Sunday, July 29, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with John Betcher

Today's guest is a good friend, author John Betcher. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude, in English from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis.

John has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota, and is now pursuing a passion of his in writing. He has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball there.

John and I met through an independent writer’s group on the Internet, The Independent Authors Network. When I learned that John lived in Minnesota, I was eager to check out his novels. I had lived in Minnesota for eighteen years and worked for a short time as a security guard at the Monticello Nuclear Plant. One of the plot settings in John’s novel, The 19th Element, is a nuclear power plant in Minnesota. I immediately bought and read the novel before moving on to his other works, including The Exiled Element.
FAST FIVE: Thank you for visiting today, John, and for taking time to participate in this interview. Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for The Exiled Element?
JOHN BETCHER: Here's the jacket blurb to get us started:
In response to recent turmoil in Egypt’s intelligence community, the CIA has recalled Beth Becker to active duty. Though she accepts the assignment, the backstabbing and deceit she finds festering within the Agency remind her why she retired from government work in the first place.

Meanwhile, her husband, “Beck,” stays home in Red Wing, helping Chief Deputy Sheriff, Doug “Gunner” Gunderson, formulate what should be routine security plans for a visiting dignitary. But a less than stellar private security firm, and a determined sniper, result in a crisis situation that stretches our heroes’ abilities to their limits.

Filled with intrigue, humor, and ripped-from-the-headlines action, THE EXILED ELEMENT will remind you why you came to love the Beckers in the first place.
FAST FIVE: With connections to the CIA, it almost seems to go without saying that the job takes precedence. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?
JOHN BETCHER: My protagonist in THE EXILED ELEMENT, Beth Becker, is a semi-retired CIA encryption/decryption specialist. To put it plainly, she's a code cracker. She and her husband, James, a former military intelligence operative, have retired in their early forties to live in his hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota. The fact that she and her husband both left their exciting Washington careers to live in rural Minnesota says a lot about their priorities. At the time of their move, they had two teenage daughters living at home, and neither parent wanted to subject the girls to unnecessary threats related to the Beckers' employment. They chose retirement over careers to bring to their daughters' lives a sense of normalcy and security. The girls are both out of the house and in college these days, but "Beck" and Beth have elected to remain in Red Wing, enjoying the freedoms of semi-retirement, while still engaging in the occasional "residue" of their former careers.

In THE EXILED ELEMENT, Beth's character takes center stage with a full time CIA assignment of indeterminate duration which will take her away from the safety of Midwestern life to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. There she will be called upon to engage a member of Egypt's Intelligence Directorate (GIS). No one knows exactly what the GIS wants with Beth, but she's game to do what she can for her country. So to answer the question . . . family is number one for Beth; but commitment to serve her country comes in a close second. 

FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
JOHN BETCHER: There is no single twist that makes THE EXILED ELEMENT stand out from the crowd. Rather, it is a combination of the book's ripped-from-the-headlines subject matter (conflict in post-revolution Egypt), its unusual connection between international intrigue and small town Minnesota, and its tight-knit and likable cast of characters that make it unique.

The Arab Spring is a backdrop that few published books have addressed to date. And there's a reason for that. Most traditionally published books take at least a year and a half to reach the bookshelves. The Arab Revolution isn't even that old yet. So you could say the setting of THE EXILED ELEMENT is unique, particularly because I interviewed five Egyptian Revolutionaries, with five differing viewpoints on politics, religion, and culture, to assure that I've gotten the background details "right" in this book. In fact, some of the scenes in downtown Cairo are so realistic that a native Egyptian commented to me in an email that she "was reminded of the sights, sounds, and smells of her beloved Cairo" as she read of Beth's adventures in the city.
FAST FIVE: Your in-depth research is an exemplary lesson for all writers who are interested in improving their craft as well as adding realism and suspense to their stories. How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)

JOHN BETCHER: When she worked full time for the CIA, Beth was one of their very best code crackers. In fact, she was so good that, even in her retirement, her former employer frequently calls upon her to perform freelance encryption/decryption services when regular Agency employees are stumped. This unique set of computer skills draws Beth into the Cairo situation in THE EXILED ELEMENT, just as it had drawn her into a cyber-espionage plot in THE MISSING ELEMENT and into the solving of a drug cartel case in THE COVERT ELEMENT. In each case, Beth acts with intelligence and caution, but without fear of confronting potential danger when necessary.

