I received great news Friday, January 16th when I opened an email from my publisher. It read: “Congratulations on your bestselling book.”
I got goose bumps as I read the announcement that Signature Affair, my first novel had made Kindle’s Top 100 Best Seller list. I had no idea that we were even close. The 2013 publication had been ranked as high as 16,600 out of over a million books on Kindle but had dropped in recent months. I assumed it had run its course. The publisher agreed and suggested we drop the Kindle price from $5.99 to 99 cents. He said you won’t make any money but you’ll expand the readership for Costly Affair which was recently released. That made sense to me, so we did it.I knew we’d sell a few more books, but I had no idea it’d take off like it did.
Costly Affair, the second book in the trilogy, builds upon Signature Affair which exposes the underbelly—the politics, sex and backroom machinations—of academic life on a Midwestern college campus. Like the first, Costly Affair is written in a university setting. I acknowledge that my books draw from my personal experience as a university president. The main character, Steve Schilling, and I share many common traits. We both drink Tanqueray with three olives. He wears a red fedora just like I did as president of Youngstown State University. And he’s highly successful, achieving the same accomplishments—making academic changes, dealing with athletics and building new facilities.
But Steve is a different guy. This is not my memoir. Steve Schilling is a troubled man. By day he runs the university with adroit leadership skills. He’s loved by all in the community for his fund-raising ability, his keen sense of community and his charisma.
At night he’s dissimilar—a troubled man—unable to separate what is right from wrong. He falls in love with a wealthy and powerful media guru, but he can’t stop his thirst for other successful women. He loves each as if she is the only one, exceeding her expectations in every way.
As you read through this morass you’ll develop strong feelings for Steve. At times you’ll admire his leadership successes. I have had some readers tell me there are times when they want to curse Steve and slap him in the face. And then, they also feel sorry for him. Steve moves to Washington DC in Presidential Affair, the final book in the Love, Lies and Liaisons trilogy.
When I’m asked about my interest in writing, I admit I’ve had a long-time passion for it. I once had a professor say “if you can’t write it down so someone else understands it, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’ve written professional books and articles, but there’s nothing like writing fiction. It has transformed my life; I have a new purpose in retirement.
My wife Lin loves my new found commitment to fiction writing. Since she has been an avid fiction reader for years, she helps by advising about story lines, editing, and proofing. We often talk about the characters. “Sometimes,” she says, “it seems so real I feel like setting an extra place at the table for Steve. But the best part of his writing is I get four or five hours a day to myself.”
We have fun with our friends, too. I use variations of our neighbor’s names and what they do in my stories. Sherriff Jim McDonald’s namesake, for example, is our good friend Tim McDonald. Bill Abbott who lives down the street is Thaddaeus Abbott, a corporate lawyer in Costly Affair. And not to be outdone his wife, Mary Ann, who leads a dance line at parties singing ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ and waving a napkin over her head is in my next book. Except in Presidential Affair she’s waving a pair of red silk panties as she parades through the room. It’s a real hoot! Presidential Affair is scheduled to be released in March.