Michael Phelps, author of “The Execution Of Justice”

What is your book about?

“THE EXECUTION OF JUSTICE” is based on the brutal murder of a close friend and one-time mentor of mine, Detective Sergeant Jack R. Ohrberg of the Robbery & Homicide Division of the Indianapolis Police Department. I knew Jack to be a devoted husband and father, and knew the sacrifices he made to be the dedicated and tireless Police Officer he was. He was adamantly against capitol punishment. With 19 years on the police department, he had risen from patrol officer to Burglary Unit Detective, to Auto Theft, and then the elite Robbery & Homicide Division. Jack and his team of detectives had been tracking a vicious gang of armed robbery suspects for eight months. The hunt intensified when gang members had a shoot-out with an off-duty police officer as they exited a bank they had just robbed. The leader of the gang executed his own brother, whom the off-duty officer had wounded.

The gang then pulled another robbery of a Brinks Armored Truck, and killed the guard. Jack and his team gathered information from confidential informants and learned of three houses the gang were hiding in. Jack carefully orchestrated a pre-dawn raid, simultaneously of the three houses. As Jack kicked in the front door, he was shot nineteen times with an AR-15 assault rifle and a .38 caliber revolver. His body lay on the frozen concrete porch as a two and one half hours gun battle raged between police and the suspects.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Jack was murdered on December 11, 1980. I formed the idea of writing the book in 1994, after completing the “DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE” with Ellie Janssen. I retired from the law firm and began writing this book. It took me thirteen years to complete.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Jack was a very good friend, and I felt his story needed to be told.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

“Mike Walsh”, the protagonist, has a lot of my personality, although I was never a detective.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

I spent three months in Indianapolis doing research through interviews with other police officers who were on scene, newspaper archives and speaking with friends.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

After reading “THE EXECUTION OF JUSTICE”, I hope the reader has a clear understanding of the sacrifices the men and women who serve and protect their communities make, and all too often the dangers of the job result in a police officer making the ultimate sacrifice, leaving a huge void in the lives of their families, friends and department.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

I enjoy awakening each morning at four o’clock, have my first cup of coffee and then starting to write. At seven o’clock, I take my German Shepherd in ‘his’ car to ‘his’ park for an hour. Back home, I clean up and go back to writing, with more coffee.

Have you written any other books?

“THE JOCKEY’S JUSTICE” is the second in the “Mike Walsh Detective Novels” series. It was released as an E-Book on Amazon Kindle, i-Books, B&N NOOK, KOBO e-Books and Copia e-Books and Sony e-Reader in 29 countries on 26 February 2012.

What are you currently writing?

I am currently working on “DAVID JANSSEN-Our Conversations”. I have been inspired by many of David’s friends and fans to write a follow-up book to Ellie Janssen’s “David Janssen-My Fugitive”. In this book I will relate hundreds of conversations between Dave and me over the last fifteen years of his life. Topics include his relationship ith his mother, his step-father, his sisters Teri and Jill, Ellie’s daughters, Kathy and Diane, many of the top Holloywood Producers, Directors, Writers and many of the top Star with whom he worked. His views on politics, the Viet Nam war, his alleged ‘womanizing’ and his drinking habits (of which I share for a time), his career and his marriage to and divorce from Ellie, his marriage to and planned divorce from Dani Janssen and the two women who he truly loved and lost.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about you or your books?

I am a proud veteran of the United States Air Force-Military Police Combat Defense Forces. I am happily divorced and split my time between my home in Miami Shores, Florida and New York City with my faithful friend, Rico der Hunter III (he does not know he’s a German Shepherd dog, he thinks he is my master).

You can find out more about me at: http://www.MichaelPhelpsNovels.com.

Leighton Gage, Author of “A Vine in the Blood”

Q: Welcome, Leighton. I see Soho Crime is launching A VINE IN THE BLOOD on the 27th of December.

A: If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would have.

Q: I’ve heard it’s about soccer.

