by Susan Wolfe
on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2016
When does the Con become the Artist?
Georgia Griffin has just arrived in Silicon Valley from Piney, Arkansas on very bald tires, having firmly rejected her beloved father’s life as a con artist. Her father is in jail and a certain minister is hugging her mother for Jesus while eyeing Georgia’s little sister, Katie-Ann. Georgia desperately needs to keep her new job as paralegal for Lumina Software so she can provide a California haven for her sister before it’s too late.
While she’s still living in her car, Georgia realizes that incompetence and self-dealing have a death grip on her new company. She decides to adapt her extensive con artist training—just once—to clean up the company. But success is seductive. Soon Georgia is an avid paralegal by day and a masterful con artist by night, using increasingly bold gambits designed to salvage Lumina Software. Then she steps into the shadow of a real crime and must decide: Will she risk her job, the roof over her sister’s head, and perhaps her very soul?
This author was “new to me”, but after reading the synopsis, I knew I had to read this title.
The book starts with a Prologue of 2 men discussing the past and mentioning each other’s name. One has done time, for a crime they were both involved with many years ago and now feels, that since the other person has done well in life, that he is owed in terms of monies. However, this meeting ends badly with one of them being murdered.
Chapter One, we meet Georgia Griffin, a very intuitive paralegal interviewing for a major company, Lumina Software. She needs this job since she is now responsible for her younger sister. Georgia has to go legitimate, after working in the family business running cons on “easy marks” after her father is incarcerated.
She learns quickly and becomes an asset to the company. However, there are some occasions and incidents where she feels a little con job will only help her position and some of her co-workers.
As I continued reading, I could not figure out what the Prologue had to do with the story, since those names mentioned in the Prologue, were never mentioned again. Until……..
And then it all comes together. She realizes that she is not the only one who knows how to run a con, and now she is in the middle of a con that has been going on for 30 years and another murder may happen, if she doesn’t stop it.
ESCAPE VELOCITY is a very entertaining read!
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Published by: Steelkilt Press
Publication Date: October 4th 2016
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 0997211717 (ISBN13: 9780997211719)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗, Barnes & Noble 🔗, & Goodreads 🔗
Read an excerpt:
Susan Wolfe is a lawyer with a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Stanford University. After four years of practicing law full time, she bailed out and wrote the best-selling novel, The Last Billable Hour, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. She returned to law for another sixteen years, first as a criminal defense attorney and then as an in-house lawyer for Silicon Valley high-tech companies. Born and raised in San Bernardino, California, she now lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband, Ralph DeVoe. Her new novel, Escape Velocity, will be published in October of 2016.
Q&A with Susan Wolfe
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Both of my books are firmly grounded in my career as a Silicon Valley lawyer. I want my readers to experience the inner workings of a Silicon Valley law firm (in The Last Billable Hour, my Edgar Award winning mystery) and then the inner workings of a high-tech corporation (in Escape Velocity, my new Silicon Valley thriller.) This includes the politics, the banter, the in-fighting, and even the speech patterns of the different characters, along with some authentic crises the organizations might face. I hope I convey a powerful sense of place, because I don’t think the books could be set anywhere else.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I seem to start with an atmosphere/environment and a point of view about that environment. Then I conceive a main character to guide the reader through the story, and then I write the first chapters until I can hear the main character’s internal voice. I can’t make any progress with the plot until I’ve done those things.
By the time I have the character’s internal voice, I already have certain vivid scenes in mind. At that point I get a pad of giant graph paper (my husband is a physicist, so we have this stuff lying around) make a post-it note for each must-have scene, and position it on the graph paper more or less where I imagine it will be. I also have some idea of how the story will end up, meaning I know whether my main character(s) are going to succeed or fail in their quest(s) and how I expect the character to change (or not change) by the end of the story.
Then I go to work on the plot. I start with the last chapter, think about what needs to happen to get the characters there, and then conceive a scene that will lead to that last chapter. Then I do the same with the next-to-last chapter and continue backwards until I feel I have an outline of the whole story. The plot is the spine of the book, from which I will hang these post-it scenes that make the characters bump up against each other in ways that reveal who they are.
Plotting is the hardest part of my planning process. Once I can see this whole cause-and-effect spine of the story, I can get down to business drafting the actual chapters.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I think convincing characters are always “based on” the author herself or people she knows, because the author consults her personal beliefs about human nature to determine how her character will behave in a given situation. For example, in the opening scene of Escape Velocity, Georgia Griffin tricks a competitor in order to land a job she desperately needs. That doesn’t mean I would personally behave that way, or even that I know somebody who actually behaved that way. Part of the fun of writing (and reading) is having characters do things I might want to do, and can imagine doing, but wouldn’t actually do myself.
So is Georgia “based on” me or other people I know? Yes, because she issues from my own impulses and desires and beliefs about human nature. But then I transform her with my imagination.
