FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATLANTA, Georgia – Acclaimed novelist Mike Nemeth is back with a new crime thriller that Kirkus Reviews is calling “a precise, elaborate tale that shows just how menacing a family’s history can be.”
Releasing on May 15, 2018, by Morgan James Fiction, “The Undiscovered Country” explores the complexities of families, the depth of secrets they hide and the sacrifices they make to keep them buried. A followup to his bestselling debut novel, “Defiled,” Nemeth tells the story of Randle Marks, a wrongfully convicted felon on parole trying to cope with his mother’s death and his family’s moral corruption and hidden motives. In an effort to protect the family’s matriarch from his selfish siblings and negligent caregivers, the ever-crafty Randle discovers the truths of his own life, forced to the sidelines due to societal expectations of his mother’s time.
Nemeth presents a relatable narrative about the ins-and-outs of a Southern family’s dysfunction on the brink of losing a loved one. And as with all difficult situations, you begin to question everything you previously considered truth, and as Randle copes with the death of his mother, he begins to wonder if the people who share his name have something to gain.
“The experience of my mother’s passing inspired me to write ‘The Undiscovered Country,’” Nemeth says. “The title is a line from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and refers to the unknown afterlife. I wanted to tell the story of the conflicts that arise when a loved one passes. The protagonist, Randle, is conflicted about how to deal with his mother’s imminent passing. Should he let her go or fight for her life? Should he honor her wishes or find the truth about her life and his as well? Should he reconcile with his siblings, as she’d have wished, or succumb to the compulsion to gain revenge?”
MIKE NEMETH is a novelist, blogger, former AAU basketball coach and retired information technology executive. “The Undiscovered Country” is the sequel to “Defiled,” a crime fiction thriller, which became a bestselling book on Amazon. Mike’s other works include “128 Billion to 1,” a nonfiction examination of March Madness, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. Mike lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Angie, and their rescue dog, Sophie.
About the Book
“The Undiscovered Country”
Mike Nemeth | May 15, 2018 | Morgan James Fiction
ISBN: 978-168350-6973 (paperback) | Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-168350-6980 (ebook) | Price: $14.95
Crime Fiction, Thriller, Family Drama
When Randle Marks buried his abusive father three years ago, he thought he had escaped the gravitational pull of his dysfunctional family. Exiled in Florida, Randle was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, served his time, wrote a book about his scientific work, and laid plans to marry his college sweetheart. Then his new beginnings were interrupted by his mother’s medical emergency. He is summoned to his boyhood home of Augusta, Georgia to face long-suppressed memories, contemptuous siblings, and his dying mother’s desperate attempts to conceal her secrets and preserve her dignity. He battles dispassionate doctors who are reluctant to waste resources on a terminal patient and discovers that his mother’s fate may not be an act of God. While investigating her medical situation, he uncovers conspiracies to hijack his mother’s modest estate, and that of a wealthy man who claims to be his birth father. To bury the past, he will have to learn the truth about the past and choose between greed, revenge and reconciliation. Randle embarks on a journey through the cultural wasteland of contemporary end-of-life rituals juxtaposed with Old South traditions and the fading mores of his mother’s generation. As he untangles the layers of lies that enshroud his family’s history, Randle is challenged to prevent the embezzlement of a stranger’s wealth, and solve the riddle of his own identity. To do it, he must solve a murder no one knew had been committed.
An Interview with Mike Nemeth
“The Undiscovered Country” becomes a murder mystery, but there’s much more going on here. What is the book really about?
The book is really about the indignity of aging and dying in present day America. We haven’t figured out how to do it comfortably, and a combination of medicine, technology, religion, and laws complicate the decisions we face. Add to that the financial strains of growing fragile and the competition among family members for financial gain, or at least relief, and you have a big mess.
In “The Undiscovered Country,” the matriarch of the family is dying, and you began writing this book after your own mother passed away. How did this heartbreaking real-life experience inspire the story?
My mother survived her heart attack, successfully rehabilitated, and lived independently and happily for three and a half more years. However, her survival defied the odds and the predictions of medical staff, and exceeded all expectations of her children and relatives. We had been encouraged to “let her go,” and “put her affairs in order,” but we didn’t follow that advice. The question is: When do you fight for life and when do you accept death?
What impact do you hope to have on your readers, and what to do want them to take away from your new book?
Most of us sleepwalk through day after day of ordinary life, in total denial regarding our mortality. In some sense, people who have managed to survive into their 80s and 90s are the winners at the game of life. In other ways, their diminished capabilities and resources and lack of planning, leave them losers at the very end of the game. I hope readers will see the wisdom in planning for the end and discussing with and gaining agreement from family members on how they want it to play out. It is inevitable that conflicts of interest and contrary opinions will intrude upon and defile the mourning period.
Given that you grew up in Wisconsin, what made you write a character with such deep ties to the South?
I did my military service in the South and married into a traditional Southern family at an early age. I fell in love with southern culture, southern food, and mild winters. After forty-odd years in the south, I hope I’m now accepted as a southerner. Just as importantly, I see the conflict between tradition and modern science to be most evident here.
What challenges did you have in writing “The Undiscovered Country?”
One challenge was in accurately conveying just enough medical information to give the story a basis in fact without burdening the reader with impenetrable jargon and procedures. Another challenge was making the motivations of characters in conflict believable and justifiable. We tend to believe that there is but one right way of thinking about a situation (our way!) when there are often many justifiable ways to think about a situation. I wanted all the characters to be sympathetic on some level.
How would you describe your writing style?
In the golden age of novel writing—Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Wolfe—novels contained far more narrative than dialogue or action. The story-telling skill of the narrator determined the quality of the novel. If the narrator was clever, facile with words and phrases, the novel was “good,” and if not, the novel lacked merit. Today, short attention spans, the Internet, Google, and smart phones, have changed reader reactions to stories. Today the story itself, the plot and characters, the suspense-inducing events and plot twists, determine whether the novel will appeal to readers. Fortunately, this suits my style. My novels are 80% dialogue and action scenes and only 20% narration. The characters tell the story in their words and the act out the story with their actions. I call this the “modern cinematic” style because it is more like watching a movie and less like listening to a story-teller around a camp fire.
Given your tendency to be modernistic rather than classical, why don’t you write about superheroes or monstrous villains in your novels?
Because most evil acts are committed by perfectly ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Common human motivations, such as greed and jealousy, prompt people to do unspeakable things that they rationalize by self-interest. Randle Marks isn’t the one and only person who can save the world and his antagonists aren’t easily explained psychopaths. I wanted my stories to be about real life.
And, how do you choose those stories or themes?
Each novel is intended to expose a social injustice. In “Defiled,” I wanted to make readers aware of the failings of our civil and criminal justice systems. In “The Undiscovered Country” I wanted to point out our lack of respect for the aged and infirm. In the next novel, the backdrop is the insidious attack of technology advancements on the middle class.
In your first book, “Defiled,” you tell the story of Randle Marks and his unwavering quest for fairness in the broken criminal justice system. When you were writing that book, did you have any idea that Randle’s story might continue on after that last page?
Yes, I had planned from the beginning to tell Randle’s continuing story through the challenges of an ordinary life. I left the reader hanging to some degree at the end of “Defiled,” and again at the end of “The Undiscovered Country.”
Do readers have to read “Defiled” first to understand what’s going on in “The Undiscovered Country?”
No, there’s enough backstory in “The Undiscovered Country” so that events in this book are understandable and the challenges are independent of the ones Randle faced in “Defiled.” However, characters from “Defiled” reappear in “The Undiscovered Country” and leave us with questions that will have to be addressed in yet another installment of Randle’s story.
You have a very diverse professional background – blogger, coach, novelist, IT executive – do you think all of these skills influence or serve as a foundation for your writing?
Yes, my professional life allowed global travel, encounters with diverse cultures and diverse ways of thinking about the challenges we all face as humans. I’m paraphrasing, but Hemingway said something to the effect that in order to write about life one must have experienced life. My experiences left me with the thought that the status quo is not the best we can be, the best we can do. We should never shrink from the opportunity to change what is and make it better. (Although most people will fight to preserve the status quo because change is the most difficult challenge of all.)
Tell us more about your rescue dog, Sophie! Is she a good writing companion?
Sophie lies at my feet, under my desk, until she feels it’s time for me to take a break and let her outdoors. Then we sit in the sunshine, thinking together about the next sentence or paragraph or chapter. Her aversion to adverbs is good for my writing. She’s perfect.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just released a nonfiction book called “128 Billion to 1,” which are the odds against filling a perfect March Madness bracket. Next summer, a companion nonfiction book, “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics” will be released. It details common misconceptions about college football. Those two books are my hobby, dispelling myths about sports. But I now owe readers the third installment of the Randle Marks story. I hope readers are anxious to learn the answers to the two riddles that were left unanswered in “The Undiscovered Country.” I don’t want to give too much away, but eventually he will have to deal with his ex-wife, Carrie.
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