Alabaster Black aka Bianca Nerini returns as an investigation into a public official’s assassination pits Bianca and her friends against a backdrop of financial speculation, female assassins on motorcycles, and the Camorra—the most ruthless of Italian organized crime gangs—in Gabriel Valjan’s TURNING TO STONE, the fourth book of the highly praised Roma series.
En route to a secret meeting, Aldo Giurlani—the regional commissioner of Lombardy in northern Italy and a specialist on organized crime—is assassinated in the middle of a public square.
More mysterious is the package sent to Giurlani’s hand-picked team of five top investigators within the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), the Italian law enforcement agency that investigates illegal financial transactions, from money laundering to drug trafficking. Within the package are five copies of a book entitled Man of Smoke written by Aldo Palazzeschi.
Then there is Bianca’s tenuous online contact with a mysterious online contact known as Loki, who delivers a cryptic message to her, takes on a new twist with the appearance of a brilliant young obsessive-compulsive man who joins her team.
Complicating matters even further, old enemies and, more problematically, Alabaster’s former employer—Rendition, a murky covert U.S. government agency that does more than just investigate financial crimes—still have grudges to bear against her.
As new mysteries unfold, Bianca’s group quickly discovers that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.
Readers looking for a suspenseful thriller with mysterious twists and turns abounding will love Gabriel Valjan’s TURNING TO STONE.
Win 1 of 10 print or 10 mobi copies of Turning to Stone (open to both USA & Canada). Click to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Gabriel Valjan lives in New England, but has traveled extensively, receiving his undergraduate education in California and completing graduate school in England. Ronan Bennett short-listed him for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, Back in the Day. His short stories and poetry have appeared in literary journals and online magazines.
How did your life as a writer begin?
I started writing in 2008. I spent one year writing a short story each week. One of those stories, prompted by a challenge from a colleague to write a compelling female character, was the inspiration for the first book in the Series, Roma, Underground. In 2010, my short stories started to appear online and in print and I was also short-listed for the Fish Prize. I wrote Roma, Underground in late 2010, submitted it to a call for manuscripts from Winter Goose Publishing in early 2011 and the rest is history. Roma, Underground came out in 2012.
How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Several streams flowed into the river for Turning To Stone. Roberto Saviano’s Gomorrah was influential for giving me a sociological portrait of the Camorra and Naples. Saviano’s assertion that organized crime is a cultural problem was, to me, a brilliant observation. The Financial Crises of 2007 and 2008 provided something of a backdrop for me. I dug deep into the post-mortem on the Fiscal Crises. Journalist Andrew Sorkin’s corpulent Too Big To Fail, at 500-plus pages, is considered the definitive autopsy on the Fiscal Crisis of 2008. While I was writing Turning, UMass Amherst graduate student Thomas Herndon and Professors Michael Ash and Robert Pollin came along and exploded Harvard duo Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s pro-austerity argument. R & R said that a country would collapse when its public debt hit 90% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Herndon et al. proved that the hypothesis and the methodology were specious, the result of faulty thinking. I probably enjoyed the plate-glass at Amherst trumping Harvard’s red bricks more than I should have, but needless to say, economists everywhere took a black eye for not having seen the storm on the horizon, and for not having explained it adequately after the fact.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
I don’t outline my novels, although I may do a broad sketch of where I want the plot and each of my characters to start and end. The challenge in writing a series is that the characters all have their own arc with respect to their own development and in their relationships with the other characters. Characters, just as people in real life, have their strengths and weaknesses, their triumphs and setbacks. I’ve done the seat-of-your-pants writing when I felt that I ‘should go with it’ when the unexpected surprises that often happen in writing occur, but I write to get ‘everything down’ and then edit and edit again. With rare exceptions, if something doesn’t advance character or plot it gets deleted. I have no problem killing my darlings.
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I’m right-handed but I edit left-handed with printed copy; the switching to the non-dominant hand slows me down and makes me more attentive. Weird, I know, but it works for me.
What is your usual writing routine?
I write in the mornings for a few hours after I’ve worked out and showered. Unless I am caught up in what I’m writing, I’ll stop writing by early afternoon. I do tend to get up from the chair for brief breaks, walking and talking to myself about whatever is happening on the screen. After I’ve completed the day’s writing, I’ll go out for a long walk, as it clears my head and gives me much-needed exercise. There is a dog park near where I live and I like to watch the dogs frolic. I find it soothing.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Read. Read. Read. When you write, write to tell the best story that you can tell. Leave your ego at the door and do not write for effect, for that one witty line or scene, because astute readers will sense it and call you out on it. Respect your reader and honor the time that they spend with your work. Always know that over time you will look back at what you have written, possibly cringe, and wish that you had done it differently, but learn to let it go.
Connect with the author:
Sept 21 – Essentially Italian – book spotlight on all 4 books / giveaway
Sept 21 – Coffee, Books & Art – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 21 – XoXo Book Blog – book spotlight / author interview/ giveaway
Sept 22- T’s Stuff – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sept 23 – Il Mio Tesoro – review of Roma Underground
Sept 24 – Vic’sMedia Room – review of Roma Underground
Sept 25 – Vic’s Media Room – review of Wasp’s Nest
Sept 25 – The Autistic Gamer – review of Roma Underground
Sept 25 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Roma Underground / giveaway
Sept 28 – Roughseasinthemed – review of first three books
Sept 28 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – book spotlight / interview / giveaway
Sept 28 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Wasp’s Nest / giveaway
Sept 29 – Vic’s Media Room – review of Threading the Needle
Sept 29 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Roma Underground / giveaway
Sept 30 – Vic’s Media Room – review of Turning the Stone
Sept 30 – Pure Jonel – review of Roma Underground
Oct 1 – Book and Ink – review of Roma Underground / author interview
Oct 2 – The Autistic Gamer – review of Wasp’s Nest
Oct 2 – Bound 4 Escape – review of Roma Underground / giveaway
Oct 5 – Il Mio Tesoro – review of Wasp’s Nest
Oct 5 – Studentessa Matta – review of Roma Underground / giveaway
Oct 6 – Pinky’s Favorite Reads – book spotlight
Oct 7 – Pure Jonel – review of Wasp’s Nest
Oct 7 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Wasp’s Nest
Oct 8 – Book and Ink – review of Wasp’s Nest
Oct 8 – Studentessa Matta – review of Wasp’s Nest / giveaway
Oct 9 – The Autistic Gamer – review of Threading the Needle
Oct 9 – Bound 4 Escape – review of Wasp’s Nest / giveaway
Oct 12 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review of Turning to Stone / giveaway
Oct 12 – Olio by Marilyn – review of Roma Underground / interview / giveaway
Oct 13 – Il Mio Tesoro – review of Threading the Needle
Oct 13 – Deal Sharing Aunt – review of Turning to Stone
Oct 13 – Pure Jonel – review of Threading the Needle
Oct 14 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Threading the Needle / giveaway
Oct 14 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Threading the Needle / giveaway
Oct 15 – Book and Ink – review of Threading the Needle
Oct 15 – Olio by Marilyn – review of Wasp’s Nest
Oct 15 – Studentessa Matta – review of Threading the Needle / giveaway
Oct 16 – The Autistic Gamer – review of Turning to Stone
Oct 16 – Bound 4 Escape – review of Threading the Needle / giveaway
Oct 19 – Roughseasinthemed – review of Turning to Stone
Oct 19 – Olio by Marilyn – review of Threading the Needle
Oct 19 – Studentessa Matta – review of Turning to Stone / giveaway
Oct 20 – Il Mio Tesoro – review of Turning to Stone / guest post
Oct 20 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Turning to Stone / giveaway
Oct 21 – Pure Jonel – review of Turning to Stone / guest post
Oct 21 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Turning to Stone / giveaway
Oct 22 – Book and Ink – review of Turning the Stone
Oct 22 – Olio by Marilyn – review of Turning to Stone
Oct 23 – Jorie Loves a Story – review of Turning to Stone
Oct 23 – Bound 4 Escape – review of Turning to Stone / giveaway