By Alison Caiola
I invited author Alison Caiola to answer some interview questions, and am extremely happy to offer you this insight into her writing. Thank you for joining us today, Alison.
The Silver Cord is Book Two in The Lily Lockwood Series and takes place two years after Book One, The Seeds of a Daisy, ends. Popular actress, Lily Lockwood, is still reeling from her mother’s tragic car crash, but as the readers will see, Lily, now a mother, has grown immensely. She no longer is the same dependent young woman she was in The Seeds of a Daisy. Surrounded by her supportive and hilarious group of friends she is moving forward in her life; she appears self-confident, is a terrific mom, and, her career is on a bullet-speed trajectory. No one would guess that Lily is wracked with bouts of self-doubt and anxiety. She is also heartbroken that she has not heard from Robbie Rosen, a doctor she fell in love with two years prior, and is in Africa on a medical mission with Doctors Without Borders.
When Lily is informed that Robbie has been abducted by terrorists in Somalia, she must use her influence to gather a group of Ex CIA Agents and Navy SEAL’s, and with Lily in tow, they embark on rescue mission that turns into a heart-stopping race against time. Lily must accept the possibility that they may be too late to save Robbie’s life.
What aspect of writing a novel do you find tough, and which one do you find easy? Why?
I find that at different times each facet of the creative process can be easy or challenging. Some days the words flow as if from a faucet. Then there are those times when the writing process is slow-going and I wonder if I will ever be able to write again. Then the faucet turns on again and I breathe a sigh of relief, and all is good with the world. Editing can be painful at times, but freeing at others. It may sound like a creative roller coaster and that’s because it is!
Did you know how The Silver Cord would end when you started writing?
I gave my son, JD Daniels, who is an actor and author, the first draft that had a totally different ending. One day I heard a resounding NOOOO from the other room when he was done. He thought my ending too harsh and felt it may be off-putting to my loyal readers. After thinking about it long and hard, and speaking to my agent, my closest confidantes, and colleagues, I decided to change the ending. I’m so glad that I did.
How did you choose the setting for The Silver Cord? What kind of research did you have to do? Why did you choose it?
I knew that The Silver Cord would be the book that would have Lily and Robbie, who were separated by unusual circumstances, trying to fight their way back to one another. Whether they succeed or not, well the reader will just have to read it to find out.
The facets of the book about the entertainment industry is an easy write for me, since I have been in that world for so many years. So that part I wrote from my first-hand experience. I have always been intrigued by The CIA and since we have all been affected, one way or another, by the horrors of terrorist activity, I wanted to write about it. I did intense research into Somalia and Mogadishu, where Robbie is on a medical mission, the terrorist group al Qaeda and the off-shoot terrorist group al Shabbab. I also researched and spoke with ex-Navy SEALs to ensure those aspects of the story were genuine and true-to-life.
Who designed your cover art? Why did you go with that particular artwork?
When I was looking to re-do the cover of my first book, The Seeds of a Daisy, I had an idea as to what elements I wanted on the cover but I was not sure how it would lay out or what it should look like. I knew I needed the right artist who I could collaborate with and who had mad skills. I was stumped until I realized that person was right under my nose. Eric Hutchison, a talented artist and my son, J.D., are collaborating on a comic book/graphic novel series. J.D. is authoring it and Eric is creating the art work. I had seen Eric’s work and I was blown away. I approached him with the offer of designing and doing the cover art for the book. We collaborated and I was so impressed by his lack of ego and desire to “get it right.” That cover was amazing and has garnered so many positive comments and reviews, that it was a natural progression to turn to Eric when it was time to design the cover art for The Silver Cord. I knew I wanted these themes: A silver cord that tied Lily’s and Robbie’s worlds together and also give it an Indiana Jones sort of feel. I believe that we accomplished that and I am very proud of it.
What advice would you give new writers?
I advise new writers first of all to write, write, write. It is important to set up a scheduled time every day where you know that come hell or high water you will be at that computer ready to write. I get my best story ideas while driving long distances or believe it or not, in the shower. I urge new writers to always keep a pen and paper or recorder close-by to capture all their thoughts, no matter how random. Also seek out or create a writer’s group of like-minded authors who have the same goal: Creating the best product and helping fellow authors do the same.
When you go on vacation, what sort of book do you take with you to read?
When I go on vacation I always have my Kindle stocked up with great murder mysteries, women’s novels and love stories.
What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on Book Three of The Lily Lockwood Series: The Family Bond which will be out in 2016. Of course all our favorite characters are back and bring with them emotional ups and downs of family relationships. There is also an Organized Crime Family/Mafia component which brings a whole other meaning to the title: The Family Bond.
The Silver Cord is book two of the Lily Lockwood Series. You can read my review of The Seeds of a Daisy, book one, here.
Lily it has been two years since Lily heard from Robbie, and he was supposed to be back from Somalia long ago. As she tries to put him out of her mind, her little daughter’s father steps back into her life. Maybe they could make a go of it again. But Lily is obsessed with her love for Robbie, convinced he is her only true love, her bashert.
Robbie, volunteering with Doctors Without Borders, is still in Somalia, captured, tortured, and beaten by Al-Shabaab, a faction of the terrorist group, Al Qaeda. For what purpose? The only thing that helps him survive his misery is his memory of Lily. Can he turn his back on his oath to accommodate Al-Shabaab when to refuse will surely mean death?
When Lily learns of Robbie’s plight, she is determined to do everything she can to bring him back. She enlists the help of her brother David and a retired CIA agent. How much is she willing to sacrifice to get Robbie back?
This is a well-crafted story with references to the first book. Even with the references, I think it is best to read book one first to get the background for book two. In this character driven book, Caiola uses the voices of her characters to tell their own stories and, by doing so, brings more emotion and believability to the story.
I didn’t like The Silver Cord as much as the first book. For my personal taste, there was too much darkness with the detail of Robbie’s capture and imprisonment. It was at times, a struggle for me to continue reading.
What I did like. Caiola did a wonderful job relating Lily’s desire to provide a real family for her daughter so that Daisy Rose would grow up knowing her father was a part of her life, unlike Lily’s father. Her inner conflict of whether or not to go back to her ex-boyfriend in order to provide the ideal family for Daisy Rose, or follow her heart and find Robbie, kept me reading.
Assigning a rating to a book is subjective, and the one thing I despise about reviewing a book. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and many other sites require a rating, but I don’t feel that a certain number of stars really means anything; it is what people have to say about the book that influences me. With these thoughts in mind, I will give The Silver Cord four and a half stars.
The Lily Lockwood Series: The Seeds of a Daisy, The Silver Cord
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