Breathtaking new book explores the question: Does God exist?

Nadiez Bahi investigates the space between science and religion

In his new novel, author Nadiez Bahi asks an age-old question: Does God exist? Releasing on April 27, 2021, “Rethink God” explores the histories of religion and scientific understandings of human existence in a realistic but fictional narrative that Foreword Clarion Reviews says will “inspire personal and social change at the deepest levels.”

Does God exist? This is probably the most complex question anyone can seek an answer to. What makes it even harder to reach an answer are the traps that we typically fall into in our attempts to do so. One common trap is linking religion to God as two sides of the same coin and using this link to prove or disprove the existence of God. Another trap is overestimating the ability of science and philosophy to provide a solid answer for the question. Unfortunately, most books and debates on the topic of God today fall so easily in these traps and many more. Mostly because they are rooted from, motivated and driven by an agenda that seeks to prove one claimed righteous position on the topic.

“Rethink God” is a very different book. It doesn’t force one opinion or show one side of the argument like most other books do. Instead, it presents novel points of view on the most prominent subjects of debate on the topic of God. It unveils major fallacies of both agenda-driven atheism and religious enthusiasm. More importantly, it provides an original, unprejudiced approach to help each person reach their own answer for the big question. And that is what any person really needs to get there.


About the Author

Nadiez Bahi is the pseudonym of the author whose life’s work is “Rethink God,” a novel releasing on April 27, 2021. For years, he researched science, philosophy, consciousness and religion seeking wisdom and answers on the topic of God. Bahi chooses to keep his identity private as the book’s content is not acceptable in the part of the world that he lives in.

In an interview, NADIEZ BAHI can discuss:

  • His cultural and religious background as well as why he strongly believes that it’s imperative for people to draw their own conclusions about the existence of God
  • The extensive research that went into writing “Rethink God”
  • Why he decided to lay the book out in a series of text message conversations
  • Investigating the philosophical argument that questions the co-existence of evil with an omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent God
  • Exploring the search for a creator through the universe’s different stages starting from the big bang to the formation of galaxies, stars and habitable planets

An Interview with Nadiez Bahi

1. Your book addresses the question: “Does God exist?” –– what inspired you to ask and seek answers for this question? Was there a moment in your life that made you want to investigate this more?

I was born and raised in a modern Muslim family. My parents taught us the basics of religion but were always against extremism and blindfolded submission to religious leaders. I was very curious about God for as long as I can remember. In my first week in school, I made friends with a Christian. I started asking him about what that meant to be one, and I just wouldn’t stop. By the weekend, he had given me books to read about Christianity. My parents weren’t very thrilled about it. I remember many times in my childhood asking my dad questions about God until he would state that some matters are simply unexplainable. However, these deeper thoughts faded away in the years that followed.

In 2006, “The Da Vinci Code” had exploded in certain social circles in my country. It wasn’t uncommon to find two people with that very same book in a tiny café. For people who had no interest in any existential questions at the time, its impact was gigantic. The possibility that some cornerstones of the most widely spread religion on earth have been completely altered throughout history left us in shock, regardless of whether this was true or not. Having the gift of the internet at hand, we rushed to search for fallacies, conspiracy theories, holes in religions and eventually in the idea of the existence of God. That was the first time in my life I started questioning many notions that I took for granted before.

After a couple months of reading, I decided to abandon the topic altogether. I realized the research needed much more attention than I could dedicate at the time. I had more critical missions at hand, building a career and deciding which direction I wanted to take in life in. Years passed. In 2013, a personal incident happened to me that made answering this question my first priority in life. I felt like I couldn’t move another inch without finding my answer. I call this condition “intolerable questioning.” I started reading everything on the topic of God that I could get my hands on. The more I read the further I got from reaching an answer, and the more clearly I saw that there were the two camps fighting a war against each other on pages of books I read; the camp of atheism and the camp of religion. Not only did that experience leave me not wanting to join one side, it made me despise the wickedness both camps adopt to win the war, corrupting many facts, blurring many truths that could lead someone like me to reach an answer. That was the time I decided I want to investigate the topic much deeper, from a whole new point of view, that is so far from the toxic war fought between the two camps.

2. Has writing this book changed your perspective on and relationship to God/religion?

Of course it did. Unlike most writers who take interest in this topic, I didn’t start the book with a solid answer that I seek to prove. I had a very clear idea about what is wrong with most of the material available on the topic today. If I am to put it in one word, it would be “rigidness.” Imagine how open or objective one is while writing a book when he or she chooses a title stating that “God exists” or “God doesn’t exist” before writing the first page.

So, when I started writing the book, I tried as much as I could to suppress my personal views on the topic at the time and focus on laying the foundation for answering the question, without knowing where this journey was going to take me. This actually made the book-writing journey extremely interesting. I think it’ll be quite effortless for the readers to sense the evolution of my ideas as they flip through the pages of the book. With regards to my personal take on spirituality, I can say that I definitely landed at a very different place than when I started the book. Strangely enough, I’ve become more accepting to other views, as it became clear to me that the approach to answer the God question is quite individual and personal. This is exactly why I prefer to stay silent on my relation to God/religion now, because what I am sure of is that it’s my own, not meant to be everyone’s, and more importantly it’s subject to change until the beating muscle pushing blood through my arteries seizes to do so.

3. Do you believe that science and philosophy prove or disprove God?

The key point here is to know which God is in question. Is he God of the Abrahamic religions or other religions, or a God who sent no religions but is open to communicate with us if we reach out to him, or merely the creator of the universe and life? To answer this question, we have to completely distinguish between the creator God and the spiritual God.

The creator God is one that can be responsible for the creation of our physical reality and everything in it. For example, in the simulation hypothesis, the creator God can be a software programmer who wrote this Matrix movielike simulation we are living in. The spiritual God is one that many people believe in and claim to connect with in a way or another. Yet this God and this connection do not exist in the physical realm.

Science can provide deep insights when attempting to answer the question of whether there is a need for the creator God. Could the Big Bang, the creation of stars, galaxies and planets, the birth of life and its evolution occur through a sequence of natural events that require no creator or not? Most of the book is dedicated to answering this question. However, this answer offers no information at all about the spiritual God, simply because the spiritual God lies out of the physical world that science deals with.

Philosophy, on the other hand, deals with the spiritual God more than the creator God, mostly based on his description from religions’ scriptures, which are of little value once one separates God from religion. So, in terms of answering the overall question about God in both capacities (creator and spiritual), science and philosophy can provide some insights, yet lay very far from providing a concrete answer.

4. While writing this book and traveling, you took the time to speak with a variety of people about spirituality. Why were these conversations so important to you and your research for the book? What was your most memorable experience from those conversations? Did particular discussions stay with you more than others?

Conversations have a certain privilege that no book, article or a documentary can offer, that is going with the flow. In an interview, the questions are pre-set to get certain information out of the interviewee. In a random conversation between two people, there is room to dance from one angle to another, dig deep into one aspect and avoid going into another, and so on. On a topic as sensitive and deep as the existence of God, it’s a brilliant experience to have a person express his views to a stranger without expectations, ego or judgement.

