Book Review: ‘Swing Set’ by Joanna Kadish

SwingSetWhen I began reading “Swing Set” by Joanna Kadish, I was intrigued by the by idea of a swingers story. Of course, I have my own thoughts on the swinger’s lifestyle and all the many ways that being a swinger can ruin a relationship. When I think of being in love, it never crossed my mind to share my partner with anyone else. As a matter of fact, I feel like the swingers lifestyle can open up the doors for cheating. Personally I could never see myself getting involved in such a lifestyle where I could allow my partner to give away what I consider mine.

“Swing Set” made me really curious how this story would progress and eventually end.
Shelly and Steve Isaacson are pretty normal married couple looking to spice up their sex life. The couple has a pretty normal life, normal friends, decent jobs and enjoying smoking pot. Shelly seems to become a little freakier when she is high. Although they were in love and happy with each other, Steve has such an interest in other women and Shelly becomes curious. Shelly is open to the idea but her best friend Mattie is not an option. Even though Steve often makes it clear that he wants a turn with her. This provokes a bit of jealousy in Shelly, and rightfully so.

The couple decides they want to try a swingers club. They talk about their boundaries and if one was uncomfortable, they would both agree to stop and leave, making sure that they both are having fun. Somewhere along the lines, these boundaries get crossed and things go a little crazy.
After the swingers club fail, they set up an online profile in hopes to meet other couples. This leads them to a few couples but when it came down to it, Steve ended up turning into a complete prick. Shelly has always had insecurities when it came to sex and after they began swinging together, she came out of her shell. But it seemed like the more she enjoyed herself, the worse Steve would act. His controlling nature surfaced and made him completely unlikeable, to the point where I could no longer cared if they made it to the end of this novel as a couple.

Shelly is such a passive character. The kind that you might find yourself wanting to smack around a little bit and scream “get yourself together and get your man in check” kind of thing. Steve was a momma’s boy and could only think of what was best for him. Everything in between was extremely passionate, sexy and full of steam. There was nothing lacking in the bedroom and from page one, well…hot.

“Swing Set” comes with one issue for me that dropped it from a five star read to a four star read. The opening chapter is in the present. Shelly is the narrator and goes from her naughty happenings then off to how her and Steve met and got where they are. The end of the book did not come full circle and wrap up how the book initially started. Once I got to the end, I was like ok…it started this way but ended that way. I did not find it to be a big deal but I didn’t find true closure to the story based on how it started. Otherwise, the book is beautifully edited and boy was it a fun and sexy read.

I have already suggested “Swing Set” by Joanna Kadish to my friends and they are interested. “Swing Set” was so good that it had me questioning if I could pull off trying the swinger’s thing, even if it was for only one night.

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Swing Set,’ Erotica by Joanna Kadish on Blogcritics.

Swing Set
Joanna Kadish
CreateSpace (2013)
ISBN: 9781483909028
Reviewed by Savannah Mae for Rebecca’s Reads (11/14)

Book Review: ‘Prism’ by Roland Allnach

PrismAuthor Roland Allnach, in his new collection of stories, titled, “Prism,” has taken the risk of alienating readers with too varied a selection of genres. Everything is in the stew here: futuristic tales, love stories, horror, on and on, filling the pot with all manner of ingredients. How easily this might have backfired. After all, how many of us indulge in so many different styles of storytelling? At first I wondered why in the world Mr. Allnach would do it. The answer, in my mind, has now become a simple thing: he is blessed with an abundance of imagination, and either could not contain it, or, wisely I now believe, chose not to. Here you have the splendor of falling into worlds wholly designed by the author, then finding others more grounded in real life scenarios. You have heartbreak and fear and love and Sci-Fi. You have, in the end, pure, unadulterated creativity. And what (in this case, nothing, absolutely nothing) could be wrong with that.

Mr. Allnach surprises with each new story here. You must open your mind to difference, to receiving your entertainments in different forms. It can be hard for a reader to do this; we are trained to hold one plate of food at a time. If such habits can be put aside, “Prism” will shatter you into countries that glimmer, stories that entrance. The themes of life are the same no matter how they are presented. If prejudices are put in a drawer, locked from sight and ability to interfere, you will be given hours of pleasure. Roland Allnach is a storyteller. He can conjure and feed the head things that keep a reader turning pages. You have pieces like, Icon, an interior work, hard boiled, wherein a modern day, unnamed `Critic’ exposes the price of obsession, the pain of exploitation. Later, you come upon, Titalis, a story which draws a world long gone, an ancient place of hills and plains and war and warriors. The grit of it can be tasted, the actuality of what no longer exists, brought alive fully. With, Turn of the Wheel, Allnach uses colloquial language, a first person narrator, plain spoken, to give a straight forward, morbid account of family tragedy. Something for everyone? More like everything for anyone in love with fine literature.

