Category Archives: Historical Fiction Books

Featured Historical Fiction Book and Author Q&A: In a Time Never Known by Kat Michels @FictionofTruth


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Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction


in a time never known

Wife, mother, spy. Anna is hiding a dangerous secret from her family, especially her Confederate General husband. However, it is not her covert work for the Union that she finds the most daunting, it is dealing with her spoiled Southern belle daughter. When Kady discovers that her mother has been leading a carefully constructed double life, she must choose whether to work by her mother’s side in the shadows or return to the pampered life of a Southern planter’s daughter.

Cast into the bloody fray of one of the deadliest wars in our history, In a Time Never Known is the story of women who courageously defy the expectations of the era to do unprecedented things, altering the course of American history and their own lives.

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Excerpt:

“When at long last Benjamin quietly locked the door to the shop and pulled Anna into the back, her face flushed and her heart raced, whether from fear or excitement she did not know. Before she could decide, Benjamin kissed her. It was like no feeling she had ever had, like no feeling she knew was even possible. A warmth spread throughout her body that she felt down to her toes. He kissed her again and again, until the warmth centralized itself into her lower abdomen and she veritably ached for him. His hands held her firmly, one on her lower back, and the other stroking rhythmically on the side of her bodice, nearly driving her to distraction. She wanted so badly to be free of her many layers, to feel his flesh on hers, to ease her aching as only this man could, right here and right now.

Then he stopped. As he pulled away from her, she saw that he was breathing as heavily as she. He looked down, slightly shaking his head, then looked up to her with the kindest, most loving eyes and gently placed his hand against her cheek. She felt so small next to him, his hand could have easily engulfed her entire face. He ever so carefully stroked her cheek with his thumb until she had to close her eyes to keep the tears at bay.”


About the Author:

kat michels

Kat Michels lives in Los Angeles, CA, with her two puggles. She is the author of a historical fiction novel, three children’s book, and a series of mini-biographies about extraordinary American women. Kat has received multiple awards for her writing, including two regional Emmys for her work on short-form documentaries.

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Author Q&A:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey?

I’ve been writing stories and poetry for as long as I can remember. My life has been a series of scraps of paper and napkins with brilliant, spur-of-the-moment ideas hastily scribbled on them. Despite this, it took until I was in my mid-twenties before it occurred to me that not only was I a writer, I wanted to write as my profession. From there I started dabbling wherever I could. I wrote the narrative to a couple of short-form documentaries. I was a theater critic in Los Angeles for four-ish* years. I discovered the joy of uncovering and writing about historical American women who did extraordinary things, but received little to no recognition for their work. And the need for a heartfelt baby shower gift plus the chorus of a show tune getting stuck in my head became my introduction to the world of children’s books. While I have a place in my heart for all of these things, I have learned that it is really in the novel that I feel most at home. I love a good sweeping story that carries you away – to watch, to read, and to write.

* I say “ish” because I still get pulled back in by the siren song of live theater and write a review when I see something that truly blows me away.

How many books do you currently have published?

Four – three children’s books (Children Have Got to Be Carefully Taught, 10 Cheeky Monkeys, Monsters in the Night) and one novel.

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?

The novel is my favorite medium to tell a story, but children’s books are my favorite to write. I get to play around with rhymes and poetic structure and they are way less work than a novel. As much as I love writing, it is work. When the entire book is less than 100 words, it feels less like work and more like play.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?

I am actually working on four different books right now, which didn’t seem crazy until I said it. Now it sounds a little crazy. I don’t know which one will be my next release, but the smart money is on one of the children’s books. I work with two different illustrators, so I’m working on the text for a prequel to Monsters in the Night for M. McCune to work on, and a book called Because I’m a Girl, for A. Sutton to work on. Then I am also working on the sequel to In a Time Never Known, as well as a non-fiction book about the Civil Rights Movement as told through the eyes of the women who fought for the movement.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I get to write the stories that I’ve always wanted to read.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

I have come to realize that I don’t get writer’s block, I get writer’s fear. The ideas are flowing and I have words to put down, but I am afraid that what I put down won’t be good. That I won’t be able to make the words on the page match the idea in my head. This fear builds to the point that I become paralyzed and incapable of putting anything down on the page. At those times, I turn to friends for encouragement. There was one piece of advice/encouragement that has really stuck with me. I called a friend one night and told her all about this book that I wanted to write, but was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. She said to me, “The first draft may suck. But you have the talent, the passion and the dedication to fix it, so that the final draft will be great. Just start.” Those words are now my mantra when the self-doubt starts to creep in, “Just start.”

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

Yes – Jacob. No matter what I threw at that guy, he would always come out on top. He’s just one of those characters that can see where he will benefit in every situation he’s faced with. In early drafts I fought against that, because I wanted him to have some sort of comeuppance. It never worked, and I just wound up with chapters that felt false. Eventually I gave in and let Jacob be Jacob.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why?

Mary, Anna’s personal slave, is hands down my favorite character. She is so strong, both by necessity to live as a slave, but also as part of her nature. She has learned how to survive in the circumstances she was dealt without giving up her dignity and sense of self. Yet despite all of her hardships, her capacity to love and empathize with those around her is immeasurable. If I could sit down and have a chat over a cup of coffee with anyone in my book, it would be Mary.

I don’t know that I would call him my least favorite character, but definitely the character that I love to hate is General Bell. He has a set of rules by which he lives and he is going to stick to them even if it means turning on those he holds most dear. He is just so awful in so many ways, but underneath that cruel exterior is a sad little boy that didn’t get held enough as a child. There are times that I want to give him a hug, then punch him in the face, because he both needs and deserves both.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?

The battle scene was particularly fun to write. I studied stage combat for seven years, so I got up and acted out most of the fight to help me get the descriptions and the flow of the violence correct.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?

I have learned so much about criticism. First and foremost, that any critique is simply one person’s opinion about the work in front of them. Outside of memoirs that work has nothing to do with you as a person. While the work may feel like your baby, it’s not, and a critique of that work is not an attack on you as a person. As such, it should not be taken personally. Which is definitely easier said than done. However, the only way to get better is to let people read your work, and comment. So this realization and acceptance made me more open to criticism. The more open I was, the more I actually listened, and the better my writing became.