The most memorable conversation I had on that journey was on top of a mountain in Nepal. I was heading to a Buddhist monastery on a mountain in Katmandu. It’s not really a touristic spot. I asked the locals about the way to get there and started the hike following the trail up. After a few hours, I came to a point where the trail split. With no map at hand or any person to ask, I followed my intuition and chose one of the two paths ahead. Little did I know, it was the wrong one. I realized that after a few more hours of hiking as I was supposed to have reached my destination. I started getting very tired, hungry, and cold from the altitude, and I wasn’t prepared to spend the night. The sense in me told me I had to head down to catch the night in the city. When I reached the point where the trail split, I just couldn’t go home. I took the other trail, and kept following it until it finally led me to the monastery I was hoping to reach many hours before. There, I met a monk who was originally from Switzerland. The shocking part is it felt as if I was talking to myself visiting from the future. When we started talking, it turned out that a few years before he was doing exactly the same job I was doing at the time, felt the same pressure I felt, and had the same questioning I had. He told me about his experience in exploring spirituality, and how life was for him at that moment. That conversation, as we both gazed into the horizon from the mountain, had no aim but human companionship at the time. Yet, years later, it led me in the direction of some of the key aspects of my book.

5. Who will “Rethink God” resonate with?

I think my book will resonate very well with an intellect who’s in the phase of “intolerable questioning.” As in my story, this is the phase when one feels it’s a life necessity to reach an answer about this topic. This will provide the openness and dedication needed to read 310 pages of heavy weight philosophical and scientific theory!

When I started talking to people who researched the topic, then asked them about the books they read, something became quite clear. People are not quite objective when it comes to their beliefs about this topic, and most people will choose a book that confirms the direction of their beliefs rather than one that challenges them. So, as “Rethink God” questions many aspects of both atheism and religion, it’s not meant to please the masses. Yet, for someone who’s starting his or her quest, or for someone who’s truly open to change their position, the book could be life-changing.

6. How would you approach sharing your book with a non-religious person? What will they get out of it?

It depends on two things; where they are in the realm of spirituality and what the person is seeking to get out of the book. A non-religious person could be agnostic or a deist. Also, one person could be reading the book looking for answers to questions that are making him or her uncomfortable about where they are now. Yet, another can attempt to read it with absolutely no intent to change his direction by a nano-degree. For a non-religious person who is open to change, the book will open doors to an idea of spirituality that is not related to or confined by religion. For the ones who are not, it will offer them a lot of insights and knowledge about the position they’ve taken, since the conversations offer both sides of each argument.

7. Tell us about the two protagonists in your book, Christian and Sherif.

Sherif is a well-travelled modern day successful professional. Like many with such profile, he started questioning his religion and ended up being atheist. He tries to enjoy life to the fullest, but sometimes he feels a little lonely about not sharing this life with someone. He finds a new type of friend in Christian, whose intellect, analytical and conversational abilities amuse Sherif who misses having such deep discussions with the lifestyle he leads.

Christian is a very rich, powerful and mysterious person. He starts to realize at an old age that he might’ve parked emotions for too long to chase after building his success. Bit by bit, he opens up to Sherif and confides in him as a son. Christian is an agnostic since a young age and never cared much to investigate the topic of God. However, we meet him in the book on the first night of his life when he decides he needs to seek an answer for the God question.

Just like it sometimes happens in real life, they happened to cross each other’s paths at a moment when each of them needed the other more than they realized at the time. As events unfold throughout the book, they both end up playing key roles in each other’s lives.

8. One of the unique things about this book is the format. Why did you lay the book out in a series of text messages between Christian and Sherif?

I started writing in a typical non-fiction book format suitable for this genre. A few months into it, it started feeling wrong. I wasn’t able to deliver the messages as I wanted to. Until one night, after a long “debate” with an old friend on the same topic, it hit me; I need two voices. As I started writing more, the issues with my initial attempts became quite clear. One of the common themes of the books on the topic is the one-way flow of information coming from the angle of proving and confirming the point of view that the writer wants every reader to adopt. Most writers of the genre typically refer to opposing opinion only to highlight its fallouts, then hammer on them until they bleed.

However, “Rethink God” doesn’t opt for one side of debate on the existence of God as other books do. So, having two intellectual individuals debate each argument offers a much deeper understanding of the arguments and a much broader spectrum of possibilities. It allows for nested levels of objections around each discussion that a single voice can’t offer. Why text messages? It couldn’t be a narrated conversation as they had to exchange a lot of information and take time to look for more when needed. Also, choosing online messaging as the platform of communication for two frequent travelers who originally lived in different countries offers a level of flexibility you can’t achieve with face to face or even phone conversations.

9. In exploring different theories about God and religion, were you surprised by any of the stories that you found?

So many times! From the Big Bang to the creation of life, to evolution, to many aspects of our everyday life today. I think the biggest surprises involved the misconceptions around the workings of evolution, and around the mysteries of consciousness.

The outcomes of some known scientific facts were surprisingly interesting when looked at in a different way. For example, you and I are made of stardust and we possess superpowers. All elements heavier than hydrogen in our bodies were formed in stars by fusion or supernova. So we are literally made of stardust. The word “supernatural” means something that is beyond the natural world, which is the physical world we know. For example, Superman has supernatural powers because he flies against Earth’s gravity without an engine that overcomes this force. It was quite surprising to realize that, based on the binding problem, every human being alive is a Superman or Superwoman. Our conscious experience happens at a speed that our physical laws on the speed and working of neurons can explain no better than Superman’s flying routine.

One of the most surprising moments through writing the whole book didn’t come from a scientific theory. It happened when I found out that the conclusion I reached after years of research about how a person can find his or her answer for the question of God was already known since ancient times. It was even written on ancient Egyptian and Greek temples with absolute clarity thousands of years ago.

10. Your book investigates a wide variety of issues within religious beliefs, and what roles religion should and shouldn’t play. Can you elaborate on this?

Across the ages, religion has played different roles in the social, political and economic arenas in the lives of different peoples. Like all forms of power, it was abused, from extending the godly authority to kings and priests in ancient times to warfare and even wealth collection. Today in many parts of the world, religion still plays similar roles to use and manipulate the less fortunate. Even today religion is being used to divide people and rage violence between them. All this dies with one simple idea; religion’s main role of providing the person with his or her private channel for communication with the being they believe in.

11. How can a person reach their own answer about the question of God?

Each person can reach their own answer, yet not each person will. The purpose of “Rethink God” is not to promote agnosticism, or tell people that the question can’t be answered. The answer is not universal as other authors suggest. There will never be one right answer till the end of time. Neither believers nor atheists will seize to exist till the end of time. My book’s purpose is to show the limitations of the common means of answering the question through hundreds of pages of research, then propose the alternative way of reaching the answer. The beauty of that path is that the person who reaches his or her answer, whatever it is, will understand it’s their own right answer, not everyone’s right answer. They will understand it’s personal, not universal.

Praise for “Rethink God”

“With its thought-provoking and civil exploration of the God question, the narrative brings seekers and thinkers of all stripes three enlightening gifts: a clear and logical process, detached from religion, to guide spiritual exploration; identification and explanation of the correct tools to be used in the search (neither science nor philosophy, both brain-based tools, are up to the task); and a vision of a future in which such exploration will inspire personal and social change at the deepest levels.”
–– Foreword Clarion Reviews

“It is a complex work with a long and well thought out reasoning; the work focuses on the central question as to whether God exists or not. As we strive to answer this question for ourselves, the author explores ideas from science, philosophy, and atheist reasoning, and puts these alongside ideas of extreme religious enthusiasm and the search for definitive proof. What results is an informative and critical look at both extremes of thought on the existence of God, and one which allows us as a reader to find our own path amongst the myriad of ideas and search for our own truth. Author Nadiez Bahi offers a work that is truly like nothing I have ever read on the topic of religion, faith, and God.”
–– Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews

Books Forward April 2021 Newsletter

‘One Must Tells the Bees’ reveals American history as it’s never been told

Naples, FL — Author J. Lawrence Matthews invites readers on a remarkable journey with a precocious young chemist named Holmes from the streets of London to Washington D.C. in the last year of the Civil War. This vivid, previously untold story takes place during a crucial period in history that Americans are once again seeking to understand—and may now see through the keen eyes of Sherlock Holmes, thanks to One Must Tell The Bees: The Final Education of Sherlock Holmes, (May 22, 2021, East Dean Press).

