Wednesday, 12 February 2014

JKSCommunications Blog Tour: Review: Wrong Time, Wrong Place by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs #TiliaJacobs

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

October 2013, Linden Tree Press

Paperback, $15.35; eBook, $9.99
ISBN: 978-0-9898601-1-6
Fiction/Thriller, 406 pages
Linden Tree Press, October 1, 2013

When Tsara Adelman leaves her husband and two young children for a weekend to visit her estranged uncle, she little dreams he is holding several local children captive on his lavish estate. Mike Westbrook, father of one of the boys, kidnaps her to trade her life for the children’s. Soon Tsara and Mike are fleeing through New Hampshire’s mountain wilderness pursued by two rogue cops with murder on their minds.


Marissa Curnutte


Award-winning writer uses Jewish faith for new spin on thriller novel

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – A psychological thriller with an unconventional heroine, Wrong Place, Wrong Time by award-winning author Tilia Klebenov Jacobs is a rush of adrenaline.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time (October 1, 2013, Linden Tree Press) introduces Tsara Adelman, a Jewish mother and wife who finds herself abducted and on the run after she learns her uncle is holding several children captive on his property. Originally a project for National Novel Writing Month in 2009, Jacobs’ book is packed with action and emotion, presenting ethical questions and unpredictable drama on every page.

“This is a story of redemption,” Jacobs says. “This is a story about an ordinary woman fighting back in extraordinary circumstances.”

Jacobs was inspired by the 1950 Burt Lancaster film “The Flame and the Arrow,” a light-hearted, Robin Hood-esque story about Dardo Bartoli (Lancaster) kidnapping Anne de Hesse (Virginia Mayo) in Medieval Lombardy as part of a struggle against the evil Hessian overlords, one of whom is holding Dardo’s son hostage to keep the rebels quiet. After watching the movie a few dozen times, Jacobs started wondering, “What if this happened in real life? What if the woman weren’t a voluptuous 20-something but a happily married wife and mother? What if she didn’t fall in love with him? What if she were Jewish?”

Jacobs weaves elements of the real world into Wrong Place, Wrong Time with fight scenes based on her experience as a student in a women’s self-defense course and in-depth interviews with a lawyer, a Massachusetts state trooper, psychologists, an archer, a rabbi and FBI agents.

Jacobs lives near Boston, Mass. with her husband, their two children and a pair of standard poodles. In addition to teaching writing in state prisons, she is a judge in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition and a member of Grub Street, an independent writing center in Boston. She has won numerous awards for her fiction and nonfiction work.

Critcial Acclaim for Tilia Klebenov Jacobs’ Wrong Place, Wrong Time

“This is a book that manages to include fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping action, thoughtful ponderings about morality, and a witty sense of humor all in one novel, an impressive feat.”

“With sharp, clear prose and a refreshing lack of sentimentality, Jacobs tells her tale with compassion, humor, compelling characterization and intense drama,”
– Peter Ullian, award-winning author of “Flight of the Lawnchair Man,” “Black Fire White Fire” and “Eliot Ness in Cleveland”

“Witty and engrossing, ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’ is a genuine page-turner.”
– Joanna Catherine Scott, judge, Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition

“A page-turner for brainiacs!
– Lisa Moricoli-Latham, TV sitcom writer

“This absorbing, masterfully structured suspense is infused with delightfully wicked humor and shimmers with vivid descriptions, sharp dialogue, and fascinating, multi-dimensional characters. With Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Ms. Jacobs made me laugh, made me cry, and, while drawing me into a complex web of human frailty, desperation, resilience and ultimately survival, both inspired me and urged me to think.”
—Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah’s Wake and Nowhere To Run

“Heroine Tsara Abrams is edgy swagger with an overlay of happily ever after thrown in – think Angelina Jolie and Naomi Watts morphed together.  Add a smidgen of Katniss Everdeen thrown in for that fun, action/adventure read we all crave, and you’ve got this great debut novel. Pick it up NOW.”
—Mary Kennedy Eastham, author of Squinting Over Water and The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget

Wrong Place, Wrong Time is a genre-shifting story. On one hand, it is a classic tale of suspense: a beautiful woman is kidnapped and taken on a frightening trek through the mountains of New Hampshire. On the other hand, her kidnapper is not a brute, and as the reader becomes more aware of and sympathetic to his story, the novel takes on the uncomfortable nuances of a romance. In the end, this is an exploration of forgiveness, beautifully crafted through dialogue and built on the perennial themes of love and loyalty.”
—Sarah Jordan, Ph.D, Professor of Language and Literacy

What Readers Are Saying…


“What a delight to discover a female protagonist who actually keeps her head and does everything she can to survive and escape! Tsara is no milk-water miss. She’s tough, intelligent, and darkly humorous.”

Wrong Place, Wrong Time is an action-packed thriller. I want Tsara to be my best friend! She is smart, sarcastic, and courageous.”

Wrong Place, Wrong Time is a suspenseful, action-packed thriller that is also redemptive and rewarding. Tilia Klebenov Jacobs creates a heroine who is tenacious and brave, and her writing is clever and funny, even while tackling material that is far from humorous. I look forward to reading more from this author!”

“Love the strong female lead. Lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming!”

“Love, love, love this book! Very suspenseful, well written and detailed.”
“Jacobs moved me to tears more than once.”
“Part action and adventure drama and part psychological thriller, Wrong Place, Wrong Time keeps you turning pages. The complex characters are woven into a many-layered conflict with as many turns as the mountain roads on which they travel. This is a must read book.”


Suspense, intrigue, courage and forgiveness - these are the words that come to mind when I think of this book.

It was obvious from the start that Tsara was a strong character, and she held her own in a family that seemed quite daunting. Even without the knowledge of an age old feud that had split the family years before, Cass made me question what type of man he was. Could he be trusted, or was he a snake in the grass? Obviously Tsara was just as weary, but she was willing to let go of the past; unfortunately, it was to her detriment. And I very quickly found out just how devious Cass was. 

This book is titled perfectly, because quite simply, Tsara was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. But if she hadn't been, the events that unfolded in this story may have gone down a very different route. And, although Tsara suffered and was traumatized, if she hadn't been in that room, families would never have been reunited, and things may have changed drastically for Mike. Her role in the events of this story changed many people's lives.   
So, perhaps, aside from the trauma Tsara was put through, it was a blessing in disguise. Perhaps she was in the right place, at the right time. 

This book was a very interesting read, I just wish I had connected with the characters a bit more. I felt very detached from the story and therefore didn't quite enjoy it as much as I would have expected.


Writer Tilia Klebenov Jacobs has mastered the art of keeping readers in suspense with her newest release, Wrong Place, Wrong Time (October 1, 2013, Linden Tree Press).

Jacobs was born in Washington D.C. and studied at Oberlin College in Ohio where she earned a bachelor of arts in religion and English with a concentration in creative writing. After spending time as a park naturalist with the Fairfax County Park Authority in picturesque Virginia, she returned to school and obtained a master of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School and a secondary school teaching certification from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1997. She went on to teach middle school, high school and college. She is a world traveler, having lived in or visited Colombia, Norway, England, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Israel and Jordan, among many other countries.

Jacobs has won numerous awards for her fiction and nonfiction work. Her writing has appeared in The Jewish Magazine and anthologies including Phoenix Rising: Collected Papers on Harry Potter (2008, Narrate Conferences Inc.) and The Chalk Circle (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2012), a collection of intercultural essays.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time was designated IndieReader Approved and the book won honorable mention for the 2010 Joanna Catherine Scott Novel Excerpt Prize.

For the past 12 years, Jacobs has lived in near Boston, Mass. with her husband, two children and their two standard poodles. She is a judge in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition and a member of Grub Street, Boston’s premier writing center. In addition to teaching writing at several state prisons in Massachusetts, she has been a guest blogger for Jungle Red Writers, Femmes Fatales and author Terri Giuliano Long’s website.

Q&A with Wrong Place, Wrong Time author Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

The main character in Wrong Place, Wrong Time isn’t your typical leading lady. She’s a 43-year-old married Jewish woman with kids. Tell us more about Tsara.

