Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fit to Kill by Donnie Whetstone: Interview & Excerpt

How do you stop a personal trainer, who fantasizes about killing his clients, then carries out his gruesome desire on someone else? Making matters worse, how do you stop desires for your own trainer, jeopardizing your marriage, more troubling, do you want to? That’s what Detective Tara Tanner must solve in this crime thriller.
La Flore is renowned for its elite personal trainers. This model city however, faces a crisis. Someone is on a killing binge. The killer is vicious and cunning. He harbors a profound irony for one of the nation’s fittest cities, and the way he selects his victims makes him untraceable, but this predator has a weakness. 
Tara Tanner is a wife, mother, and a crack detective whose record is blemished by a tragic case that leaves her feeling she has lost her edge. Tara has other demons. She dreads becoming like her mother, a temptress and philanderer, made worse by her uncontrollable attraction for her own trainer. 
Fit to Kill is a non-stop thriller of fantasy, temptation and redemption, a deadly game of chase, in which the line is marred between predator and prey, a game that reveals how far one will go to kill, and how far the other will go, to survive.

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From Chapter 8 – The Assessment

Cassandra Lowden is a successful columnist for the La Flore Herald and several local magazines. A La Flore native, Cassandra was a five foot six, one hundred eighteen pound phenom and three-year captain of Woodland Hills High’s powerhouse tennis team thirty years, three kids, and forty-nine pounds ago. Since her bitter divorce and a short lived Oxycontin addiction, Cassandra has been at odds with her torrid love affair with food, especially that of the starch and chocolate varieties. Puccini's, a four star La Flore restaurant, has a rich pasta Alfredo dish that Cassandra would gladly die for. Gifts Galore, a popular gift complex located at La Flore’s Super Mall, stays well stocked with an assortment of decadent gourmet chocolates that Cassandra would gladly kill for.

A meticulous woman with an impeccable taste for fashion, Cassandra is an attractive woman in spite of her weight. This does not deter her from trying to, as she proclaims, “raise her stock,” especially with the company of women she keeps. Over the years, Cassandra has tried countless diets, exercise programs and trainers. The long line of failures has formed a distorted yet resounding conclusion in her mind. An uncontrollable food addiction is not to blame for her woes with the scale. Instead, the diets, exercise programs, trainers and the four idiotic psychiatrists she hired, diagnosing her with an uncontrollable food addiction, are the culprits. Four months ago, an acquaintance she holds in high regard inspired Cassandra to try yet another trainer. Her reasoning was simple; she could not possibly go wrong with a trainer who makes a sixty-one year old look as stunning as Thelma Carson.

Twelve weeks have passed and Cassandra has made little progress with the trainer Thelma raved about.

“I may not be giving him exactly a hundred percent but I am giving at least ninety five percent,” she tells herself driving to the west side studio, with apprehension about her weekly assessment. “I haven’t been to Gifts Galore in ten weeks…ten whole weeks! I should have dropped at least twenty pounds for that reason alone. Ok…I stocked up on a few boxes of chocolates but I have had no more than one or two per day. What can that possibly hurt?”

Cassandra does not read nutrition labels, especially when she is in need of a chocolate fix. She does not know that one of her delightful chocolates packs a whopping two hundred and fifty calories. One chocolate per day would have her consuming an extra seventeen hundred and fifty calories per week.

Cassandra finally arrives and parks her late model Lexus in front of the studio. Upon entering, she immediately sees her trainer. His composed demeanor masks emotions that after the twelve-week period, are now bordering rage.

“I know, I know…I’m ten minutes late. I’ll hurry,” she says, scurrying past the trainer to the change room.

“You’re my last client for the day Cassandra; please take your time,” he says calmly.

He observes her, scurrying to meet her appointment, and sees someone who has him at the end of his rope. Had she turned for a moment to see his dark and threatening stare, Cassandra Lowden would surely have thought twice about attending her assessment.

Minutes later, she stands in front of the doctor’s scale as if about to walk to the gallows.

“Ok, Cassandra, let’s step up.”

She stands cautiously on the scale that confirms the tip he had received from his receptionist. Becky had seen Cassandra just three nights earlier at El Fiesta’s with a small group of girlfriends. She recalls one of the women, privy to her training, calling her out on the copious Fiesta Special she had just ordered.

“Oh…It’s my cheat meal. I get one cheat meal a week,” she says, addressing the group.

“That cheat meal includes two grand margaritas?” a woman from the group interjects. Eyes roll accompanied by subtle grins. One woman excuses herself to vent her amusement.

Cassandra shakes her head in disbelieve as the scale has her three pounds heavier than her last assessment.

“I’ve had it. I’ve followed your program for twelve weeks and it didn’t work,” Cassandra says out of frustration. “I don’t know why I fall for these ridiculous programs!” Tears well in her eyes.

“Cassandra,” the trainer says in a calm, deliberate tone. “I need to ask you something and you need to be truthful, did you follow the changes we made three weeks ago?”

“Yes…I did,” she says.

“Cassandra,” the trainer says in a deliberate, not so calm tone, “did you do something...three days ago…You know…have a cheat meal with margaritas, perhaps?”

Cassandra goes on the offensive.

“I don’t like your tone and I don’t like what you’re insinuating. I followed your program and it didn’t wor…”

Cassandra’s last word did not materialize before she finds herself four feet from where she was standing, jammed against a wall, with a powerful hand clamped over her mouth.

When her mind catches up to what has happened, she finds herself gazing into eyes that are cold and dark. Astonishment instantly becomes fear, then terror when she realizes she is in a deadly place. The eyes peering at her are not the eyes of the man she was with moments ago.
“That was not the answer to my question Cassandra; a simple yes or no would have sufficed!”

