written by Jess Riley
published by Jess Riley
About the book – from Goodreads: Thirty-year-old Graham Finch spends his days trying to rehabilitate inmates and his nights trying to rehabilitate his heart–until a new coworker, his high school crush Drew Daniels, walks through the prison gates one hot summer morning. Drew is on the run from a painful past that’s nearly crushed her faith in love. Together, they might have just what it takes to mend their hearts. If only finding their way to one another were easier than working with convicted felons.
Loaded with twisted humor and pathos, Mandatory Release is a darkly comic look at friendship, forgiveness, and love. It’s a story about broken people putting themselves back together and learning that no matter what you lock up–a person, a secret, or your heart–sooner or later, everything must be released.
Contains adult language, sex, jokes about sex, dark secrets, toxic friends, and a little dog named Avis, after the car rental company. A snarky mash-up of lad lit and chick lit for people who read Jonathan Tropper, watch Orange is the New Black, and pretend they don’t sing along to TOOL and Gordon Lightfoot in the car, sometimes on the same day.
Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Jess Riley, author of Mandatory Release, to the blog today. She is touring the blogosphere with AToMR Tours. She has answered some questions for all of you.
Do you remember how/when your interest in writing started? Since I could pick up a pen, pretty much. J I was a huge reader as a kid, and started writing stories in grade school. My father was also a writer (mostly poetry and short stories), and I loved emulating him. The biggest treat was when he’d let me use his old electric typewriter.
What were the challenges (research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing this story or characters to life? Two things: getting the male voice right, and being sensitive and true to the experiences of someone in a chair. I also recognized that the setting and my choice in primary POV character would be a tough sell for some people, but sometimes you just have to get over yourself. Write the story that demands to be written and take the risk, or you’ll always wonder.
What was the easiest part of writing Mandatory Release? The editing phase, when I filtered in more of everything: more humor, more sex, more anger, more jealousy, more loss, more secrets and betrayals, more redemption, more hope. I’ve been working on this novel for more than a decade, believe it or not, and I set it aside for years at a stretch to work on other things. Coming back to it after so much time made it amazingly easy to spot things to cut and things to add.
What is your favorite scene or was your favorite to write? Don’t forget to tell us why. You want me to say the sex scenes, right? J While they were fun to write (particularly the first one), I think the climactic conversation between Drew and Graham, after her secret is revealed, is actually my favorite. Once Drew comes to terms with her past, she’s free to really face the future, and she starts to imagine Graham as a bigger part of it. It felt like such a human scene to write, full of empathy and longing and friendship you want so badly to be love, but you patiently wait until the object of your affection figures things out.
What’s next for you writing wise that you can share with us? Next up is something completely new for me: a dystopian NA that takes place in thirty years. I’m writing from the perspective of three major POV characters, and the plot involves reincarnation and past lives. It’s more world-building and character development than I’ve ever done, but so much fun.
About the author: Jess Riley’s experiences teaching in a medium-security prison inspired the novel Mandatory Release. Her debut novel (Driving Sideways, now in its fourth printing) was published by Random House in 2008. She lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her husband and nutty Cairn Terrier in a 130-year-old money pit farmhouse. When she’s not writing novels, she’s a Grant Writer for school districts nationwide.
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Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!