Thursday, 8 March 2012

A Review for Wide Open by Deborah Coates + Author Interview

Posted by Donna
Expected Published Date: March 13th, 2012
Finished Date: February 27th, 2012
Publishers: Tor Books 
Source: ARC, For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320

The blurb from Goodreads:When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her. The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment. The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to. As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace.  Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation. Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.

The Review: When I was asked to review this book by Tor, I'll be honest I had never heard of it before but boy, am I glad they asked me to review it, because I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. 
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Wide Open is a fantastic fantasy novel with a creepy setting and a touch of magic. Full of intense, exciting and dangerous scenes - one full of emotions with a fantastic heroine and great secondary characters.

The story follows the life of Sergeant Hallie Michaels who comes back from home after her sister has passed away. What Hallie doesn't expect is for her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport for her. Yes, Hallie see's ghosts and she knows that if her sister had committed suicide - like the Sherriff says, because Dell's ghost wouldn't be hanging around if she had. Hallie makes it her mission to solve the death of her sister and she needs all the help she can get when she's is targeted by someone who wants to stop her investigation. Can Hallie solve the mystery without endangering herself?

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. From page one I was sucked into an exciting and interesting setting - one that was very easy to imagine and really feel like you were there experiencing it for yourself. I loved how easy it was to slip into the characters lives and I believe the author did an amazing job creating it! Not only that, but I fell in love with overall story too. The story is quite creepy, one that can make the hairs on your arm stand up but not only that, it's full of excitement - one that had me to turning the pages until the very last page.

I loved Hallie! She's so determined to solve her sister's death, that the love she feels for her sister really shines through-out the story. She's head strong and loyal and so brave and I loved the qualities she bought to the book. Boyd, I liked him! He was awesome and I really enjoyed how much he supported Hallie and was basically her rock through-out the book. I loved them together and I really want to see more!

Overall, Wide Open is a great page turner and I'd highly recommend it to all you urban fantasy fans! 

Deborah Coates
Check out her website: HERE
Find here on Twitter: HERE
Pre-Order her book on Amazon US: HERE
Pre-Order  her book on Amazon UK: HERE

How did you come up with the idea for the book?
I had written several short stories set in South Dakota and Nebraska or with characters from those places, including: How To Hide Your Heart, Cowgirls in Space, and Chainsaw on Hand.  I love reading and writing contemporary fantasy and I love those wide open prairie spaces so when I was thinking about ideas for writing a novel-length story, I pretty naturally started with the prairie and the people, because almost all my stories start with the people.  Hallie and Boyd came first, then the ghosts, then the magic.  After that most of my effort went into figuring out how to make it a coherent interesting story.

Why ghosts?
In some respects, the ghosts came with Hallie, they were part of her character and part of why she is who she is in the story.  But I also like ghosts in stories because outside their horror potential, they're all about unfinished business and (maybe) making things right.  Ghosts are stuck, not quite one thing or the other, and that fits the story, I think, and where Hallie's at in the story in many ways.

I loved how you made the story so easy to imagine with the ranches and country bars. Are they inspired by your real life?
I'm so happy you liked that!  The setting is one of the things I really wanted to make 'real' for readers.  I grew up on a farm in western New York, I have degrees in Animal Science and Agronomy.  I work at a land grant university.  So rural settings are familiar and important to me.  One of the things I discovered while I was researching Wide Open is that there's a certain universality to country bars and farms and ranches, to the work that people do there and the things that they worry about.  I've never lived in South Dakota or on exactly the sort of ranch that Hallie and her dad live on, but I've certainly been to bars like the Bob Tail.  I've herded cattle, ridden horses, fed calves, and pitched hay.  And I've lived outside towns and cities where you often have to rely on yourself and maybe your neighbors because there isn't anyone else.

How long did it take to write?
I started Wide Open around November, 2007 and I sent it out to agents the beginning of January, 2010, so a little over two years, though I also wrote some short stories and part of another novel in that same time frame.

Is this book a stand alone book or apart of series? If it's a series, how many books are planned?
While I hope Wide Open can stand alone, it's actually part of a three book series.  I've handed in the second book to my editor and I've got a draft of the third book.

My favourite character is Hallie - I loved how strong and determined she is. Who's your favourite and why?
I love Hallie, too!  And she's fun to write because Hallie almost always opts for action, so she keeps things moving.  But I think my favourite character is Hallie's father.  He's not a talker, hates crowds, is more apt to tell you what doesn't work than what does.  But he loves his daughters and the ranch and he wants the world to work, not just for himself or his family, but for pretty much anyone.

What is your favourite quote from the book?
My favourite quote probably varies on any given day.  Today, it's:

[Boyd says to Hallie] "Do you think I'm a Boy Scout?"

"What?"

“Honest, loyal, helpful, friendly.”

“Hmmm . . .” Hallie frowned. This was not the direction she’d imagined this conversation taking.

"Yeah, I kind of am...."

I'm not sure that reads very well without context, but it says so much to me about both Boyd's and Hallie's characters.

I adore the book cover. Did you have much involvement with it?
I had a little bit of involvement in that I saw several possible covers and got to provide feedback, but that was pretty much the extent.  And I'm convinced that was a good thing.  I like the cover too.  In fact, I think it's terrific, but it's not at all the cover I carried around in my head.  That cover (the cover in my head) was pretty strictly tied to the characters and the setting and specific events in the book.  And the problem with that cover (the cover in my head) is that it would appeal to you if you already knew what the book was about (I think), but if you were browsing and just happened upon it, I'm not at all sure it would have made you pick up the book and look at it.  This cover does that--at least it would make me pick up the book and look at it.  And it still, I think, manages to tell readers what kind of story it is and convey that sense of big sky and strange weather and powerful happenings.  I love it!

If this book was ever made into a movie, who would be your dream cast?
You know I have no idea.  I can picture Hallie and Boyd and even Hallie's father and Brett and Lorie in my head, but I've never been good at translating that to real people.   I hope that means that if Wide Open is ever made into a movie (and I would LOVE to see that!), that I'll be happy with whoever is cast.  I say I HOPE that's what would happen and eventually it would probably be true, but first I'd have to reconcile the actors with the pictures in my head and I bet they wouldn't be exactly the same.

Three Random Questions:
Favourite Food: Blueberry pie
Favourite Song: Today, it's 'Boys of Summer' by Don Henley.  Tomorrow it might be something else!
Name three countries you’d  like to visit: Norway.  Argentina (particularly Patagonia).  China.
Thank you so much!  These were great questions and fun to answer.

Thank you so much for joining us today Deborah. And good luck with the release of Wide open! 

6 comments:

Melanie H said...

Awesome review & interview, I love to read an author's views on their books. It has been on my TBR list for a while now and sounds really good, I also think the cover is beautiful too. :)

Sam said...

Brilliant review, Donna! Books that turn out to be much better than you expect are always fun to stumble across. :) This sounds great!

Great interview, too. I like that quote!

kimba88 said...

Lovely Donna..your review has me wanted it..and I loved the Q&A. Ghosts..exciting :)

haley hagen said...

oooohh great review Donna!!! Totally just added this to my TBR it sounds great!!! And the cover is to die for! (:

Laura @ My Enchanted Bookshelf said...

What a gorgeous cover! I haven't heard of this one; will be adding to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

Becky Johnson said...

Love ghost stories and Hallie sounds like a fantastic character. Superb interview :)