Friday, May 26, 2017

Interview with mystery author Michael Prelee

Mystery author Michael Prelee joins me today to chat about his new suspense novel, Murder in the Heart of It All.

Michael Prelee is a graduate of Youngstown State University. He resides in Northeast Ohio with his family where he enjoys writing. His first novel, the sci-fi crime story "Milky Way Repo", was published in 2015 by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy. His next novel is "Murder in the Heart of it All", a gripping mystery set in Ohio, published by North Star Press in 2017.

Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about your current release.
Someone is angry in Hogan, Ohio.
Residents of the small town are plagued by vicious, anonymous letters. The personalized notes land in mailboxes with devastating effect, revealing secrets and deeds better kept unknown. Whoever the sender is, they know the town and the people who live there.
Reporter Tim Abernathy is assigned to the story and tasked with finding out who is sending the letters and why. The letter writer doesn’t want to be found, however, and will kill to keep his secret.
A cat-and-mouse game ensues between reporter and letter writer as the violence escalates, shocking the residents of Hogan. Can Tim discover who is terrorizing the town before becoming the next victim?

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been interested in crime stories and I used to watch ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ with Robert Stack. One episode featured a story about the Circleville Letter Writer in central Ohio. This person sent hundreds of anonymous letters to people all over town. Something about that story always stayed with me and the more I thought about it, the more I thought the premise would make a good story. The result of that is ‘Murder in the Heart of It All’.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book is titled Bad Rock Beat Down and will be released in July 2017. It’s a return to my sci-fi roots and a sequel to my 2015 release ‘Milky Way Repo’. A group of starship repo agents are hired to go to the edge of known space to retrieve a ship but things go awry when the crew of their target decides they won’t easily give up their vessel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I thought of myself as a writer when I finished my first book and was able to solicit it to publishers. There was a sense of accomplishment that came with having a completed story that could be offered for review.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write part time. In my day job I am a Business Analyst / Quality Assurance analyst for a software company. I find time to write on weekends by getting up early and during the week in the evenings.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t write in silence. When I wrote I usually have a pair of headphones on listening to YouTube playlists I set up ahead of time. It’s incredible how much music I’ve been exposed to because I constantly want to hear something new.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up I thought about being many things but never really had one specific thing I wanted to be. Generally, I think I always wanted my career to be something creative.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Perseverance pays off. If you want to accomplish something, learn as much about it as you can and work hard. I always took inspiration from writers who found success later in life, like Raymond Chandler, who wasn’t published until he was forty-four. It’s never too late to try.


Thanks for being here today, Michael.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Interview with historical novelist Malcolm Colley

Today’s special guest is Malcolm Colley. We’re chatting about his new adventure/historical fiction novel, Gideon: The Boer Blood.

Malcolm Colley was born in South Africa in 1942 and spent his teens of the 1950’s on a small farm just outside Naboomspruit in the Northern Province of South Africa, during which time he came to love the sounds, smells and sights of the bush.

Malcolm did his basic training with 1st Special Service Battalion in Bloemfontein and has happy memories of army life in the bush. He also spent twenty-five years training in martial arts. During his work in a steel mill and underground in a diamond mine, he yearned to be back in the bush and although his profession was Project Manager, his love of the bush remained.

It was during this time that the in-depth research into his first novel – Zachariah: The Boer Diamond – began. After a successful publishing, the research for the second work began. This, book number five, follows Gideon accused with the robbery of gold meant for payment of arms and ammunition for the Boer commandoes.

Malcolm now lives with his wife, Lorraine, in Horsham, England when not travelling back to South Africa as an excuse for research on his next book.

Welcome, Malcom. Please tell us a little bit about your latest release.
By 1902 the British war against South Africa, the so called “Boer War” was over. Paul Kruger, attempted to negotiate a deal with Holland and Germany for arms and ammunition in exchange for gold. The arms and ammunition reached the port of Lorenco Marques but the gold, sent by Kruger, went missing.

Into this chaos of the aftermath of the war, with men, woman and children trying to make it back to the farms, Gideon Barron, an Irishman born in South Africa is accused of helping to steal the gold. Wounded, he escapes but is followed and hunted by his fellow Boers for treason.

What inspired you to write this book?
The disappearance of Kruger’s gold has always intrigued me. There are many stories, myths and legends about the whereabouts of this treasure. In this work of fiction adventure, I have put forward one possibility. I grew up in this area amongst these people whose stories to their grandchildren in the lamplight around the kitchen table, tell of the gold that may have changed the course of the war, told with the bitterness against the English.

