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Thursday, February 27, 2014


Inside These Walls by Rebecca Coleman (Review, Interview and Giveaway)

From the moment you open Inside These Walls by Rebecca Coleman, you're transported to the world of a women’s prison and introduced to Clara Mattingly who is serving a life sentence for murder. Rebecca’s writing is superb, and Clara is instantly a likeable and sympathetic character, whom you will cheer for, even though she’s also a cold-blooded killer.

Rebecca isn’t tricking the reader into liking Clara. It’s obvious that there’s more to the story than just murder—that Clara has the proverbial skeletons in her closet. After twenty-five years behind bars, she’s choosing to forget the past and stay focused on her present, which in prison means keeping her head down and staying out of trouble.

The problem is Clara’s famous, and so other inmates love to pick on her, which often results in serious injuries. Her crime, along with her boyfriend Ricky, was made into a movie. Hollywood turned their story into an almost Charles Manson type of drama, where Ricky led Clara and his other friends into a 24-hour crime spree that resulted in several murders.

Clara lives her prison life helping her blind cellmate and working on Braille textbooks, while remembering her life as an artist and her love for ballet before the night that changed her life forever. You'll keep turning pages because of the author’s set-up, trying to discover how did this bright, young, talented girl follow her boyfriend and murder people?

Rebecca reveals the true story once an unexpected visitor appears to see Clara in prison, and her heart immediately yearns for love and freedom. At the same time, a reporter writing a book about Ricky asks Clara for information, even though she has never before granted an interview. Because of the visitor, Clara decides it’s time to reveal the truth; and as the book progresses to the end, you discover the circumstances leading up to the crime.

Themes in this book include religion—Clara is Catholic and does follow her faith in prison, including going to confession and taking communion; forgiveness; self-preservation; abuse; independence and freedom; friendship; loyalty; love; truth and more.This is the perfect book club choice, as readers will debate Clara’s crimes, her confessions, her circumstances and even the ending. On Rebecca’s website (, book clubs can sign up for a possible Skype or phone visit from the author.

Inside These Walls is one of those novels that will keep you up past your bedtime because you want to discover the secrets Clara has kept and what landed her in one of the worst places imaginable—prison. Here are a few words straight from Rebecca about her novel and writing career: 

WOW: What made you want to write about a woman in prison--and then in a high-profile case?

Rebecca: Once the story started taking shape, it became more interesting to make it a high-profile case because it would make sense why someone would want to interview Clara for a book. But as to why I wrote it in the first place--the only truthful answer is. . .because it's the story that showed up in my head! I never start out with a specific topic in mind--I want to write about an emotion, and then I find a story that gives a structure and a progressive arc to that emotion. With Inside These Walls, it was about the feeling of being given a second chance at something very, very important and how far a person would go not to squander that chance. And what could challenge that more than being in prison?

WOW: Thanks for explaining how the story took shape. It's always interesting to hear from successful authors how their brain works. How did you get your agent, Stephany Evans (in other words--meet at conference, slush pile, etc)?

Rebecca: I sent her a query letter by e-mail, but it was an unusually nervy move for me. Normally I'd go to an agency's website, look to see who the newest agents were, and query them, thinking they were still building their lists and would be more open to a new, untested writer. I'd gotten stacks and stacks of rejections. Then my first book, The Kingdom of Childhood, became a semifinalist in Amazon's ABNA contest, and that gave me the courage to query higher up the food chain. I have to say, Stephany is the perfect agent for me. She is conscientious and tenacious and attentive. I ended up feeling glad for all the rejection because in the end it gave me the opportunity to work with Stephany.

WOW: The advice we all hear is that finding the perfect agent should fit like finding the perfect spouse or mate. We're so happy that has happened for you. What's up next?

Rebecca: Thanks for asking! I'm working on a new story that features a character my readers have seen before--that's all I can say.

WOW: Now, that's a teaser. I can't wait to find out about that! How do you balance writing and marketing?

Rebecca: It's a serious challenge! You have to schedule the business part, so the creative aspect doesn't eat all your time. It's easiest for me to spend the first hour of a work day dealing with Twitter and e-mail, then set myself free to write for the rest of the day. It's tough because writing asks you to lock yourself in a room with your imaginary friends, and marketing requires you to go out there and take risks with real people. A lot of writers write specifically because they don't want to do that.

WOW: Very true! What's one piece of advice you would give to new writers?

Rebecca: Don't be a diva. To succeed in this business, you need to be able to take criticism, be enjoyable to work with, be flexible, and make many more friends than enemies. If you can do all that and be true to yourself as a writer, then nothing can hold you back.

WOW: Thank you for that wonderful advice. Please keep WOW! readers informed on your next book. We'd love to hear about it. 

Readers, don't forget, you can enter to win a copy of this wonderful book, Inside These Walls, by entering the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blogger Sioux said...

Margo--Thanks for the interview and the information about "Inside These Walls."

Rebecca--Congratulations on your newest novel. It sounds like a compelling one...

3:38 AM  
Blogger ckalmes1 said...

Sounds like a book that will keep me up all night because I won't want to put it down. Can't wait to read it.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Carl Scott said...

For some reason I find prison stories interesting, especially if they are realistic and ring true. Remember the TV series OZ? I loved that. Orange Is the New Black was not that good though, I found the characters and situations too unbelievable. This book sounds like a good one to me. Thanks for the chance to win it.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Renee Roberson said...

This book sounds right up my alley! Thank you for taking the time to share these tips with us, Rebecca.

2:18 PM  
Blogger She's In the Garden said...

After reading Margo Dill's description, I want to get my hands on this book. Rebecca creates a character living in unthinkable circumstances, yet rises above the trials of her daily life; this always intrigues me.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Penelope Anne Cole said...

Hi Margo, this sounds like a great book, if it kept you up all night! I love books that totally capture you and won't let you put them down till the end.

8:06 PM  

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