Thursday, January 26, 2012

Torn by Dean Murray - Book Review, Author Interview

by Dean Murray

Shape shifter Alec Graves has spent nearly a decade trying to keep his family from being drawn into open warfare with a larger pack. The new girl at school shouldn't matter, but the more he gets to know her, the more mysterious she becomes. Worse, she seems to know things she shouldn't about his shadowy world.

Is she an unfortunate victim or bait designed to draw him into a fatal misstep? If she's a victim, then he's running out of time to save her. If she's bait, then his attraction to her will pull him into a fight that'll cost him everything.


This YA Paranormal Romance was a great read. Characters were created with great insights into the minds of teenagers. It was a nice change to read from a males point of veiw (Alec's point of view). I really enjoyed the intense fights between the packs, and the The plot was good, and the pace moved along nicely. Overall it is a great book to reccomend to your teenagers.

My Rating 5 Stars!

Author Interview

Before we get started, I just quickly wanted to say thanks for having me, Melissa. As an author, one of the high parts of the experience is having other people get to know the characters I’ve spent so much time with. I know book bloggers are almost always drowning in review requests, so I appreciate you taking the time to read Torn and let people know what you thought.

Thank you so much for allowing me to review your amazing story! I can't wait to share it with the readers!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Ah, these types of questions are always the hardest. Talking about characters, books, the writing process, those things are pretty easy, but I’ll give it a shot. I’ve been reading avidly since the second grade. I got started more or less on a dare, and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me as it laid the foundation for all of the success, professional or otherwise, that I’ve experienced since.

I’m what I call a practical romantic, which means I always secretly wanted one of those whirlwind seat of the pants type relationships, but I was too grounded (boring) to ever let myself do anything really crazy. Luckily my wife saw through all of my quirks and hung around long enough to get past all of that and we’re very happy with our soon to be two daughters.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think I’ve always been a story junkie. I have a really hard time leaving a movie or a book unfinished, which has led to far too many late nights, but it has left me with an active imagination. I toyed with the idea of writing back when I was in high school, but never really pursued it until I stumbled on a fanfiction site while in college. I was reading these amazing stories all by the same guy, and they were really entertaining. At the end of several of them he said something to the effect of ‘a lot of people are intimidated by the number of words I put up, but it’s not that hard, you should give it a try’.

For whatever reason I decided to take him up on the challenge, and I’ve been hooked on telling my own stories more or less ever since.

What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?

I’m an accountant by training, so I tend to be fairly analytical. I think the thing that most surprised me about all of this was the extent to which my subconscious puts the pieces together with only minimal input from my conscious. I’ve often found solutions to problems just come to me at unexpected times, and I’ve been utterly astonished how often bits and pieces from earlier in a book or earlier in a series turn out to be exactly what I need to launch another subplot later on.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I tend to come at things from a physics standpoint first. By that I mean I set up the rules for my world first. How does the magic work, or what are the paranormal elements? Once I’ve got that in place, I usually progress to a germ of an idea about a plot, or a character. Sometimes one will pop up first, sometimes the other, but then it tends to be a process where the plot and characters build on each other until I’ve got a rough outline of where the story is going to go, and who the characters I’m dealing with really are.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Probably no surprise given my answer above, but I think the storytelling is the most important piece. For different genres, I think different tools sometimes rise to the fore, but for me it’s about a story. That means there are ingredients that have to be there. You have to have one or more characters that the reader feels strongly about, some level of conflict, and a setting for the story to take place in. You can mix those elements in different quantities to tell a given story a number of different ways, but ultimately it’s about taking the reader through a series of events that entertains them or impacts them in a way they were open to experiencing.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’m currently still mostly working through publishing the backlog of work I’ve built up over the last 8 years or so. Torn is live so readers have a chance to read about Alec’s version of events. Broken, on the other hand, tells the same story, just from Adri’s point of view. For quite some time now I’ve envisioned the two as a single work, a double novel that could be started from either point of view and still be rewarding to the reader.

Broken will go live before year end, and then we’ll focus on getting the sequel to Broken and Torn up (Splintered). Beyond that, I’ve got several short stories nearly ready to go that are part of what I’m calling my ‘Dark Reflections’ series. They are placed in the same universe as Broken and Torn, and feature many of the same characters, but they represent an alternate timeline. It’s a way to take my characters and show readers a different side to them than they get to seen in Broken and Torn.

In Twitter Fashion use 140 characters or less, sum Torn for us.

Shapeshifter boy is torn between protecting his pack and a growing fascination for the new girl in school. With romance and amazing fights.

How did you come up with a story that was such a whirl wind of events?