It begins in 1918 in the English countryside where the world’s greatest detective has retired to tend his bees and write his memoirs — memoirs that reveal the full story of his journey to America, first as a junior chemist at the DuPont gunpowder works in Wilmington, then as a companion for young Tad Lincoln on what turns out to be the evening of President Lincoln’s assassination — and finally as an unsung participant in the electrifying manhunt for the assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

It is Holmes’s very first case. But, as One Must Tell The Bees reveals, it is nothing like his final education …

“Sherlock Holmes in America? An idea as immersive as it is plausible, in Matthews’ skillful hands. This is a compelling, transporting feat of imagination.” — Jonathan Stone, bestselling author of Moving Day

“Holmes fans will enjoy this tale’s admirable verisimilitude and bracing storytelling.”Kirkus Reviews

“WHAT A STORY!!! One Must Tell the Bees charms you out of your world and into an irresistible adventure when Sherlock Holmes steps onto American soil, into the White House of Abraham Lincoln and, yes, joins the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth! Holmes’s wit and Lincoln’s genius shine through, and the colorful characters, plot surprises, and wonderful historical details so completely immerse you that by the last page you’ll be happier and a whole lot wiser.”Layng Martine Jr., Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer and author of Permission to Fly


More about J. Lawrence Matthews

J. Lawrence Matthews has been researching the events depicted in “One Must Tell the Bees: The Remarkable Life, and Death, of Sherlock Holmes” for over thirty years. He is an expert on the language and construction of the fifty six original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and a scholar of the American Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln — the combination of which has created this revelatory new book. Readers interested in the history behind the story and contact information will find it at jlawrencematthews.com.

In an interview, J. Lawrence Matthews can discuss:

  • What Sherlock Holmes might have to say about the reassessment taking place in America of the heroes and legends of our past
  • What an amateur scholar can bring to historical research
  • How an amateur historian come up with a new thesis about the motivation behind Abraham
  • Lincoln’s stewardship of America during the Civil War
  • Writing an intriguing novel about history and characters widely known and discussed, but making sure it doesn’t read like fan fiction

An Interview with J. Lawrence Matthews

1. What is it about Sherlock Holmes that originally captured your attention and inspired years of research?

When I graduated from reading Hardy Boy mysteries as a kid, the flawed genius of Sherlock Holmes came as a complete revelation — the cocaine bottle was something you didn’t see Frank and Joe Hardy messing with! That opened this messy adult world to me, and of course Holmes’s voice came across so distinctly, and the plots moved along so effortlessly, that it was as if Conan Doyle just sat down by the fire with his pipe and started telling a ripping good yarn, and I’ve been reading them ever since. To this day, I’d maintain a handful of the Holmes titles are among the best short stories ever written, Hemingway included. The straw that stirs the drink, in my view, is the pair’s friendship: Watson dulls Holmes’s brilliance and makes him easier to tolerate. Don’t we all want to possess that kind of insightful, rational intelligence — and yet, as adults, don’t we also see the dark side to that kind of focused, monomaniacal lifestyle? It’s good vs evil in a timeless Victorian setting, and it never grows old.

2. What made you decide to focus on Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation?

I’ve been a student of the Civil War for decades, ever since I read a book on Lincoln and mentioned to my wife that even after four years of college I knew nothing about the Civil War. Couldn’t even say which Jackson — Andrew or Stonewall — was the Confederate general and which the American president! So she bought me a book on the war and I began reading, and I’ve been reading about it, and visiting the battlefields, ever since, trying to grasp what it was all about. And what it was about, at first, for the North anyway, was restoring the Union even if that meant slavery in the South remained intact. The Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863 changed everything, however, because it freed slaves wherever Northern troops won a victory. America could no longer go backwards: with every victory of Northern troops came freedom for slaves in that region of the South. That’s quite a profound thing, and quite underappreciated today. I have long felt its impact should be less misunderstood, and Sherlock was an excellent vehicle to do that.

3. Walk us through your research and writing process for stories based during a time you didn’t live through.

I’ve been effectively doing “research” for 30 years as a student of the Civil War, so I wrote the story of Holmes in America straight through — from his arrival near the time of Lincoln’s reelection to the manhunt for Booth — with a little help from Wikipedia to get dates right. Then I went deep into many of my old books, plus many new ones, in order to make certain the action matched the history. After all, why should anyone care what Sherlock Holmes learns in America in 1865 if I’ve made up the history of that period? AndCivil War “buffs” in particular are notoriously picky — as am I! Meanwhile, I visited all the key sites, including the old DuPont gunpowder works (now the Hagley Museum in Wilmington), Ford’s Theater, Petersburg and Richmond, the major battlefields and of course Booth’s escape route through Maryland (many times). As the story came together, I triple-checked dates and events, all the while compressing the action, because Booth was on the run for 12 days, with 5 of those days spent hiding in a pine thicket, and I didn’t want to lose the reader by describing every minute of days when nothing happened — while staying true to the timeline.

4. Can you explain how you keep your writing realistic but also fun and fictitious.

It starts with the voice. Sherlock Holmes has a distinctive voice — very different from Dr. Watson, who narrates half of my book — and Holmes’s is a wonderful voice to write with, because it is didactic and precise, not flowery or Victorian, but with a keen sense of humor. Watson’s voice is fun to write, too — stuffy, more conventional, but with a great sense of story. So long as I kept those voices in my head the action stayed lively and true (something I learned the hard way when, after completing the book for the first time, my inner English student took over and I spent a good three months trying to pare down the number of pages until I realized everything I’d re-written was worse, and quite boring. When I brought back Holmes’s chatty, precise voice, and Watson’s more formal but evocative tone, the story came back.

5. What are you working on now?

Sherlock Holmes and the Great Game, which answers the question of what Holmes was doing during the three years he was presumed dead following his struggle with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls in 1891. All we are told in the original stories is that he journeyed incognito to Florence, then Tibet (where he paid a visit to the Dalai Lama), then Mecca and Sudan before making his way to France and finally returning to London. That’s quite an itinerary, don’t you think? It suggests a spiritual journey as well as a physical one, and I’ve always felt it merited unearthing the true story of those travels (what did Sherlock Holmes discuss with the Dalai Lama???) As it happens, they occurred during a period when the Tsar was attempting to extend Russian influence south into Tibet, which of course Great Britain viewed as a direct threat to the Crown’s hold on India — a diplomatic chess match known as “the Great Game.” Hence, Sherlock Holmes and the Great Game.

Books Forward April 2021 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the April 2021 newsletter here!

What is a street team and how should I use it?

As an author, have you ever thought about just how great it would be if you had a network of friends you knew would be dedicated to helping you promote your book? Sound like a fantasy?

