Cat wanted to reach out and fall into his arms when she closed the door, but the few minutes she’d taken to compose herself had set her on a determined course. Even then, the handsome man’s physical presence caused her to pause. There was a magnetism between them that she could neither anticipate nor control. – The Next Election (Trinity River Press, 2019) by Landon Wallace
Blake Buchanan, the protagonist in Fort Worth author Landon Wallace’s book The Election, is back, appropriately enough, in The Next Election.
Like the first book it’s a political thriller/romance.
Here’s a description of the book:
Once a shoo-in for the highest political office in the state, Blake Buchanan sacrificed his lifelong dream to protect his family. Now, a year removed from his withdrawal as a Texas gubernatorial candidate, Blake seeks to revive his once successful legal career while navigating a nasty divorce and shielding his beloved daughters from the fallout.
Even as Blake presses on with his new life, he can’t avoid the lure of politics, and he’s seduced by a brilliant strategy devised by his never-say-die former campaign manager to resurrect his career. Deception and scandal follow as Blake attempts a political comeback. In the end, Blake must face the same fundamental questions he never resolved in his prior run for office—about love, life and the ties that bind. His answers will shape his political destiny.
Once again, the photo on the book jacket shows a man wearing a hat with his face in the shadows. Once again, those in the know can point out Wallace in a crowd. If, that is, that crowd includes prominent Fort Worth attorney Dee Kelly Jr., a partner at Kelly Hart & Hallman, the Fort Worth law firm co-founded by his father, Dee Kelly Sr., who died in 2015.
Wallace is the pseudonym for Kelly and it worked well for his first book, Come and Take It: Search for the Treasure of the Alamo. But by the time The Election hit the streets, and the fact that this book includes a lot of terrain familiar to Kelly – Texas politics, law, political issues – word started getting around.
So, he’s a little bit more public about his identity, but still prefers to keep Mr. Wallace as his literary nom de plume.
Kelly said it takes him about two years to finish a book, getting up early in the morning.
“I give myself a two-year window, about a year to write it and a year to edit it,” he said. “That’s about the best I can do.”
He decided on the sequel to the last book fairly early on. The ending of The Election seemed to indicate it, after all.
“After I finished the last one, I got a fair amount of feedback, with the majority frustrated with the ending, so it was easy to continue on with the story of the struggle of a politician and his family.”
And, Kelly notes, he had fun.
“I liked getting back into those characters and getting to go on that journey with them,” he said.
A history major at the University of Texas before obtaining his law degree there, Kelly said he had long been interested in writing. A fan of writers like Robert Ludlum, David Morrell and John Grisham, Kelly had done some writing before law school intervened.
“I went to law school and that curtailed my creative writing for some time, and then I took a job back home,” he said in an earlier interview.
“Then I went through a phase where I read almost entirely history and nonfiction, McCullough and people like that and a lot of the great biographical writers, and then I got to the next phase of reading, and I think I read everything now. I think I'm fairly eclectic. I don't really confine it, so I kind of went through those cycles,” he said.
Throughout his career, he kept writing, but never seriously.
“Then as I got closer to my 50th birthday I said, ‘This is not something I can put on the back burner much longer because there's no guarantee on these things,’ and so I decided to dedicate some early morning hours to getting serious about actually producing a novel. That's what I did.”
That dedication paid off.
“I don't think you realize until you're doing it with regularity that, like anything else, you get better the more you do it,” he said. “And the more you write and the more you spend time and work with professionals who know what they're doing, you improve.”
He worked with a professional editor to put some polish on the work and then … how to publish? Kelly worked with a collective run by three women, part of Trinity River Press. “I found my way to a group of ladies who worked through this hybrid arrangement where they do a lot of work for me and get the label out,” he said. “It allows me to not have to take on all that extra work of the publishing cycle, which I just don't have time for. I've got a job I need to spend my daylight hours working.”
As to the pseudonym, Kelly basically pulled it out of a hat.
“It was pretty random,” he said. “It was basically seven or eight names that I liked and played around with, pulled a few out, and put these together, and liked it, and I said, ‘Oh, that's it.’ It's as simple as that. Not a lot of thought to it. Not a lot of strategic value or any kind of real reference to me or anything I've done. Those are just two names I liked.”
So Landon Wallace will be around for a while. But have we heard the last of Blake Buchanan? Kelly isn’t saying but he ‘s working on several different writing projects at the moment and it looks like the one he’ll focus on will be a bit of a different genre.