INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR JEFFERY DEAVER
TAKES A NOVEL APPROACH TO HIS LATEST MYSTERY/THRILLER ‘XO’ –
HAVING HIS MAIN CHARACTER/STALKER VICTIM
RECORD A FULL LENGTH CD!
THE PROLIFIC AUTHOR OF 27 NOVELS RETURNS TO HIS MUSICAL
ROOTS, PENNING LYRICS TO TWELVE SONGS THAT HELP
HIS HEROINE KATHRYN DANCE SOLVE THE MYSTERY
‘Jeffery Deaver’s XO (The Album)’ Was Co-Written And Produced By The
Novelist’s Nashville Based Collaborators Clay Stafford and Ken Landers,
and Features Lead Vocals By Indie Singer-Songwriter Treva Blomquist
With an incredible 27 novels under his belt as a mystery/crime novelist since the late 80s, Jeffery Deaver – the internationally acclaimed bestselling author Newsweek calls “a suspense superstar” – has sold books in 150 countries and had his work translated into 25 languages.
Three of his titles have been turned into films, most notably “The Bone Collector,” a popular 1999 hit starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie and the HBO production “A Maiden’s Grave,” starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin. Deaver has topped bestseller lists in the New York Times, London Times and Los Angeles Times, and has been nominated for six Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and numerous other accolades in his genre. In 2011, he was tapped to write the latest James Bond novel “Carte Blanche.”
But how many of his millions of fans around the globe know that his first love is music?
Long before he was keeping readers up nights, scared but still turning pages, Deaver aspired to be the next Bob Dylan or Paul Simon – and performed original songs at clubs from his hometown of Chicago to San Francisco, where he moved after receiving his journalism degree from the University of Missouri.
A few decades after that dream took shape, Deaver has at last found the perfect voice to help him share his formidable songwriting talents: Kayleigh Towne, the beautiful and talented pop country singer protagonist of XO, the third novel in his series featuring heroine Kathryn Dance, released June 12.
The companion music recording Jeffery Deaver’s XO (The Album), released May 29 on iTunes, features 12 songs with lyrics by Deaver and music by songwriters Clay Stafford and Ken Landers. It is the first release on the musical imprint of Stafford’s Nashville based multi-media production company American Blackguard.
Stafford himself is an internationally bestselling author, in addition to working in the film industry for years as writer, director, producer and actor. His retellings of American children’s classics released through Dalmation Press have sold over 1.2 million copies in the U.S. alone, and he has worked as a film development and production executive at Universal Studios and PBS. As a composer and record producer, his scores can be heard on everything from TV movies to commercials.
A renowned composer and sound engineer, Ken Landers’ live and studio recording credits include Trace Adkins, Pat Boone, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Peter Frampton, Vince Gill, David Byrne, Alan Jackson, Louise Mandrell, Kathy Mattea, Michael McDonald, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, N’Sync, Oak Ridge Boys, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt, Hank Williams, Jr., ZZ Top and others.
Out of a field of 100 auditioning singers, Stafford and Landers chose Treva Blomquist to “play” the role of Deaver’s main character on the album. A longtime Nashville based recording artist currently living in Arkansas, Blomquist is a renowned independent folk/Americana singer with three solo albums to her credit, including her 2011 release These Fading Things.
In the novel XO, the gorgeous Kayleigh, a Taylor Swift type performer who becomes the target of a crazed stalker fan, is rising to the top of the country and pop charts with her hit single “Your Shadow” – the opening track of the album which is available as a free promotional download from the XO website (www.jefferydeaverxomusic.com).
Deaver fans can listen to the clues contained in the song as they read the book, joining along with detective Dance. Other listeners can just enjoy the infectious country pop songs on their own – think Swift and Miranda Lambert with a touch of the Paul Simon poetics, and you’ll get the vibe Deaver and his crew are aiming for.
“I’ve always loved writing songs, but having written poetry my whole life, the lyrics came easy for me and the music was the hard part,” says Deaver. “I have a pretty good sense of meter, rhythm and rhyme and wrote the words a certain way so they would be clues to solving the case. The XO Album that resulted is the best of all possible worlds, where I created the words for Kayleigh to sing and handed them over to Clay and Ken, who are both incredible composers and arrangers. Hearing Treva perform them was incredible, like a whole reimagining of the metrics of the song. She would syncopate certain things and run some lines together in ways I never thought of. She really brings Kayleigh alive with an entirely fresh approach.”
Deaver first met Stafford two years ago at Killer Nashville (www.killernashville.com), an internationally attended, volunteer-run annual conference focusing on crime, mystery, thriller and suspense literature that Stafford launched in 2006. When his Executive Director Beth Terrell asked him who his ideal guest of honor would be, he chose Deaver but never thought he’d get him – until he got him!