The one thing that I always tell new writers is that they have to learn the difference between criticism (This sucks!) and constructive criticism (Jane reacting this way feels forced. Why is she so disturbed by the situation?). On the whole, the former can be ignored and the latter should be considered. But at the end of the day, it’s your work. Just because someone says they don’t like something, doesn’t mean you have to change it. Now if ten people all say the same thing, then you have a problem that needs addressing.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

My most recent children’s book was released on October 5, and I had a lot of fun doing a recorded reading of it for Youtube. https://youtu.be/VCWeDDSV4lY

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?

When I’m reading for pleasure my tastes run toward historical fiction, fantasy and young adult. I live in this world every day, so when I read I like to enter a different world. That being said, what gets me excited about a story is when an author can paint the world of their book so vividly that I can picture every aspect of it in my mind. I’m willing to overlook mediocre writing or shaky plots as long as the world-building is fantastic. Suck me into your world and you’ve got me till the end. Young Adult books are my guilty pleasures. They read quickly, often have better writing than adult books, and sometimes are downright silly. Sometimes you just need to read about a giant peach smashing some nasty aunts.

What about television shows? Movies?

I’ll watch just about anything by Joss Whedon. Years ago, I was reading an interview he did in a magazine and came across a piece of advice that has stuck with me. He said, “Give your audience everything they want, but in the worst possible way.” That concept intrigues me, and I love to see him play that out in his work. I also love how he is able to inject moments of comedy into even the most serious of scenes. As George Bernard Shaw said, “”Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” I’m also a huge fan of Criminal Minds. I find the psychology of deviant behavior fascinating.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?

Loath as I am to admit it, I was not a big reader when I was younger. I read what was required of me for school or the summer reading program at the library, but no more. Books were often chosen because they contained the correct page count for an assignment, with little regard to their content. In 7th grade, I read The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye because it was so long, I could be done with the semester’s reading assignment after one book. I didn’t even know what it was about when I opened it and read the first page. Ironically, it was the first book that truly enveloped me in a story and made me fall in love with sweeping historical dramas. Looking back, that is probably where the kernel for historical fiction was planted.

The only other book that truly stands out to me is, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I read it in college and was completely absorbed in the concept of alternate truths, which was sparked specifically by her discussion of Shakespeare’s sister. What if she had been the brilliant writer in the family? What if she had tried to pursue that career? Would we have even a tenth of the canon that we do today, had the author been a woman instead of a man? I was fascinated by the ‘what ifs.’ I already had a love for history, and reading her words opened up a whole new angle of exploration.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Did I say rewrite? Rewrite again!


Historical Fiction Book: Claimed by the Enemy by Shauna Roberts @ShaunaRoberts5


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Historical Fiction, Romance


ClaimedbytheEnemy SR's Kindle

Crown Princess Nindalla knows the terrifying power of Sargon of Akkad’s army: Ten years ago, it destroyed her home city and killed her parents. Now the nightmare is happening again. The Akkadians conquer her new home, Susa; make her a widow; and strip her of her rank. Nindalla vows to protect her children from her enemies by any means necessary, including marrying whoever can shield them best. With plots swirling around her, can she trust her instincts to tell friends from foes?

Farm boy Ur-sag-enki was forced to become a soldier in the Akkadian army ten years ago after it destroyed his home and left him with nothing. When the Akkadians conquer Susa, he is awarded its governorship. He looks forward to settling down to the normal family life he craves. First, though, he must keep control of Susa despite enemies who exploit his inexperience, and he must gain legitimacy by persuading beautiful former princess Nindalla to marry him. But can he win her heart when it was his hand that struck down her husband?

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Excerpt:

Ur-sag-enki forced his thoughts to cold, heartless strategy. General Qisim had sent him to find Crown Princess Nindalla for a reason. To hold the city, he would her child alive and healthy and in his possession. The boy was the last of the royal line of Susa. Marrying Nindalla would legitimize Ur-sag-enki’s governorship.

His liver twinged, rebelling at the governor’s orders. Demons could take the man and his cold plotting! Ur-sag-enki would marry Nindalla because she was his destiny. The gods had decreed it at his birth. The shiny black hair he yearned to touch, the beautiful eyes he longed to look into, the rare smile he wanted to coax out—he had known they would be his since the day of the New Year’s Festival. He had never loved another woman, never expected to.

He had been waiting for her.

His skin tingled from his feet to his scalp. He had looked for her in every conquered city, his heart pounding each time he caught a glance of long, heavy hair or a certain arrogant tilt of the head. He had been disappointed too many times to count.

Now his restless body long to jump around or dance. He grinned widely. I must look like a fool. But he didn’t care. At last the gods had brought him to her! I will protect her and keep her safe always. I will let no one, not General Qisim, not even King Sargon himself, harm her or her baby.

He untied the amulet from his neck. It was a baked-clay figurine of a goat, an animal sacred to the god Enki. He wound the leather thong around it and tucked it inside the baby’s bindings.

Nindalla looked up and smiled. “You have done well, soldier. Find Prince Humba. Learn what name I should give his son and successor. Then bring my daughters here.”

He squeezed his eyelids shut as his body suffered the pain hers know to feel. The woman had daughters in the palace, a palace overrun by soldiers drunk on blood and beer and victory.

“My lady—” He stopped. He couldn’t tell her, not yet. She deserved a time of happiness with her baby first.


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About the Author:

Shauna Roberts writes fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and romance. She currently lives in Southern California. She was a copyeditor and an award-winning freelance medical and science writer for 21 years before retiring to write fiction. A graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, she now serves on the Clarion Foundation Board of Directors. In 2011 she won the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers’ Grant.

 

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Free Book: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


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Christmas, Classic, Gothic, Historical Fiction


 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London on December 1843. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past as well as new customs such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees. Carol singing took a new lease on life during this time. Dickens’ sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate the Christmas season in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens’ “Carol Philosophy”. Dickens believed the best way to reach the broadest segment of the population regarding his concerns about poverty and social injustice was to write a deeply felt Christmas story rather than polemical pamphlets and essays. Dickens’ career as a best-selling author was on the wane, and the writer felt he needed to produce a tale that would prove both profitable and popular. Dickens’ visit to the work-worn industrial city of Manchester was the “spark” that fired the author to produce a story about the poor, a repentant miser, and redemption that would become A Christmas Carol. The forces that inspired Dickens to create a powerful, impressive and enduring tale were the profoundly humiliating experiences of his childhood, the plight of the poor and their children during the boom decades of the 1830s and 1840s, and Washington Irving’s essays on old English Christmas traditions published in his Sketch Book (1820); and fairy tales and nursery stories, as well as satirical essays and religious tracts.