FAST FIVE: Where does The Exiled Element fit in the series, and are you working on a sequel?
JOHN BETCHER: THE EXILED ELEMENT is Book Four of the James Becker Suspense/Thriller Series. All four books feature Beth as a major player in the action; but THE EXILED ELEMENT is truly her story. Readers had been asking for a book that would let Beth take the spotlight. This is that book. I expect there to be future books in the series, though the subject matter of the next one has not yet been decided.

FAST FIVE: This isn’t so much a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.

JOHN BETCHER: I like writing in my living room in Red Wing. I know that may sound provincial; but I'm comfortable there, a good deal of the action in my books takes place in Red Wing, and when I need a break, I can do the dishes, mow the lawn, or pick up the groceries. I like doing those things. :)
FAST FIVE: Thank you again, John, for visiting and for giving us an intriguing inside look at your latest suspense novel, The Exiled Element.

Where readers can follow you:
Author Website: Kindle Books:
Twitter: @JohnBetcher


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Author Interview with Cynthia Meyers-Hanson

Today’s guest is my good friend, Cynthia Meyers-Hanson. Cindy is a school teacher as well as the author of several amazing books. When I read Cindy’s non-fiction book, Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down, I couldn’t help but appreciate the courage she demonstrated while caring for her mother, and then sharing her experiences for the benefit of others. When I asked Cindy to participate in an interview, she readily accepted. I compiled my questions based on her first book Mom’s on the Roof. She graciously responded with answers straight from the heart. I am presenting the first half of her interview today and the second half in August.

GAIL: Welcome Cindy, and thank you for agreeing to this special interview. Your book, Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down tells the true-life personal experiences of you and your family while caring for your Mother who was diagnosed with Cancer. Those who care for, or have cared for, family members living with Cancer, are often unable to cope with or recover from the responsibilities of caring for a loved one. Your favorite phrase is “I am surviving!” Cindy, what gave you the strength to cope and to recover?

CINDY: Gail, Thank you for your interest in my writing as well as me. My first book entitled Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down is a very real saga, which I know keeps some people from reading past the heartache of watching a slow terminal death. However, if the reader starts with my introduction in that book, they’ll find it sums up just how I survived it all. That small section was written last and after a beta reader asked me why I wrote mom and my story. My narrative can be a ‘hard pill to swallow’ as well as an uplifting, afterlife saga.

Meanwhile, people seek the truth about life after death; they want to know if there is really a God. If yes, then, what? We all know that life ends but just how the soul ends or moves to the next world (if it does) is the mystery that many individuals search for answers to. Reading past the sorrow, my book might shed a bit of light on that subject!

When I wrote this book, it was prompted by those hearing my tales first hand as well as my Hospice counselor. Many people asked me to share and write my account. Retelling my tale facilitated my grief processing as well as helping others. My therapist did NOT ask me to keep a diary; this was NOT my journal! I wrote it 6-12 months after mom’s life ended. If there is an afterlife, she goes on somewhere, right?

Read the book, and you may find out!

Meanwhile, knowing nothing about writing due to my major in math and computer science, I wrote my story in a logical and chronological order or as subroutines. In other words, I produced short essays tied together as a cohesive story. Later, my grief counselor told me it was an ingenious style to use when covering hard topics because my pauses or section breaks allowed grief recovery to take place in small doses for my readers. In reality, I produced this book writing feverously while in the spirit; the very style of my storytelling may signal a ghostwriter (Holy Spirit) assisted me.

That Hospice employee, also, convinced me to find a publisher. Over the years, that counselor heard it all while in the grief business, so why, me? Why, my tale? Having admitted the story is hard and that my writing was guided by my spirit rather than simple logic; having mentioned my professional background, I was a highly unlikely candidate to witness and compose thoughts on the hereafter, next world, life after death, or eternal life. That’s what makes my book even more believable to many souls.

At a grief group, a lady said that we can only be 99% sure of a Heaven and Hell. We figure out the other 1% (or if our doubt was right or wrong) only when it’s our turn to die. I agree! It’s important to add here that I NEVER wrote this book to prove or disprove the afterlife. I composed my witness to keep mom’s experiences for posterity and because people kept asking me to share my tales. Thus, it’s not my intention to prove anything to skeptics or theologians; I simply wrote the chronology of what occurred as mom underwent her near death experiences. However, some things that I chronicled put me out on a limb. If mom was NOT talking to Doctor God or Her Maker, then, some of the things copyrighted in 1994 may disprove a Higher Source. What a chance I took! What a leap of faith! Or, was it?

For example, my mother discussed a future wedding even though all my siblings and I were married at the time of her death. That may not be mind boggling because the divorce rate is high in the USA. Plus, many people remarry in a lifetime. More than one of mom’s children divorced in the past 21 plus years; and one remarried. Again, that prediction could have been made by a statistician.

However, there were 3 unfinished prophecies as I wrote and copyrighted Mom’s on the Roof…! Mom foretold that a child would be born. She told my sister all about Mary or Regina, which are the same name in two different languages. I asked for clarification when my sibling told me that tale. My mother babbled on and on about Mike, my brother and husband’s name. She said the future child named Mary had a relationship with Mike. Knowing I’d get Stacey and had two children already, I really quizzed her on that prophecy. She muttered about my nephews, which indicated that the relationship of the ‘child from Heaven’ would not be mine. One of my 2 sisters was infertile at the time; she was the same one that heard all about the future family member or the female baby. After the 1994 copyright date, after of years of doctor interventions, that particular sister finally gave birth to a child but did NOT name her Mary or Regina. That’s a long story in itself! By then, my brother and I were infertile due to surgery; so what came next? When my sister gave her potentially only child the wrong name, it appeared that mom was just babbling, right? Nope! That sister got pregnant by mistake and right after her first child; that girl was born on my brother’s birthday. Mom and God’s prophecy were no longer a mystery! In short, we see them as mysteries but God knows the intricacies of his messages and carries out His Plans in this world with or without our interventions.

What’s left? Mom talked about John and my need to take care of all the children that she listed before departing. If you read my first book, you’d notice that only two children had last names in her 3rd prediction. Through her gibberish, I believe she and God tried to show me that those two children without last names listed that day would not be biological children of mine. We know Stacey went to me after my parents’ deaths; John remains the mystery. However, that prediction keeps my family going. For instance, when Julie nearly died, I kept saying variations of the next comment aloud, “She’ll make it because mom had all four children in her message about my future task of taking care of the kids! I have yet to meet John!”  By the way, my biological child survived that near death event that occurred on my birthday; it’s discussed in Stacey’s Song. You can read about that and other minor miracles in her book.

I wrote more about my family’s saga and the prophecy in My ArmOr. That story is the direct sequel to mom’s book. In my personal witness, I recap the outstanding prophecy my mother said came from God. Plus, some questions asked after my first book was copyrighted are answered in that storyline. Also, I talk about how over 15 years after mom left for the afterlife my life changed due to my trip of a lifetime.

In short I tripped over my own two feet. The doctor tried to rebuild my left arm after it broke in two places. However, he had to do a partial shoulder replacement with metal. Then, a month later, it was ‘touch and go’ as I sat in the ER hearing that my left arm might have to be amputated, anyway. The healing that took place that day is remarkable in itself; you can read about it in My ArmOr. Meanwhile, months later, my physical therapy failed to redeem that limb’s ability to lift itself or other things above my shoulder; that arm could not go higher than table height. The doctor warned that without more surgery it was done recovering. Was it? In my personal saga, I talk about what it was like to take a simple stumble through faith and hope. Without the doctor and therapist, based on faith and logic, I rerouted the arm’s signals and muscles; my limb will never be 100%. You can read my reaction in the narratives in that sequel to mom’s book. By the way, when I chronicle hard topics to discuss, they are explained with my style of humor to soften the blows as well as just the right amount of silver lining or miracle anecdotes to help you through the tragedies.

Meanwhile, I’m finally keeping a journal as I wait for John’s God’s News. The working title of this work in progress means “John is God’s News” or “John belongs to God’s News” depending on your point of view about my story. Honestly, things are happening that make me question the realities of that last, outstanding prophecy. Yes, I am human! In my candid opinion, anyone that has an experience from the other side is lying if they cannot tell you that they can only be 99% sure that what they witnessed is real instead of fiction. These experiences do NOT take away our human nature to be a ‘Doubting Tom’ at times. I question myself and my words; it’s healthy to do so! However, by the end of a tale, I always seem to latch on to faith and a belief system that produces most of my non-fiction books. Due to many experiences and witnesses, I believe in God and something more than just this life. If you read my nonfictions, you may feel the same way.