The two hit it off and about six months later, Deaver emailed Stafford and asked if he knew of any record producers in Nashville. Stafford informed the author that American Blackguard was developing a new record label. Deaver explained the plot of XO – and the clever device of using the singer’s songs to determine where the killer is going to strike next. He had written the lyrics to “Your Shadow” and was looking for someone to write the music for it and produce it as a single. The collaboration between Stafford, Landers and Deavers on the song was so seamless and productive that Stafford suggested doing an entire album of songs based on the lyrics used in the book.
“Ken and I had just recorded a classical album that we had slotted as the first release by American Blackguard,” Stafford says, “but we decided to put it on hold as the vision of this project took shape and we realized its creative and commercial potential. We edited down some of Jeff’s verses and chose different songs to work on individually. Then we got back together and fine tuned them. Because of my background in the record business, my thought was all about creating songs that could play on commercial radio and become pop hits. We’re both veteran arrangers and when we started to produce the tracks, we knew just the right touches to bring out the pop country vibe – like fiddle, mandolin, steel pedal guitar. Living and working in Nashville, we had access to some great musicians who brought these tracks to life.
“I had a blast working with Jeff,” he adds. “Since the idea of finding a writer/producer to put some music to ‘Your Shadow,’ the project has really developed a life of its own.”
That life evolved thanks in part to the magic vocal touch of Blomquist, who senses that she won the “part” of Kayleigh not only for her beautiful, strong voice but also because of her authenticity when she met Stafford and Landers for her initial interview. “Once they agreed to hire me, it took me a little longer to learn the songs than it does when I’m going in to record my own,” she says. “On the other hand, there wasn’t the stress of having to create the song. My job was to relay the story, and it was a great experience in the studio. We did the vocal recording relatively quickly and they were all so great to work with.”
Though Blomquist is not a Christian recording artist per se, her faith usually leads her to sing about slightly tamer things than she was singing about on Jeffery Deaver’s XO (The Album). As Stafford says, “We’re writing songs about sweaty love and things like turning your furnace up high. They took her out of her comfort zone, but in essence, the project was all about everyone – me, Ken and Jeff included – stepping out of our usual work space to create something extraordinary.”
Blomquist agrees: “The lyrical content was definitely a little out there and not the stuff I ordinarily sing about, but the point is that I’m acting in character. I thought it would be cool to put a project out there that wasn’t my usual kind of recording.”
On August 25, after a busy summer of numerous separate appearances by Deaver, Stafford, Landers and Blomquist, the four will get together at this year’s Killer Nashville event at the Hutton Hotel, where the songs from the album will be performed live by Blomquist and the Nashville musicians who created it. The band will also perform cover songs.
“Growing up,” Deaver says, “I had two passions: words and music. I read everything I could get my hands on, and – with the hubris of youth – wrote fiction and poetry nonstop. As for music, I listened to every genre and decided, also at a young age, to become a singer-songwriter, following in the footsteps of my idols, like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon. My goal was not to be a superstar but to be a working singer-songwriter. Alas, it was not to be – because, of course, it's not enough to be a good wordsmith; one must be a stellar performer to succeed in the business. And the phrase singer-songwriter carries two indispensable components. The second part – writing – I was pretty good at. The former, not so much.
“When I began writing novels, years ago, I was always looking for the opportunity to incorporate lyrics of mine into a thriller,” he adds. “I experimented with this in a short story called “The Fan” six or seven years ago, and then went all out and wrote a number of original country-western/pop songs for XO. In a way, doing the recording is really getting back to the tradition of entertainment as it existed throughout history. Prior to the printing and distribution of novels around 200 years ago, storytelling was strictly done orally, in a live setting, and epic poetry and plays were performed in the theatre. There was often musical accompaniment. Thinking back all those years to my early days as a musician, I can't help but hear echoes of one of my favorite songs from back then: ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken?’
IT’S ALL ABOUT REINVENTION FOR
THE BESTSELLING NOVELIST OF SEVEN BEACHY NOVELS
THAT HAVE INSPIRED COUNTLESS WOMEN TO GO FOR THEIR DREAMS.
HER LATEST NOVEL
‘SEVEN YEAR SWITCH’
IS THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER OF THE UP-AND-COMING
BEACH BOOK FESTIVAL AWARD.
Best Known For
“Must Love Dogs,”
Which Was Turned Into A Popular 2005 Film
Starring Diane Lane and John Cusack,
Cook (who conducts Reinvention Workshops Around the U.S.)