Excerpt from Gideon: The Boer Blood:
The eagle perched on the rock right at the top of the kopje and surveyed the horizon. It was the beginning of summer and, even this late in the evening, it was still hot. He was looking east and so had the setting sun at his back. He cocked his head left and right and the back again and ruffled his feathers.

The small dust cloud had been moving in his direction for a few hours now. With his excellent vision he could see that it was a man on a horse. The eagle cocked his head sideways. This man was sitting at an angle. The eagle had seen this way of sitting before and knew that this man wasn’t going to reach this kopje before he fell off. He could see the blood. Blood caked the front of his shirt and had pooled and coagulated around his belt. Blood excited him and he watched with interest. He didn’t eat humans nor did he eat dead animals but anything dying interested him.

The eagle dropped forward off the rock, dived for a few seconds and then opened his wings to catch the upward current to take him to five thousand feet. Not that he knew that it was five thousand feet but he knew what his ultimate hunting height was. He banked on the thermal and looked down on the rider. The rider was laying forward on the horse now.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book is the story of a young man who must come to terms with the fact that, if he is to save his marriage he needs to give up the working life that he loves as a mercenary. The story takes place in Africa in the 1980’s.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t consider myself a writer but a story teller. I wrote my first book about thirty years ago but never got around to publishing it. It is only since I retired that I have been writing full time. My day is taken up with reading for research, which sometimes turns to reading for pleasure when I suddenly come across something interesting, and then fitting the research into a story.

Anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
I spent my teens of the 1950’s on a small farm just outside Naboomspruit in the Northern Province of South Africa, during which time I came to love the sounds, smells and sights of the bush. I did my army basic training with 1st Special Service Battalion in Bloemfontein and have happy memories of army life in the bush. I also spent twenty-five years training in the martial arts. During my work in a steel mill and underground in a diamond mine, I always yearned to be back in the bush.


Thanks for joining me today, Malcolm.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Interview with thriller author Michael Frase

My special author guest today is Michael Frase (aka: H. Michael Frase). He’s chatting with me about his new mainstream thriller, Fatal Gift.

Michael Frase has served as a technical advisor to numerous government and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, DOJ, Secret Service, US Marshal Service, and the California Department of Justice. A former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, this bestselling author’s work has been translated into numerous foreign languages.

Michael has been a featured guest on NBC’s The Today Show as well as a regular guest on the nationally syndicated PBS show, A Word on Words with John Seigenthaler. He was also on the advisory board of the NCIC/2000 (National Crime Information Center).

In addition to Fatal Gift, Michael has three new thrillers completed. All slated for release in the coming months. He is currently working on his fifth novel, based on a true story.

He lives in Tennessee with his wife, Anita.

Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about your current release.
Imagine that you are the witness to a sadistic killing, that only the victim is aware of your hidden presence at the scene, and that you are too paralyzed with fear to answer her silent plea for help.

That is Kasey Riteman’s dilemma.

Kasey has just quit her job to escape the sexual advances of her hateful boss. Hoping to vent her anger, she drives aimlessly into the nighttime countryside, fed up with the downward spiral her life has taken since her parents’ deaths.

Her old car quits running, stranding her on an abandoned rural road. Hearing distant voices, she inadvertently stumbles upon a completely unexpected scene and becomes the undetected witness to the savage assassination of a local celebrity. She immediately realizes that if she tells the authorities what she knows, her life as the lone eyewitness will be measured in mere hours. Yet, having done nothing before, she knows she must now, somehow, seek justice for the murdered woman.

Suddenly, a solution presents itself, an ingenious scheme so perfect it promises to make the killer pay while offering complete protection for Kasey. At first everything goes well, but an explosion of media attention turns Kasey into a most unlikely celebrity while simultaneously implicating the state’s most powerful politician in a career-ending scandal.

More dangerously, Kasey is unaware that the men to whom she has gone for help are the very men responsible for the woman’s assassination.

What inspired you to write this book?
The story is actually a compilation of two cases I studied while working as a consultant for the California Department of Justice while helping to develop their “Serious Habitual Offender Profile” system. I found the real life inspiration for my protagonist, Kasey Riteman, within those cases and thought her an intriguing and spunky character worthy of her own story. I have the sequel to “Fatal Gift,” titled “An Evil Wind,” complete and scheduled for publication later this year.

