“The woman he’s just had sex with has been dead for three weeks.”
The above tag line from 15 MINUTES TO LIVE by Phoef Sutton caught my attention and I’m glad it did, because this book was an excellent read which I highly recommend (mine and Heidi’s review posted below).
I am pleased to host the author of this wonderfully written, psychological thriller to the blog.
Please join me in welcoming, Emmy and Golden Globe winner PHOEF SUTTON.
Phoef is also generously giving away a copy of 15 MINUTES TO LIVE (giveaway details below).
My interview with Phoef Sutton:
Selena: Welcome, Phoef, I’m looking forward to sharing your thoughts with the readers, so let’s get right to the conversation.
You’ve worked with a lot of actors and people in the television and movie industry, if you were stuck on a deserted Island for one week (don’t worry in interview fantasy land, there’s a plane waiting to take you back, and all amenities are at your disposal) excluding the obvious—your wife and children— what four people in the business would you want to be stuck with for that week on the island?
Phoef: I’d choose other writers – they’re my favorite people.
Selena: My favorite people too and I’d choose writers over movie actors as well. Which writers?
Phoef: You probably haven’t heard of them. The late, great David Lloyd, writer of the famous “CHUCKLES BITES THE DUST” episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.
Selena: I remember that episode well and MTM was and still is one of my all time favorite sit-coms. I still laugh when I think of Chuckles, brilliant, witty writing. Good first choice for the island. Who else?
Phoef: Lee Goldberg, author the MONK NOVELS and THE HEIST with Janet Evanovich. Ken Levine & David Isaacs, writers of all the CHEERS VS. GARY’S TAVERN episodes of CHEERS.
Selena: I can totally see why you picked these writers. The Cheers vs Gary’s Tavern were some of the funniest episodes and I’m also an avid Lee Goldberg reader. I want on that island.
Okay, this I imagine will be a tough one to answer, but do your best: Which of those people would after a few days propel you to arrange a tribal meeting with the others to vote off the island?
Phoef: They’d probably vote me off the island!
Selena: *LOL* Let’s talk about your current novel. I loved the way you characterized Carl in 15 MINUTES TO LIVE, and especially the chemistry and witty repartee he exchanged with Kit, his writing partner. Did you base the banter and relationship on any person you worked with?
Phoef: Kit was based primarily on a dear friend of mine who was the writing assistant on CHEERS named Barry Zajac. All hail Barry!
Selena: No wonder the show was so witty. Yes, hail to Barry. Speaking of working with other writers; was it a considerable shift from working with a team (with other writers) to writing a novel (a solitary endeavor for most writers)?
Phoef: Writing was always a very private thing for me. When I started writing short stories and plays in high school and college, I only wrote by myself and I NEVER talked about what I was writing. It felt like that would spoil the relationship I had with my work.
So once I got into the television writing, I really had to learn to collaborate – to sell my ideas and jokes to other writers and to executives. I grew to really love “the room” – the process by which writers collaborate on a script and make it better. But I’m always instinctively a loner. It felt good to get back to that.
Selena: I can totally relate to you wanting to keep your passion for writing private. It is always interesting to me, when chatting with other writers from different parts of the world, different genre writers, male, female, variety of ages and backgrounds, just how much in common we all have when it comes to our craft.
With regard to writing 15 MINUTES TO LIVE, as I was reading it, I could visualize the characters, and the action unfolding before my eyes like a movie on the big screen. Do you think this was in part because of your experience writing for television and movie scripts?
Phoef: I guess it’s a little like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule. I’ve spent the past 25 years writing scripts, so I guess it’s become ingrained in my creative thought process. But I didn’t really think about it. The writers I most admire (Dashie Hammett, James Cain, Richard Matheson) all write that way too. So perhaps it was inevitable.
Selena: What music do you listen to while writing?
Phoef: An odd collection: THE BEATLES, BERNARD HERRMANN, RICHARD THOMPSON, EMMYLOU HARRIS. Spotify doesn’t know what to make of me!
Selena: Yes, the Beatles and I know what you mean about your eclectic taste in music, which I think helps writers write outside the box, because our tastes are varied. What interesting tidbit can you tell us that you discovered while researching FIFTEEN MINUTES TO LIVE?
Phoef: That “repressed memories” can usually be false. I know that’s a controversial point of view.
Selena: I can see where that would have come up in your research. It is a controversial point of view, I agree, and you also tackled another highly controversial topic in your book, and I wasn’t sure which way you were going to go with it. It really tugged at my heartstrings and opened the door to some great discussions for the book club. I don’t want to talk about that other topic here of course, because I don’t want to spoil any aspect of the book for those who have not read as of yet.
As someone who watched CHEERS, not only was the writing witty as I said earlier, but the timing was spot on, which is why it was such a successful show. Do you think writing humor is something one is born with, or something one can learn?
Phoef: It can be honed and sharpened, but it really has to be there from birth. Or before. It helps if you made jokes in the amniotic sac!
Selena: I agree, you can teach the craft of writing humor, but I do believe it is part of one’s genetic make-up. What’s up next in your fiction writing career?
Phoef: I have a couple of novels in the pipe-line. A hard-boiled mystery called CRUSH. A ghost story called FROM AWAY. And I’m collaborating on a new DEAD MAN book for Lee Goldberg.
Selena: I’ll make sure to watch out for those. Again, thank you, it’s been a pleasure, chatting with you and on behalf of the lucky reader who will win a copy of your book, we appreciate your generosity.
I highly recommend this psychological thriller with a beautiful love story threaded throughout. This book has so many twists that just when you think you’ve figured out what’s going on and have solved it, the author throws in another twist.
If you like Elmore Leonard’s books, quirky characters, witty dialogue, flawed characters, some suspense, some mystery, some comedy (I would say leaning on dark comedy at times) and a well paced and developed plot with a touching love story, then I highly recommend this book.
This is great storytelling at its best. 15 MINUTES TO LIVE captured me right at the beginning and left me teary eyed at the end. I look forward to another book by Phoef Sutton.
Heidi Wiley’s Review
Carl was just going through the motions of life when a lover from his past makes a passionate entry into this life, and for one night, he was transported to his teenage years. However, soon Carl realizes there is something wrong and he may be the only one that can help Jesse. When she disappears, he is left wondering if it was really her breath that touched his skin or if he can process the news that she apparently died three months ago. Regardless, he has to find out the truth even if he has to question his own sanity to do it.
Author Phoef Sutton has created the main character Carl that at the age of 35, has lived long enough to reflect on his accomplishments, but also looks back on a certain amount of regret. He’s given the chance to surrender to the pleasures that time could never erase but finds himself in a dangerous situation that turns him from the average guy to a man who will do anything to protect the first love of his life.
This story centers on what truly has happened to Jesse whose beauty and innocence reminds all of us how simple our youth was and how sometimes the future becomes a forgotten illusion. As this story unfolds, this author introduces intriguing characters that have their own perceived reality of what they mean to Jesse. These men claim to want the best for her but Mr. Sutton leaves it up to the reader to figure out if their obsession with this woman is because of love, lust or mercy.
There are twists and turns in this well written novel that make this mystery more complex and any one of these theories could be assumed to be the path to the truth. 15 Minutes to Live includes the best and worst that lives in the human heart and chapter after chapter will leave the reader hopeful, cynical, sad and inspired. Highly recommend.
To win a copy of 15 MINUTES TO LIVE simply leave a comment on this blog. Winner will be drawn (using random.org) and notified on Monday, July 1st 9:00 a.m.