Today I welcome Eva Blaskovic, the author of Beyond the Precipice to Shelf Full of Books. I'll be interviewing Eva in just a bit, but let's find out a bit about her book first.
A YOUNG MAN WITH A DARK SECRET MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN HIS FAMILY AND THE GIRL HE LOVES.
For six years Bret Killeen is trapped by the wishes of his dead father, blackmailed by his brother, and rejected by his uncle. Meanwhile, he watches his mother descend into the depths of poverty.
As Bret wrestles with guilt over the death of his father, he is helped by Nicole, a young cello player with big dreams. She stirs the embers of his longing both for music and for her - and ignites a fire he can't extinguish.
But can he brave his past in order to seize his future?
The award-worthy debut novel by Eva A. Blaskovic is a riveting blend of suspense, darkhumor, and compelling inter-personal drama. Once you engage this roller coaster read you won't be able to stop.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
What inspired you to write Beyond the Precipice?
I wanted to make people think. I wanted them to reflect on their lives and the lives of others, and to question the world we live in. As time went on, I incorporated a number of messages about family dynamics and societal attitudes, and how people can affect, for better or for worse, someone else’s life. Beyond the Precipice is a story about aspirations, human error, guilt, forgiveness, and the unrivaled power of rare, unconditional love. The novel also unveils the unfortunate reality of how money determines whether a young person disappears into obscurity or goes on to live a full, successful life—and that sometimes we simply can’t do it on our own; we need the help of others who believe in us. It is a dark story, but not one without hope.
In addition, many people in the real world are steered away from their true passions, only to expend a lifetime attempting to recover from the mistake. The influence of parents, educators, and other trusted people cannot be overemphasized, nor can their responsibility in this matter be understated.
Do you play a musical instrument yourself? If so, what do you play? If not, what would you play if you had the opportunity?
I have played eight musical instruments in my lifetime, spanning strings, winds, and keys. Among those are classical guitar, clarinet, violin, and viola. I would still like to own a piano—something I’ve wanted since grade three—and to learn to play electric guitar.
Music is an integral part of this book. Was there particular music that helped inspire you in the writing of the book, or influenced you when you were writing it?
Yes, there is a large musical component in the book, giving it its own spirit. But insofar as the book’s message is concerned, one can substitute any passion in place of music. Many readers have already done so; this is how they identify personally with Bret’s story.
The music that inspired me to write the various passages and scenes is too many titles to list here, but I’ve compiled some of the titles in a Beyond the Precipice Playlist. Genres I use for scene creation span from classical to Celtic to rock to symphonic metal, as well as pieces from violinists Vanessa Mae and particularly Dr. Draw, whom I had the honor to see play in person in Edmonton, Alberta. The type of music determines the kind of scene produced, and vice versa. Sometimes I let the music inspire the scene. Other times, if there is a particular scene I need to construct, I choose the music that will facilitate this process.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
This novel—five and a half years, beginning halfway through 2006. But given that, in that time, my marriage broke down, I moved three times, raised four children, took courses, did Taekwondo, worked multiple jobs, and owned a business—leaving writing time constrained to the wee hours of the night or consuming holiday time—the fact that this novel was written at all is a miracle. It was written because it had to be, and it is a testament to the highest level of perseverance. Although the conditions under which the book was written were grueling, the physical and emotional hardships wrote a better novel. Note to self: be careful what you wish for.
In addition, although I’d been a writer all my life, I actually had to learn to write, because at long last I had access to writing courses and the industry, courtesy of the Internet—something that was not available in my youth. The story also had to simmer and steep, building in plot and meaning. Beyond the Precipice was the book I cut my author teeth on—it was a journey of discovery. The writing of the second book has come along much faster, but I do still struggle to get adequate writing and research time around sustaining a living. Fiction writing requires large blocks of unbroken time—something that I still battle to secure.
Which character is your favorite? Why?
I guess Bret Killeen would have to be because I’ve always wanted to be that gifted in music—which is probably why music kept writing itself into the book. Antonio Salieri nailed it in one of his lines in the 1984 Amadeus movie: “… why implant the desire? And then deny me the talent!” (According to some sources, Salieri was not actually out to kill Mozart, as was depicted in the movie.)
I also like Bret’s devotion to people, although the same could be said about some of the other characters.
If your book were made into a movie, who would play the main characters?
Although a former editor for major US magazines and publishing houses, who had also written screenplays for Paramount, critiqued the novel and said that Beyond the Precipice “would make a hell of a movie,” I am out of my scope in terms of being able to suggest who would play the main characters. However, if the time for a movie did come around, I would like to have the opportunity to consult with the directors about the right fit of each of the cast, just as J.K. Rowling had done in the selection process for actors auditioning in the first Harry Potter film. I have definite images of how the characters of Beyond the Precipice should look, act, and present themselves, but it is difficult to describe. It’s something I would recognize when I saw it.
Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book?
All the readers I’ve heard back from to date relate to the story, or see themselves in it. Youth like the realism and relevance. Adults like the writing style, suspense, and depth. It’s a story about people who could be real, with issues that resonate with many a reader for that reason.
How did you come up with the title?
I wanted a title that nailed the concept of the book but also had a deeper or multiple meaning. Beyond the Precipice summed things up on at least two different levels: physical and metaphorical. Actually, the double-meaning idea was inspired by the book and movie The Other Side of the Mountain, based on the true story of champion skier Jill Kinmont, who became paralyzed after a near-fatal accident a year before the 1956 Winter Olympics, and had to find a new way to live after the life-altering event.
Are you considering a sequel to this book?
A sequel to Beyond the Precipice has been in the works since May 2012. We are targeting release in late 2014, depending on production time. Following that, the publisher, Ashby-BP Fair-Trade Publishing, has also requested a third book to complete a trilogy.
Who should read this book?
Beyond the Precipice appeals to both youth and adults, but on different levels.
Since the protagonist is eighteen, his lifestyle and his internal and external conflicts hold insights for youth. However, eighteen is also the age of majority in Alberta, Canada, so Bret has officially entered adulthood with its new set of responsibilities. Due to the book’s complexity and life lessons, along with the inclusion of older characters who bring an additional layer of dynamic, the book has a great deal of meaning for adult readers (male or female), many of whom find themselves relating to Bret on some level or from some point in their own lives. The book is not a light read. The story delves into the psychologies of grief and abuse, and deals with family issues such as parental rejection and poverty. It is a psychological suspense novel about character and relationships rather than high action. Although action scenarios are dispersed within, their significance lies in the character clues that the reader collects along the way.
It has overtones of Dead Poets Society, especially where Bret and his late father’s relationship is concerned, and Lion King, in terms of dealing with guilt and manipulation, facing the past, and owning up to responsibility. Artists, writers, and even musicians have identified with the sense of alienation and lack of acceptance Bret experiences with his unstoppable passion for music, and musicians have enjoyed the numerous passages and descriptions. Both the beauty and danger of Edmonton, Alberta’s winter climate, rivaling Antarctica’s temperatures, are captured in the backdrop of the story, adding an exotic element that few people have experienced.
Bret is gifted on many levels, but readers find him sympathetic because he has significant character flaws. He is also conflicted, and undervalues almost every aspect of himself. Giftedness for him is a sentence, not an advantage. His transformation begins when he can confront this view he has of himself and his gifts.
Eva Blaskovic was born in the Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where she raised four children. Eva has worked in science labs and has taught literacy, writing, math, and science. She is both an accomplished writer and editor of non-fiction articles on business, education, how-to, parenting, and travel. She is also an author of short fiction. Beyond the Precipice is Eva Blaskovic's first full length novel, but it has already received rave reviews from literary professionals and aficionados the world over. When Eva hasn't buried herself in writing or editing, she may be found taking her teenagers to Taekwondo, exploring the Farmers' Market, listening to Celtic music, or sipping a latte.
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**Tour sponsored by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours**