Q&A w/ Author Nicholas Nash & the Inspiration Behind His New Thriller, “The Girl At The Bar” PLUS Enter the Pre-Order Giveaway!

ebook_coverI’ve had the pleasure over the past few weeks of working with debut author Nicholas Nash, his new book The Girl at the Bar, a psychological thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a brilliant cancer researcher and the quest to find what happened to her, set to release on February 1st, 2017!

Nick resides in the concrete jungle of Manhattan in New York City with his wife and three children and enjoys every moment of it. An accomplished finance professional, he has a passion for reading fiction and non-fiction books which inspired him to write this intriguing thriller. Nicholas was very gracious about answering some questions for our readers and aspiring authors here on TRB Book Blog!

ALSO check out the pre-order giveaway at the bottom of this post and you can enter to win a hardcover copy of The Girl at the Bar along with a few other exciting treats/swag!

Q&A with debut author, Nicholas Nash

TRB Book Blog: Being a fan of both fiction and non-fiction books, was there something specific that inspired you to go the thriller route for your first novel? Perhaps a certain author or title that pushed you in this direction?

Nick: I have always enjoyed reading thrillers and whodunit mystery books a lot. Therthe-girl-on-the-traine were a couple of recent books and authors that influenced me to write this book. Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train was an interesting read in this genre, though I would’ve enjoyed the book if it had more characters in there. At some point, I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was and the-martianI had guessed correctly. Another influence has been the movie The Usual Suspects. If you read my book, you will see what I mean.

I also immensely enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian. When I found out that Andy was a first time writer but wrote about what he knew best, I was really inspired to follow his footsteps and write about something that I have read a lot about, like cutting edge research for cancer.

TRB Book Blog: In your book, the character, Rebecca, is a beautiful, extremely smart, and forward thinking woman who is on the fast track to curing cancer. That is a combination not too often seen, was there anything in particular that drove the passion behind such a strong and modern well-rounded female character?

Nick: There is some truly groundbreaking research and developments taking place in the quest to cure cancer that the average person is not aware of. The biotech industry in general is making huge strides in finding unique cures for cancer. I wanted to highlight the work that I have been reading about.

The biotech industry, particularly on the research side, is heavily dominated by men. However, there are several strong well-rounded women who are instrumental in the industry either as researchers, CEOs or biotech investors. Rebecca is in some respects a composite of these real-life women who play a key role in the progress we’ve made in the war on cancer.

TRB Book Blog: The Girl at the Bar goes very in-depth with information about cancer, what sort of research did you do to write this book and provide such thorough detail?

Nick: Certainly. I read a lot about what cancer is, what it does and the latest developments in the field to cure cancer. I’ve met a few people, including researchers, who helped shape my understanding of the science behind cancer. At one point in my life, I also worked with some leading cancer researchers and learnt a great deal about the latest developments in the field from them.

The biggest challenge though with all the background research is being able to synthesize all of this into plain language that a regular reader could understand and appreciate. That was the toughest part of the research. I was constantly afraid that readers would lose me ifthe-emporor I became too technical in my descriptions, so that kept me on guard whenever I wrote about cancer in the book.

Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies was a great book that I had read and helped my understanding of this disease. That said, to my point earlier, his book was long (592 pages) and relatively technical and I must confess, at some point, I stopped reading and did not finish it. Irrespective, it’s still a great book and a must read for anyone who wants to understand this disease some more.

TRB Book Blog: As a new author, what is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? Least favorite? Were there any difficulties breaking into the world of publication?

Nick: My favorite part of being a new author has been writing the book itself. I wrote the book on weekends after toiling during the week on my day job working in the financial industry. I started looking forward to the weekends. I found writing to be a great way to unwind and relax.

My least favorite part was going back and reading and re-reading the book to make sure it was consistent, correct and flowed well. To that effect, my publisher at Fireflies Publishing was immensely helpful in reading the book and suggesting some changes to the plot or enhancements to the story. At first, I was reluctant to make the changes but then found those to be really good when I went back and read those parts again. Nothing can replace the part a good and passionate publisher plays in getting a book in order.

