The Winner Maker
by Jeff Bond
on Tour December 1-31, 2018
Bob Fiske — the 74-year-old dinosaur who’s taught Honors English and coached varsity football for five decades — is missing.
To his Winners, class favorites Fiske designated over the years for their potential to “Live Big,” it’s heartbreaking. Fiske did more than inspire with soaring oratory; he supported their ambitions into adulthood. Four of his brightest former stars reunite to find him, putting high-octane careers on hold, slipping police barricades, racing into the wilds of Northern Michigan for clues about the fate of their legendary mentor.
Others don’t see a legend. They see an elitist whose time has passed.
When a current student — female — disappears just hours into the Winners’ search amid rumors of inappropriate meetings, the Great Man’s reputation is a shambles.
Feints, betrayal, explosive secrets from their own pasts: as facts emerge, each Winner must decide how far they’ll go for Fiske. Can the truth redeem him? Or has this cult of hyper-achievement spawned a thing so vile none of their lives will survive intact?
“An exhilarating and emotionally astute mystery.” ~ Kirkus
Genre: Upmarket Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 1st 2018
Number of Pages: 332
ISBN: 1732255202 (ISBN13: 9781732255203)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Jeff Bond is a Kansas native and graduate of Yale University. He lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters, and belongs to the International Thriller Writers association.
Q&A with Jeff Bond
Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I do, from both. I keep a running document of story ideas – categorized into “short,” “novella,” and “novel” – and try to add at least one per day. Generally it’ll be something inspired by my day, an interesting person I crossed paths with or situation I or one of my kids faced; or by a news story.
I subscribe to The New York Times on Kindle and live in constant regret for not reading it cover-to-cover, because every time I do, I find a great germ of a story.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
It varies. I’m a big upfront plotter, and before I sit down to write any scene at the level of dialog or physical description, I’ll know all the major plot points. (Which is not to say they can’t change later, either based on my own or early readers’ thoughts.) Sometimes the climax comes to me first—if you have a well-defined protagonist and antagonist, you can often imagine how they ought to collide for maximum effect.
Other times, particularly if the element driving a story is character or setting/milieu rather than situation or episode, I’ll just start brainstorming complications and possible twists, sprinkling them throughout an outline, and the plot emerges sort of all at once.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
While I certainly steal certain traits or mannerisms, I don’t have any characters – at least in The Winner Maker – that’re very close to real people. It can be tempting to do with minor characters. For example, if you want to quickly characterize a setting and know a person who typifies that place, you feel like just rolling them out with a different name. I try not to.
With major characters, in my experience, it can’t really work. You’re always going to need something different to support your plot or maximize conflict – even if it’s just a stray hobby or expertise.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I keep it pretty simple. Coffee and laptop. A café, library, or botanical gardens in good weather. I used to write in the early morning hours before going to a regular nine-to-five job, which conditioned me to write anywhere and make use of small windows of time.
Tell us why we should read this book.
The Winner Maker is unique in that it delivers high-octane thrills and reversals in the style of Harlan Coben or James Patterson, but does it using complex, likable characters you’ll recognize from real life.
I thought Kirkus Reviews captured this well: “Bond collapses two distinct literary genres into one seamless novelistic whole: a mystery and an emotional drama…The novel’s central mystery is thrilling, but the true spine of the tale is the fragile connections between the past Winners, who must not only investigate Fiske’s disappearance, but also the authenticity of their lives and friendships.”
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Jonathan Franzen, Nick Hornby, Harlan Coben
What are you reading now?
For me, Beartown by Fredrik Backman. To my kids, Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
My follow-up is called Blackquest 40. It’s more of a go-go thriller than Winner, a fresh take on the Die Hard formula about San Francisco tech workers whose office is locked down for a forty-hour corporate training exercise—or so they’re told as the story begins.
I’m just finishing final edits and plan a mid-May release.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
I’m afraid parenting duties have eroded my knowledge of current movie actors who might play my Winners–in their late twenties—but for the title role of Bob Fiske, the missing teacher, I’ll take Ian McKellen.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Basketball when I can find the time, and listening to audiobooks every morning while walking the dog.
Pozole, a pork and hominy Mexican stew.
Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jeff Bond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2018 and runs through January 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.