Ashes by Kelly Cozy-A Review and Interview with the Author
ABOUT THE BOOK: Released March 2013
Anonymous. That was Jennifer’s life. But when she survived a domestic terrorist attack and her last-minute escape became the iconic image of the event, that life was over. Wanting only to disappear and become just another face in the crowd, she cashed in on her unwanted fame and moved to a small town, hidden away and safe.
Retired. That was Sean’s life. A former covert operative – the kind the government denies exists – he’d been pushed unwillingly into a life of suburban peace and quiet. But his retirement ended when he saw Jennifer’s rescue; from then on he only wanted to find those responsible for the attack, even if it meant turning rogue.
What Jennifer and Sean will both find is that nothing goes to plan, and their paths will cross in a way neither could have foreseen.
Ashes is the first in a two-book suspense series
REVIEW: HOLY SMOKES! Ashes by Kelly Cozy had me glued by the first few pages! This has been the most suspenseful story that I have read in a long time. The story begins with Jennifer Thomson going to work on a typical work day in Los Angeles, talking with her co-workers and making her way to the copy room to make copies. Then her building explodes. She has to fight her way through death, destruction and a collapsing building to get out. She walks past co-workers that she had just spoke with that are now dead. She was the only survivor in her department. Unbeknownst to her, the image of her being carried out by the firefighter was splashed across the nation, making her an instant hero.
All the way across the states in Florida, Sean Kincaid watched the catastrophe unfold as millions of Americans did that day. He was an early retiree, living in Florida, living a low key life, trying to blend in and not be noticed. He was a former covert operative, he performed secret missions and caused plenty of death and destruction of his own. Watching this news unfold wasn’t a big deal for him until he saw Jennifer emerge on the tv screen amidst all the dust and debris. This woman touched something inside of him and he had to help her.
Now, this is where I thought the story would be about how Sean travels to find Jennifer and help her heal and they fall madly in love…..you know, typical romance stuff. Nope. Not in this book. What unfolds is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while. Sean decides he must find the persons responsible for this attack and bring them to Jennifer so she can serve up her own type of revenge. Using his skills that he learned in his former job, he begins his journey of investigating and tracking down who committed this crime. Meanwhile Jennifer struggles with returning back to a normal existence. She decides to relocate to a small town where hopefully no one would know who she is and begin a new life. It takes her a very long time, but she begins to function and make a happy life for herself. But just when she begins realizing how happy she is, Sean barges into her life, declaring how he has captured the person responsible for the bombing and presents the person to Jennifer to seek her revenge.
Keep in mind, Jennifer never knew Sean or that he was going to do this, so she’s terrified, shocked, scared….. you name it, she’s feeling it. So here she is, looking at the bomber, the person who altered her life forever. Sean has given her a gun and tells her do whatever she wants. Oh what to do???? What to do????? She makes a choice. And guess what? That is where the book ends. NOOOOOOOOO! What happened? What did Jennifer do? I have no idea! OMG, it was the best cliffhanger EVER! I was reading this on my e-reader, I swear I turned the e-reader over, looking for more pages. The last sentence says “The story continues in Reckoning.” Well, I do believe I will be reading Reckoning very soon. People, read this book. I was very brief on my descriptions because I didn’t want to give too much away. There is so much that happens within those pages and my review would never do the book justice. READ IT!
Copy supplied by the author
Reviewed by Tricia
TRC: Hi Kelly and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of your new novel ASHES.
We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Kelly: I’ve been in love with books literally since I was a baby. When I was a toddler I wouldn’t nap, so my Mom would put me in the crib with a few books, and I’d be perfectly happy for a good hour. I wrote my first short story when I was 9, and I’ve been writing ever since. Ashes is my second novel. My debut novel, The Day After Yesterday, is contemporary/women’s fiction.
I’m married with one child, and live in California. I love to cook, and my favorite time of year is the fall and winter holidays, when I can make big meals for my family and friends.
I’m also more than a bit of a nerd – I write movie reviews for the Horrorview.com site, and I’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con later this month.
TRC: ASHES is your March 2013 release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Kelly: In the opening chapter a Los Angeles federal building is bombed, and Jennifer Thomson, a young woman who works as an admin, is the last person to make it out of the building before it collapses. The whole world is watching her last-minute escape, and this makes her into the icon of the event. Jennifer’s life is overturned not just by the trauma of the attack, but by survivor guilt and her unwelcome celebrity, so she moves to a small town in British Columbia to start life over.