Is Basking In The Sunshine of “Beach Read Shout Outs” for
“Seven Year Switch”
From People, USA Today, The New York Times And The New York Post.
Bestselling authors are all about drawing their readers into vivid scenes. So let’s return the favor for Claire Cook, currently riding a cresting wave with her seventh novel Seven Year Switch, winner of the Fiction Category as well as the Grand Prize in this year’s annual Beach Book Festival.
Far from the sandy shores and swimming pools of America, where thousands of readers will take to heart the “Beach Read Shout Outs” by People Magazine, USA Today, The New York Times and The New York Post and crack open Cook’s latest charmer this summer, Claire remembers a cold, wintry New England day ten years ago when the lifelong dream she is now living took wing.
The wife and mother of two was in her mid-40s, sitting in her minivan outside her daughter Garet’s swim practice at 5 am, heater running full blast, when it hit her that she might live her whole life without ever once going after her dream of writing a novel. For the next six months, she sat there day after day, writing a rough draft in the pool parking lot on a yellow legal pad; she thought the idea of getting a laptop might jinx her, like an aspiring business person printing cards before they’d worked out a business plan.
Featuring a ditsy protagonist, “a woman drowning in a sea of swim moms, perhaps the person I was afraid becoming,” Ready To Fall sold to the first publisher who asked to read it. Her second novel went to auction, earning her sixteen times her annual teaching salary. At 50, the minivan far behind her, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the feature film adaptation of her second novel, Must Love Dogs. Adapted and directed by “Family Ties” creator Gary David Goldberg, the movie starred Diane Lane and John Cusack.
While she still shivers in the chilly winters of her adopted hometown of Scituate, Massachusetts, Claire has become a “beach read” icon to millions of women of all ages with her subsequent novels including Life’s A Beach, Summer Blowout and
The Wildwater Walking Club. Beyond that, however, the author’s incredible success story in midlife has inspired thousands of her fans to look to her as an inspiration for their own long-deferred dreams.
Reflective of her personal journey, many of Claire’s lead characters are on searches for their own next chapters, often with an entrepreneurial twist -- travel and cultural coaching and cooking in Seven Year Switch, buyouts and lavender and clotheslines in The Wildwater Walking Club, makeup in Summer Blowout and sea glass jewelry in Life’s a Beach. The author’s fans are invited to tell personal stories of their own gear-shifting lives in the “Reinvention” page of her website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. As part of her book tours, Claire also conducts free “Reinvention Workshops” across the country, which developed out of free writing seminars she conducted as a way of giving thanks to her readers. In 2009, The Today Show did a segment on these events.
“Reinvention is the story of my life, so I think it just naturally found its way into my books,” she says. “I love sharing my story, because I think it gives hope to so many women out there with buried dreams of their own. My advice: Dust them off and go for it! I have met so many other women coming into their own at midlife, that now I know I’m not alone. One of the truest things one of my characters ever said was, ‘karma is a boomerang.’ These workshops are my way to thank my readers, to give back, because without their book-buying support, as well as their encouragement and inspiration, I wouldn’t have the best midlife career ever. I spend half my life in my PJs writing at the computer, then I get to shake off that solitude and meet actual as opposed to fictional people. That rhythm really helps my writing, and it also reminds me that being an author isn’t all about me, it’s just as much about my readers.”
In a world that is increasingly full of gloomy and depressing news, short attention spans and way too many multi-media distractions, Claire’s success with novels like Must Love Dogs and Seven Year Switch proves that people still seek lighthearted escapism (as long as it makes them think) and, perhaps even more surprisingly, have time to read a several hundred page novel.
“It’s easy to be dismissive of this genre I’ve tapped into, the so-called ‘beach reads,’ because the things I write about are not earthshaking,” she says. “But there’s plenty of pain and suffering in the world without me adding to it. If my readers have two weeks off per year, I want to give them stories that will inspire them in their own lives, and make them feel better, not worse.
“What I love most is hearing from readers who tell me that I’m writing their lives,” Claire adds. “I’m proud that my work celebrates real people with real life issues that are personal yet universal. In our celebrity-crazed culture, we start to think regular people don’t matter anymore. But we do. Our lives deserve to be chronicled and celebrated. And while I have a large midlife audience, my books are multi-generational and my readership is, too. In this crazy economy, college students concerned about their career prospects tell me they’re inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of my characters. I’m constantly amazed and humbled by the way these stories I tell touch people’s lives.”