“Prism” is a book of stories written with precision. It does not dance with overwrought stylings. Instead it chisels out what is needed with laser description, true to the ear dialogue, characters built into believability, and stories that capture the attention. Forget about picking the genre you’re most attracted to; widen the avenues, take all of them in. Doing so will give what is most wanted: the pleasure of living tales un-lived before. Mr. Allnach is no light weight. Below the surface of many of his stories things are swimming that must be thought about to be discovered. Layers are important because they reveal. This collection is to be savored, read again and gain. The gift received for your time will be enormous. More, and better than that, it will be fun.

Roland Allnach
All Things That Matter Press
ISBN: 9780996041348
Reviewed by F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads (8/14)

Book Review: ‘Build Wealth & Spend It All’ by Stanley Riggs

BuildWealthAndSpendItAllI have just finished reading “Build Wealth & Spend It All” by Stanley Riggs.  I chose to read this book for several reasons: I have always been interested in financial planning; understanding strategies for enjoying the fruits of my labor; and how best to balance spending and savings. When I read the synopsis, many things hit home for me.  Riggs’s motivation for this book arose when he saw his ninety-six year-old mother in a nursing home. Her hard-earned retirement savings was being depleted merely because she had a savings. Through demographic analysis, he identifies that others in the nursing home were having the same level of care for which they were not paying. He postulates that many of those other people had spent their money enjoying their lives and now they were “getting a free ride.” Riggs discusses how to build wealth, when in one’s life to spend it, and the pitfalls of not doing so. Without going deeply into my own personal history, I understand Riggs’s motivation. I have had to work through some family issues regarding my own parents. I thought that this book could give me some different ideas into my own long-term financial situation.

“Build Wealth & Spend It All” reads like a roadmap. Each chapter builds on the prior. Mostly simple concepts are expanded upon in a linear fashion. Riggs makes some astute observations that may or may not be refutable by those with a stronger economic background than I. I read this book with an open mind as to what I might learn. I did learn about the common-sense differences between spending money on assets versus liabilities. I learned about economic cycles. I also learned a bit about demographics. And I learned a wee bit about global economies and interest rates. Sometimes Riggs does get a bit overly technical but he does a good job of keeping his ideas broadly understandable. Unfortunately, to truly accept Riggs’ approach, one must fully accept his premises. I am not completely in agreement with all his assumptions. I do feel that there are many ways to live a financially sound life. Riggs’s approach may work for some people but not for others.

One of the simple premises of Riggs’s book is to buy assets that generate passive income when young so that the assets will provide a stream of income in later life. Another is to maintain control of the distribution of the assets so that others won’t usurp that right. He discusses what he believes is the impending redistribution of wealth through governmental programs and taxation. He addresses how to avoid this. He discusses gifting as a strategy. On the whole he makes compelling arguments for living a full life while younger through middle age, and, to enjoy the memories of a life well experienced when we are no longer able to do so. I have always thought that a good life strategy is to live life to the fullest and bounce the check to the undertaker. Riggs pretty much says the same with the exception of the bounced check. He does highlight the absurdity of the gold plated cane and the diamond-studded walker.

Overall, “Build Wealth & Spend It All” is a well thought out primer for life financial management.  Concepts can be applied to almost all income levels. Pretty much anyone who wants financial independence and autonomy is in the target audience for this book. Riggs does make some alarmist comments, that may or may not come to fruition, about the US Government’s role in “Robin Hood” type economics which the reader must either choose to accept or reject.

Overall, this is a useful analysis for financial self-determination, especially for those of us living in the US, that can be applied globally with some minor modifications. If the reader is looking for a “quick-fix” financial panacea, then this is not the answer; but if Riggs’s fundamental abstract concepts are applied, then good results could well follow. In summary, I did learn some things that I did not know and, as a result, I may use slightly different financial strategies, but I am not fully accepting of all of Riggs’s assumptions. Three stars.