Enter the street team.

A street team is a group of readers that help you promote your book, usually the most loyal fans of your previous books, or books in similar genres.

The relationship built between author and team members is beneficial for both parties. Team members will have access to their favorite author (you!) as well as other exclusive content. And as an author, you’ll have a team dedicated to promoting your upcoming book by posting and talking about it to their network of followers and friends — building up buzz ahead of your book’s launch!

How to recruit team members

The first step after deciding to compose a street team is, of course, recruiting members. If this is your first time getting a team together, try and shoot for between 20-50 members initially. More is great! But keep in mind you’ll have to keep track of if everyone is doing their part and promoting on their end. Exclusivity also helps make everyone on the team feel more special as well. A fun way to cement that exclusivity: Consider coming up with a creative team name!

And remember, team members need to be active online. There will be opportunities to promote your book in person — like talking with a bookseller or book club — but word-of-mouth will be most effective online and on social media.

Where to find members

  • Reach out to friends and family who would be a good fit
  • Check in with any beta readers you may already have
  • Go through previous relationships with book bloggers and people who have previously reviewed your book
  • If you’re promoting the next book in a series or a book similar to a previous work, reach out to people who have positively reviewed your book on Goodreads, NetGalley, Edelweiss, etc.
  • Announce in your mailing list, newsletter or on social media that you’re looking for team members

Have people fill out a Google Form so you can go through and pick who would be best for the team, or create a form/page on your website where they can enter info. Ask them things like what social media accounts they have, other books they’ve read in your book’s genre, any specific ideas for how they’d like to see your book promoted, etc. Consider keeping a tab on your website where people can request to join and you can consider building up your team for future books.

How to communicate with your team

So how do you keep track of communication with members once you’ve assembled your team? You’ll need to have an online space where all members can have access. Consider creating a private page on your website that only team members can access with a password. Or an easy option: Create a private Facebook page with just you and members — just make sure everyone in your team has a Facebook account!

Wherever you decide to keep team communication, you should make it a goal to post here regularly as well (we know, basically another social media platform!!). But interaction is important: It helps team members get to know you and vice versa. And it builds a great relationship with your team for future releases.

Notes on communication

  • Try and keep content focused around you and your book. After all, the goal of your street team is to promote your work!
  • Organize things like author interviews/takeovers with other authors to cross-promote and provide new content for your team members.
  • Make sure your team has access to any kind of promotional materials, both digital and physical. This could be bookmarks they can pass out to friends or flyers, stickers, buttons, etc. that they can drop off at local bookstores and libraries.
  • And again, exclusivity is important! When making announcements, make sure team members are one of the first — if not the first — group you reach out to and alert of something new. For instance, if you’re planning a cover reveal, your team should be able to see the cover before the general public.
  • You can also consider hosting a special launch event/party with just team members to celebrate all their hard work leading up to your book’s launch!

How to incentivize team members

It’s important to keep your team active and engaged during the book promotion process. The easiest way to do that is to create a challenge system where members must complete a task to receive a special reward, i.e.: After they post about the book on all their social media accounts, they’ll get a sneak peek of a future book excerpt. For bigger challenges/rewards, you can have drawings for prizes, i.e.: If someone gets a book club to read your book, they can be entered for a video chat session with you.

Potential rewards for your system

  • First access to any advance reader copies
  • Early access to extra written content like short stories, prequels,
  • Signed copies of books
  • If they aren’t already, consider allowing them to be beta readers for future novels
  • Sneak peeks at cover and title reveals, excerpts from future books etc.
  • Early and/or exclusive access to content on your author website or blog
  • Bonus book-related content like printable artworks, maps, bookmarks etc.
  • A video chat session with you (or potentially with an author friend as well if you’re working on cross-promoting!)
  • Promotion of your team members’ blogs and social media accounts on your own channels
  • A shoutout in the acknowledgements section of subsequent books

Potential challenges for members

  • Have them leave reviews of your book(s) on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, other bookseller sites, their own personal blogs, etc.
  • Posting Instagram photos (if you don’t already have a hashtag around your book/series, now would be a good time to think of one!)
  • If they have a blog, hosting you for an interview or guest post.
  • Sharing others’ reviews and social media posts about you and your books
  • Sharing your blog posts and reposting posts from your social media accounts
  • Posting shoutouts of you and your book on their own social media channels
  • Talking about and recommending your book(s) to their family members, friends, etc.
  • Requesting your book(s) at their local libraries and suggesting them to any book clubs

There’s no set limit on how often you dish out challenges and rewards, but weekly challenges are a good goal to shoot for. You want challenges to be often enough to keep members active and engaged, but you don’t want to give them too many challenges that they are overwhelmed. Being a team member should be fun — not a chore!

Organize your system in the beginning of your book promotion period so that as the weeks go on, all you have to do is keep track of if team members are completing the challenges. And don’t forget to let everyone know that the rewards are not the main purpose of the team: They’re a way of thanking team members. The goal is to get the word out about you and your book to new readers!

 

Thought-provoking fantasy debut explores personal identity, what it means for us to be human

Greater Manchester, ENGLAND – She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon. Ana Lal Din showcases her storytelling skills in her young adult debut, weaving together a harrowing narrative that examines humankind at its darkest and brightest. Set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology, “The Descent of the Drowned” (March 15, 2021, White Tigress Press) weaves together tales of power, identity, redemption, and what it takes to hold on to one’s humanity in the face of devastation.

As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. When her younger brother is condemned to the same wretched fate as hers, Roma must choose between silence and rebellion.

Leviathan is the bastard son of an immortal tyrant. Raised in a military city where everyone knows of his blood relation to the persecuted clans, Leviathan is considered casteless. Lowest of the low. Graduating as one of the deadliest soldiers, he executes in his father’s name, displaying his worth. When he faces judgement from his mother’s people — the clans — Leviathan must confront his demons and forge his own path, if he ever hopes to reclaim his soul.

But in the struggle to protect the people they love and rebuild their identities, Roma’s and Leviathan’s destinies interlock as the tyrant hunts an ancient treasure that will doom humankind should it come into his possession — a living treasure to which Roma and Leviathan are the ultimate key.

“The Descent of the Drowned”
Ana Lal Din | March 15, 2021 | White Tigress Press | YA/Crossover Indo-Persian Fantasy
Hardcover | 978-1-8380465-0-7 | $25.99
Paperback | 978-1-8380465-1-4 | $17.99
EBook | 978-1-8380465-2-1 | $9.99


Ana Lal Din is an #ownvoices author who was born in a Danish southwestern city and raised in a small town outside Copenhagen. Passionate about culture, language, religion and social justice issues, Ana’s story worlds are usually full of all four.

What drives her as a writer is developing characters that are psychologically and emotionally complex, reflecting human nature at its darkest and brightest — and everything in between. Since Ana is a Danish-Pakistani Muslim with Indian heritage, she often explores the intricacies of a multicultural identity through her characters. “The Descent of the Drowned” is her debut novel. For more info, visit laldinana.net.

