Interview With David Pereda, author of “Twin Powers”

twinWhat is your book about?

Twin Powers is a thriller published by Second Wind Publishing. Twin Powers is a deviation from my earlier books in that two of the main characters are 10-year old twin girls, one of which gets kidnapped by members of a child sex ring intent on selling her into forced prostitution. When the Arab human traffickers avoid capture, the father of the girl, Dr. Raymond Peters, and a lethal professional assassin named Marcela team up to investigate. The search for the girl takes the unlikely pair – a man who has sworn to save lives and a woman who kills for a living – to the Middle East in the hunt for the mysterious mastermind, Mohamed. Working against the clock, Raymond and Marcela must pull out all stops to save the girl and flee Dubai before Mohamed and his band of thugs kill them.

What authors have influenced your writing style?

So many authors have influenced my style that I don’t know where to begin. Hemingway, Conrad, Shakespeare, all the Russian writers, especially Dostoyevsky and Chekov, were great influences in my life. When I was a kid I read everything written by Max Brand and Zane Grey. During recent years, the greatest influence on my writing has probably been Harlan Coben. Someone once wrote a review of one of my books and called me the Latino Harlan Coben. I was very proud of the comparison since I consider Harlan Coben the best thriller writer today, but the Latino reference left me a little cold. I don’t want to be the Latino anything. I want my writing to be recognized as that of David Pereda, without a qualifying adjective in front of my name.

How long have you been writing with the hopes of publication?

I’ve been writing FOR publication since I was in college. I published my first short story in the USF literary magazine when I was a sophomore; my English teacher submitted it for me. The following year I submitted to the magazine myself, and I had my second published short story. Since then I have published dozens of articles, several poems and eight novels (one under a pen name), but I have never published another short story.

How did you get started?

I guess I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first novel, a western, when I was ten years old. My proud uncle Antonio typed it for me. I titled it bombastically, Dave Patterson, The Temerarious. After that, I wrote a few short stories that I never published, or even tried to, until I got to college.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m definitely a plotter, although I turn into a pantser from time to time. I plot my books in detail and then change a big portion of them as I write them. It’s called poetic license, I believe. Often it’s not even me who changes things; it’s my characters who get together and decide to change the book. Sometimes I disagree and put my foot down and say no; but most of the time, they convince me to make the changes.

What genres do you enjoy reading? Writing?

I enjoy reading and writing thrillers, romantic suspense, and mainstream novels.

Who is your favorite character from your book?

My favorite character is definitely Marcela, a beautiful, but lethal, lesbian assassin who won’t take any crap from anyone. She has amber eyes and looks like Halle Berry on steroids. In Twin Powers, Marcela, for the first time in her life, falls in love with a man, Raymond Peters.

Describe your writing environment and your process. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I’m an early bird. I’m usually up by 5:30 in the morning to exercise. Because I need to take my daughter Sophia to school by 8:00 and I teach at A-B Tech afterwards, I’m unable to write in the morning, except on weekends. Usually, I write in between noon and 3 pm when I go pick up Sophia from school, and at night.

I have an office at home. I write on a laptop surrounded by hundreds of books, family photos, paintings and some of the writing, running, and horse show-jumping awards I have won. My daily process is similar to the one Hemingway used. I sit down, review the last thing I wrote, revise it and write some more.

Of course, before I get down to the daily routine, I outline my novel in detail, develop character sheets, determine how many words I’m going to write, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera….

I know you are a college instructor, so which is more fun, writing or teaching others how to write?

Writing is my passion, so it is – or should be – more fun. I say should be because often it is a painful process for me, getting that right word, that right sentence, that right paragraph, that right chapter, that right novel. The reward in writing comes at the end, when the book is finished and you know is good.

On a daily basis, teaching is more rewarding. I love to see my students triumph. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and makes me feel proud that I could help them take one step closer toward achieving their goals in life.

Who’s your muse? Is she a constant companion, or do you need to lure her into your writing?

