Monday, January 02, 2012

Holy cow! Now I want to follow up on the last answer. What a cliffhanger! (Indie Book Review)

Today, I take a break from posting the Best of 2011 and give you 10 1/2 Questions with authors Erin O'Riordan and Tit Elingtin:

A few years back, Sweetie and I subscribed to our local paper because, as I put it "I'm afraid if I don't they'll put a mall in across the street from us and I'll be the last to know."

Turns out that fear is very real - -and in Eminent Domain, potentially fatal. After Jeff and Kendra get a potential dream house at a bargain basement price, their plans to fix it up and live the good life get hijacked by local government. At first only an annoyance, the local pols harass Jeff and make his life more difficult as he restores his house, builds his business, and deals with in-law troubles. But when the city unveils plans to turn Jeff and Kendra's home into part of an ongoing riverwalk project, Jeff's anger boils over.

Eminent Domain begins with one of the more chilling action/revenge sequences I've ever read before backtracking to show just how things got this bad... and it's based on a true story, as authors O'Riordan and Elingtin detail in discussing in some notes in the book a U.S. Supreme Court precedent that lets private developers use the government's power of condemnation for profit. I loved this book -- although it's outside of my usual genre, I found it compelling and well-written -- and recommend it to people who like their legal and revenge dramas populated by believable characters.

I sent my usual 10 1/2 questions to Erin and Tit, who are a husband-and-wife team of amazingly prolific writers-- and it turns out the story is more than just fiction.

Here's their responses:

About The Book:

1. In Eminent Domain, the chief conflict is between a man and his local government over property rights, but the main character, Jeff, seems to have conflicts with lots of other people who fall short of his ideals. Did you make a conscious effort to shape Jeff as a sort of roughneck idealist (my words?) Or did it just work out that way?

It’s the natural of my co-author, Mr. Tit Elingtin. “Roughneck idealist” is a good way to describe him. It just bled into the character.

2. The details of this story amazed me, from the discussion of the plans the town has that require (?) condemnation to the attention you pay to the backstories of the other characters. These really flesh out the story and add to the realism. How much of those details do you plan in advance, and how much is more spur-of-the-moment window dressing?

Many of the details come from life experience. We took personal experience and crafted the story from real situations. In reality, the city we live in wants to take our home. The writing of this book was a cathartic way to deal with the emotions and anxiety we have been put through by our local government. The backstory with “Lex,” in reality, was done to us by a family member.

3. One concern I had -- I'll word this carefully because I don't want to spoil the book-- was that Jeff's decision concerning the legal route he could take to challenge the city. While his decision was in keeping with his character, I felt Jeff should have made a different decision to justify his later actions. Did you have a reason for Jeff making the choice he did?

In real life, the legal route would be our choice. Within the fictional world, we wanted to go to the extreme to show the consequences of what government meddling could do in someone’s personal life. We wanted the character to just be “fed up,” with no hope. In real life, we have a tremendous amount of hope, and we will prevail if we ever go to court.

About You:

4. You wrote this book with your husband, Tit Elingtin. How do the two of you divide up the writing duties?

I get the foundation down. The book started out at 80,000 words, all of which I banged out myself, and then we edited it together to refine it. Together, we edited it 8 times, and we’re currently going through a ninth (and hopefully final) edit to be re-released February 2012.

Tit’s contribution was the whole first chapter, and he’s the killer of adverbs. He takes a paragraph and turns it into just a few words to keep the reader moving. I compare him to Ernest Hemingway.

5. Most of your writing falls in the "erotic fiction" genre, making this somewhat of a departure for you. What made you decide to write about the issue of public taking of private property?

Our personal experience with our local government – Tit is so passionate about our home, he was obsessed with what to do, and this was the best way for him to work through his emotional struggles.

6. You told the "Whipped Cream" interviewer back in 2010 that your most embarrassing moment was accidentally giving a character two different names in a book, and having that error survive all the way through publication. Is that still your most embarrassing moment?

Heavens above, I hope so.

Things I Just Feel Like Asking

7. If you could have a movie made about your life, what song would play over the opening credits?

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child

8. 3D movies seem to mostly show they're 3D by having objects thrown directly at the camera. How would you improve 3D movies?

Tit’s answer is, “Instead of 3D glasses, 3D contact lenses.”

I’m thinking Smellovision.

9. Regardless of what flavor they might actually be in real life, what flavor do you feel white jellybeans SHOULD be. (For purposes of this question, "Pina Colada" and "Coconut" are not allowed as answers.)


The Impossible Question:

10. The ‘Taos Hum’ is a low-pitched sound heard in numerous places worldwide, especially in the USA, UK, and northern Europe. It is usually heard only in quiet environments, and is often described as sounding like a distant diesel engine. Since it has proven indetectable by microphones or VLF antennae, its source and nature is still a mystery.

In 1997 Congress directed scientists and observers from some of the most prestigious research institutes in the nation to look into a strange low frequency noise heard by residents in and around the small town of Taos, New Mexico. For years those who had heard the noise, often described by them as a “hum”, had been looking for answers. To this day no one knows the cause of the hum.

What do you think is causing the "Taos Hum"?

Tit says, “I suspect it may be the sound of a long-distant train, somehow amplified by the atmosphere. Their geographic location may be the spot off which the sound waves reflect. I would use the example of architecture that allows someone to be on one side of a room, 100 feet away from someone on the other side of the room whispering, and still be able to hear him or her."
And the half-question: finish, then answer, this question:

11. Neil Armstrong famously said "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," but what most people...

…claim were humankind’s first steps on the moon were not. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. Has the human race been to the moon before? We say yes.

Eminent Domain is available on Amazon for $13.97;

it's also available as an e-reader download. Click here for more works by Erin O'Riordan.


Interested in government? Not really, you say? That's probably because you never read Publicus Proventus, the best politics blog around. Check it out today!


Erin O'Riordan said...

Thank you for the wonderful review and the chance to be interviewed, Briane!

Tit Elingtin said...

Thanks for the great words. I'm grinning from ear to ear. We are almost done with the (hopefully) final rewrite and should have it up by February 1, 2012. It's even better.

Andrew Leon said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I'll add it to my growing list. Of course, that hardly makes it any more liekly to be read within the next year than if it wasn't on the list, at this point.

Rusty Webb said...

I find it interesting that my personal experience with Taos Hum most often occurs in the hours and days after a rock concert.

I love these 10 and a half questions. You should do them every day.