VODKA O’CLOCK 2021-03:


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AMBER LOVE 14-MAR-2021 My work is supported by the generous backers at who appreciate my reviews and my stories; and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

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New Jersey novelist, Wallace Stroby, discusses the details of his 2021 novel, HEAVEN’S A LIE and the character developments of his protagonist and antagonist. The story of Joette Harper, an average person working a job she has no passion for and trying to find a way to pay medical bills, ends up making one terrible mistake — stealing drug money from a burning car wreck.

Wallace set the story in the Monmouth County area of New Jersey. He created Joette to represent the kind of person who wouldn’t be the type to be featured on a tourism commercial. Wallace credits his editor, Josh Kendall, with helping Joette’s character become tangible and realistic. Joette is the source of the action. She makes this terrible mistake giving in to temptation rather than having action happen to her.

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Real world events like Superstorm Sandy and the COVID pandemic were acknowledged in the book, but not detailed. In fact, HEAVEN’S A LIE was written before the quarantine.

“Joette in the book is haunted by her memories, she’s haunted by the memories of the life that she had which was everything she wanted and then it got taken away from her. She lives very much sort of in the past. She’s just day by day getting through what she needs to do.”

One of the great things to hear Wallace reveal was how the theme of grief came out to him as he was in the process of writing the book. He was reminded of an old quote, “Happiness, too, is inevitable.”

We also talked a little about writing for anthologies. He had a connection with author Lawrence Block, who is also known for writing thieves. Connections like this are helpful when it comes to getting requests for writing for anthologies.

Trashing Your Work:

Wallace said he wrote 170 pages of something and threw it out. This opened the door to talk about what happens when a creator dies: is it valuable or respectful to publish things they felt shouldn’t be out in the world?


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