Build Wealth & Spend It All
Stanley Riggs
Monetary Publishing
ISBN: 9780991521500
Reviewed by Bruce Weitzenhoffer for Rebecca’s Reads (07/14)

Book Review: ‘Abuse & Betrayal’ by Richard Joseph

Abuse&BetrayalRichard Joseph pours his heart and soul in this divorce driven memoir “Abuse & Betrayal.” Joseph brings to light a struggle that many go through that we don’t always hear about when facing divorce and custody battles while fighting inside the legal system that is suppose to protect the innocent. Many people are fully aware of the dead beat dads out there but rarely to you hear the about the fathers who fight with everything they have to keep their right to be with their children.

Richard Joseph married Diane and many years after children, her behavior became unacceptable and started to become disrespectful and out of control. Finally, this unhealthy marriage led straight to divorce. With the kids in mind, Joseph set out to make Diane as comfortable as possible by offering what many would surely consider outrageous, in effort to keep the peace. It seems that everything Joseph did for his ex and his kids always backfired on him. Later piecing together that Diane could very well be a full blown narcissist and she would stop at nothing to ruin him, even at the cost of their kids. This book outlines everything of significance including events leading up to the separation and ultimately the loss of his kids.

Joseph’s account is heart wrenching and completely unbelievable. I find terribly hard to “review” or “criticize” any part of this book for this simple fact. I must say that I come from a long line of dysfunction and also share a familiar flaw called codependency. I read this book in one sitting and I could not put it down. This book was something similar to reading a fictional thriller, the impact was that great.

While it may take a lifetime for Joseph to get back what he lost, he must continue living his life. Coming to terms with our own mistakes and learning the lessons from those mistakes will (hopefully) keep us from making them again. Some lessons come harder than others. Bad things do happen to good people. There is not one doubt in my mind that he doesn’t love his kids more than life itself.

No one on this earth deserves what Richard Joseph went through. If it were me, I do not know that I would have protected any party involved by changing their names when writing this book. Sometimes the truth hurts, but that is just me. Who knows what I would do if I were in this situation but I do know that I would not have been as nice as Joseph was at any point. I hope that in some form or fashion, a level of forgiveness has been offered by Joseph, not for them but for himself.

I feel like “Abuse & Betrayal” was written for some form of healing for Joseph and I hope that some part of him has healed. Although this book could not possible heal all of the open wounds, I really hope that the next book from Joseph is a success story, one that he has made for himself after this storm, a story that helps him in putting his self-love back in place so that his heart can be open to receive the good that this world does have to offer. I also pray that his children one day realize the truth. Until that day comes, I hope to hear from Richard Joseph again with the next chapter of his life.

Abuse & Betrayal
Richard Joseph
CreateSpace (2014)
ISBN: 9781494845940
Reviewed by Savannah Mae for Rebecca’s Reads (4/14)

Book Review: ‘Trends Waves Windows & Bubbles’ by Kenneth J. Thurber Ph.D.

TrendsWavesWindowsBubblesThe wave moves onto shore as the pressure of consumer demand moves the wave to full height. The wave breaks when other manufacturers enter the market, and the prices disintegrate as the wave crashes onto the shore,” this is how Dr. Kenneth J. Thurber entices the average entrepreneur with his captivating business philosophies. “Trends Waves Windows & Bubbles,” there you have it …all spelled out to help clarify when to make a move on solid creative ideas!

Dr. Kenneth Thurber has interesting viewpoints relating to business productivity cycles. This book is not for the average reader, but intended to teach the new business person to make good marketing and production decisions.

I certainly agree with the fact that good ideas have “their time” in the market, and it is not easy to know when to make your move. The “housing bubble” is an example that drives home the concept of “bubbles” that burst, which makes it easy for us all to understand. Dr. Thurber has determined that when bubbles burst that is proof of a wave being puffed up and that causes “economic instability.” The good news is he says there is hope and all is not always lost, but you must reinvent your position if your bubble burst!

“Trends Waves Windows & Bubbles” talks in depth about knowing when to ride a wave; when that wave is not strong enough, such as putting your product on the market too late. Disturbances and fluctuation in the markets are not easy to read but history shows trends and Dr. Thurber makes good sense of a difficult position in the way he ties it all together.

The author succinctly takes you through a business process so you see when a good idea can be capitalized on, whether it is yours or someone else’s. Dr. Thurber uses the analogy of the ocean and the weather dictates the types of waves it will produce. This book is much the like the weather, it can help you predict trends and waves and bubbles that can show you the way. Although this is the third book of a series, this book could be a stand-alone guide based on the good business insight Dr. Thurber provides, for any new start-up or a seasoned business owner looking for the next step for a “good idea!”

Trends Waves Windows & Bubbles
Kenneth J. Thurber Ph.D.
Digital Systems Press (2014)
ISBN: 9780983342465
Reviewed by Janet Reeves for Rebecca’s Reads (5/14)

Book Review: Sex Lies Murder by Allan McLeod

SexLiesMurder“Sex Lies Murder” by Allan McLeod is a novel etched through and covered all over with the flavor of intrigue, danger, and the doings of high powered people moving within large and strange worlds. Mr. McLeod opens his novel with explanations of people and atmosphere’s that spike the reader’s interest, setting a plate that gains your attention and lets you feel the heart of the book immediately. This is not a trick just anyone can do. But it is a mark that all great novels share. Without question, right from the start of this work, you know you are going to be taken on a thrill ride involving high echelon types, big world scenarios with dark natures.

Disappearances, death, shady tastes of big banking, back room politics, drug cartels nasty business, are all alive here in these pages. You have a mystery wrapped in a thriller. Investigative journalist Paige Harrington is an outsider invited in to dig deeper. The traps of working her way through the actions of powerful people easily become the proverbial minefield. Paige is a beauty, a former world class model, but she is not simply a centerpiece to be adored, a companion for some hardboiled type man who will get everything done with some small assistance from her. She is the main one, with the brains and edge, the wherewithal to swim through the swamp and triumph. She is hardly perfect. And for that we owe the author great thanks. A perfect narrator, saving everyone, almost always amounts to cliché. That it is avoided here lends a proper amount of gravitas to the proceedings. It also allows our blood to race, turning pages, wanting to know what’s next, failure or good ends. In short, it makes a mystery worth investing in, as opposed to one of which all outcomes feel preordained.

One of my favorite things about “Sex Lies Murder” is the creation of so many strong and diverse female characters. I do not say it is true, but I for one would not be surprised if I found out one day that Allan McLeod was the nom de plume of some bright woman with experience in one police or government agency or another. How in the world has Mr. McLeod, a full blooded man, I assume, managed to give us such characters as Mz. Harrington and Molly Ogden and Angela Parsons, to name a select few. The answer must simply be that he has paid attention, and knows women well enough from the inside to create full dimensional beings, actual people, flawed and smart and desperate and sometimes full of the success of failure. It is a delight to see women rendered as they should be: real and true, not flat, albeit beautiful, ornaments of cardboard. It really brings another tic of delight to this interesting novel. You get to know these characters as human and the worlds lived here as actual, visceral things. With a great mystery thriller on top of that you get the gift of a magnificent, page turning story, a near epic bouncing at lightning speed, keeping the eyes open and the mind sparking like the pistons of a fine tuned sports car.

Everything does not turn out perfect in this book. Again, thank you for that Allan McLeod. It can be hard to take when bad things happen to characters you are invested in, but it certainly helps sustain the realism of the tale. Another fine accomplishment of this author is the prose employed here. It is not a stylized thing so much as a diamond cut straight forward approach that makes the whole sing much better than any flowery, metaphor-laden structure would. What I mean is the blunt, rock hard writing employed is blessedly without pretension. And that allows the story to move through labyrinths of criminality and high finance without bogging down. That is the key to fine writing. Because we have it here wrapped around an extraordinarily good story, it makes for a perfect combination.

If you do buy “Sex Lies Murder,” and really, I recommend you do, block some serious time off in an evening for it. That will be a necessity, believe me, because once you sit and begin it, you won’t want to stop.

Sex Lies Murder
Allan McLeod
WA McLeod (2014)
ISBN: 9781495974960
Reviewed by F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads (5/14)

Book Review: The Universe-ity by Michael Samuels


First Place: Self-Help

TheUnivers-ityThe cover had my attention because I am actively a college student, and I love to learn, and especially about spirituality. Michael Samuels clearly illustrates the most important education one can receive in life has nothing to do with graduate school, instead it’s called “The Universe-ity: A Spiritual Education Using The Law Of Attraction.” The voice of this author stands out and makes the book a really interesting read. Michael Samuels has a strong passion for living life and it comes through in his writing.