I started working with Fireflies Publishing, a small independent publisher, based in New York. The publisher read a few chapters of my book and instantly liked it and followed up with me regularly to complete the book. I was lucky to find and work with them. After my first meeting and seeing the enthusiasm and talent of the publisher, I was completely sold and did not think it made sense to approach any others. This definitely saved me a lot of heartburn and let me focus on what I do best, which is write.

TRB Book Blog: Will you be working on a sequel to The Girl at the Bar, or perhaps any other novels that we can look forward to?

Nick: I am currently working on my second novel set during the last days of World War II. The book title is still under wraps because I don’t want to give the story setting away just yet. There was an interesting time period during the Second World War that I chose as the backdrop.

Hitler died, having committed suicide, on April 30th, 1945 but the war in Europe did not end with his death. Germany continued fighting the Allies and surrendered only a week later on May 7th, 1945. During these days between his death and eventual German surrender, an unimaginable series of events took place that remains unexplained and shrouded in mystery to this very day. My second novel revolves around one of those events during that period of uncertainty, with my imagination filling in the blanks that history has left unanswered forever.

I first read about it a few years ago and I always wondered to myself, “What exactly happened there? Why did the retreating Germans do that? Who was really responsible? What were they thinking?”

I searched and searched and searched and never found any satisfactory answers. That was when I said to myself, “Hmm, that’s interesting. The magnitude of what happened then was immense and here we are over 70 years later and we still don’t know much about it.” That’s when I decided to write my second book around these bizarre events.

The first chapter of my second book will be available to all readers of The Girl at the Bar. The details on how to get it will be at the end of my first book.

TRB Book Blog: Some of our readers are dying to know, what are a few of your favorite books and what makes them so special to you?

Nick: I love reading books that have a large number of interesting characters and a large sprawling plot. There are a couple of books that stand out for me and meet these criteria.

atlas-shruggedThe first one is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I first read this book as a young teenager and was taken aback at the length of the book and the sheer number of characters in the book with its various interwoven plots and sub-plots. I read the book again when I was a bit older. Even though it has been over fifteen years since I last read this book, I still remember several characters distinctly and that says a lot about the book.

the-prizeMy second favorite book is the Pulitzer Prize winning The Prize by Daniel Yergin. The book traces the history of the oil and gas industry from the very first oil well ever drilled through the 1980s. The book describes several interesting historical figures in a great amount of detail. Each of these characters is treated as humans with a great amount of detail going into describing their actions and motives. An ambitious book, one that still fascinates me to this day.

There are a couple of multi-character movies that I really wish were books instead – Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects.

TRB Book Blog: Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can offer to aspiring writers out there?

Nick: Being a first time author, I don’t think I’m still in the place where I should be doling out advice to aspiring writers. I could maybe share with you what I told myself when I was writing my book.

“Write what you love about, not necessarily thinking about what the reader wants or trying to please your imaginary idea of the ideal reader base. You have a unique story to tell, so tell that story in the best way possible and your readers will appreciate the originality and honesty of your imagination.”

Click here to pre-order Nicholas’s debut novel, and check out his Facebook page for more updates!
Check out the info below to enter the pre-order giveaway going on now!




Book Review: The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.

TRB Book Review: 3/5 stars
Gripping, a suspenseful book with gorgeous scenery that you just won’t want to put down!
“Tiny electric lights like glow bugs in glass jars were strung up ‘tween tall posts and made that street look like the starry sky.” – pg. 108, The Wolf Road

Lewis captures her audience with the refreshingly feisty leading lady, Elka and the journey she takes to escape the murderous and bloodthirsty man that she had grown to love as a father. Having lost everything at a young age, Elka was taken in by Trapper and raised to respect and utilize everything that nature had to offer. For 10 years she had learned his tricks and the trades of the woods including hunting and trapping to survive. These skills were too easily put to the test when Elka learned the truth about Trapper’s murderous nature, having a comfortable woodland life torn away and a sinking fear that she would be the next to lose her scalp at his hands. She sets off on a journey to find her biological parents and escape the bloody past she was unknowingly a part of. Little did she know that she’d set her own trap trying to find redemption, and would soon discover how much like him she had become.