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My Thoughts on A Christmas Carol:

Over the years I have seen just about every film version there is of this book, but I’d never read the book itself. Now that I have, though, I can truly see why this book is a classic, and I’d be quite surprised if it wasn’t on my yearly holiday read list in the future. This book spans several genres, including Christmas, Gothic, and historical fiction, and it’s written in a way that can only make one nostalgic for books from days gone bye.

If you’ve seen the various film versions as I have, it’s easy enough to insert your favorite “Ebenezer” actor in your mind as you’re reading through the pages.  In fact, it would be hard not to. The text is flowing enough that you can just imagine sitting in this old, cold, draft building as you watch all of this unfolding in front of your very eyes. Charles Dickens was–and is–an amazing writer.

Historical Fiction Feature: Windshift by Joyce Faulkner @WindshiftInn @JoyceFaulkner


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Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult Fiction


windshift

Shirley Maxwell is a troubled young woman facing a complicated personal life, a culture that restricts female options, and a world at war. Yet, together with friends — Emmie, Delores, and Mags — she joins Jackie Cochran’s Women’s Air Service Pi-lots program (WASP) and participates in the adventure, challenges, and tragedies of the 1940s with determination and courage. Shirley and her friends know what they are tackling will be hard, but they do it anyway and relish the effort. In the process, they change what is possible in the minds of young girls everywhere. Lively and moving, Windshift inspires and educates. Appropriate for history buffs interest-ed in the World War II era, students of social change, those who love tales of der-ring do and those who just love airplanes.

Book Trailer

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Reviews:

This book challenges all women to think about how they got to where they are today. These four women pilots were true pioneers — and passionate. Their determination, hurt, tears, strength, and fighting-back attitude make you wonder … would I have that kind of courage?

~ Marlyce Stockinger, Branson.com

WINDSHIFT takes the reader on a journey with four women who are caught up in change greater than themselves. We gain and lose along with our heroines and in the end, we are rooting for them to achieve the ultimate triumph.

~ Paul Bruno, The History Czar®

WINDSHIFT  is an original, fascinating window into the experiences of female pilots in World War II … I highly recommend this book … to all people — men and women, young and old, who … enjoy a good read.

~Midwest Book Reviews, Alma Bond


Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The Windshift Inn

“The country is at war — not just our young men — but all of us.”

~ George Maxwell, CEO American View Communications September, 1943

I’m a pilot. It’s an unusual occupation for a woman, but I didn’t have a choice. I had some trouble in college and wanted to quit. As you can imagine, Father objected. Then he did a story on Amelia and realized I might be useful. He bought a small plane and paid for my lessons. For five years after that, I flew him from place to place. It was handy for the editor of a magazine and he could keep an eye on me — the perfect daughter gone wrong.

I’d still be his personal pilot if it weren’t for the war. He heard through his connections that Jackie Cochran was recruiting women pilots for a special assignment. He thought if I was part of the program, I could send him newsy little nuggets from time to time. I think he also felt bad he didn’t have a son to send off to fight Tojo or Hitler. He arranged for my interview before I ever heard about the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. What could I do but supply the man his paternal bragging rights? After all, it got me out from under his thumb. Almost.

I am a cautious, mediocre pilot but I was accepted into the program anyway. Father must have put in the fix. Training began in May of 1943 at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. There were twenty girls in my class. Every one of them was much more qualified than me. We lived in long barracks that we called bays and it was one long pajama party. I kept to myself. I didn’t want to disappoint Father again so I worked hard to keep up. Fourteen of us graduated in August. Our initial mission was to ferry aircraft around the country for the Army. My first assignment was in Cold Creek, Ohio — two hours south of Cleveland by train. We tested new planes as they came off the Wiley Aircraft assembly line and then delivered them to Camp Morgan in California.

Jackie Cochran arranged for us to stay in a boarding house just outside Cold Creek with the unlikely name of The Windshift Inn. The owner was a widow in her late forties by the name of Myrtle Jones. She worked as a welder during the day and cooked for her guests in the evening. One thing I can say about Myrtle, she kept a nice neat place. I always felt better when I was at the inn.

I was assigned to the third floor, which was divided into two big rooms. The south dormitory was the largest, filled with six workers from the aircraft factory. The WASP took the north suite, which had room for four girls. Each of us had a bed, a dresser, a nightstand, and a small writing table. There wasn’t a wardrobe. You need to hang things up for them to look nice. Other than that, the space was adequate. I was the first one to check in so I got my pick of beds. I chose the one without a window. I was unpacking when a plain young woman came in and threw her bags on the bed nearest the door. “How ya doing, hoss?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m Emmie Hopkins.” She shook my hand.

I thought she should do something about all those freckles — stay out of the sun or bleach them or cover them and her bangs were too long for someone her age. “My name’s Shirley Maxwell,” I told her and went back to hanging my clothes on the freestanding rack Myrtle found for me. Emmie pulled open the top drawer of her dresser and dumped the contents of her suitcase into it. I pretended not to notice. “I think one of your dresses is out of order there, Shirley,” she said and then laughed when I hurried to check it in alarm. “Gotcha!”

I never liked being teased — it was seldom funny and it always hurt. “Who else is staying here, do you know?” I tucked a lavender sachet into the pocket of my robe before I hung it on the rack facing right, just before my blouse section.


About Joyce Faulkner:

JOYCE FAULKNER has been writing and winning awards since
she was 15 years old. Losing Patience, a collection of short  ction,
was given an honorable mention from Writers’ Notes Magazine in
2005. Her  rst novel, In the Shadow of Suribachi received a Gold
Medal for Historical Fiction from Military Writers Society of
America (MWSA) in 2006 and Honorable Mention from Branson
Stars and Flags in 2010. Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors written
with coauthor Pat McGrath Avery took First Place in Biography
from Branson Stars and Flags in 2010. Role Call: Women’s Voices
— also written with Pat McGrath Avery — was First Place in
Branson Stars and Flags 2011 for a Non ction Anthology.

In July 2013, MWSA named Joyce and two other fine authors
finalists for Author of the Year. In addition, the audio version of
USERNAME was nominated for an MWSA award.  e results
will be announced the end of September, 2013.