In an interview, Ana Lal Din can discuss:

  • Being a debut author during an unprecedented time in not just the publishing world but entire world
  • Her experiences being an #ownvoices author from a multicultural background with a personality disorder
  • Coming from a South Asian culture where women have less value than men and there is a caste system
  • Her influences from Pre-Islamic Arabian society, religion, and mythology
  • World-building in both fantasy and YA literature

An Interview with Ana Lal Din

1. How did you convey your own struggles with cultural identity through the two protagonists in the book?

Leviathan struggles with a physical sense of belonging in that the higher caste won’t accept him and neither will the clans. Roma struggles with a spiritual sense of belonging in that she feels disconnected from the belief system she has been raised with. Both characters have had society shape and force an identity on them that doesn’t harmonise with their nature, so they’re conflicted and rootless and have to dismantle their imposed identities, reconstruct them on their own terms, and carve out a place for themselves in the world — something that I feel I have had to do as well.

2. How did you handle the identity crisis that came from being raised in three different cultures (Danish, Pakistani-Indian, Islamic)?

I didn’t handle it. I grew up confused, frustrated, conflicted. I still am. I think most people, if not all, experience an identity crisis at some point in their lives. Mine also came from the fact that I was the youngest child of immigrant parents from an Indian-Pakistani and Muslim background. Choosing to be Muslim over Danish, Pakistani or Indian, eased some of that frustration, but nothing has been resolved. I’m still attempting to understand who I am. I’m still sorting through the cultural baggage to uncover the things that hold value to me and discard those that don’t. It’s a process. A long, unstable process.

3. How did you explore the theme of humanity versus depravity throughout the book?

Through the characters’ experiences, circumstances and choices. Some of the characters in the novel abandon human decency and become beasts. Others attempt to hold on to their humanity even in the darkest of times. I have tried to illustrate what happens when one crosses the line between humanity and depravity. When one chooses to oppress, violate, annihilate. And, also, when one chooses mercy, compassion and redemption.

4. How do humans become a product of their social and cultural heritage?

Social and cultural heritage is the behaviour, values, social status and belief system which we inherit from our environment (i.e. the people who raise us and the milieu wherein we are raised). We become a product of this heritage when we’re brought up in a particular environment with a particular belief system and uphold/follow that system with or without question.

5. What inspired you to start writing?

Stories. When I was a child, my older sisters would read the Arabian Nights and Danish fairy tales to me. I became so absorbed in the stories that I would enact them. If I didn’t like something, I changed the narrative or content. I discovered the power of words. That they can enlighten, manipulate, inspire, enrage. With this understanding, I wanted to use my own words to write something that might matter beyond just the entertainment value.

6. How did you portray the current issues, catastrophes, and sufferings of the voiceless within this fantasy world?

I have woven previous and current social, cultural and political issues into the setting. Things such as caste system, rape culture, ethnic cleansing/genocide, colonisation and war crimes are all familiar aspects of our world. I have explored those issues (and others) through the characters’ circumstances and personal experiences in the novel.

7. What is the connection between your background, the #ownvoices elements and the issues that are represented in the book?

Like most of the characters in the novel, I come from a multicultural background, and I have struggled to break out of the social and cultural heritage that shaped the world wherein I was raised. Moreover, I’m a woman with a mental illness, which made it harder for me in a culture where women are already considered a burden without much value, so a mental illness on top of that was like the final nail in the coffin. Caste is also a reality in my culture. The perception/oppression of women, multicultural identity, mental illness, social and cultural heritage, and caste system are subjects I have explored or engaged with throughout the novel.

8. What are some of the sources that have inspired the story world in your book?

I have attempted to build a colonised Indo-Persian world and drawn inspiration from pre-Islamic Arabian mythology, Islam, and the social, cultural, religious, and political history of South Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, ancient Arabia and other places over time. Most of the incidents in the novel are authentic cases from our own world in some shape or form.

9. What do you hope readers gain from your book?

I want to spread awareness. It reminds us that we as human beings have a responsibility toward each other. To know, to understand, to listen and to help. I want to provoke thought, and I want readers to feel. Whether that feeling is anger, discomfort, compassion, hope, curiosity or a conflicting combination of all. If I can encourage even one person to research about any of the issues, I would feel that I have achieved something valuable with this novel. That I have succeeded.

Diversity celebrated in lively children’s book that illustrates the importance of representation and acceptance

“Our differences are what unite us. No two of us are the same.”

NASHVILLE – All people are beautiful, and it’s our differences that ultimately unite us. It’s this lesson that author Vincent Kelly constructs in “All People Are Beautiful” (April 2, 2021, Greater You Books), a beautifully illustrated children’s book promoting excitement for love across all boundaries — and demonstrating that diversity is more than just the color of our skin.

Early readers will learn that all people, cultures and languages are beautiful, and so is celebrating those differences. There’s no better way to talk about diversity and acceptance than with bright colors, fun artwork and interactive ways children can engage while they read. Readers will learn words in new languages, discover new hobbies, different countries’ native garments, and so much more.

The book also includes additional activities children can take part in, inspiring them to use their imaginations to craft characters and flags of their own. And there’s an additional free fun activity resource that can be utilized in the classroom or at home. With translations in seven languages — and more to come — “All People are Beautiful” is an excellent addition to every early reader’s bookshelf.

“All People Are Beautiful”
Vincent Kelly | April 2, 2021
Greater You Books | Children’s
Available editions: Hardcover 978-1-7359504-0-2 | $23.95
Paperback | 978-7359504-1-9 | $19.99
Ebook | 978-7359504-1-9 | $9.99


Vincent Kelly is a human resources leader, husband and father. He is based in the entertaining city of Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and two sons. He loves writing stories that are filled with fun, color, life lessons, and that focus on promoting positive behavior and early learning in children. “The Awesome Things I Love” is his debut children’s book. There are more works to follow as he seeks to pen books that children all over the world will grow to love. For more information, visit his website, https://vincentmkelly.com/.

Follow the author on social media:
Facebook: @AuthorVincentKelly | Twitter: @vincent_author | Instagram: @greateryoubooks

In an interview, Vincent Kelly can discuss:

  • How his career in human resources has afforded him the opportunity to work with people from across the world
  • His deep awareness, appreciation and love for diversity and people from all backgrounds
  • The importance of representation and teaching children the value of diversity early
  • Normalizing conversations around diversity with children
  • His decision to have the book in seven languages, with more to follow
  • The activities that accompany the book and how children can utilize them

An interview with Vincent Kelly

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to weigh in on the conversation of diversity. 2020 had lots of events that affected the diversity space and generated responses from the entire globe. We elected the first African-American, Asian-American and woman as vice president of the United States — which is exciting — but we also had issues around racial injustice. The conversation of diversity never gets old and can never be talked about too early. I wanted to do something to highlight the beauty of our differences with the intention of showing how they unite us. My thought was, “Who better to influence than our children — tomorrow’s presidents, doctors, teachers, politicians, pastors, policemen, and lawyers!”

2. What is the book’s message, and why is that message so timely now?

The message is to evangelize that everyone is beautiful regardless of what you look like, where you’re from, your culture, your hobbies or anything else that makes you different. Our differences are what unite us, not divide us. This is how we normalize the conversation with children around diversity and differences. This is where acceptance, appreciation and respect for those differences begins.

3. Diversity is reality. Why do you think it’s important for children to learn about representation early?

I truly believe diversity is reality and that children need to know that our differences are what unite us, not divide us. I think this message is so important for kids to be exposed to until it becomes unconsciously integrated — until it becomes a truth they know deep down!

4. How many different languages and translations will the book be available in? Why did you decide to make it available in so many languages?

“All People Are Beautiful” will be available in seven languages: English, Spanish Portuguese, French, Dutch, Swahili and Chinese. I believe the message is really a movement is one that children everywhere can relate to regardless of your country. I want as many children as possible to have access to this book.

Intimate memoir depicts change and discovery between mom and daughter — and how it’s never too late to come of age

Intimate memoir depicts change and discovery between mom and daughter — and how it’s never too late to come of age

Bellingham, WASHINGTON – It’s never too late to find and mend the broken places within ourselves and in our relationships with others. This is exemplified in Barbara Clarke’s compassionate story exploring the long-term effects of an early betrayal of a child and how that transforms her life. In “The Red Kitchen,” (April 6, 2021, She Writes Press) Clarke shows how to keep a sense of humor in the worst of times — part understanding and part forgiveness — and describes how to work with memory, trust and finding long-term solutions to trauma.

Mother-daughter relationships are notoriously tricky. Add to that a secretive father and an aloof husband, and you have the makings of a memoir full of grit, honesty, and humor. This account is really about two women, Clarke and her mother, who both surrendered for years to society’s expectations before realizing there’s more to life than just being a wife, mother and dutiful daughter. How about being yourself?

A summer spent in a small village in Kenya allowed Clarke to discover why everyone mattered, especially her mother, and that simple is often better. She embraced a new aspiration: to be a complete person — funny, compassionate, complex and often flawed. Both women, in incredibly different ways, come of age, find the loving parts of their early relationship and start living their best lives, all the while detailing how to live with issues ranging from aging parents, sexuality, and the long-term effects of trauma on women and girls.

Early praise for Barbara Clarke and “The Red Kitchen”

“[Barbara’s] own poetic turns of phrase and biting metaphors brighten the work and deepen its impact, illustrating mindful ways of navigating one’s circumstances.”
— Foreword-Clarion Reviews

“ ‘The Red Kitchen’ is a lyrical and painful chronicle of a dysfunctional — and typical — American family. Barbara Clarke’s engaging coming-of-age story during the 1950s and 1960s and beyond involves growing up in this difficult family and then returning to it in order to find healing and, finally, redemption. It is also the story of a woman’s slow but steady shift from meeting everybody else’s expectations toward striving to realize her own dreams. A vivid and well-written memoir.”
— Priscilla Long, author of
“Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”

“Clarke is fearless in her assessment of her experiences, her relationships and herself. Her insights ring true, her enthusiasms are contagious, and her writing (especially about the often murky complications of human sexuality) is first-rate. I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs recently, and I’d put ‘The Red Kitchn’ right up there with my favorites.”
— Molly Giles, author of
three award-winning story collections, most recently “All the Wrong Places”

“As a woman in midlife, Barbara takes on the challenge of traveling overseas as part of a group of social service providers and, while in a totally foreign land, confronts not only her own personal ennui, but also her whiteness and connection to the colonialism that has created chaos in much of the world. … And in so doing, she discovers that she is changed forever. … These chapters inspire me to get outside of my comfort zone, just as Clarke did, and offer myself a chance to let discomfort transform me.”
— Cami Ostman, founder of The Narrative Project and author of
“Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents”

“In her memoir ‘The Red Kitchen,’ Barbara Clarke braids pathos and humor deftly and with great compassion and honesty. Her chapter ‘Good Vibrations’ is hilarious, wise and gentle.
— Andrew Shattuck McBride, co-editor of For Love of Orcas

“The Red Kitchen”
Barbara Clarke | April 6, 2021
She Writes Press | Memoir
Paperback | 9781647420086 | $16.95
Ebook | $9.95

About the Author

In the past, Barbara Clarke has written extensively for corporate clients, trade magazines, worked under a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, non-profit organizations as a grant writer, and for local and alternative newspapers on a variety of topics.

In 2009 she published an indie memoir, “Getting to Home: Sojourn in a Perfect House,” about the process of building a house as a single woman. Other publications followed. For more info, visit https://barbaraclarke.net/.

 


In an interview, Barbara Clarke can discuss:

  • The challenges of unearthing old memories of trauma and the risk of not being believed
  • How the conversation around long-term effects of trauma to women and validating their experiences has changed through the years
  • How important learning to live together as mother and daughter is, especially during a pandemic
  • How sharing the good and bad of a family can help others with their journey of discovery
  • The role of women in families and in the workplace

An Interview with Barbara Clarke

1. This book is a prime example that someone is never too old to come of age. How did you and your mother recognize this when you were in your 40s and when she was in her 70s?

I had to completely leave the country and all of the labels — mother, wife, daughter, sister — to find out who I had become and what I wanted to be. For my mother, the death of her controlling husband opened up her world and what she had missed most of her life.

2. A standout story from the book is about buying your mother a vibrator. How did you approach talking about sex with her?

My mother was always curious about sex. She told me just before I married at age 20 that “sex can be beautiful.” I knew even before that it wasn’t for her. After we reconciled, long walks on the beach were her way of really talking about sex and confessing her lack of orgasms. I decided to remedy the situation.

3. What are some tools that have served you in surviving a chaotic or traumatic childhood?

I was fortunate to find good therapists, had close women friends who listened and advised, and had a kind of grit from early childhood that allowed me to survive the chaos. Due to an early betrayal, I was a very young observer and had formed fairly good survival skills. Once we’re adults, those tools often don’t continue to serve us, and the trick is to find new adult tools.

4. How are you and your daughters now managing as mother and daughters?

I have lived with my oldest daughter for more than 10 years, and we are still working things out. I am still her mother and push buttons from her childhood and she mine as her mother. We have worked hard to develop better talking skills and try to treat an “incident” however small as soon as possible.

5. Has the role of women in families and in the workplace changed all that much? How has COVID-19 affected this?

Women still do most of the child rearing, household management, and often meals, shopping and laundry. While men are learning, it’s still uneven. The debate about nature (men)/nurture (women) is still going on. Meanwhile, with the COVID-19 arrival, many women are back home working, managing their children, or having to go to work under the worst circumstances. Working-class mothers are especially affected by the pandemic at home and at work. Service workers and caregivers, in particular, are still making the lowest wages and doing the hardest work.

6. What do you hope readers gain from reading about your relationship with your mother?

I hope that readers see that reconciliation and love is possible even when things get off to an incredibly rocky start. I hope readers find that the human condition is terribly flawed, often funny and touching in the way mothers and daughters bond, un-bond and come together again as adults. I would also hope they see that mothers and daughters can be true allies and friends but need to understand that there is still a mother and a daughter and a history. And finally, that they’ll discover that forgiveness might be too much of a stretch (not even a person’s job or right to do that) but that regard and understanding and love is possible — with lots of work to get there.

Memoir illustrates tumultuous journey through childhood

Themes of survival, resiliency shine in Angela Howard’s immersive book

Memphis, TN – Angela Howard recounts how she persevered through her traumatic childhood to come out the other side as a successful nurse, motivational speaker, educator and parent. “Sin Child” (March 31, 2020, Books Fluent) is the personal account of a strong-minded child who endured a daily struggle to find the smallest amount of acceptance and, many times, a place to fall asleep at night. Angela came to accept loss, abuse, and organized crime as a natural part of her life. The innocence and nostalgia of a one-traffic-light town fades too fast for the cotton-top child with a neglectful, angry mother and an absent father.

The AIDS epidemic and simple abandonment repeatedly robbed her of friends and loved ones. This emotionally raw autobiography continues the national discussion about the role of childhood trauma in a person’s development. Angela tells the riveting story of childhood trauma and abandonment, alongside a narrative of grit and determination.

