Louisiana jazz pianist and appellate attorney releases “Cashed Out,” the next novel in the Bayou Thriller Series
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Film noir meets Southern gothic in Michael H. Rubin’s new novel, “Cashed Out,” releasing on Aug. 15, 2017, from Fiery Seas Publishing.
Holding $4 million of your dead client’s cash makes you everyone’s target. Following the success of his award-winning debut novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse,” Rubin’s “Cashed Out” combines both the allure of and the inherent danger in Louisiana’s bayous with the rush of a legal thriller in a page-turning journey that winds through sultry swamps, corrosive chemical plants, and a web of deceit involving murder, greed and redemption.
An enticing combination of Dashiell Hammett and James Lee Burke, Rubin’s writing style will blow readers away with his astute and adept handling of each and every character in this riveting story and will keep them coming back for book after book in his compelling Bayou Thriller Series.
CASHED OUT: One failed marriage. Two jobs lost. Three maxed out credit cards. “Schex” Schexnaydre was a failure as a lawyer. Until three weeks ago, he had no clients and no cash. Well, no clients except for infamous toxic waste entrepreneur G.G. Guidry, who’s just been murdered. And no cash, except for the $4,452,737 Guidry had stashed with him for safekeeping.
When Schex’s estranged ex-wife is accused of killing Guidry, she pleads with him to defend her. He refuses, but the more Schex says no to her, the more he becomes entangled in the fall-out from Guidry’s schemes and the target of those who want Guidry’s money, careening from the swamps and marshes of Louisiana’s chemical corridor to the deep water oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, from the industrial plants that pollute minority neighborhoods to the privileged playgrounds of New Orleans’ crime syndicate bosses, all in an attempt to clear his name and claim Guidry’s cash for himself.
Michael H. Rubin is a former professional jazz pianist who has performed in several states, as well as in clubs in the New Orleans French Quarter. He also is a former radio and television announcer, a nationally known speaker and humorist who has given over 400 presentations throughout the country, and a full-time practicing attorney who helps manage a law firm with offices from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. His debut novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse,” won the IndieFab Book of the Year Gold Award as the best thriller and suspense novel published by a university or independent press. “Cashed Out” is his latest novel. He won the Burton Award for Outstanding Writing given at the Library of Congress and is a member of the Author’s Guild, the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and the International Association of Crime Writers
Book Details for Cashed Out
Michael H. Rubin
Aug. 15, 2017
Fiery Seas Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-946143-19-8 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-946143-18-1 (ebook)
“If you like John Grisham and Michael Connelly’s Lincoln Lawyer, you’re gonna love “Schex” Schexnaydre – a down-and-out-attorney who breaks all the rules looking for some kind of justice. Fast, funny and filled with twists and edge-of-your-seat suspense. Michael H. Rubin really nails it!” – R.G. Belsky, author of the Gil Malloy mystery series
“Michael H. Rubin catapults his main character, Schex Schexnaydre, into impossible situations, and the tension never lets up. Schex finds himself engulfed in a series of seemingly inescapable physical and mental traps. And then…neither our hero nor the reader has a way out of the growing, chilling suspense until the surprising conclusion.” – Steven W. Kohlhagen, author of “Where They Bury You” and “The Point of a Gun”
“Michael H. Rubin’s new legal thriller is filled with great local color, entertaining characters, and plenty of action. Cashed Out goes beyond the typical setting and deeper into Louisiana in a way that makes the reader feel she’s being pushed down the bayou at breakneck speed. It’s fresh, exciting, and well-paced. I’ll be watching for the next in the series for sure. Five Stars!” –Manning Wolf, author of the thriller, “Dollar Signs”
About the Author
Michael H. Rubin is a former professional jazz pianist and composer who has performed in several states, as well as in clubs in the New Orleans French Quarter. He also is a television and radio host; a public speaker and humorist; and a full-time practicing trial and appellate attorney who helps manage a law firm with offices from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. His unique blend of scholarship and humor has made him a sought-after, nationally-known speaker who has given over 400 presentations throughout the U.S., Canada, and England to a variety of groups ranging from Fortune 500 companies to professional organizations to community and religious groups.
