Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Notes - THE FIRE by Katherine Neville

Today's forecast: Another lovely day in St. Peters. Mostly sunny, high 75 degrees.

Penning book reviews and interviewing authors is one way I earn a small bit of money from my writing.

What I really love about book reviewing is being introduced to different writers and their books. When the books arrive in the mail, I can't wait to open the envelope, feel the book, study the cover, open the first page then flip to the back and read the author's bio.

Last month, THE FIRE by Katherine Neville, was a book I reviewed for Bookreporter.com. And through Bookreporter I was also able to pose intervewiew questions to the author as well.

First, about the book.

THE FIRE is an exciting adventure-quest story that began 20 years ago in Neville's critically acclaimed, best-selling book, THE EIGHT, which involved pursuit of a magical chess set with dangerous powers. The set once belonged to Charlemagne, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Don't let the fact that the story involves the game of chess intimidate you because what it's really about is pursuit of the fabled set. My knowledge of chess could fit on the head of a dust mote, yet I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

In THE FIRE, the quest for the legendary Montglane Chess Service crisscrosses the globe and spans two centuries. The story weaves historic and contemporary events and features some famous figures: Charlemagne, Isaac Newton, Lord George Gordon Byron, Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon. The modern-day characters are intriguing as well. The story combines elements of science, history, architecture, magic, religion and superstition, and is peppered with puzzles, riddles, symbols, exotic locations, mouthwatering meals, a dash of romance --- and a hint of more to come.

Visit http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews2/9780345500670.asp to read my complete review.

Now, for the interview.

In my Bookreporter.com interview, Neville explains why this sequel took two decades to write and describes why she uses the game of chess in these two books. She also discusses her research methods, her writing process, and how writing affects her. As a writer, I found her answers to the questions about research and writing especially fascinating. Neville also talks about the possibility of her books appearing on the big screen. Want to guess which which real-life historical figure Neville would most like to converse with over a meal? To find out, you can read my complete interview on Bookreporter.com http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/au-neville-katherine.asp

Happy Election Day! Don't forget to vote.


  1. I'm so interested in this. I'm seriously thinking of getting off the truck and I'd love to make a little money with my writing. I read a lot of books, but I don't know how to go about getting paid to do it.




  2. Hi Cher'ley,

    It's not easy. Not to discourage you, but it has taken me quite awhile to get paid for writing book reviews.

    Here's how I started:

    First, on Amazon.com (or maybe it was Barnes and Noble.com) I wrote occasional reviews about books friends had written or books I really liked. Mostly this was to support some of my author-friends by spreading the word about their books--not to get paid.

    But sometime before doing that I had signed up for a free e-zine/ newsletter at Bookreporter.com. It's a site with weekly articles and features about books and authors--and some awesome contests. Members can win free books (I won several) and wonderful prizes.

    I read they were looking for volunteer reviewers. I e-mailed a few of my past reviews to the editor, who wrote back and told me they were well written. He invited me to become a volunteer reviewer (no monetary compensation), asked what types of books I liked reading, and the books started arriving.

    That was almost two years ago. It really does take time and patience to build a relationship and reputation, but if you love to read and write, even if you don't get paid for your reviews at first, you can get free books and bylines, which translate to clips and possibly lead to paying assignments down the road (notice the trucking metaphor).

    There are other sites like Bookreporter.com which have their own specific requirements.

    It's not for everyone, especially if you expect to make a lot of money, but if you're like me and you love to read and write, it's a comfortable fit.

    Good luck, and keep on trucking--and reading and writing and blogging.



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