My Thoughts – This being Lewis’ debut novel I am happy to say that she did a wonderful job harnessing the language, scenery, and heart-skipping moments of terror and suspense brought on by a young girl alone in the wild that is trying to escape the law and a very dangerous man. It was a difficult start because I was not expecting the broken English of the backwoods to be used so diligently throughout. Once I was able to read and understand the abbreviations and work out what the characters were saying, I quickly dove in.

The first scene in this book throws you immediately into a confrontation between Elka and Trapper (you will soon after know him by Kraeger) where ultimately she is fighting to survive after a hard journey to escape him [Kraeger]. The entirety of Elka’s story is a lead-up to this moment, which the book will return to at a later point. At times the pages seemed longer than they were and things seemed to drag on more than necessary. Considering that in an apocalyptic world without vehicles, and knowing that travel was a commitment of true labor by foot, I still am certain that this story could have been cut by about 100 pages and still have been entirely interesting.

To witness Elka harness her skills of survival in the woods nearly every step of the way really helped to establish her character and fine tune her purpose. Whether it was starting a fire, trapping a rabbit, fending off (or running from) vicious wildlife, trying to make friends with strangers, or falling victim to the snake-like tongue of a handsome gentleman with hidden purpose – the realism made it very enjoyable to walk alongside her even through the struggles. She is one tough cookie, even while learning some life lessons on the road.

Trapper, or Kraeger, is a mysterious fella throughout the entire book. He doesn’t like to talk, or be talked about so you don’t learn anything about his past or why he is where he is. I suppose that’s Lewis’ point in making him such a secretive, awful person that you dislike immediately upon introduction. You get Elka’s version of Trapper as the man who took her in, raised her, taught her the ways of the forest in the first few chapters. The perspective changes when Elka finds out who Trapper really is, Kraeger, the human scalper & murderer. His nighttime “wolf hunts” turned out to be his game of cat and mouse with hunting innocent women and children and taking their scalps as his prize.

It is obvious throughout the book (more so toward the end) that many of Elka’s memories from the 10 years she spent with Trapper were blocked out of her mind. They slowly come back to her as the story progresses, making her remember the terrible things that she took part in which all lead up to the twist at the end. In the last 50 pages, you come to find out that she played a much larger, much bloodier and guilty part in the cruelty of Trapper’s ways than you were led to believe during the first three-quarters of the story.

My absolute favorite thing about The Wolf Road was the vivid imagery that Lewis used throughout. She described the scenery, things that Elka experienced for the first time, with such a colorful and imaginative likeness you could picture it as though you were there standing next to her.

“This was a forest a’ pure beauty. We was too far north now for the lodgepole pines but black-and-white spruce and some a’ them alpine firs covered everything. Moss crawled up rocks and strangling ivy tightened ’round trunks. Forest was thick and the air hung round in a mist most a’ the day. Smelled a’ softness and warm and like them first days a’ spring, even this far into summer. This forest was alive, I felt it in every bit a’ me. Exciting chatter a’ squirrels and crickets, tracks and trails a’ deer and moose, no sign a’ man’s heavy hand.” – pg. 236, The Wolf Road

Overall I think that this is a very well done debut novel full of rich scenery that houses a decently rounded protagonist and a mysterious and vengeful antagonist. The length of the novel (356 pages) seems a bit long to me, it took me longer than planned to finish because I had such a hard time staying interested after reaching the halfway point. It became more like the repetitive tale of a girl running from a killer with an anticlimactic ending for me, but the writing was done well and the use of such detailed imagery and lifelike situations kept it intriguing. I can’t justify categorizing it as much of a thriller/suspense book, it comes across more as a lightly suspenseful fiction piece with the last 50 pages being the most twisted and gripping part. A great read for anyone looking for a change in the apocalyptic scene who appreciates a good wilderness survival story with a surprise ending.

I’ve received this complementary copy from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

photo by Andrew Mason

Beth Lewis is a managing editor at Titan Books in London. She was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and great white sharks. She has been a bank cashier, a fire performer, and a juggler.




For more information on the author, please visit her website at http://www.bethklewis.com/

You can purchase a copy of this book from one of your favorite online retailers below:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Penguin Random House, Book Depository