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becke_davis
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Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

This week's featured author is new to B&N's Mystery Forum but is an established mystery author. Please welcome ALAN ORLOFF!

 

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becke_davis
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About Alan


 

Alan Orloff is one of a rare breed—a native Washingtonian. Born in D.C. and raised in the Maryland suburbs, he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland (GO TERPS!) before hitting the road to work for General Electric.

alanpic

After a few years touring the country (Syracuse, NY; Tewksbury, MA; Richmond, VA; Newport News, VA; Louisville, KY:smileyhappy:, he decided engineering wasn't his thing and attended business school, earning an MBA at MIT/Sloan (GO BEAVERS!). Upon graduation, he returned to the Washington area and made the arduous trek across the Potomac River into the Virginia suburbs, where he's been living ever since.

Throughout his eclectic career, Alan has worked on nuclear submarines, supervised assembly workers in factories, and stacked washing machines three high in a warehouse with a forklift. He worked at a newspaper company (The Washington Post), for a marketing research firm (Arbitron), and at a hardware/software systems developer (Odin). He even started his own newsletter business, educating the public about the benefits of recycling and waste reduction (GO EARTH!).

meandthecat

Years later, though, he decided business wasn't really his thing either. Buoyed by the support of his wife, he started writing fiction. Miraculously, he didn't get bored; in fact, he actually enjoyed writing. This would have made his late father, a former English teacher, very proud.

Alan is a member of Mystery Writers of America (MWA)International Thriller Writers, and The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, and he has completed the Herndon (VA) Police Department's Citizen's Police Academy.

 

He is happily married, with two boys, and enjoys a host of hobbies, not least of which is watching his children perform—in athletics and in dramatic productions. He likes to play poker and read a lot, too.

 

Alan's website is here: http://www.alanorloff.com/index.html

 

Click and scroll down to see more pictures here: http://www.alanorloff.com/alan.html

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

Q & A with Alan


 

 When did you start writing?

When I was in sixth grade, my best friend John and I decided to write a sequel to WAR OF THE WORLDS. We got about three pages done before we took a break to play basketball. That break lasted decades. I'm happy to say John is still one of my most valued advance readers.

 

 Where do you get your ideas?

It might be nice if you could subscribe to a service, like Netflix, where they send you ideas—three at a time. After you're done with one, you would return it—postage paid—and they'd send you another. (What, too easy?) Actually, I'm lucky. Ideas just seem to come to me—in the shower, while I'm running, waiting in line at the post office. My head is overflowing with ideas. Many of them stink, but there are a few gems in the jumble. The challenge is to find, feed, and nurture the good ones.

 

 Do you outline, or are you a "seat-of-the-pantser?"

I start with a vague outline. The beginning of my story is outlined in more detail, while the end is a lot blurrier. It gets crystallized as I move through the story toward the end. I will say, however, that I know which characters and elements I want in the final, climactic scene before I start writing the first chapter. I also try to complete short character profiles before I begin writing. I find it helps me keep everything—and everyone—straight. I'm not so good with names.

 

 How much do you write per day?

I find I work best when I set daily/weekly quota goals. Depending on the story, I like to shoot for 1500 - 2000 words per day, five days a week. Sometimes I don't get there, but I try to catch up quickly. Of course, that's at first draft quality. I'll spend at least as much time rewriting and editing (okay, sometimes a lot more) as I do writing it the first time.

 

 What kind of research do you do?

Whatever it takes to get the details down and achieve a high degree of verisimilitude (I love that word). I've gone on police ride-alongs, visited the county detention facility, gone to the shooting range. I've talked to diamond experts, detectives, and stained-glass artisans; visited radio production facilities; hiked through the woods—even gone to open-mic nights at comedy clubs. Let me tell you, the open-mic nights were the most terrifying experiences of all! (And I was simply a spectator!)

 

 What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Well, it's not "write what you know." If it were, I'd have very short—and boring—books.