Why does my belief system win most of the time or 99% of the time? If you research my life you’ll see why. I started out or was born blind to a dysfunctional father and family. I experienced my own near death experience as a teen and later in life. My mom’s passing was quickly followed by dad’s suicide! I took on and surmounted the trials of assimilating Stacey into my family. More recently, I faced the possible amputation of an arm! Actually, there is a very long list of warped events in my life surrounded by miracles and love. Even though they built my faith, that list is so extensive that you’d say, “She makes this stuff up; nobody goes through that much pain, loss, and suffering!” Many times, I wish my reality was made up! Rest assured my truth is stranger than fiction! As a result, I feel that God writes the best suspense novels and their outcomes may appear to be ‘stings’ but look deeper for the goodness shared! In fact, read between the lines for my full story! God is the best novelist ever; I just jot down the stories for Him!

A friend once asked how I cope with things outside my control. She, also, asked why I kept being bombarded with what appears to be bad luck but I continue to come back smiling. The only explanation is God and a good sense of humor - mine and His. However, I sometimes add that He has a warped sense of humor! Meanwhile, the positives in my life far outweigh the negatives; that sums up how I survive it all. That- and my ability to rationalize and analyze my way back to reality and sanity.

One time I actually added, “Maybe, I have to surmount these issues and live through problems so that I can look someone in the eye and say I know the way out. Due to my reality and honesty, people trust to follow me out of their own darkness. I bring reliability to a bad situation.” Speaking of eyes, the good news or my first miracle is that I can see! I will discussion my vision issues that started at my birth, later on.

When I taught middle and high school students religion and then when my career path landed me in the public school system, I shared many of my misadventures in the classroom. My stories included hunger as a child due to dad’s bipolar disease that kept him out of work for months on multiple occasions. I told about my vision issues and ‘School of Hard Knocks’ education. I tried to impress hope and good work ethics to those in my care. If it was a religion class, I added that faith is a good tool in survival. Always, even in my writing, my goal is to teach but not in a preachy way! I want people to relate and know they can move forward. My strength is my ability to admit that I have my frustrations too because I’m human! This trait lends credibility to my stories. I hope it helped many of my students and readers to mend and go forward in their lives. 

Where to find Cindy’s works: 

My author name for nonfictions and children’s literature is: Cynthia Meyers-Hanson

My pen name for fictions or novels and so you know when I’m fibbing or embellishing is: Sydney S. Song

Independent Author Network:

Book Sale Sites:
AMAZON (paper backs & kindle books):

Lulu (hard covers):

My YouTube Book Trailer link is:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week #5 of The Next Big Thing

Welcome to Week #5 of The Next Big Thing! Here’s the plan:

***Answer the ten questions (below) about your current WIP (Work In Progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
It’s that simple.

I’ve chosen to answer one question per week with the best intentions of having my second novel published by the time I post the final question.

Question #5 of The Next Big Thing:

TNBT: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

GAIL: The one-sentence synopsis of my WIP, Different in Degree is:

A cousin of Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau dies after falling from an icy rooftop and her husband refuses to claim the insurance settlement, raising questions about more than one death in Pepper's family.

AND NOW, five awesome writers whose work you want to watch:

1. Coral Russell @AlchemyofScrawl

2. John Betcher @JohnBetcher

3. Elizabeth McKenna @ElizaMcKenna

4. Carole Sutton @cazutt

5. Stacy Juba @stacyjuba

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Bev Robitai

My guest today is Bev Robitai, author of the Theatre Mysteries. Bev currently works as a writer, book coach, and freelance photographer in Auckland, New Zealand. Her first mystery novel Murder in the Second Row was launched in June 2010 in the same historic theatre that was used as the setting. A decade of backstage experience gave her the raw material for a series of theatre-based crime novels.

