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Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Today's guest blog is by author ALEC NEVALA -LEE! Check out his Facebook page here:

 

https://www.facebook.com/nevalaleebooks

 

His blog is here: http://nevalalee.wordpress.com/

 

Alec Nevala-Lee - Oak Park, IL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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becke_davis
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About Alec

 

 

I’m a novelist, freelance writer, and author of The Icon Thief, the first in a trilogy of international thrillers published by Penguin. A second installment, City of Exiles, will appear in December, with a concluding novel,Eternal Empire, to follow in the summer of 2013. I’m also an occasional author of short fiction for the magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact, including my novelette “The Boneless One,” which was recently selected for inclusion in The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 29th Edition, edited by Gardner Dozois. My essays and nonfiction have been featured in such publications as the Los Angeles TimesSalonThe Rumpus, and The Daily Beast.

 

Growing up in Castro Valley, California, I was an avid reader and moviegoer, and wrote my first novel—of which, thankfully, only one copy survives—at the age of thirteen. My earliest influences included the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges, Douglas R. Hofstadter, Norman Mailer, John Fowles, Robert Graves, Madeline L’Engle, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, and Stephen King; the films of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch; the Indiana Jones trilogy; and such TV shows as Twin Peaks and, above all, The X-Files.

I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Classics, although I’ve since managed to forget most of my Latin and all of my Greek. In college, I was a member of the undergraduate literary magazine, where I published my first short fiction, and wrote on a variety of topics, mostly film, for a handful of publications, including the San Francisco Bay Guardian. After graduation, I spent several years at a financial firm based in New York, but ultimately left to pursue a much less lucrative career as a novelist.

 

As a writer, in addition to the influences I’ve mentioned above, I’m heavily indebted to Frederick Forsyth, Thomas Harris, James M. Cain, Ian McEwan, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson, the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and many other craftsmen and storytellers, including David Mamet and Walter Murch. My favorite book is Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges; my favorite movies are The Red ShoesChungking Express, and Blue Velvet. I currently live in Oak Park, Illinois with my wife, Wailin, and a frighteningly large number of books.

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The Icon Thief  

 

A controversial masterpiece resurfaces in Budapest. A headless ballerina is found beneath the boardwalk at Brighton Beach. And New York’s Russian mafia is about to collide with the equally ruthless art world…

Maddy Blume, an ambitious young art buyer for a Manhattan hedge fund, is desperate to track down a priceless painting by Marcel Duchamp, the most influential artist of the twentieth century.

The discovery of a woman’s decapitated body thrusts criminal investigator Alan Powell into a search for the same painting, a study for Duchamp’s Étant Donnés, with its enigmatic image of a headless nude.

And a Russian thief and assassin known as the Scythian must steal the painting first to save his reputation—and his life.

The murderous race is on. And in the lead is an insidious secret society intent on reclaiming the painting for reasons of its own—and by any means necessary…

Praise for The Icon Thief

“Alec Nevala-Lee comes roaring out of the gate with a novel that’s as thrilling as it is thought-provoking, as unexpected as it is erudite. The Icon Thief is a wild ride through a fascinating and morally complex world, a puzzle Duchamp himself would have applauded. Bravo.”

—Jesse Kellerman, national bestselling author of The Genius

“Alec Nevala-Lee is no debut author; he must have been a thriller writer in some past life. This one has everything: great writing, great characters, great story, great bad guy, and a religious conspiracy to boot. The Icon Thief is smart, sophisticated, and has enough fast-paced action to keep anyone up past midnight. I’m jealous.”

—Paul Christopher, New York Times bestselling author of The Templar Cross

“Twists and turns aplenty lift this thriller above the rest. From the brutal thugs of the Russian mafia to the affected inhabitants of the American art world, this book introduces a cast of believable and intriguing characters. Add a storyline where almost nothing is as it first appears, and where the plot turns around on itself to reveal startling contradictions, and the result is a book that grips and holds the reader like a vise. I devoured it in a single sitting.”

—James Becker, national bestselling author of The Messiah Secret

“Nevala-Lee’s cerebral, exciting debut proves there’s plenty of life left in the Da Vinci Code–style thriller as long as fresh venues and original characters enhance the familiar plot elements and genre tropes…Nevala-Lee leaves a few loose ends to be resolved in what is sure to be the eagerly awaited sequel.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

Learn more

 

To read more about the true story behind The Icon Thief, please see here. You can also watch the book’s official trailer on YouTube.

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City of Exiles  

 

In the lightning-paced sequel to The Icon Thief, Europe’s turbulent past and terrifying future are set to collide in the streets and prisons of London—and beyond.

