May 09, 2013
Jonathan Stride is back!
My new novel, THE COLD NOWHERE, is now available in the UK, and it marks the long-awaited return of Duluth Lieutenant Jonathan Stride and his partners in crime, Serena Dial and Maggie Bei.
What can you expect from Stride's return? Here's what a lost teenage girl tells Stride when she's running for her life: "My mother told me that if there was ever a time in my life when I needed protection, and no one was around for me, I should go to you. Find Mr. Stride, she told me. She said you'd help me." And that's how a twisting, shocking mystery begins, forcing Stride to confront the failures of his past -- and the cold realities of the present. For a sneak preview, visit THE COLD NOWHERE page on my web site.
I know that U.S. readers are asking: When will the book be available here in the U.S.? Well, it will still take a while. My UK publisher stepped in to snap up the rights to the book for their new U.S. operation. They're a great publisher, but because they're just getting started here, it will take a while for them to launch the new book. In the meantime, you can easily order the beautiful UK hardcover edition from Amazon UK at a great price.
I hope you'll help me spread the word about the new book by sharing links to my web site (www.bfreemanbooks.com) on your Facebook or Twitter pages. Word of mouth makes all the difference!
This is also a good time to get your friends hooked on Stride in my first five novels, IMMORAL, STRIPPED, STALKED, IN THE DARK (also called THE WATCHER overseas), and THE BURYING PLACE, as well as my Stride e-story "Spitting Devil." Also don't miss my two most recent novels, THE BONE HOUSE and SPILLED BLOOD. THE BONE HOUSE introduced the character of Cab Bolton, who will return in an all-new novel next year. SPILLED BLOOD is a finalist for Best Hardcover Novel in the International Thriller Writers 2013 Thriller Awards.
You can find links to retailers for all of my books on the Buy the Books page of my web site.
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Keep track of new book releases and other news by joining my community! You can "like" my fan page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bfreemanfans or you can follow me on Twitter using my handle @bfreemanbooks.Stay tuned for more news in the months ahead...and thanks for reading!
April 01, 2013
Some wonderful news today...SPILLED BLOOD is a finalist for Best Hardcover Novel in the International Thriller Writers 2013 Thriller Awards.
What an amazing honor! This is my second short-listing for Best Novel in the ITW Awards, after The Burying Place two years ago. I've been a judge in this kind of awards process, and I know how difficult it is to choose finalists among so many terrific books. So it means a lot to me to get this recognition from my peers in the writing world.
A big congratulations to the other finalists: Sean Chercover, Lisa Gardner, Gregg Hurwitz, and William Landay. I'm in great company!
March 15, 2013
Sometimes readers tell me things that remind me why I do what I do. A comment I received today is one of those messages that will stay with me for a long time. Here's what she said:
"I have never been a reader. I've probably read maybe 5 books in my life. That is until Immoral! I was hooked! I have now read 10 books in the last year (for me, that's remarkable!) But not only that, just seeing me... read, has encouraged my kids to read more! My fifth grader has improved, my first grader is now reading at a high 2nd grade level, and my pre-schooler is trying really hard to read by himself... all because I read Immoral!"
Publishing is a tough business, especially in the last few years...but messages like that keep me going. So THANKS to all of you readers out there!
February 21, 2013
My first five books -- Immoral, Stripped, Stalked, In The Dark (also known as The Watcher overseas), and The Burying Place -- all featured Duluth police lieutenant Jonathan Stride and the two strong women who make up a triangle in Stride's life: Serena Dial and Maggie Bei. In addition to the twists and turns of each story, the novels took the heroes on an emotional roller-coaster ride.
Stride, Serena, and Maggie have taken a break for the last three years. In the interim, I've written The Bone House and Spilled Blood. The most recent, Spilled Blood, is a pure stand-alone and one of my own favorite books. Although The Bone House began as a stand-alone, the Florida investigator in the novel -- Cab Bolton -- became so popular that readers demanded his return. So I'm in the midst of a new Cab Bolton novel right now, and that book will be out in 2014.
However, I don't want anyone to think that I've forgotten about Stride & Co. The new Stride novel THE COLD NOWHERE will be released in the UK on 9 May and in the US later this year (details to follow soon). For those of you who already know Stride, it's a long-awaited return.
For readers who are new to me in the last two books -- or to your reader friends who haven't discovered me yet -- this is a great time to catch up on Stride. Even though the books are part of a series, I write them carefully so that you can read them in any order. I've had new readers discover me with each of the books (and most people didn't even realize they were in the middle of a series...which is exactly what I want). However, many readers enjoy watching the characters develop throughout the books, so if that's what you like, start at the beginning with Immoral.
So help me get the word out to new readers about Stride...you can tweet (find me on Twitter @bfreemanbooks), use Facebook (like my fan page at www.facebook.com/bfreemanfans), or share my books with your friends on Goodreads (I'm a Goodreads author so link to my page).
Then you'll be ready to enjoy THE COLD NOWHERE!
January 17, 2013
My readers all know that my first five books -- Immoral, Stripped, Stalked, In The Dark, and The Burying Place (which was a finalist for Best Novel in the International Thriller Writer Awards) -- feature Duluth police lieutenant Jonathan Stride.
After the hell I put the poor guy through in those books, I thought he deserved a vacation. So my two most recent books, The Bone House and Spilled Blood, introduced readers to new characters.
But the vacation is over. Readers have been clamoring to meet Stride again, and they'll get their wish later this year. My 2013 novel will be THE COLD NOWHERE, and it's another Duluth-based drama featuring Stride and the two women in his life, Maggie Bei and Serena Dial. A lot of readers had questions about the next steps in Stride's life after the end of The Burying Place...and all those questions will be answered! But as is typical of Stride, not without a lot of drama in between.
The UK edition of THE COLD NOWHERE is due out on 9 May. I don't have an exact release date in the US yet, but I will share it when I know it. In the meantime, start re-reading those early books in the series, and get ready for Stride's return!
As for all of you who are Cab Bolton fans (from The Bone House), Cab will be back in a new novel next year.
December 19, 2012
It's the Christmas season...and I have a gift for you.
Those of you who read my books know that I usually write dark, emotional suspense, but you can also enjoy my romantic side this season. My Christmas short story, "The Souls of the Ships," is a bittersweet tale of two lonely people who come together on Christmas eve on the shore of Lake Superior. I hope it reminds you of everything that's sweet and miraculous -- especially the power of love -- at this time of year.
For those of you in the U.S., you can enjoy a free audio version of "The Souls of the Ships," courtesy of my audio publisher, Blackstone, and Joe Barrett, who serves as the narrative voice on all of the audio editions of my novels. Click here to visit Downpour.com to get your free audio edition of the story. You can also download an electronic edition of the story to your Kindle by clicking here to visit Amazon.
For those of you in the U.K., you can download an exclusive e-edition of this short story for your Amazon Kindle. It's free for a limited time, so click here to visit the Amazon UK Kindle store to download it.
Please feel free to share these links with your friends, so we can spread the word about the story and get it in the hands of as many people as possible.
To all of you...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Keep reading!
November 30, 2012
Books make great gifts for family and friends! (Or for yourself!) If you're looking for books to put under the tree this year, you have lots of options.
You can now order a signed U.S. first edition of THE BONE HOUSE. It's available for delivery anywhere in the world, and economy shipping in the U.S. is free. Get more details by clicking here.
Your local bookstore can always order copies of any of my books, if they don't have the one(s) you want in stock. Just ask the owner/manager or visit the Customer Service desk. Or you can visit my Amazon store or my Buy the Books page for links to online retailers.
Avid fans may also want to think about t-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, mugs, and other gifts with "I Love Brian Freeman Books" logos and other designs inspired by my books. You can see the entire selection at my Cafe Press store.
If you're looking for particular editions (including translated editions), you can also write to me directly at email@example.com. I'm happy to help where I can.
November 18, 2012
The UK paperback edition of SPILLED BLOOD is finally here!
"You could hear a pin drop," says the Evening Standard about SPILLED BLOOD. "Chilling...A compelling read."
In addition to SPILLED BLOOD, the UK paperback edition also includes my Jonathan Stride short story, "Spitting Devil." This is the first appearance of Stride in three years, and it sets the stage for the new full-length Stride novel THE COLD NOWHERE, available next year.
October 01, 2012
It's October...how did that happen?
This is a busy month for events around the Twin Cities. You can find me at the libraries in Northfield and St. Croix falls, plus a couple book clubs around the region. My complete schedule is on my Events page.
I also have a very special Halloween event scheduled for Sunday, October 14, at 2:00 pm at the library in downtown St. Paul. I'll be doing a reading of my Halloween short story, "Trick"...a fun little tale about brothers and goblins suitable for adults and kids alike. So come on over to the library and listen to "Trick"...and get your books signed or stock up on gifts for the holiday season. (All my books will be available for sale and signing.)
Meanwhile, stay tuned for more information about the release of the new Stride novel, THE COLD NOWHERE, in 2013.
August 08, 2012
Okay, I've resisted long enough. Time to start tweeting...yes, I'm on Twitter now, in addition to Facebook. I'm only how many years late? You can follow me @bfreemanbooks. Be sure to pass along the word to your reader friends, too! I have a whopping 50 followers after a couple days, but I'm sure Ashton Kutcher is already getting nervous.
Personally, I love that @NelsonDeMille has about 1,400 followers with zero tweets. No doubt his followers are waiting with breathless anticipation for that first DeMille tweet!
June 27, 2012
Marcia and I were in the lovely town of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, recently, and we did something we hadn't done in a long time -- go to a video rental store.
You don't see too many video stores anymore. The majority of people now watch movies online or rent by mail through Netflix. For most of the 1980s and 1990s, though, video stores were everywhere, a part of our cultural and social fabric. Sort of like...um...bookstores.
Yes, it was an unhappy reminder of the challenges we face in the publishing industry. It's not that people can't buy books online, or that bookstores have gone away entirely, but bricks and mortar stores are not nearly as prevalent as they once were.
Why does that matter? Well, as we wandered the shelves of the video store, I remembered that visiting Blockbuster or Video World was the principal way that we used to find out what movies were available. We saw all of the current movies (old movies, too) in one place. We picked up the covers and studied the descriptions. We noted who was acting in what movies. Even if we didn't rent a particular movie that day, we made a mental note of it for the future. Without that experience, we just don't know what movies are really out there anymore.
Sure, we could replicate that experience online. There's no information you can find in a store that you can't find at the Netflix web site -- and a lot more. But we just don't do it with any regularity. It's not the same experience.
That's what authors face, too. Yes, people can find all the information about books online that they used to find in bookstores, but for many people, it's just not an ingrained habit (yet). The result is that I think fewer readers know about the wonderful diversity of authors and books that are available. It means it's much harder for authors to find new readers (and vice versa).
There's no point in crying in our coffee, though. The world moves on, even if I do miss video stores, and even if I wish we had as many great bookstores everywhere as we used to have.
But it does mean something for readers and authors alike. Writers now rely on readers more than ever to spread the word to their friends. If you like an author, if you want him or her to keep writing, then tell everyone you can. We may not have as many bookstore shelves to browse anymore, but we still have word of mouth. That's what will keep readers buying books, and that's what will keep writers in business.
June 01, 2012
I've been all across the country in the past month...Houston, Dallas, Vero, Portland, Seattle, Dayton, Denver, Phoenix, and several stops in my home state of Minnesota. It's been a great opportunity to meet with booksellers and readers and chat about my new book, SPILLED BLOOD.