In August of 2013, Windshift received the Silver
Medal for Historical Literature Contemporary (1940 – NOW) in
Dan Poynter’s Global eBooks Awards Program.

Joyce’s background includes a career in engineering and business.
She’s written for a variety of publications — from the American Oil
and Gas Journal and Ag Pilot International to Salute, the Branson
Bugle, and MWSA Dispatches. Her articles, columns, and stories
have appeared in a number of online ezines including Women’s
Independent Press, Scribe & Quill, and  e Celebrity Cafe. Her book For Shrieking Out Loud is a compilation of her column with Celebrity Café.com “ e Weekly Shriek.”

Joyce served as the President of Military Writers Society of America from 2009-2012. She’s also a book and magazine designer and ghostwriter.

Joyce Faulkner’s books move and intrigue — and are  at-out fun to read. Writing in a variety of genres, her stories focus on the complexities of life — those things that make one think.  ey can scare the pants off of you — and then make you laugh. They make you cry and they make you wonder why things are the way they are. She tells the stories that others can’t tell for themselves.

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African-American Horror Literature Spotlight: THE DREAD OWBA COO-COO by M.C. Norris @mcnorrisauthor


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Horror, Historical, African-American Lit


Dread_Owba_ebook_cover

It’s a snapshot from the darkest chapter in human history. A crippled slave ship, dismasted in the heart of the Middle Passage, comes to resemble a hellish island where there is no escape from the suffocating heat, from the circling sharks, from each other. But there is something else in their midst. Something ancient. Something evil.

Based on real events from the slave trade era, this intelligent approach to the zombie origin pursues a fly-borne plague to its African roots through a series of letters, log entries and balanced narratives from European and African perspectives, to an ancient pact forged between a dying Vodu witch and Sakpata, the god of disease. The product of the dark bargain is a creature both beautiful and terrifying to behold, relying on bloodsucking insects and a booming slave trade to spread its bloodline overseas to the shores of its new homeland, an island known as Hayiti.

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Excerpt:

Vincinte Madeira is escorted down to the Main Deck. They’ve moved a furnace down there, where a heifer is being butchered. Kettles of rendered fat boil and froth over their rims. Kneeling tanners rise and fall upon the hides like Mohammedians, scraping their fleshing blades with the regularity of lapping waves. Sailcloth is spread all around them, beneath heaps of boned flesh and innards. It looks as though a cow has exploded.

“Vin-cin-tay!”

Madeira’s gaze climbs the walls to the Quarterdeck, where the gray-green corpses of those three unruly Negroes continue to sway from stretched necks, their bellies distended like wormy pups. They turn on their shoulders with the rhythm of the ship’s lilt and pitch, like a troupe of necrotic dancers depicted on some painting from the black plague era. As the Redlowe crests a wave, all three corpses leap from the wall to kick up their feet and clap their putrid hands.

“Vin-ciiiin-taaaay!” High above, Joaquim waves from the Quarterdeck.

Guardsmen seize Madeira by his upper arms and drag him on his heels past the furnace of boiling fat. There, they bind his wrists and ankles to the great stump of their fractured masthead. Joaquim disappears from the sky’s edge. Below, an accordion player picks his way through the piles of boned meat, eyes closed, pumping away at his queer instrument as if he were strolling the starlit boardwalks of some Venetian canal.

For Madeira, the odor of rendered fat is richly nostalgic. The brothel where his mother worked served a chowder of shellfish and beef marrow. On the days the marrow was rendered, the brownish bovine essence would permeate every fiber of his clothing. He would smell it for days after the last bowl had been consumed. It was disconcerting to consider that although the last scrap of the bygone beast had been ingested, its spiritual presence lingered still on the longcoat of the son of a whore.

Joaquim appears atop the ladder, following the Slavemaster, Duarte Davila, down to the Main Deck. Madeira closes his eyes and breathes savory steam in and out through his nose. His heart rate quickens. Spanish spurs ring over the braying accordion, and ever more sharply as the Slaver draws near. The bootsteps stop, a short distance away. Madeira opens his eyes.

Smiling, Joaquim slips through the steam behind Davila. He creeps past the row of bobbing tanners toward the pile of boned meat. The Slaver withdraws a cat-o-nine from his sash. He presses the coils of leather to his nose, inhaling with such ecstatic force as to suggest the braids contained the antidote to a malady with which he was afflicted. The whip’s tails, black as the heart of Africa, glisten in his fist like a nest of vipers. No doubt, he tanned this leather from the hide of some unusual beast, for nothing about this scourge of humanity be affected with the ordinary. Unlike the ephemeral odor of a bull rendered to chowder, the spirit of whatever black-skinned creature was immortalized into the coils of the Slaver’s whip should outlast the remains of its screaming victims. Woven into its oily braids are ivory stars of intricate design, likely whittled from the same bone from which the weapon’s handle was fashioned. ‘Tis about the girth of a human femur.

Davila lowers the writhing leather mass into a kettle of boiling lard. Displaced foam spills over the side. Yellowish ropes of fatty froth hiss and spit as they slither down the scalding metal. Before they ever reach the deck, they have evaporated into pearly trails. Davila lifts the flails from the pot and lowers them to a pile of Guinea salt at his feet. He rolls them back and forth until each sting is wholly encrusted. Davila’s spurs sing with every step. His whip drags behind him like a cord of salted slugs. “There was once a guardsman at Axim who allowed himself to be overtaken by the Negroes, moments before the dungeon was locked-down for the night. I found what was left of him the next morning. What remained of that man had to be collected in a scuttle tub. That was fascinating to me, what enraged men are capable of doing to another with their bare hands. I salted and preserved those discorporate parts for the purpose of making a keen point in the training of that gentleman’s replacement. So, tell me your story, Pirate. How did you manage to survive your night below deck with them?”

Panting as though physically exerted, Madeira maps the barber surgeon’s scarred face. One of Davila’s eyes, he just notices, is distinctly hazel, while the other is a murky green. This is no man standing before him. It cannot be. It is a daemon that barely manages to retain its human form. “They presumed me an officer. I was protected by a few who believed that to save my life would assure their freedom.”

“And which charter would that be?”

“Sir?”

“Which Negro race did shelter you from the rest?”

“’Twas a mixed lot, Sir. Not any one Race that I could tell.”

Davila dipped his chin. “And what of the missing pistol?”

“A pistol, Sir?”