FAST FIVE: Welcome, Bev. Please share with us some insight into your first novel and the research for Murder in the Second Row?
BEV ROBITAI: Research was easy because the novel is set in a small historic theatre that I practically lived in for ten years. The characters are loosely based on real people, so writing it was like spending time with good friends in a place that I love. I want readers to feel as comfortable in the place as I do, enjoying the location as well as the story. Each book is based around one show – this one is Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death.
FAST FIVE: What a unique concept, basing each book on one of Agatha Christie's works. In your protagonist's line of work, is “the job” the most important part of her life?
BEV ROBITAI: The job is managing the theatre, so Jessica needs a wide variety of strengths and skills. She is passionate about it and it does tend to overshadow her home life. She’s good at handling people, which is essential as theatres are full of egos and emotions. She may have to placate a snooty opera diva or discipline a boisterous teenager so she’s tough but fair, warm-hearted and intelligent, and uses humour as her favourite weapon.
FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
BEV ROBITAI: I’m not sure if I should confess this here but the murder is really secondary to the main story, which is the survival of the theatre. Clearly my priorities are somewhat skewed! My unique twist is the world the mystery is set in, with recurring characters that readers will find in later books, and things that will be familiar to theatre people everywhere.
FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)
BEV ROBITAI: Finding a stabbed body in the auditorium makes Jessica’s life VERY complicated. Looking after an elderly theatre that is in danger from predatory developers is fairly suspenseful as well. Will the show succeed in making money? Will the escalating threats turn deadly? Oh yes, Jessica is right in the thick of all kinds of suspense.
FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
BEV ROBITAI: Yes, it’s the first book in the Theatre Mystery series, and Book Two, Body on the Stage, has just been published. Book Three is in pre-planning. I have the show, a rough plot and some characters, and am just waiting for one of them to put their hand up to demand the lead role. Jessica was secondary in Book Two but she may leap back into the spotlight in Three.
FAST FIVE: This isn’t a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
BEV ROBITAI: If I’m doing the creative side of writing (as opposed to editing and polishing) then a hotel room somewhere dull is ideal. Getting away from the distractions of domestic chores makes staying at the desk so much easier. My best daily word count was achieved in a spartan hotel room in Hamilton (NZ) – a city where not much happens so there was no compulsion to wander the neighbourhood. A desk by the window, coffee on hand, and nothing else – perfect. Paris would be far too tempting a distraction!
Where readers can follow you:
I post most often on my Facebook writer page and welcome any new followers.
Or you can find me through my website,
You can find my books in print or as ebooks on Amazon.
Thanks for the opportunity of completing the Fast Five questions – I enjoyed the process!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Interview with Independent Author Dawson C. Walton

Dawson C. Walton is the independently published author of The Dreams series and other works of art. Today he has agreed to discuss his novel, Dreams: One Man’s Journey. Dawson has combined murder and science fiction in a novel that has been described as “a haunting” story on a path “you may not want to go down.” His protagonist "uses his new-found gift to better the lives of some and for the rest, there is hell to pay."
GAIL: Thank you for visiting today, Dawson. Rather than the abbreviated social media comments we take for granted, can you share with us a detailed description of your protagonist and your novel, Dreams: One Man's Journey?

DAWSON: An everyday man much like you and I, working to survive in a going nowhere job, just living paycheck to paycheck. Then one day unexpectedly he starts to have dreams. However, unlike the ones that we have his do come true.
At first, he did not know how to control them; he could not even understand them, but soon he learns that the dreams could be controlled and steered where and how he wants them to go. The world around him is filled with crime and despair, people living in the street barely having enough to eat and nowhere to call home but a cardboard box while others lived and prospered. He takes it upon himself to help those people that are less fortunate and at the same time helps himself.
While living in a small apartment above a neighborhood store owned by an older woman named Mama, he works for minimum wage as a dishwasher in a local Café. Once he can control his dreams, he uses his new found talent to help others as he sees fit. However, for those like the fat pawnshop owner who laughed at him, to the bullies who make the streets unsafe for everyone, all the way down to the drug pushers who pollute the streets, he helps in the only way he knows: Kill those that offend and help those that are in need, while building a nest egg for himself. However, like most good things, this too ends. After a bizarre mishap during one of the dreams, the Detective who has always seemed to be there arrests him. After a brief trial, he dies in the Gas Chamber, or does he?
GAIL: Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?
DAWSON: Not at first, paying his bills and being able to pick up a bottle of bourbon was, but once he learned of his abilities and was able to control it, his job of helping others while helping himself was the most important. Being a common man with the power to help those in need, and wanting to clean up the streets, quickly turned into a priority.
GAIL: What unique twist makes your novel stand out?
DAWSON: Being able to go to bed with certain thoughts in your mind such as a place, weapons and or equipment that you want or need, and as you sleep you go and do whatever you want, see whoever you want and come back with everything you wanted.
GAIL: How does your main character’s profession draw him into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)
DAWSON: His job as a dish washer in a small local cafe has little to do with his new talent but is the cause for some of his dreams.
GAIL: And those dreams, of course, lead to murder. Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
DAWSON: Dreams: One Man's Journey is the first book of the trilogy. Dreams: Border Wars is the second, and the final volume is Dreams: Good Vs. Evil. The first two have the same main character with the third having two main characters both living different lives till the end. And yes, all three are available in e-book format and paperback.
GAIL: This last is an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
DAWSON: The foothills of Arizona or New Mexico away from towns. I grew up in the desert and loved it, how I miss the cactus and rattlesnakes. The evening quiet is unlike any I have ever heard.