It all started after I read Twilight. I won’t go into all of that here-I’ve talked about it enough other places, but I wanted to create something that hit the same demographic in much the same way. At the same time, I’d spent quite a while thinking about Pride and Prejudice and the intriguing way that Jane Austen took Mr. Darcy and changed the reader’s point of view on the character during the course of the story.

A key ingredient to that kind of transformation is that the readers believe the motivations and reason the character has for coming across as the bad guy originally. For me, the reason that my character came across the way he did was that he had so much on the line that he couldn’t take stupid chances on someone he wasn’t sure he could trust.

I actually wrote Broken first and then came back and wrote Torn. In Torn I got to explore more of the pack dynamic. That in turn drove the action in the story, and the pacing took on a life of its own in a couple of places.

How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?

If memory serves, Broken took something more than six months to write. Torn on the other hand was done in a couple of months. Partly that was a function of the amount of free time I had at the different times I was writing the two stories, and partly that was because with Torn I already had a very sturdy framework for the story, I just needed to go in and flesh out the details.

No bouts of writers block really with either. Usually if I run into writer’s block it’s because I haven’t spent enough time in my outline figuring out how I’m going to get from point to point.

Will we be seeing a following book to this story?

Absolutely! I’ve mentioned Broken and Splintered. I’ve got the two Dark Reflections short stories nearly ready to go, and recently finished a short story that takes place just after Splintered. I’ve tentatively got two more novels mapped out so far, but have several supporting characters that will get novels of their own at some point, so there are probably somewhere between 5 and 10 more novels in there in including all of the Dark Reflections stuff.
How did you come up with the Female Lead character?

Adri was patterned after my target demographic at the time. That’s one of the things that I think Stephenie did really well with Twilight and I tried to do the same. That is why Adri was a bit on the shy side, was smart, and loved to read. From there, I needed a reason for some of her actions to be such that they could be interpreted multiple ways. I hit on the idea of her panic attacks, and the rest of the character started growing from there.

I always must ask, If you could pick one actor to portray Alec Graves on the big screen who would it be and why?

Hmm, that’s not one I’ve put a ton of time and thought into, but I’d probably say my starter candidate would be Steven Strait. I thought he did an excellent job in The Covenant. He brought a kind of earnestness to his character that I associate with Alec, at least when he’s not brooding :)

Was there anything you find particularly challenging when writing this book?

I think time management ultimately is the most challenging piece. There’s a leap of faith I have to take with each new novel. It’s kind of a ‘is this one really ready to be started, or am I about to waste a bunch of time writing crap that stalls out halfway and which nobody would want to read even if I did finish it’ moment. Once I get through that challenging first little bit and the story really starts sucking me in, then the difficulties all come down to time management. I’ve got a fairly demanding day job, and things have only gotten more difficult since our first daughter arrived. Indie publishing is incredible when it comes to the level of control I have over the process, but it’s also added some strains to the time management equation and has taken away from actual writing time.

That’s the biggest reason that I have that plea in the end of nearly all my books. I’ve got dozens of stories inside my head that I really want to get out for people to enjoy, and the question of just how many of them make it out in the next few years depends on fans helping get the word out such that I’m able to get to a position where I can write full time.

What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?

Torn was my tenth title to go live, so some of the novelty had worn off of the process by then. Also, there is a lot of back and forth with my wife Katie as she does the cover art, so there isn’t usually a big surprise moment when she unveils a finished cover. Instead we talk through a number of different concepts and then she goes off and mocks up a couple of concept covers.

That being said, I was still very excited when she showed me the finished cover. It was everything I’d asked for, and I remember being really excited because it meant we were one step closer to having Torn live so that people could come and play in the universe I’d spent so much time creating.


Victoria said...

Wonderful interview. I love your Twitter summation :). I plan on looking into this after I catch up a bit on my TBR pile. That is to say you've been added to it :).


Dean said...

I just wanted to stop by and say thanks again for having me, Melissa.

I'm very glad you liked it and appreciate you taking the time to read Torn!


Dean said...

Hi, Victoria. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad I've made it to your TBR pile :)

Keep an eye out for Splintered-it's due out the beginning of April and I think it's really going to knock peoples' socks off.


moonglitter said...

HI!! This sounds like it's right up my alley!! ;) Thanks for an interesting interview! I look forward to reading your books!

Dean said...

Hi, Moonglitter.

I'm glad to hear Torn sounds like something you'd enjoy. When you finish Torn please drop me a line-I'd love to hear what you think.


booklover0226 said...

This sounds really interesting. I need to check it out.

Tracey D

Dean said...

Hi, Tracey.

Sorry I'm a bit late swinging back by. I'm excited that Torn sounds like it might be up your alley.

We're now just a little bit over 2 months away from having the sequel to Broken and Torn go live, so please keep your eyes peeled :)


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