“Aye. You know of it. Copper fluting with a scrimshaw grip. A finer weapon than I ever did own. Where is it?”

“We were separated in the skirmish … it was dark, Sir.”

Davila takes three steps back and turns, all too naturally, into a flogging stance. “Negroes are not subtle creatures, pirate. Whoever stole that pistol would’ve trumpeted it all throughout the hold, leaping about and chanting, he’d have been. Aye, if there’s one thing I know well, pirate, it’s Negroes.”

The Slaver intends to whip him to death. Biting down on the insides of his cheeks, Madeira beseeches the Heavens. Stinging droplets roll into his eyes. “If this is about the journal, then dispose of it. Throw it overboard.”

“Eh?”

“I know you have it, and you’ve every right to be disappointed with the content. Destroy it. Destroy it and let me work for you, earn my keep. You’re desperate for able hands.”

“I’ve no airthly idea what you mean, pirate.” The Slaver grins. “I’ve acquired no journal.” With a delicate flip of his wrist, Davila unfurls nine braids across the timbers.


About the Author:

headshot

M.C. Norris is an Active HWA member, whose first four novels, all published by Severed Press, are slated for release in fall of 2014: Deep Devotion (09/01/14), Krengel & the Krampusz (11/01/14), The Dread Owba Coo-Coo (11/15/14), and Nod (TBA).  His nineteen short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines and e-zines, including: Withersin, Wrong World DVD, Brainharvest Magazine, Pseudopod, Malicious Deviance, and Dead Bait.  M.C. Norris also won 5th in Chizine/Leisure Books 13th Annual Short Story Contest.

Connect With The Author:

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Book Spotlight and Author Interview: The Devil’s Due: A Thriller by L.D. Beyer @LDBeyer


Disclosure: This post contains compensated affiliate links and/or sponsored content. Click here to read more.

Thriller, Historic Thriller, Historic Fiction


the-devils-due-for-post

A country at war. A man on the run. A woman left behind. Can an innocent man ever go home?

Guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, IRA soldier Frank Kelleher flees through the streets of war-torn Ireland with both the British and the Irish Republican Army trying to put a bullet in his head. He makes his way to America under an assumed name and with a forged passport, as the war in Ireland rages on. Settling in a new land, he finds he can’t let go of his past. Haunted by the fiancée he was forced to leave behind, by the deaths of three friends at his own hand, and by the country he was forced to abandon, Frank struggles to make his way in 1920s New York.

As much as he can’t let go of Ireland, he finds that Ireland can’t let go of him—and his past has a way of finding him, thousands of miles and an ocean away. He dreams of going home, but knows that it could get him killed. Then an anonymous letter brings news about his fiancée Kathleen and he realizes that he no longer has a choice. A cease-fire is declared and Frank sails home with dreams of finding Kathleen, putting his past behind him, and starting a new life.

When he arrives, he learns that the Ireland he was hoping to find—a united people finally free—was only a dream. With British soldiers withdrawing, long-standing feuds resurface, and Ireland is pushed to the brink of civil war. As tensions mount, he also learns that his sins will not be easily forgiven, and that he and Kathleen will never be safe until he clears his name.

If the looming war doesn’t kill him, trying to right the wrongs of his past just might.

It’s like Ken Follett and Steve Berry joined forces. If you want a thrilling ride through Irish history, you’ll love this book!

Best Selling Author L.D. Beyer delivers a suspenseful drama that will “…push him to the top of the heap of contemporary thriller/historic fiction writers.

Free on Kindle Unlimited!

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Excerpt:

Chapter One

County Limerick, Ireland

December 1920

It was such an odd thought for a man about to die, but, still, it filled my head. Will I hear the gun? Will I feel the bullet? I stared at the floor of the barn, the dirt soaked with my own blood. The earth was cold against my cheek, and I could hear the pitter-patter of rain on the roof. God pissin’ on us again. Only in Ireland. The light of the oil lamps danced a waltz across the wall and, in the flickering light, I saw a pair of boots, then trousers. Nothing more, but I knew it was Billy. One of my eyes was already swollen shut, and I couldn’t lift my head from the dirt to see the rest of him. I didn’t have to; those were Billy’s boots.

“Fuckin’ traitor!”

I raised my hand, as if that would stop him, but still the boot slammed into my ribs. I heard a cry, no longer sure if it was me lying on the ground or if I was a spectator watching some poor soul being beaten. Choking, I spit out more blood and tried to catch my breath, but the boot came again. Through one eye, I saw the feet, the legs, dancing with the light, then the flash of Billy’s boot striking me in the chest, the stomach, the arms. I heard the thuds, felt my body jump, each kick like a bolt of lightning, agonizing bolts of pain coursing through my body. Unseen hands began to pull me down into the darkness. Yet still I wondered. Will I hear the gun? Will I feel it? Probably not, I thought. A bright flash then, what? Nothing? Blackness? I sighed and waited for the bullet, wondering how I would know when it finally came.

There would be no Jesus waiting for me on the other side, that was for sure. No Mary, no saints, no choir of angels. Good Irish Catholic lad that I was, I had done enough in my short life to know that heaven wasn’t in the cards. Not for me, anyway. My head exploded in a flash of colors, and the darkness beckoned me. Probably just the darkness, I decided. Maybe that wasn’t so bad.

It was strange, but I wasn’t afraid anymore. Not of death, certainly. Billy had beaten that out of me. I wasn’t afraid of hell either. Despite all that I had done—and what happened two days ago was sure to seal my fate—I wasn’t sure I believed in the Church’s view of hell. Seven hundred years of oppression under the British was hell enough. Eternal damnation, I suspected, was in the here and now, in the pains and tragedies of everyday life. And, surely, I was in pain. Billy had seen to that. Pain and regret were all I felt now.

I suppose any man about to die has regrets, and I had my share. A sudden sadness overwhelmed me. I would never see Kathleen again.

I don’t know how long I lay there with Billy kicking me, cursing me, calling me a spy, a traitor. It didn’t matter what I said; he would never believe me. At some point I stopped feeling the kicks, stopped feeling the pain, and surrendered to the darkness. Maybe I was already dead and didn’t know it.

Then from the shadows, I felt a hand on my face, surprisingly gentle, brushing the hair out of my eyes. Kathleen? Then a hiss.

“Oh Jesus, Frank! What has he done to you?”

Liam?

