Interview // Sage Webb, Author of The Venturi Effect

The Venturi Effect Book Cover The Venturi Effect
Sage Webb
Mystery Thriller & Suspense
Stoneman House Press, LLC
November 15, 2020
Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours

After fleeing the crush of a partnership at a large Chicago criminal-defense firm and the humiliation of a professional breakdown, Devlin Winters just wants to be left alone with a couple of sundowners on the deck of her dilapidated mahogany trawler on Galveston Bay. But when an old flame shows up on the boardwalk with a mysterious little boy in tow and an indictment on his heels, fate has other plans, and Devlin finds herself thrust onto a sailboat bound for St. Kitts and staring down her demons in the courtroom, as she squares off against an obsessed prosecutor with a secret of his own.

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Enjoy our latest #RAPTInterview with Author Sage Webb.

When was the moment that you knew writing would become part of your life?

Conscious, articulable realization came during a Bryan Garner legal-writing workshop in the mid-2000s (Garner offers amazing instruction and scholarship on style and usage!). He suggested that lawyers are America’s highest-paid writers . . . and that they generally create horrible prose. At that moment, I realized I was a writer and that I needed to write like one. From there, I studied, taught legal writing, and realized how many stories (especially those dealing with the realities of America’s criminal-justice system) need telling. The latter realization ultimately led me to fiction. 

Have you found it easy to “write what you know” and weave stories that are centered around the law, including your obvious love for boats and sailing?

Very easy. I like writing “from life.” It works for me. And the law, especially criminal law, provides innumerable bits of background, action, and social issues to weave into stories.

Have you found that your books take on a similar theme or once you start writing, they take on their own path?

They definitely take their own paths. When I start a story, I have a vague trajectory in mind—a start and a finish—and I have a few key players teed up, but from there, I let the characters do their thing and see what happens. Genre and purpose, of course, change things, too. My debut novel technically qualifies as a legal thriller, focusing on a federal prosecution, but it aims at addressing social issues and exposing misconceptions about certain classes of “felons.” It isn’t as “fun” as The Venturi Effect at all. It is much heavier. 

What is your biggest writing pet peeve?

Hmmm. . . . That’s a tough one. I’m not sure it really qualifies as a pet peeve, but I struggle to “shift gears” sometimes. Everything I do is in front of a laptop, and everything generally involves writing: legal writing, fiction, commercial writing. . . . Sometimes, juggling deadlines, deciding on priorities, and slipping between a legal brief and a book can mean almost too many mental gymnastics. It can get tiring. Also, there’s no respite. I’m always working. Even when we’re at anchor on the boat, I may be updating my blog, wrapping up a legal project, or doing book promos.

What was your most satisfying moment while writing The Venturi Effect?

I asked a friend who does not read legal thrillers to take a look at the manuscript. When she gave me her feedback, she said that one night, she’d stayed up way later than she had planned because she needed to keep reading! That felt good.

Did you find The Venturi Effect stayed along your chosen path or developed into a completely different book once completed?

A little of both. It started and ended as planned, but in the middle, a lot morphed. The relationship between a certain agent and a certain prosecutor, for example, floated up and surprised me.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? Why this specific character?

Xavier. In so many ways, I totally know him (I won’t say more than that, though—to protect the “guilty”—wink, wink). Whether misguided or not, he believes in something and tries to live up to his own ideals. He’s quirky, and I love his cats. I’d totally take him out for a cup of tea and debate him.

If you only had one sentence to capture a new reader for your books, what would it be?

In her prose, Sage weds the law and adventure, sprinkles in authentic details, and gives thriller aficionados and armchair adventurers the chance to drop into federal courtrooms and onto the open seas in twisty, unpredictable romps.

Can you tell us your favorite book and why?

I love The Sun Also Rises. For all his ups and downs, goods and bads, I love Hemingway. Maybe I actually just love his old boat Pilar, but call me a fan. In The Sun Also Rises, I get the travel, human drama, social insight, and bad decision making that make (for me) good reading. I’ve read the work multiple times, and its effects on me have changed and shifted over the years. I don’t think a teenager can understand Lady Brett, but a thirty-four-year-old might and a forty-year-old . . . well, she’s got a better shot at it. 

What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

Read and travel. New books, new stories, new takes on history—and seeing new places . . . and old places where new-to-me stories happened—all motivate me.

Of course, we have to know, what is in-store next – books, events, etc.?

Devlin, the Bryson brothers, and Xavier will return in 2021 in The Cult of Mammon, which exposes a darker web of fraud, presents some lesser-known American Civil War history, and takes readers to Hawaii and California.

Then on a more personal page, I’m preparing a travel narrative covering a span when I was ranging through Texas in a 15’ travel trailer in an attempt to do the adult equivalent of “running away to join the circus.” For short stories, I’ve got a Michigan-centric collection I’m working on. This past summer, I was honored to be an artist in residence for Michigan’s Mackinac State Historic Parks. As such, I spent three weeks on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. Situated in Lake Huron, this eight-mile-around time warp gives visitors a romantic slice of Victorian America: horse-drawn buggies, bicycles, an old fort, and lots of fudge. As part of the residency, I outlined this story collection, and the final manuscript is due August 2021. It will include some light-hearted pieces, some flash fiction, some stories of healing, some historical pieces—basically, I’m seeking to showcase the many moods of an island that prohibits cars, sits in a cold strait littered with shipwrecks, and gives visitors a chance to step back into 1890 every summer.  

Thank you, Sage, for sharing some insight into your writing and celebrating your release of The Venturi Effect with us!

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sage Webb. There will be Fourteen (14) winners for this tour. Seven (7) winners will each receive a $15 Gift Card and Seven (7) winners will each receive a physical copy of The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb (US addresses only). The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020, and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Author Sage Webb

Sage Webb practiced criminal defense for over a decade before turning to fiction. She is the author of two novels and the recipient of numerous literary awards in the U.S. and U.K., including second place in the Hackney Literary Awards. Her short stories have appeared in Texas anthologies and literary reviews. In 2020, Michigan’s Mackinac State Historic Parks named her an artist in residence. She belongs to International Thriller Writers and PEN America, and lives with her husband, a ship’s cat, and a boat dog on a sailboat in Galveston Bay.

Click here to view The Venturi Effect by Sage Webb Participants via Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.