Thank God I don’t have problems writing. I don’t have a muse per say, either. If I do, it’s a silent and invisible muse. I can confide to you, however, that my beautiful girlfriend is a great distraction — but I enjoy being distracted by her. She makes me happy, and unlike all those artists who claim to create better when they suffer, I write better when I’m happy. Who wants to suffer, anyway?

Where can we find out more about your book?

From Second Wind Publishing!product/prd15/3646416451/twin-powers and Amazon

And you can read excerpt here:

Interview with John Calvin Hughes, Author of “Killing Rush”

Killing RushWhat is your book about?

Killing Rush is about two brothers on a road trip down the peninsula of Florida. Samuel has come down from Mississippi to look after his brother Adam, who has had a breakdown following the deaths of his wife and son. Adam believes he is on a mission from God to kill Rush Limbaugh, and Samuel agrees to drive him to south Florida to look for the man, but is really trying to stall him and talk some sense into him. It’s a character study, really, not a thriller.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Killing Rush started as a different novel, but then my brother, whom I hadn’t been in touch with for a long time, got sick, and I started wondering about estranged brothers and what might bring them together one more time.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

The most difficult part of writing anything to me is finding the time. Like most folks, I’m busy with job and family and friends, and time is a scarce commodity. I need time to get oriented to the work, to get back into it every day. I can’t just drop into the chair and take up where I started yesterday. I need a reasonable block of time to devote to writing, four or five hours anyway. That’s hard to come by every day.

Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?

Not anymore. I use my smart phone now. I can use the Memos function, which I’m beginning to be able to type on with some thumb speed now. I also use the Voice Memos function, especially when I’m driving. I get a lot of my ideas driving.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

The late writer Donald Barthelme said in a writing seminar that the best way to create realistic, well-rounded characters was to give them contradictions. I’ve used that more than any other writing advice.

What was the first story you remember writing?

I asked my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Wiltshire, if I could write stories with the spelling words instead of just writing sentences. She happily agreed, and promptly made me read the stories to the class every week.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Adam and Samuel have an uncle named Jessie. I like him very much. He’s not really in the novel: the brothers talk about him on their road trip. Samuel tells Adam a funny story about Jessie in an attempt to talk him down from a panic attack. But in the little bit that we get about Jessie, he’s an interesting guy, a country boy living in town, with his hunting dogs and his Civil War books.

Who designed your cover?

The cover was designed by the novelist Frederick Barthelme, who is a great visual artist as well as fine writer.

Have you written any other books?

I wrote a scholarly book and a chapbook of poetry. My other novel is called Twilight of the Lesser Gods, which is about a young man in the Army who gets stationed at a military stockade in Germany.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My website,, is a good source, as well as the Second Wind Publishing site.

Interview with Bill Long, Author of “Twist”

TwistWhat is your book about?

My novel Twist is a police-procedural thriller about three criminal factions dealing with narcotic investigation ultimately brought together by character Shawna Quinn, a twenty-three year-old rookie taken from the Sacramento Sheriff’s Academy. It happens in 1985, when Quinn is assigned to work undercover in a local high school. Things get complicated by Quinn’s love relationship with a narcotic detective, then even more complex when she stumbles upon a major drug operation directed in part by a local attorney, who happens to be the father of a popular high-school student who has become infatuated with her.

Did you do any research for the book?