Hands grabbed me below the arms and lifted me up. I heard a grunt, then a curse—Liam’s voice. My head spinning, I tried to stand but couldn’t. It took a moment to realize that my hands and feet were still strapped to the chair. I felt something pulling then pushing, hands on my sides again—Liam? A jolt of pain shot through me. Shaking with spasms, I hissed and coughed up more blood. Surely, I thought, I had a few broken ribs thanks to Billy’s boot. I squinted through the tears and blood; there was Liam, his own eyes wet. What was he doing here? Had they sent him—my closest friend—to put the bullet in me?

My head hung limp, then I felt Liam’s gentle hands on my chin. Through one eye, I watched as he dipped the cloth in the pail and began to wipe my face. I gasped when he got to my nose. Liam pulled the cloth away, stared at it for a second, his own face a grimace. In the flickering light, the cloth was dark red, stained by my own blood. Liam shook his head and dropped it in the pail.

“Do you want some water, Frank?”

Not waiting for an answer, he held the cup to my cracked and swollen lips. I coughed again and most of the water ran down my neck to join the blood on my shirt. The little I drank tasted of copper.

“Jesus, Liam,” I hissed. “Is it a bath you’re giving me or a drink?”

Liam just shook his head.

“I thought you were one of us, Frank.”

I coughed again and squinted through the pain. “I am, Liam.” I coughed once more, my voice hoarse. “I am.”

He shook his head again, and I could see the pain in his eyes.

“That’s not what they’re saying, Frank. Three of our boys dead…” His voice trailed off, his eyes telling me what he couldn’t say. How could you do it, Frank?

“And now the British have our names,” he continued, choking on the words. He sighed and wiped his eyes. “They’ll hunt us down. Is that what you want?” His eyes pleaded with me, and I knew what he wanted to say but couldn’t. Do you want to see me with a bullet in my head too, Frank?

“Liam…” I coughed again—a spasm—bright, hot pain slicing through me.

He shook his head sadly. “You were one of us, Frank.” There was a hurt in his eyes that matched my own. How could you betray me? his eyes seemed to ask. He sighed, dipped the cloth in the pail, then wiped my nose again. “I thought you were one of us…”

“Liam…”

He leaned close and whispered in my ear. “For the love of God, Frank! He’s going to kill you anyway. You know that. Why don’t you tell him what he wants?” He sniffed then turned away and wiped his eyes. “I can’t watch this anymore.”

“I didn’t do it, Liam.”

He stared at me for a moment then leaned close again. “Ah, Jesus, Frank. Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter. You know that. If they suspect you’re an informant, you’re an informant.”

He was right, but still I protested.

“I swear on my father’s grave, I didn’t do it, Liam.”

“But you’re the only one still alive.”

A small doubt, but his eyes, like his words, told me it was hopeless. If Liam didn’t believe me, Billy and the others surely wouldn’t. And why should they? It was supposed to be a simple operation. But something had gone wrong—terribly wrong—and now here I was, waiting for the bullet. Better that it would be coming from one of my own than from the fuckin’ British. For some reason, that made me feel better.

“I know, Liam,” I wheezed. “I know. But I didn’t do it.”

Liam shook his head, unsure what to do.

“Did you write your letter?” he finally asked, choking on the words.

My letter. My last chance to speak to Kathleen, to tell her in my own words what had happened. Billy hadn’t given me the chance, though.

“Just tell Kathleen I love her.” I looked up into my friend’s eyes. “You’ll do that for me won’t you, Liam?”

He nodded slowly. “Aye.” He paused, his eyes telling me there was more. “And your mam?”

My mam. What could I say to a woman I hadn’t spoken to in three years. Would she even care?

Suddenly, there were shouts from outside, and I flinched at the sharp crack of a rifle. This was followed by two more, then shouting again. What was happening? I tried to piece it together. I knew what it was, I told myself, but the answer seemed to be lost in the clouds in my head. I stared up at Liam. Before I could ask, the clatter of a machine gun filled the air.

“Oh, Jesus!” Liam screamed. “It’s the Tans!”

The clouds suddenly vanished. The Black and Tans! The fear came flooding back, and I forgot about the pain of Billy’s boot. For the last year, the scourge of the British army, wearing their mismatched uniforms, had sacked and looted our towns and terrorized our people. Ex-servicemen, soldiers who had seen time on the Western front—and many who had seen the inside of a British jail—they had been sent to supplement the ranks of the Peelers, the Royal Irish Constabulary. These were war-hardened men, more than one of whom had been languishing in prison for one crime or another. And now, Britain had cleaned out their jails and sent their criminals to be our police. In April, they had gone on a rampage in Limerick; in December, they’d burnt the city of Cork.

“Liam!” I pleaded.

Before he could answer, bullets tore through the windows of the barn, chipping stone, ripping into the wood. The cows and sheep screeched, slamming into the cart and threatening to finish what Billy had started. I saw the flash above, heard the tinkle, shards of glass raining down on me. Seconds later the hay was on fire. One of the oil lamps had been hit, I realized. Liam slammed into me, and I howled in pain when I landed back on the blood-soaked dirt. He was screaming as he clawed at the ropes that bound my hands. The fire raged as chips and splinters flew. Soon the sparks hit the ceiling and the thatch began to smolder, the sheep and cows shrieking all the while.

“Come on, Frank!” Liam screamed as he struggled with the ropes that held me.

I felt his arms pulling, dragging me through the dirt to the cow door in the back. He kicked it open, peeked outside, then pulled me through.

“For fuck’s sake, Frank! I’ll not be dragging you the whole way! Get up! Run!”

I struggled to my feet, the emotion and adrenaline masking the pain. I limped after Liam across the field, scrambled over the stone wall, falling once and crying out in pain. But somehow, I got up and kept going. Behind me, the guns went silent, but the screech of the animals, the shouts and the sounds of motorcars carried across the fields. I lost sight of Liam, knowing he’d done his part in setting me free. I was on my own.

I stumbled but kept running, unsure where to go, just wanting to get away. But I couldn’t run all night, not with broken ribs and the life nearly beat out of me.

As the sounds died behind me, I stopped for a moment to catch my breath. Hands on my knees, I looked back across the field, expecting to see British soldiers, or worse, Billy. But in the darkness I saw nothing. I turned again then hesitated. As I debated what to do, where I could hide, I realized there was one thing I had to do first.


