In Kieran Shields' superb debut thriller, The Truth of All Things, brilliant but troubled private detective Perceval Grey is aptly named. Being of mixed American Indian and Caucasian racial heritages, he's forced to battle deeply ingrained late 19th century New England prejudices, even in his own family. Grey is indeed a gray man in the society he lives and works in -- neither an Indian, nor a white man, but straddling some murky, shifting ground in between. At times during an investigation of horrific murders tied to the infamous Salem witch hunts that happened 200 years earlier, Grey's mixed race is a valuable asset. Mostly, though, Grey finds himself forced to confront an array of bigotries to save the very people who belittle him from an unholy conspiracy that attempts to resurrect in their town's midst a long-dead evil.
We at Gazalapalooza are fortunate that our collective powers of persuasion were sufficient to briefly tear Shields away from toiling on his debut's sequel long enough to subject himself to the Author Spotlight's fearsome glare. Given the riveting nature of his writing's subject matter, this is no easy task. So now, without further ado, let's see how well Shields retains his composure as he tackles our questions.
Gazala: In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and why you choose them.
Shields: Tough choice on the fiction side, but I’ll take a one volume complete collection of Sherlock Holmes. Two great characters, one great friendship, countless great deductions. What more can you ask for? As for non-fiction, I’d have to select some sort of Gilligan’s Island Survival Guide so I could learn to make a radio, and anything else I need, out of coconuts and bamboo.
Gazala: Your debut book is an excellent and gripping thriller, titled The Truth of All Things. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about The Truth of All Things, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.
Shields: In my not-so-humble opinion, The Truth of All Things is a flat out good story with memorable characters pursuing a terrific mystery. And who doesn’t like a good mystery? Even if you’re not a mystery buff, it’s brimming with murder, intrigue, creepy occult stuff, interesting historical details, dry humor, an imperfect but brilliant hero, and an intrepid heroine.
In a nutshell: It’s fun and clever. More importantly, when people see you with a copy, they’ll think you’re fun and clever too.
And if that’s not enough, a single hour of reading The Truth of All Things contains your daily requirement of 42 essential vitamins and minerals. (**This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. Side effects of this novel may include sleeplessness, temporary confusion, and feelings of delusional well-being. If you experience criminal detection lasting more than 4 hours, seek immediate professional assistance.**)
Gazala: What are books for?
Shields: For feeding the imagination, the intellect, and the soul. Plus, when you move to a new place and have to haul an endless series of heavy boxes out to the truck, books make you feel like you’ve accumulated something worthwhile instead of just a load of junk you don’t remember buying.
Gazala: W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why? Shields: They’re more like guidelines than rules, but I agree that no one can identify them with any certainty. It’s a waste of time trying to figure out what they are; that time should be spent at the keyboard figuring out what works for you.
Gazala: Something wicked this way comes that requires my immediate attention. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.
Shields: Q: Kieran, how can you most shamelessly promote your new book in this limited space? A: By mentioning it’s available March 27 at your favorite local bookstore or online. You should probably pick up multiple copies since you’ve got family and friends who love a good mystery and you’ll want to share this story, but you don’t want them hogging your copy. P.S. The sequel should be out in the not too distant future.
Your appetite sufficiently whetted, you're likely hungry to scoop up your copy of The Truth of All Things. Not to worry, because you can do so at Amazon simply by clicking here.