Research for Twist was minimal. Most of it is a page from my personal past. The characters are composites of people I knew. Many of the events mentioned really happened, though there was some changing and sculpting for dramatic effect. But the danger involved in the enforcement of narcotic laws is all too real and I still get chills sometimes when I think about it. I often wonder how I managed to come through it relatively unscarred.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was inspired to write this story because I cannot forget about the enormity of the drug problem facing not only America, but the entire world. I also wanted people to know what it’s like for narcotic investigators who investigate so-called victimless crime. Sure, it’s dangerous. All police work is dangerous. But narcotic investigation is especially difficult and dangerous because there is no apparent victim. Not until you get into it do you realize that we are all victims, drug-users and non-drug users alike.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me about six months to write Twist. The first time. It took me another two and a-half years to rewrite it six more times.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

The main challenge I had in writing Twist was caring too much about what others might think. The others I speak of are my professional colleagues in law enforcement. When I was still a working lawman, I tried to write this story and many others about the people in law enforcement. I couldn’t do it. I was too close to it. Now, many years later, I don’t worry too much about what others think. I know I cannot get everything absolutely correct and I am long past trying to please everyone I ever knew. I simply try my best and let it go at that.

Is there anything you have learned while writing this book?

The greatest lesson I’ve learned about writing is to never give up. Never. It is true that the more you do something the better you do it. It could perhaps be compared with the game of golf. No matter how good of a golfer you are, you will never shoot eighteen on an eighteen-hole course. All you can do is try.

What kind of stories do you like to read?

The stories I like to read are well-written stories of adventure. I want to go somewhere I’ve never been. Though I realize exposition and narration are necessary, I don’t want to get bogged down with too much of either. I prefer it be slipped into the story in a subtle manner between action and emotion. If it is a story about hunting in Africa, I want to see the hunter draw down on a charging rhino. I want to feel what the hunter feels at that moment he pulls the trigger on his Remington 700 chambered in 375 H & H. In short, I want to live it.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

The characters in my stories do take on a life of their own. I try to do my writing late at night, when I am less likely to be distracted. It takes me a little while to get into the minds of my characters, but once I do I know they will respond to the situation as their motivation dictates. Sometimes I feel as if I am simply recording what is going on rather than creating it.

What one book written by someone else to you wish you had written?

One book I wish I could have written is The Blue Knight by Joseph Wambaugh. I did have a character in mind for that kind of a story, even before Wambaugh wrote it. But at the time I was still too close to police work. I couldn’t write it then. I doubt I could write it now. Even If I could I wouldn’t. The story has already been told.

What are you currently working on?

The book I am working on right now is Twist Again, a sequel to Twist. I am about 25,000 words into it and I must admit I am having the usual problems with plot. This story begins where Twist ended, with Shawna and what happens to her now that……oops, I almost gave it way.

How do you come up with the names of your characters?

I create the names of my characters, for the most part. I try to keep them in line with the character’s traits. Rick Mason in Twist, for example. He’s tough but he’s smooth. His first name is common and short and ends with a K. His last name is smoother, more indicative of someone who can think as well as be fast acting. Or sometimes I use names in line with the ancestry of the character. If the character is Hispanic, it is probably more believable to name him Martinez than Smith or Jones. Another thing, sometimes hard to do, is to keep the name in sync with the time period. Names such as Mabel or Opal aren’t real popular these days, but if the story is set a hundred years ago or more, they might work just fine.

How do you deal with the problem of exposition?

Dealing with background exposition is a tough one for me. Of course, it is absolutely necessary. I think you have to be careful here because when you are writing exposition your story is usually not going anywhere. It is so easy to deceive yourself, thinking your story is just whipping right along and you’re getting many words down on paper. That may be true, but it is more likely all you’re doing is putting the reader to sleep. You can never forget about the reader. You must never forget that the first unwritten rule is to communicate. Is the information you are sending being received by the reader as you intended? Of course, you can never be sure, but you cannot forget what you are trying to do. Also, is it entertaining? Keep rewriting it until it is. The expositional background should be stated in the shortest use of words possible in an entertaining way. Whew! Easier said than done.

If you could have lunch with anyone, alive or dead, who would that person be?

If I could have lunch with one person, that person would be the late Ernest Hemmingway. I’d buy him a couple of drinks, too. In fact, if I could get him to talk about his writing and life experiences and how they shaped and influenced his stories, I’d buy him all the drinks he wanted.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

I have quite a few other stories in mind, many of which exist now in my computer in the form of short stories. All of them could be made into novels. Two that intrigue me the most right now are from my younger days when I was in the Submarine Service, first being assigned to a submarine and then later to a submarine rescue vessel. I’m almost seventy-four, so I’m afraid I am not going to be around long enough to tell all the stories I would like to tell.

Do you have a goal for your stories?

The goal of my stories is to leave the reader wanting more. I want him or her to question why the story had to end. And why did it have to end it that way that it did?. As somebody famous once said, perhaps Al Jolsen or Eddie Cantor, “Always leave them wanting more.”

Where can people learn more about Twist?

From Second Wind Publishing:!product/prd15/3646382061/twist

Joseph M. Rinaldo, Author of “Valerie’s Retreat”

18750966What is your book about?

Valerie’s Retreat puts Valerie’s crisis management skills on display. You’ll get to know her pretty average life. Her job as the head teller at a bank, her one bedroom apartment, and her exceptionally lazy cat give the impression that she could be anyone you meet in your daily life. However, when things start to get rough, her first reaction is to run. An abusive childhood you learn about as the story proceeds left her with shaky decision-making skills. Franco, her boyfriend, doesn’t know what the right answer is either. Together they commit a little felony and leave the country.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hopefully the reader will finish a scene where something goes wrong for Valerie and think about how they might handle the same situation. At one point Valerie and Franco feel like they just don’t have any good options. That leads them to make extreme choices. What would have to happen in your life for you to commit a felony? How bad would things have to be? That breaking point is the interesting driving focus of Valerie’s Retreat.

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

I type in Word with the outline a few blank lines down from the line I am currently typing on. As I finish a scene in the outline, I delete it. Of course, from time-to-time I forget to consult the outline and throw in a plot twist that requires either the outline be revised or the plot twist discarded. I rarely know how a book will end [is that normal?], so my outlines often only cover the next chapter or two. Sometimes I finish all the scenes on the outline and finish without one. I always start with some kind of written agenda, but not with a whole lot. I want the characters to go where they go without being handcuffed to the original idea.

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

I want the reader to follow Valerie’s actions and have a strong reaction. Love her? Hate her? Think she’s crazy? I’d do that, too? Everyone has different levels of tolerance, compassion, understanding… for the trials other people face. Valerie (and Franco, her boyfriend) face some pretty daunting situations. Valerie’s abusive childhood left her few coping skills, but she’s forty years old and able to think for herself. What do you, the reader, think about her behavior?

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

Valerie is very likeable, outgoing, and appears to be a generally happy person. Yet, inside she has vicious demons assaulting her with bouts of insecurity and inadequacy that she hides. This is a contradiction that is difficult to put in print. Unlike many folks who might say this and don’t mean it, I do. If you read Valerie’s Retreat and feel I didn’t fully express this duality, please let me know through my website or with an Amazon review. When a critic incudes an idea about how the character or plot could’ve been better, I especially like that. New ideas about a plot or a book make a writer grow.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My background had a teeny influence on Valerie’s Retreat. Valerie meets a man sixteen years her junior at a local church dance. My wife and I have the same age difference and met at the same kind of place. We still smile at each other when we drive by that dance hall/community center even after fourteen years of marriage. Dang, we’re cute! Seriously, like my wife, Valerie is NOT a cougar on the prowl. We met long before anyone heard that term. Valerie wasn’t searching for any kind of specific man, she just happened to find Franco. He happened to be younger, and neither of them cared.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

I don’t understand how anyone writing fiction could do this. Characters come to me and tell their stories inside my head. None of these folks enter my thoughts and preface their presence by announcing their target market. In fact, after I wrote Hazardous Choices, a book about a gang member trying to leave that lifestyle by accepting a college football scholarship in a small town, a thirty-five year-old woman told me how much she liked the book. I’d never have guessed that would happen.

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

We’re talking about books, right? Movies today try to plot you to death with special effects forcing specific reactions from the character. The basic example is the building across the street blows up so the characters duck. To me, books are always about the character. No matter how interesting the setting where a character is, if I find the protagonist uninteresting, I stop reading it and move on. Hating the main character is fine; loving the main character is fine; being neutral about the protagonist is a dreadful commentary on the book.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names are hard to come up with for the important characters! Valerie is a well-known name, but I wouldn’t call it “common”. How many people know three or four Valeries? Franco, her boyfriend, took several name revisions. At first he was John, to sound average, but he was too dynamic for that impression. Then I thought about something more exotic, like Raul. But Raul sounds too foreign. Franco seemed to fit because it has an air of sophistication without pretension. At least, I hope it does.

What has been your greatest internal struggle to overcome in relation to your writing career?

To make a book really good you have to accept input from others. The input I don’t mind, but getting input, especially effective well-thought-out input, takes time. Being patient and waiting for the story to come together is the hardest part for me. I type the last period and want to put it on Amazon! My editor, David Pudlewitts [shameless plug], provides great advice and forces me to take plenty of time reconsidering the plot twists, character diction and behavior, and, most importantly, the conclusion.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My novel, Valerie’s Retreat, is currently available on Amazon in ebook format at It will also soon be available on Amazon as a paperback. The cover is displayed on the Amazon page for the ebook, and I offer potential readers a “sneak peek” inside the book, courtesy of Amazon.

My author photo can be seen on my Facebook page at I invite your readers to “Like” my author page and leave a comment. I also have a website at, and a blog at My Twitter profile is at, and my Goodreads profile is at I also have three other novels available on Amazon in both ebook and print formats: A Spy At Home, Hazardous Choices, and A Mormon Massacre.

Pat, thanks so much for this opportunity. I so appreciate the support of fellow author, and interviews like this one help me connect with readers in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

You’re welcome, Joseph. I’m always glad to do what I can to help other authors.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Steven M. Moore, author of “Sing a Samba Galactica”

What are your books about?

I write sci-fi thrillers. In the chronology of my fictitious flow of future history, the first book is The Midas Bomb, more thriller than sci-fi, and the last (so far) is Sing a Samba Galactica, more sci-fi than thriller. The reader can read all of my books in any order, though, so he or she can read whatever they like first.

How long had the ideas for your books been developing before you began to write them?

Although all my books are can be read independently, some of them form a series as I returned to favorite characters and favorite themes. Full Medical (2006) was a reaction to the healthcare crisis in the U.S., although it turned out to be more a government conspiracy involving clones. The Midas Bomb (2009) was a reaction to the Wall Street financial implosion but was more about a terrorist plot. Survivors of the Chaos (2011) and Sing a Samba Galactica (2012) are about the coming social singularity and the end of human civilization as we know it.

Of course, I found more excitement in writing these stories than just treating the underlying themes. I write stories similar to the ones I like to read. Yes, they have a message, but my major goal is to entertain my readers. Some themes have been percolating for years; others are more reactive to current events.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I’m a people watcher. I love to watch how people act, listen to what they say and their opinions, and so forth. Many of my characters are alloys of the precious metals gleaned from these observations. It’s improbable that a reader will see himself in a character, but he might see bits of himself and of people he has known.

How long did it take you to write your books?

This varies. Full Medical, the first in the “Clones and Mutants Series” and my first indie effort (Evil Agenda is its sequel), was written in fits and bits with time squeezed from my day job. The Midas Bomb, the first in the “Crime and Detectives Series” (Angels Need Not Apply is its sequel), written in the same circumstances, was finished in about two months (a change in POD publishers might have been a factor). I usually don’t have a goal for number of words or deadline to finish (the pleasures of being an indie author?).