It is a gutsy and insightful story without a silver lining. There is no knight in shining armor that rescues the damsel in distress. It shows resiliency and maturity of a child who becomes a strong and respected woman through her own resolve to overcome extreme neglect and abuse to survive and achieve. By sharing her own life with us, Angela shows how self-reflection and knowledge, with a huge dose of perseverance, can entirely change the course of someone’s life.

“Sin Child”
Angela Howard | April 13, 2021 | Books Fluent | Memoir
Hardcover | 978-1643787558 | $27.95
Paperback | 978-1643787541 | $13.95
Ebook | B085Z2CT19 | $4.50

Angela Howard is a first-time author and the founder of PTSD-ACED Foundation, Inc. Angela is a registered nurse and has worked in the medical field for the past 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and certifications in Life Care Planning and Medical Case Management.

She is highly impacted by the adverse effects of PTSD secondary to ACEs. She herself has overcome extreme adverse childhood experiences with the highest ACE score of 10. Angela’s health has been adversely affected as she suffers from multiple autoimmune disorders. Angela’s desire is to bring increased awareness of ACEs by educating those affected and individuals in medical and educational fields.

In an interview, Angela Howard can discuss:

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the meaning of ACE scores
  • The correlation between childhood abuse and PTSD
  • Her experiences as a nurse and psychiatric nurse
  • The need victims feel to forgive or “put things right” with their abusers
  • The term “sin child,” which her estranged, conservative Mennonite family members use to describe children born out of wedlock

An Interview with Angela Howard

1. What do you want readers to learn from your life experiences?

I want readers to know and understand that they do not have to be bound by the hurt and secrecies many may have to carry. I hope to liberate others, empower others, and encourage others to let go of what keeps them bound. I want others to lift the veils of negativity so that their resiliency can have a chance to shine.

2. Many abused children survive and succeed, but few live without carrying the pain of their past buried in their heart. How do you cope with that pain?

I use distraction techniques to cope with the ongoing pain. Sometimes I don’t even know I’m doing that, but things will start to come out in the form of flashbacks or night terrors. I try to stay busy with positive things. Doing things to help others understand the affects of trauma are real and helping them overcome the affects makes me most happy. I can spend all day talking to others about their problems and not think of my own.

3. What do you think needs to change regarding the treatment provided to children and teens who suffered from severe abuse that resulted in PTSD?

I believe the first thing that needs to be done is classifying PTSD secondary to adverse childhood experiences as an ICD 10 coded diagnosis. This would allow facilities to be able to treat children and adults under this diagnosis, which would completely change the course of treatment in psychiatric facilities, jails, and schools.

4. How did your life change when you were diagnosed with PTSD and provided with the tools to work through it?

My life changed drastically for the better after being diagnosed with PTSD. I had spent the majority of teenage years and adulthood thinking I was certainly crazy. I never understood how the nightmares and flash backs would not go away and had thought disappear with time. After being diagnosed with PTSD and given the tools essential for working through these issues everything was better. My self confidence was boosted and I was able to gain a full understanding of why these things were not going away. Learning how to cope and deal with things on a daily basis made life much easier.

5. What advice can you give to mothers seeking guidance on parenting after dealing with their own ACEs?

I believe many mothers carry guilt feelings and think and an exaggerated feeling of bad things that happen being their fault. My first piece of advice would be embarrassed or ashamed. None of us can help what happens to us as children, but we do hold the power to change what happens to us in the future. I always encourage individuals to take the ACE test and be honest with themselves and to be sure their healthcare team is aware of their ACE score.

Memoir illustrates painful acceptance of childhood trauma

Themes of reconciling, resiliency shine in Rosie McMahan’s immersive book

BOSTON, MA – Rosie McMahan recounts her difficult childhood that left her with feelings of shame, guilt, and a need to reconcile for years to come in “Fortunate Daughter” (April 13, 2021, She Writes Press). Rosie takes us through her experience as she and her family attempt to move on from sexual abuse, and the emotional, spiritual and even cultural complexities that come along with forgiving her father, but never being able to forget the past.

Her family’s open discussions after sexual abuse may not be conventional, but it helped all of their healing processes.

Rosie’s story is shattering beliefs about victims and abusers alike, showing that there is a path to reconciliation if the abuse is acknowledged and the abusers take responsibility. Rosie’s past experience has not changed with her decision to accept it and move on, but her approach has allowed her to continue with her life despite past trauma.

Her training as a counselor and educator is bolstered by what she experienced in her own healing process. Not as someone who experienced betrayal, abuse, and abandonment. Those things happened to her and they are important to acknowledge. What informs her today, and gives her courage, is her experience of healing. Fortunate Daughter is a way to show others that while not always possible, reconciliation can be achieved and be a fulfilling step on the road to true healing. An inspiring story of bravery and honesty in the face of trauma.

“Fortunate Daughters: A Memoir of Reconciliation”
Rosie McMahan | April 13, 2021| She Writes Press | Memoir
Paperback | 978-1-64742-024-6 | $16.95

ROSIE MCMAHAN: Rosie McMahan was brought up in Somerville, MA at a time when kids and dogs roamed the streets in unlawful packs, and the walk to a barroom or a Catholic church was less than a quarter of a mile away in any direction. Her and her husband moved to western MA in 2001 to raise their children, now 23 and 18 years old.

Her writing has received prizes and she can be heard reading in local venues, including Pecha Kucha (a local storytelling event), the annual Garlic & Arts Festival and the Greenfield Annual Word Festival (GAWF). In October 2017, she was one of the featured writers in “The Gallery of Readers” series held at Smith College each year. And in 2018, her writing was presented in a juried exhibition titled

“COLLABORATION” held at the Burnett Gallery in Amherst, MA. She has also been published in several journals, including Silkworm, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Black Fox Literary Magazine, the 2017 Gallery of Readers Anthology, and Passager Journal. Recently, she wrote a piece titled “After All These Years” that was published on https://www.timetotell.org/curated-stories.

In an interview, Rosie McMahan can discuss:

  • What conditions need to exist for someone to be able to reconcile with their perpetrator – working with skilled therapists who understand and value healing
  • Her work as a counselor utilizing restorative justice principles and trauma informed care values
  • What led her to become a survivor activist who embraces resiliency, honesty and compassion in the work she does
  • Active rejection of the stigma that comes from being someone identified as a person with a trauma history who does not distinguish herself as a victim
  • The experience of going through a constructed reconciliation process that allowed for a healing journey that didn’t just benefit Rosie, but her whole family

An Interview with Rosie McMahan

1. What do you want readers to learn from your life experience?

So many things. What it is like to experience childhood sexual abuse in the context of one’s family. The difficult journey of healing.The multifaceted process of going through reconciliation with one’s parents, the main perpetrators of abuse. The need for people in helping positions to deepen their understanding of what it means to enter a child’s life with the intention to prevent abuse and promote healing. Healing practices must recognize the possibility of healing – even when it’s not clear that it’s an option.

2. Many abused children survive and thrive, but few live without the trauma of their past within them. How has your experience and acceptance of what happened helped you with that?

‘The past is never the past’ – fully – for anyone. If you want to know me, really know me, you have to understand that I was injured as a child, but you also have to know about my healing experience. As a culture, we are more comfortable focusing on the harm than we are on the healing, for both the victims and the perpetrators. That needs to change. My healing journey allowed for me to move forward in my life for a few reasons, one of them being that my parents, the perpetrators, were invited to participate in a confrontation process that ultimately provided us to reconcile with one another. If this was a more available option, more people would be able to participate and more people would be able to heal in this way.

3. What advice would you give to people searching for a way to “put things right”, and forgive?

This, too, is a complicated process. You have to be able to access good (trauma informed) care. You have to be willing to do the work of healing. You have to acknowledge what happened and not downplay or dismiss your feelings about it. You have to be brave. You have to reject some of the early lessons you learned that did not promote mental health and well being. You have to decide what you need independent of what others may offer you. You have to risk the potential loss of family members from your life.

4. How has your life changed since you accepted your past as part of who you are?

My life is influenced by many things. When I was a child and well into my teens, I didn’t have many examples of people who’d gone through what I endured and had been able to succeed. I thought – even if I healed – I was doomed to a life that would be more tragic and unfulfilling. It took me a long time to embrace the notion that I wasn’t just ‘damaged goods’. That is why I wrote this story. That is why I want to share it. Many people are injured and a lot of them heal. I don’t know anyone else who was permitted the experience of reconciliation that I was. That is what has made a huge difference.

5. What do you think needs to change regarding the way people and the media in general acknowledge sexual abuse? Do you think there needs to be a system in place that helps families talk through their trauma?

First, we need to acknowledge that sexual abuse and the epidemic of sexual abuse is real. Then we need to help families in such a way that affords them the option my family had. Systems – child protective services – have been realizing for some time that the decision to remove children from their parents when there is real concern of harm – while it might be essential at times – is not necessarily a long term solution for many families.

Death, suspense, and betrayal meet with unexpected hope in 70s-inspired debut mystery novel

PALM SPRINGS, CA – Marco Carocari’s debut novel, Blackout (Level Best Books, March 30, 2021) has been described by award-nominated author Gabriel Valjan as “Rear Window meets the dating app.” This page-turning book is full of twists that keeps the reader guessing.

Strait-laced forty-something Franco definitely picked the wrong night to get freaky. A hook-up with a hot guy on his Manhattan rooftop, and a joint he’s unaware is laced, leaves him dazed. And – if memory serves him – the sole witness to a murder across the street. Except, the cops can’t find a crime scene or a body, and Franco’s perforated recollections and conflicting testimony leave the detectives unimpressed. When days later the mutilated body of a philanthropic millionaire is discovered, he’s not only shocked to learn he knew him, but with Franco’s fingerprints all over the crime scene, he quickly graduates from unreliable witness to prime suspect. And the random trick who could alibi him has vanished into the anonymity of the Internet.

Unsettled, and confronted with forty-year-old memories, when Franco’s father was murdered in front of him during Manhattan’s infamous blackout, a shocking revelation finally unmasks the man who pulled the trigger that night. And painting Franco the perfect suspect. With a target on his back and time running out, the truth will set Franco free, or earn him a toe tag at the morgue.

Read the title that author PJ Vernon calls “a gripping debut from an exciting new author to watch that had me turning pages long into the night.”

“Blackout”
Marco Carocari | March 30, 2021 | Level Best Books | Mystery
Paperback | 1953789099 | $17.95 | Ebook | B08WBQDTFS | $5.99

Marco Carocari: Marco Carocari grew up in Switzerland. After seeing Murder, She Said on TV his grandmother gifted him Agatha Christie’s 4:50 From Paddington. Though hugely disappointed that the real Miss Marple bore no resemblance whatsoever to the brilliant and funny Margaret Rutherford, he was hooked, and devoured every crime novel he could get his hands on that his parents didn’t object to (considering he was ten). Over the years, he worked in a hardware store, traveled the globe working for the airlines, and later as an internationally published photographer, and frequently jobbed as a waiter, hotel receptionist, or manager of a professional photo studio. In 2016 he swapped snow-capped mountains, lakes, and lush, green pastures for the charm of the dry California desert, where he lives with his husband. ‘Blackout’ is his first novel.

Follow Marco Carocari on social media:
Facebook: @marcocarocari | Twitter: @marco_carocari | Instagram: @marcocarocari

In an interview, Marco can discuss:

  • His inspiration for Blackout and how he found its roots in past mystery books and shows
  • Writing from the perspective of an LGBTQ narrator, and the importance of amplifying LGBTQ voices in general
  • The draw towards mystery as a genre and when he first fell in love with it
  • Growing up in Switzerland and how his experience there has influenced his work
  • His writing process and plans for his future as an author

An Interview with Marco Carocari

1. What helped you find inspiration for Blackout?

I love the 70s and NYC and all things music, and so I set out to write a mystery that paid homage to these things. Originally, the book opened outside Studio 54, where Franco’s dad gets murdered on his way home. But then I found out about the blackout of ‘77 and was hooked. What if your father gets murdered in front of four-year old you, and then the entire city does dark? That traumatic experience is about to resurface when we meet Franco in a somewhat compromising situation on his rooftop, nearly forty years later.

2. Why did you decide to have a gay man as your main character? How important is representation for the LGBTQ+ community in books?

I wanted a book with a forty-something protagonist I could relate to, and where gay is a part of the character’s life, but doesn’t drive the story. After a surge in the 80s and 90’s, where fantastic queer writers like Joseph Hansen, Michael Nava, Armistead Maupin and many others gave us wonderful books that were hugely popular, recent years offered little LGBTQ+ presence in traditional crime fiction.

It took me nearly eight years to get here, and I’m happy to see that we are currently experiencing a wonderful new wave of diverse authors finally getting recognition, and a chance to tell their stories. Everyone needs to have positive role models and protagonists they can identify with.

3. When did your love of mysteries come about?

When I was about ten years old and my mom introduced me to the Miss Marple movies from the 1960s. My grandmother gifted me my first Agatha Christie novel, but I was bummed when the real Miss Marple had absolutely nothing in common with Margaret Ruhterford. Still, I read all of Christie’s books, and also discovered Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Three Investigators’, and the only book my dad ever recommended to me, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’. Over the past years, my go-tos have been Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Jefferey Deaver and Rachel Howzell-Hall and S A Cosby, to name a few – their writings inspire me, and are setting the bar of what I hope to accomplish in the future, my way.

4. You grew up in Switzerland. Does your upbringing and perspective from living overseas influence your writing?

Probably more than I’m aware. Our school system and my surroundings were different, as were many of the products we grew up with, and when writing American characters, I have to read up on that, talk to people, and find out what it felt like for them to make it sound authentic. Talking with my American husband, it’s fascinating to see where our experiences overlap and where culture ‘shaped’ us differently.

In my family, a lot of our ‘cues’ and influences for trends, movies or music came from Germany, Italy, France, and the UK. My first ‘face to face’ with America came in the late 70s through shows like ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and the ‘The Streets of San Francisco’, and they had quite an impact on me, igniting my love of pop culture. After coming and visiting here for over thirty years (and now living here for five), my views of America are a lot more informed and realistic than they were, back then. I’ll probably always be somewhat on the outside looking in, but paired with my own experiences, that can also be a bonus.

5. What made you want to write Blackout now?

The original idea started as a dare with myself, almost eight years ago. I had a story in me and felt like it was the right time to try. But I had a lot to learn about writing first, and the process took several years, sprinkled with rejections. Often it’s all about the right time and place, the right fit, and biding your time, and, I’m happy and grateful to say, here we are.