got serious self-confidence issues, and while riding a camel through the Sahara with a young Muslim man, has some life changing experiences that change her future and…wait for it…gives her a fresh outlook.