Friday, July 13, 2012

No Good Deed by Bill Blais

Hi Tsk Tskers! We're breaking new ground today as we have our first interview and review for a male author on the blog...strange we know, as there are many good ones out there. We were asked to be part of the No Good Deed tour for the wonderful Bill Blais.
What we've got for you is a fun and informative interview with Bill--he was so great! We loved his answers and felt we really got to know what makes him tick. We hope you feel that way too.  Following the interview will be both of our reviews of his thrilling paranormal/suspense novel. A bit of a different read for us...more suspense than romance...still full of the paranormal stuff we love, including a strong, snarky and reluctant heroine. So, sit back and enjoy the ride as we introduce to you, Bill Blais and the world of Kelly McGinnis in No Good Deed.

Kelly McGinnis has spent her adult life trying to do the right thing, but as a newly down-sized mother of twins and the wife of a man living with Muscular Sclerosis, she also knows that trying isn’t always enough.
While interrupting a scene of police brutality, Kelly unwittingly releases a real, live demon. After she manages to kill the creature through gut instinct and blind luck, she is approached to join a secret group of demon hunters who reveal an underworld of monsters and magic. Kelly’s mill town upbringing proves an unexpected asset and the pay more than covers her husband’s treatments, but the work begins to undermine her sense of right and wrong as she struggles to maintain her ‘normal’ life. When she encounters Umber, a compelling incubus with an unexpectedly human story, Kelly learns that the truth is far stranger and more terrifying than she imagined.

About the Author
Bill Blais

  Bill Blais is a writer, web developer and perennial part-time college instructor. His novels include Witness (winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Fantasy) and the Kelly & Umber urban fantasy series. Bill graduated from Skidmore College before earning an MA in Medieval Studies from University College London. He lives in Maine with his wife and daughter.
Where to stalk the author:


Want to know more about Bill Blais???
Check out our interview with him below....

TSK TSK:  No Good Deed is written from Kelly's point of view. How difficult was it to write from a female's perspective?
Bill: Actually, not as hard as I expected it to be, but that was mainly because of something I read about Maya Angelou many years ago. Apparently, before she writes a book, she writes down every last thing she can think of about each of her characters, from goals and fears to quirks and tastes.

When I first read that, I was impressed with her dedication, but didn't think I needed to go through all that. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Years later, and much wiser (at least in that respect), when I started working on Kelly I wrote everything I could about Kelly, which inevitably moved outward to her family and such. This took a while, no question, but not a second of it was wasted effort.

Of course, it also helped that I used elements of people I've known in creating her character, giving me a foundation to work from. Their voices, attitudes and physicality all gave Kelly a more solid reality than I could have generated out of thin air.

TSK TSK:  Have you thought about writing a YA novel? What would it be about?
Bill: The short answers are 'Yes', and 'I can't tel l you', but the longer answer is that the desire to write YA didn't really hit me until I my niece hit that reading age and it got me thinking, but nothing really came of it for a while, since I was focused on these other books, until I was struck with something just as I drifted off to sleep, forcing me to turn the light back on and scribble away in my journal until I got it all out.

Unfortunately, it's been on the back burner while I've worked on several other stories that got to me first, but I've continued to return to the original idea, which is my best indicator that a story has legs. Now all I need is time. The plot has already been hashed out and roughly outlined, though, so I may well get a start on it in the next year or so, once Kelly & Umber 3 and All Prophets #2 are done.

Okay, so the longer answer was longer, but probably not much more satisfying. Sorry about that.

TSK TSK: If you could be any fictional character, who/what would you be?
Bill: There a bunch of flip answers, but the honest answer is none of them. I have an incredible life with an incredible wife and our incredible new baby girl. How could I possibly trade that away?

TSK TSK:  So you've jumped the Pond to Maine, is there anything you miss about London? Anything you don't miss?
Bill:  Oh, my. We miss almost everything, I think. London is a truly fabulous city. Yes, it has its problems (the last year has been a hard one, I know), but we enjoyed every moment we were there. We were ridiculously fortunate to live just down the street from the Notting Hill Tube Station, we did most of our grocery shopping in the mornings on Portobello Road (we got our very first Christmas tree together there!), and we jumped on and off the double-deckers to get to University during the week. Oh, and the scones! The Cornish pasties! The Indian food! Jogging in Kensington Park with William and Mary (the geese) and their goslings. The theatre (scared silly by the amazing The Woman In Black years before the movie)! The heartbeat-rumble of the tube in our sleep. The afternoon light on the white-stone buildings rising over the flat's adorable little backyard.

