Be careful what you pick up on the side of the road.
In the Town of Lasting, summer is typically a time to relax and enjoy the warm weather with family and friends. That was before the arrival of Dale Hawks. He has it all: good looks, great body and a killer smile.
Unknown to the mayor’s overachieving son Jeremy Atkins, the amicable hitchhiker he gives a ride to has a horrifying past. His ability to blend in with total strangers is almost supernatural. Jeremy’s girlfriend Susan soon finds that out, as does his secret admirer Olivia and best friend Edward.
As the days get hotter, one thing becomes clear: 20- year-old Dale Hawks is much more than a sociable drifter. He’s a mystical manipulator with a plan to bring the community to its knees. The only question is if he can escape his personal demons long enough to carry it out.
For Jeremy and the unsuspecting townsfolk, this year will be one they’ll never forget, no matter how hard they try.
A SECOND FIRST IMPRESSION!
Author puts a fresh spin on an old story
With his new novel Canadian author and playwright John Schlarbaum is attempting to make a great first impression with readers for the second time!
After four successful mysteries, Schlarbaum feels it’s time to explore another popular genre by going back in time to his first novel, Lasting Impressions. A thriller in the vein of Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz, it tells the story of a drifter who causes havoc with the good residents of Lasting, a small rural community. A young man with a horrifying past, the main character Dale Hawks is continuously fighting his inner demons to stay in control of the world he’s created for himself.
“In 1991 I was twenty-five years old, working as a television field director/writer and reading novels that involved characters dealing with paranormal or psychological issues that were out of their control. I set Lasting Impressions in my hometown and began to wonder how the townsfolk might react to a mysterious hitchhiker in their midst.”
Schlarbaum convinced the Oakville Public Library to carry copies of the book for three months. The marketing twist was patrons could then fill out a questionnaire, giving the first-time novelist valuable feedback about the storyline and characters.
“I think the idea of getting a book in the hands of avid readers and then receiving their honest thoughts back in one week was ahead of its time,” Schlarbaum says. “It was a new concept that was met with a great deal of enthusiasm. Finally, these book lovers could make their opinions known to the author immediately.”
With the questionnaires in hand, Schlarbaum reworked Lasting Impressions, editing the sprawling 150,000 word storyline and trimming 37,000 words. “Most of the cuts consisted of eliminating back stories that slowed the rhythm of the main plot. Unfortunately, once I was done the process, life got in the way and the shortened version was shelved.”
Fast forward to 2005: Schlarbaum formed Scanner Publishing and published two short stories, which became quite popular. Working now as a private investigator, he then began writing mystery novels, consisting of two series featuring P.I. Steve Cassidy and newspaper reporter Jennifer Malone.
“With each new novel, I believe I’ve become a much better writer. Over the years, I’ve also surrounded myself with people who read preview copies and give me their feedback. As I did back in 1991, I continue to value reader’s suggestions because the ultimate goal is to release the best book possible. Using my newfound skills for pacing and character development, as well as between writing mysteries, I thought it would be the perfect time to revisit Lasting Impressions.”
The present day editing undertaking has yielded new plot additions and surprises, a better clarification of each character’s role and more cuts. “I’ve deleted approximately 55,000 words. The funny part is even with 35% of the original storyline gone, the book is 95% better!” Schlarbaum proclaims. “With writing, less is often more.”
Believing every artist would love to rework earlier films, books, plays or music projects with a more mature eye, Schlarbaum is confident his latest novel, twenty-three years in the making, will make a favourable first impression all over again.
“Move over Stephen King and Dean Koontz. A truly disturbing and entertaining read with plot twists that will make you question every stranger you come across. This book reminds you of every warning you’ve ever heard about picking up hitchhikers.”
~ Alan Coombs, Bell Media
“The Bottom Line: Go ahead and call in sick right now. This psychological thriller is so addictive that you’ll be tempted to devour it in one sitting. Dale Hawks is a mysterious drifter with dazzling eyes, a handsome face, hair like Elvis and the uncanny ability to make the women he meets feel as if destiny has drawn them together. The effect Dale has on women is similar to that of the devil-like character in John Updike’s classic The Witches of Eastwick. But Lasting Impressions is a much darker work, more reminiscent of Stephen King in tone and style. Who will survive Dale Hawks’ visit to Lasting? Read it to find out.” ~ Best Thrillers Book Reviews
“Lasting Impressions gives readers a look at what happens when a small town can become too trusting and falls for a manipulator like Dale Hawks. Regardless of status, Dale Hawks cons and manipulates everyone from the local teens right up to the top political figures and proves to be a character that leaves the reader wondering, What will he do next?” ~ Ron Giofu, River Town Times
“Lasting Impressions is one of those tales that makes you look twice at the seemingly normal people you interact with in your life. A suspenseful thriller with a sprinkling of Stephen King make-believe, it will keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the last page.” ~ Lori Richards, Amherstburg, ON.
“Lasting Impressions is thrilling to the last page. Dale Hawks is terrifying not only as a figure that goes bump in the night, but as the man who simply smiles and asks for a ride. From the first page, like many other people, you assume helping him is harmless. However, Dale Hawks will be your undoing. A terrific novel by John Schlarbaum!” ~ Priscilla Bernauer, LaSalle, ON.
“Deliciously creepy without being too scary, Lasting Impressions is one of those ‘just one more chapter’ kind of books! I couldn’t put it down.“ ~ Jennifer MacLeod, Niagara Falls, ON.
“Lasting Impressions is a suspenseful tale that will hold you riveted through the pages. Don’t let your guard down! This story will show you what happens when you do. Best book I have read in a while. It captures your attention from start to finish and is a ‘leave the lights on’ book.” ~ Jeanne Papak, Windsor, ON.
“Lasting Impressions is an excellent read with many unexpected twists and turns along the way!” ~ Julie Deslippe, Amherstburg, ON.
“Dale Hawks demands your undivided attention from the first few pages and you will find yourself dying to know what happens next. Another great read by John Schlarbaum.” ~ Tina Bezaire, LaSalle, ON.
“Be careful who you trust. A hard lesson learnt by the townsfolk of Lasting. Full of suspense and exciting twists and turns, Lasting Impressions keeps the reader guessing.” ~ Marybeth Pakulat, Waterdown, ON.
“Lasting Impressions is like a Stephen King story and highly recommended reading.” ~ Anthony Leardi, Amherstburg, ON.