In Tsara I hoped to create a smart, funny, tough Jewish woman who might conceivably live next door to me.  This is because for the most part when I look at popular culture I don’t see women I recognize, certainly not when they have the gall to be over thirty-five or so; and I don’t see Jews I recognize.  (Pop culture’s two main species of Jew are Woody Allen neurotics and Holocaust victims.)  Action-adventure stories are full of exciting men, but darned few believable women.  Yet in real life I know so many wonderful Jewish women!  And wonderful women who aren’t Jewish!  Why shouldn’t they have adventures too?

I think Tsara’s struggles and triumphs will appeal to women and men.  She is an ordinary person who happens to be Jewish and sees the world through that lens—and that becomes a lifeline for her when she is thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time doesn’t end when the action is over. It continues to show how Tsara grapples with the emotional and moral implications of her experience. What do you hope readers take away from her aftermath?

That we make choices about how we continue after life has dealt us a blow.

A big part of the reason I wrote Wrong Place, Wrong Time is that often I find the ending of an adventure story unsatisfying. Everything stops when the crime is solved, but I frequently wonder what happens afterwards.  Where does the experience leave you emotionally?  Spiritually?  How does it affect your relationships? In most kidnapping stories, the woman who is kidnapped falls in love with her abductor.  I once met a woman who was held hostage by a terrorist group, and she never once mentioned what a turn-on it was.  So I wanted to take what is in some ways a very typical story—hunky guy abducts attractive woman—and play it differently, in a way that to me seems more true to life. 

At the same time, I tried to make Tsara and Mike people who could have fallen in love with each other if they had met under less, shall we say, awkward circumstances.  Because that has a lot to do with the choices they make after the crime is solved too.

How does Tsara’s Jewish faith come into play in the dilemmas she encounters throughout the book?

Again, this has to do with why I chose to write a Jewish protagonist.  We very seldom see Jews in fiction making decisions based on Jewish principles and ethics.  In real life, of course, people often make choices that are guided by the dictates of their faith.  And the thing that many people often don’t realize is that Jewish ideas about morality are different from Christian ideas.  Even though the conclusions we reach may very well be the same, Jews and Christians (and Muslims and others, for that matter) often take very different paths to arrive at their destinations.

When Tsara goes to her rabbi for help, she gets distinctly Jewish advice that helps her cope with her experiences in way that is both ethical and pragmatic.  The guiding principle here is that being a Jewish adult means living an ethical life even when you don’t feel like it. 

Of course, people of all faiths struggle with life and morality with the wisdom their culture gives them.  Tsara is Jewish, so I explore that aspect of her personality as we see how she personally views the world through a Jewish lens, and copes with her experiences with the help of her tradition.

The fight scenes in Wrong Place, Wrong Time are based on your experience as a student in a women’s self-defense class. Why did you take part in the course, and what did you end up learning?

When I was a teenager, a speaker came to my high school and announced that a huge number of us girls (and a lower number of boys) would be assaulted at some point in our lives, and that when it happened we must not fight back because it would make the assailant angry and “escalate the violence.”  It was a very damaging thing to hear as a young girl:  it made me feel terrified and helpless.  Fortunately, the message is false.  Years later I found that in reality, women who fight back against an assailant have an excellent chance of getting away, even if they have no particular training.  As for making the guy angry, anyone who is attacking you is already angry, so don’t worry about his feelings.

Shortly after college I took a women’s self-defense course called Model Mugging.  (It has many chapters across the United States, some of which are called “Impact” instead.)  Instructors taught us a few easy, reliable ways to fight, and when we were good enough they brought in a martial artist wearing sixty pounds of padded armor.  He attacked us, and one by one we beat the snot out of him.  It was full-force fighting, hitting as hard as we could against a guy who was role-playing a rapist, drugged-out sadist, mugger, etc.  It was a huge rush, especially after having feared the assault predicted by that speaker so many years earlier. 

