As part of The Cutaway Blog Tour, I’m thrilled to have Christina Kovac on my blog today.
Christina worked for seventeen years managing Washington, DC newsrooms and producing crime and political stories in the District. Her career as television journalist began with Fox Five’s Ten O’Clock News, and after that, the ABC affiliate in Washington. For the last nine years, she worked at NBC News, where she worked for Tim Russert and provided news coverage for Meet the Press, the Today show, Nightly News, and others. Christina lives with her family outside of Washington, DC. The Cutaway is her first novel.
She has kindly written an article for my blog about her favourite authors and how they’ve inspired her. Over to you, Christina.
‘Megan Abbott, Tana French, Laura Lippman. They’re my favorite thriller writers, my trinity, the three who always get it done. 2016 was particularly delightful—for reading, if nothing else. The Big Three wrote some of their best books yet, I think. You Will Know Me created a fascinating mother-daughter dynamic in Abbott’s story of a child prodigy with a dark edge. Lippman’s Wilde Lake expanded possibilities of the female character (as she always does) in a setting near my home with characters that seemed so real to me I thought I could reach out and touch them through the pages. And I nearly swooned over Tana French’s portrayal of tough-as-nails, brave and bold Antoinette Conway—a woman of color in a white dude’s world who refused to tolerate lies (or crap) from anyone, despite the danger to herself.
Donna Tartt’s Henry Winter of The Secret History is still the literary thriller character I think of now and again. His dark complexity and genius, his amorality strangely at ease with his passionate love for Camilla—it all fascinates me. Isn’t human character the biggest mystery, after all? What we need? Why we yearn? How that yearning leads us to do what we do? And the ending of The Secret History: perfect.
Still, Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent meant the most to me as a writer. Not that I recognized it when I first read it in college. But later, when I re-read it and considered writing fiction, Turow gave me the idea: like lawyering, the work I did as a TV journalist was dramatic, life and death stuff, and people misunderstood what we did, and needed to understand it, fact versus lies, fake news versus real news, the importance of the Fourth Estate to creating a rational world that made sense.
So I put that old hardcover of Presumed Innocent with its dog-eared pages at the edge of my desk, where it sat through years of writing The Cutaway, willing it to whisper to me: turn the day job into something fascinating. Turow did it. Maybe you can too.’
Thank you Christina. It’s always fascinating to find out which authors inspire other authors.
But I need to tell you about The Cutaway.
When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she becomes obsessed with uncovering what happened. Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in the US capital.
I’m not sure if the timing of this book could be any more perfect. I expect that when Christina Kovac wrote this story, she had no idea how the American media would be portrayed at this time. In the era of ‘fake news’, The Cutaway stands for what is right with the media – tenacity, an unquenchable thirst for the truth and integrity. Perhaps not words we would normally associate with all journalists, but they’re certainly true of Virginia Knightly.
When Virginia hears about the missing woman, Evelyn Carney, she’s instantly hooked. Maybe it was a journalistic hunch, but she can’t leave the story alone. Something bothers her, something familiar. When Virginia’s boss effectively demotes her in a ‘reshuffle’ of the office, she’s free to investigate the story herself with the help of anchor newsreader, Ben Pearce. And it isn’t long before she discovers that her former lover, Commander Michael Ledger, is in charge of the investigation. Cue some awkward moments.
I really enjoyed The Cutaway. Christina’s experience as a news journalist came through clearly in her writing to create an authentic experience. And just as there isn’t time for preamble on TV news, so this book hits the ground running and we’re quickly into the story. Although Virginia comes across as a strong woman, we learn about her vulnerabilities too, particularly her difficult childhood. I really hope there’s a sequel. Virginia Knightly is too good to confine to one book.
I’d like to thank Christina for appearing on my blog and for Serpent’s Press for the free copy of the novel. If you’d like to buy the book then please click here. And feel free to check out the other dates on the tour.