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Thursday 25 April 2019

ℚ♫ The Naming Game: The Company Files [2] - Gabriel Valjan

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Naming Game (, Winter Goose Publishing, 208 pages), a Historical Crime Mystery, book two in the The Company Files series.

“With crackling dialogue and a page turning plot shot-through with authentic period detail, Gabriel Valjan pulls the reader into the hidden world of the 1950s Hollywood studio scene, involving murder, McCarthyism and mayhem.” — James L’Etoile, author of At WHAT COST and BURY THE PAST.

“Brilliantly written, Gabriel Valjan’s The Naming Game whisks the reader back in time to postwar Los Angeles. Spies, Communism, and Hollywood converge in a first-rate thriller.” — Bruce Robert Coffin, Agatha Award nominated author of BEYOND THE TRUTH

|| Synopsis || Teaser: Excerpt || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Gabriel Valjan; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To start us off Gabriel Valjan has shared with us his music playlist for The Naming Game; it's all about 1950-51 - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for The Naming Game?
"Years before I’d drafted the novel, I read journalist Griffin Fariello’s Red Scare, where I was horrified at the overwhelming pressure within American society to conform to a rigid, undeviating and homogenous set of rules and opinions.

For a country founded on certain liberties, it was unsettling to read how careers and reputation were irretrievably broken and destroyed in the midst of McCarthy’s witch hunt.  It was a political Theatre of the Absurd on a grand scale.

I became intrigued with, despite all that, Hollywood studios found creative ways to get films written and produced.  Money, regardless of circumstances, had to be made, a profit turned."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I believe at some subliminal level an author infuses aspects of their personality into their characters even if it’s just wish fulfilment, but I don’t think any one character in The Naming Game is me.

Somewhat of a stretch, I am tempted to say that Walker, who is less than confident as a screenwriter, could be me, though I tell myself in creating him that I wanted to deviate from the stereotypical protagonist found in crime fiction: the recovering alcoholic; charismatic and irresistible womanizer; the misanthrope, or the cynical detective, or former-cop with ‘issues’ with authority figures."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for The Naming Game - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.

"Winter Goose Publishing designed the covers for The Company Files series (and for my Roma Series, too).  I’m fortunate to have input in the artwork.

For the Company Files series, I asked for a simple color scheme of black, white and red, with black and white symbolic for Right and Wrong; the red represents the possibility for error and the Communist threat.

In the earlier days of law enforcement, all documentation was typed.  Hence, the typewriter.  For 2. The Naming Game, the palm trees signify Hollywood, California, since the story revolves around the murder of a script doctor with ties to several Hollywood studios.

A consistent cover brands the series and a number on the cover, as is the case with The Company Files, identifies the volume in the series."
Why should we read The Naming Game and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your series unique?
"I believe that I offer readers a mix of history without interpretation, an intriguing mystery, humor, and a cast of characters that you care about.

These characters are a mix of personalities working together as a team in an atmosphere of uncertainty and high stakes.  Jack is the boss who wants to do right by his team and fulfil the duties of his job with integrity.  Walker is a team player.  Leslie is a woman who experienced independence and excitement during the war, and doesn’t want to settle for a humdrum life of domesticity.  Vera is a talented actress thrown to the wayside because of her age.

While the Company Files series has violence, I am not an author who revels in graphic details or feels the need for profanity to tell a compelling story.  I also want readers to think for themselves.

Perhaps, The Naming Game says something about the writing process, or explores the dangers of idealism and blind conformity."
Can you tell us something quirky about The Naming Game, its story and characters?
"Quirky, I suppose is that I never give the reader the last names for two of my characters, Walker and Leslie.

When Leslie is introduced in Company File: 1. The Good Man, I exploited the ambiguity of the name Leslie.  Man or woman?  I’ve sketched in backstories to some characters, but in both books I have left the backstories of others untold."
Who would you recommend The Naming Game to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Not so much a warning as encouragement after reading it to explore Hollywood history and draw your own conclusions about politics, then and now.  At a minimum, watch the movie Trumbo with Bryan Cranston.

There are times when you watch older movies and the spectre of Communism seems laughable, but the threat was very real.  Go from watching Trumbo to binge-watching The Americans, and you’ll see Cause and Effect of history and propaganda played out."
If you could / wished to turn The Naming Game and the The Company Files series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Tough question on a casting call.  I think there are numerous contemporary actors who have the talent to take viewers back to an earlier era.

I can see:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Walker Donnie Wahlberg as Whittaker from the first book Michael Shannon as Jack Gretchen Mol as Vera Keri Russell or Jennifer Connelly as Leslie
The writer in me, however, would like to see unknowns play the roles."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"It’s important to me as a writer to grow and challenge myself.  While I’d like to be known as good at what I do, I want readers to know me for more than crime or espionage fiction, whether it’s contemporary (the Roma Series) or historical (The Company Files).

I’ve received attention for my short stories, appearing in several Level Best anthologies, with the Fish Prize in Ireland (finalist in 2010 and shortlisted in 2017 and 2018), the Bridport Prize in England (shortlisted in 2017), and an Honorable Mention in the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest (2018)."
What is your writing process?
"I write daily, often in the morning after exercise.  I don’t write to a Word Count, like many writers.  I tend to write the scene inside my head.

I often create a draft in four to six weeks, then spend more time revising and honing the story."
What is in store next?
"In each one of my books, whether it’s The Company Files or the Roma Series, I include the first chapter of the next book in the series.

Readers of The Naming Game will find the first chapter of Book 3: Diminished Fifth, which takes the group to off-Broadway to investigate suspicious activity.

In this instalment, I will bring back Tanya, a character from The Good Man.  She is a refugee Jack and Walker met in Vienna.  Always independent yet fragile, she’s now a teenager, precocious for her age, as often is the case with victims of trauma.  In Diminished Fifth, she gets everyone’s attention."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I have two cats, Squeak and Squawk.  It’s a little bittersweet posting their picture here because both are dealing with terminal illness as I write this.

Squeak, my tuxedo, has been my companion within reach at the desk for the last decade, and he has helped me through a serious life-threatening illness of my own.

Squawk the Bengal is eighteen, feisty and something of a diva but he keeps me honest to the page."
Banzai the Bengal aka Squawk 

The kids together
Hello Squawk and Squeak, you are both so gorgeous! Lots of head scratches and cuddles to both of you :-)

Gabriel, thank you so much for sharing your two fur kids with us; we are really sorry to hear about their terminal conditions, it is so hard when that happens (we currently have 18 kitties), I am sure you are doing the best for both of them. We wish them both well xxx

The Naming Game
Pre-Order NOW, OUT on 1 May 2019!

purchase from purchase from find on Goodreads


CMash said...

Great interview! I always enjoy getting to know the author behind the book.

BooksChatter said...

Thank you for stopping by, Cheryl. Aren't the kitties just gorgeous?

Gabriel Valjan said...

Thank you for having me, and Squeak the Penguin and Squawk the Bengal are a lovely handful at times.