For those many fans who have fallen in love with Kasey, I believe this will be a most satisfying “next chapter” in her story.

Excerpt from Fatal Gift:
From the scene when Kasey witnesses the assassination:

He’s coming, Kasey… RUN! RUN, DAMN YOU!
Instead, she buried her face in the grass and waited for the end to come, her body refusing to move.
Without willing it, Kasey was filled with a sensation she had gone her entire life without having felt; a feeling only those in similar circum­stances ever knew. She wanted to live!
She knew she had faced the possibility of death before—the flash of unexpected headlights around a corner when she had made a risky pass on a two-lane highway, or in that instant when the decision was made to go for the light instead of stopping—but these were milliseconds of possible tragedy, diluted in their intensity by the focused necessity to accelerate or steer or hit the brakes. All had passed in a flash with little reality attached and rarely more than an acrid aftertaste.
There was nothing hypotheti­cal about this moment, or this hellish butcher. The end of her life, her hopes, her very existence was at hand and still his steps grew closer.
The desire to live was far more than simply not dying, far more than seeing another sunrise or laughing with friends. It was a fundamental need to continue existing, to have the time she had been promised—every single, insignificant, wasted-in-front-of-the-boob-tube, too-much-damn-tequila minute of it.
She was sure the thumping of her heart was as loud to him as his boots crashing against the earth were to her.
Five feet now.
Oh, sweet Jesus, holy Jesus, her mind screamed. Please let me live!

What exciting story are you working on next?
Besides the sequel to Fatal Gift, mentioned above, I have completed two additional thrillers: Dream Stalker, about a woman who dies and is revived, only to have her life turned inside out by the experience; and Eighteen Hours to Live, about a man who meets a mysterious woman on a flight to California, the woman he has dreamed of his entire life, only to have her die essentially at his feet eighteen hours later.

My fifth novel, Thief of Dreams, is based on a true story. It is about a young FBI agent in search of his mother, an enigmatic woman who disappeared the day he was born, never to be seen or heard from again. As his quest unfolds, he finds more questions than answers, and the answers he does unearth are not the ones he was hoping to find.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was in the sixth grade, my English teacher told me I had a “gift” that needed to be pursued. He may have told every student the same thing, much as a mother tells every one of her children that he or she is her favorite, but his words stuck with me and directed my course of study through high school and college. I have never regretted that decision and am grateful every day for his kind and supportive words.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time, typically around eight hours a day. Even if I don’t keep everything I write every day, I ply my trade as tenaciously as any other artisan or craftsman in any field of endeavor. The best way to overcome writer’s block is to write. I have never heard of a furniture maker having “carpentry block.” They just go to work every day and cut wood. Some days they make an exquisite chair, some days only firewood, but they cut wood every day. I find the same discipline works well for writing.

It’s not always Faulkner, but it does keep the “writing muscle” from growing weak.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have had three of my stories “delivered” to me on three successive Aprils, always on the first, second, and third of that month. I awoke on each following morning with not only the story line complete, but also the character nuances and much of the dialog and atmospheric details.

Don’t ask me why or how this happened, but it did. I choose not to look a gift horse in the mouth and just accept that it was a most fortunate trio of dream sequences.

As for writing itself, I always dictate my work using a top-notch voice dictation program. I find that when I free myself from the tedium of the keyboard, I can just “tell the story” as it comes to mind, often with my eyes closed as I “walk” through scene after scene. It’s incredibly liberating and there are never any typos (which is a good thing since I’m mildly dyslexic and have been known to type illegibly).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Either a photographer or a writer (I met Ansel Adams in Acadia National Park when I was a young boy and he rocked my world). Fortunately, one or both careers has managed to feed me for my entire work life while never having to “punch a clock.”

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that I write for people who like to read, not for my self-edification or ego. I enjoy telling big stories with visceral characters and will continue to write as long as the good Lord gives me the ability to do so.


Thanks for being here today, Michael!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Interview with writer Anlor Davin

Writer Anlor Davin joins me today to chat about her memoir, Being Seen.

Anlor (from Anne-Laure) Davin is autistic. She was diagnosed at age 46, a life-changing, and life-saving, event she traces to her Zen practice of the years preceding. Anlor is an immigrant, born in France in 1964. During Anlor’s childhood her native France was in the grip of oppressive and now discredited theories about autism. Anlor instinctively knew she had to flee France in order to survive.