Speaking of SPILLED BLOOD, Booklist -- the national review publication of the American Library Association -- has checked in with a stunning starred review of the new book: "Suspense doesn't get more excruciating than this....Reading this novel is like walking a tightrope in a high wind. Don't miss it." This is a wonderful endorsement from that most important segment of readers: librarians! It's also nice to have that kind of praise in advance of the ALA national convention in Anaheim, where I'll be participating in mystery panels on Saturday, June 23.
There's a lot of activity overseas now, too. My fifth book, THE BONE HOUSE, was just released by Circulo de Lectores in Spain as MARCADO A FUEGO. The book will be arriving in Italian bookstores in just a couple weeks (June 12) as IL DUBBIO. My Italian publisher, Piemme, also did a re-release of my first book, IMMORAL, with an exciting new cover.
My new Stride novel is done and will be released in 2013. I'm about to start work on my ninth novel (hardly seems possible!), which will bring back Cab Bolton from THE BONE HOUSE. Stay tuned!
May 01, 2012
The long wait is over!
The U.S. edition of my seventh novel, SPILLED BLOOD, is officially available all across the country. So head to your local bookstore, or buy it now at BN.com or Amazon. Or put it on your Nook or Kindle.
Here's what #1 bestselling crime fiction author Lisa Gardner has to say about the new book: "SPILLED BLOOD is everything a great suspense novel should be: gripping, shocking, and moving. Brian Freeman proves once again he's a master of psychological suspense, as he layers one family's crisis with an entire town's drama, building to an epic crescendo of rage, revenge and redemption."
I also have events scheduled around the country in May, including visits to Dallas, Houston, Vero Beach, Portland, Seattle, Dayton, Denver, and Phoenix -- as well as the Twin Cities and Duluth-Superior areas. Full details of my entire tour are available on the events page of my web site. I hope you can join me if I'll be in your area! If for any reason you can't make it, remember that you can always order signed, personally inscribed copies through the stores.
SPILLED BLOOD takes you to a remote part of southwestern Minnesota, amid dirt roads and ghost towns. Here's what you can expect from this latest thriller:
Two teenage girls play a deadly game of Russian Roulette...
It's every parent's worst nightmare. Christopher Hawk's daughter has been accused of murder . . . and she looks guilty as sin. Chris rushes to the rural lands of southern Minnesota, where his ex-wife and his only child, Olivia, now live, determined to defend his daughter.
He discovers two towns at war: Barron, where a chemical company has brought jobs and money, and St. Croix, Olivia's downriver home, where the same chemicals are believed to have brought death: a cancer cluster with mysterious origins. Olivia is at the center of the feud, and so is the girl she's suspected of killing. If Chris is to find out what really happened, he needs to learn everything about his daughter... but he's beginning to realize he hardly knows her at all.
Chris wants to believe Olivia is innocent, but belief is only the first step. Now he has to prove it. And all the while, her enemies are waiting, baying for her blood...
This book will again bring you relentless twists and turns and intense emotional suspense. It's among my very favorite books, and it's a beautiful edition, with a truly extraordinary cover. I hope you will add SPILLED BLOOD to your bookshelves today! Naturally, you can also find my earlier books for yourself or for friends, including THE BONE HOUSE, THE BURYING PLACE, IN THE DARK, STALKED, STRIPPED, and IMMORAL.
Oh, and never fear, the new Jonathan Stride novel will be available in 2013!
April 16, 2012
My seventh novel, SPILLED BLOOD, will be available in the U.S. on May 1!
I'll be doing one of my most wide-ranging tours in several years in May to support the release of the new book. This includes cities and bookstores I've visited in the past -- but not in many years -- as well as new venues around the country.
You can look for me in May in Dallas, Houston, Vero Beach, Portland, Seattle, Dayton, Denver, and Phoenix...as well as my home area, including the Twin Cities, Duluth, and Superior.
I can't always get to far-flung areas of the country as often as I'd like, so I hope you'll put my event on your calendar if I'll be in your area. Be sure to stop by for the Q&A and get a book signed. If you can't make it in person, most of the stores I'll be visiting will happily take pre-orders, so you can still get a personalized copy.
See you soon!
March 22, 2012
I know that you're all looking forward to the release of my seventh novel SPILLED BLOOD in the U.S. in May. it's already out in the UK, and I've been delighted by the response from readers and reviewers.
Of course, everyone is asking me a question, too...when will Jonathan Stride return? Never fear, I have completed the next full-length Stride novel, and it will be available in spring of 2013. In the meantime, however, you can meet Stride again right now.
I have a new 15,000-word Jonathan Stride short story called "Spitting Devil" that is available as an e-exclusive. In the UK, it's currently available for free in the Kindle store at Amazon UK -- and it has spent a lot of time at #1 this week in the Kindle Free Store. That's a huge honor. You can see the Kindle UK page here.
For those of you in the U.S., "Spitting Devil" is available exclusively through the Barnes & Noble NOOK store. You can see the NOOK page for the story here. The current price is only 99 cents!
You do NOT have to have an actual NOOK device to purchase the story from the Barnes & Noble store. You can download free NOOK apps to run on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Android. Visit the free NOOK page by clicking here.
This story marks the first return of Stride since THE BURYING PLACE in 2010. It's a shocking story of a woman who grows increasingly suspicious that her husband is a serial killer -- and she must decide whether to turn him in. For those of you wondering about the next steps in Stride's love life, you'll also find hints here!
Don't miss it!
March 01, 2012
It's here! Well, it's here if you're a lucky reader in the UK.My seventh psychological suspense novel, SPILLED BLOOD, is now available in the UK. Look for the new novel at your local bookstore, or find it online from retailers such as Amazon, Waterstones, WHS, and others.
Here's what #1 bestselling crime fiction author Lisa Gardner has to say about the new book: "SPILLED BLOOD is everything a great suspense novel should be: gripping, shocking, and moving. Brian Freeman proves once again he's a master of psychological suspense, as he layers one family's crisis with an entire town's drama, building to an epic crescendo of rage, revenge and redemption."
SPILLED BLOOD takes you to a remote part of southwestern Minnesota, amid dirt roads and ghost towns. This book will again bring you twists and turns and intense emotional suspense. I hope you'll get your copy today! Naturally, you can also find my earlier books for yourself or for friends, including THE BONE HOUSE, THE BURYING PLACE, THE WATCHER, STALKED, STRIPPED, and IMMORAL.
As for you fans in the U.S....don't panic! The clock is ticking. SPILLED BLOOD will be available in U.S. stores as of May 1.
February 20, 2012
The Audiobook Publishers Association has named THE BONE HOUSE a finalist for the 2012 Audie Award among Thriller/Suspense audiobooks. Big congratulations to Joe Barrett, who has been the narrative voice behind all of the audio editions of my books.
I always hear great things from "listeners" about Joe's renditions of my novels, and it's nice to see him (and the book) getting kudos from the industry's top trade association.
All of my books are available in audio editions from Blackstone Audio. Just click over to the Blackstone page to see them. The audio sector has been growing steadily in recent years, so be sure to get your copies for your commute or road trip.
January 29, 2012
Some nice news this morning. My sixth book THE BONE HOUSE was just named a finalist for the 2012 Minnesota Book Award in genre fiction. The winners will be announced at a gala banquet on April 14.
This is my second nomination for this award. STRIPPED was also a finalist back in 2006. Should I wonder about the irony? The two books I've written that were NOT set in Minnesota have both wound up as finalists for a Minnesota award!
Big congratulations to my fellow finalists, authors Richard Thompson, Michael Stanley, and Kent Krueger.
January 24, 2012
There's been a lot of debate about copyright protection on the Internet lately. Well, I got an expensive lesson about intellectual property theft today.
My agent just informed me that pirated editions of the Spanish book club translations of my novels have been widely distributed at free download sites. The direct cost to me: likely cancellation of contracts that would have brought books three and four to Spanish bookstores, loss of thousands of dollars, and extreme disruption in one of my most important markets.
Note to pirates: I'm not Sony or Disney. This is not stealing from "faceless" corporations. This is stealing from a real person who's just trying to make a living in a very tough business.
January 21, 2012
It's a busy period for my books overseas.
In the Netherlands, THE BONE HOUSE will be released on Tuesday January 24 under the title BRANDMERK (Burn Mark). This is my sixth novel available from The House of Books, and I can't wait to get it in reader hands. You can see the cover and buy it at BOL at the following link: http://www.bol.com/nl/p/nederlandse-boeken/brandmerk/1001004011517890/index.html.
It's also a busy time in France. My fourth book LE VOYEUR is one of 10 finalists for La Plume du Thriller International at the wonderful French books site, Plume Libre. The winners are selected by YOU -- the readers -- and voting is not limited to readers in France. So if you're a fan of IN THE DARK (called THE WATCHER overseas), just click over to the Plume Libre site and cast your vote: http://www.plume-libre.com/concours/plumes2012/Plumes2012.php.Meanwhile, THE BURYING PLACE is due out in France on February 9 under the title JE T'AURAI. (It means I WILL HAVE YOU.) My French publisher also signed on this week to release my next two books, THE BONE HOUSE and SPILLED BLOOD, over the next two years.
I'm also awaiting the release of THE BURYING PLACE in Poland soon, so it's a hot winter in Europe for Brian Freeman books. Yay!
Meanwhile, closer to home, there will be plenty of news about SPILLED BLOOD very soon -- plus a special Jonathan Stride story in February. Stay tuned!
December 22, 2011
This year, I've arranged a special holiday bonus for all of my readers! I've partnered with my U.S. audio publisher, Blackstone Audio, to offer a free download of my Christmas short story, "The Souls of the Ships." The story is read by Joe Barrett, who also does the narration for all of the Blackstone audio editions of my first six novels.
"The Souls of the Ships" is one of my personal favorites among my stories. It's set up in "Stride country" in Duluth, and it's the haunting tale of two strangers who meet by the shore of Lake Superior on Christmas Eve to learn about the power of loss and love. I hope that you and your whole family enjoy this little gift from me, Blackstone, and Joe Barrett...and I hope you will share the link with your friends, too.
To receive your free download, just click on this link to Blackstone and sign up with your e-mail address. Blackstone will automatically send you a link to download the story in MP3 or M4B format -- absolutely free.
All of my novels are available in audio editions read by Joe Barrett, and Blackstone is also offering a 25% discount on the CD audio books between now and the end of the year!
Merry Christmas! I'm sending you and yours my warmest wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy, prosperous 2012.
P.S. Look for news from me early next year about a special Jonathan Stride short story, as well as more information about my seventh book SPILLED BLOOD - due out this spring!
November 15, 2011
I'm starting to get e-mails and Facebook posts from impatient readers, who want to know when the next book is coming out. Well, it's still several months away, but I'll have more news on the book very soon. By the end of the year, you'll find the new book posted on my home page, as well as a summary and a link to the exciting prologue.
Oh, and the title? Sleuths can find it online, but I'll wait and reveal it when you can see the covers, too.
When will it arrive in stores? Book seven will be available in the UK starting 1 March 2012 and in the US starting May 1 2012. Okay, I know, it seems like a long time! However, it will be worth the wait, I promise. This new book -- my second stand-alone following The Bone House -- will take my brand of psychological suspense to the next level. I can't wait to put it in your hands.
Don't worry, though, I'm hard at work on my eighth book -- the new Stride novel -- right now.
