Sunday, 23 October 2016

Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider - Blog Tour Review And Q&A

Today Life Of A Nerdish Mum is one of the stops on the blog tour for Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider, I have my review of Her Last Breath as well as a Q&A with the author.


A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men... 
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can't remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defence attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them - or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent...but is she?


Imagine waking up next to a dead body and not knowing how you got there, why they're dead or even who the body is. That's how the story starts and you really feel the stress and shock felt by Mari as she wakes up to this living nightmare. This was a really great start to the book and it had  me hooked instantly as I needed to know what had happened. 

The story is fast paced and there are twists and turns throughout that keep you guessing as to what really happened. I had decided a few times who I thought had done it or what had really happened, but I kept changing my mind with every new chapter. This is really exciting in a thriller as you just want to keep reading so you can see if you are right or not. 

The characters are all really well developed and I really fell in love with some character while others I took a disliking to, I really liked Kerri Blasco, she is smart and determined and doesn't let other people get in the way of her doing her job properly, even if one of those people is her boss. both Kerri and Mari felt very real to me and I really enjoyed watching the trust and relationship building between the two. 

Overall this is an excellent book and I will be going back to read the first Kerri Blasco book, though this book is the second in the series, you can definitely read it as a stand alone if you chose. 


Your novels are thrillers, whether medical or psychological, what in particular draws you to this genre?

The adrenalin, the intensity. 

You say your books will usually have something medical about them through inspiration from your husband. Have you ever been tempted yourself to go into the medical profession?

Nooo. I could never have survived med school, the gruelling studies, the lost sleep…but I so admire those who have done it, and who are committed to helping people. I never could have managed the brutal sciences anyway; I’m pretty good at languages and have a passion for art, all that right-brained stuff, but I can’t add 2+2! Thick as a plank there. 

Do you have a favourite character that you have written so far?

I really love NYPD Detective Kerri Blasco. She is highly intuitive, with uncanny abilities to read people and the language of crime scenes. Plus she’s nice, tough and tender and frequently funny.  Some of her fellow cops think she’s psychic, but she just says, “No, you’ve just gotta feel.” Her main beef is with the occasional cops - including her irascible lieutenant - who go for easy arrests to placate the media or just close their books. She holds her own to the max with them

Do you have a set routine that you follow when you sit down to write?

Yes, afternoon from 12 to 6. After that the little grey cells feel fried. 

When you're not writing what would we find you doing? 

Reading, doing laundry, shopping, errands, all the mundane stuff outwardly - but inwardly the fiction wheels are always turning, thinking up the next scene, the next story. I could be in a check-out line at the supermarket but really, I’m on another planet. 

You used to write for Newsweek Magazine, have you found that writing novels takes a completely different discipline?

Absolutely yes! Fiction is incredibly hard…you have to go deep, deep, into people’s feelings, reactions, joy, pain, every emotion, every action producing a reaction. Working for newspapers or Time or Newsweek…you’re just parroting what happened, describing the fire, the tornado, politics, whatever. All you need is good grammar and the ability to condense, but it’s superficial! Not even close to writing good, non-fiction books, which require depth and analysis. (I love Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August.”)

You were an exchange student in the Soviet Union and it sounds like you had quite a few adventures, would you like to share one with me now? 

Smile, oh that. There are stories without number, but a biggie was getting arrested for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda. What happened was, days after finishing college (that’s what we Yanks call university), I was sent with eleven other students on the US-USSR Student Exchange. For a week before leaving, we were trained & warned: this is a good will endeavour, don’t offend them, don’t photograph their drunks on the sidewalks or garbage piled or lack of plumbing or comment about their having only one kitchen per floor of each block-long apartment house, just smile and say "How Nice". So we were good little Americans, admired all their war monuments, went to class with them, hiked with them, drank too much vodka with them, worked hard learning more Russian.

BUT. One sweltering August day in Leningrad (now back to St. Petersburg), we returned to our hotel (which we called Old Stinky), and we were exhausted, thirsty <— a problem since - no sinks or bathrooms except way down a really long hall. Instead, on a table in the middle of our room-for-four, was a carafe of water with wrapped, upside-down glasses. Water!! Hooray!! Only…the water was coloured pea-green, the colour of the Neva River full of algae. Sooo…we started to laugh, just peals of giggling and laughter, thinking it was safe to because the door was closed. How were we to know the room was bugged!? The next thing - BANG! BANG! - pounding on the door, which they threw open anyway, three thick-necked guys in trench coats (in August!) with one shouting “Vwi aristoveni!” You are arrested!! Spreading anti-Soviet propaganda! So we were marched off to the neighbourhood Komsomol/Communist HQ, complete with cells, grey walls, one covered window, more guys in trench coats.

It turned out okay, after a few hours. We heard them shouting into phones; it must have been decided that us young American jerks just weren’t worth an international incident, and we were let go, to trudge back to Old Stinky. I can tell you that never, NEVER in my life have I so craved a Coke. 

Do you have a favourite author? 

Yup. Ira Levin (BOYS FROM BRAZIL, ROSEMARY’S BABY, etc). Second favourite is William Goldman (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid), for his MARATHON MAN. What a terrifying, heart-breaking story. Oh sorry, I gave you two authors. But Ira Levin wins. For his intensity & brevity, his ability to say so much in just a few words. 

If you could give your younger self advice about your writing career, what would it be? 

I’d tell my younger self how hard it is, and how it never really gets easier. “A writer is always terrified.” I love David Balducci for saying that. 

Her Last Breath has only just come out, but what can we look forward to from you next? 

It’s between the next Kerri Blasco thriller and a standalone thriller. I’m in the mulling stage. Kerri will probably win. 

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