Write a lot. Read a lot. Take a few writing classes to learn the basics. Surfing the Internet can be an effective way to pick up a lot of information, but you need to be careful. There's plenty of good stuff out there; unfortunately there is a fair amount of garbage mixed in. Use sound judgment to separate the worthwhile from the bad. I've always found going to talks, book festivals, and writing conferences to be quite valuable—I learn a lot, meet a ton of great people, and find that it recharges my writing batteries.

 

 Why write a series about a stand-up comic?

Ever since I was a teenager and snuck into a comedy club at a resort in the Catskills, I've been fascinated by comedians. I think there's a fine line between comedy and tragedy that informs many comics' routines, and I thought it would be fun to explore that.

Of course the best part is when you "have to" watch Comedy Central in the name of research.

 

 Why do you set your books in the Northern Virginia suburbs (including Reston, VA)?

I'm fascinated by suburbia. Dull and monotonous on the outside, teeming with intrigue on the inside. And Reston was one of the country's first planned communities. To this day, they have strict developmental guidelines about what kinds of things you can do with your property, what colors you can paint your door, things like that. I think people's lives are messy—you can't always adhere to a rigid set of guidelines and still be happy—and I enjoy the dichotomy between the perfect plastic exterior and the inner chaos. 

Plus I live there.

 

 Would you like everyone to read your books?

Sure. Buy them as printed books. Download them for your e-reader. Borrow them from the library. I don't care how you get them, as long as you read and enjoy them. (Just don't steal them).

 

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

ZAK ALLEN is the darker pseudonym of ALAN ORLOFF, author of the 
Agatha-Award finalist DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, and the Last Laff 
mystery series (KILLER ROUTINE and DEADLY CAMPAIGN), 
all from Midnight Ink

He's written two original e-books, FIRST TIME KILLER, a thriller, and THE TASTE, a horror/thriller. Click on the covers below to learn more!

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

[ Edited ]

Deadly Campaign  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

banner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEADLY CAMPAIGN
A Last Laff Mystery
From Midnight Ink (January 2012)

Deadly Campaign

 


"Professional comedian Channing Hayes goes amateur detective in his rousing encore performance...Orloff has put together another winning routine, and mystery buffs will enjoy the fresh venue of a comedy club, not to mention a soft-boiled amateur sleuth case." 
-- Library Journal 


"DEADLY CAMPAIGN has it all—political intrigue, family warfare and, best of all, a hero. If the line between comedy and tragedy is indeed thin, then Orloff is a master tightrope walker." 
-- P.J. Parrish, New York Times bestselling author of THE KILLING SONG 

Comedy club owner and occasional performer Channing Hayes thought the comedy business was tough, but it's a stroll in the park compared to politics. When he and his business partner Artie attend a congressional campaign event for their friend Thomas Lee's nephew, masked thugs storm in and break up Lee's restaurant with baseball bats. The candidate's people insist that the police not be involved, so Lee asks Channing to investigate. As Channing searches for answers, he finds himself immersed in a corrupt world of payoffs, gangs, illicit affairs, blackmail—and murder . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview

 

Comedy club owner and occasional performer Channing Hayes thought the comedy biz was tough, but it’s a stroll in the park compared to politics. When he and his business partner Artie attend a congressional campaign event for their friend Thomas Lee’s nephew, masked thugs storm in and break up Lee’s restaurant with baseball bats. The candidate’s people insist that the police not be involved, so Lee asks Channing to investigate. As Channing searches for answers, he finds himself plunged into a corrupt world of payoffs, gangs, illicit affairs, blackmail—and murder.

 

A New Last Laff Mystery from Agatha Award-Nominated Author Alan Orloff

 

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

Please welcome ALAN ORLOFF!

 

 

]

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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

BTW - I saw this on Alan's Facebook page. I foresee a lot of discussion on this topic during his visit!

 

"To recap: Yesterday, my son JUMPED OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. Also yesterday, in a different hemisphere, my brother and sister-in-law JUMPED OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. Luckily, I did not get the family "daredevil" gene. If anyone is wondering, I should say that I will NEVER JUMP OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. Never. Ever. I don't even like roller coasters. Heck, I don't even like massage recliners."

 

I have to say, I'm with Alan 100 percent here!

