Thursday, February 6, 2014

ReView, Excerpt, and Q/A for BELLA by Steve Piacente

A striking widow intent on proving the military lied about her husband's death lures a Washington journalist into the investigation.  Working together, they discover the power of temptation, the futility of revenge, and the consequences of yielding to either.  

This is definitely one of those stories you'll find it is more impressionable than at first seems.  While not as glorious as some of the book covers you'll see out there, and they have gotten to be more eye candy than good content, this book leads the example for that.
I was incredibly surprised by this book, not at all what I expected.  At first, I had the impression that it was going to be more of an action story with some kind of theme carrying through to the end.  In many ways it was, but it was also truly a mystery novel as well as a psychological debate of fate.  Throughout the novel there are many angles to be wondered about and hypothesized.  The layout of one man's consequences to his many dark and self destructive actions is absolutely well constructed.

The writing is also effortless.  I love that I could read this book so fluidly without any struggle to the language.  Some writers try so hard to put out a novel that they forget that sometimes is just about telling the story rather than fiddling with the language.  Bella is one of those novels where you'll forget get about the delivery of the language and will focus more so on the story, if not completely.

There are a mix of emotions through this novel.  It's seductive.  It's tragic.  It's compelling.  It's sophisticated and philosophical.  It's action - packed and suspenseful.  I absolutely loved it.  There is so much more to say, absolutely so much more.  I'll end here to present a Q/A with the author that I hope you'll enjoy!

Q&A with Steve Piacente

Q: What inspired you to write the book?
SP: Over 25 years as a newspaper reporter, I covered many tragic events, including the murder of Adam Walsh in Hollywood, FL. I have always been interested in how people respond to profound grief. In the Walsh case, parents John and Reve channeled their grief into action by lobbying the state legislature to pass tougher child protection laws. I’m also interested in how people act when faced with tough ethical choices – essentially what people do when no one is watching. The action in Bella is driven largely by ethical decisions key characters make on the battlefield and in the bedroom.

Q: What do you hope readers can get from the book?
SP: I hope readers will find an entertaining escape from their daily lives in Bella, but also think about our catch phrase, specifically, the power of temptation, the futility of revenge, and the consequences of yielding to either, even for a moment. These are lessons that reporter Dan Patragno learns in painful fashion.

Q: Did you have a specific audience in mind? 
SP: I honestly did not have an audience in mind when I began, only a hopefully compelling story I wanted to tell. As a writer, I try never to figure out what will sell before I put pen to paper (actually, fingers to keyboard). To me, that’s like a politician deciding how to vote based on the results of a focus group.

Q: What's your favorite part in the book and why?
SP: I like putting characters in uncomfortable situations and seeing how they respond. I relate most to Dan, the reporter and narrator, since I – like Dan – know the world of daily journalism and am also a storyteller. That said, I would not have made some of the choices Dan makes, particularly with regard to getting emotionally entangled with an important source. Doing so compromises his professional integrity and results in dire consequences. My favorite scenes are the ones where Dan gets his come-uppance from his wife, boss and a few others.

Q: What do you want the readers to give you feedback on from reading the book?
SP: I am most interested in feedback on two items: whether readers empathize with Bella, and what should happen to Dan. My second novel, Bootlicker, is actually a prequel that features Dan as a young reporter right out of college. I’m now considering a sequel to Bella that would focus on Dan’s life after his relationship with the mysterious widow.

Excerpt from the First Page:
The first time Isabel Moss called, I tried to blow her off.  I am called and emailed all the time by people trying to peddle stories.  Politicians, candidates, press secretaries, communications directors, even college interns slaving away for trade associations or think tanks get hold of some media directory and call every reporter from Abrams to Zorinsky.  Pitching stories used to be an art.  Today's practitioners are indiscriminate as spam.  Nine of ten times their ideas don't mesh with my readers, or else the so-called stories are self-serving crap.  Collapsing snow shovels? Tampa's in Florida, lady!  So I developed a clever routine for saying no thanks.  Basically, the system is I let them yak until they're winded, then tell them no thanks. The only flaw is that the strategy takes time and patience, not my strong suits.  Isabel Moss tested the system on a bad day with predictable results.  She got me on the phone and started jabbering.  I waited for a pause.  None came, and none seemed to be on the horizon, where the predicted black clouds were beginning to mass, I saw from my office window on the 12th floor of the National Press Building.  Shit, gonna' get soaked running from the Metro.
Look, miss, said I, the diplomatic Washington correspondent, your story's really interesting, but I'm buried in a piece that could affect public....

Thoroughly Enjoyed it!

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Length: 268 pages
Publisher: Createspace
First Published: 2010
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