About the Author:

l-d-beyer

L.D. Beyer is a reformed corporate drone who, after twenty-five years of missed family events, one day rose up and reclaimed his soul. Before he escaped, his career primarily involved relocating his family every few years—so much so that his children began to secretly suspect that he was really in the Witness Protection Program. He has yet to set the record straight.

Beyer is the author of three novels, two of which are part of the Matthew Richter Thriller Series. His first book, In Sheep’s Clothing, was published in 2015 and reached the #1 spot on three separate Amazon bestseller lists. His third novel, The Devil’s Due, is a standalone novel, an historical thriller set in Ireland during the 1920’s.

Beyer is an avid reader and, although he primarily reads thrillers, his reading list is somewhat eclectic. You’re more likely to find him with his nose in a good book than sitting in front of the TV.

Beyer lives in Michigan with his wife and three children. In addition to writing and reading, he enjoys cooking, hiking, biking, working out, and the occasional glass of wine.

To get an email whenever the author releases a new title and be the first to hear about new promotions, sign up for the newsletter at http://ldbeyer.com/home/vip-mailing-list/

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Interview:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey?

We are a product of our environment. I am an avid reader of thrillers and suspense novels, from authors like David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Michael Connolly, Mike Lawson and Brad Thor. My first novel, In Sheep’s Clothing, is a political thriller and I’m certain that it was influenced by the works of these and many other fine authors. But in many subtle ways, it was also influenced by my own experiences: the places I’ve lived, the events that took place, both in the broader world and in my own back yard.

This is my journey.

As a young child, one of my most vivid memories is moving every few years to a new town, to a new house, as my father climbed the corporate ladder. Little did I realize at the time that my own life would follow a similar path.

By rights, I could call myself a southern boy, but that wouldn’t be accurate. I was born in Georgia and a few years later, we moved to Louisiana. My early child years were during the 1960s, a turbulent time for America dominated by the struggle for racial equality and the Civil Rights movement; the growing threat of the Soviet Union, both in the race to the moon and in the race to bear arms; civil unrest and riots in Watts and Newark, and later, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; and by the war raging in South East Asia.

The decade was marred by the growing body count in Vietnam and by the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother, Robert, and Dr. Martin Luther King. The British invaded, Beatle Mania swept the nation and while we listened to Rock and Roll, we watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. With the exception of the moon landing, it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned of many of the events that had occurred during what I had viewed as my carefree childhood years. Still, the events of the 1960s, in many subtle ways, would have an effect on me.

By the end of the decade, my father’s job took us to Pennsylvania and as the 1970s began, we relocated again, this time to New Jersey. The turbulence continued with the still-unexplained shooting of innocent students at Kent State, the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of a president, and the final withdrawal of troops from Vietnam. All three would weigh heavily on the nation for years to come. Oil embargoes left us waiting on long gas lines, the Beatles broke up and Elvis, after a long public struggle to escape his personal demons, finally did.

Life moved on and, even in the midst of a rash of kidnappings and hijackings, technology leapt forward with the introduction of microprocessors and computer chips, VCRs and floppy disks, and the start-up of something Bill Gates called Microsoft. As the decade ended, a peanut farmer from my birth state became president and his only notable accomplishment was brokering a peace accord between Israeli and Egypt. Meanwhile, students in neighboring Iran stormed the US embassy and took Americans hostage.

Despite having moved so many times as a young child, most of my childhood was spent in the Garden State, less than an hour from New York City. My life consisted of Little League baseball in the spring, Pee Wee football in the fall, summers at the town pool and winters sleigh riding. On Thanksgiving Day, we stood on 34th Street in Manhattan and watched the parade in front of Macy’s. On July 4th, we watched the fireworks over the East River.

Outside of school, life was trouble free and I spent many hours biking around town, hiking, playing in the streams near our house and building forts in the woods. In high school, my athletic pursuits switched to soccer and ice hockey. Long gone was my thick, southern accent.

I attended college in New York during the 1980’s, which began somewhat prophetically when a group of kids my own age defeated the seemingly unstoppable Olympic Ice Hockey Team from the former Soviet Union, ending their twenty-year Gold Medal streak. Suddenly, there was a renewed pride in America ending the collective funk from Vietnam, Nixon’s disgraced presidency and the stagflation of the Carter years.

For me, nothing exemplified America’s renewed strength better than President Ronald Reagan, who shortly after he took office, defied an assassin’s bullet and, despite being seriously wounded, walked into the hospital unassisted. Reagan survived and, several years later, challenged the Soviet Union again, not to hockey this time, rather to tear down a wall in Berlin. By the end of the decade, the wall, symbolic of the Iron Curtain, did fall, and with it, one by one, the communist governments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as well.

As I began a career in accounting and finance, writing was far from my mind. Although I had written a short story or two in both high school and college, earning praise and publication in school anthologies, I never thought of myself as a writer. It wasn’t until many years later that I began to wonder whether something was missing from my life.

I met my wife shortly after college. Strangely enough, we had attended the same school but it wasn’t until a Halloween party several years later that we finally met. We married and not only worked full time in our respective careers, but we both attended Grad school at night as well. Starting a family was put off, but kids soon joined us and while my wife doted on them, I continued my journey up the corporate ladder.

Our journey took us from New York to Michigan to Illinois, then back to Michigan again. One day, after we had been in our house for about a year, my youngest, in his third house in four years, asked if it was time to move again. Little did he or I know at the time, but, several years later, we did, this time to Mexico.

We lived in an old colonial city several hours north of Mexico City where we met many fantastic people and enjoyed the country and the culture in a way that a tourist never could. Although Mexico was, and still is, embroiled in a war with drug cartels, and security has become a growing concern, it was a wonderful experience for me, my wife and my three children. Three years later we were back in Michigan again and, by this time, I was a senior executive for a Fortune 500 company.

I was living the American dream: wonderful wife, great kids, nice house, rewarding career. Still, when I thought about my life, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something I needed to do, a creative urge I needed to explore. In my chosen field, accounting and finance, bouts of creativity are usually followed by a prison sentence. I don’t look good in prison stripes, or so I kept telling myself, so one day, I decided it was time to do something different. With the support of my family, I began writing.

It has been a long, rambling journey full of many unexpected twists and turns while the broader events of the world seemed to unfold on their own around me. All of this somehow found its way from the dark recesses of my brain to the pages of my book. I hope you enjoy the read.

