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"The Hoax" Book Review

This month for our book club book, we picked a read from an indie publisher (Mundania Press). It is called "The Hoax" and here is the blurb:

Bored accountant, Joey Duvaine, needed a career change. World domination seemed like a fun gig.

Allowing himself to become a puppet in his genius friend’s religious con, Joey plays his part in a fraudulent miracle devised by a private special effects team. As the media and the public are divided on whether he’s a modern prophet or a clever scam artist, an FBI agent becomes interested in Joey’s financial transactions, possible terrorist motives, and the overnight popularity of his new cult.

But the agent’s investigation leads him down a path he’s unprepared for, as Joey’s benefactors have barbarous motives beyond the smokescreen of the hoax, and for them, humanity is merely a disguise.

The story itself was fantastic. It was full of twists and turns and mysteries. There were a few issues, such as teeny tiny print and some editing problems. As an editor, I am very sensitive to those things. I don't mean to be, but my brain is wired to find those things. However, it didn't slow down the reading. I was able to overlook them and enjoy the story.

The pacing is great. The book is 360 pages of tiny print, but the actions and story pull you through to the end. The characters are fleshed out and you care about what is happening to them. There isn't one slow part or section that drags, but it's not overwhelming. It's just really great storytelling. I highly recommend this book.

I was also lucky enough to have email correspondence with the author. Adrienne Jones was kind enough to answer some questions, and she wanted me to mention her two new books that are coming out this summer: SEEDED, an urban fantasy from Mundania Press (publishers of The Hoax) and BACKBITE, a science fiction novel from Creative Guy Publishing. Her website is www.adriennejones.net.

Q) What inspired you to write this book?
A) I knew a man who pulled sleazy cons, like completely fabricating his resume and getting a job as a CEO with a company he knew nothing about, or using a rented wheelchair to cut line at Disney Land. But the ultimate was declaring himself a minister and his home a church to try and get tax breaks. It was this idea of a fake minister that intrigued me, and I started thinking…what would it take for something like that to go global? The conclusion I came to was that although humanity has proven at times to blindly follow anything, nothing in the information age could fool people on such a grand scale, especially with all the conflict and diversity in beliefs. So I asked myself, how COULD that happen, then? Ultimately my only option was to go beyond the known world, and that’s when the book shifted from mystery to paranormal mystery.

Q) How long did it take you to write the book?
A) THE HOAX was my first novel so I tinkered with it on and off before getting serious about it…I’d guess about two years from start to finish.

Q) Can you talk about its evolution and publishing history?
A) Well a week after I sent the book out to publishers I got a phone call from an editor at Tor. He wanted to talk about the book and asked me to send the entire manuscript (I’d sent a synopsis and sample). At the time I was too inexperienced to know that it was unusual for an editor at a major Sci-fi publishing house to just call you on the phone, so when it got rejected (he said it was too long for a first novel, and it WAS), I assumed it would be easy to just find another publisher. It wasn’t. I spent the next year trying to place it. Ultimately I discovered Mundania Press, who specialize in paranormal and have no problem with cross-genre stories like THE HOAX. By then I’d trimmed it down to size, and a few months after they requested the full manuscript, Mundania offered me a contract.

Q) What do you think are your themes?
A) Friendship and betrayal, free will versus coercion, the possibility of unconditional love and the idea that even those closest to you could be harboring secrets you would never imagine.

Q) What are you trying to get across or understand as you write?
A) Honestly, nothing. I write to entertain myself. I think creating worlds and people that didn’t exist before I made them to be highly amusing and fulfilling. It doesn’t run much deeper than that. I’m glad others find my stories as amusing as I do, that’s the icing on the cake.

Q) Why do you write?
A) I guess that would be the same answer as above, I enjoy it and it entertains me. I love to read, love to absorb myself in a fantasy world for a while until the book ends, and writing a novel is similar to that feeling, except you’re the one in control (even though at times it feels like the characters are leading the author)

Q) Where did the information on the celestial beings come from? Is it religion specific?
A) I get asked this a lot. It’s about 50 percent actual research into celestial mythology, and 50 percent just stuff I made up because I thought it would be neat. I definitely wanted to stay somewhat away from traditional religious interpretations of what these beings could be, and give it a sort of ‘what if’ spin that would make people look at it a little deeper, a bit more personally. Bring it down to earth, so to speak.

Q) Is there a sequel?
A) I have an outline and a first chapter, and plan to start a sequel this summer at long last.