I am very pleased to introduce Ellen Ann Callahan and her brand new release, No Brakes: On the Wing. I had the pleasure of editing this story, and it’s fantastic. An engaging novel with unique characters. You won’t want to miss this one.
*** Ellen is giving away a print copy of her book to one lucky commenter (U.S. Residents only). Winner will be draw on June 19th.
Lucy Prestipino has only minutes to deliver a lawsuit to the Baltimore City courthouse. She’s a twenty-one-year-old bicycle messenger on a mission—saving a crying lawyer from missing the statute of limitations. She’s promised to file the lawsuit before the court closes, no matter what.
No matter what propels Lucy into a horrific crash with handsome and charismatic Romero Sanchez. She becomes romantically entangled with Sanchez until Rick McCormick, the chief of the new gang unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, warns her of the depth of Sanchez’s criminality. Her relationship with Sanchez violently disintegrates. A brutal murder draws her into a ruthless vendetta between Sanchez and McCormick. She’s convinced the police are on the wrong track and launches her own murder investigation. The long-kept secrets Lucy unearths during her hunt for a killer force her to confront choices that may destroy her.
Lucy passed the morning browsing inside Surveillance Spyware, the largest spy-equipment retail store in the world, according to the ad she saw in the Los Angeles Times. She wanted to buy a tiny, covert camera so she could secretly record her conversations with Romero.
The store was massive. There were nanny cams in coffee pots and clocks, recording devices tucked into everyday household items—air fresheners, computer flash drives, and tissue boxes. She considered buying the baseball hat with the pinhole-sized recorder implanted above the rim. No, Romero’s not dumb. He’ll have me searched.
The personal protection department was by far the largest. Stun grenades and pepper blasters. Taser guns disguised as pens, key chains, and lipstick cases. Three aisles over, Lucy found her heart’s desire: a Flashbang bra holster. The holster attached to a women’s bra, between the breasts, concealing the gun. Even under a T-shirt.
Lucy debated buying it. Wearing the holster in LA was out. Romero would find it in a second. Besides, she’d left her gun in Baltimore. She decided to buy the holster anyway—sometimes a woman needs to spoil herself.
“With practice, you can draw your gun in under three seconds,” the saleswoman said.
“I’ll take it.”
And now, let’s get to know the author…this is her first ever blog interview, so make her feel welcome!
Where did you get the idea for No Brakes: On the Wing?
Three years ago, I retired from the practice of law to become a writer. My book was inspired by a client who consulted with me over a terrible dilemma. My story takes the dilemma to an extreme.
Why did you choose this genre?
I need to give credit to my father. While I was a growing up, my father liked action movies (he called them “shoot ‘em ups”). My mother didn’t care for them, so my father took me to all the shoot ‘em up movies. I spent my formative years watching Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Gene Hackman movies. I loved the car chases and the fights. I later developed an interest in crime fiction novels.
One of the first things I learned from my writing classes was “write what you know.” Crime fiction is what I know, so that’s what I decided to write. I have a chase scene in my book, but it’s on a bicycle and not in a car. Of course, there are fight scenes and a “shoot ‘em up.”
What’s the most difficult thing about writing a book?
For me, it was making the basic decisions about how to tell the story. Each decision triggers a story path that leads to another and another. Sometimes, after writing many pages, I decided I didn’t like the path the book was taking and changed the decision that triggered the path. For example, what should be the occupation of the protagonist, Lucy Prestipino? She started out as a reporter. After I wrote fifty pages, the story just wasn’t working. It was boring. Once Lucy became a bicycle messenger, the story speeded up. I went through the same decision-making process with every scene.
What was the most difficult thing about this book in particular?
I found it challenging to write the romance scenes. My parents were old-school Irish-Catholic and I was raised in that tradition. Sexuality was not discussed. PDA’s consisted of little kiss-pecks. I knew my book needed romance, but the idea of writing it was very intimidating. I took a romance-oriented writing class and studied romance novels like they were textbooks. Reading Fifty Shades of Grey helped (a lot!). Once I found my comfort zone, the writing flowed. A male reader described my book as “saucy.” I never imagined I could ever write anything saucy. I had a blast adding sauce to No Brakes: On the Wing.
How did you develop the protagonist, Lucy Prestipino?
I like books about female protagonists who prevail over obstacles through resourcefulness and intelligence. Since I was writing a page-turner, Lucy needed to be a risk-taker. She seemed to develop her quirky personality all on her own. She’s savvy, but naïve; strong, but vulnerable; attractive, but a hot mess. The bundle of contradictions made her fun to write.
What’s your favorite scene in No Brakes: On the Wing?
I loved writing the courtroom confrontation between Lucy and the prosecutor. It’s also the favorite scene of lawyers who’ve read my book. Any trial lawyer who claims she/he has never had a similar courtroom experience is fibbing. It happens to all of us, no matter how prepared we are for court.
What surprised you the most while writing the book?
I was surprised how the characters took on lives of their own. I’d heard other writers talk about the phenomenon, but I didn’t understand it until I wrote my book. Lucy, Rick, and Romero became very real to me. Whenever I typed a false word, the character would shout inside my head, “I wouldn’t say that! I wouldn’t do that!” It was a little spooky.
Are any of the characters based on real people?
Most of them are, in one way or another. Every character has the personality, appearance, or traits of someone I know. Most of the vignettes in the book are based on true stories. The bichon frise is modeled on my dog, Davy. The character of Dr. John Michaels is based on my brother of blessed memory, John Michael. He owned a dog named “The Old Gentleman.”
Are any characters based on you?
I share a lot of traits with one of the characters, but I won’t say which one. It’s not Lucy’s mother.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read No Brakes: On the Wing?
My goal was to write an entertaining story about an important issue, with elements of humor and romance. If readers come away feeling the book was well-worth their time and money, I’d be happy. That’s my personal standard for spending my time and money on something—whether it’s a seminar, meal, movie or book. I want to come away feeling, “Yeah, that was well-worth it.”
What is one word you would use to describe yourself?
Persistent. It took me longer to write No Brakes: On the Wing than to go to law school, study for the bar, and pass it! I wrote every day, knowing that one day it would be finished. The next book will go much faster.
Are there any tricks or habits you use when creating a story?
I write a lot of random scenes in my head while walking Davy. After the walk, I write them down.
Movie: Witness. It has everything I love in a movie—conflict, romance, a compelling story, even a shoot ‘em up. Harrison Ford is a bonus.
Music: Anything that makes me want to dance. My current favorite song is “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon.
Place you’ve visited: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s the only museum where I’ve spent eight hours straight—twice!
Place you’d like to visit: I’d love to go on road trip across the United States.
TV show from childhood: The Fugitive.
TV show from adulthood: HBO’s The Wire. My guilty pleasure is Say Yes to the Dress.
Food: Chesapeake Bay soft-shelled crabs. Yummy!
Sports team: This is a tough one. I grew up in the Washington, DC area. My favorite teams are the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals. I dream that one day they’ll oppose each other in the World Series, but I don’t know who I’d root for. Talk about a dilemma.
Recreation: I like going to rock concerts, especially those featuring bands of my youth. Strangely, I’ve noticed the audience keeps getting grayer.
Ellen Ann Callahan is an author and freelance writer. Her articles and essays have appeared in Maryland Life Magazine, The Washington Post, Washington Family Magazine, and Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul. She was an adoption attorney until she retired to pursue the writing life. She lives with her husband in Deep Creek, Maryland.
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