In the meantime, my Portugese readers can enjoy the long-awaited arrival of my fourth novel, O VOYEUR, starting today. I also filmed a brief video clip about the book in Duluth, which you can see in English (with Portugese subtitles) at the book's web page on the site for my Portugese publisher: http://www.presenca.pt/livro/o-voyeur/.
More very soon...happy reading!
September 27, 2011
One of my avid readers is a county attorney in Minnesota, and he recently invited me to speak at a course he teaches on criminal justice. It got me thinking about the overlap between the fictional world and the real world in terms of crime and punishment -- and about how we influence each other.
Obviously, I create drama. Wherever I go, I drive up the crime rate. It makes me wonder if the people in places like Duluth or Door County really want me coming back, because I bring nothing but murder, abuse, and dysfunction to their lovely communities. The world of my books isn't "real" -- you wouldn't want to live anywhere that had such things going on all the time. You also probably wouldn't want to read books that captured the reality of life in the criminal justice system, which all too often is about paperwork. If John Grisham wrote about the real day-to-day life of a lawyer, for example, he wouldn't sell too many books.
On the other hand, I crave authenticity in my characters in terms of their emotional experience. I want real people -- not super-heroes or super-villains -- who are drawn across terrible lines. I'm interested in the motivations that lead people to make bad choices, and I'm interested in the emotional toll that crime can take on the people who try to solve it. I hope that's why readers relate to my characters, and I always hope that my stories honor the police by making them genuine people, not cartoons.
Both worlds, real and fictional, affect each other, sometimes in unexpected ways. If anything, science and technology make it harder on a fiction writer, because you can't get away with a crime quite as easily as you could in the past. Your cell phone calls and locations can be traced. Your DNA can be tracked. You're constantly passing cameras that record your movements. You leave electronic footprints everywhere. It makes a writer long for the old days when you could be anonymous! Creating a plausible drama in that kind of world is a challenge, because there are simply fewer "mysteries" that can't be readily solved by the tools we have today.
On the other hand, those tools take time and cost money. Prosecutors bemoan the "CSI effect" in which juries expect every trial to involve DNA and verifiable science, even though most criminal trials still rely on old-fashioned fingerprints more than anything else. Similarly, police on TV (and yes, in books) usually get their lab results back in hours...rather than months or even years, as is common in real life. Imagine the sheer time an investigation takes when you wait nine months to get a DNA sample tested. Victims, families, juries, don't always understand the realities of criminal work, because they are fed a steady dose of fictional drama.
If there is one thing both worlds share, though, it's the importance of story in reaching people. My books are designed to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours, because you can't put down a good tale that keeps you fascinated and surprised. Similarly, the real world of criminal justice relies on the power of stories -- understanding why people behave the way they do, and making others (including juries) understand how the pieces of evidence fit together to form a believable narrative. In the end, we are all storytellers.
August 27, 2011
In between my writing duties -- I'm deep into my eighth book right now, the first Stride novel since THE BURYING PLACE -- I'll be making a handful of stops around the Midwest this fall to meet with readers.
You can look for me in Angola, Indiana and Ann Arbor, Michigan (for the Kerrytown Book Festival) on the weekend of September 10-11. Then I'll be in Stevens Point, Wisconsin later in September. In October, I have two stops in Minnesota at libraries in Cambridge and New Prague. All the details are on the Events page of my web site.
If you're located in the upper Midwest, and you'd like me to visit your area, be sure to stop by your local library and ask them to extend an invitation. I try hard to travel as widely as I can and visit new areas. If it's within easy driving distance, I can often add it to my roster.
The trick about touring for authors these days is that it's mostly on our own dime. So the airfare, rental car, hotel, food, etc. -- we pay for all those expenses ourselves. As a result, it takes me a while to get to places that are outside the Midwest. Over the past six years, I've visited Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Arizona, and California...so I do get around! If I haven't made it to your area yet, just be patient with me, and I'll try to get there. (And I'll try to make it back to places I've visited in the past, too.)
Meanwhile, I'll have more details soon about the release dates of book seven in 2012!
July 28, 2011
I'm back to Stride Country on Sunday to scout out locales for my eighth suspense novel. Yes, you know what that means: I'm getting ready to dive into a new Jonathan Stride book, my first since THE BURYING PLACE.
My sixth book THE BONE HOUSE and my upcoming seventh novel -- due out in the spring -- are both stand-alones. (Of course, fans of THE BONE HOUSE can expect to meet Cab Bolton again in another book.) I've enjoyed the opportunity to tackle all-new characters, and the response from readers has been wonderful. As for book seven, well, my editor says it took her breath away. So I can't wait to put that one in your hands.
However, I've missed Stride, Serena, and Maggie...and I know all of you have been anxious to see what happens next in their lives. I've got the story all ready to go, and I'm very excited about it. Now I just need some creepy locales, and I'll be haunting the streets of Duluth for several days to find the best settings for every chapter.
I'll also be back at the Bookstore at Fitger's on Wednesday, August 3, for a meet-and-greet with readers between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. So if you're in the area, stop by and say hello -- and don't forget to bring your books to be signed.
Yes, it'll be awhile until you can read the new Stride novel. After all, I have to write it first! However, I'm hoping to include a long (15,000-word) Stride short story with book seven. That way, you can get a little "Stride fix" while you wait for the new book.
July 18, 2011
Okay, it's not like I wear a mask and harbor a secret identity like a Marvel Comics hero. However, I do have an alter ego. It's author Ally O'Brien, which I share with my London agent, Ali.
We teamed up a couple years ago to write THE AGENCY, which one reviewer described as a "delicious mash-up of chick-lit and thriller." It was a sassy, sarcastic look at London publishing with a female, first-person narrator -- nothing at all like my dark, emotional suspense novels.
Since then, fans have been asking: Will we see another book from Ally O'Brien? Short answer: yes! It's taken us a while to put on our Ally hats again, but the good news is that we just wrapped up the draft of the second Ally novel. For those of you who loved THE AGENCY, this new book is every bit as funny as the first -- with a big heart and lots of drama. Ali and I think you'll love it.
So when will you see it? Oh, you know the world of publishing -- it always takes forever. I imagine it will be next summer before the book arrives in stores. But we'll give you little hints and previews along the way, and it will be worth the wait. So as they used to say in the James Bond credits, Ally O'Brien Will Return.
June 26, 2011
After a whirlwind travel schedule this spring, we're back home now for most of the summer. Usually, that means there isn't too much to report, because I'm spending the days tucked away in my office in front of my computer, doing what I'm supposed to do -- write. I'm in the process of wrapping up the first draft of the second Ally O'Brien novel right now (it's a lot of fun...all of the humor and wackiness of The Agency with lots of heart), and then I'll be diving into my eighth suspense novel.
For those of you who are wondering -- and writing to me -- yes, book eight takes me back to Duluth and Jonathan Stride!
So as I sit and write, here's what's news close to home and around the world:
Meanwhile, stay tuned for announcements soon about the release of my seventh suspense novel in both the US and UK! My editor says it took her breath away. That's what I love to hear.
May 20, 2011
We're back home after a 2,600-mile driving tour to visit libraries throughout the Midwest. Thanks from me and Marcia to everyone who joined us on the road to make the trip so memorable. We'll be trying to reach other locations throughout the U.S. - and around the world, wherever possible - in the coming years.
One of our stops took us to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the wonderful Aunt Agatha's mystery bookstore is located. As we were heading west, we stopped for the night near St. Joseph, a picturesque town on the shore of Lake Michigan. For me, it was like coming home.
I grew up in Chicago in the 1960s and early 1970s, before my family moved to California. While we lived there, my parents had a small cottage a few miles north of St. Joe, which we visited on summer weekends. I hadn't been back to see the cottage in many years, and I was curious what we would find.
To my surprise, it was as if time had stood still. It may as well have been 1973, the last time we set foot inside the small home. Nothing had changed. The roads were still unpaved. Peering in the windows (yes, I'm a voyeur), the rooms were much as they'd been in those years, with furniture still covered for the winter season. Only the trees had grown larger to soar over the area. If I closed my eyes, I could have been ten years old again, and I haven't felt that way in a long time.
Why is the cottage important? It's because much of what I write traces to those days. When we moved to California, I missed the Midwest - but it wasn't really Chicago that I missed. It was Michigan. The cottage was my image of the Midwest, with its lonely rural roads, its deep woods, its open fields, and the looming presence of the great lake. Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds a lot like the environs you'll find in most of my novels.
I went to college in Minnesota because I wanted to get back to the Midwest I remembered. That's still the Midwest you'll find in my books.
April 17, 2011
Some great news this week: My fifth book THE BURYING PLACE was announced as a finalist for Best Novel of 2010 in the International Thriller Writer Awards.
I'm in some nice company. The other four finalists for the award are bestselling authors Michael Connelly (for The Reversal), Jeffery Deaver (for Edge), Mo Hayder (for Skin), and John Sandford (for Bad Blood). The winner will be announced during the annual Thriller Fest in New York, sponsored by the International Thriller Writers organization.
An interesting plus: This means that two Minnesotans, John Sandford and I, are nominees for best novel of 2010. We always knew that "Minnesota noir" was a genuine phenomenon, and now it looks like it's getting noticed. We have a large community of exceptionally talented mystery and suspense writers here in the north land.
So cross your fingers for me for July. I'll be hoping THE BURYING PLACE brings home the gold. Regardless, however, it's an amazing thrill to have my book up there with some of the most successful writers in the genre.
April 03, 2011
I spent the weekend doing events in Duluth and Superior for the launch of THE BONE HOUSE. As always, it's like coming home for me.
We visited the libraries and bookstores in both cities and also did a special event for a wonderful group of teachers in the town of Solon Springs. Wherever we went, Marcia and I received a warm, gracious welcome. We may not live in the northland, but it's a community of dear friends for us.
The launch event at Fitgers was a chance to visit with many readers who have been with me since the release of IMMORAL in 2005. Everyone was excited to explore my new literary venture in Door County with THE BONE HOUSE...and of course, I reassured them that Stride would rise again!
We will be in London soon for the annual London Book Fair, and then we'll be getting ready for our driving tour through the upper Midwest in the first two weeks of May. We'll be looking forward to meeting many of you in the weeks ahead!
March 29, 2011
For all of you who have been waiting for the release of my sixth psychological suspense novel, THE BONE HOUSE, the wait is over! The new book is available in bookstores today.
One reviewer describes THE BONE HOUSE this way: "It's like someone has lit a fuse and we are caught captivated, waiting breathlessly for the bomb to go off. Eerie, atmospheric and melancholic, THE BONE HOUSE delivers an astute thriller with a very human subtext." Of course, I also like the simple feedback from a reader who wrote to tell me: "I loved loved loved this book!" Another reader reported: "What a truly fantastic read it was. I am utterly speechless!" You can find out more about THE BONE HOUSE -- and read the exciting prologue -- on the special page for THE BONE HOUSE at my web site. I think you'll find that it's the best book yet.
I hope you'll look for your copy at your local bookstore this week. Or, to buy the book right now, go to my Buy the Books page.
My first five novels, IMMORAL, STRIPPED, STALKED, IN THE DARK, and THE BURYING PLACE are all now available in paperback, if you missed any of the early novels -- or if you need gifts for family and friends. (For something lighter, don't forget my book THE AGENCY written under the pseudonym "Ally O'Brien.")
Look For Me on Tour!
I will be on a driving tour in May to visit with readers throughout the upper Midwest. So look for me this spring in Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Ann Arbor, as well as smaller venues in Wisconsin, including Cumberland, Eau Claire, Janesville, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Sister Bay, and Rice Lake. Closer to home, I have events scheduled in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Superior this week! Complete details of my entire tour, including times, dates, and locations, are on the Events page of my web site. If you're in any of the areas I'll be visiting, I hope you'll make it a point to come and say hello and get your books signed.
You can purchase signed copies of my books at any of my tour events this spring. In addition, several independent bookstores will have signed copies available for mail and phone orders, including Once Upon a Crime (Minneapolis, Minnesota), M is for Mystery (San Mateo, California), and Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale, Arizona).
So enjoy the new book -- and please tell your reader friends!
March 13, 2011
I have finally wrapped up the details of a driving tour in May to visit with readers throughout the upper Midwest and talk about my new book, THE BONE HOUSE. So look for me this spring at libraries in Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Ann Arbor, as well as smaller venues in Wisconsin, including Eau Claire, Janesville, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Sister Bay, and Rice Lake. Complete details of my tour, including times, dates, and locations, are on the Events page of my web site.
Naturally, I'll also be doing events in the Twin Cities and Duluth in late March and early April, when THE BONE HOUSE is actually released.
This is my first major tour in almost three years. The reality of the book biz these days is that most authors pay all their touring expenses themselves. We don't get much if any support from publishers. So hotels, airfare, rental cars, gas (!), meals, etc. - those are all funded by authors when they go on the road. With the recession taking a big bite out of author income, it's been hard to justify the significant expenses of touring. This year, however, I'm trying to get back out to visit with readers in multiple cities. I'll have copies of all of my books for sale, in case you need to catch up on any of them, or if you need birthday, Mother's Day, and Father's Day gifts. Naturally, please bring your own books to get them signed, too!
If you're near any of the areas I'll be visiting, I hope you'll make it a point to come out and see me! Tour events are always fun, but only if lots of readers show up with great questions. So come one, come all - and don't forget to bring friends and family with you.
I'll do my best to get back on the road each year to new parts of the country. So if your area isn't on my tour schedule this year, don't worry. I hope to make it out to see you soon!
March 01, 2011
I received my author's shipment yesterday of the U.S. paperback edition of THE BURYING PLACE. So if you prefer paperbacks to hardbacks, you can find the book in your local store or online.
I was thrilled with the reaction to this book, with most readers calling it the best book yet. In London, the Daily Mail called me the discovery of the year in crime fiction, based on THE BURYING PLACE. It doesn't matter whether you've read my books before -- you can readily start with this book and enjoy it.
Looking to buy the paperback -- or any of my books? You can visit the Buy the Books page for links to retailers around the world.
What's next? My sixth book THE BONE HOUSE is due out in U.S. on March 29. In the UK, the paperback edition of THE BONE HOUSE arrives on April 14. Never fear, book seven is done, and my UK editor says it took her breath away. I'll keep you posted on that book as the year progresses. Meanwhile, I have my Ally O'Brien hat on again...I'm working on the follow-up to THE AGENCY right now.
February 04, 2011
The countdown has begun for the U.S. release of my sixth psychological suspense novel, THE BONE HOUSE. You can pre-order the book now through your local and online retailers (check out the Buy the Books page) and through book clubs like the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Book of the Month Club, and Mystery Guild. THE BONE HOUSE is due in stores on March 29.
Want to start reading right now? You can read the prologue and get a sneak peek at the jacket copy by clicking here.
Over in the U.K., where the hardcover edition was released last fall, THE BONE HOUSE is due out in paperback on 14 April. Here's what one of the top mystery reviewers in the UK had to say about the new book: "Freeman is one of the most readable of the younger generation of American thriller writers....Well-plotted, with totally believable characters and a red-hot finale, [The Bone House] is just the sort of book Hitchcock, in his prime, would have snapped up."
Meanwhile, if you've been waiting for the U.S. paperback release of my last book THE BURYING PLACE, it's due out on March 1!
December 28, 2010
You can now see a wide-ranging video interview with me on YouTube, conducted by members of the Minnesota Crime Wave, which is made up of authors Carl Brookins, Ellen Hart, and William Kent Krueger.
The interview is broken into segments. You can view the first segment (about nine minutes long) by clicking here, and you can go on to the next part of the interview (about ten minutes long) by clicking here. Or you can look for the Favorites section at my YouTube page, which is www.youtube.com/bfreemanbooks.
As readers who have gone to my events can attest, I was wearing my typical uniform that day, namely a black turtleneck. One reader watched the video and had some troubles with the contrast on her screen. The result? She said I was a talking disembodied head. Well, that seems appropriate for a crime writer, doesn't it?
December 20, 2010
I came across an Italian verse the other day in a Christmas display: "Natale con I tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi." I believe it means, essentially, you spend Easter with whomever you wish, but you spend Christmas with your own. This is a season of togetherness.
Of course, Marcia and I have been accustomed to the idea that we have roots in many places. Most of my family lives far away from me, and we have friends and readers around the world -- many of whom we've never had a chance to meet. However, we are still spending Christmas with our own...because all of you are in our hearts. That means, no matter where you are, you are with us.
So as you celebrate the season with good food, good wine, and those you love, know that we are sending you our warmest wishes from the snow and cold of Minnesota. May 2011 be filled with peace and happiness!
November 12, 2010
You'll see a box here on the home page of my web site that says, "Join Brian's Community." There are lots of ways for readers who enjoy my books to connect with me. You can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (yes, I always write back); you can join my mailing list with your e-mail address and receive a notification when new books are available; you can become a friend at my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/bfreemanbooks); or you can "like" my Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/bfreemanfans).
Why the focus on building a community?
I've emphasized connections with readers since I started in this business back in 2004. For me, there are few things more satisfying than hearing from people around the world who enjoy my books. When I was growing up, I had many authors who played a special role in my life through their novels - people like James Michener, Leon Uris, Irving Wallace, Robert Ludlum, etc. I didn't know them, but I felt as if they were "friends." So it's a great honor to play a similar role for readers today through my own writing, and the Internet gives me a way to connect directly with fans in a way that didn't exist back then.
I learn a lot from readers, too. Their feedback teaches me about their reading experience - what works, what doesn't, what they like, what they don't like. It helps me craft characters and plots that resonate with my audience.
More and more, there is a very practical reason for me to build a community, too. Bookstores are suffering - and with fewer bookstores, there is no easy way to market to readers. Yes, many people love perusing Amazon - but most readers still find authors and books the old-fashioned way, by browsing bookstore and library shelves and talking to booksellers. As those opportunities diminish, even my most passionate fans may miss out on new books, simply because they never see them in a store.
That's why I encourage readers to be a part of my community, on e-mail, the Web, or on Facebook. If I know you love my books, I can keep you informed as new books are released. Going forward, that's how authors are likely to stay in business, by building and growing online networks of readers.
If you're reading this note, chances are, you're already a part of my community - and that's great! You can still help, though, by encouraging your reader friends to visit me online. If you're not already a fan over at www.facebook.com/bfreemanfans, go over there and "like" my page, too.I always say publishing is the last great word-of-mouth business. So thanks for reading and spreading the word. It really does make a difference.
October 12, 2010
It's finally here!
THE AGENCY, by my alter-ego, "Ally O'Brien," is now available in paperback. Visit the special page here on my web site for more information about the book, including an excerpt and review quotes.
If you're expecting dark, emotionally intense drama, think again. THE AGENCY is nothing like my psychological suspense novels. Instead, it's Sex and the City meets The Devil Wears Prada...a sexy, sassy tale that takes you from London to New York with publishing heroine Tess Drake. There's a hint of mystery, a touch of glamour, and a lot of jokes.
It was a hoot to write something so different than my usual novels. I worked on this project with my London agent, Ali -- hence the pseudonym we chose to have fun with our first names. We talked about using our real names, but we concluded that anyone who is familiar with a Brian Freeman book would have a hard time believing THE AGENCY came from my pen.
So while you're waiting for my next suspense novel, try something from the "other side" of my brain. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and it might make you wonder why anyone would work in the publishing industry!
September 02, 2010
It's here! My newest psychological suspense novel, THE BONE HOUSE, is now available in hardback in the UK.
A special note: Hardback editions of my books are often difficult to find in local UK bookstores, but your bookseller generally can order them for you. The book is also readily available online from retailers such as Amazon, Waterstones, WHS, Tesco, Asda, and others. This edition is typically a more limited release, and it usually sells out quickly. Once it's gone, it's gone. To avoid disappointment -- and to avoid waiting another eight months for the paperback edition! -- it's best to order promptly. (Or you can drop early hints with family and friends about your Christmas list!)
THE BONE HOUSE takes you to a remote part of the American Midwest known as Door County, named for a treacherous lake passage called Death's Door. Here's what you can expect from this latest thriller:
Hilary and Mark Bradley are caught in a web of suspicion.
A year ago, accusations of an affair with a student cost Mark his teaching job and made the couple into outcasts on their island home. Now another girl has been found dead, and Mark faces a hostile town convinced of his guilt.
Hilary Bradley is determined to protect her husband, but digging into the murdered girl's secrets proves lonely and dangerous. Her only ally is a quirky Florida detective named Cab Bolton.
Hilary and Cab are both outsiders in a place that doesn't trust strangers, and they're running out of time to find out what's buried in the ashes of the past. There are people willing to kill to keep the truth hidden - and to make sure Mark pays the ultimate price for a young girl's murder.
This book will again bring you lots of twists and turns and intense emotional suspense. I hope you'll get your copy of THE BONE HOUSE today. Naturally, you can also find my earlier books for yourself or for friends, including THE BURYING PLACE, THE WATCHER (known in the U.S. as IN THE DARK), STALKED, STRIPPED, and IMMORAL.
I already know what my U.S. readers are saying. When will it be available over here? Yes, sorry, the U.K. hardback edition usually arrives a lot earlier than the comparable U.S. edition. Right now, THE BONE HOUSE is due out in the U.S. next March. I'll keep you posted.
July 20, 2010
Many of you may have noticed the news that Amazon marked a milestone in the last three months: For the first time, sales of e-books for its Kindle device outpaced sales of hardcovers. Choices in e-reading devices are expanding, too: Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony E-Reader, Kobo, and many more to come.
Lots of readers are asking me at book events: What does the e-book trend mean for authors? Good question. The answer is: No one really knows yet. Even so, the trend is unstoppable, and e-books are poised to play a larger and larger role in the publishing marketplace in coming years. Some analysts think e-books could constitute a third or more of book sales in just a few years. That's a massive change that will turn the publishing and bookselling worlds upside down.
Why does this matter to authors? Well, first some numbers. Authors generally rely on hardcover sales today to make a living. However, authors make a lot less on such sales than most people think. If you pay $25 for a hardcover book, the author generally earns less than three dollars from that sale. Paperback sales pay the author less than a dollar per book (a little more for the larger format trade paperbacks). Oh, and remember: This is for new books only. Authors earn nothing on used book sales.
Where do e-books fit into this equation? The compensation to the author on an e-book sale is generally about half of what the author would receive on a hardcover sale, depending on the selling price. Unfortunately, as the Amazon experience demonstrates, e-books are probably cannibalizing hardcover sales right now, because the early adopters of e-books tend to be the most passionate readers - the ones who would otherwise rush to the store to buy new hardcovers.
