03 April 2023

Fan Mail by Joseph Lewis Blog Tour!

 


Fan Mail

Fan Mail is a multi-layered coming-of-age story about a family of adopted brothers, embedded in a gripping thriller that will keep the reader guessing who is behind the letters and the car bomb, and fearing one or more of the boys may die before the culprit is found.

A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad. As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart. Would he once again have to put himself in harm's way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?

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When I wrote this Fan Mail, like any author, I had a story idea and I wrote it. It wasn’t until after it was completed, with all the edits finished, did I realize just how much each chapter or paragraph or sentence impacted the whole and led to the climax.

Like many adolescents, Brian takes things personally and to heart. He is quick to assume his fault and role in what goes wrong, but will stand back and allow others to get the glory when things go right. He is one of the quietest of the brothers, and like his brothers, carries baggage some small, some large, mostly ugly- with him. It weighs heavy on his heart and soul.

In this scene, Brian drives his brothers to the hospital. They don’t know the condition of their father, other than he had what seemed to be a heart attack. Each of the boys in the vehicle feel they played a role in the heart attack, none more so than Brian. In order to get them to the hospital safely, they were escorted by Detective Pat O’Connor, who more than anyone, grew up much like Brian did, and he sees himself as a role model and mentor to the boys, especially Brian.

It had been uncomfortably quiet on the ride to the hospital. Brian held onto Billy’s forearm for most of the trip, unless he turned or changed lanes. Billy stared out the side window, as did George and Michael. There was little traffic, so Brian had no trouble following O’Connor. They arrived at the large hospital complex, and Brian pulled to the curb and dropped the three boys off, saying, “I’ll go park the truck.” “Do you want us to wait for you?” George asked. Brian shook his head and said, “No, go inside and find the others. I’ll catch up to you.” George hesitated. He glanced at Billy and Two, who had crossed the road to the hospital emergency room, and then back at Brian. “I’ll be okay, George,” Brian said. He tried to wear a smile, but it slipped off as quickly as it appeared. George reached through the window, grasped Brian’s arm and said, “This is not your fault."

Brian sighed and said, “You better catch up to Billy. I don’t want him by himself.” Reluctantly, George turned and followed his two brothers. O’Connor stood outside the front door of the hospital, watching the scene at the truck. George glanced back, watching Brian pull away and drive the short distance to the parking lot. “Is he okay?” George shook his head, but made no other comment. He entered the hospital, leaving O’Connor to wait for Brian. Brian parked his truck in the visitor lot and sat quietly with his hands in his lap. There was no one else in the parking area, and that was okay with him. His sat with his chin on his chest and his forehead on the steering wheel. 

As hard as he fought it, tears dribbled down his cheeks and along the side of his nose. He pushed his glasses up to wipe them away. Despite what George had said, Brian knew he was at least partially to blame for his father’s heart attack, or whatever it was. A part of him wanted to leave. Just drive off and head anywhere. There was a rap on the window. Brian didn’t look up because he knew who it was. He dried his eyes with his hands, and his hands on his jeans. He readjusted his glasses, took a deep breath, and opened the door. He got out and locked his truck by pushing the button on the key fob. “Are you okay?” Brian didn’t look at O’Connor. He nodded and tried to walk past him.

O’Connor took him by the shoulders and wrapped him in a hug. Brian broke down again and wept against O’Connor’s chest. Pat let him for a minute and then took him by the shoulders so they could look at each other eye to eye. “We don’t know anything yet.” Brian nodded. “I know you’re worried about your father, but there is something else bouncing around your head, isn’t there?” Brian said nothing. O’Connor said, “You’ve held it together this long. You’ll need to hold it together a little longer. You’ve got to be tough for your brothers and your mom.” Brian nodded again. “Can you do that?” Brian nodded. Then O’Connor smiled and said, “You’re a tough young man, Bri.” “I don’t feel tough.” O’Connor hugged him and said, “Tough guys never feel tough. They just are.” 

Like most kids, Brian doesn’t see his own toughness, but it is readily apparent to anyone who has any dealings with him. Because Brian is much like O’Connor, the detective recognizes Brian’s toughness because he sees that quality in himself. This toughness plays out in several ways in Fan Mail, in some small ways, and some in large and dramatic ways. And I guarantee it will bring tears to your eyes!


After having been in education for forty-six years as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator, Joseph Lewis has semi-retired and now works part-time as an online learning facilitator. He uses his psychology and counseling background to craft thriller/crime/detective mysteries, and has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC. 

Lewis has published eight books, all available on Amazon and each to excellent reviews: Taking Lives (May 2021) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (May 2021) Book One of the Lives Trilogy is a BestThrillers 1st Place Award Winner for Crime Fiction, and a Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner; Shattered Lives (May 2021) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (May 2021) Book Three of the Trilogy (May 2021); Caught in a Web (April 2018), which was a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Crime Fiction and named “One of the Best Crime Fiction Thrillers of 2018!” by Best Thrillers; Spiral Into Darkness (January 2019), which was named a Recommended Read by Author’s Favorites; Betrayed November 2020 is a Top Shelf Award 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; Top Shelf Award Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; PenCraft Award 1st Place Winner, Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery-Suspense, a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner, and a Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Rating Winner; Blaze In, Blaze Out January 2022 has already won a Literary Titan Gold Book Award, A Reader’s Favorite Recommended Read, and was an Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers.com . Lewis has another thriller-crime-mystery, Fan Mail hitting the market March 30, 2023.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah, and Emily. He and his wife now reside in Virginia.

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