HOLD ON! by Peter Darley-Review, Interview and Giveaway with the Author
Hold On !
by Peter Darley
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Genre: mystery, suspense, action,romance
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 7, 2014
Two lovers! A deadly conspiracy! A race to freedom!
When Carringby Industries, a government-contracted arms manufacturer, is raided by what appear to be terrorists, the CEO’s secretary, Belinda Reese, is rescued by Brandon Drake, a dashing young AWOL soldier. Using an experimental test aircraft, he flees with her to his remote, isolated cabin in the mountains of Aspen.
While assisting in the design of military weaponry, Brandon discovered a plot within his own government to attack its own facilities, under the guidance of immoral politician, Senator Garrison Treadwell. Belinda’s body was not found among the dead at Carringby Industries, and Treadwell suspects that Drake was responsible for rescuing her. In an effort to entrap him, Treadwell arranges for an all points bulletin to be placed on Belinda
Deeply in love, Brandon and Belinda attempt to escape from America, only to endure one harrowing experience after another as they try to evade and expose Treadwell’s corrupt faction.
But on the run, with danger around every corner, Brandon makes a discovery so devastating that it shatters the very foundations of his reality.
REVIEW: HOLD ON is the first instalment in Peter Darley’s action, suspense series focusing on former solider Brandon Drake and secretary Belinda Reese.
The premise of the storyline finds Belinda and Brandon on the run. Brandon has been targeted for destruction by the very people with whom he has worked; and Belinda has been charged as an accomplice in what appears to be a home grown terrorist cell. What ensues is a cross -country trek for two people running for their lives as a government conspiracy threatens to take everyone down.
HOLD ON is first and foremost a story of suspense. The writing style is simple as the reader is pulled into a roller coaster of what ifs and whys: there are so many sub plots and organizations involved in the search and destroy mission that at times I wasn’t sure if they were all working towards a common goal-take down Brandon Drake-at all costs. There is mystery, action, murder, abduction, threats, torture and romance. And speaking of romance, the relationship between Belinda and Brandon is quick to build-from a high flying rescue to lovers, it is only a matter of hours to a few days where we find our leading couple discovering a little more about one another while being pursued by the government’s best (and worst).
There are numerous secondary characters that play an integral part in the hunt for Brandon Drake-from former platoon buddies to CIA operatives to Special Forces, everyone and every department is dirty in one way or another. No one will come away clean and unscathed. As the mystery builds so too does the amount of background information and history behind Brandon Drake and the secrets, of which, the military is willing to kill.
Overall HOLD ON is an interesting and imaginative storyline but one that was slow to build. Most of the action takes place in the second half of the story where the writing is more descriptive, spirited and passionate in nature than the earlier text. As this is the first book in the series, HOLD ON ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Peter and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of HOLD ON!.
Peter: “Hi Sandy, and thank you for having me on the blog. ☺”
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Peter: “My background is in showbusiness. I was an actor for many years, and I’ve appeared in several UK television productions. I also worked frequently as a model, presenter, and I appeared in a number of TV commercials. When the recession hit, work dried up, so I diversified into variety entertainment, and became an agent for a number of acts for awhile.
The need for a more stable career pushed me into law school in 2004. I graduated with honors in 2007, but I had decided by then that the law was definitely not a career I could ever be happy with. That’s when I started writing, and spent the next few years developing my style, writing my first novel, and then I endured a harrowing two year journey towards publication.”
TRC: HOLD ON! is your July 2014 release – an action, suspense storyline focusing on soldier Brandon Drake and Belinda Reese. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Peter: “Certainly. From the outset, Hold On! was a book made up of nail-biting cliffhangers. I recognized the power and compelling, page-turning nature of the cliffhanger when I saw the TV shows Prison Break and 24. Nevertheless, statistics show that 80% of novel readers are ladies. As such, I incorporated the action and suspense into a burgeoning romance between my two lead characters, which, I feel, brought a powerful and emotional component to the narrative.
I introduced my leading lady, Belinda, as an ‘everywoman’ whom millions of people would be able to relate to. In the first few pages of chapter one, she is a corporate secretary whose life is stuck in a rut. She works to survive, but she’s bored and uninspired. Her eyes are always on the clock wanting the day to come to an end so that she can go home. (How many people can relate to that?) I took this concept from the undeniable fact that ‘winning the lottery’ has so much social appeal. This was important in order that my readers would empathize with Belinda, thereby causing what comes next to have a powerful impact. I hoped that it would help the readers to put themselves in Belinda’s place.
On page 6 – all hell breaks loose! After what appears to be a terrorist attack, Belinda fears for her life and attempts to escape, only to find herself trapped by smoke and flame. By now it isn’t just Belinda who’s going through this. It’s the reader too.