Um, yeah. We miss it.

Two things I don't miss, though: 1) the truly stunning amount of paper announcements plastered on every conceivable surface, and 2) blowing my nose and seeing black (sorry, you asked).

TSK TSK:  Do you plan for the future or take life as it comes? Has that changed since you daughter came onto the scene?
Bill: I'm a Libra, and these kinds of questions always catch me up, since we are always in search of balance but never quite reaching it. Generally speaking, I try to plan for the future (sometimes to excess), but I certainly have my 'as it comes' moments. If our new daughter has changed anything, it's only to make each of those sides more extreme. I am working hard to make my writing life into a productive occupation to help provide for our family, which sometimes distracts me from paying attention to the truly important stuff, like this

TSK TSK: What is your favorite thing about being a dad?
Bill:  The smiles of both my daughter and my wife. My daughter's smiles remind me of the wonder in the world, and my wife's smiles remind me how loved and fortunate I am.

TSK TSK:  What is the first thing you tell your students about yourself?
Bill:  "I'm probably not like your previous instructors." For most of them, it's downhill the rest of the way, as I talk about the importance of execution, and not just ideas, that I'm a stickler for grammar in academic writing, and, perhaps most heretical of all, that a 'C' means average work in my class. I'm not terribly popular.

TSK TSK: Do you know what you want to do when you grow up, or are you living the dream?
Bill: After I hit Algebra and gave up the foolish idea of being a math genius, I realized words were my arena. It took almost 25 years to make a serious, deliberate decision to follow through on it, but I'm working on that dream right now (thanks, in part, to the great folks on this tour, like you!).

TSK TSK:  Is there one book or author that inspired you to become a writer?
Bill: I suppose Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was the first time I thought consciously of writing a book myself, but I don't know

TSK TSK:  Is there a character in your book that you just don't like?
Bill:  Not really. There are some despicable (and actually horrendous) characters, but there are pieces of me in all of them. I suppose it's fair to say that there are parts of me that I don't like, but there's something about each character that strikes a chord in me. It doesn't mean I 'like' these characters, but it's kind of like saying I don't like being sick. If I were never sick, how could I possibly know what healthy was like?

(Like I said, I'm a Libra)

TSK TSK:  What or how long did research go in to writing No Good Deed?
Bill:  More than I expected, actually. I started the book because I wanted a real-life hero, so I couldn't skimp on the monsters, either. I did a lot of research into myths across cultures and times to give the terrors of this series more 'reality'. The same goes for

TSK TSK:  Are you an antique collector or do you like visiting auctions?
Bill:  Actually, I really know nothing about antiques. Or knew, anyway, before this book. The idea of using an antique shop seemed like a great synchronicity when I was putting together the outline, but when it came time to write those scenes, I realized, like the monsters, I didn't want to fake it here. That said, my research was entirely armchair-based (with the occasional splash of Antiques Roadshow, if I'm honest), so genuine antique dealers may well have issue with certain things.

TSK TSK:  Do you listen to music when you write or have a certain routine that you must follow?
Bill:  Music is very often an integral part of my writing. The exact music can vary, but I usually work well with moody movie scores (soundtracks can be good, but music with words can sometimes get in my way) like most of Hans Zimmer's work, played on loop. For high energy fight scenes, on the other hand, I often use a single song (Marc Broussard's "Home", for example), but also played on loop.
Thankfully, I have a space above the garage for my writing, so my wife and daughter are spared  the repetition.

TSK TSK:  What can we look forward to in book 2?
Bill:  Darker. Faster. Wilder. More terrifying and more personal. And, of course, more Umber.
To be honest, this is not the story I thought I was going to write. When I finished NGD, I thought I had a good setup for a long-term, episodic kind of series, but when I started thinking seriously about Hell Hath No Fury, the only storyline that worked, the only one that made sense, was one that took me completely by surprise and pushed things far ahead of what I'd intended.
Looking back, it was certainly the correct choice, but it wasn't easy.

TSK TSK:  What do you do for fun or any hobbies?
Bill:  I'm a homebody by nature (code for lazy), and I love puttering in the yard or around the house with my wife (and now our daughter!), but I need exercise and last year I participated in a couple mini-triathlons and a 100-mile bike trek, which were a lot of fun. I'm also (slowly) learning piano, and teaching myself French so our little girl will be bilingual (my wife already speaks it).