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AlanOrloff
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

Hi Becke,

Thanks so much for inviting me this week! I'm looking forward to interactiing with your forum visitors--I'm sure we'll all have a lot of fun.

 

I'll be stopping in frequently to answer questions and say hello! (So I hope there are a lot of questions. If not, I might have to think up a few limericks to get things rolling. And believe me, you don't want that!)

 

Alan

Alan Orloff
Author of DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD (Agatha Award Finalist), KILLER ROUTINE, and DEADLY CAMPAIGN (and, writing as Zak Allen, THE TASTE and FIRST TIME KILLER)
www.alanorloff.com
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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!


AlanOrloff wrote:

Hi Becke,

Thanks so much for inviting me this week! I'm looking forward to interactiing with your forum visitors--I'm sure we'll all have a lot of fun.

 

I'll be stopping in frequently to answer questions and say hello! (So I hope there are a lot of questions. If not, I might have to think up a few limericks to get things rolling. And believe me, you don't want that!)

 

Alan


With this group, I can almost guarantee they're going to be begging for some limericks, Alan! Because the sign in process can be glitchy, we always have a lot more people viewing the threads here than commenting on them. I'll toss you some questions if it gets quiet - but have no fear, there are lots of silent "lurkers" reading your comments!

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ReadingPatti
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

AlanOrloff, Welcome, hope you have a great visit with us.

 

I love the titles of your books. I must check then out.

 

What do you like about writing mysteries?

 

I love a really good mystery.

 

ReadingPatti

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eadieburke
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

[ Edited ]

Welcome Alan:

 

Actually, we met on the boards last June when you were featured with The Midnight Ink group. Becke didn't remember because you were part of a group. Becke has been befuddled since she just moved but she's so nice to us that we always forgive her.

 

Here's the link:

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Mystery/Meet-the-Authors-of-MIDNIGHT-INK/m-p/1071752/highligh...

 

I got a copy of your book, Diamonds for the Dead, and I just pushed to the top of my TBR pile and started it last night. I am about 100 pages into it and I am enjoying it very much. The writing just flows and the characters are great!

 

Can't wait to finish it today!

 

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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AlanOrloff
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

Hi Reading Patti,

 

There are a bunch of things I like about writing mysteries, but I think the biggest attraction for me is that I get to conduct my own "good vs. evil" cage match. I like to throw obstacles in the way of my protagonist and watch him struggle--with others, with himself, against nature--to overcome them. Unlike in the real world, in my stories, good vanquishes evil (but not always without consequences).

 

Thanks for the question!

 

Alan

Alan Orloff
Author of DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD (Agatha Award Finalist), KILLER ROUTINE, and DEADLY CAMPAIGN (and, writing as Zak Allen, THE TASTE and FIRST TIME KILLER)
www.alanorloff.com
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AlanOrloff
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

Hi Eadie,

 

Becke is nice, isn't she? (Let's try not to befuddle her, okay?  :smileyhappy:  )

 

Thanks for moving DIAMONDS to the top of your TBR pile. If you're like me, that's one huge pile!

 

Hope you enjoy the book!

 

Alan

Alan Orloff
Author of DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD (Agatha Award Finalist), KILLER ROUTINE, and DEADLY CAMPAIGN (and, writing as Zak Allen, THE TASTE and FIRST TIME KILLER)
www.alanorloff.com
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becke_davis
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Re: Please Welcome Featured Author ALAN ORLOFF!

[ Edited ]

AlanOrloff wrote:

Hi Eadie,

 

Becke is nice, isn't she? (Let's try not to befuddle her, okay?  :smileyhappy:  )

 

Thanks for moving DIAMONDS to the top of your TBR pile. If you're like me, that's one huge pile!

 

Hope you enjoy the book!

 

Alan


As Eadie mentioned, since I moved from Cincinnati to Chicago this summer, I've been easily befuddled!

 

Also, today is my first full day babysitting for my granddaughter while her mom goes to work and my son is at grad school. If she starts crying, the only thing that calms her down is taking her for a walk - if I disappear for awhile, you'll know I'm outside pushing a stroller!