Tears began to stream heavily down Cassandra’s face and the powerful hand muffles any chance of her screaming.

“I think you were insinuating my program didn’t work, which means you were following your diet.”

Adrenaline surges through Cassandra and her heart is beating at a frantic pace.
“Since you refuse to answer my question, I’m going to have to find out for myself. Now, you’re probably wondering…How am I going to do that?”

Tell us about your current release.

Fit to Kill is a novel I started in 2009. It took about a year to write, with three months of that time used just to write the storyline. It has three main characters, the city of La Flore, the killer, who I can’t reveal and Detective Tara Tanner. La Flore faces its first serial killer in a deadly irony since being voted one of the nation’s fittest cities, it highest accolade has turned against it. I chose to make La Flore a main character because I’m an avid watcher of City Confidential. It’s intriguing to me how the series gets viewers up close and personal with communities, their residences and their reactions to the forces of the story. I wanted to do the same with La Flore. The killer provides the irony because when he’s not murdering La Florians; he’s motivating them in heart pounding workouts in his private training studio. Detective Tanner is the heroine who must solve this baffling case while grappling with her attraction for her own trainer that threatens her marriage. The story takes the reader to the dark side of fitness and is filled with conflict, twists and turns, and what story wouldn’t benefit from a nice helping of temptation. Launch date is May 12 but it’s already available through major eBook distributors and paperback.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

With me, it’s typically first thing in the morning right after I wake up. I tend to think of it as getting clear radio transmission as oppose to static and mornings are when I get the clearest reception. I go until I lose transmission, which can range from several minutes to several hours.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

My critique partners are my fellow writers in my writers group. I have five beta readers outside my of writers group with two that I rely on quite a bit. Their names are in the acknowledgment.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

I think the one thing that really strikes me is how after a few chapters, the story can sprouts legs and run its own path. That’s what happened to me with Fit to Kill. Even though I had the storyline completely written out, it sprouted legs around chapter ten and though the story ended the same, the way it ended is quite different from the original storyline. For my vampire novel Night Spear, I decided to start writing halfway through building my storyline in hopes that it too would sprout legs and sure enough, it has.

How do you describe your writing style?

Being in a rather large writers group, you get a chance to sample many writing styles to compare against your own. Using a food analogy, many of our writers create gourmet cuisines and like I enjoy fine restaurants, I also enjoy their work. I on the other hand, try to create a really good hamburger. After all, who typically doesn’t like a really good hamburger?

What do you think makes a good story?

That’s relative to a large extent by what the reader wants. However, I think a good story can be judged by the degree and scope of the intended result it gets or doesn’t get from the reader. If a reader doesn’t laugh, or laughs very little, while reading a story that’s intended to be a comedy, then that’s not a good story compared to a reader who reads another comedy that has them cracking up every other page.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

Nowadays, nobody calls me Donnie Ray. However, in my youth, I heard Donnie Ray from my parents whenever I did something really fantastic, or had an appointment with the belt, or room restriction…which both sucked. Well, since the latter two are not possible now that I’m much older, I graduated high school in 79, I’m betting on the former scenario to come through, hence the pen name, Donnie Ray.

Do you play any sports?

I am a competitive bodybuilder and this year marks 41 years of me pumping iron. I’m currently preparing for the Master’s Nationals in Pittsburg in July. Winning the overall title in my division will award me a professional status as a bodybuilder. I know secretly, my clients are praying against this because they know if I win, my training rates go up…big time.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Yes I do, with a bit of advice. If you haven’t done it, join a writers group. Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it, but a good writer’s group can really raise your literary game. The group readings, the critiques, the revisions, and did I mention the revisions? Don’t bring an ego and don’t take personally a complete thrashing of your masterpiece. After two years of weekly meetings with the Olympia writers group, my entire body is one big callus. Oh, did I mention the revisions?
Donnie Whetstone resides in Rochester, Washington with his wife Diane. He is a full time personal trainer with over twenty years of experience and more than 70,000 training hours in homes, gyms and his own private training studio. Donnie is currently the co-owner of Fit Stop 24 Fitness Centers located in both Olympia and Yelm, Washington.

Though Fit to Kill is his first novel, he is no stranger to writing, having written numerous articles on nutrition, weight training and fitness; appearing in newspapers, magazines and the Internet. In Fit to Kill, his experience as a trainer allowed him to truly immerse the reader into the world of fitness in this detective thriller.

Donnie also has 13 years of military service in both the US Marines and US Army, serving as a platoon sergeant and acting first sergeant. His experience as a trainer and veteran was extremely helpful in writing Fit to Kill. He is currently writing a new novel entitled Night Spear, a suspense drama that combines both the supernatural and the military.



Vesper said...

Thanks for the giveaway - Always prefer print copy if have to decide

Courtney Wyant said...

Thanks for the awesome giveaway!! Which you always have awesome giveaways if I do say so. I also prefer print over ebook.

Kimberly Lim said...

Thanks for the giveaway,
I would so want the printed copy

Mystery Girl said...

Thanks for this wonderful blog. It is a great help.

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Kara D. said...

Always love print copies myself too. THanks for the giveaway.

G said...

print copy, please
ceis8009 at yahoo dot com

sweety said...

Thanks for the international giveaway!!

As I'm International.....I'd get ebook,right??



Laurie said...

Hi Sweety, Yes, that is correct. :)

Maegan Morin said...

I would love to win a print copy!!

megnate at telus dot net