On the other hand, e-books can't be shared with friends as readily as hardcovers. So publishers are hoping that, in the long run, more sales of e-books will make up for smaller hardcover sales, because more readers will choose to buy their own e-copy. We'll have to wait and see if that proves true. More e-reader devices are now providing ways to share books with others, and if that trend continues, it may make it harder to achieve the larger sales that authors and publishers are counting on.
Libraries are now getting into the e-book trend, which may also have an impact on book sales. Currently, library patrons make a trade-off: You can enjoy a print book for free, but you may have to wait to read a specific book you want. For example, one reader recently wrote to me that she was number 88 on the reserve list for one copy of THE BURYING PLACE at her local library, so she went out and bought the book instead. (I like that!) However, if numerous patrons can check out an e-book from a library simultaneously - without waiting - that may mean fewer readers buying books.
The bottom line? Right now, you probably won't find too many authors who are enthusiastic about the e-book trend. That's no surprise. The current recession has been particularly brutal for authors for a simple reason: Consumers have cut way back on their new book purchases. The result is that publishers are dropping many great writers because of declining sales, and other authors may be forced to get out of the business because they simply can't make a living anymore. Given this situation, authors are nervous that e-books will cut their shrinking compensation even further.
However, e-books are here to stay, and complaining about it won't change the reality of that trend. Authors will still rely on their readers to support them, just as they've done for years. Hopefully, as the economy improves, book sales will improve, too...whether it's books on paper or books on your Kindle, Nook, or iPad.
July 11, 2010
I have several events scheduled in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in July. If you're in the area, I hope you and your reader friends will join me in lake country to say hello and chat about my books.
On Tuesday, July 27, at 5:30 pm, I'll be joining the KAXE book club for a casual wine-and-cheese gathering to discuss my newest book, THE BURYING PLACE. Heidi Holtan of KAXE is the host, and you can get details about joining the event by calling Heidi at KAXE at 218-326-1234.
On Wednesday, July 28, I have two more events in Grand Rapids. I'll be at the Village Bookstore at 1:00 pm, and then that evening, I'll be visiting with the Grand Rapids Men's Reading Group at the Grand Rapids Library at 7:00 pm. You can stop by either event, and no, you don't have to be a man to participate in the men's reading group! For more information about the men's group, you can contact Randy McCarty at 218-326-4268.
All the events are free and open to all, so we'd love to have you participate. Feel free to bring copies of your books for signing! I'll also have books and bookmarks at all the events - and I'll even be selling special "I Love Brian Freeman Books" mugs for the first time ever!
In the meantime, you can also visit my new merchandise shop, www.cafepress.com/bfreemanbooks, for "Stride wear," "IMMORAL" t-shirts, and other fun clothes and gifts. Be sure to wear your clothes from the "House of Freeman" at our Grand Rapids events and get your picture taken!
See you in July!
July 06, 2010
I spent several days in southwestern Minnesota last week as I scouted locations for my seventh book. I'll be starting in on the actual writing this week and hope to finish the draft by the end of the year.
Readers of my books will notice that I like to create a "you are there" feel to my settings. I want you to read each scene as if you've been dropped in the middle of it, so that you can see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and touch what's going on around you. The best way I can do that is to identify actual locations for each chapter the way a movie director would -- and then record my impressions so that I can capture it on the page.
So you would have seen me patrolling the back roads last week with my camera and voice recorder. Abandoned main streets, dilapidated buildings, river dams, deserted parks...well, you can imagine what I can conjure with some of those settings to inspire me!
But there's also an interesting phenomenon that takes place as I visit the locales for a new book. At some point, the characters start to come to life there. I can feel them and hear them in these places. They start materializing like ghosts and slowly become more and more real. I haven't written the chapters yet -- but it's as if the action and emotions are playing out before me. That's when I know I'm ready to begin.
Now I'm back home...time to start writing!
June 06, 2010
Readers will often ask me at events, "Can I get an IMMORAL t-shirt? Or a Stride mug?" Well, now you can!
I am tiptoeing into the world of merchandising with the launch of my all-new Cafe Press gift shop at www.cafepress.com/bfreemanbooks. You can find t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, bumper stickers, stuffed bears, and other clothes and merchandise. Every product is available in a wide variety of colors and styles related to my books. (You'll see some samples on this page!)
These items are available to readers all over the world -- so you don't have to be in the U.S. to get your "Stride-wear"! Oh, and don't forget, it's never too early to start Christmas shopping for family and friends...
This is the "first generation" of Brian Freeman gifts, so feel free to share your suggestions for future products and designs. I'll be looking at other options in the months ahead.
Be sure to take photographs of you and your friends in your new Freeman fashions and post them on your Facebook page! Send them to me, too, or tag me in the photos. I'll be creating a special album on Facebook with pictures of fans proudly displaying the latest from the "House of Freeman."
P.S. The entire shop is run by Cafe Press, which means they select the merchandise, set the pricing, and handle the shipping...not me!
April 27, 2010
THE BURYING PLACE has been in stores for a couple of weeks now (even longer in the UK), and I'm starting to hear from readers who quickly devoured the book. That's always the challenge -- you folks read them faster than I can write them!
As you finish the book, I hope those of you who are patrons of Amazon or bn.com will post your online reviews. Word of mouth makes all the difference in finding new fans. Just keep the twists and surprises a closely guarded secret!
Here are some of the very kind messages I've received in the last few days:
"Stayed up until 1 am to finish your latest books and all I can say is "Wow". You continue to get better and better." (Nancy)
"Brian, yet another great book! I LOVED it from beginning to end. Best one yet" (Cheryl)
"You have kept me spellbound from the first book, Immoral to this latest. Since I am a senior citizen who normally reads romantic suspense and can name the male authors I read on one hand, I have to say that you have now reached my "favorite author" level." (Linda)
"I loved The Burying Place! It was one wild ride and I enjoyed every bit of it." (Betty)
"Brian, I read around 75 books per year but have never become so attached to any other book characters as I have with those two [Stride and Serena]." (Dean)
"I have now read all your books which I have enjoyed just as much but The Burying Place was one I could not put down - short night's sleep last night getting it finished." (Carol)
"Very gripping from start to finish with some amazing twists particularly near the end." (Ken)
Thanks to all of you for your wonderful feedback. Do keep writing to me -- as you know, I always write back -- and if your friends are fans, tell them to drop me a note.
Remember, too, that my fans are my biggest allies in getting the word out! If you want some suggestions, check out my "How Can I Help?" page on my web site.
April 18, 2010
I've already received many wonderful messages from readers who couldn't wait to dive into my new book, THE BURYING PLACE. Thanks for all your kind words. As you finish reading the book, I hope you'll post your online reviews at places like Amazon, BN, book blogs, and reader web sites.
I also hope you'll encourage your friends to discover my books! One of the comments I hear regularly from new fans is: "Why haven't I heard about you before?" Even after five books, many readers still haven't found me yet. Writing is one of the last great "word of mouth" businesses, and authors build a fan base one at a time, person by person. So all of you who already know my books are my greatest allies in spreading the word.
Several Facebook fans have begun posting links to my web site (www.bfreemanbooks.com) or to the fabulous Star Tribune review of THE BURYING PLACE. That's a BIG help, and I hope that you will do me the favor of mentioning my books on Facebook and other sites you visit, sending messages to friends, talking to local booksellers and librarians, etc. That's how new people get to know my books, and it's especially important right now, when my latest book has its widest availability in stores and online.
If you want more ideas, I've got a special page on my web site with lots of other suggestions for ways to spread the word.
THANKS for reading and for all of your support!
April 15, 2010
If you're looking for signed copies of THE BURYING PLACE, you have lots of options.
You can order signed, personally inscribed copies for yourself or for gifts (remember, Mother's Day is around the corner!) by contacting the Once Upon a Crime bookstore in Minneapolis or O'Donoghue Books in Anoka, Minnesota. I'll be at Once Upon a Crime on Saturday and O'Donoghue next Tuesday, so you should have the copies delivered soon after my visits.
There are also several independent bookstores that have signed copies in stock right now: The Bookstore at Fitger's in Duluth (where I launched the book on Tuesday), M is for Mystery in California, Poisoned Pen in Arizona, and Bookin' It in Little Falls, Minnesota. All can do mail orders for you.
If you check my events page, you can also contact any of the stores I'll be visiting in the next few weeks in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Florida to pre-order signed, inscribed copies. Or, even better, you could come to the event and get the book signed personally!
April 14, 2010
With my fifth novel, THE BURYING PLACE, now available in U.S. bookstores, I thought you would enjoy some background on my choice of Duluth and its frozen landscape as the locale for the books.
I was recently interviewed by fellow mystery author J. Sydney Jones for his "Scene of the Crime" blog. Syd writes historical mysteries set in turn-of-the-last-century Vienna, so he's very familiar with the importance of place in our books. You can read the interview by clicking here.
Syd talks about Duluth in my books as America's answer to Swedish noir, and I think he's on to something there. There are geographical and cultural parallels between Minnesota and Sweden; in fact, Swedes call Minnesota "Swedishland" because of all the emigrants who made their way to the state. I've had readers draw comparisons between my books and those of Henning Mankell for the same reasons -- and that's a great honor, because I have huge respect for Mankell's work.
So can you find a little bit of the Swedish remoteness in Duluth? And a little bit of Kurt Wallander in Jonathan Stride? Judge for yourself!
April 12, 2010
For everyone who has been waiting for the U.S. release of my fifth novel, THE BURYING PLACE, the wait is over! The new book is available now in U.S. bookstores.
When this novel was released in the UK late last year, London's Daily Mail said in its review: "My discovery this year has been the Edgar-nominated crime writer Brian Freeman....Fleshed-out characters, high tension and terrifying twists put Freeman up there with Harlan Coben in the psychological crime stratosphere."
This book takes readers into the bleak, snow-swept terrain in the farmlands between Duluth and Grand Rapids. Here's the jacket copy that describes the action:
One cold night. Two shocking mysteries.
In the quiet town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, a baby vanishes from her bedroom in an opulent lakeside home. Was she abducted - or does her father have a terrible secret to hide?
That same night, a young policewoman gets lost in the fog and stumbles into the middle of a horrific crime. Now a sadistic killer wants her to play his deadly game.
Lieutenant Jonathan Stride and his team need to move fast to save a child and stop a killing spree. As fear grips the winter farm lands, Stride knows that every snow-covered field may be the next burying place.
Each twist in the investigation takes Stride into an elaborate web of deceit and desire. But his biggest obstacles may be the very people he's trying to help. With everything at risk and time running out, Stride worries how far a desperate mother will go to rescue her baby - and how far a desperate cop will go to save herself.
I've been delighted with the reaction of early readers to this book. Here's what one reader just wrote to me: "I've read every one of your books and just finished The Burying Place. Actually, I couldn't put it down. The twists and turns of your books are incredible." That's what an author loves to hear. I know that the more books I write, the more readers will have their personal favorites -- but I try to bring something new with every novel, so that readers think each one is the best book yet.
THE BURYING PLACE may be the most shocking, intense book I've written to date. I hope you enjoy it -- and as always, write to me with your thoughts.
March 30, 2010
My new novel THE BURYING PLACE will be arriving in stores on April 13, but if you or your friends haven't discovered me yet, you can look for my fourth novel IN THE DARK in paperback in U.S. stores as of today.
Find out more about the book -- and read an excerpt -- at my special IN THE DARK page on this site. You can buy the book at your local bookseller, or you can visit one of many electronic retailers at my Buy the Books page.
