Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Summer Idyll--Farewell, June!

It was beautiful today--the yin to the yang of endless storms we had last week. We decided to venture out into nature before we had to bid adieu to June for another year. We took our little picnic basket to a nearby watermill and wonderland.
We crossed a tiny bridge where we could see the reflection of the sky and trees in the water, as well as minnows and tiny jumping frogs. Happy fishermen (and fisherwomen) stood in shaded nooks along the bank, some with lawn chairs, ready to wait longer than the fish did.
Every shot (and I took about a hundred) looked like a picture postcard, thanks to nature and a beautifully-maintained forest preserve.
The green was often relieved by a burst of wildflowers--purple clover, orange tiger lily, and delicate white Queen Anne's lace. My favorite part of summer is the way that these flowers smell in the sun. Nothing else like it on earth.

As a final treat, we got to see a giant blue heron (who is of course tiny in this picture--but I managed to crop it so that he is more visible).

We also fed some little ducks who swam under the bridge until we saw the sign that said "Don't feed the wildlife." Oops. So the ducks got an unexpected (but illegal) snack.
Overall, my sons were very happy with our lunchtime backdrop. (And one was actually willing to pose; the other was harder to catch than the heron). All that beauty and splendour, and it was free to anyone who wished to partake.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Out of Commission

The summer storms hitting Chicago have been particularly violent; the second big thunderstorm has knocked out power, Com Ed assures me, to over 200,000 customers. Frankly, after yesterday's storm, I'm relieved that all I lost was my electricity. I've heard tales from neighbors about terrible flooding, downed trees, and shattered glass.

In the meantime, though, I have to face the modern person's withdrawal: no computer (except at work, where I am), no television, no telephones (ours are plugged in), no refrigerator, no light.

In this new 19th century existence, I will not be blogging for a while. Com Ed tells me it could be "several days" before I have power.

This should help to build my character.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Discovering the Past

I just saw THE A-TEAM with my violence-loving sons (and the movie wasn't as bad as some reviewers are saying), and was surprised to note Gerald McRaney was one of the main characters. The surprising part was that McRaney, when I wasn't looking, got sort of old.

So when I got home I went straight to my Netflix queue and looked up Simon and Simon, that wonderful show starring McRaney and Jameson Parker. I was a big fan of this long-running series about the brothers who ran a detective agency.

I also snagged the first season of Moonlighting, which in its day was one of the cleverest detective dramadies on tv.

It's so nice these days, with Netflix and You Tube and Hulu, to be able to hop right on the train to the past and visit it briefly (or longer, if the shows turn out to be as good as you remember). :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thriller Writer Mike Lawson on Believable Heroes, Great Books, and Faulty Politics

Mike Lawson writes the popular and much-lauded Joe DeMarco series of thrillers. House Justice was just released, and involves DeMarco in the fallout of the death of a CIA spy in Iran.

Mike, thanks for chatting with me at Mysterious Musings.

Before you were a writer, you were a nuclear engineer for the U.S. Navy. What did that job entail?

A whole bunch of stuff – but most of what I did was related to overhauling and refueling nuc subs and aircraft carriers. I was a senior manager, had several thousand people working for me, and I worried about the typical things managers worry about: safety, meeting the schedule and the budget, hiring good people, quality, etc. The job was stressful – but it was never boring.

Your book, HOUSE JUSTICE, was hard to put down. It did not, however, do anything to reduce my already jaded attitude toward American politics. Are there really this many backroom deals and moral compromises in the halls of Congress and the CIA?

I’m not so sure about the CIA – they tend to get a bad rap because we only hear about the mistakes they make and not all the good things they do. And basically the CIA is implementing policy set by the Executive Branch. Congress is a different story. I’m not making up how corrupt Congress is and can be. It seems about once a week we hear about some congressman taking a bribe, diddling somebody of the same or opposite sex, sending pork to aid rich folk more than ordinary folk, etc. Like I said in House Justice, there’s a reason companies pay lobbyists so much money and hire so many of them and, cynical as it sounds, I sometimes think we have the best government money can buy. And I’m not sparing either party.

Good. Your hero, Joe DeMarco, is refreshingly different, because he is NOT the guy with a gun. He is a lawyer, and while he can defend himself, his job is not always to storm in and get the bad guys. How did you happen to create DeMarco?

I wanted a protagonist that somebody else didn’t have. There are already too many good detectives, lawyers, ex-special forces operatives, etc. in fiction. I wanted a) someone different and b) someone connected to D.C.– and thus DeMarco, a guy who works for a shady Speaker of the House. And most of the time in the books, DeMarco reacts to a situation the way I would react – which means he’s not super smart or super brave because neither am I.

Before you majored in engineering, had you considered writing as a career?

No, never considered it. I got a degree in engineering mainly because my dad was a steel worker and was under the misguided impression that engineers ran the world – and he kinda pushed me in that direction. But it was a good field in which to get a degree because you could almost always find a job to pay the bills. I did a lot of writing, however, as an engineer – technical stuff, reports, etc. – and was fairly good at it. And I’ve always read a lot – and some place along the way I said to myself: Self, why don’t we try to write a novel?

Good thing you answered yes!

I couldn’t help but notice that you make politicians, in general, very physically unattractive. The men are often described with jowls and big guts, and two women I recall were the one with “a face like a hammerhead shark” and one who made Eleanor Roosevelt look attractive. Is their ugliness symbolic of something in the book, or is it just a general stereotype that people in politics are not, as a rule, good looking?

To tell you the truth, I never noticed. Some of the characters just seem to me like they shouldn’t be good looking – or I don’t want them ordinary looking. I don’t make them all unattractive though – like the bad guy in House Secrets was a handsome senator and so was the bad guy in House Rules. Another trick to writing is you have to make the characters stand-out in the readers mind – and a description like “she had a face like a hammerhead shark” will probably stick in your mind more than “she had long, flowing locks, perfect features, and emerald green eyes.”

Good point. In your book, at least two of the women in the CIA are mistreated because of their gender and their good looks. Would you say this is the status quo?

I would say, in all seriousness, that there is a gender-gap in the business world. When the boss is a man, he tends to feel more comfortable having other men in management positions and, thus, can tend to overlook the talents and abilities of women. Having said that, the gender gap is clearly closing. We have women CEOs and in the last election you had one woman running for president and one for vice-president – I’d say that’s getting pretty close to touching the glass ceiling.

Did you ever consider going into politics as a career?

Not on your life. Although I tend not to be too happy with a lot of politicians, I sincerely believe most people go into politics not for the money or the power but because they truly want to serve the country. But it’s a brutal business – and I think the pressure of trying to get reelected, the party pressure, and the influence of lobbyists is corrupting - and nothing about being a politician appeals to me. Having said all that, I guess that makes me like most people – throwing rocks at the system rather than becoming part of it and trying to fix it. Shame on me.

What would be the first change you’d make if you ran the country?

Congress. I think it’s broken. I think we need major structural changes to make Congress work. It’s not the people, it’s the system. Things like term limits, ways to minimize the influence of lobbyists, less people in Congress and those that are there, representing broader geographical areas to make them less parochial. I don’t think the two-party system is serving us well, and sometimes I wonder if the concept of individual states serves us particularly well. Now I suppose I have to worry about how many people I’ve just pissed off with that little rant.

Whose books do you like to read?

Thank God. I’m glad were off the political questions. I like to read mysteries, thrillers, and the occasional sci-fi book. I like Michael Harvey, John Sanford, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, James Lee Burke, Thomas Perry, Carol O’Connell, Gillian Flynn, to name a few. I also like non-fiction. I just read two books by James Bamford on the NSA – the National Security Agency. I read them partly as research for my next DeMarco book but also because I like that sort of stuff. I finished Tim Egan’s book The Big Burn not too long ago – the book about the big forest fires in Montana in 1910.

Are you writing another Joe DeMarco adventure?

DeMarco #6 is currently in the hands of my editor for his final review and will be out next summer. DeMarco #7 is 80% done. DeMarco #8 – maybe – is sort of done – but it’s a book I’ve been dinking with for years and can’t seem to get quite right. I’m also working on a non-DeMarco novel and just starting a screenplay.

Even though some of your characters did not receive justice in its truest sense (as your title implies), there seems to be a sense of Karma at work here. How did you determine which characters got away with things and which did not?

I just don’t think everything needs to be tied up in a neat bow in a novel. Every bad guy doesn’t have to get bumped off or end up in jail. Normally, the major bad guys have to get the axe literally or figuratively, or the reader will be somewhat unsatisfied. But sometimes the bad guy is not totally a bad guy – like the florist in House Justice – or he’s just a pawn of the really bad guy, and therefore doesn’t necessarily need to get whacked. And sometimes you want to save your bad guys for another book. And I’m a big believer in luck or Karma in real life – a lot of what happens to us good or bad is often a matter of luck – being in the wrong place at the wrong time – or vice versa – and it should be the same in novels.

Did it surprise your friends and family that you retired and suddenly bloomed into another career?

I think everybody was surprised except my wife. She saw me toiling away for over ten years, re-writing books and getting reject letters from every agent in the country, but she also saw me keep trying. So she wasn’t totally surprised when I finally succeeded. All my friends were totally surprised because none of them even knew I was writing novels in my spare time and trying to get published. Even after publishing five books, I imagine some of my friends still can’t believe it.

What are your plans for the summer?

Unfortunately, because House Justice was just released, I’m doing a lot of book-touring in June and July, and I’ve also been trying to wrap up DeMarco #6. After July, although I’ll still write every morning, I’ll be able to slack off a little. When I’m not writing, frankly, I just sort of goof around – fish, play golf (badly) and do whatever my wife tells me I’m supposed to do.

Thanks for talking with me, Mike!

Thank you, Julia, this was fun.

Visit Mike Lawson's website at website

and follow him on twitter @MikeLawsonBooks.

Friday, June 04, 2010

John Harvey Redux

I'm a big John Harvey fan, and I really enjoyed his book FAR CRY. Since the hardback comes out this month, I'm re-printing the interview I did with Harvey in February. I highly recommend the book.

John Harvey's new mystery novel FAR CRY comes out in June; it is his 100th book. Harvey's much-lauded Charlie Resnick novels are among Britain's best police procedurals; his novel LONELY HEARTS was named by The Times as one of the 100 Greatest Crime Novels of the Century. FAR CRY features the duo of Will Grayson and Helen Walker. Harvey lives in London.

John, thank you for talking with me. Your new book, FAR CRY, has a horrific premise: a woman suffers the abduction of not one, but two daughters, years apart. Did you envision that the book would become a deep examination of the psychology of that loss?

I don't see what else it could be. Unless you leave the woman permanently in the background as a character and concentrate solely on the investigations.

The ideas behind FAR CRY came out of a conversation with the writer Jill Dawson, who lives in the Fenland where much of my book is set, and whose home is close to a village where an abduction and murder of two schoolgirls had happened several years before. Affected by this, as a mother of two young children as well as a writer, Jill had written a novel, WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, based around her responses to these murders. When Jill and I met and had our conversation, the disappearance of a British child on holiday was very much in the news; her parents believed their daughter had been abducted but was still alive and made the decision to use the media as a way of securing her release - something which backfired on them and made them suspects in the eyes of many people.

Jill and I talked about the ways in which parents might react in such situations, the emotional havoc it wreaks on their own relationships and the degrees to which they might become obsessed not solely with their own loss, but with the wider area of child abuse and abusers. We talked about the possibility of writing a book which explored those issues and I came away convinced that was what I wanted to try and do.

Before starting to write, I talked through my initial ideas with a friend who is a very experienced psychotherapist, just to check that the lines on which I was planning base my story were credible.

It was always my intention to place the mother at the heart of the book and, in retrospect, I regret that she isn't as central - doesn't have as much space - as I'd intended. The scenes with her and her missing daughter were always going to be the big challenge for me as a writer - carrying them off convincingly. The are the most important scenes in the book for me, the ones that I can get excited about having written,though, of course, they're very short - a tiny part of the book as a whole if you're counting pages.

An epigraph from Macbeth appears before chapter one—the words of MacDuff when he hears that his family has been slaughtered. Did MacDuff’s character inspire you to write this story, or did you make the connection between your character and Shakespeare’s after the writing?

In no sense a direct inspiration, there's no connection between the stories, but MACBETH is a play I know well and those lines came to me when I was thinking about the book, so that epigraph was in place before I started on chapter 1.

FAR CRY is also a crime novel. Aside from the main storyline, the detectives, Will Grayson and Helen Walker, face endless examples of man’s cruelty. What motivates your detectives (or any detectives, perhaps) to stay in their jobs in the face of such sadness?

It's an odd question for me as a writer to answer. As the writer of the book, the mover of the plot, I need them to progress the investigation; they do their job because if they don't there's no story, no book. It's like moving chess pieces (or so I assume, since I've never played chess.)

But they're police officers, it's what they do. Come face to face with all manner of awful things and do their jobs. As the writer, I think I have to provide reasons for why, in certain situations, they might do the job badly, be over-zealous et cetera. There are times in this story when Grayson is in error as a police officer and that's because, as a father of two young children himself, he allows himself to become too emotionally involved.

One of the main requirements I have as a writer is to flesh out the lives of these officers, make them believable and, in some ways, attractive, so that the reader will want to accompany them through the investigation.

The women in your book are admirably strong. I don’t really have a question here; I just wanted to thank you for that. :)

Thanks! I try.

There is something existential in the idea of waiting to hear news of a lost person. Did you find it difficult to write scenes from Ruth’s perspective—that is, from her growing hopelessness?

As I've suggested above, the scenes with Ruth were key to me - my particular challenge in this book, to get her right. So they were difficult in a way, but once I'd got them started, once I 'saw' her, they came surprisingly easily. They were what I was primarily interested in, after all. It's the procedural stuff that I find difficult because I find it so boring and the task, which I think I sometimes fall down on, is not to make it boring for the reader too.

Not to sound cliché, but the abduction of a child really is every parent’s nightmare. So why do I, as a parent, find this book so compelling? Do you think your readers might take a certain satisfaction, even as they sympathize, with the fact that it is happening to someone else, someone fictional, and not to them?

You've answered your own question in a way. It's exactly because harm coming to one's own children is such a great fear that the book is compelling. I think it's why readers might sympathise with the parents in the book, but as to whether they will take some satisfaction from the fact it's happening to someone else I can't say.

You are a jazz fan, as is one of your most famous fictional creations, Charlie Resnick. Sue Grafton calls him “complex and capable, a man who not only loves justice, jazz and cats, but who can turn the construction of a sandwich into a work of art.” While I wouldn’t assume that Resnick is a fictional you, I wonder if many of Resnick’s jazz preferences are in fact your own?

More or less. We share a great love of Thelonious Monk, certainly.

You are also a fan of classical music, and on your blog you wrote of its dwindling numbers of fans. Why do you think this musical form, so rich and full of history, is losing popularity?

It could be something to do with the fact that we live in a culture that is increasingly devoted to the easy fix, to instant gratification, that finds things which require a degree of effort and concentration - well, too much effort. It could be something to do with the way music is taught - or not taught - in education. But when I go to concerts in London I'm frequently cheered not just by the fact they are well attended but also that there is a good proportion of young people present. Far less the case in smaller cities like Nottingham, I fear, where it's generally a middle-class, late middle age pursuit.

You are a poet, which is evident in your prose. F. Scott Fitzgerald wove jazz into the very pacing of his diction; do you think that your own love of music and rhythm informs the way that you structure your words on the page?

Maybe, other people - critics - have suggested this is the case, so who am I to disagree! I do think the fact of my having both written and, as a small press publisher, edited poetry for some 30 years, has - hopefully - given me a sense of the rhythm of a sentence, a phrase, or helped my choice of the right word. I spend more time rewriting my work according to the sound they make in my head that anything else.

Charlie Resnick loves cats. Do you have pets?

Have had cats, off and on, in the past. We have a cat now, really my youngest daughter's. I'm not really an animal person.

You are taking a course on the history of art. Are you enjoying it? Is there an artist or an artistic movement that you particularly admire?

Loving it; enjoying some - most - of the teaching; the relationship/exchanges of views with other students; the forced opportunity to visit more galleries and buy more art books than before. I've found writing academic essays after a 30 year gap quite a chore, but they do concentrate the mind.

I'm particularly drawn to American art of the 50s and 60s, partly because of the way it interlocked with the New York poetry scene at that time - Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, John Ashbery. So, I respond very positively to Abstract Expressionism - we took my youngest daughter over to New York for the big Jackson Pollock retrospective when she was less than a year old - and have a strong interest in women painters of the so-called second generation of AEs - Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan. I wrote about the period and included a fictitious woman artist from the period in the novel In a True Light, quite deeply flawed as a book and one of my personal favourites. Right now, I'm preparing an essay on two realist painters from that period, Alice Neel and Fairfield Porter.

You once taught a film course. What were some of the films that you showed to your class?

Oh God, so long ago! I can remember a few - Out of the Past; Bonnie & Clyde; Le Boucher ; La Femme Infidele; Night Moves.

You’ve written a great many Westerns. What drew you to this genre? Did you admire the work of Zane Gray or Louis L’amour? (My father, a Western fan, always said ‘Gray, yes. L’amour, no.’ :)

My father had a copy of Gray's Riders of the Purple Sage permanently at his beside; I might have tried reading it,but gave up - too verbose. Recently I saw a copy for sale and bought it, but still didn't manage to get beyond a few pages. I've never tried L'amour. I did read some westerns as a kid - Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy books were big favourites when I was in my early teens, and later I remember reading books by Charles Marquis Warren and Elliott Arnold - Blood Brother? One of my all-time favourite books as a boy was the Buffalo Bill Wild West Annual. But what really drew me to the genre was my dad's love of western movies - we went to see almost everything in the genre that ever played north London while I was growing up, and I used to skip school to see B westerns featuring Wild Bill Elliott, George Montgomery and - once, gloriously - Lash LaRue.

As an adult, I've much enjoyed the western fiction of Oakley Hall and, if it counts, Jim Harrison.

But the reason I wrote so many westerns was that there was a market for them when I began writing. I fell in with a few other writers - notably Laurence James and Angus Wells, now both sadly dead before their time - and we worked together on a number of series, usually under joint pen names.

So now I must ask--are you a fan of John Wayne, or do you think he's overrated?

Like anyone who make a lot of films, Wayne coasts much of the time, but when a director challenges him and brings out his darker side - as Hawks in the marvellous Red River or Ford in The Searchers, he can be pretty wonderful. The by-play between Wayne and Angie Dickinson in Hawks' Rio Bravo is comparable to Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep; and he's moving and believable in The Shootist.

You have a Master’s Degree in American Studies. Have you been to America often? If so, have you travelled widely? What was your favourite American place?

I used to go over on a small book tour every year when the Resnick books were published there by Henry Holt. So 8 or so trips of that nature. I have good friends in New York City and Washington DC, as well as Downeast Maine and I used to travel regularly to see them, but I've scarcely been to the States at all in the past ten years. This is mainly due to a growing discomfort with and fear of flying and dislike of traveling and the fact that there's no longer a US publisher inviting me over and offering to pay my fare!

I did go to Baltimore last year for the Bouchercon Crime Convention, as I was International Guest of Honour, and was treated royally! It was good to meet a lot of people, book dealers et cetera, who I hadn't seen for a long time and I may go out to San Francisco this October to Bouchercon.

Favourite places ? Downeast Maine. San Francisco. Manhattan. Montana.

Was your time in Montana related to the research you did for your westerns?

Not at all. I visited with my son, Tom, to stay with some friends who live most of the year in DC, but have family and a cabin in Montana.

I’m glad to read that you’ll be bringing back the character of Cordon from FAR CRY. Cordon was a good cop whose instincts told him when something wasn’t right. Will Cordon stay in touch with Helen Walker, the cop who traveled out to Cornwall to investigate with him?

No such plans as yet, but I'm only on chapter 10 and she is there, isn't she?

Finally, what are you reading these days (aside from your art course homework?)

That aside, not so much!

But this year, so far ...

So He Takes the Dog : Jonathan Buckley

Our Game : John Le Carré

Memoir : John McGahern

Absolute Friends
: John Le Carré

The Looking Glass War : John Le Carré

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
: David Wroblewski

Two terrific books towards the very end of last year :

Truth : Peter Temple

Even The Dogs
: Jon McGregor

John, thank you so much for your time.

To view John Harvey's website, click

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Brett Battles on Hidden Messages, Inconvenient Corpses, and Suitable Tensions

Brett Battles writes a series of books about Jonathan Quinn, a "cleaner" who makes bodies disappear when his clients need the service. Battles' book, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, came out in paperback this week.

The plot of Shadow of Betrayal is complicated. Do you write outlines before you write books?

I usually do a 10 to 15 page synopsis/outline, which I give to my publisher before writing each book. I then also create a lot of notes both before I begin and as I’m going along. At one point for SHADOW I actually stopped working on the draft for a couple of days, and spent that time writing bullet point lists of the story from each of the main/important characters points of view. It really helped me get everything straight for the final push to the end. I should point out that though I create that 10 to 15 page synopsis, the final story doesn’t always (as in never) stick completely to it.

Makes sense. The main character, Jonathan Quinn, is a “cleaner.” What exactly is this?

Quinn's job is simple on the surface. He’s an expert at making bodies disappear. If you work in the world of international espionage, and you’re pretty sure you’ll be having a body that needs getting rid of--that you don’t want anyone to ever find-- Quinn’s your man. And though he’s not hired to be the one who does the shooting, there are many times when he has to pull the trigger.

The events of the story happen all over the world; within the first few chapters the reader travels to Ireland, Africa, Canada, and the United States. Is it important that a thriller not be limited to one location?

I don’t think that’s necessarily true. There are many excellent thrillers that take place in limited locations. It just so happens for Quinn that he plays on an international stage. My next book, a standalone called NO RETURN, takes place entirely in a small Mojave Desert town that’s home to a Naval Air Base.

A careful reader will note homages to other writers in your text. A character named Chercover seems to reference mystery writer Sean Chercover, while the company called Cameron-Kadash Industries seems a link to writer Bill Cameron and his protagonist, Skin Kadash. Have I missed some others? Do you always reference real people in your books?

You’re the first other than Bill to catch the Cameron-Kadash reference! Nice job. There are plenty of other references in my work, but not just to other writers. I also do little nods to old friend from high school and college and other parts of my life. Kind of my way of saying hi if they happen to read the book. Plus it makes it fun for me.

Your name, Brett Battles, seems perfect for the spine of a book, especially in this genre. Did you always see yourself as a writer?

I remember in the fifth grade telling my friends that I was going to be a novelist. But that had nothing to do with my name. I was too young to be thinking that way. I just loved stories and loved to write. I still don’t think too much about what my name looks like on a book. I do smile when people tell me it’s a good writer's name. Still, the credit for that is not mine at all, it’s my folks.

Quinn’s love interest is a tough and beautiful woman named Orlando. How did you happen to name her that? Is Orlando inspired by anyone?

She’s not inspired by anyone in particular. She just kind of came to me and developed as we went along. (That’s how most of my characters come. Few, if any, are actually based on someone I know or have met.)

As for the name, there was a movie several years ago with Tilda Swinton called ORLANDO (which, itself, was based on a book by, I think, Virginia Woolf.) Now, the plot and the character of that story has nothing to do with mine at all; I just liked the name and went with it.

Quinn has an assistant named Nate about whom he feels very conflicted. It is hinted that, in a previous book, Quinn made a bad call and Nate ended up losing a limb because of it. Is a character’s conscience a difficult thing to put on the page? Do you find it to be an effective way of maintaining tension?

It’s only difficult in the fact that you need to walk the line of neither over playing nor under playing it. But, if you know your characters well, this should be fairly easy to do. I do like using it when it is appropriate not only because it does as you mention (maintaining tension), but it also is a great tool for revealing character. But, again, it definitely needs to be used only when appropriate.

Children—particularly special needs children—are a focus of this book. As a father, do you find it difficult to write about children in peril?

I do. And I doubly did in this because I am a parent of a special needs child. Like Iris in SHADOW, my son has down syndrome. So, yes, it was difficult to write at times, and there was one particular scene that I had to stop in the middle of and take a walk because it touched me deeply. These are some pretty special kids (beyond their needs), and I was glad to be able to show them on the page.

Iris is a very lovable character. What are you writing now?

Well, I have two books waiting in the wings. NO RETURN, which I mentioned above, is a standalone about a TV cameraman who returns to his hometown in the Mojave Desert to shot an episode of a show and in the process witnesses a navy jet crash. He’s first on the scene, and, at that point, the pilot is still alive. Unfortunately he is unable to save him.

Then the next morning, when he’s reading an article about the crash in the local paper, he is stunned by the photograph of the man purported to be the dead pilot, because he’s not the same man the cameraman attempted to save. Naturally at that point, things go from bad to worse. NO RETURN is due out in Apirl of 2011.

The other book that’s ready to go is the next Quinn novel, THE SILENCED. It is the most personal Quinn book yet, one in which readers will learn a lot about the life he had before he became a cleaner.

And as far as what I am working on, I’m working on outlines for some new books, and am writing a book I’ve wanted to work on for a while. No details yet on that, but hopefully soon.

Do you have literary heroes? If so, who are some of them?

Of course. There are the heroes of my youth, those who taught me to love reading: Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Alistair MacLean. And there are the heroes I found as an adult writer: Stephen King, Graham Greene, Haruki Murakami…among many, many others.

Will Jonathan Quinn be back in future books?

Yes. As mentioned, the next Quinn book is already written (THE SILENCED). And I definitely see at least a few more after that. So he’ll be around. Count on it.

James Rollins calls your writing “addictive.” Is it interesting to be someone’s addiction? :)

Absolutely! It’s a honor.

Do you write full time?

I do. It’ll be two years this coming September.

How will you spend the summer?

Mostly either writing or spending time with my kids. The two things I love most.

A great combination. Thanks so much for chatting with me, Brett!