But, just when all hope seems to be lost, she is rescued by a mysterious stranger wearing a smoke-proof helmet, and fire-resistant armor. This is our hero, Brandon Drake, who flees with her to his secret cabin in the mountains of Aspen.
This concept is a compelling classic that I have always passionately adored. My all-time favourite movie scene is the helicopter emergency scene in Superman – The Movie with Christopher Reeve, where he opens his shirt for the first time and takes off to rescue Lois Lane. It brings me to tears with awe every time I see it. In Hold On! it’s ‘The Princess in the Tower’ brought into a modern, culturally-relevant setting, but as you go through the pages, you will find that I’ve given it a number of new and unique twists.
After dealing with their own issues of trust, Brandon and Belinda learn more about one another, and fall in love. Brandon finally explains to her who he is, what the attack was all about, and how he went AWOL from a government weapons-testing operation in order to thwart the conspiracy responsible. They finally leave the cabin in an attempt to escape from America – only to be met with one cliffhanger after another, devastating revelations, and a relentless fight for their mutual survival.”
TRC: Who or what was the inspiration behind the leading characters of HOLD ON!?
Peter: “I think that Brandon is an amalgamation of a number of fictional and real-life characters that I have admired or encountered. There’s certainly a lot of me in him (lol.) I’ve always been an incurable rebel with a resentment for authority (rightly or wrongly) – hence why I’ve always insisted on being self-employed. I don’t think many of us have been able to avoid the experience of driving our cars, perfectly within the speed limit, then spotting a police car and our hearts coming into our throats – even though we weren’t doing anything wrong. It’s certainly not a pleasant feeling, and it immediately creates a moment of resentment beyond our own conscious control. For me, Hold On! arises from my personal obsession with freedom, and this is the part of the human psyche that I wanted to tap into.
However, I was also aware that the most compelling characters are ones that are flawed and/or tormented in some way. Brandon has a side to him that even he can’t come to terms with. I can’t say too much about it because spoilers abound; suffice to say that I adopted what I considered would be one of the most horrifying discoveries any human being could (hypothetically) make about themselves.”
TRC: Are any of the storyline plot points taken from reality?
Peter: “I think that depends on one’s perspective. Corruption in government is always on the six o’ clock news. But the idea of the ‘powers that be’ initiating hoax terrorist attacks against their own nation was based on some of the more popular 9/11 conspiracy theories. Given the high numbers of demonstrable refutations, and the overwhelming lack of evidence for such claims, I have to say that I cannot bring myself to believe a word of them. Fiction, for me, therefore, was the perfect media for the concept. Additionally, I have never found another concept which offers up so many opportunities for cliffhangers. Aside from a handful of emotional and philosophical points raised in the book, Hold On! is, first and foremost, a literary roller-coaster ride, which exists to satisfy the prerequisite of all fiction – entertainment.”
TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters of HOLD ON!, which actors or models would best represent your ideal image?
Peter: “Great question! From my earliest reviews of Hold On! the most frequent comment I received was that it would make a terrific TV series. This even found its way onto the cover as its tag line: “The TV Thriller Series You Can Only Read.”
Brandon Drake has never been anyone other than Australian actor, Chris Hemsworth (Thor.) His was the face I had in mind from the moment Brandon first removed his helmet. He’s absolutely perfect for the role.
In the beginning, I had no specific image for Belinda in mind. Generally speaking, however, she had dark hair and was very attractive.
And then I came to the end of watching the TV series, Spartacus: War of the Damned. Actress Jenna Lind (also Australian by coincidence) played a Roman slave named Kore. In a shocking addition to the otherwise-historically-accurate ending, Kore was crucified with the defeated slave warriors. When I saw this, I was mortified, and thought: “I’m not having that! There’s a beautiful lady in need of rescue, and I’ve got just the man for the job.”
Jenna Lind looked as much like Belinda as anyone could. Since then, she has been my leading lady. ☺”
TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular series?
Peter: “The most difficult aspect to writing Hold On! is that I wanted it to be authentic ‘American’. You can’t write a fugitive-type story like this and set it in England. There is simply nowhere to run. It would have come to an end by chapter two. This led to a potentially-fatal problem – so many words are spelled differently in America, and many common expressions in England are unknown in the US. For example, would an American know that a flash drive (that little computer information storing device) is called a ‘pen’ drive in England? It’s almost like a different language on occasion. These are issues that one cannot research, because to research them, you first have to know that there’s an issue with a particular word or expression to begin with. You either know it, or you don’t. For this, I have my dear American author friends, Anne B. Cole, Rafeeq McGiveron, and my editor, Garrett Marco, to thank for getting me out of trouble with these issues.”