A: You don’t have to like soccer to enjoy the book. What’s written on the jacket could easily mislead you. Glenn Harper had the same reservations. He wrote about them in his blog, International Noir Fiction: http://internationalnoir.blogspot.com/2011/11/vine-in-blood-leighton-gage.html But, if you don’t have time to read it, let me summarize what he had to say: the book isn’t about soccer. It’s about kidnapping and murder.

Q: Who gets kidnapped?

A: The mother of a Brazilian soccer star.

Q: The mother of a soccer star? Kidnapped? Interesting. Did that ever really happen?

A: For a while, it was somewhat of a cottage industry. It happened to three members of the Brazilian eleven who participated in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Q: Three?

A: Three. Robinho, Luis Fabiano and Grafite.

Q: Never heard of them. But I’ve heard of you. Your books contain violence, don’t they?

A: Define violence.

Q: Scenes with mayhem in them.

A: Wait a minute. Are you one of those folks who only read cozies?

Q: Of course not. I’m just curious about your books. Are they gruesome?

A: Some are. Some aren’t.

Q: What about your most recent book? A VINE IN THE BLOOD?

A: Okay, it’s not a cozy. But there are only a few murders in the book, and they all occur “off-screen” except for one. And that one is treated lightly.

Q: “Lightly”?

A: With humor. It may not make you laugh out loud, but I think it’ll bring a smile to your lips. And some of the other passages are downright funny, if I do say so myself.

Q: Can you give us an example?

A: The Argentinean jokes.

Q: What’s an Argentinean joke?

A:Read the book.

Q: Not without knowing more about it. Give me one word that describes it.

A: Gloria Feit said it was “delightful”. You want to argue with Gloria Feit?

Q: No one in their right mind argues with Gloria Feit, but…

A: What?

Q: Delightful? A book involving kidnapping and murder?

A: That’s what she said. Read–

Q: I know. Read the book. I heard you the first two times.

A: Not the book. Gloria’s review. She’s publishing it in all sorts of places. And, after she’s done, she’s going to put it on Amazon.

Q: Why a book about Brazil?

A: Lots of reasons. It’s already the seventh economy in the world. Projections are that it will be the fifth in less than ten years. It has a GDP greater than all of the next six countries in South America combined. It’s larger than the continental United States. It has an aircraft industry, a computer industry, an automobile industry. It is the world’s largest exporter of beef, chicken, soy beans, coffee, orange juice and a number of other food products. It is independent in terms of petroleum, natural gas and uranium. It has a greater potential for hydroelectric power than any country in the world. It is a world leader in bio-fuels. It sends satellites into space. It will probably be the next permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations. It will host the World Cup in 2014, the finale of which will be seen by more than one billion people, live, on television. It will also host the Olympics in 2016. And while the economies of the rest of the world seem to be going down the tubes, Brazil is flourishing. All of which means that you’re going to be hearing a lot more about the place in the years to come.

It also has one of the highest crime rates of anyplace in the world, so if you like crime novels we’re the place to come to. We offer endless variations on the theme.

Q: Hmmm. Okay, good points. Did anyone other than Glenn and Gloria have anything good to say about A VINE IN THE BLOOD?

A: Publisher’s Weekly gave it a star. Booklist loved it.

Q: That’s all?

A: A review is coming from Library Journal, but it’s early days yet. The book only launches in North America on the 27th of December.

Q: Are there any other reviews you’d like to tell us about?

A: Dana King wrote a great review in New Mystery Reader:

http://www.newmysteryreader.com/November_and_December_Hardcover_Mystery.htm#vine in the blood

Q: I’ll check it out. What’s your best book?

A: I always think it’s the last one I finish.

Q: So A VINE IN THE BLOOD is the best book you’ve ever written?

A: No.The book I just finished is PERFECT HATRED, but it won’t be published until December of 2012.

Q: If I read any of your other books, should I read them in order?