 

Rachel Wolfe, a gifted Mormon FBI agent assigned to a major investigation overseas, discovers that a notorious gun runner has been murdered at his home in London, his body set on fire. When a second victim is found under identical circumstances, the ensuing chase plunges Wolfe and her colleagues into a breathless race across Europe, a secret war between two ruthless intelligence factions, and a hunt for a remorseless killer with a deadly appointment in Helsinki.

 

At the heart of the mystery lies one of the strangest unsolved incidents in the history of Russia—the unexplained death of nine mountaineers in the Dyatlov Pass five decades before. And at the center of it all stands a figure from Wolfe’s own past, Ilya Severin, the Russian thief and former assassin known in another life as the Scythian…

 

Praise for City of Exiles

 

“In City of Exiles, Alec Nevala-Lee creates a dazzlingly detailed and authentic world of intrigue, weaving a harrowing tale that will enthrall readers with an undercurrent of political ambiguity that evokes le Carré and an intricate, continent-crossing plot reminiscent of The Day of the Jackal. Delivering a complex mix of espionage, European politics, Old Testament riddles and Cold War mysteries, Nevala-Lee is clearly emerging as one of the most elegant new voices in suspense literature.”

 

—David Heinzmann, author of Throwaway Girl

 

“Nevala-Lee’s stylish follow-up to his debut, The Icon Thief, introduces Mormon FBI agent Rachel Wolfe, who’s come to London to work with the British police…à la Clarice Starling…Readers will look forward to seeing more of the intrepid Rachel in the trilogy’s third volume.”

 

Publishers Weekly

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Press and media

 

Interviews and Profiles

“Oak Parker’s Mystery Thriller Emerges From Art.” Oak Park-River Forest Patch. March 28, 2012. Profile by Casey Cora.

“Author Interview: Alec Nevala-Lee, author of The Icon Thief.” Writer’s Digest. April 14, 2012. Interview with Chuck Sambuchino.

WGN Radio. May 19, 2012. Interview with Bill Moller.

“Alec Nevala-Lee thrills readers with conspiracy and intrigue.” WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. July 16, 2012. Interview with Steve Edwards of The Afternoon Shift.

Articles and Essays

“Marcel Duchamp’s Turning Point.” Los Angeles Times. March 18, 2012. Essay on the hundredth anniversary of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2.

“Simon Says: It’s Not About You!” The Daily Beast. April 14, 2012. Essay on The Wire’s David Simon and fabulists Mike Daisey and Greg Mortenson.

New Yorker Profile? No, Thanks.” Salon. May 12, 2012. Essay on the New Yorker feature curse.

The Secret for Smart People.” The Daily Beast. June 5, 2012. Essay on recent books on creativity and the power of thought.

The Tools is Slick and Savvy—Like a Hollywood Remake.” The Daily Beast. June 13, 2012. Review of The Tools by Barry Michels and Phil Stutz.

“The Lehrer Affair.” The Rumpus. July 11, 2012. Essay on Jonah Lehrer and the ethics of “self-plagiarism.”

“Will McAvoy, You’re So Smart!” Salon. July 23, 2012. Essay on the use of historical irony in The Newsroom and other works of fiction.

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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, culture, and the writing life.

Short fiction

“Inversus.” Analog Science Fiction and Fact. January/February 2004: 200-226.

“The Last Resort.” Analog Science Fiction and Fact. September 2009: 54-71. Finalist in the 2009 Analytic Laboratory Reader’s Poll (Best Novelette).

“Kawataro.” Analog Science Fiction and Fact. June 2011: 90-103. Honorable mention in The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 29 (edited by Gardner Dozois).

“The Boneless One.” Analog Science Fiction and Fact. November 2011: 86-103. Selected for The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 29 (edited by Gardner Dozois) and the 2011 Locus Recommended Reading List.

“Ernesto.” Analog Science Fiction and Fact. March 2012: 42-49.

“The Voices.” Analog Science Fiction and Fact. September 2012: 56-67.

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Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

 

December 4, 2012

 

Dear Ponyo,

 

I know that we haven't been properly introduced, but I'm really looking forward to meeting you. As I write this letter, you're scheduled to be born in just over ten days, and your mom and I are still getting the nursery together. It's going to be a busy month: your due date is only a week after my second novel comes out, and although I'm looking forward to seeing City of Exiles in stores, I'm even more excited about the arrival of my firstborn daughter. (Your real name isn't Ponyo, by the way—it's just what we've taken to calling you for now, based on a movie that your mom and I both love, about a tadpole who grows up to be a cute little girl. Like you!)

Anyway, I'm writing you this letter to answer a few questions you might have about what your daddy does for a living. It may not come up right away, but eventually, you're going to notice that while most of your friends have parents who go to work every morning, your daddy usually hangs around the house, sometimes typing, occasionally writing up some notes to himself, but more often just staring into space. When he isn't reading Goodnight Moon aloud to you for the twentieth time, he's likely to be studying a book about forensic pathology in the United Kingdom, as well as looking up information about firearms, nerve toxins, and other subjects that will probably get him on a government watch list one of these days.