This book did find me through the mere law of attraction. I am a firm believer as Michael Samuels spells it all out in this book that we create our future through our thoughts and by our actions. He goes on to say that we are all connected and I think it’s funny (hahaha) that it includes the people we don’t really want to be connected with! Michael also says that it is true whether you believe it or not! So if you have hatred towards someone, you hate a part of yourself. That makes perfectly good sense to me.

There are several things that I really liked was his demand that you take some action! The homework went from defining yourself to doing things on his action list (or your own) that he says WILL make a difference in your life. Get busy and try it if you want a fulfilling life, if you tried it all you will be seriously busy! The ideas is to get off the couch and go see the Sistine Chapel or write a book or take singing lessons. There are 365 possible things to do.

Your soul will love you for it! The secrets to having a successful life depend on taking the actions this author has laid out for all of us! There are quite a number of quotes that I really enjoyed by people like Mark Twain and Albert Einstein, and George Carlin. Here’s the one from George Carlin that helps to sum up one of this books nuggets “I think what every child needs, and ought to have every day, is two hours of daydreaming. Plain old daydreaming. Turn off the internet, the CD-ROMS, and the computer games and let them stare at a tree for a couple of hours. Every now and then they actually come up with one of their own ideas.” Hummmmm sounds like creation to me!

The Universe-ity: A Spiritual Education Using The Law Of Attraction
Michael Samuels
Red Feather Publishing (2013)
ISBN: 9781480124400
Reviewed by Janet Reeves for Rebecca’s Reads (3/14)

Book Review: She Likes It Rough by GVR Corcillo


First Place: Humor/Satire
First Place: Indie

ShelIkesItRoughWhere do I begin my review of “She Likes It Rough” by GVR Corcillo? Well, I am not quite sure how to deliver my thoughts because I move than loved this book, I can honestly say that I am IN LOVE with this book. I am so glad I had the chance to review it.

Lisa Flyte is now awake from her coma. She wakes up thinner than she was before Burger Barn came crumbling down on top of her in the drive thru. A freak accident indeed; landed her right on the front page of the tabloids and everyone knows Lisa’s name. Skinny, famous and rich, Lisa now has to put meaning to her life. She is determined to make it count. Crippled with a lame family, millions of dollars and tabloid fame; Lisa needs to get a backbone for sure and not only make her life count but make her voice heard.

The book starts off with Lisa stalking her classmate, the brave Jack Hawkins. Lisa knows for sure that Jack is the answer to becoming brave. Lisa is sure that Jack needs some of her millions to invest in his company in exchange to help her overcome her fear (of life) and make her brave. Crap starts happening right away as the story takes off.

From the start, I was really anticipating boredom. Boredom never came. Instead, from the first chapter, I laughed so hard I cried. Lisa’s character is the narrator and her personality comes out a little at a time, almost like she is talking so fast to make sure to get enough of herself in so the reader will understand. The way it is all put together, it just flows perfectly. I can’t see it being better any other way. Everything that happens to Lisa is just over the top and a character I can see Cameron Diaz playing on the big screen. Yes, Lisa Flyte is outrageous and can sometimes be that girl that you just want to shake and tell her to get it together but when it comes down to it, there is no other way that Lisa can be portrayed. Brilliant!

“She Likes It Rough” by GVR Corcillo is the most hysterical book I have read yet by an indie author. Not to mention the romance was not achieved easily and I appreciated this more than anything. Corcillo gets five big shiny stars and my hopes for her are to get this book into the hands of a director who can put this chick lit story on the big screen. I see nothing less for this novel and highly recommend “She Likes It Rough” to chick lit lovers everywhere!

She Likes It Rough
GVR Corcillo
Blackbird Press, LLC (2013)
ISBN: 9781626780002
Reviewed by Savannah Mae for Rebecca’s Reads (2/14)

Book Review: Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash


Honorable Mention: General Fiction

Stillwell“Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island” by Michael Phillip Cash is the story about Paul Russo and his struggle with maintaining after the recent loss of his wife. Paul has three surviving children and daily routines are proving to be harder and harder as the effects after Allison’s death. He must pull it together and keep going for his kids but he is slowly dying inside, unsure of how he can survive without the love of his life.

First of all, Michael has presented such an emotional story; I was brought to tears learning the depth of Paul’s love for his wife. This story had a profound effect on me and I was completely wrapped emotionally around Paul and his children.