One of the people watching her escape from the building is Sean Kincaid, a former covert government operative who’s been in unhappy retirement for the past few years. Jennifer’s plight moves him and, when his request to rejoin his agency is denied, he decides to go rogue and not just find those who perpetrated the bombing, but to bring them to Jennifer so she can mete out justice personally.
TRC: Are any of the characters or situations in the storyline based in reality or an amalgamation of your imagination and current headlines?
Kelly: The federal building attack had its inspiration in events like Oklahoma City and 9/11. I didn’t want to write about those incidents specifically, but about the effect an event like those (or any catastrophic event, like a natural disaster) could have on a survivor, particularly in this era when the media is so ever-present and intrusive.
TRC: There is a second storyline planned for ASHES and your leading characters. Would you like to tell us something about the premise?
Kelly: The second book is titled Reckoning. Without spoiling things for those who haven’t read Ashes yet, by the end of Ashes Sean has done some things he’s remorseful for. He’s looking to make amends, while other characters – some we’ve met in Ashes, and some new to the story – are bent on revenge, or on manipulating the situation to a personal agenda. It’s very much about the ripple effect of Sean’s actions in Ashes. For me, Reckoning is probably the most enjoyable of my books in terms of storytelling. I’m looking forward to publishing it this November (in print and ebook).
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Kelly: I usually start a book with the major characters and the basic storyline, including the ending, in mind. But as I write and develop the story, I also learn more about the characters. There ends up being a balance between me moving the characters into situations, and the characters telling me how they deal with those situations. If a character “tells” me that he or she wouldn’t react a certain way or do a particular action, I respect that. Above all, I believe in being true to the characters, and if a storyline would require a character to behave out-of-character, I change the storyline.
TRC: What challenges or difficulties (historical, research, logistics) did you encounter writing this particular story/series?
Kelly: I don’t usually write outlines, but this book necessitated an outline because of the alternating chapters between Jennifer and Sean. I wanted their story and character arcs to parallel and mirror each other. I also had to ensure that the timeline of the story worked, as it was necessary for Jennifer to have reached a certain point in her life before Sean finally entered it.
In terms of research, because the group responsible for the attack is a domestic terrorist group, I had to do a fair amount of reading about these groups – their objectives, their structures, their goals. That was a bit unsettling, to say the least.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Kelly: I have a group of friends and fellow authors I refer to as my Constant Reader Brigade. They read my manuscripts and give me their feedback. What makes this group so invaluable is that each person brings their own perspective: one is very detail-oriented and finds little errors, another gives me feedback on how well the story flows. And they’re not afraid to tell me when something doesn’t work.
TRC: How do you keep the plot unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?
Kelly: How well a plot works is always very difficult for me to assess, because I know where it’s heading. I try to see the situation through my characters’ eyes, because that’s the perspective the reader will get. Also, I rely on my Constant Reader Brigade to tell me if the foreshadowing works, if something that was supposed to be a surprise is a surprise, and if it all works. If the majority of the Brigade members say, “I’m not buying that,” I go back and rewrite.
TRC: How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of deadlines while still having time to raise a family?
Kelly: Having a schedule helps. If I know that Monday is my evening to work on a current project, it helps me get into the zone. I also give myself time to just relax – the beauty of being a writer is that the work is fun, but it is still work. Oh, and having lots of coffee on hand helps, too.
TRC: What are your thoughts on book reviews-good or bad?
Kelly: Reviews can tell you what about your story works, and what doesn’t. Bad reviews can be difficult to read, but it’s important to read them and see if the criticisms can make your future writing stronger.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Kelly: In addition to getting the Ashes sequel ready for publication, I’m working on a book of movie reviews (mostly genre films). I’m also laying the groundwork on research for a historical novel.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Kelly: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work! And I hope people enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.
Seafood, especially shrimp
Anything involving chocolate
Favorite TV Show
Tie between Castle and Game of Thrones
Last Movie You Saw
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Last Vacation Destination
The Outer Banks in North Carolina
Staring at a shelf full of books and not finding anything I want to read
TRC: Thank you Kelly for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of ASHES and we wish you all the best.