More to the point, it is excellent self-defense in real life.  Graduates of this course who have had the misfortune to be attacked in real life have defended themselves beautifully, often knocking the guy out in seconds.  All of Tsara’s fights are Model Mugging fights—it was one of the few things I didn’t have to research! 

As for what I learned, it is this: women need to know they can fight back, and that when they do they will often win.

How long did it take you to write Wrong Place, Wrong Time? And you first wrote it as a project for National Novel Writing Month?

Yes, I’d had the story knocking around in my head for some time and I decided to let it out.  Several of my friends had done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), so I put aside the nonfiction I’d been writing up till then and let my novel off the leash.

For those who are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it is an annual competition perhaps better described as a self-challenge to write a fifty thousand-word novel in the month of November.  This approach really worked for me.  I went hell for leather every day, and hit the 50K mark without breaking a sweat.  (As I said, the story had been in my head for a long time!  And I had meticulously outlined it before starting, so I never had to stop and wonder what the heck happened next.)

I wrote the first draft in seven weeks.  At that point, much of it read like Nancy Drew on a very bad day.  That never bothered me, though, because I figured now I had something to work with.  I rewrote it endlessly.

You interviewed so many people – psychologists, FBI agents, law enforcement officers – for your book. Who was the most interesting to talk to?

The FBI agents were amazing.  First off, they were ridiculously generous with their time and information.  Before talking to them I knew as much about crime procedures as anyone else with a TV.  By the end—well, I won’t call myself an expert, but I definitely had the inside scoop!  And they were kind enough not to laugh at me, which must have been a strain.

As I talked to them, I realized that the stories I read and write as fiction are the way they live in real life.  They actually have tackled the bad guys and rescued the hostages.  They’ve planted bugs and tracking devices, delivered ransoms, outsmarted villains.  They had a protocol for my every plot twist.  And they do all this for you and me, ordinary people with ordinary lives who are protected by these agents and their colleagues without ever necessarily knowing it.  It was pretty stunning.

How did you get involved with teaching the art of writing at prisons in Massachusetts, and what’s that experience like?

I got involved with prison education through a volunteer program that has been around since the 1970s.  It was so rewarding that soon I left the organization to teach my own courses independently.  Given my experience with National Novel Writing Month, I chose to create a course based on that model.  Yes, it’s true—I teach NaNoWriMo Behind Bars! 

The experience of teaching in prison is always a little surreal.  The corrections officers (guards) and other staff are always thrilled to see me, because they genuinely value my contributions.  Then they search me with a thoroughness that puts the TSA pat-down to shame.  Once I’m in the classroom it’s a lot like any other classroom, except that the door has a window in it and an officer comes by to do a head count at least once.  And sometimes I get little reminders of where I am, such as the time a student offered to get me an eraser—I had left mine at home—and was gone for almost twenty minutes.  Upon her return she apologized sincerely, but explained that a guard had stopped her in the hallway and strip-searched her.

You might be interested to know that teaching in prison is the single best way to reduce future crimes.  Study after study has borne that out, and it’s been backed by bleeding-heart liberals such as the Bureau of Prisons.  Education of inmates cuts recidivism better than tougher laws, more cops, mandatory minimums, or bigger, badder prisons.  It’s cheaper, too.

Of course, there’s a payoff for me, too.  Whatever else these inmates may have done in their lives, they are the best students I have ever had because they are so eager to learn.  If I give them a few tools—for example, showing them how a plot works, and how to outline their stories before starting—the results are spectacular.  Many of them are talented, and all are grateful.  Teachers pretty much live for that combination.  I hope to continue my present work for many years.

Anything new you’re working on?

I’ve completed a novel called Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café. It was inspired by a chance encounter I had with one of my former students after his incarceration, and it led me to ask myself the question, “At what point in the dating process do you tell someone you’re out on parole?”

In some ways the book is very different from Wrong Place, Wrong Time; in some ways it’s quite similar.  I hope it has the same emotional pull that readers have told me they feel from my first novel.  I learned so much about narrative craft while I was writing that book that I wanted to do a second one, essentially using all the tricks I wish I’d known the first time around.  It’s really been fun.

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