A: I’d suggest reading BLOOD OF THE WICKED first. It’s the first book in the series, introduces most of the continuing characters and sets the tone for all the others. And you should definitely read BURIED STRANGERS before you read DYING GASP, because there’s a particularly nasty character who first appears in the former and then goes on to do evil in the latter. Other than that, they can be read in any order.

Q: Where can people learn more about your books?

A: On my website: http://www.leightongage.com

There’s a link to a video interview I recorded when I was launching my first book in Finland, so folks can see what I look and sound like. And there’s also a link to our blog, MURDER IS EVERYWHERE. We’re eight authors who write “international mysteries”, but on the blog we don’t write about our books or the craft of writing. We post about subjects of human, historical, touristic or social interest that occur in the countries in which we set our books. And we have a lot of fun with it. There’s a new post every single day, so folks can enjoy it with their morning coffee.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add in closing?

A: Read the book.

Q: I knew that was coming. Thank you for talking to us today. Best of luck with your books.

Mickey Hoffman, Author of “Deadly Traffic”

Deadly Traffic: Girls are disappearing from Standard High while the local sex trade flourishes. Their absences are barely noticed in the worst school in Arbor City, CA, where turnover and truancy are facts of life. Kendra Desola, the only faculty member likely to care, is on a leave of absence.

After a student’s lifeless body turns up in a seedy part of town, an immigrant community leader contacts Kendra. What does she know about her missing students’ activities, their families’ illegal status?

Searching for the missing girls, Kendra enters a dark world where passports and flesh are currency. When a second murder puts her in the police spotlight, she is unaware a trap is about to close around her.

Welcome, Mickey. Congratulations on your new book! What is Deadly Traffic really about?

Deadly Traffic deals with the issue of immigration fraud from both sides:  those who profit from bringing them in and the illegals themselves. The book is a different take on the subject, seen from the eyes of a high school teacher with students from immigrant families caught up in the illegal trade.

What inspired you to write Deadly Traffic?

I was inspired to write the book after reading some nonfiction books about contemporary domestic slavery and human trafficking.

Tell us a little about your main characters.

Kendra Desola is a high school teacher with a compulsive personality and too much curiosity. She also thinks she can and should help every one of her students after they get into trouble. In this book I introduce Win Ni, a young man with more charm than is good for him. He’s smart but his morals aren’t quite as strong as his desire to become rich.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I don’t have any particular writing techniques. I do outline but it isn’t a fixed list. It’s more like one of those puzzle games in a frame where you can slide the pieces around until the entire picture emerges.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

The message in Deadly Traffic is that on hot button issues like immigration, we all like to think we have a strong grip on right and wrong, but when it’s down to working reality, things are often not as easy to decide.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

What colors my writing is my long stint as a public high school teacher. Deadly Traffic, and School of Lies before it, include many scenes from real life with important aspects changed to protect the guilty and for the convenience of the novelist.

What do you like to read?

I read several genres. My personal taste in crime fiction runs to traditional mysteries. I usually stay clear of books with serial killers and a lot of gore. I  love books by British novelists like Elizabeth George, Reginald Hill and historical novelists like Sansom and Franklin. When I read books by European authors I have to use the dictionary—not because they’re writing “British” but because their vocabulary is expansive. I also read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. In nonfiction I like to read about history, explorations and inventions but will read politics and current events books as well.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I have a website, www.mickeyhoffman.com where you can read excerpts from my two novels. There’s a link to my blog from there.

***

mickeypic_1_-124x149Mickey Hoffman was born in Chicago, and attended public schools where she acquired the strong suspicion that some of her teachers might be human. She wasn’t able to prove this fanciful thinking until much later, when she became a high school teacher herself.

Before landing in the halls of academia, she worked in a variety of jobs, including computer typesetting and wholesale frozen fish sales.

The author is also a printmaker and painter and resides on the West Coast with her long suffering mate, eight marine aquariums and a very large cat. Mickey is also the author of School of Lies, the first Kendra Desola mystery.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Deadly Traffic

Click here to read an excerpt from: Deadly Traffic