Rubin has received the prestigious Burton Award at the Library of Congress for outstanding writing. His debut novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse,” won the IndieFab Book of the Year Gold Award as the best thriller and suspense novel published by a university or independent press.
Combining an informal approach with scholarship, thought-provoking commentary, and humor, Rubin has created a signature audio-visual presentation style using a computer and a projector to illustrate his substantive talks. Consisting of a constantly moving and shifting display of multiple layers of photos, illustrations, and words, nothing remains static on the screen for long, and everything is timed to reinforce Rubin’s rapid-fire, in-depth analysis. Attendees at Rubin’s programs have given him enthusiastic ratings, including “Best talk I ever heard,” “Rubin was great,” and “Fantastic.”
Locations where Rubin has wowed audiences with his unique presentation style include: Atlanta, Austin, Beverly Hills, Boston, Bretton Woods, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Destin, Honolulu, Hot Springs, Houston, Jackson (Mississippi), Kansas City, Las Vegas, Lexington, Lincoln (Nebraska), London (England), Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orange Beach, Orlando, Palm Beach, Point Clear (Alabama), Poipu (Hawaii), Providence, Reno, Rockport, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, Shreveport, Sun Valley, Toronto, Vancouver, Virginia Beach, Harvard Law School, Georgetown Law School, Hastings Law School, and the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
Rubin’s presentations about both the history behind the mystery of “The Cottoncrest Curse” and the background of “Cashed Out” are not dry, talking-head lectures or boring readings. Each consists of a 20-minute fast-paced multimedia presentation that captivates audiences, as he ties the situations and issues in the book about which he is speaking to local concerns and events in the geographic area where he is giving his talk.
He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and the International Association of Crime Writers.
An Interview with Michael H. Rubin
Both of your books are deeply rooted in Southern culture. What makes the Deep South such a great backdrop for a mystery?
Those who know the Deep South only by its reputation often confuse stereotypes for reality. Those who have visited the area or live in it are well aware of the unique complexity created by its combination of geography, climate, war, waves of both slaves and free immigrants, and the continuous swirl of religious, racial, and regional antagonisms. It is the palpable tension between all of these factors that makes the Deep South as much of a character in my mystery/thrillers as the protagonists.
Your characters are complex, and the plotlines in your books are equally thought provoking. Can you tell us more about your writing process?
During the daily 4:30 a.m. power walks that my wife, Ayan (who is also my writing partner) and I take, we talk through the characters, their backgrounds and motivations, possible plot lines, and the arc of each story. Thus, by the time I sit down to work on the first draft, we have fleshed out the beginning, middle, and end of the novel together. However, we don’t write a detailed outline of each chapter in advance, because part of the fun of writing is to discover things we hadn’t initially considered and to let the story and characters take on a life of their own as our writing process continues.
You’ve had a variety of interesting career paths – jazz musician, attorney, professor – how have all those professions influenced your writing?
I used to play jazz piano professionally in bars, clubs and restaurants in several states, as well as in the New Orleans French Quarter. I still play piano every day. Playing jazz is like writing a novel. Both involve working creatively around a theme. In jazz, the theme is melody and chord structure. In a novel, the theme is the plot. When I play and compose music and when my wife and I conceptualize our tales, we use the theme as the jumping off point from which we create our own interpretations, freely improvising within an identifiable structure. Writing a novel is like that for us. Our goal is to creatively use words to develop a plot line into a meaningful story, flesh-out the characters, reveal things that readers might not previously know or have thought of (or that neither my wife nor I might have considered when initially formulating a story), and move the plot along to a satisfying conclusion.
As an attorney, my job is to dispassionately evaluate facts, consider legal issues where there is no “clear” answer, and devise a strategy to accomplish a goal that is just. As an author, I’m always striving to show that most of life not only consists of ambiguities, but also consists of differences in how the people evaluate the same facts but come to different conclusions. A compelling novel should draw readers in to work through the ambiguities and lead them to a conclusion that is unexpected but which neatly ties up all the loose ends.
As a law professor I use the “Socratic” method and teach by posing hypotheticals and asking my students questions rather than just lecturing to them. As a novelist my goal is to create compelling plotlines that revolve around universal ethical and moral choices within the context of a page-turning thriller.
How do you balance legal accuracy in your books with the fast pace necessary to entertain readers?
Writing a thriller involves a different process than writing a legal treatise, primarily because it is not incumbent upon the fiction writer to footnote every statement to verify its accuracy. On the other hand, without a solid grounding in the legal intricacies that underpin storylines and plot points, my novels would sacrifice credibility. No legal thriller should devolve into a law school lecture. However, if the law is glossed over or portrayed inaccurately, it is a disservice to both the reader and the tale. My goal is to incorporate just enough of a legal context to create believability without bogging the story down in minutiae.
You’re an accomplished pianist – do you listen to music while you write?
As a former professional musician, music is always “foreground” to me, not background. So, when I’m writing, music is a distraction, because I find myself concentrating on it rather than on the manuscript. Having music play while I’m writing is like trying to whisper a secret while someone else is yelling in your ear. On the other hand, I listen to music to relax and still make time to play jazz piano every day, even when traveling.
What will fans of your debut novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse,” like about “Cashed Out?”
While “Cashed Out” is a stand-alone contemporary legal thriller, many of the key characters are descendants of characters in “The Cottoncrest Curse,” which is a work of historical fiction whose storyline takes place from the Civil War era to the Civil Rights era. Though one does not have to have read “The Cottoncrest Curse” to enjoy “Cashed Out,” readers of my first novel will be able to understand why the primary characters in the second book of the Bayou Thriller Series exhibit `some of the same proclivities as their predecessors. Moreover, both novels are set in the unique environs of Louisiana, with its complex gumbo of French aristocracy, rural Cajuns, Spaniards, Italians, and Germans, of slaves and freemen of color, and of keelboaters, farmers, privateers, pirates, politicians, organized crime, and entrepreneurs.
What can readers look forward to in the next installment of the Bayou Thriller Series?
The next novel in the Bayou Thriller Series is “Sanction,” a contemporary legal thriller involving Mardi Gras madness, mutilated prostitutes, crooked cops, corporate corruption, courtroom chicanery, big oil, big deals, and big problems. A variety of strange coincidences cascade through the boardrooms and bedrooms of sultry New Orleans. Or, are they really coincidences? As in “Cashed Out,” the key characters in “Sanction” are descendants of some of the primary denizens of “The Cottoncrest Curse.”
Tell us about how you came up with the title to the book and about the cover design.
My wife came up with the title. We wanted a name that simultaneously conjured up both the fact that the novel revolves around more than $4 million in cash stashed in a suitcase, and the fact that the owner of the cash had been murdered.
The cover design grew out of a very rough sketch my wife and I drew to visually depict our storyline. The talented artist Fiery Seas Publishing assigned to this project did a remarkable job bringing our cover concept to life. We were aiming for a cover that telegraphed the fact that our thriller involves both millions and murder. The cash bulging out of the suitcase, the blood dripping onto it, and the dollar sign in the “S” of the title graphically bring our storyline to the fore.
What is the best advice you’ve received as an author? What is the harshest criticism? What have you learned, or can others learn, from either? What advice might you give to aspiring authors?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is the one many fledging writers get but find hard to put into practice—show, don’t tell. A novel isn’t a textbook. A novel isn’t a history lesson. A novel isn’t a rushed outline. A novel shouldn’t be dry and pedantic. A novel should be so compelling that readers feel as if they are completely “in” the story, and not outside merely peering in.
As you might imagine from this, the harshest criticism I received when I was starting out was that I was telling, not showing. It took quite a few rewrites to learn how to show and not tell.
In addition to the useful advice I received about showing and not telling, the other invaluable advice was “don’t give up; just keep writing and refining.” Almost no one writes a classic in one draft. Few do so in two. It has been said that mastering any skill requires 10,000 hours, whether it is playing an instrument or learning to write fiction. My wife is my best friend, my co-author, my editor, and my critic. She revises and rewrites, cutting out excess verbiage, stilted language, boring paragraphs, and any tangents I may have wandered off on, and encourages me to not be afraid to produce multiple versions of a manuscript until we both feel we have gotten it right. Every author can benefit from frank comments and constructive criticism coupled with a sincere reminder that they should rewrite and that they shouldn’t give up, because what they have to say is worthwhile.
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