Had Claire never put pen to legal pad inside the minivan, her life would still have been interesting enough to…let’s say, become the story of one of her cherished characters. At the time she started writing, she was a teacher at an artsy private school and a consultant at two others, introducing “fun and funky” activities like open ocean rowing and rollerblading for middle-schoolers, and literacy through movement activities for younger students. Her efforts won her school the Massachusetts Governor’s Fitness Award for innovative programming. Even with all that, she felt she was hiding from what she really wanted to do with her life.
It’s likely entertaining others in a big way was just in Claire’s blood; after all, she is a direct descendent of P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey circus fame. When she was three, her mother entered her in a contest to name the Fizzies whale, and she won in her age group (of course, she admits it’s possible that hers was the only entry in this age group!). At six, she published her first story on the Little People’s Page in the Sunday paper (about “Hot Dog,” the family dachshund, even though they had a beagle at the time!), and at sixteen she had her first front page feature in the local weekly. She majored in film and creative writing in college and, like all college grads bursting at the seams with ambition untempered by the reality yet to come, thought she would quickly “go into labor and a brilliant novel would emerge, fully formed, like giving birth.”
“It didn’t happen,” Claire says. “I guess I knew how to write, but not what to write. Looking back, I can see that I had to live my life so I'd have something to write about, and if I could give my younger self some good advice, it would be not to beat myself up for the next couple of decades. But I did. At the same time, I pretended I wasn't feeling terrible about not writing a novel and did a lot of other creative things. I wrote shoe ads for an in house advertising agency for five weeks, became continuity director of a local radio station for a couple of years, taught aerobics and did some choreography, helped a friend with landscape design, wrote a few freelance magazine pieces, took some more detours. Eventually, I had two children and followed them to school as a teacher, where I taught everything from multicultural games and dance to open ocean rowing to creative writing.
“Sometimes in the midst of this wonderful craziness, trying to juggle all the things that are happening with my latest book and the next book I’m writing,” she adds, “I take a deep breath and remind myself: this is the career I almost didn’t have. It’s easy to get caught up in reviews and sales, but at the end of the day, it’s not all about chasing that superficial stuff. What’s important is becoming a better writer with every novel and touching the lives of my readers.”
MARY ROLPH LAMONTAGNE
Quick, look out your kitchen window. If you happen to see a charismatic blond woman putting on rubber gloves and pulling from the trash those still-edible fruits and veggies you shouldn’t have tossed away, don’t sweat it. Sustainable food advocate and author Mary Rolph Lamontagne does this with her friends all the time, and she’s there to help you.
Invite her inside, and in her charming, gentle Canadian accent, she’ll tell you how to turn those discards into creative, super-tasty entrees and side items. Better yet, she’ll show you how to use each item to make master recipes and then turn each basic dish into a batch of alternative recipes. Get your cell phone cameras ready: you’ve never seen anything quite like Mary’s passion in action. Get some bigger cameras rolling, and she could make selective trash picking and food rescue a new national craze.
If you’re not fortunate enough to experience first-hand the way Mary transforms the food you keep wasting into culinary magic, the Montreal born and raised, South African based dynamo has the next best thing: her recently published book EATS: Enjoy All the Seconds. Although it includes 135 delicious recipes for 12 different fruits and 15 vegetables from all over the world that will ensure you’ll never be faced with tossing away your healthiest foods again, this revolutionary work is more than a simple recipe book.
Organized by the color of the fruit or vegetable beginning with green and ending with white, Mary’s book is a game changing lifestyle volume. It will shift the way you approach food consumption and preparation forever – and will soon have you enjoying the healthiest, freshest meals while stretching your groceries, lowering your weekly costs and broadening your palette every day. It’s about the passion we all share for good food and being smarter about the way we cook.
Proposing solutions for using leftovers or excess from the garden, farmer’s market or overzealous shopping, Mary draws on her many years as an event organizer, food consultant and trainer of chefs in her native Canada and numerous countries in Africa to provide quick and easy ways to help you reduce food waste, save money and protect the environment. Her ultimate goal: to make sure all of the food you buy or grow is used in the healthiest, most delicious ways.
Mary’s inspiration for EATS: Enjoy All The Seconds came in what she calls a “light bulb” moment while training chefs at a bush camp in Botswana, far away from civilization. Yes, bringing delight through food in remote parts of Africa is one of her “day jobs.” The camp was low on provisions and the leftovers were building up in the refrigerator. Shipping garbage out is expensive and food is only delivered once a week. Then there are those times when monkeys and hyenas intrude and wreak havoc with supplies. She puts it simply on the back cover of the book: “Our guests were expecting a memorable meal and the rest is history.”