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I wish I could offer a new writer a successful algorithm for this, but I don’t think there is any. I have many stories bouncing around inside my head and choose some characters to populate the stories. They and my muses take over then—I don’t know if other authors “get in the zone” where their own characters often surprise them. Maybe they’re alter-egos; if so, I’m a very scary schizophrenic with multiple personalities.

It’s hard to choose a favorite character. I admire Zebediah, in Survivors of the Chaos, for example, for being a great example of a man who defies great odds and survives. The two NYPD homicide detectives Chen and Castilblanco, in Midas, Angels, and the new short story collection Pop Two Antacids and Have Some Java, have grown on me. And, of course, there’s Mr. Paws, the intelligent cat from my YA novel The Secret Lab, who is better at math than I ever was.

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

I have the general outline of the story in my mind (this often becomes the blurb associated with the novel). Nevertheless, because characters often grab the reins as I write, that outline often becomes blurred, sometimes beyond recognition. I specifically remember this happening in Soldiers of God with the priest, Juan Pablo Gomez (the muses are becoming more insistent that I tell the rest of his story, but, at first, the good man didn’t even exist!)

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

For a few books, I come to a point where I stop a moment and then write the ending. Sometimes it remains the ending; other times it morphs into something else. In any case, I always tell myself, “It’s done when it’s done.” Not that I’m in his league, but even Beethoven rewrote the finale of the first movement of the Fifth Symphony three times.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I’m going to answer this in an unexpected manner: I wrote my first novel the summer I turned thirteen. It was terrible and ended up in the circular file during the clean-up of my room when I left for college. The plot wasn’t bad (the movie City of Angels has a similar plot), but I knew I could do better. I have honed my writing skills considerably since then. In particular, I have many more stories to tell. I’ll never have writer’s block.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My scientific background helps but not as much as some readers might think. When I reach the far-futuristic regions of my sci-fi (Sing a Samba Galactica and beyond), current science gets left behind. Nevertheless, every scientist knows the dangers of extrapolation, so maybe my far-out stuff does make a bit more sense.

Living and traveling abroad probably helped me more. I’m blessed with some facility for languages—now mostly Spanish—and enjoy the mind-traveling I can do in my writing. I’m probably one of few American writers who have read Garcia Marquez in his native tongue—or, should I say the Spanish dialect spoken on the Colombian coast?—and was sad to hear recently that he no longer writes due to dementia. That can happen to any of us, of course, so we all should write as much as we can and as best we can.

What are you working on right now?

I have another sci-fi short story analogy almost ready, a sequel to Angels in progress, a stand-alone related to Angels focused on the DHS agent Ashley Scott planned (all my books are stand-alones, though), and another YA novel set around the end-time of Samba. The order of the release of these books is unpredictable.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Editing—I’m talking about the hard part of editing: cutting out crap, adding in non-crap, POV and characterization concerns, and story timelines. These are things you won’t get from your average editor-for-hire because—let’s face it—the author knows where he does or doesn’t do a good job better than anyone else!

Most people would say marketing here. That’s also difficult, but I find editing to be worse. You can go as easy as you want on the marketing, but you’re never through editing!

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

Telling the story. I just have to find the time to sit down and write it.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Good plot, good characters, and good settings.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

I work hard on my titles and my characters’ names. I think too many writers neglect these aspects of writing. The name of a character has to reflect both his personality and his culture. John Smith doesn’t sound either villainous or Russian—Vladimir Kalinin does, at least to me. For first names, I often use a book of baby names from several languages. For last names, I either already know them or use the lists on the internet (these work for first names too). I often call a character X or Y until I have a good idea about his personality—I guess that means I put plot first.

Did you do any research for your books? If so, how did you do it?

I’ve had an adventurous life so far, living in Colombia for many years and traveling as a scientist, both contributing to my understanding of other cultures and exotic locales. I don’t think this is an absolute necessity with internet resources, but it certainly helps a writer achieve some maturity that a twenty-year-old MFA graduate might not have. Of course, my experiences as a scientist and my interests in science and technology, including scientific ethics, provide valuable background to my writing.