Where readers can follow Dawson C. Walton, Author: The Dreams series and other works of art

 and my blogs at:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Week #4 of THE NEXT BIG THING: Casting

This is week four of TNBT a fun blog questionnaire for The Next Big Thing.

Here’s the plan:

***Answer the ten questions listed below about a current WIP (Work In Progress).

***Tag five other writers (five awesome writers whose work you want us to watch) and link their blogs so we can all hop over and check them out! It’s that simple.

I’ve chosen to answer one question per week with ‘the best laid plans’ of publishing my second novel by the time the ink dries on the final question. 

Here is Question #4 of The Next Big Thing: 

TNBT: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

GAIL: Until this question arose, I hadn't given much thought to movie renditions of my novel's characters. I knew readers would probably provide their own vivid depictions of my characters as they read the Pepper Bibeau mysteries. I wouldn’t want to override the images they form in their minds. I am willing to make a couple of suggestions though.

My female protagonist is of mixed heritage, including paternal Western European and maternal East Asian and Hawaiian, so other than an amalgam of Keanu Reeves (for the Hawaiian and Caucasian) and Lucy Liu (for the Asian), I’m not sure who would fit the bill. Besides, the two of them back-to-back (think Matrix and Charlie’s Angels) cast a thinner shadow than my Polynesian-framed protagonist, Pepper.

For the first Pepper Bibeau mystery, I did have an actor in mind for one character, Homicide Sergeant Tobias Robertson of the Chicago Police Department. Ernie Hudson was the original role model for Toby. He has appeared in a wide range of movies including Ghostbusters, Congo, and Sugar Hill. Another actor who could fill the role is Denzel Washington, or even Wesley Snipes. I just watched the movie Jerry Maguire again and would have to say, definitely not Cuba Gooding Jr!
All of my characters stand out in my mind, but not in physical form. As I write their scenes, I feel their mass, height, coloring, and attitude. When Pepper’s Uncle Fred grumbles, it is the purring of an old softy that I hear. Though Pepper’s uncle, Maluhia Peleke (Fred) Kane, is Hawaiian, keep in mind that he bears no resemblance to Don Ho or Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett. How about Duke Kahanamoku?

And now, five awesome writers whose work you want to watch:

4. Gordon Kessler

5. Florence Osmund

Full set of questions for The Next Big Thing Interview:

What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books within your genre would you compare this story to?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Peter Healy

 Please welcome my guest Peter Healy, author of Vengeance Is Sacred. Peter and I met in a writers' group on LinkedIn and he graciously accepted my request for an interview. Peter was born, raised, and educated in Jersey City, NJ. After retiring from a forty-year teaching career, he set out to fulfill a lifelong goal of writing a novel.

Vengeance Is Sacred takes the reader from the Apennines Mountains in Italy to the early 20th Century streets of New York City with its sweatshops and strikes. One reviewer said of Mr. Healy that his “originality shines with his spectacular first novel.”

FAST FIVE: Thank you for visiting today, Peter. Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to in this fast-paced world of social media, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for Vengeance Is Sacred.

PETER: From the mountain farms of Italy to the distant shores of L'America young Paolo forges an unforgettable journey of fortitude, intrigue, and love as he eludes the retribution of the Camorra crime syndicate after a fatal confrontation while defending a young lady. But much more is at stake than just Paolo’s humble life . . . for he has been bestowed with a mysterious family legacy that is now in danger of ending forever.

Fleeing to the New World in 1909, Paolo experiences an unpleasant setback on Ellis Island, which further complicates his difficult position. Without work and diminishing finances, Paolo struggles on his own until he is finally befriended by some unlikely . . . though unsavory sources. But, it is only after meeting the beautiful Maria, a bold, fiery, labor activist that he feels his heart has come home and his life is on track.

The dauntless couple becomes involved in the dangerous garment workers' strike in New York City to protest and hopefully reform the horrible sweatshops. And soon their dissenting activities blossom into a whirlwind romance . . . that soon leads to a pledge of marriage. But nevertheless, a painful breakup occurs when Maria learns of Paolo’s troubled past and his “wanted” status in Italy.

