Interview with Author Charlie Donlea
As part of the Blog Tour team for Don't Believe It, I am delighted to have Charlie Donlea join us today for a Q & A to tell us more about his latest smashing new thriller, set in the exotic St. Lucia Caribbean.
1) Some authors like to make an argument or address an issue when they write. Is there an issue that you're addressing with your book? If so, what is it?
My novels are meant for pure escapism reading, so I don’t see them as tackling social issues in any grand form. However, a common theme between all three of my novels is society’s obsession with missing person cases and unsolved murders.
Pop-culture magazines frequently feature on their covers missing girls, some of whom have been found after being missing for years. The common questions include how they were taken, why they didn’t escape sooner, and how they are readjusting to freedom.
My first novel, Summit Lake, dealt with a father’s attempt to keep his murdered daughter out of the tabloids as a tenacious investigative reporter arrives in the small town where the murder took place to look for answers.
About the Author
Charlie Donlea lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children. He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for Summit Lake. With so many choices of entertainment and countless other books to choose from, he thanks you for spending your time and treasure on his creation. Read More
The Girl Who Was Taken tells the story of two abducted girls, one who returns and another who does not. The girl who makes it home goes on to write a bestselling memoir that thrusts her into the public’s eye and draws attention to parts of her story she wants to keep secret.
My latest novel, Don’t Believe It, taps into the public’s obsession with true crime documentaries and tells the story of a filmmaker creating a weekly-serialized documentary that delves into the grisly details of a decade-old murder that took place in the Caribbean, and which explores the enigmatic woman who has been convicted of the crime.
A common thread among all three stories is the public’s unquenchable thirst for the morbid details of disturbing stories.
2) What gave you the idea for your book?
I’m a true crime junkie. The podcast Serial hooked me and Making a Murderer gave me an affliction. Since then, I’ve binge-watched just about every true crime documentary on Netflix. My biggest complaint about these films is that they tend to raise more questions than they answer. So I decided the story of a documentary filmmaker uncovering the secrets of ten-year-old murder not only provided a great premise for a timely novel but also gave me the ability to create as wild an ending as my imagination could conceive.
3) What are the most important things about you that you would want prospective readers to know?
I am a true believer that in order for a novel to be successful, it has to call a reader back to it after they put it down. If a book is easy to put down and hard to pick up, most readers (including myself) will give up on it. I’m hyper-aware of this fact when I write. I know there is fierce competition out there from other books, television, movies, and more. So, I try to make it hard for readers to put my books down. And I make damn sure to include in the pages enough reasons for readers to pick them up again after they do.
4) Are there other things you'd like readers to know about you or your book?
The setting of Don’t Believe It is a tropical resort in St. Lucia called Sugar Beach Resort. It’s a resort on the Jalousie Plantation that Matt Damon commandeered to renew his wedding vows. My wife and I discovered the resort while visiting the island on Spring Break with our kids. I thought it would make the perfect location for my novel. So much so that my wife and I returned to Sugar Beach the following year to celebrate our anniversary and do some much-needed research to boot.
My Matt Damon connection comes from a St. Lucian guide who worked for Sugar Beach. I hired him to take my wife and me on a tour of the island for my research. We asked if he drove Matt Damon or any celebrities around the island. No, he told us. But he did transport Damon’s photographer back to the airport after the vow renewal. Close enough.
5) What’s the craziest/funniest/most enjoyable thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
My most enjoyable bit of research was visiting Sugar Beach Resort for Don’t Believe It. My craziest was visiting a morgue to view an autopsy for The Girl Who Was Taken. Let’s just say that noodled legs and a fuzzy head made the experience less than stellar.
Buy Charlie's Books.
DON'T BELIEVE IT
By: Charlie Donlea
Publication Date: 5/29/2018
My Rating: 5 Stars
From acclaimed author Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder—only to find she may be a pawn in a sinister game.
The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.
As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.
Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.
"Edgy and twisty, Donlea keeps you glued to the pages, unexpected twists, keeping you guessing while building suspense and revealing long-buried secrets. Best of all, he does not leave you hanging. A satisfying conclusion. Cleverly crafted, fast-paced, gripping and addictive. Move DON'T BELIEVE IT to the top of your reading list. (a perfect title)."
From acclaimed bestselling international author, Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder—only to find she may be a puppet in a sinister game. Plus, what could be more exciting than the lush, exotic Caribbean setting (St. Lucia) and the famous Gros Piton and Petit Pitons? A murder mystery with tons and tons of twists! (what an ending).
True life real crime genre is all the rave, especially in film and TV. (hint, DON’T BELIEVE IT is prime for the small or big screen). From Making a Murderer, Serial, The Thin Blue Line, OJ, and others. True crime documentary. Who doesn’t stream a good crime documentary?
From Netflix to Amazon Prime, we all have our favorites. From murder, death, justice, truth, lies. Behind the scenes. How true. Everyone wants details. What are the hidden motives? What occurred that one day to cause someone to murder someone and get away with it, or not?
A fan of Charlie Donlea's from his sensational debut –Summit Lake Top Books of 2016 and his strong follow-up, The Girl Who Was Taken —With his third novel, DON'T BELIEVE IT — he knocks it out of the park! Plus a return from one of his favorite characters from TGWWT, forensic expert Dr. Livia Cutty.
The ten-part true-crime serial centers on a crucial question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian Crist (a young medical student), while on Spring Break vacation at the famed Sugar Beach Resort (Jalousie Plantation) in St. Lucia, or is she the victim of a shocking injustice? Continue Reading My Review
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