What are the goals for your books?

Perhaps it’s my Irish blood, but my first goal is to entertain, i.e. spin a good enough yarn to keep readers happy. Nevertheless, most of my books treat many current social themes from spousal abuse to international terrorism and from government conspiracies to capitalism out of control. Readers might not agree with my opinions on these issues, but if I can make them think about them while entertaining them, I’m happy with the result.

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

I tend to answer e-mails and write blog posts in the morning, do serious writing after lunch, and struggle through editing as late as possible (otherwise known as procrastination). I have fun with it all except for the editing—that’s often a brutal experience because I’m my own worst critic.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

My goal is to reach the intelligent reader who wants first-class entertainment. Books with this same goal are the books I love to read and review.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, but first Sputnik and then providing for a family got in the way. Now I do it full-time and I’m having great fun doing it.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story?

The character that best fits this description is my villain Vladimir Kalinin, present in The Midas Bomb, Full Medical, Evil Agenda, and Soldiers of God. In some sense, these books are more about him than the good people who fought him. He continually surprised me but I had to get rid of him—other villains were clamoring for attention!

What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?

Surprise, surprise! I love sci-fi thrillers and thrillers in general. Lately, Donna Carrick and Carolyn J. Rose have rekindled my interest in mysteries (that’s a perk from reviewing)—they’re indie masters of the genre. I also read non-fiction as background for my novels.

What writer influenced you the most?

I can’t say there’s just one. All the classical sci-fi dystopian novelists, from Wells to Bradley and Kornbluth, for example; Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke; Lee Child, Barry Eisler, Jeffery Deaver, and Dean Koontz. N. Scott Momaday taught me about poetry and how to put poetry in my prose. This is only a partial list.

What do you think the most influential change in book publishing will come from?

Right now it’s eBooks. I suspect that the format of eBooks will change with the changes in computers and other devices. eBooks have a long way to go to realize their potential. In the future, I’m sure you’ll see them include both audio and imagery (3D or holographic?). Libraries will allow you to download them and experience them via wi-fi devices you plug into a socket behind one of your ears (this technology, an extension of cochlear implants, first appears in my book Full Medical and is carried through later books in the future chronology). Now we are right in the middle of a paradigm shift in publishing.

Where can people learn more about your books?

They can visit my website There they will find a complete list of my books, some freebies and contests, a complete bio, and an active blog containing op-ed posts, short stories, reviews, interviews, and mini-reviews. If they have any comments or questions, send me an e-mail:

Peril, Hero of “Blacktop Styx” by Blackie Noir

Who are you?

Just a girl named Peril. Yeah, the name is Peril. Never heard such a name? Course not. It’s definitely unique. Just like me. Long story short, my mom was a big Janis Joplin fan. They used to call Janis “Pearl.” Mom wanted to name me after Janis. Misspelled the name on the birth certificate. There you go . . . I’ve been Peril for twenty-three years. I don’t mind though. It fits me to a tee. In fact, I tell everybody my middle name is ‘Rue.’ As in . . . “rue the day.” Ha! That fits too.

Are you the hero of your own story?

What kind of question is that? Course I’m the hero of my own story! Wouldn’t be “my own story” if Kim Kardashian was the hero. Wouldn’t be much of a story either.

What is your problem in the story?

Trying to stay alive. I know, sweet as I am it might be hard to believe, but there are at least half a dozen people, if you can call those psychos people, trying to put me in the dirt. Well, they’re gonna have to catch me first. Even then, there ain’t no guarantee I’ll go easy. Just the opposite.

Do you embrace conflict?

Like a long lost lover. Nobody, I mean nobody, is ever ready for what’s gonna happen if they get in my face.

How do your enemies see you?

They don’t. Not until it’s too late.

How does the author see you?

Blackie? That lazy mutt? He sees me as some kind of a slave. He’s supposed to be a writer? An author? A dude with imagination? Get real! