It has been said that to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. With that in mind, please answer the following questions.
-What book got you interested in reading?
Unlike many writers, I wasn’t a big reader as a kid. I fell in love with television and especially the old movies my parents liked to watch on PBS every Saturday night. My father was a huge reader and always had a book or two going at the same time. It wasn’t until late in high school where I found my love of reading by trying an epic called TAI PAN. It was a mammoth book and I wanted to see if I could get through it. I soon found that I couldn’t put it down. I was enthralled by the way Clavell was able to paint pictures with words and show depth of character by consistently changing points of view. I also loved the way he layered the plot that built up to an exciting conclusion. I also read CATHEDRAL by Nelson DeMille and learned how to create a tense atmosphere in a tight setting. I just re-read that book earlier this year and it still holds up well. I know you only asked for one book, but both books influenced me in my life-long addiction to reading.
-Do you have a favorite genre to read?
I love crime novels and spy thrillers. Westerns have also become my favorite to read because there’s so much variety in the genre; far more than people may think. I have a particular weakness for zombie novels that are well done and span several books. There’s a surprising amount of quality writing in that space, too.
-Is there a book you have read more than one time?
Sure. I’ve read CATHEDRAL several times over the years. I’ve also read L.A. CONFIDENTIAL several times, as well as LAURA by Very Caspary.
-What got you interested in writing?
I come from a long line of storytellers. I had two uncles who were Catholic priests with the Archdiocese of New York, one of whom was a chaplain in a women’s prison. I grew up hearing about human frailty from an early age. My early exposure to classic movies also helped me appreciate quality story-telling not only through special effects, but through characters and setting and dialogue. As an only child, I was always making up stories in my head and attempted to draw them rather than write about them. When my drawing potential topped out in my early teens, my desire to tell stories remained, so I switched my focus to writing. I’ve been hooked ever since.
-Was there a book of yours that was difficult to write? Which one was it and what made it so difficult?
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL took me only six weeks to write, but it was the toughest book I’ve ever written. Until then, I had carved out something of a niche for myself in writing novels and short stories set in the 1930s. I enjoyed the time period and the challenges of writing novels set in the past. I was intimidated about writing a novel set in the modern day because I wasn’t sure I could do it justice. It’s one thing to change someone’s perceptions about an era they most likely hadn’t experienced, but it’s different when you’re writing about the era in which we all live. I was worried about getting it wrong. I was worried about having too much of my own world view reflected in the story and having it come off as flat. It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea and, as with all of my novels, I did a lot of research. I took some of the revelations that were published as part of the Snowden leaks and made them relatable to the reader – by making the protagonist’s most important weapon a cell phone. Once I decided to craft a spy world of my own devising, the dam broke and the words flowed. We’re three books into the series and I hope to continue the adventures of James Hicks and his colleagues at The University very soon.
I also hope to be able to continue my new venture set in the Old West and Sheriff Aaron Mackey. WHERE THE BULLETS FLY was just released in September and the sequel, DARK TERRITORY will be published in 2019.