But he's really just doing his job. He's a suspense novelist. And although you might not have a chance to read his books for a while, when you do, you may wonder why he spends so much time writing stories like this. People often die in his books, for instance—way more often, anyway, than in Goodnight Moon. They use guns and say bad words and do other things he can tell you about when you’re older. But your daddy likes writing these novels for other reasons. As you can probably tell from the books on his shelves, he loves ideas and history, and he's especially interested in how people tell stories about the world around them, even after they're grown up. And writing mystery and suspense novels is the best way he's ever found of exploring some of these questions.

For example, his second novel, City of Exiles, is about a woman named Rachel Wolfe, who is a lot like the sort of person he wants you to be one day: smart, brave, and resourceful. (She's also a Mormon FBI agent, which is neither here nor there.) While investigating a series of murders in London, she discovers that they're connected to something that happened more than fifty years ago in a place called the Dyatlov Pass. It’s one of the strangest unsolved mysteries in the history of Russia, in which nine mountaineers were found dead in the snow in a rather gruesome condition, and although nobody really knows what happened, it hasn't prevented people from coming up with all kinds of explanations, ranging from a weapons test to a ritual killing to an alien abduction.

Don't worry—there aren't any aliens in this book, even though I love stories about aliens. But the novel is really about how we look for patterns in the world around us, even when we don't have enough information to see the big picture, which is often weirder than anything we could possibly imagine. My first novel, The Icon Thief, was about the surprising meanings people have found in the work of an artist named Marcel Duchamp, whom I know you’re just going to love. And the central character in both books is a Russian thief named Ilya Severin, who found out one day that everything he thought he knew about himself and his sense of honor was a lie. He’s still trying to figure out what to believe. And he’s going to be tested like never before.

You see, these books are about a lot of things, but they’re mostly about how we impose meaning on history and the events of our own lives. We all do it. You're going to do it, too, and more than anything else, I can’t wait to see the stories you tell yourself about the world. And I hope you like the new book, too, although I don't think you'll have a chance to read it for a while. At least not until you finish preschool.

 

Much love,

Your father

 

P.S. The novel also features a rather unsettling young man from Finland, named Lasse Karvonen, who kills people for a living. He's a pretty scary guy, but your grandmother wanted me to reassure you that most of your relatives in Finland are really very nice.

 

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maxcat
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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Hi, Alec, a nice letter to your daughter-to-be... she would be proud to see that letter at another time when she is grown. I think she would appreciate it. Alec, I haven't read your books but certainly intend to. Thanks for being here.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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eadieburke
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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Welcome Alec:

 

I also enjoyed your letter to your daughter along with your blog. I'm sure she will enjoy reading it when she is older.

 

Your books look very interesting. I need to find out who beheaded the ballet dancer. I will start with reading THE ICON THIEF and then move onto CITY OF EXILES. 

 

Thanks for visiting with us and be sure to let us know when you next book will be published.

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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nevalalee
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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Thanks, everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm happy to be here.

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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee


nevalalee wrote:

Thanks, everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm happy to be here.


Thanks for joining us, Alec! You should see an "author" tag show up under your sign-in soon.

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leisure_reader
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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Welcome Alec

 

Ok, let's get down to business-Cubs Fan or Sox Fan...

Deep Dish or Hand tossed

Gino's, Giordano's or Malnatti's

 

Your books look great!  I hve to get my hands on them..love the mystery, epionage genre!

 

J

 

 

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Yikes! This is the part where I admit that I only moved to Chicago a few years ago, so it's probably best to stay neutral on such important issues. But the best pizza I've had in the city is at Pizza Art Cafe in Ravenswood, near my old apartment—if you're ever in the neighborhood, you should check it out!

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becke_davis
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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee


nevalalee wrote:

Yikes! This is the part where I admit that I only moved to Chicago a few years ago, so it's probably best to stay neutral on such important issues. But the best pizza I've had in the city is at Pizza Art Cafe in Ravenswood, near my old apartment—if you're ever in the neighborhood, you should check it out!


Thanks for the tip, Alec! I grew up in Chicago but have lived in Cincinnati the past 20 years. Just moved back to Chicago a few months ago. I'll check out the Pizza Art Cafe next time I'm in Ravenswood - I live in Hyde Park now.

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dhaupt
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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Thanks for stopping by Alec, wow your novels look wonderful

there goes my book buying budget :smileyhappy:

 

 

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nevalalee
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Re: Guest Blog by Alec Nevala-Lee

Thanks so much! Glad you find them intriguing. :smileyhappy: