In Life the Difference Between “Meh” and Memorable Comes Down to the Books You Have Read.
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The line between passion and obsession runs through us all.
Levi Combs never planned to rocket to stardom.
Eva Florez knew he would the moment she saw him.
Gabe Adams didn’t want anything to do with celebrities.
But after Gabe’s sister sells his photos of Levi with a young starlet to a tabloid website, their lives become intertwined forever, bound by rage and retribution. Blending the nuance and insight of literary fiction with the big-screen magic of a Hollywood thriller, Focus Lost whisks readers into a world of temptation, indulgence, and revenge, daring them to take a bite of the forbidden fruit.
Check out the following video for a taste of what to expect from this literary thriller.
For a deeper look at characters, plot, setting, themes, and style, check out the ByCooper Blog. We’ll post reviews as they come in, like this one from author James Cudney, a damn fine writer in his own right.
The parallels to Milton’s Paradise Lost in Focus Lost extend well beyond the title. Just as Milton expands the story of Adam, Eve, and Satan as told in Genesis into a detailed, narrative poem, Focus Lost draws inspiration from the same tale and extends it into a full-length, modern literary thriller.
The main characters Gabe Adams, Eva Florez and Levi Combs symbolize, in name and action, Adam, Eve, and Satan in this contemporary Fall of Man story set in Los Angeles.
Gabe Adams: Nature photographer Gabe Adams aspires to be as the name Adam suggests: son of the earth. Thrust into the role of guardian of his younger sister after the death of their parents, Gabe, similar to archangel Gabriel, is a protector and represents mercy, joy, truth, and dreams. Focused on landscape, coastline, and waterfall photography, he has never even heard of movie star Levi Combs and definitely didn’t have any interest in celebrity photos. But when he inadvertently photographs Levi and underage starlet Emily James at a waterfall in the California wilderness and those photos get sold to the Forbidden Fotos tabloid site by Gabe’s sister, the focus of all of their lives transform from passion to obsession to revenge.
Eva Florez: Eva, an alternative form of Eve, means life and evokes purity and strength. Her last name Florez representative of the Spanish Flores, is the plural of flower and another allusion to the Garden of Eden. But much like her archetypal namesake, she is more complex than her simple name suggests and is manipulative and an agent of temptation. She discovered Levi on the big screen at a college football game and built his and her career from nothing. Power-hungry and controlling, Eva’s loyalties are only to herself, and she is willing to do whatever it takes, whether that means seducing Gabe or sabotaging Levi’s career, to protect what she has built.
Levi Combs: An anagram of “evil”, Levi, when combined with the sound of his last name Combs intimates the foreboding warning “evil comes”. Levi, which means joined or attached, never wanted to be famous, but once he achieves A-list celebrity status, he will do anything to hold his position among the stars. But when the photos of him with Emily surface and the public relations and legal issues mount, Levi is cast from the celestial world of stardom, much like Satan was from Heaven. With his life spiraling out of control and unwilling to take responsibility for any of his actions, he vows revenge and retribution for those he blames for his fall.
The allegory and symbolism with the characters do not stop with these three. Read Focus Lost to find the clues and meanings of other characters like the previously mentioned young starlet Emily James, Gabe’s sister Abbie, Deputy District Attorney Marcus Ambrose, Hannah, Levi’s pet water python, and more. Share your findings in the comments and on social media with hashtag #deeperlook.
Doug stopped by Market Street Studios this week and joined Sandusky Register editor, Matt Westerhold, the Sandusky Library’s director of operations, Terri Estel, and another local author, Kelleys Island historian Leslie Korenko to appear on “Between the Lines” Wednesday to promote the library’s Book Fair on Saturday from 10:30a to 3p.
Heidi Barnes has lived in Singapore, Australia, Dubai, England, Switzerland, New York, Maine, Vermont, Texas, Washington D.C., and New Zealand. She lives and writes in Vancouver, British Columbia but is planning on moving to Los Angeles soon. The Bellman was her first novel. She is continuing the story with The Bellman’s Secret, now available on Indiebound, Target, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold. Connect with her on her website, Facebook and Goodreads.
Focus Lost is Doug’s third book and will be released on April 16, 2019 by Rare Bird Books. Visit the Buzz section to stay updated on the news and events related to release or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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Get to know the characters of Focus Lost. This is Hannah, a warm and loving water python, who enjoys swimming, dining-in with friends, and long, firm embraces. The faithful companion of actor Levi Combs, Hannah occupies the vivarium in the master bedroom of Levi’s Point Dume home. Despite her restrictive living conditions, Hannah somehow still manages to be a scene-stealer just about every time she appears. Focus Lost is now available for pre-order wherever books are sold and will be released on April 16. 2019.