February 8, 2005

Cast of Shadows: The Grasstroturf Buzz Begins


Attention! This post may start slow, but stick around for the chance to win a big prize. (Hardcover book big, not, you know, N-Gage big)

A few months ago, one of this site's first and most dedicated readers, Kevin Guilfoile, told me that his debut novel would be coming out soon. Kevin is a contributing writer at The Morning News, a former partner at Coudal, and a former designated hitter for Modern Humorist, for which he co-wrote My First Presidentiary back when we though W would be ha-ha funny, rather than scary funny.

All of this lead me to assume that, like everyone else I know, Kevin had written a Hornbyesque dick lit comedy. So imagine my surprise when an advance copy arrived, and I found myself holding an honest-to-goodness thriller. Let me tell you a little something about Cast of Shadows, including, of course, how you can win a copy.

First I'll let Amazon give you the set-up.

Set in a not too distant future after human cloning is legalized, this debut thriller is a disquieting pseudo-scientific meditation on what happens when the teenage daughter of a leading fertility specialist is brutally murdered and her father uses his professional skills and a bit of DNA extracted from the death scene to create a copy of her killer. Unlucky, unlikely Justin Finn is the result of Dr. Davis Moore's faith that one day he’ll look into the eyes and soul of the man who raped and strangled Anna Kat and understand what drove him to do it. His plan destroys his marriage, compromises his professional ethics, and threatens his own life, but all these complications pale next to the repercussion his efforts to clone Anna Kat's murderer have on the young man whose future is as predestined as his origins.

Now, this isn't a genre I dip into all that often, but the twinge of sci-fi and the philosophical conundrums hinted at above would probably have drawn me in no matter who had written it. Plus, Kevin's prose turns out to be crackling good. (Read an excerpt, then read an interview with Kevin about the book's themes.) So I started reading, and, once I got a few chapters in, became totally engrossed. Sorry about the cliché but I literally had one of those nights when I stayed up till 2 am to finish it. It's creepy, twisty, thought-provoking, and fun. (But not funny. Kevin always says there's not a single joke in it; I counted exactly one.)

So I told Kevin all this, and somehow he managed to convince his publisher that I'm some sort of opinion leader, and that it should enlist this blog in its marketing campaign (hence 'grasstroturf.' I can't really call the blitz you're about to see on this site grassroots because Knopf facilitated it, but it's more authentic than astroturf. I'm getting no renumeration for this, though if you decide to buy the book, maybe you'll do it through this site so I can get the Amazon commission).

So what has all this been building up to? Over the next few weeks, I'll be giving away 25 copies of Cast of Shadows. The main event, coinciding roughly with the official publication of the book on March 1st (when the nationwide tour begins), will be a virtual scavenger hunt based on the content of the novel. But first, there will be a series of easier -- some might say lamer -- contests to whet your appetites. Check back frequently -- I'll try to launch one at least every other day -- for your chance to win a copy of this great new book.

And now, CONTEST #1: Help me come up with contest ideas.

No, really. It's one thing to say, sure, I'll hold a bunch of contests and give away your books. But after I came up with the scavenger hunt and a few other ideas that will trickle out over the next few days, I was pretty much stumped. So the first contest will be to design a contest. Details:

• Entries will be judged based on some combination of the following: how clever and fun the contest is; how feasible it is to run; its relevence to Cast of Shadows; its likely effectiveness in generating buzz for Cast of Shadows; its appeal to me for some completely random other reason.

• At least one winner will be selected, even if I don't end up actually using any of the contest ideas. If I get more than one idea that I do want to use, everyone submitting these ideas will be counted a winner.

• Enter as many times as you like, but you can only win once.

• Contest ends at 3 pm (ET) on Friday, Feb. 11th. Winners will be notified by e-mail and announced on this site no later than Monday, Feb. 14. No e-mail addresses will be made public (obvs), but names will be unless you specifically ask to be identified by first name and last initial only.

Submit your entries here. And get the word out to your lit blogger friends, because I'm gonna look like a real shmuck if I hold contests all month and nobody plays.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Guilfoile! Always one step ahead.

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