On to the Reviews...

Shelley's Review
Wow! What a roller coaster ride. No Good Deed starts off with Kelly struggling to keep it together as she loses her job to downsizing and fights to find a way to help support her family and regain her sick husband's health. Despite these struggles, Kelly has a family life most people would envy...loving and supportive husband,  sweet, happy and healthy kids--inspite of the occasional daredevil stunt or horseplay--all is well in her world. Except for Shawn's declining health and their now lack of a second income and health insurance.
An out of the ordinary and unbelievable circumstance finds her at a antiques shop, where she quickly discovers nothing is as it seems, all things are possibly and damn...the money is good. But it comes with a price and sacrifice. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Kelly is thrust into a world she never considered existed and she finds herself part of team fighting evil. Demons to be exact. But what are they fighting for? Where do these creatures come from? And...who are they really working for? Well, Kelly finds a few of her answers through sweat and tears and a lot of research. Still, she has a questions and concerns about what she's gotten herself...and her family into. She has to keep her real position a secret from everyone, including her husband--which of course brings on its own bag of guilt, yet she can't turn away from the opportunity to do everything she can to help her family and maybe do some good in the world.
But like I said, not all is as it seems. As Kelly gets more confident in her strengths and her position on the team, new circumstances and questions arise, leaving her more confused about her choices, her own actions and what her boss, Mr. Larocque and his team are really all about. The fact that most of this story centers around what hides beyond the guise of an antique perfect a front is that...makes for an intriguing and entertaining leap into the unknown.
This story packs action, emotion and a whole mess of terrifying creatures into a whirlwind of a tale. We ride along with Kelly and feel her fear, her confusion and her need to protect those she loves. She has to make decisions we all hope we never have to make, quickly, and then deal with the fallout. And boy is there fallout...and regret and more guilt. But Kelly really has no time for that. She's got more to learn, strength to gain and a world to save.
No Good Deed is full of the horror we love, unexpected characters and twists that even in the end, leaves us wondering where the story will go Kelly and her family will survive...will she continue with her team...and just who is this Umber that she has an unexplained connection to.
Blais gives us a heartfelt and brave look into the frightening world of demons, with a few lessons along the way. Dark, suspenseful and rich with description and knowledge of demonology--this is a tale told like no other. The fact that Kelly and her family are so lovable makes it a joy to follow her onto the darkness. And I'm anxious to continue her journey and find out what lies ahead and what role the mysterious Umber has to play in Kelly's future. If you like horror and suspense, No Good Deed is worth a look...but don't look too hard, what you find might just scare the hell out you...

Kathryn's Review
When I started No Good Deed, I wasn't really sure where it was headed.  I knew that it was centered around Kelly and how she had a normal life with struggles like anyone else, but just like real life, everything can change in the blink of an eye...Just like the title..No Good Deed goes unnoticed here....
And you are probably wondering what this change is that I speak of could be? Well, lo and behold, Kelly is introduced to the world of paranormal and a group of people that are contracted to round up these specific creatures.  
What makes this story so interesting is that you are living Kelly's life with her. Dealing with the everyday struggles that a person faces when making these tough decisions.  Does she tell her family what she is doing?  Does she keep doing it because she may ultimately die and abandon her family?  And you know what else is tough about this, she has a wonderful family.  But, the lure of a salary that can take care of her husband with his extensive medical bills makes the decision up for her.  
So, we follow Kelly through training, tutoring on the demons that she will encounter, and even on assignments that she has been thrust upon, all the while thinking that she is settling in to this new career...
Well, in walks a surprise character that now throws a wrench in to all that Kelly has learned.  Does she believe this person?  What will happen on her next assignment if she isn't sure about herself?  
These questions are all answered with an ending that I didn't see coming.  With suspense, mystery, action, and an interesting cast of characters, No Good Deed is a book that you will want to pick up and read today!!

We both give No Good Deed:



Want to get more....

Purchase the book on Amazon and Smashwords.

What did y'all think? Great guy, right?! We think so. And we hope we've enticed you to check out this first book in the Kelly and Umber series.
We want to thank Bill and Annabell of Illuminated tours, for asking us to take part in the tour. We appreciated and enjoyed getting to know Kelly and her team and look forward to finding out what happens in book two.
Thanks for stopping by!
Kathryn and Shelley
Tour Set Up By Illuminated Tours

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