August 27th , 2012 9:32 am Leave a comment

Local author Steven James welcomes fans to book release party at The Coffee Company

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Author Steven James, who has written more than 30 books in his prolific career, will celebrate the release of his latest title with a party in downtown Elizabethton later this month.

The official book release party for Opening Moves, the latest in a series of thrillers, will be held on Friday, Aug. 31, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Coffee Company, which is located at 444 E. Elk Avenue in Elizabethton.

Attendees at the event can enter the always popular “Become a Victim” contest. The prize in this competition is to become a victim to be “killed off” in the next book of the series. The drawing for the “victim” will be held at 8 p.m.

Attendees will receive a free cup of coffee. Desserts will be available for purchase.

“We will also draw a name to win a set of autographed books,” James said.

He noted this is the third book release party that he has held at The Coffee Company.

“They’re just great people,” he said, speaking of owners John and Lisa Bunn.

The official release date for Opening Moves is Sept. 4, but people attending the release party can purchase their own copy of the novel in advance.

Opening Moves is the sixth title of his award-winning Patrick Bowers thriller series.

The book is a prequel to the other titles in the series.

In the other books in the series, protagonist Patrick Bowers works as an FBI agent. In Opening Games, he is a homicide detective.

James said writing the book “freaked him out” at times. “There’s a personal connection in the book, that relates to some actual crimes,” he said.

In this book’s introduction, James noted that people who do very bad things are quite real. He gives examples such as Albert Fish, Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer as well as the bank robbers and killers, Ted and James Oswald.

It’s one of the crimes that Ted Oswald didn’t get around to committing that haunts James. The author’s father was named as a potential victim when Ted Oswald, at that time 18 years old, was apprehended by authorities. Ted revealed that a future target was a high school physics teacher who had given him a grade his father, James Oswald, didn’t like.

During the trial, Ted revealed that his father meant to have him build a silencer in front of the teacher (Steven James’ father) and then “shoot him in the belly and watch him barf.”

So, it may be little surprise that the author suffered some nightmares while writing Opening Moves.

“When I look at our world, I see it threaded with both glory and horror, with awe-inspiring acts of love and deep furrows of unspeakable evil,” he wrote in the introduction to his latest book. “Hope and terror spiral around us every day — and within us too, I believe, in our own hearts. This is something Patrick Bowers is discovering for himself more and more in each book, and something I reminded myself of once again while writing his story.”

Overall, James said this latest book provides the reader with a “good story with lots of suspense.”

He also described the book as more CSI than Agatha Christie.

“My books are more about suspense, where a crime is going to occur and someone tries to stop it from happening.

In a mystery, on the other hand, he noted that a crime has already occurred and the conflict revolves around resolving who did it.

James still has two more titles to write before he wraps his series.

“I wanted do to the prequel now,” he said. “Then the series will continue to build up to the final book.”

The author also admitted that several aspects of the book surprised him.

“It sounds strange, but with some books, the story will reveal itself if you just listen,” he said.

His books always have some sort of twist at the end, and Opening Moves is no exception.

“That’s sort of my trademark,” James said, although he declined to reveal any specific details.

The character of Patrick Bowers has also evolved throughout the series.

“As Bowers learns lessons about justice, he has grown to understand the different facets of justice,” James said. “His journey has been mine.”

Because the latest book is a prequel, James said that for people who have not read any of the other books in the series, Opening Moves is the perfect one to start with.

He has been pleased with advance reviews, which have lauded the book as the best in the series.

All of his books are also available as electronic books.

The next installment in the series, The King, will debut next summer, followed by Checkmate, the final book in the series. The other titles have been The Pawn, The Rook, The Queen, The Knight and The Bishop.

Each book sees the main character striving to outwit a villain, which helps explain the use of chess terms for the titles of all his books.

“I do play a little chess,” James said.

He also considers the plots of the books a “game of strategy” for Patrick Bowers.

James is also at work in another series, which will debut in November with a book titled Placebo.

“It will be more of a straight thriller,” James said. He noted that the main character, Jevin Banks, gets mixed up with a controversial pharmaceutical company and must work to stop a planned assassination.

James also has a master’s degree in storytelling from East Tennessee State University. “I still do a little storytelling, but I traveled more in the late 1990s as part of my storytelling,” he said.

James said that both novels and spoken stories have one important element in common. “A good story is always emotionally engaging, whether it’s written or spoken,” he said.

His storytelling usually involves humorous stories. “I tell embarrassing stories from life, and sometimes I tell stories that are thought-provoking about the big questions of life,” he said.

His written stories have all been quite intense and frightening.

“It’s a gift to make people laugh by telling stories,” he said. “It is also a gift to transport people to a place in a novel and give them a satisfying, entertaining experience.”

James said he usually likes to play with ideas involving his villains and their crimes.

“I brush the ideas off and see how they connect with others,” he explained. “My stories are all about escalation, seeing how they react to difficulties and struggles.”

James said he likes to push a character to the brink while keeping it believable. “I want to see how they will react,” he said.

In the process of writing the series, he said Patrick Bowers has become a real person to him.

James enjoys meeting fans of his books at the release parties and is looking forward to the party for Opening Moves.

“It’s fun to write a series, knowing that people are looking forward to the next book,” he said.

The upcoming release party will also feature a trivia contest. “We’ll get to see who knows the most trivia about Patrick Bowers,” James said.

He noted that some fans have notified him via his Facebook page that they are driving to Elizabethton from Orlando, Fla., in order to attend the party on Aug. 31 at The Coffee Company.

When he’s not writing, James enjoys trail running, rock climbing and drinking French roast coffee, all activities he can enjoy close to his home in East Tennessee.

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