Mary, a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont who first trained as a chef at the Ritz Escoffier Culinary School in Paris, says, “In one game reserve, we had too much zucchini growing in the garden and so instead of flipping out, I came up with the idea of using grated zucchini to make zucchini bread and fritters. The remaining grated zucchini, I measured out into 2 cup servings and put into Ziploc bags, flattened and filed in the freezer under Z. I did the same with tomatoes, roasting them up then freezing them in bags and pulling them out to make pasta sauce and other tasty recipes. I began doing this with other fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, creating a master recipe that could then be reinvented into other recipes.”
“For example,” she continues, “I would make a main dish of braised maple ginger carrots, then take left over carrots and mash them to make a carrot cake, carrot fritters or carrot hummus. Sweet potatoes could be reinvented into a lamb and sweet potato curry or sweet potato buttermilk waffles. Steamed or sautéed broccoli could be the master recipe, which I could then create little cheesy broccoli bites or small quiches that I could freeze and serve any time. A spicy roccoli mash also tasted good with herb crusted tilapia.”
Hailing from North America and living with her family and working as a food consultant for hotels and upscale Bush Camps in South Africa since 2005, Mary brings a unique multi-continental perspective to her drive to reduce waste. Having visited Kenya and learned from a native Ashoka fellow about the value of composting, Mary has also become an advocate of this environment enriching process by which organic matter is decomposed and recycled as fertilizer, soil amendment and even natural gasses. On her recent travels, she took to the streets of New York City to ask produce sellers and consumers at a Farmer’s Market their views on Mayor Bloomberg’s recent announcement that the city in 2016 will require residents to separate food waste for collection to be composted. This announcement came following a voluntary program at 150,000 single-family homes and 100 apartment buildings.
“I’m excited to see cities like San Francisco embrace composting to a degree that the city is heading towards being zero waste, and it’s great to know that more and more people are thinking of food and waste differently, as something that can help the environment and not harm it,” Mary says. “I think back to what my mother, a total foodie, told me and my four brothers and sisters driving across Europe in our VW bus when we were kids – that thing about eating every last bite because kids are starving in India and Africa. Not only is that true, but literally one in six Americans also lack food security. I have grown children of my own and have really started thinking about the way we’re leaving our world to the next generations. If I can inspire people to become as passionate about sustaining and stretching their food supply or about composting as I am, it can really make an impact on so many levels. It’s the way I choose to make my mark.”
Growing up, Mary remembers her mother instilling in her kids the value of healthy eating. “She didn’t believe in Wonder Bread or candy, but we ate a lot of granola, apples and carrots,” she says. Though her mother passed away at 38 when Mary was only 11, Mary carried on the family tradition of eating and sharing healthy food, arranging elaborate dinner parties for friends when she was a teenager, “long before I knew how to cook.” After graduating from Middlebury, Mary moved with her husband, Paul Lamontagne, to Paris. She couldn’t work full time while raising their first daughter Charlotte, so she signed up for culinary school, where she realized she preferred free form cooking to being a pastry chef.
Moving back to North America, the Lamontagnes bought a 65 room hotel in Vermont, which provided Mary with her first opportunity to work with chefs. Settling again in Montreal, she had two more children and began organizing parties and events, working with chefs to create the themes. She also began writing for an entertaining magazine and appearing on local television to talk about meal prep and event planning. Later, Mary launched Tastytables, a successful events company she owned for eight years which planned events ranging from intimate 20 people dinners to 10,000 people multiple day Conference.
The Lamontagnes moved to South Africa in 2005 when Paul, in connection with the Canadian government, started Enablis, a charity dedicated to the crucial task of growing the middle class through the upliftment of young entrepreneurs in Africa. Helping friends from France turn their private game farm into a public enterprise (which included the creation of a professional kitchen) led Mary to her next culinary industry gig as a food consultant and chef trainer for the Protea Hotel Group..
Mary later began working in the same capacity for various upscale bush camps in South Africa and Botswana. Her mission has been to help in job creation, skills training and social upliftment in the hospitality industry, focusing mainly in the area of food. “These camps have a very Western menu for their clientele from the West, but everyone wants a little African spice in the mix,” she says. “I help them incorporate typical African dishes in a way that is palatable to our Western clientele.” Beyond her consulting work, she has also taught a professional culinary course at the Institute for Hospitality Education in Cape Town.
“This is the way I choose to live my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Mary. “My mother was a world traveler who died very young, so I really embrace the concept of living my life as if each day were my last, as fully and helpfully as possible. If I can meet someone new and learn something fresh every day of my life, I’m happy. No matter their position in life, I see everyone the same because everyone has something to offer this world. My life plan is simply to make a difference in someone’s life, and making creative meals for people and sharing my knowledge of sustainable food is a fun and exciting way to do it.”