I always tell readers that IN THE DARK is a great place to start when getting to know my books. It takes you deep into the past of Jonathan Stride and lets you see many of the emotional influences that shaped him as a man and as a detective. As he deals with an unsolved case from the 1970s that affected him personally, he must not only face fear and violence rippling into the present, but also the secrets kept by people close to him.
If you've already read IN THE DARK, be sure to tell your friends to look for it now! And of course, get ready for THE BURYING PLACE coming soon.
March 21, 2010
In May of 2005, the publication of my first book IMMORAL was still several months away, but early copies had begun to make their way to advance readers. I'd heard many kind words from people inside the industry, but I didn't know what to expect or how the book would be received among people in the real world. Readers. The ones who really count.
Then, on May 22, 2005, I received my first-ever fan letter. It was from a woman named Gail in northern California. She'd been a bookseller in the Bay Area, and she was still on the list to receive advance copies from publishers.
"Where have you been?" Gail wrote to me. "Why didn't someone send you to sit in the corner to write sooner? This is the most brilliant, haunting debut thriller I've ever read." She went on for several paragraphs to talk about the plot and characters, and by the time I was done reading her note, I felt as if I had a future as a writer. It was one of those moments from my career that I will always cherish.
Gail and I kept writing to each other, and we quickly became friends. When IMMORAL was released, I had a few t-shirts printed with the cover art, and I sent her a signed shirt. It was ridiculously big for this lovely, tiny woman, but when I did a book signing in northern California that fall, there was Gail, proudly waiting for me at the bookstore, with her IMMORAL t-shirt hanging down practically to her knees.
I began to send Gail early manuscripts of my work to get feedback before I even submitted them to my editors. With my last two books, I sent her the first section of the draft while it was in progress, long before anyone, even Marcia, had seen it. Writing a book is a lonely, neurotic adventure, and as you are in the earliest stages of building a new novel, you can't believe it will ever come together. But when Gail wrote back to me, hungry to read more, urging me to write faster, I knew the book would be what I wanted it to be.
Marcia and I had the good fortune to meet Gail and her family two more times in the past few years. We had dinner with her, her daughter, her son-in-law, and her grandson over paella and wine on perfect northern California afternoons. The picture here is of me and Gail on one of those occasions, and I will always remember us on that walk in the hills, side by side, both of us climbing toward the future.
Gail was coy about her past. She loved keeping secrets and would let out little hints about her wilder days, enough to whet your appetite for more. She was a young woman in northern California in the 1960s...you can do the math. I always suggested to Gail that she and I should sit down sometime and write her autobiography. But some books are meant to be lived, not written.
More than a year ago, Gail wrote to tell me that she was in a battle with cancer. She had fought the disease once before years earlier and beaten it, and I felt that if anyone had the courage and strength to win that battle again, it was Gail. She waged a remarkable struggle, and for a while, it seemed as if nothing could defeat her. Doctors called her their miracle patient when all the scans last fall came back clear and healthy. But cancer is an evil and shameless foe, and I learned this morning that it had taken away this woman who had grown to mean so much to me and Marcia.
Gail would be annoyed with me for the tears we've shed today. She told me that she lived an incredible life and that in all those years she had only one regret - that she ever lit that first cigarette.
I will miss all of her notes, her humor, her enthusiasm, her inspiration. I will miss the joy and pride I felt when I could put a new book in her hands. But in every book I write from this day forward, there will always be a little bit of Gail. She will be at my shoulder and in my head and heart, helping me. For now, though, the lonely work of writing feels especially lonely today. Goodbye, Gail, and thanks for everything. We miss you.
March 08, 2010
We're getting close to some major book launches.
The U.S. release of my fifth novel to feature Jonathan Stride, THE BURYING PLACE, is set for April 13. Just before that book arrives, readers can also find the paperback edition of my last novel, IN THE DARK, which will be released on March 31. If you have reader friends who haven't discovered my books yet, you can point them to either book as a great way to start.
THE BURYING PLACE also arrives in paperback in the UK on April 1 -- no fooling. When the book was released in hardback in the UK last fall, London's Daily Mail called me the discovery of the year in crime fiction. Very nice.
With the release of the books in the U.S., I have a variety of events scheduled in April and May, including locations throughout Minnesota (everywhere from the Twin Cities to southwestern Minnesota and Duluth) and a couple events in Wisconsin and Florida. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello!
February 21, 2010
I was in the Phoenix area recently for book events, and I had the good fortune to see one of my most enthusiastic and loyal readers, Joyce. Every author should be lucky enough to have an army of Joyce on his side, and I've been extremely fortunate to have many readers like her who are so wonderfully supportive.
Since my visit, Joyce has: launched a campaign to build a book club of 100 Brian Freeman readers at her work place (she's already past 20); charmed the manager of the local B&N into ordering more copies of my books and getting him to read me; written to the book reviewer at her local paper to suggest (it may be "demand"!) that she review The Burying Place when it's released; and sent an e-mail with review clips and a link to my web site to 50 of her friends.
Wow! I've told Joyce that I'm investigating cloning, and I may send her to New York to work for my publisher. I also promised that if she can get 100 Freeman fans in a book club, I'll certainly make the trip back to Arizona to meet them. (In the winter, of course...I'm no fool.)
February 14, 2010
I'm in the process of organizing my expenses for 2009 before the ritual of making our annual offerings to the IRS. I came across one royalty statement that opens a little window onto the life of an author. I'm not sure if it's funny, sad, or ironic...you'll have to decide for yourself!
The statement is for royalties earned in 2008 from one country for one book. The wire transfer arrived at my bank account in July -- so right from the start, I waited seven months for payment. The gross amount due to me? $153.75. (You think authors are rich, hmm? Ha ha, not so much.)
That was the gross amount. Then the mice began to nibble at the cheese. Here are the deductions: $15.38 to my primary agent, $15.38 to my co-agent in that country, $7.69 in foreign tax to that country, $44.60 in bank charges from the UK for doing the wire transfer, and $20 in bank charges from the US for receiving the wire transfer.
Net payment to me: $50.70. In other words, less than one third of the gross royalty. Oh, and that's before federal and state taxes, too!
Okay, that may be an extreme example, but I had to laugh when I added it all up. Well, I swore first, then I laughed.
February 03, 2010
February is a busy month for library visits in Minnesota.
On Saturday, February 6, I'll be at the Northtown Library in Blaine at 2:00 pm. On the evening of Tuesday, February 16, I'll be at the Savage Library at 7:00 pm. Finally, on the evening of Thursday, February 25, I'll be visiting the Maple Plain Library at 6:30 pm. I'll be speaking and answering questions from readers at all of these events, and my books will be available for sale and signing if you've missed any of them along the way.
You can see a complete roster of my upcoming events at the Events page on the web site.
One enthusiastic reader noted my event in Blaine and wondered if I meant Blaine, Washington. She was ready to drive five hours to see me! I love the dedication, but I had to tell her I was in Minnesota, not Washington. Maybe next time!
January 10, 2010
Thanks for visiting my all-new web site at www.bfreemanbooks.com. I hope you'll browse the site and learn more about me and my books. Feel free to send me an e-mail with your feedback, join my e-mail list, or become a fan on my Facebook page and post your comments with other readers.
On the new site, you'll find information and excerpts from all of my books, links to sites where you can buy the books around the world, and exclusive bonus content, including short stories not available anywhere else. I'll be posting additional content in the months ahead. You can also subscribe to my blog and events pages for up-to-the-minute news about my books and appearances.
If you signed up to follow my blog on my old web site, you will have to sign up again on this page in order to keep receiving my posts. (Look for the "Subscribe to feed" link on this page.) If you follow my posts on Facebook, however, you should still see them there as I release new entries. I have also posted copies of many of my favorite blog entries from the past few years here on the new site, so feel free to re-visit them.
For those of you in book clubs, don't miss the Book Club page, where you'll find questions to guide discussions of each of my books. You can even invite me to join you by phone!
January 01, 2010
One of the most frequent questions I get from readers is: How much money do authors receive on the sale of their books? The answer can get complex depending on the edition, the discount, the number of copies sold, etc., but I saw the following breakdown as provided by a literary agent the other day and thought you'd enjoy getting a look at how publishing economics work:
Start with a $24.95 hardcover.
Discounts to booksellers vary, but for a rough estimate figure that the publisher receives around 50%.
Let's say the author has a 10% retail royalty, and the author has an agent who receives 15% of the author's share. This works out to (again, roughly):
$12.48 to the bookseller (50%)
$9.98 to the publisher (50% minus author/agent share)
$2.12 to the author (10% of retail minus 15%)
$0.38 to the agent (15% of 10%)
For another example, let's take a $14.95 trade paperback where the author receives 7.5% retail. That translates to:
$7.48 to the bookseller
$5.83 to the publisher
$0.95 to the author
$0.17 to the agent
Obviously, it's less for mass market paperbacks (where the retail price is normally around $7.99 -- you can do the math) and for e-books (where, depending on the retail price, the royalty is about a third of what the author would receive on a hardcover sale).
We're only talking about new books here, of course. Sales at used book stores make money only for the bookseller -- the publisher, author, and agent receive no compensation. Most libraries buy their books, but a single sale at a library is a single sale, regardless of how many patrons read it.
December 18, 2009
There's a reason why the song goes, "I'll be home for Christmas - but only in my dreams."
For many families, the holiday season is a time of distance, whether it's parents and children living in different corners of the world, husbands and wives separated by military service, or anyone celebrating in one place while part of their heart is in another. Marcia and I know this experience well. My own family is more than a thousand miles away, so usually we get together at other times of the year, rather than during the crazy holiday travel season. We also deal with remoteness in other ways as a result of the book business. One of the great joys of my life as an author has been the opportunity to get to know people in many corners of the world - across the U.S. and in many other countries - including readers, booksellers, editors, agents, publicists, radio hosts...anyone who is passionate about books. We've never met most of them face to face, and the reality is, we may never have a chance to do so. Of course, when we get that occasional opportunity - visiting an area and finally having a chance to hug someone who has become a friend across the miles - it's a huge blessing.
However, we have come to terms with the fact that little pieces of our hearts will always be spread around the world. Even when we are home in
November 15, 2009
Christmas carols are already showing up on the radio again, and Thanksgiving is just a few days away. At this time of year, readers often ask me about giving my books as holiday gifts. Excellent idea -- glad you asked.
We're still a few months away from the hardcover release of THE BURYING PLACE (the much-awaited fifth Jonathan Stride novel) in the U.S., so if you have any trouble locating my first four novels (IMMORAL, STRIPPED, STALKED, and IN THE DARK) in stores, don't hesitate to place an order with your local bookseller. There should be plenty of time for every bookstore to get them in stock. You can also find the books with immediate availability at online retailers such as Amazon and BN.com.
What if you want signed copies with special inscriptions for your loved ones? No problem. There are two ways to do it. First, you can buy the books yourself, and send them to me with return postage and instructions for any inscription you'd like. My address is: Brian Freeman, PO Box 25211, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55125. I'm happy to sign books for you. Alternatively, you can also order my books through my local mystery bookstore, Once Upon a Crime, in Minneapolis. (612-870-3785 or email@example.com) Pat and Gary are happy to do mail orders and can arrange for me to sign the books for you well before the holidays.
So give your friends and relatives a thrill this year. Happy Holidays!
October 10, 2009
Here's a scary thought for authors and readers alike. What if there were no more bookstores?
If you don't think that could ever happen, think back on a few names from the past: Musicland. Wherehouse. Tower. Virgin. These were all huge music superstores, and with few exceptions, they're long gone. The concept of a music-only store has all but disappeared from retail. If consumers want music, they go to places like Best Buy, Target, or Wal-Mart, or to online sources like Amazon and iTunes.
