8 May 2022

Special Guest Interview with Seeley James, Author of The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

"Agatha Christie meets Taylor Jenkins Reid in this page-turning mystery woven into a brilliantly comedic drama" In a story that addresses the meaning of family, issues of adoption, identity, inclusion, and rejection arise in many different and unexpected ways.

I'm pleased to welcome author Seeley James to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery is a murder mystery with a touch of psychological thriller and references to ancient literature. The murder of a small town drunk exposes long held secrets and family trauma. Visiting industrialist Pia Sabel quickly determines the town’s police chief will never believe who the murderer is and sets out to show him, clue by clue. The problems her investigation uncovers range from community and family inclusion and adoption to racism and dealing with unintended biases. Her revelations lead to a shocking conclusion not just about whodunit but why. And that brings the story full circle for the reader.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I write every day. I move from the patio to my office, to the living room. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop. A different view gives me a different perspective. But I always look at my outline before I start writing. Often for amusement as much as guidance.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Study the craft, read a LOT, analyze every story you come across from books to movies to podcasts. Getting people to spend money and time listening to your tale is not easy.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

There is no substitute for word-of-mouth. Study after study shows most books are purchased because someone told the buyer they should read it. I spend several hours a day doing ads and other marketing, but my most effective time is spent selling reviewers/bloggers on why they should recommend my books. It’s time intensive and seemingly unproductive, but I find the relationships well worth the effort as they ripen over time.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

I do a ton of research on a wide range of topics, which has led me to post a link to my notes in the back of my books. (Help yourself: https://seeleyjames.com/rembrandt-notes ). What struck me the most while writing Rembrandt was the state of foster care and adoptions. Due to a host of reasons (in vitro fertilization, acceptance of single parents, etc) adoptions are down 75%. 

At the same time, the number of children in foster care is growing. On any given day, there are well over 100,000 kids over the age of seven hoping to be adopted. Of those, less than one percent will find a home. The rest will bounce from one foster home to another until they are unceremoniously dumped on their eighteenth birthday. As the adoptive father of a little girl who might otherwise have been a foster child, I encourage people to consider helping these kids in anyway they can. (More about my story at http://seeleyjames.com/adopted.)

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The discussion between two characters, both adopted as children, about how they were/are treated differently from biological children and the impact that had on their lives. It’s a sensitive topic and no two adoptees have the same experience, so I interviewed a lot of parents and children, working those feelings into that scene. I rewrote that dialogue several times to get it right.

An equally difficult scene to write was actually a series of mini-scenes for the Black character in this book. I wanted to portray how his everyday life is different from mine and many of my readers. Again, I interviewed many friends and relatives about the slights and misunderstandings they encounter every day. In this story, Isaiah recounts how a high school teacher asked about his college plans and he proudly announced he’d been accepted at Dartmouth. The teacher asks, “The college?” That one was a real life exchange that happened to a friend of mine. (She had replied, “No, the gas station.” And walked away.)

What are you planning to write next?

I’m just finishing Act I of Death & Lies: A Jacob Stearne Thriller. (He and Pia Sabel starred side-by-side in the first eight books I wrote, but got divorced a while back. So now I have two series: the more emotionally exciting thrillers and the more cerebral mysteries.) This one will bring new and different family issues to light. Two characters of equal resolve contrast vastly different childhood environments. My goal in every book is to make exciting action wrapped in head-scratching mysteries featuring deep and relatable characters.

Seeley James

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About the Author

Seeley James says his near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap. His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god. His love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction. Find out more at his website https://seeleyjames.com/ and find him on Facebook and Twitter @SeeleyJamesAuth

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