Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tremendous Thursday: New Release Deal With The Devil....The first of a series

We at Astaea Press are super excited to introduce J Gunnar Grey and her series Deal With The Devil part 1 Check it out.

  • Author: J. Gunnar Grey
  • Genre: Mystery, War Stories, Historical
  • 286 Pages (PDF)
  • Cover Artist: Elaina Lee
  • ISBN: 978-1-936852-26-0
Wehrmacht Major Faust has a dangerous secret: he likes England. But it’s May 1940 and his Panzers are blasting the British Army off Dunkirk’s beach, so he keeps his mouth shut even though it hurts. When the Waffen SS try to murder their English prisoners of war, Faust helps the POWs escape. Now it’s treason, with his neck on the line.
Then a friend gets him drunk, straps him into a parachute, and throws him out over Oxford during a bombing run. He’s quickly caught. Because he helped type the battle plan for the invasion of England, Faust cannot allow himself to be broken in interrogation. Two German armies depend on it. But every time he escapes, someone rapes and murders a woman and the English are looking for someone to hang. He’s risking disaster if he stays, someone else’s life if he runs, and execution by the Gestapo if he makes it home.
Major Stoner, professor turned British intelligence officer, sees three possibilities. Faust perhaps was joyriding in that bomber, as he claims. Or he’s on a reconnaissance mission for the German invasion. Or he’s a spy. Stoner must break Faust to learn the truth, no matter how it strains his old heart. He must save England, and his granddaughter.
Their battlefield is confined to a desktop. Only one of them can win. Someone must break. Someone must make a Deal with the Devil.

Wow this is looks amazing now lets learn some more about the author and her process for writing this masterpiece along with other random info...cause random in tandem. 

A random fact about your story.
When dealing with devils, if the devil changes, the deal’s got to change, too.

A random fact about you as an author.
I obsess over character voices. (Yeah, the ones in my head, too.) In the real world, every person speaks with different patterns and rhythms, and each person chooses words differently. An Oxford don won’t sound the same way a Regular Army sergeant does, and a Scotland Yard chief inspector and a German Army officer will both sound different again.

In a fictional world, this same character voice should come through. When reading, the reader should be able to tell who’s speaking by what’s said and how it’s phrased. This is something I spend hours fussing over, learning the characters, their patterns of speech and behavior, how they think, joke, fight, and so on. And not until it’s right can I complete the novel.

Favorite line in the story (can be funny, romantic, etc).
And then he stumbled from cover and fell down a little slope into a pool of dawnlight which splashed across his hands as if he was the pebble tossed into the pond, and when he raised his head to look about, he found himself staring across a kitchen garden into the eyes of the most beautiful girl in the world.

How did you get the idea for your book?
The idea for Deal with the Devil hit me while I was reading A Presumption of Death, by Jill Paton Walsh. She’s the writer chosen by the estate of Dorothy L. Sayers to continue the famous Lord Peter Wimsey series, and in this particular story, there’s a scene in an air raid shelter where a child sings a well-known, off-color song belittling the physical anatomy of the various Nazi leaders. I wondered what a German might think of that song, if one had been listening in.

While the song vanished somewhere along the road, the child, the air raid, and the shelter all make an appearance in Deal. The entire novel flowed from that point.

What are you currently working on?
One of my favorite characters from Deal is Dr. Harris, the acerbic, sarcastic, lonely country physician who stitches Faust’s injuries over and over again. Harris started bugging me for his own book, keeping me awake at nights with the tale of how the woman he loved married another man. I wrote that one for Matrimonial Mayhem, the anthology of wedding stories being released next week (touch wood) to benefit the areas in Alabama that were ravaged recently by the tornadoes. I assumed that would satisfy him.

But no, Harris continues to bug me. So my current project is Landing Flight, set in 1941 and telling the tale of two lonely people who learn to fly, and land, together.

Is this your first published book?
Yes, indeedy. I’ve published how-to manuals, magazine articles, poetry, and online content. But this is my first published fiction.

Vanilla or chocolate
choc-late choc-late CHOC-LATE!

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
A novelist. Nothing else ever held my interest or attention, no matter how hard my teachers or parents tried.

How do you develop your plots and characters?
Through hours and hours of day dreaming and what iffing

Do you listen to music while writing?
Sometimes. But it has to be music that intertwines with the theme and mood of the story. And what I start out thinking will be a great soundtrack for a story is rarely what I finish with.

For Deal, I started out with classical music. When I finished, it had transformed into Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart. There’s something about the raw edge on her voice in that album that perfectly catches the mounting desperation of Faust, caught in an impossible, no-win scenario. But I’ve got to admit, that’s one heckuva transformation.

