Review of Robin M. King’s novels Remembrandt and Van Gogh Gone ~ Published by Walnut Springs Press

Be sure and visit my facebook page and enter for a chance to win a new copy of both books – deadline is February 29th!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to remember everything . . . every happy success and every sad disappointment? In Robin King’s young adult suspense novel, Remembrandt, Alexandra Stewart has this ability – eidetic memory – and it is both a gift and a curse as it draws the attention of a secret organization – The Company – whose headquarters is at Brown University where Alexandra attends. With an Alias/Covert Affairs-like feel, Alexandra is recruited and sent on covert ops where her innate talent for puzzle solving coupled with her gifted memory proves she’s ready for whatever The Company requires of her. But is her young heart ready for a handsome Spanish professor and a complicated handler? And will it be strong enough to accept the secrets of the past?

King couples a fast-paced adventure with moments of personal introspection that allows the reader to care for Alexandra and at the same time keep the pages turning to find out what happens next. It’s a wonderful combination and this reader is delighted to know there is another adventure waiting: Van Gogh Gone!

In Van Gogh Gone, Alexandra’s special ops become personal as she must travel to Barcelona and Paris to steal a Van Gogh painting . . . but she’s really trying to save her family and those she loves from an evil enemy of The Company. We are left wondering who’s telling the truth and who’s not. But the real question is whether Alexandra can stay true to herself, especially with matters of the heart. Fast paced and exciting, yet poignant and heartfelt, Van Gogh Gone is a perfect follow-up to Remembrandt . . . oh please let there be more!

I’m so excited to have Robin visit my blog and answer a few questions for us.

What was your inspiration for this series? It felt like an Alias meets Covert Affairs – both stories portraying strong, independent woman. I love that!

I’ve always liked spy shows, including Alias (though I didn’t see Covert Affairs until after I wrote Remembrandt). Another inspiration was a younger children series of books called the Cam Jansen mysteries by David A. Adler. The girl in the book is in grade school and has a photographic memory that she uses to solve little mysteries. I wondered what would happen if someone older (like a teenager) had an even more intense memory. I did some research and when I discovered the idea of an eidetic memory (perfect recall) I read everything I could find on it. 

Eidetic memory is an interesting “gift” to give a character. Do you have a reference point for this? I use “gift” because you so perfectly show that such ability would truly be a two-edged sword.

I like to think of it as a gift too, despite the bad memories. I always wished I had an amazing memory, but I don’t! 

Like I mentioned above, I did some research on the subject. I actually watched a documentary on a woman who had a nearly perfect memory, but because she couldn’t control when the memories would surface, she had a hard time functioning in society. Since writing Remembrandt, I discovered another show where an eidetic memory is displayed almost exactly as I imagined Alex’s would work. In the show, called Unforgettable, the main character is a police detective who uses her detailed memory to solve cases and she can basically “watch” the scene like a movie in her head. 

I’m always curious about other author’s writing habits. With five children, not to mention all your “secret” activities – undercover marathoner, photographer, singer, seamstress, baker, and household appliance repairman – when does the writing thing happen?

I think being super busy and being willing to try anything new has made me a better writer!

Every year for the last 4 years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place in November of each year. You sign up and make a goal of writing at least 50,000 words in one month. It boils down to about 1,700 words day. I love doing this because it helps me get most of my rough drafts on the page. I admit, it is super hard to get the writing in, but since I am super goal-oriented, I make the time. During that month, I write a few hours in the morning right after most of the kids leave for school, and then I’ll write whatever more I need to late at night when everyone goes to bed. I also don’t allow myself to watch TV or read books (and I love to read!) during that month. I can’t tell you how many nights I was up until midnight trying to get my words in for the day. Obviously, 50,000 words isn’t a complete novel (Remembrandt is about 65,000 words and Van Gogh Gone is 80,000), but having the bulk of a story done keeps me writing throughout the winter months.

When I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I generally set aside several mornings a week to write, as well as weekends and nights. When I’m pushing a deadline, I’ll go to a library or cafe and write whenever I can get away. It’s hard to do, but I love writing so much and my kids think it is sooo cool, that it makes it worth it.

 Having completed several projects, what advice would you give beginning writers?

First, I would say: finish your project! I hear so often from beginning writers that they are writing a book, but most don’t actually finish it. And by finish, I mean have a rough draft and then edit, revise, and perfect it. Even if you don’t ever want to be published, having a completed work is so rewarding. 

Second, I think everyone needs a writing group. Even if it is just 1-2 other people that read your stuff and give you feedback. It was hard at first to hear any critiques of my books, but since then I have appreciated it so much! Before my editor even sees any of my finished products, I usually have between 15-20 people read and give me feedback.

Lastly, I would suggest attending writing conferences. It’s a great place to meet fellow writers and learn the craft. Although there are some college degrees in English and Creative Writing, there aren’t any that are meant just for authors. These conferences teach the craft of writing, marketing, trends in literature, and more.   

Will we see more books in this series? And what is your next project?

Yes, there are more books in the series! I am currently working on Remembrandt #3 (as of yet, untitled). The plan is for it to be released the end of 2016. I originally planned 4-5 books in the series, but I don’t want it to end either! Once I finish the final draft of Remembrandt #3, I will for sure know exactly where Alex’s story will end on paper. 

I have also finished the first two books in a contemporary fantasy series and I am submitting to agents right now. I am super excited about this series and can’t wait to share more about it once I have representation for it. 

Thank you, Robin! This has been so interesting. If you want to find out more about Robin and her writing visit her blog You can find Remembrandt and Van Gogh Gone at Amazon and Deseret Book. And don’t forget to visit my facebook page for a chance to win a new copy of both books – deadline is February 29th!

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