It's not hard to imagine bookstores going the same way. Hundreds of wonderful independent bookstores have shut their doors in the past decade. Mall favorites like Waldenbooks and B.Dalton have largely given way to Barnes & Noble and Borders -- and those chains now struggle with flat or declining sales. In another decade, readers -- like music lovers -- may find themselves restricted to small selections at big box retailers or wind up doing their shopping online.
Is that a problem? After all, musicians haven't disappeared, despite the evolving retail environment. But I do think it's a worrisome trend for writers and readers. First, large retailers don't devote much real estate to books, so their selection is extremely limited. If your name isn't James Patterson or Nora Roberts, you may never wind up on their shelves, which means readers will find it harder to browse and discover new writers. Second, musicians have additional channels for reaching an audience that authors don't enjoy. Newspapers and magazines still devote ample page space to music. Concerts and merchandise are still big business -- and big sources of publicity and revenue. Songs are easy to spread virally through iTunes and YouTube, unlike books, which require a much larger bloc of time to enjoy. You could "find" Susan Boyle, for example, with a three-minute performance online that attracted millions of viewers in a few days. Books don't generally work that way.
Authors and publishers already face turbulent economic times. Readers don't generally stop reading in a recession -- but their behavior changes in ways that mean authors derive little or no compensation from the people who enjoy their boks. If 50 readers buy a new hardcover, for example, the total compensation to the author is approximately $125. If 50 readers buy a new paperback, the compensation drops to about $35. If 50 readers check out the book from the library, the compensation drops to about $2.50. If 50 readers go to used book stores like eBay, the compensation drops to zero. It's easy to do the math.
The trend suggests an uncertain future in the book biz. For those of us who love books, we need to pay close attention to the next steps in how books are bought and sold. How will e-books change the equation, for example? Will other retailers pick up the slack if traditional retailers disappear? Will independent sellers make a comeback? I don't have the answers, but one thing is true: The industry will look very different ten years from now than it does today. The question is whether authors and readers will like what they see.
October 02, 2009
My letter to the editor about the American Library Association's Banned Books Week was printed in the Wall Street Journal today. Here's what the letter said:
Mitchell Muncy thinks that the American Library Association is overreacting to attempts by "law-abiding parents" to ban books in their local libraries (Taste, September 25). I think it's more accurate to suggest that we don't face a serious threat to our free speech rights today because of the vigilance among librarians in resisting such pressure.
A small example: When I spoke at a local library last year about my novels, the librarian subsequently informed me that a resident had called to demand I be "disinvited," because one of my books included "a reference to male genitalia." Egad! Amusing? Sure. Harmless? I don't think so. Such people hide behind "free speech," but their real agenda is to dictate to their neighbors what they may choose to read and hear.
Fortunately, our librarians are a buffer against those would try to substitute their values and standards for our own. For that, we owe them thanks.
So to you librarians out there -- Thanks!
September 17, 2009
This should generate some discussion.
I think of this topic because I'm in San Mateo, California, which is the hometown in which I grew up. Tomorrow, Marcia and I head back to Minnesota, which we've called home for more than 25 years. We've spent the last 10 days helping my parents through my Dad's knee replacement surgery. (All went well, thanks.)
But this reflection really isn't about my hometown. I'm thinking of the music associated with prose. When readers ask me how I go about editing my books, I tell them that I listen to the music of the words, and that's how I create the style and flow I'm looking for. It's also why I can't listen to the audio editions of my books. I hear great reviews from listeners about the CD renditions, but I can't listen to someone else reading my words. It's not how I hear it. It's not the music in my head.
I'm trying to create a certain theme, a certain feel, with my books. One of my favorite songs of late is by the Grammy-winning singer Adele, and it's called "Hometown Glory." Much of it is her solo voice linked to a hypnotic piano theme. I've spent some time thinking about why I enjoy the song so much, and I realized it's because the "sound" of that song captures the mood I'm trying to build in my books. There's a dark, driving power to the piano and a sense of heroism and grief overlaying the music. That's what I hope you'll find when you read one of my novels.
Check it out on iTunes. Let me know if you agree. Of course, you may hear a very different music. Stride's theme is probably unique to each individual. But there's a music to books, no doubt about it, and we all hear it based on our own experiences.
August 08, 2009
I just got back from a week in Door County, Wisconsin, where I was scouting locales for book six. If you've been to any of my reader events, you'll know that I try to choose scenes for the chapters much like a film director would. I outline in such a way that I know how each chapter advances the story or the characters -- but I leave the setting open so that I can find locales that enrich the drama. I do that by visiting the area, finding dramatic places that reinforce each scene, and taking voice notes and photographs.
Why Door County? I wanted a setting in the Upper Midwest -- like the Stride novels -- but one with a more rural flavor, where there's tension between natives and outsiders. Door County, which is like Cape Cod dropped into the Midwest, fits the bill perfectly. It's a beautiful area, filled with lighthouses, deserted dirt roads, and quaint little shops -- but there's also an inherent discomfort between long-time residents and wealthy arrivals from Chicago. That anxiety is part of the plot of book six. I'm really excited about the story and characters and can't wait to share them with you.
While I was there, I also visited the lovely Novel Ideas bookstore in Baileys Harbor, which is run by Michelle, an alumna of Anderson's bookstore in Naperville, Illinois. (Yes, another of those former Chicagoans!) I'll be calling into Michelle's book club in October, when they read IMMORAL.
Meanwhile, UK fans are counting down toward the release of the fifth Stride novel, THE BURYING PLACE, in September. (I know, I know, it's a long wait until the US release in April.) One clever reader managed to get her hands on an advance reader copy from the UK and wrote to tell me it was the best book yet. That's what I like to hear.
August 02, 2009
On Thursday I had the opportunity to speak to more than two dozen inmates in the prison library at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee, which is an all-women facility (and the only state prison for women in Minnesota). Eagled-eyed readers will remember that Serena visits an inmate at the Shakopee facility in STALKED, before her terrifying drive back to Duluth.
It's a prison that doesn't look like a prison at all. There is no fence. No barbed wire. From the outside, it looks more like a series of college dormitories. It's not until you go inside that you find the guards, the metal detectors, the bullet-proof glass, and the locked doors. Even so, the facility feels more like a community than it does a traditional prison, and that's deliberate. There's even a parenting building in the complex in which children sometimes spend the night with their mothers under certain conditions.
Are there violent offenders at Shakopee? I'm sure. Was I talking to any of them? I don't have a clue. I will say that listening to the women, I was reminded of the philosophy behind my psychological suspense novels - that the heroes are not all good and the villains are not all bad. I want the reader to understand the backgrounds of the characters so they can recognize the influences that led them across difficult lines and into some bad choices. I think that message resonated at the prison. I hope so.
These were ordinary women of various ages and ethnicity. I confess I found myself looking at many of them wondering: What are you doing here? How did you get here? But that again is the writer looking for the story. They asked great questions - in many cases, better than many reporters and book clubs with whom I've chatted in the past. As the librarian noted to me, these are women looking for the emotional makeup of the characters, and so their questions got to the heart of how you put a character together on the page.
The lightest moment was during the introduction. The librarian mentioned that one of the inmates at the facility had introduced her to my books and was a huge fan. She'd been released a month before the event. The librarian said it was almost a shame, because she knew this woman would have loved to meet me.
"I suspect she's still happier anyway," I said. They all laughed.
July 17, 2009
Readers will sometimes ask me: What's the most difficult part of writing a book? Is it coming up with the plot and character ideas? Writing the manuscript itself? Editing? Marketing?
Well, all of those phases of the writing process have their own challenges, but I think there's one phase that is harder than the others. As I get started on book six, I'm in the midst of that phase right now. It's the early chapters of the book.
I know where I'm going in book six. I have a plot outline that I can't wait to explore in the draft itself. I'm excited about the characters. But now I have to start putting it all into words. Once you're about a third of the way into the manuscript, the book begins to develop a momentum of its own. The characters become fully formed in your head, and in an odd way, they help you with the writing itself, because their actions and dialogue start to seem natural.
Right now? Not so much. In the early chapters, you're still getting to know the characters. They're still strangers. I know some of their life stories, but I really don't know yet how they think, talk, act, and behave (or misbehave). So it's a slow process, with lots of re-writes, as I start to put the first few brush strokes on the canvas.
It's been this way with every book, and I always say I'll remember it next year. But I don't. I still find myself in the early pages saying: Why is this so hard? Has it always been this hard? Yes, it has, and I imagine it always will. Soon enough, in the next couple of months, the people in this book will feel like old friends. Now, I'm just finding out who they are.
July 10, 2009
I've mentioned in the past that I regularly join discussions with book clubs that read one or more of my books. For those of you in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota (where I'm located), I'm happy to visit your club in person. In fact, I've got a couple more club meetings coming up later this month.
I also do book club visits by phone across the U.S. and around the world. It's fun to answer questions for readers located everywhere from New Jersey to Florida to Australia, even when the time zone changes mean I can be chatting with people in the middle of the night. If you're not a member of a book club now, you might stop in at your local bookstore or library and see if they have a club you can join. And of course, feel free to suggest my books!
Meanwhile, I can now offer a new service to book clubs -- video chats. I'm equipped with a web cam and a Skype account, so if one of your book club members is similarly equipped, I can actually chat with your group by video (and it's free for both of us). If you'd like to talk to me about a club meeting (in-person, by phone, or by video), just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm in the process of working with my web team on the launch of the next generation of www.bfreemanbooks.com in September. The site will focus on the community of Brian Freeman readers and will give me an opportunity to expand bonus content and other resources for fans. I'll keep you posted as we get closer to releasing the new site.
July 01, 2009
I'm back at work now and digging in on book six. In the meantime, though, I know everyone is curious about the fifth Jonathan Stride novel, THE BURYING PLACE.
Book five will arrive in U.S. bookstores in April 2010. Readers in the UK will get a head-start, as the hardback edition is due out there in September 2009. Both publishers have developed tremendous -- and very different covers -- for this book. The U.S. cover, shown here, has a stark 1950s IN COLD BLOOD feel to it. It captures the late fall loneliness of a novel in which much of the action takes place in the farmlands north of Duluth.
What is it about? Well, I'll tell you that the action follows closely on the heels of the fourth novel, IN THE DARK, and for those of you who have read that book, you can imagine that the events will shape Stride's life as he tackles his next case. It's shocking and intense, with deep characters and twists and turns. I'll give you more hints in the months to come.
My sixth book, which I'm starting now, won't arrive in stores until early 2011 in the U.S. This is my first stand-alone (unless you count THE AGENCY by Ally O'Brien), a novel in my classic psychological suspense style, but with all-new characters. If you love the Stride books, I feel confident in saying you'll love this one, too. Don't worry, though...Stride will return in book seven.
June 08, 2009
I will be offline for much of June as Marcia and I head off to celebrate our 25th anniversary. When we return, I'll be digging in on my sixth suspense novel.
I'll also be giving you a look ahead at the fifth Jonathan Stride novel THE BURYING PLACE, which may be the most shocking and intense novel I've written to date. THE BURYING PLACE arrives in the UK and much of the world this fall and will be released in the U.S. in the spring of 2010. I'll have more details to share soon.