The story is set on Long Island where Paul is a real estate agent. Heading back to work, Paul has a returning client ready to sell their property known as Stillwell. Oh how he needs the money after blowing through most of their savings while Allison was sick, he is challenged with taking the listing knowing its history and wondering if there is a buyer out there for the house. As the details emerge, the story takes off in a page turning ghost story to set his wife’s soul free.

There are lots of fictional historical aspects along with some non-fiction components which Michael mentions at the end of the book. It is awesome how everything came together and had me on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding. The book was a super quick read for me and I was able to finish it in just one sitting. Once I started I couldn’t stop reading and when the book came to an end, I was satisfied.

I have read a couple other titles from Michael Phillip Cash and I have to say that his writing style is totally my thing. I have been fully engaged in all of Michael’s material I have read so far and I look forward to the next book that will consume me, again, for hours!

Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island
Michael Phillip Cash
CreateSpace (2013)
ISBN: 9781484196090
Reviewed by Savannah Mae for Rebecca’s Reads (2/14)

Interview: Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle, Authors of The Pretender Series

Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle are the Emmy Award-nominated Writers and Executive Producers of Tin Man, the highest rated miniseries in the history of the Syfy Channel, and Co-Creator/Executive Producers of the hit cult classic TV show The Pretender.

Along with their first two novels in the Pretender series, Rebirth and Saving Luke, they have written, produced and/or directed over 200 hours of entertainment programing, including feature films and TV movies, and have worked on series as varied as 24, NCIS, Medical Investigation, Alien Nation, Murder She Wrote and many more.

SteveLongMitchellSteven Long Mitchell:

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana by a family so dysfunctional it would have driven Tennessee Williams to drink even more, Steven spent a childhood in a world of secrets and lies, studying the most bizarre examples of human nature imaginable, all the while wondering how he fit into the world he found himself in.

Realizing he didn’t, he decided to create a world of his own and has the last 30 years of his life studying and writing about the human condition to finally do so.

Steven resides in the Los Angeles area with seven females; one wife, three daughters, two dogs – is there any wonder why he has such little hair? To commiserate with the increasingly follicle-less Steven, please contact him through his website follow him on twitter @pretendersteve


CraigVanSickleCraig W. Van Sickle

Craig Van Sickle was born in Indianapolis (which explains why his company is named 500 Miles) and wrote his first story in 7th grade and knew from that time forward exactly what he wanted to be when he ‘grew up’. He later graduated from Indiana University and moved to Los Angeles in 1979.

Along with partner Steven Long Mitchell, Craig spent years doing standup and improv comedy. Once convinced stand ups make about as much money as yodelers he turned his attention full time to writing. The comedy and yodeling communities are thankful to this day.

He has two children and lives with his wife in Los Angeles.


Thanks guys for giving me the opportunity to talk to you about The Pretender book series. Before we get into the book itself, tell us about what it’s like being creators/directors of popular TV shows…even being Emmy nominees.

Craig: It’s an honor to be able to do what, A) you’ve always dreamed of doing, B) worked hard to be able to do it, and most importantly, C) get so much back from your audience, who really have shared poignant stories about how your work has affected their lives positively. As for the awards, they are fun, but ultimately pale in comparison.

Steve: Growing up, I was one of those kids who stared at the TV 24/7 and could barely muster a mumble when my parents told me I was wasting my life. I questioned what I could possibly become if all I did was watch the boob tube. I feel vindicated.

It has been a great ride, and yet a humbling one. As Craig mentioned, knowing a story that came from your heart had an effect on the heart of another is very humanizing and nothing else we have ever done compares to the Pretender.

The Pretender has literally touched the lives and hearts of tens of millions of people around the world. We get thousands of letters from fans of the show and even more from fans of the novels that tell us they are not only addicted to the continuing page-turning thrill ride, but they have found their lives enriched by an emotional connection to the thematic underpinning on which it is built. They tell us that the magical feeling they felt as children has been restored, and that has empowered them to believe again that they could be anyone or anything they wanted to be. They mention how the strength of Miss Parker empowered their daughter, wife, or mother to overcome obstacles as diverse as cancer, insecurity, depression – even thoughts of suicide. How disjointed families who that have absolutely nothing in common found one thing they could all relate to and that was the Pretender. That regardless of their circumstances what they connected to, with regards to Jarod, restored their belief that they could overcome anything. That the Pretender restored the feelings of hope and wonder they felt as children, a thrilling tale that transported them back to a world where all things are possible and that life is a gift.

No award could ever compete with that.

