Please help me welcome today’s guest, Joylene Nowell Butler…
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I am Canadian/Métis, the author of the suspense novels Dead Witness, Maski: Broken But Not Dead, Break Time, and Matowak. Dead Witness was a finalist in the 2012 Global eBook Awards, and Broken But Not Dead won a silver medal in the 2012 IPPY Awards in New York.
Born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, I am the youngest of three children of Charles (Charlie) Murray Nowell, veteran, farmer and truck driver, and Gabrielle Frances, a member of the wartime singing trio The Desjardins Sisters. When my father was discharged from the Navy, he moved us from Victoria to Haney (Maple Ridge) B.C.
I grew up with horses, cows, pigs, chickens, cats and dogs. A die-hard tomboy, I received a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Philosophy from Douglas College and attended Simon Fraser University.
In 1979, my husband and I moved our five sons to Prince George, BC. In 1992 we built a log/stick home on Cluculz Lake, 36 km east of Vanderhoof. Twenty-five years later, we sold our house and today split our time between Bucerias, Nayarit and Cluculz Lake, B.C.
Where did you get the idea for KISS OF THE ASSASSIN?
I wrote the first half of Kiss of the Assassin, my second manuscript, in 1991 and finished it in early 1993. I think it began with the question: Can a child survive the most unspeakable tragedy?
This is me guessing that it began with that question because it was 30 years ago and, honestly, I don’t remember. While writing my third novel I noticed that all my novels begin with a question, and they all exhibit the same theme: the parent/child relationship. The nice thing is that despite having written Kiss of the Assassin so long ago, every time I pulled it out and reread it, I was amazed that I’d written such an intense and riveting story so early in my career.
Q: Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
It’s painful to receive a negative review but better than no review at all. That’s another reason I advise authors not to read their reviews. You’ll never satisfy every reader every time. It’s impossible. Bad reviews create controversy. Controversy stimulates book sales. If you receive 100 bad reviews and 100 good ones, buyers notice. They’re curious about what side of the spectrum they’ll fall on. One hundred readers took the time to read your book and leave a negative review. But one hundred also took time to leave a positive review. Which begs the question: How many enjoyed the book but kept their thoughts to themselves?
Statistics have proven that reviews are essential. It’s about word-of-mouth. More reviews, more visibility. Good or bad. I don’t concern myself about bad reviews because I know I wrote the best novel I could write.
Q: What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I once had a beta reader tell me that if she had a hard copy of my book, she would have thrown it across the room. She said my protagonist was a wimp. That was tough to hear, but it made me want to be a better writer. The book in question eventually became a finalist in the Global e-Book Awards.
The best compliment I ever received was when a Vietnam Veteran read a draft of Kiss of the Assassin and asked me when had I been in-country. Meaning: Was I a Vietnam Vet? When I told him I wasn’t, he was stunned.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Thank you, Alicia, for asking that question. I think there are two messages in Kiss of the Assassin.
Firstly, I hope anyone reading this novel comes away believing that no matter how traumatic a childhood, you are a miracle, a miracle that deserves to be happy. Don’t let the past beat you down. And if it has—get back up!
Secondly, even in a harsh and cruel world, lost and broken souls can find each other.
Q: How much of the book is realistic?
Another good question. I write suspense thrillers, so I hope my novel seems realistic. If it doesn’t, I’ve failed. My job is to pull you into the story and make these events and characters seem real. That’s what I, as a reader, want in a novel.
Q: Your favorite…
Movie – The Jason Bourne movies and The Polar Express.
Music – Rock, Jazz, Classical, and Reiki Music.
Place you’ve visited – United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Indonesia, U.K., and Bali. I love Canada so much, I’ve driven across it four times, once by myself.
Thank you, Joylene…I’ve enjoyed getting to know you!
Readers, Joylene is offering a Giveaway!!! One winner will receive an ePub version of Kiss of the Assassin. To enter, comment and share the post on Twitter. (You can use the Twitter button under ‘Share This” found at the bottom of the post).
Marina Antonovna, a Soviet spy, and Mateo Arcusa, an American homicide lieutenant, first meet in Cambodia during the Vietnam War as enemies. Fearful that the most powerful man in the Soviet Union, KGB Chairman Vladimir Kurenkov, has ordered her death, Marina risks everything to defect to the United States. She promises Mateo that her days as an assassin are over. Vladimir is determined to do whatever it takes to bring her back and, by threatening Mateo’s life, forces Marina to break her promise.
“Maybe you do value life,” he [Mateo]said as if she hadn’t spoken. “You spared mine. Why?”
For the first time since childhood, Marina could not focus. Memories of Cambodia were clear enough, but her thoughts weren’t. Too many unresolved sentiments. How could she answer? She looked away from his intense mien and pressed the back of her hand to her moist forehead. A chill swept across her arms and she shivered. She had spared him because…?
Whatever the reason, a drunk didn’t deserve an answer.
Her head tilted, looking up at the stars. True, he wasn’t just any drunk. But what good would the answer serve? It would bring back no one.
“Your V.C. buddy wanted to kill me,” he said. “You stopped him. Look, I don’t want to know your secrets. I just want to know why me? Why did you risk getting me back over the border? To imply I was a traitor? The CIA had a lot of questions I couldn’t answer. Mostly ’cause I couldn’t remember. Lucky for you, my memory was one gigantic fog until tonight.”
“Are you threatening me, Sergeant?”
“No. I told you I wouldn’t tell anyone and I won’t.”
“Why should I believe you?”
“Because I’d have told the CIA about you when I had the chance. I didn’t.”
“And now? They suspect you of treason. Point the finger at me and problem solved.”
“And have your death on my conscience? No thanks. Look, as I said before, I’m not asking for state secrets; I just want to know why you stopped him from putting a bullet in my brain. Tell me, and I’ll be out of your life forever.”
Again, Marina reiterated in her mind that she owed him nothing. “I have to go. My guardian will be wondering where I’ve gone.” She jumped down and brushed off her backside, moving past him. His fingertips skimmed across her arm and her skin tingled.
“I’m haunted—can’t you see that? My brothers are dead. Please, I need to know why I’m alive. Is there a reason? What reason? Is it my second…third chance or just a fluke?”
Marina kept walking. “I’m sorry, sergeant. I can’t help you.”
Amazon.com – Kiss of the Assassin
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Joylene Butler lives with her husband in the tiny village of Cluculz Lake in central BC, Canada in the summers and Bucerias, Nayarit in the winters. She is the author of three suspense novels and a contributor to one anthology.