Plotter or pantser? Why?
Again, it depends. Some stories want me to be flexible, and Landing Flight seems to be developing into that sort of story. But Deal was so intensely plotted, the outline reached 48 single-spaced pages, detailing each scene and showing how each relates to the previous ones. There are intermingling themes, overlapping plotlines, repeating plot elements—it couldn’t possibly have been developed and written without that outline.

Tell us about your current release.
The title of the novel is Deal with the Devil, and it’s about a German Army officer in World War II who’s in an impossible situation. Major Faust is a prisoner of the English in August 1940, during the Battle of Britain. British Military Intelligence believe he’s a spy and they’re determined to break him.

Faust is equally determined to escape, but every time he gets away, a woman is raped and murdered, meaning he’s the hot suspect. If he remains in English custody, he’s likely to be executed. If he tries to escape, he’s risking someone else’s life, and if he succeeds in returning to Germany, he faces an investigation from the Gestapo and also possibly execution. And it doesn’t help that he fell in love with his interrogator’s granddaughter at first sight.

His only option is to catch the murderer himself. In the process, he learns who the real devil is, and that his only road to escape isn’t the one he thought it was.

Tell us the “story” of your book and how it came to be.
It took about a year of day-dreaming and what-iffing before I actually began writing Deal. Four or five chapters that bear little resemblance to the current manuscript came to a stuttering halt when I realized this book didn’t want to be just a murder mystery.

I started over by drafting a four-page outline, which became the 48-page monster discussed earlier. New subplots introduced themselves, characters took off in odd directions, and I wrote happily enough for a year, adding a chapter every few days. (Some of the chapters are very short, but there were over a hundred of them in the first rough draft.)

Then suddenly, about two-thirds of the way through the story, I realized the rough draft filled two huge three-ring binders. It was massive. Quick calculations added up to 140,000 words, much too long, and I still had both major plotlines to wind up. I panicked and put it aside for six months, thinking I could find something to cut. I thought I had to shorten this monster manuscript, before it ate my life and hard drive.

But even by trimming the story to its barest bones, I couldn’t get it significantly shorter. So I finished drafting the silly thing and sent it to my fabulous, long-suffering critique partners, Melanie Card and Alexa Grave. Mel suggested I cut a subplot and a major character’s point of view; Alexa highlighted every unnecessary word in the book, and in her opinion, there were a lot of those.

I didn’t like either solution. I cut what felt comfortable, polished the remainder, and put it aside, thinking I might be able to break Deal out, not as a first novel, but as a third or fourth one. But after several false starts on other books, I realized Deal haunted me. I had to see it published. So I wrote a query and synopsis for a nice publisher I’d met on Facebook, Stephanie Taylor, and fell on my keyboard when she accepted it—the first publisher who saw it.

Do you have a writing routine?
No. I hate routines. I hate schedules. It’s impossible for me to hold a regular job because I can’t stick to it. Last one I held lasted three and a half years and I thought I’d die. Or kill someone.

What inspires you?
I can never tell in advance. It might be something my husband says, something from another writer’s story, a funny email, a Facebook status message, a flower, the way my mother walks from her bright red Mustang to my front door—there’s no way of foretelling what will set my silly brain in motion next.

Tell us something about yourself that your readers might not expect.
My favorite vacation spot isn’t New York, London, Paris, or even Oxford, the setting for Deal. It’s not the tropics, the beach, a waterfall, or a city. It’s West Texas, from McKittrick Canyon near the New Mexico border south to Big Bend National Park. That’s one of the few places on the planet where I can really breathe.

Favorite Muppet?

What are your goals for this year?
I’d like to finish Landing Flight, see it published, and get Dr. Harris off my case. There’s also a mystery novel I wrote as a thesis during graduate study at Seton Hill University, entitled Trophies. It’s a totally different fictional world and cast of characters, but like Deal, it needs a good home. I’d love to see Robbie, Sherlock, and the other characters my blog readers may recognize from Six Sentence Sundays also find their publishing place in the world.

Well there you go A Deal With the Devil go buy it now!


  1. Interesting how your favorite line and mine are the same. Just from those few words you, the reader, know that something is going to happen between them, for the good.

  2. Deal With the Devil is waiting on my Kindle - the next book I'm gonna read. You enticed me with your trailer! And after reading this interview, now I'm looking forward to hearing those voices even more than I was before.

  3. Thanks Lindsay and Sandy for stopping buy. You gals are awesome