Paolo is heartbroken and feels his life is once again without purpose. But an eerie premonition summons him to the scene of the historical fire at the Triangle Waist Company where the shocking tragedy proves to be the ultimate challenge of Paolo's paranormal ways . . . and a true test of his courage as a man!

Paolo is hailed a hero, but his valiant efforts at the fire stir unwanted recognition, and his enemies from the past now lie in wait . . . to honor their sacred code of vengeance.

Will Maria return to Paolo’s side? Can Paolo overcome the blind forces of reprisal? . . . And is the future as predetermined as one may think?

Vengeance Is Sacred is a work of historical fiction set in the early 1900’s with past events creating the backdrop, capturing the time period, and fueling the storyline.

To provide authenticity and reality to the story I researched the steerage accommodations of transatlantic travel, the processing of immigrants on Ellis Island, the Italian “Black Hand” and the Irish “White Hand” gangs, the sweatshops, the Garment Workers’ Strike of 1909 in New York City, and the infamous Triangle Waist Company fire, which distressed the American conscience and initiated the revamping of American labor laws.

To add a hint of mystery and uncertainty to the story I also researched and then added some high-interest information about paranormal /psychic phenomena. 

FAST FIVE: Over the years, I have researched my family’s history and know the fascination of learning how ancestors journeyed to the new world. You’ve turned your research into a breathtaking story, with focus on the fiery topic of unions that still burns today. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?
PETER: Maria, the female protagonist, works in a sweatshop and wants to help put an end to the injustice of her situation by becoming involved with the Garment Workers’ Union and participating in the strike against the Triangle Waist Company in New York City. While picketing, the marchers are attacked by hired thugs, with Maria and many others beaten and routed as bystanders ignore their plight. What could they expect from the male hierarchy of the times? However, despite her fears, she returns to join her “sisters” in their cause for equality and fair treatment until the strike finally ends. Her strengths are her determination, moxie, independence, and courage.

(SPOILER) She also shows her potency when she saves Paolo during the clash with the Camorra showdown by killing the two assailants. 

GAIL: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
PETER: Vengeance Is Sacred combines, history, revenge, and love . . . together with the mysteries of the paranormal. The inexplicable aspects of psychic occurrences have always created a fascination for people, and with that vein in mind I was able to include a number of surprises, twists, and turns throughout the novel . . . with very careful attention to believability.

(SPOILER) The most important twist (which has nothing to do with psychic happenings) is that Maria kills the two assailants during the confrontation/showdown between Paolo and the Camorra crime syndicate. One attacker is killed during the melee and the other Maria kills by intention. This shows a depth of potency for Maria that the reader now realizes was always present in her feisty make-up. 

GAIL: You say your feisty female protagonist, Maria, shows her strengths in several ways. Can you describe how is she drawn into suspenseful situations?
PETER: It was turbulent times for labor unions in the early 1900’s, and even more so, for the garment union, which was comprised of mostly young females. It was a man’s world and without a voice or the right to vote, women were badly compromised in the workplace, especially concerning wages. Since Maria worked in a sweatshop and participated in the march against the Triangle Waist Company in New York City, her actions left her open to both threatening and physical hostilities, which created danger, anxiety, and unease throughout the story. Hence, suspense was easily generated. However, it was really Maria’s relationship with Paolo that creates the spiral staircase of suspense/thriller, as the debt from Paolo’s past stands to be collected by the Camorra and Maria is swept into the vengeful attack.

GAIL: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
PETER: The story has been very well-received by readers and I am often asked, “When will you write a sequel?” My characters, it seems, are very easy to become attached to, and I consciously left plenty of opportunity for an extension of the tale. Although nothing has actually been written at this time, I have recently prepared a rough outline and mapped a storyboard to resume the on-going plot.

GAIL: Thank you for sharing many interesting and revealing details about your novel, Vengeance Is Sacred, Peter. This last isn’t so much a Not a Fast Five question as an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
PETER: I would select New York City as my choice. Since it is rich in history, influential in culture/fashion, a leader in commerce, grand in architecture, layered in contrasts, and just brimming with a diversity of people who live at all levels of the human experience it certainly offers the stimulus and motivation that are invaluable for fostering ideas and creating engaging stories.
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The first four chapters are available for free reading on the Vengeance Is Sacred website. Please visit. --

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