Thursday, June 9, 2022

Interview With Legal Thriller Author Jonathan (Jon) C. Kaledin


1.   What motivated you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and turning it into this book? The thematic motivations for Dissonance came from my wanting to turn aspects of life that interest me deeply—music, the law, environmentalism, the ability to persevere and maintain one’s dignity through tragedy, the greed and rampant individualism that dominates American life, its coarser, unflattering characteristics—into a big mélange, a big fantasy that’s first of all, entertaining and fun for readers, and second, that shares some wry, and perhaps somewhat cynical, views about our society.  I’ve taken a number of life experiences and built a wild tale around them. What else motivated me? The pandemic (as is the case with many people) left me with some time on my hands, and with me reflecting on the past, which led to me trying my hand at fiction as opposed to continuing to write non-fiction.  Another motivation? The abundance of great white sharks in Cape Cod waters these days! 


2.   What is it about and who is it for? Dissonance is a murder mystery and legal thriller set on Cape Cod, a place near and dear to me.  The novel’s protagonist, Detective Tim Hennessey, is rebuilding his life, both professional and personal, on the Cape. The first half of the tale involves Hennessey and his colleagues trying to determine whether one of the deaths (there’s more than one) they have on their hands was caused by man or beast.  The second half of the book is the legal thriller part of it—before writing Dissonance I read any number of legal thriller books to get a feel for what works and doesn’t work in them.  I also was involved in some serious trial work last year that’s reflected a bit in the book.  The name of one of the lawyers, Dick Fishley, is an amalgam of the last names of two of my colleagues.  They’ll know who they are when the read the book!

Dissonance is of course for murder mystery and legal thriller readers, but I hope that it appeals to a much broader audience too.  There’s a lot of classical music in it, and its plot revolves around nefarious happenings at a non-profit arts organization, so I hope that it will have broad appeal within the arts and culture community too. And also among the environmental community; there are four one-page sea interludes interspersed in the novel (orchestra musicians and opera buffs, get the tribute?), and they all discuss environmental issues before Cape Cod. Principally, what does it mean, from an environmental perspective, that great white sharks are now found in abundance in Cape Cod waters? Among other things, the four sea interludes help explain why.  

In truth, Dissonance is for everyone who loves a good ‘who-done-it’ that has interesting side angles to it.

3.      What takeaways might the reader will be left with after reading it? The takeaways: First, in terms of the book itself, I’m hoping readers go away with a strong sense of empathy with Detective Hennessey, and want to see him continue seeking out his nemesis, continue with his blossoming romance with Kelly Coughlin, and continue having equally interesting future matters to solve as those before him in Dissonance. Second, that our criminal justice system leaves a lot to be desired. Although my legal career has not been as a criminal defense lawyer or prosecutor, I can say emphatically that that’s the case. In many ways, it’s a disaster. Third, that readers are curious to understand more about the relationship of humans to special natural areas like Cape Cod, and to the flora and fauna that live there. Finally, that the good guy doesn’t always win; that the forces of evil that are out there often prevail, and all we can do about it is keep trying, trying, trying to conquer them. 


4.      How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? I had the title Dissonance in mind even as I outlined the novel (I’m a plotter and not a ‘wing-it’ writer).  The word has several meanings to it, and all apply to the book, especially the meaning of dissonance in the music world.  As to the cover design, I shared my thoughts with the excellent cover designer made available to me through Paperback Press.  She took my ideas and came up with a cover that I really like. 


5.      What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Advice or words of wisdom for fellow writers? Keep writing, get advice early on from experienced people you trust, and persevere, especially with the book publishing world in such flux. I found that I made Dissonance stronger, and significantly so, by accepting criticism from writers and editors, and returning over and over again to sections of the novel that weren’t quite right and re-working them. 


6.      What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? The book world, like many worlds these days, is redefining itself.  It has been for years now, but the trends are clear. Self-publishing or hybrid publishing is with us for good; the book publishing industry is consolidating more and more and is much less willing to go out on a limb than it used to in the past. And I don’t know what the statistic are on how much people are reading these days, but there is so much competition out there: do I want to pick up a book in the evening, or with a push of a button turn Netflix on? One thing I’m delighted about, absolutely delighted about, is what big readers my three young adult children are. Gives me hope for the book world! 


7.      What challenges did you overcome to write this book? Challenges? Turning somewhat abstract ideas and plot lines into something that would work in a novel.  Writing something that (I hope) will appeal to a broad range of readers, and get them interested in a very special place: Cape Cod. Another challenge was not overly sensationalizing the great white shark theme of the novel. Of course it’s important, but Dissonance is not a modern day re-hash of Jaws, a book whose central character, one might say, is a shark. There were any number of personal and economic challenges involved in writing the novel; my wife has been a saint in many ways, and one personal challenge in particular was the isolation that goes along with writing. It is a lonely craft indeed. 


8.      How would you describe your writing style? My writing style can be described in one word: laborious!  Seriously, though, I am not a fluid writer. I labor over it. I found when writing Dissonance that some of our modern tools were really helpful.  For example, sometimes when I had an idea for the book, or dialogue in mind, I would dictate it as a note into my smart phone and then go get it and polish it up or expand it later.  One thing I’ve noted about my writing, both non-fiction and now fiction, is that I have a visceral emotional reaction to certain passages that I’ve written. It’s a similar reaction to the one I have when listening to music that speaks deeply to me sometimes. I must say, though, that I am never, ever really satisfied with anything that I write.  

9.   If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? The reason to buy and read my novel Dissonance if it’s the only book you can read this week or month is that not only is it an entertaining read—a perfect summer read, so to speak—but if you pay close enough attention to it, you’ll pick up on important, topical social issues such as felony murder, climate change, apex predators, and others. 

      You’ll also learn something about music—yes, Mozart wrote some completely mediocre music, and about the incredible sensuality, in the broadest sense of the word, that can be found in classical music. I’m amazed that it doesn’t get more play, so to speak, from writers. Everyone knows that Bolero can be played in the bedroom just as much as Barry White can, but so can a lot of other classical music too. Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, or Gaspard de la Nuit, for example, both of which are mentioned in Dissonance.  

      Readers will also relate, and I believe deeply, to the characters in the novel. Protagonist Hennessey and Kelly Coughlin, both wounded souls; Fishley, the incredibly cynical lawyer whose effectiveness stems from his cynicism; Detective Lipman, trying always to do the right thing but sometimes getting lost; and the chief antagonist, always hovering in the background (a bit like Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes) and with the reader wondering what is really going on with “X”? I am so pleased with the feedback I’ve received to date about Dissonance, and particularly from the book’s endorsers, all accomplished, experienced writers. 

      Dissonance is entertaining, educational, and fun.  That’s why it should be your next read, or your only read if you’ve got time for only one book this summer.  

About The Author: Jon Kaledin was born and raised in Lexington, MA, just outside of Boston. He trained initially as a cellist and musicologist, then attended law school. His career has been as an environmental lawyer and non-profit executive, but he has always kept his music life going through the years, at times playing in the Boston Philharmonic and Albany Symphony Orchestras, and freelancing as well. Jon’s non-fiction writing has appeared in The American Prospect, USA Today, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, and numerous other newspapers and journals throughout the U.S.  Dissonance, a murder mystery and legal thriller set on Cape Cod, is his first novel.  For more information, please see:



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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This blog, with over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: 


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