It’s been 18 years since NBC first aired The Pretender. I have done some research and I keep seeing the same thing pop up online…long-time fans have been waiting for a continuation of the series. After all this time, what finally motivated you two to writing Rebirth?

Steve: The Pretender has always been the most passionate project of our careers. We have so many more stories to tell, questions to answer, and secrets to reveal that when the opportunity fell into our laps that would allow us to reboot and expand upon the origin story of Jarod, we were overjoyed.

Craig: Mainly getting the rights back and feeling like it was time to try and take our creative passion and bring it into a new millennium for the fans. These characters have remained vital in our creative souls and apparently to many others as well. It just seemed more than right to plunge back in.

What exactly is a pretender?

Steve: A Pretender is a genius with the ability to become anyone he wants to be. Over night he can absorb a hundred books on medicine and the next day perform flawless surgery. Or a dozen flight manuals or virtual cockpit tutorials and don a uniform and seamlessly slip into the pilots seat of a 747 and, without blinking an eye, fly off with hundreds on board.

Craig: At its bare roots, a Pretender is a high functioning, fearless sociopath. We added the heart and genius to Jarod, but yes, there really are Pretenders among us, LOL.

Jarod, the pretender, has been raised at The Centre. Can you explain a little bit about The Centre and what kind of place this is and what happens there?

Craig: It is the ultimate clandestine research facility/think tank, where everything from genetics to global politics, to money market manipulation, you name it; they are into it. Even many long-term Centre higher-ups aren’t privy to every detail of the scope of their endeavors.

Steve: Think of it as Haliburton on steroids- Dick Cheney’s private island of misfit toys – only a bit more sinister.

Tell us about the main character, Jarod, and his role as the pretender and how he ended up at The Centre.

Steve: Jarod was a child prodigy identified and stolen by the Centre when he was 3 years old. Over a lifetime he was molded by them to become a human simulator used for scientific investigations of everything from terrorist scenarios, shuttle launches, assassination attempts, etc., all for sinister purposes.

Jarod can be anyone he wants to be but he doesn’t know who he really is. That search for identity, family and love is his driving force.

Craig: The Centre has tentacles all over the world constantly searching for exceptional human beings, raw materials in their eyes, to bend, mold and exploit for their bottom line and for clients who pay top dollar for, in Jarod’s case, simulations that are so precise they can then exploit the results for profit and/or power.

Miss Parker is a beautiful and yet an evil character who is about the same age as Jarod. What is her connection with The Centre and Jarod?

Steve: Miss Parker’s father runs the Centre, making her the little princess of this castle of intrigue, secrets, and lies. She will do anything for a glimpse of Daddy’s affection and is a very beautiful and complicated character. There is only one person who knows all her emotional secrets; the Pretender she is hell bent on hunting down and returning to captivity. One she has a love/ hate relationship with – with a secret emphasis on love.

Craig: Miss P’s grandfather founded The Centre. The Centre was her home away from home; her playground, as it were. As a child, she discovered the boy Jarod and not one to be deterred, found a way to get close to him – this human specimen if you will. Then one day, they shared their first kiss together. In an upcoming spin-off series of YA books we will delve into the pre-teen, tween, and young adult life of Miss Parker as never before.

Tell me why you chose cheap cigarettes (Pall Mall) for Miss Parker to smoke?

Craig: She may be sexy, she may dress to the hilt, but there’s a scrounging street fighter underneath that hottie exterior. Pall Malls seemed about right.

Steve: Just like Jarod, every character within the Pretender Universe is a dichotomy and none more so than Miss P. She can do or have anything thing she wants and the choices she makes are all designed to reflect that. She only wears the highest end clothing, or lingerie from specific designers. She will only drink one thing and one thing only- the same brand of bourbon shared by her father, and smoke one kind of cigarette. She does everything for a reason that speaks to her inner, emotional turmoil. All of her choices are tiny pieces, that when combined, make up the mosaic of an amazing character.

One of my favorite characters in this series so far is Chaz. Give us a little insight on this character and what inspired his personality?

Steve: Chaz is an outrageous presence that happens to be a transgender character. She is one of the first people Jarod gets involved with on the outside after 30 years of being isolated from the world. She was designed as a person he could encounter and become friends with to demonstrate that Jarod has no preconceived notions about human beings. That he sees them all equally, through the same untainted eyes of a child, and has none of the judgment of people that most of us share because of how we are raised.