Upon arrival to the Unites States in 1987, Anlor lived in Chicago, Illinois, were she married and had a son. The ensuing eighteen years of child-rearing, a tremendous challenge for an autistic mother, overwhelmed her and her life slowly but surely unraveled. Forever searching for answers to the challenges of an undiagnosed autistic life she moved to San Francisco, California, in 1999. There she started a Zen practice while she eventually became very ill and “hit bottom”. In March 2000 a painful and debilitating movement disorder appeared in her left upper body.

Anlor was finally formally diagnosed in 2010. With proper medical care and many other supports her life improved unexpectedly and dramatically. This healthy outcome and Anlor’s later fullness of life give her a secure place to stand and reflect with greater clarity on her journey. She now lives near San Francisco with her partner, her son living nearby.

Please tell us about your current release.
In the words of a reviewer: “Anlor Davin is an author, teacher, mother, French immigrant and a Zen student. She has recently published her book, Being Seen, a memoir about an autistic woman struggling not only to be seen but to be understood and respected.

Today Anlor works daily to help people understand autism of the kind that she experiences, and to let people know the value of basic meditative practice in living, and thriving, in autism."

What inspired you to write this book?
When I was ill, one of my symptoms was pressured speech (Wikipedia definition: “a tendency to speak rapidly and frenziedly, as if motivated by an urgency not apparent to the listener”). I indeed wanted to urgently share about my illness, its chronic pain and the sensory problems I experienced, which all were rooted in my history, all the way back to childhood. Two friends I knew from my zen practice thus encouraged me to write a book. I hoped to tell about autism a little bit, this misunderstood condition; it might be better understood in some circles nowadays, but the public at large may still often have misconceptions.

Excerpt from Being Seen:
The school’s midday break lasted two hours. This meant that after lunch in the cafeteria I had ninety minutes of unstructured time before resuming classes. It deeply hurt that I was not accepted in the little groups of students that were scattered on the grounds, with Marie in one of them. At first I huddled in hidden places to read but eventually I developed another obsession: I kicked a pebble over and over around the yard. I tried to keep the same pebble day after day, noticing where I left it at the end of the lunch break so I could use it again the next day. I counted how much the pebble traveled, wondering if it had made it to China yet.

Would I ever be able to travel thus?

It is no surprise then that the school requested I no longer eat lunch at the school’s cafeteria. Instead I went home and my brother followed. As was the custom in France my mother also had a long lunch break during which she had barely enough time to come home and cook. It may have been an added responsibility for my mother as it increased her already full load but to her credit she never made me feel guilty. At home during lunch my father, my mother, my brother and I were now together, which I liked much better than the school’s cafeteria. The problem with a child not being given reasons for changes like this is that then she may think it is her fault, as I did.

I took much pain to hide my different perceptions and the ensuing behaviors. Not being diagnosed autistic as a child was my saving grace. Had I been dragged to doctors, I may have been labeled and looked down at. An autistic diagnostic label can be cause for troubles, and especially at that time in France. Many teachers and other support staff feel superior to their diagnosed charge and opportunities are denied, which can be perceived so overwhelming by an autistic person that we may fall into the abysses leading to mental illnesses, medical drugs, institutions, or suicide and other problems. When autism is thought to be a disease that must be cured, the fragile and nervous child might be destroyed by inappropriate treatments. We are often so sensitive it is as if we had an insincerity meter, and the smugness of the people around us (who are often completely unconscious of it) may seriously rock us. On the other hand I have now met many younger autistic people for whom being diagnosed autistic has had several positive effects on the individual. As a teacher friend told me, “How can I help if I do not know the child has a challenge?” Allowing access to the now much improved services can obviously be very helpful, the answer to the situation is not simple at all, autism has many facets and I certainly do not have all the answers

What exciting story are you working on next?
I don’t know yet.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I saw how this book had an impact on others.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full-time, as I write above one of my major interest is my daily zen practice, which I try to bring to others, especially those on or near the autism spectrum. I started to facilitate a monthly zen meditation group for people on the autism and neurodiverse spectrum, in a university, and once a year my partner and I organize a meditation retreat, and these are most important to me these days. You can see more about that on the website

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That my native language is French but I write in English, may be?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This has often changed, depending on what was my passion at the times…and I have had many passions, which is often an “autistic trait”.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Be well my friend.

Thanks for being here today, Anlor.