How many books do you currently have published?

I have 3 books published. In Sheep’s Clothing and An Eye For An Eye are the first two books in the Matthew Richter Thriller Series. The Devil’s Due is a stand-alone thriller set in Ireland in the early 1920’s.

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?

It would have to be The Devil’s Due because the story is based loosely on a family legend about my grandfather who served in the Irish Republican Army during the War for Independence. Growing up, I heard the stories of how he had been forced to flee Ireland with a false passport because both the British and his own comrades in the IRA had put bounties on his head. Like most legends, I’m sure this one grew over time and with each retelling, especially when my Irish uncles were drinking! To gather information for the book, I spent some time in Limerick and Dublin, meeting with researchers and historians. I was happy to learn that while my grandfather had indeed served in the IRA, the circumstances surrounding his decision to emigrate after the war were not quite as dramatic as the legend would have you believe. Exaggerated or not, though, I always thought the legend made for a great story line!

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?

Yes, I’m currently working on the next book in the Matthew Richter Thriller series. It’s tentatively titled The Deadliest of Sins and will hopefully be released in the spring of 2017.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

There’s something cathartic about writing. Writing is a journey and the journey has its own rewards. It’s really cool to start with a blank page and watch as the story unfolds, sometimes taking twists and turns I never expected. I know that sounds like I’m not in control when I write but after giving them a nudge, the characters and the plot tend to evolve on their own and go in directions I never envisioned when I first began typing. As a writer, I’m finally getting a chance to be creative, something I was not really able to do during my more traditional life.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

I think all writers do from time to time. What usually works for me is to step away from the keyboard for a while. I’ll go out for a walk, ride my bike, go to the gym, chop some wood—physical activity has a great way of unleashing creative thought. Other times, I’ll even pick up a book and lose myself for a while. This usually clears my head and when I sit back down, the creative juices start to flow again. Other times, my block is more due to the fact that I don’t know a subject matter as well as I should so I can’t write with authority. My character is left standing in the intersection, unsure which direction to go and the only solution is research. What does the inside of the White House look like? What is it like to work in a foreign embassy? What is the science behind a polygraph? Even if I never use what I learn during my research, stepping away from the keyboard for a while is crucial. Trying to force the words onto the page has never worked for me. Like fine wine, a good story takes time.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

Absolutely. In a sense, writing is as much a journey for the characters as it is for the author and for the readers. It surprised me at first but I discovered that the characters, like the plot itself, seem to develop and evolve over time and in ways that I never imagined when I first sat down and started typing. More than once, I’ve found myself reflecting on something a character just did and thinking that I hadn’t envisioned that this particular character would do something like that when I first created him or her a dozen chapters earlier. Sometimes, a minor character created for one scene and one purpose comes back to play a much more prominent role later on. The characters and the plot seem to go in directions that only they can choose and often I’m left following along.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Why?

That would have to be Matthew Richter. He’s the protagonist of my first two books. He’s the unassuming hero. Saddled with some personal baggage, he nonetheless rises to the occasion during times of crisis. With a keen sense of right vs. wrong, he selflessly puts himself at risk to save others. I have a third book in the Richter series coming out spring of 2017.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?

That would have to be the prologue of In Sheep’s Clothing. In a few short pages it captures how corrupting power can be, what it can do to those who have it, those who want it and those who vow to protect it.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?

The advice I heard most often when I started writing was to write every day, for as long as you can, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. While I’ll admit that I don’t always follow that advice, like any skill, writing takes practice and you will become better over time. The second thing is to read everything you can within your genre or chosen field. Learn how different writers approach their craft and along the way you’ll learn what an intriguing protagonist, a compelling plot, or engaging dialogue look and sound like. It’s also good to network with other writers. We tend to think alike and, even if it’s to commiserate on the rapid changes taking place within the publishing industry, writers tend to be very supportive of each other. At the same time, I would learn as much as I could about publishing, whether it’s traditional or self-publishing. Most importantly: get feedback. Find a handful of people who will give you objective advice about your writing. You can’t get better unless you know where you need to improve. Finally, hang on to the dream! Perseverance is as much a part of being a writer as a computer and a dictionary are!

If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why?

In Sheep’s Clothing. This was my first book and is the first of the Matthew Richter Thriller series. I’m currently working on the third installment. Personally, I like series. I enjoy seeing how the character develops and evolves overtime. And, particularly for Thrillers, I’m swept along for the ride as they face new challenges and find themselves once again facing life or death threats.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?

I love thriller and suspense novels–medical thrillers, legal thrillers, historic thrillers, political thrillers—particularly ones that are full of intrigue and have a lot of action and adventure. Brad Meltzer, Vince Flynn, Steve Berry, David Baldacci, Brad Thor—these are some of my favorite writers and they are a great source of inspiration. When I read, I want to escape and to live vicariously through the characters, even if only for a short while. I want to root for the good guy and hate the bad guy. And if the tension is just right, I keep turning the pages because I need to know what happens next. This is the journey I hope to take readers on with my books!

But I’m also an eclectic reader. I devoured the Harry Potter series after my wife and children could not stop talking about them. Currently, I’m part way through George R.R. Martin’s Game of Throne series. To me, if the book is gripping, then it doesn’t matter what the genre is.

What about television shows? Movies?

I’ll admit that I had pretty much given up on TV a while back but two shows have me hooked. One is Madam Secretary, which has been around for several seasons, and the other, Dedicated Survivor, is brand new this season. Not surprisingly, these are very much like the Thrillers I enjoy: full of intrigue. From a comedy perspective, I enjoy Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?

More than one particular book, I would say there are several authors who have influenced my thinking, my creativity and by extension, my life. The first would have to be Dr. Seuss. Having read Seuss as a child and then, years later, reading Seuss again to all three of my children—over and over again, over the span of some dozen years—I can’t help but marvel at his brilliance. Seuss is poetic, colorful, sparks the imagination, and almost always has a lesson buried inside.

From a non-fiction standpoint, my new favorite author is Malcom Gladwell. Gladwell does a brilliant job helping us understand why some people succeed and others don’t in Outliers, and how new ideas, trends and products “catch on” in Tipping Point. If you want a good read that will challenge your thinking, pick up Gladwell. Every author, regardless of genre, should read Gladwell. You’ll find some great nuggets on what it takes to succeed!

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?

Each story patiently awaits the perfect writer to tell it.