One note: In the short time Georgia, has been out in public, I have had two different acquaintances recount doing something very similar to what Georgia does in that opening chapter. I love that. It tells me I my beliefs about human nature were on track!
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I have a pretty specific writing routine which I love.
I get up at 5:30, then “commute” four blocks to Peets Coffee at 5:50 or so, then return home and go straight into my writing room, which is my converted free-standing garage. This is how I signal my transition from home to work, and I suppose it could be considered an idiosyncrasy. I commuted every day for thirty-odd years and it did signal the transition, so I’ve just kept it up.
I try to start writing by 6:15 and do three 90-minute sessions each morning. (Some flexibility if I’m in the middle of a great scene.) On my two breaks between sessions I go for a jog, do a 20-minute meditation, eat and shower. Then I’m done for the day at 12:45 or 1. In the afternoons I try to be sure to see at least one friend to balance the solitude of writing, and then do everything else that needs to get done just to live my life: errands, reading, planning social events, hanging out with my two cats.
Tell us why we should read this book
From the early feedback I’ve gotten, people appreciate this book for several different reasons: 1) They like my quirky main character, Georgia Griffin, and want to find out if she’ll succeed or fail; 2) They love to see some extremely annoying people they’ve had to put up with at work get their just deserts; 3) They like learning what it’s like to work in a Silicon Valley high tech company; and/or 4) they think it is “wickedly hilarious” as one of my reviewers so kindly said. I do think the book operates on several levels, and hope readers can enjoy all these aspects of the book at once.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite living authors:
Hilary Mantel (the Thomas Cromwell Wolf Hall trilogy, or it will be a trilogy if we ever get that third book!)
Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch is one of my great reads of all time)
Ian McEwan (best ever author of literary creepy!)
Haruki Murakami (What’s not to love about Colonel Sanders come to life and talking cats?)
Tana French (I own every book in hardback because my daughter and I must read them immediately)
For my favorite authors of all time I would add:
William Faulkner (Thomas Sutpen of Absalom! Absalom! is to me one the great characters in all of literature)
Herman Melville (Love the whale!)
Jane Austen (Emma particularly)
Gustave Flaubert (I always root for Emma Bovary and hope it will come out differently)
Virginia Woolf (She made me determined to be a writer.)
What are you reading now?
I am now and for the foreseeable future reading the 1100-page Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. (My book group is fearless!) He might get added to my favorite authors, but I won’t know until I finish.
My next books will be: Tana French’s new book The Trespasser (my daughter is already ahead of me on this one); Ian McEwan’s new book Nutshell; and Memento Mori by Muriel Spark.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
My next novel is set in San Bernardino, California. San Bernardino was a working-class town when I grew up in it, and is now the second poorest large city in the country (after Detroit.)
The story begins when my protagonist is at the vet for a routine visit with his cat. A woman brings in a cat that has been badly mistreated and then races out the door before anybody can ask her about it. The terror in the woman’s eyes triggers memories from the protagonist’s childhood, and he is convinced the person who hurt the cat is an imminent danger to people as well. He decides to right an old wrong by finding the wrongdoer before it’s too late.
He manages to enlist the (somewhat skeptical) help of an animal control person and a forensics person in his unorthodox effort, because both of them have strong personal reasons for becoming involved. We now have four people (including the wrongdoer) who all badly want to succeed with conflicting goals in a race against the clock.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Fun to think about!
Saoirse Ronan or Nina Arianda for Georgia
Kyle Chandler or Matt Damon for Ken Madigan
Alec Baldwin or John Hurd or Timothy Spall for CEO
Anna Gunn or Tilda Swinton for HR person
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Theater! I’m heading to NYC in a few days to see four plays and an opera in a week. Favorite plays ever: Sweeny Todd, Amadeus, Doubt, Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 in the same day.
My favorite meal is from Trattoria Garga in Florence:
Bruschetta with Oven-roasted tomatoes
Pasta Magnifico (thin fettuccine with citrus zest)
Giant very rare Florentine steak
If you and a friend share the pasta and steak you will still have plenty. And if I had to keep it simple, I could make a whole meal of just the chocolate tart. Fun fact: I wrote to the owner, Sharon Gargani, and persuaded her to send me the tart recipe. I now make this tart myself!
Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
P.S. That Chocolate Tart sounds delicious, but then, anything that has chocolate in it is my downfall. CMR
Catch Up with Susan Wolfe on her Website 🔗, on Twitter 🔗, and on Facebook 🔗!
Stop by the other hosts as well for excerpts, guest posts, interviews, reviews, and, of course, more great giveaways!
Join In on the Giveaway!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Author Guide and Susan Wolfe. There will be 1 US winner of one (1) $50 Amazon.com giftcard AND 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Escape Velocity by Susan Wolfe. The giveaway begins on October 31st and runs through January 7th, 2017.