TRC: What do you have planned for the next instalment in the series? Release date? Premise?
Peter: “The sequel to Hold On! entitled Go! – Hold On! Season 2, has been signed, and is due for release sometime early next year. I can’t say too much about the premise at this stage because it would be virtually impossible to avoid spoiling the ending of Hold On! I’ve had the video trailer for Go! in my hard drive for months, but we can’t release it yet. It’s very frustrating. The ending of Hold On! is revealed in the very first text caption of the Go! trailer.
However, Go! has been received, from my friends who have read it, with such high acclaim that it stunned me. I didn’t think that I could pull it off a second time, but my reviews so far have been that Go! is actually superior to Hold On!
I am extremely confident that Go! will provide my readers with even more nail-biting suspense, and a chance to share the journey of a fallen hero as he struggles to restore himself to his former greatness, along with an exploration of the meaning of ‘family.’ And, of course, it ends leaving you with a gnawing desire to find out – what happens next? ☺”
TRC: Did you face any difficulties getting your series to publication?
Peter: “Boy, did I! I implore all authors reading this NOT to let it dissuade you. What happened to me was extraordinary, and was not representative of the norm. (This story is also featured on my website.)
When you are an unknown writer with no author platform whatsoever, you will seriously have your work cut out for you. Hold On! has a history steeped in as many cliffhangers as there are in the story. After receiving an initial 60 rejections from publishers and literary agents, I engaged the assistance of my dear friend, former New York Times bestselling literary agent, Mark Malatesta. Whilst my original query letter contained some desirable factors, it lacked a few technical details, which Mark helped me to correct.
Soon afterwards, Hold On! attracted the interest of a literary agent in Florida, who told me that it would take her five to six months to get to it. However, she was very understanding, and encouraged me to try to find a publisher in the meantime. If I was successful, she asked only that I let her know. A few weeks later, a publisher in Michigan literally pleaded with me for Hold On!. Having a ‘bird in the hand’, I let them have it.
Almost a year later, the publisher folded – a week before Hold On! was due to go to press. I immediately contacted the literary agent in Florida again, only to discover that she had now retired.
A week later it was tentatively picked up by Writer’s Coffee Shop in Australia (the publishers who first published Fifty Shades of Grey.) We worked together on the project for four months, during which time some key plot lines were removed from the manuscript. And then suddenly – silence. There had been no contention between me and Writer’s Coffee Shop. No disagreements. No arguments. Nothing! They simply ignored all of my emails, and with no explanation.
Last October (2013), after picking up a total of 130 rejections, and three failed acceptances, Hold On! was snapped up by Soul Mate Publishing. It had finally ended its two year journey from Central England, to Florida, to Michigan, to Australia, to ultimately land in New York.”
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Peter: “Another terrific question. I can only speak for myself, but I always begin with a basic premise. Beyond that, I really don’t know where the story is going. As I begin to write, one idea after another comes to me, and the book literally writes itself. So the answer is – the characters (or story) direct the writing.
Having said that, I know more about what’s going to happen in the third instalment than I did when I started the first and second. This time, I even know how it ends (if my publisher permits me to do what I want to do with it.)”
The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?
“I will say this: you cannot convey emotion unless you’ve felt it yourself. I have a slight advantage over many writers in this respect by virtue of my former career as an actor. We studied emotions and character development to the extent that we were assigned with the exhausting task of dredging up all manner of harrowing episodes from our pasts, until the class was literally filled with sobbing wrecks.
The secret is to look inside yourself, draw upon your life experiences, and try to recall, as clearly as you can, what you were actually feeling at any given point in your life, and then transcribe those feelings into words. Often you may find you are writing a scene which neither you, nor anybody else, could possibly identify with. Nevertheless, there will always be a common denominator.
Here’s an extreme example – let’s say, hypothetically, you have a character who’s just discovered that the world is going to end in seven day’s time. Nobody you know could possibly identify with horror such as that. But what feelings would that cause in you? I would imagine a sense of panic. Urgency. Desperation. Absolute terror. When have you felt such emotions in the past? What went through your mind during those occasions? What were the physical manifestations that it put you through? (A pounding heart. An inability to think straight. Shivering and shaking uncontrollably, etc.)
Once you have those descriptions, you write them down and give them to your character.
Be mindful also of what genre you are writing in. If you are writing a genre romance, you can probably afford to labor emotions more than you could in a thriller, because emotion is the primary raison d’être of the romance genre. However, thrillers today are required to be fast-paced, and while emotion is an important component of thriller characters, you cannot afford to labor the emotional aspect to the point that it slows the pace. Just inform the reader of the character’s emotional state with a reasonable degree of description, put them in the picture, and move on. Don’t be repetitive and waste time on that which is unnecessary.”
TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?
Peter: “I can’t say that I’ve experienced this yet. As I mentioned earlier, I won’t have a clue what’s going to happen next, so I start writing just so that I can find out (lol.) It’s the weirdest feeling in the world. I’m on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next – and yet I’m the one who’s made the whole thing up! I’m the only one who can come up with the answer, but at the beginning, I simply don’t know. My books literally write themselves. Even when I have a clear plan for a chapter, some of the coolest, hitherto-unknown ideas come to me while I’m actually writing it.
I have found that rushing through a manuscript will not yield the best results. Giving myself time for those golden ideas just ‘pop in there’ produces the most hair-raising storylines. Let the process breathe. I can’t sit down and rationally plan a storyline. That usually leads to some fairly boring and sterile ideas because I’m using the intellectual/academic side of my brain rather than the creative. It’s the ideas that involuntarily pop into my head that get the finest reactions.
And one more thing: don’t try to write when you are under the spell of depression. Draw on the experience afterwards if you need to (if depression is relevant to your story), when you have a clearer head. But during an attack of depression, everything about you will be drained, and all you will see on the screen before you is an empty page. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself the right to be human.”
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Peter: “Honestly, I swear on my life – absolutely nobody. I work alone. It’s my gig. Once a first draft has been completed, I will then pass it around to my friends, and I take on board what they say with regards to statements or matters of demonstrable error – such as American spelling, geography, or politics. I have had publishers ask me to remove certain plot lines and add in new ones, but these were people who were never destined to play any part in me getting published. Another publisher would tell me to restore what the previous publisher told me to remove, but to change the ending. And so it went on . . . (This actually spawned the ‘deleted scenes’ page on my website. I love my original plotlines, and the deleted scenes page was my way of keeping them alive.)
Publishers can’t ALL be right. They can, however, ALL be wrong. YOU are the ultimate authority on YOUR creation. That’s my opinion, and I have yet to be shown any evidence to the contrary. If I was to ever encounter a unanimous objection to a storyline, then I would listen. But a singular, subjective viewpoint carries even less weight than mine, since I’m the one who created the concept in the first place. It’s a delicate balance between deciphering constructive criticism, from someone who wants you to write their book rather than yours.”
TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
Peter: “My ultimate aim is to hear the four words that would completely change my life:
“Previously, on Hold On!”
I think that covers all bases – and I’ve already made a little headway in trying to make it come to pass.
Oh, and I would love it if my deleted scenes created a cult following. Vindication is the greatest feeling in the world. ☺”
I can’t think of a third agenda relevant to this. Once you have the highest possible achievement in your sights, no lower ambition is noteworthy, really.
TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?
Peter: “I’ve always been very open, extremely outspoken, and pragmatic, but I don’t broadcast the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, simply because it’s rarely relevant. It’s not a big issue for me, really. I can assimilate myself among people very successfully. I very much doubt that you would ever know, and I say that based on my wealth of social experience.”
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Peter: “Run! – Hold On! Season 3.”
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Peter: “I hope that anybody who reads Hold On! enjoys it, and that it captures their imagination. I would also like to convey my very best wishes to everybody reading this, and I hope that all of my brother and sister writers achieve the success that they all surely deserve.”
Favorite Food – Chinese crispy shredded chicken with fries.
Favorite Dessert – Chocolate cake.
Favorite TV Show – The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982.) Factual statistic: its largest audience was actually adult females.
Last Movie You Saw – Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Only I could get away with admitting that.☺)
Favorite Musical Group – Abba
Dark or Milk Chocolate – Both
Secret Celebrity Crush – Um . . . don’t have one. (Gawd, I must be getting older. ☹)
Last Vacation Destination – Isle of Wight.
Do you have any pets? – Two cats, Poppy and Snooky. A few months ago, a little black and white cat, barely more than a kitten, came to my door. He’d been abandoned and dumped out in the street. He was still wearing his ID collar, but his previous owners had ripped off his ID tag. He was hungry, scared, and alone. I’ll never know where he originally came from, but he’d been out on the streets for some time, because he’d stopped grooming himself. He came to me in the same way that Brandon’s bear cub came to him at the back of the cabin in Hold On! For that reason, I gave this little cat the same name as the bear cub – Snooky. You’ll all be happy to know that he’s very happy, extremely playful, and well-cared-for now. He follows me everywhere I go. ☺
Pet Peeve – Traffic jams.
TRC: Thank you Peter for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best.
Peter: “Thank you, Sandy. It’s been an honor.”
Peter is graciously offering an ecopy of his novel HOLD ON ! to one lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.
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