In the meantime, thanks to all of you who have given me such wonderful feedback on IN THE DARK (a.k.a. THE WATCHER). I know that the more books I write, the more readers will have their personal favorites, because certain characters and plots will resonate with their own experiences. Even so, my goal is to raise the bar with each book -- and so I'm delighted by the number of readers who have told me that the latest book is the best one yet.
That is, until you read THE BURYING PLACE...
June 05, 2009
In IN THE DARK, Tish Verdure asks Stride if there's anything of which he's afraid. With some hesitation, Stride admits that he's afraid of loss. "I hate endings, goodbye, funerals, everything like that," he says. "The end of books. The end of movies. The end of vacations. I like it when things keep going, but they never do."
This comes to mind because Marcia and I are at the end of an agonizing week in which we had to say goodbye to our friend and companion of more than 19 years, our cat Disney. His health has been going downhill for several months, and he had a particularly bad day on Monday. We're leaving town for nearly three weeks soon for our 25th anniversary trip, and we knew he was in no condition to survive without us, and we hated the idea of him dying of a broken heart, feeling alone and abandoned. We struggled with the decision all week, but when we saw him at peace yesterday, we knew we had done the right thing.
As I said to Marcia, it's hard to imagine a better way to spend your last hours than to rest in a sunbeam on your mom's lap, with a belly full of tuna fish, and then to go to sleep with your friends whispering how much they love you.
So we know we did the right thing by him. The suffering now is ours. For almost two decades, it's been just the three of us, and the house feels empty and lonely. We know there are many other cats out there that need a good home, and soon several of them will move in and take over, as cats do. But for now, we simply miss our little guy.
May 11, 2009
One of my readers posted the following note on my wall on Facebook: "After my suggestion, the manager of Houston Borders read your new book "In the Dark" and loved it so much that she ordered several extra copies for the store."
There couldn't be a better example of the power of reader referrals. Booksellers and librarians help readers find new authors every day -- but they struggle with the sheer volume of books and have to prioritize what they read themselves. That's why they pay attention when a customer or patron makes a recommendation. When an avid reader tells them, "You HAVE to read this author!", they listen.
I always suggest to readers who write to me that they spread the word to local bookstores and libraries. That's why. Be sure to let me know, too, if you recommend my books and one of your local managers or librarians becomes a fan. I'll drop them a personal note to say thanks.
April 09, 2009
The hero of my series is a Duluth police lieutenant named Jonathan Stride.
When I was creating Stride in my first book IMMORAL, I didn't want a stereotypical, grizzled, emotionless detective. I wanted someone who at his heart is a passionate man. He struggles with his emotions, and sometimes they get the better of him, whether as a detective or as a man. Sometimes his passions blind him to the truth of a case, and he makes mistakes as a result of it. He's not a super-hero. He's flawed and human, and I think that's why readers relate to him.
Stride is obviously the glue that holds the series together, but he doesn't dominate the stage. Readers will occasionally tell me - approvingly - that Stride is sometimes a supporting character. He lets other voices carry the book. In that way, readers get pulled into the psychological suspense, by getting inside the head of the other characters, not just Stride.
On the other hand, I tell people who are new to the series that my fourth book, IN THE DARK, is a great place to start. That's because this book, more than any other since IMMORAL, is very much Stride's book. I wanted a story that allows the reader to get to know Stride and the influences that shaped him. So this story takes you deep into Stride's past and to an unsolved murder from thirty years ago that involved people who were close to Stride's heart. That summer of violence was a big part of what made him the man he is. In this new novel, he must confront those events and finally resolve them - and deal with the loss and grief he never fully accepted.
Can a suspense novel make you cry? This one just might. By the end, I hope you'll feel close to Jonathan Stride and his past.
April 04, 2009
These days, authors sometimes seem to spend as much time talking about their books as they do writing them. Not that that's a hardship for us. After all, how bad can it be to have a profession where people ask you to stand up and talk about yourself?
This comes to mind because I'm in Duluth - "Stride Country," as I call it - for book signings for IN THE DARK, and I spent Friday morning doing radio interviews. Being in the media sometimes feels like stumbling right into the middle of a Carl Hiaasen novel. Case in point: I arrived at the radio station at 7:00 am to find myself surrounded by a man in a swimsuit who was about to get a tattoo live on the air, a man dressed as Britney Spears carrying a Pomeranian (also dressed as Britney Spears), and a college girl who was going to get her hair cut by one of the DJ's - who was blindfolded at the time.
And me. As I mentioned when I was on the air, I was glad I had already got my hair cut before coming up to Duluth.
So book marketing is a time when you feel closer to the entertainment side of the business. On the other hand, it doesn't make much to ground you back in the darker side of life - the side that Jonathan Stride deals with every day in my books. During the morning, I also had a chance to talk to a woman who had dealt with a stalker for more than twenty years. I could see the tension in her emotionally and physically as she described her experiences. She was hoping to get the message out in one of my books about the struggles that victims go through in those circumstances. That's when the line between fiction and reality tends to blur. For me, it's part of the variety of inspirations, many drawn from true crimes, that twist and turn and wind up in my plots.
Meanwhile, then it was back to the media. I had two newspaper interviews on Friday afternoon and a video blog to film. And then we got around to the real business of the day - signing books. I visited one of Duluth's indie bookstores to sign copies of IN THE DARK and chat with readers. Nothing makes you feel better as an author than to feel the enthusiasm that fans have for your books and how eagerly they await each new novel. I had a reader in Fargo who wrote to me earlier in the week to say she had braved flood waters to get to a bookstore to buy IN THE DARK - only to find that the store was closed because of the flood!
I told her I was flattered she had risked her life to get my book. But next time, wait until the waters go down...
April 02, 2009
If you'd like me to participate in your club, by the way, just send me an e-mail at email@example.com. I do call-in discussions all the time around the world. I've been known to be up in the middle of the night talking to readers in Australia,so calling to New Jersey or Oregon is no problem!
There are other signs of enthusiasm in the reading community. People laugh about the silver bullet influence of Oprah's recommendations on the bestseller list, but I think it shows that people are hungry for good books, and they're looking for recommendations on which they can rely. Also, every time I hear that young people don't read anymore, I look at my Facebook page, where many of my most enthusiastic fans are readers in college or in their 20s. They're always pushing me to hurry up on the next book.
People have responded to great stories for centuries, and I don't think that's really changing. We just need to make sure that we work together to help people of all ages - not just kids - enjoy the power of reading. Book clubs, librarians, booksellers, schools, authors, publishers, reviewers - we can all help spread the gospel. If you look at the phenomenon of The Da Vinci Code a few years ago, you can see the book drawing in millions of new readers who may not have cracked a book in years. That's an encouraging sign. We just need to give them a reason to come back.
Ironically, maybe the struggling economy will help. After all, a book offers pretty good entertainment value for the dollar.
April 01, 2009
New readers will sometimes ask me: If you could compare your books to those of another author, whom would it be? Do you write like Michael Connelly? Harlan Coben? David Baldacci?
Well, yes. And no. My novels revolve around police investigations, so to that extent, they're reminiscent of Connelly. The plots are filled with twists and turns that may remind readers of Coben. And there are pure thrills along the way, too, that you'd expect from a writer like Baldacci. Maybe that's why reviewers in publications like the Chicago Tribune and Library Journal point fans of those authors to my books. On the other hand, in the same way that those authors write very distinctive kinds of books themselves, you'll get a different experience reading mine.
I'm not a big fan of putting labels on books - mystery, thriller, police procedural, cozy, domestic thriller, etc., etc. - because I think each book should stand on its own, rather than be assigned to a formula that may or may not fit. But if you tied me down (please don't do that - I'm having flashbacks of Misery) and forced me to give my books a name, I'd call them "psychological suspense."
To me, that means building drama that arises out of the emotions and secrets of the characters. You won't find forensic minutiae a la Cornwell in my books, and you won't find intricacies of police procedure and department politics a la Connelly. Instead - through multiple perspectives - I try to paint a picture of the backgrounds and psychology of the characters, in a way that you understand what drew them across a terrible line. By the time you reach the final shocking conclusion, it should not only be the last piece in the puzzle, it should also feel like the right emotional resolution for the drama.
I don't want books where the heroes are all good and the villains are all bad. Every character in my novels operates in the same moral gray scale that we face in daily life, making the best choices we can based on our backgrounds, biases, prejudices, and beliefs. Sometimes we make the right choices, and sometimes we don't, and sometimes we're not sure which is which. That's true of my characters, too - including the detectives. Their goal is justice, but as in any complex situation, that's not always easy to achieve.
So when you open up IN THE DARK - or any of my novels - that's the world you'll enter. I hope you enjoy it. My goal is that the pace will drive you through the book at a rocket rate, because you have to find out what happens next. But I always tell readers that they should go back after they're done and read the book more slowly to pick up the nuances of the characters. That's what psychological suspense is all about.
March 25, 2009
It's no mystery why authors rely so heavily on readers to help them build an audience. Publishing is one of the last great "word of mouth" businesses, where writers build their reputation reader by reader, book by book. I've been extremely fortunate to have some wonderful readers around the world acting as advocates on my behalf - and I'm grateful for their efforts and support.
Readers at book signings will sometimes ask me what they can do to help. There are actually many ways in which readers can lend a hand to the authors they enjoy. The most obvious thing to do - Tell a friend - covers a lot of ground these days. People who have always shared news of a favorite author with family and friends can now reach an even larger group of people through their status, links, notes, and messages on Facebook and MySpace; through their "tweets" on Twitter; through their blogs; or through online book networks like Shelfari and GoodReads. They can recommend books to local book clubs. They can talk to their local librarian. They can spread the word to employees at their local bookstore.
So "tell a friend" goes a long way. I've even had readers go so far as to write to book reviewers at their local newspaper and recommend they cover a particular book. And you know what? It often works. There is so much content out there today that everyone - readers, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers - relies on word of mouth to find authors they might otherwise miss. Publishers and authors are interested parties, so the objective opinion of readers carries a lot of weight.
So remember - you have the power!
March 23, 2009
There are tragedies that also remind you of why you do what you do in life.
Back in January, I spoke at a senior apartment complex near our home, where my in-laws reside. One of the women there bought a copy of IMMORAL as a gift after my remarks.
I didn't know it at the time, but the woman had lost a son to cancer -- and not long ago had discovered that a second son had terminal cancer, too, and had been confined to a hospice. She bought the book for him.
My wife Marcia was at the apartment complex visiting her mother today. The woman who bought the book saw her there and immediately came over. She wanted us to know that her son had passed away. IMMORAL turned out to be the last book he ever read, and she asked Marcia to tell me how much he had enjoyed it.
I couldn't help crying when I heard that news. But as Marcia told me, it's the kind of story you remember at those times when you wonder if you ever make a difference in the world.
June 13, 2008
Well, that seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? But it helps to remember how true that is. I spent a couple hours last weekend at a bookstore in the Twin Cities, and one of the booksellers mentioned that they had recently conducted a "handselling" contest, in which each of them picked one of their favorite books and made a point of recommending it to customers.
The winner sold around 150 paperbacks. One book, one store, 150 copies. And it wasn't even The Da Vinci Code.
The fact is, at chain stores and independents alike, customers come into the store looking for referrals and recommendations. "I've read all of Michael Connelly's books, who would you suggest I try next?" That's when handselling by retailers makes a difference for authors building a brand with new readers.
The moral of the story? I always ask readers who love my books to tell their friends -- and their local bookseller, too. When a bookseller gets a positive review from a customer, they can spread the word far and wide. That's how authors sell books.