Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Look: Getting To Know "The Clearing"

I'm really excited to be posting today. My friend and fellow author Anne Riley, who has been a wonderful support to me since my first novel was published last year, has just announced the release of her own first published novel "The Clearing" and already, it is garnering a significant buzz in the indie community.

Anne Riley's journey has been a joy to observe over the past couple of years. She is living a blissful life in Birmingham, Alabama. Anne has just welcomed her first child into the world with her husband wonderful husband Rob and is quite the Spanish teacher to boot. In fact Anne herself describes herself "as an author of young adult fiction disguised as a high school Spanish teacher".

As a kind of longish side note, I was really quite taken by Birmingham whilst watching Stephen Fry's wonderful journey through the United States in "Stephen Fry In America". Birmingham was also home to the late Glenn Shadix, who some of you may remember from Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" in which he played Otho. Shadix had a beautiful home in Birmingham, whose architecture was just sublime - a typically southern style which I just adore. 

So onto "The Clearing" and what it's all about.

From the synopsis we find a young girl struggling at a crossroads in her life. Natalie Watson doesn’t believe the reports about the way her parents died. In fact, she’s not sure she believes in much of anything these days. But after moving from her home in Georgia to her aunt’s boarding school in Maine, solving the mystery of her parents’ deaths is just one of several things on her mind. When she’s not fending off attacks from the popular kids or taking refuge in the pages of a novel, she ponders the rumors circulating about a certain boy in her math class… a boy with fiery red hair who never speaks to anyone.

Despite suspicions that he may have murdered his sister a year earlier, Natalie finds it impossible to stay away from Liam Abernathy – especially when he confesses to knowing something about her parents. Soon she’s following him into the forest, where things happen she doesn’t understand… things that shouldn’t be possible….

As Liam’s story unfolds, Natalie realizes she’s more connected to him than she ever thought – and not everyone she counts as a friend can be trusted.

"The Clearing" promises to be an immediately engaging work, suspenseful and driven by strong chracterization and plot that is clearly evident in Anne's short story work I've had the pleasure to read.

Anne's genius in her writing style is that she doesn't take her target audience - young adults - for granted, nor does her writing speak down to them. Anne has an almost balleretic skill in crafting intelligent tome, engaging and absorbing plot and fully formed characterizations that give the reader a sense of clarity in the protagonists and antagonists whilst at the same time encouraging the reader to peel back the layers for themselves as they read. Anne also encourages the reader to become almost interactive in the story, rather than just be a passive observer of it. This, I think, is one of those essential ingredients in a really great book and, despite what Anne might say about her cooking prowess - that does not extend to her ability to cook up a storm on the page.

I truly believe that "The Clearing" promises to be one of the books to look out for in 2011 and I strongly recommend that you add it to your must read list.

With an official release date of March 1st, "The Clearing" can be purchased from Amazon's Kindle Store, SmashWords and Anne's own CreateSpace portal. Keep up with all of Anne's goings on at her site Anne Riley Books.



  1. You are so so so so great. THANK YOU!!! I can't even find enough words to thank you properly. You are un-freaking-believable. And you make me sound a lot cooler than I actually am. But I do agree, Birmingham is lovely, and you know you've got a free place to stay if you ever make the trek up to our neck of the woods!

  2. You're too modest for your own good Missy. Just got my confirmation email from CreateSpace for my print copy. Remember, you owe me a signed napkin from your favorite Birmingham coffee house so I can use it as a bookmark.

  3. ...And I'll keep that offer in mind. I would soooo love to visit America one day.

  4. Lovely review, Dean! I've been wanting to read Anne's book. She's such a sweetheart and so gifted. I know it will be an engaging read.

    P.S. If you do ever visit America, you must let me know ;)

  5. Haha - That's awesome. I can imagine that I could do an entire trip to America and visit way more interesting places than the usual - eg Vegas, the Canyon, NY. You guys would beat them hands down for sure.

  6. Thanks for the post Dean. I'll have to check this book out. I think it's something my wife would actually love.