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Linda Kolhagen--Best Critic: Comments and Reviews "Forty Days to Armageddon " Thriller
Interview with a reader of “Forty Days to Armageddon.” And “Lean against the Wind.”
This is an interview with one of the inner circle “readers” Linda Kolhagen. She reads around 100 books a year and had finished reading “Forty Days to Armageddon.” I called her on the phone while everything was still fresh in her mind for this interview. Readers are an important part of the writing team as they often spot plot defects and make suggestions that improve the final novel. Linda was top notch and I always ended up making revisions based upon her input.
The day Usama Bin Laden died, she said, "You must be a prophet to predict this event in "Seeds From Heaven!" (She had just finished the fifth installment. ) "The hidden fortress, the guards, the women, the Blackhawks landing inside the compound. The detail is uncanny and to think you wrote this a couple of years ago is quite amazing!"
"Yeah," Jed Fisher ( another reader) told me the same thing in an email this morning. "Seeing the photo form the situation Room with Obama surrounded by his Whitehouse team while the Blackhawks land in the compound is right out of "Seeds from Heaven" and "Watchdogg" as well."
Linda said, "It makes one wonder what the backlash will be too. Retaliation from his family with bombings and mayhem...all that is predicted in your novel."
Let's get back to the original interview.
“Hi Linda—I’m thinking I could use this interview for my readers at HUB. Is that OK with you.”
“Yes, let’s get started.”
“What books have you read in the last year and enjoyed the most?”
“I like the John Sanford series, “Rules of Prey.” All are mystery suspense stories in Minnesota and follows the exploits of a detective. They are well written and fairly graphic.
“Dean Kuntz writes similar books that I enjoy. Oh, and let’s not forget David Baldacci.”
“I’m familiar with Baldacci. I think I read three or four of his books in order to get a feel for the whole political thriller concept. I would say we are both fans of his. What rating would you give these books on a scale of one to ten?”
“Seven or eight. They were very good and I have read them all.”
“Have you read some stinkers?”
“Tammy Hiag. And I would giver her a “one.” It was the kind of thing where you would read a little of it and end up not reading it about half way through.”
“You read my book first called, “Lean against the Wind” and what rating would you give that?”
“Ten—It is unquestionably one of the finest books I have ever read. When you talked about it to me, it sounded like I might enjoy it and it was better than I could have ever imagined. In retrospect, I did not know what I was letting myself in for.”
“It is not a mystery story at all and then you simply found it a “good read” then?”
“Was there any particular thing you liked about it?”
“It had everything one could hope for, humor on one page and then very sad the next. I hated the villains doing such hateful things. Of course, there was not the kind of violence you see in the mystery novels.”
“Let’s move on to “Watchdoog.” Of the two novels, “Watchdogg” and “Lean against the Wind,” which did you enjoy the most?”
“I enjoyed them equally. You are comparing two very different genres here, kind of like apples and oranges.”
“I find that interesting and flattering. If someone told you that the two novels were written by two different authors, would you have agreed?”
“No, no. It would be clear that you were the writer as your “voice” is clearly there on every page.”
“I can tell you that I am surprised. You could tell who the author was, then?”
“I think anyone reading anything you write will know they are reading a Reynold Jay novel.”
“Here’s the big question for “Forty Days to Armageddon.” What rating would you give it on a one to ten scale? I’m holding my breath….”
Forty Days to Armageddon
Sequel Continues the story: The last 7 days
The Last Seven Days are now Available
“Ten—It really is difficult to tell others just how wonderful a read both books are.”
“That makes my day. I can uncross my fingers now. What political thrillers have you read? How did they compare to Watchdogg?”
“Duddici gets an eight rating—about the same for David Baldacci. Not a page turner like your book. You covered it so completely. It was apparent that a lot of research went into it. Everything was so real, down to the tiniest of details.”
“The internet helps a lot and I did spend hours researching every little thing as I wrote it. I don’t think I could have wrote it without being hooked up to the internet. Let’s move on. Did you enjoy the love subplot in Forty Days to Armageddon?”
“Yes—I loved it. It was funny, too.”
“Did the antics of Carol Turner (the love interest) and her friend keep your interest?”
I worried about that as most every political thriller I have ever read really didn’t seem to provide much of a personal life for the main character. I worked hard to turn Watchdogg into someone who was believable, the living at home with his ill parents—the mother with Alzheimer’s— the early childhood in Michigan.”
“RJ—it was truly wonderful to add those scenes.”
I could not have written any of it two years ago. Both my mother and father passed away then and I imagine the heartbreak of it all came through. Good, I’m glad that worked for you.
How about the scenes that mentioned Jimmy Durante? I can always write it differently, but I thought it gave the entire novel an unmistakable flavor. It was a risk.”
“Those were touching scenes and I would not change a thing. Even if a reader did not know who Jimmy Durante is, they would relate to it in some way. Anyone who has ever seen Jimmy Durante will appreciate the homage you did for him.”
“One of my goals was to keep the intensity of the action very high throughout, not just the beginning and end. Did you get that feeling as you read, that, ‘This is not letting me take a rest’?”
“It did more than that. I’d plan to set time aside to read two or three chapters and end up reading around six at a time. I sat around reading whenever I could. It was a page turner from cover to cover.”
“Does any particular scene stand out in your mind?”
“Yes—the death of Watchdogg’s father was very touching. Something one does not forget easily.”
“The Admiral and his team boarded the Russian aircraft headed for Columbia. Do you think they arrived in good order or were they murdered by the Russians?”
“I left that open to interpretation and I imagine it will be a point of debate as to what their fate might have been.”
“Of course, you know don’t you?”
“Of course, but I’m not telling. It is sometimes best to leave some of it open to interpretation. Thank you for helping me today, Linda.”
“You are welcome.”
RJ discusses Forty Days to Armageddon in a short video.
Critcal Reviews of Fantasy books by Jenny ( and now reading Watchdogg)
"The Carrot and publishing your novel." RJ's experiecne with publishing a novel will make you laugh and weep.
Read more about “Forty Days to Armageddon” at RJ's internet site which is also available worldwide.