Craig: Chaz, like Jarod, but different, is a misunderstood outcast in the world and we felt it would be an interesting character to have Jarod bounce off of. Interestingly, it’s an area we explored on the series as well to great success.

I mentioned in my review of Rebirth, I honestly do not recall watching this series on TV. So The Pretender was brand new for me. There are tons of people out there that know and love Jarod’s character. With that, I want to address some of the lower rated reviews on Amazon. Most of the reviews are four and five stars (well deserved I’d say) however there are a few one and two star ratings from fans who loved the TV series and say that they expected something new, expected closure and that there was a “huge timeline shift.” What would you say to these fans based on their expectations mentioned above?

Steve: No one likes their work to be viewed in negative terms but unfortunately when doing what we are doing we can’t live up to everyone’s varied expectations. We could have just answered all the questions and wrapped up the original story in one book – but we have a great deal more to tell. So we chose to write the novels in a way that would reboot the origin story of Jarod in ways that we could make the renewed Pretender equally accessible to as many new fans as possible. We also wanted to reengage the original fans in a way that would answer their questions and do it while creating a brand new thrill ride.

Craig: The Pretender would not be what it is if we simply stood still and didn’t progress the franchise. I would add that Jarod is still Jarod, Miss Parker still Miss Parker and Sydney, Sydney. This is a new world we’re now in, with the characters the fans still love. The other point is, the feedback we got previous to writing any books, was that they the fans wanted more of The Pretender. Closure is the antithesis of that. That said, we will be giving closure on certain character aspects and storylines, but overwhelmingly, the fans want the story to continue and progress. Answers are coming as well as new questions, so please hang in there, we’ll always try to give the readers a great ride.

I hear that one of your fans designed the cover images for the books. Tells us about this artist and some of the other stuff your fans are doing to take part in the rebirth of The Pretender.

Steve: We are soon to unveil a section in our website called the G.I.F.T. (Global Integrated Fandom Think-Tank). It is a playground we are building for the fans to came and be as involved with the Pretender community in any way they want. Yes, a fan designed the covers of the novels, there are fans in the novels, there are fans writing fan fiction, there are fans building out sections of the website, there are fans building interactive maps that show where Jarod has been and where he is going. There are tons of very talented fans who are passionate about this ongoing saga and we are inviting them not only to read or watch it – but to become a living part of it.

Come visit us at and become part of this global fandom phenomenon.

Right now, there are two books out, Rebirth & Saving Luke. How many books are planned for The Pretender series and what is next?

Craig: For the immediate future we have two spin off books coming out, the aforementioned Miss P. YA series and another one in the crime thriller genre with some interesting ties to Jarod.

Steve: We’ll also have a graphic novel out as well focusing on the secrets, lies, and dark history of the Centre. On The Pretender front, there will be more and we’ll do our best to not keep everyone waiting too long.

Is there anything else you would like to add that we did not cover in this interview?

Craig: In addition to the books, web site, fan fiction, etc., we are constantly looking for the next evolution of The Pretender on TV and film. The gears grind slowly as the fans know, but we’re working on many Pretender fronts for the future.

Steve: Yes. The fans have always been loyal to the Pretender and we will always be loyal to them.

Oh and here’s a deal we’d like to make. (Actually, I’m making it so please don’t tell Craig!) If Rebirth isn’t the best book you have ever read about Pretenders – if it doesn’t touch your heart and make you feel something special, send it back – but, if it is and does – sign your name on it and give it to a friend to enjoy and ask them to do the same and keep passing it forward.

In closing, I want to say that I am excited to have had the chance to experience Jarod for myself. I love The Pretender series and hope that you don’t hate me for not having watched the TV show. I could have been in diapers at that time, you never know…so don’t judge me ok! Where can fans, both new and old, find out more about The Pretender and also include links so we can stalk you on social media?

Steve: Steve can be reached via email at, Twitter , FaceBook (and we answer all of our email and social media personally).

Craig:, Twitter , FaceBook and for myself, Craig W. Van Sickle.

Thank you SO VERY MUCH for taking the time to chat with me. I will be excited to hear when book three will be ready to roll out.

Craig: Thanks Savannah Mae for your time and great reviews. Catch the show when you can and spread the word as you’ve done so generously about all things Pretender. Really appreciate your efforts. Take care.

Steve: Thank you Savannah for you’re support – ‘the Savannah Mae seal of approval’ means the world to us.

Article first published as Interview: Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle, Authors of ‘The Pretender’ Series on Blogcritics.

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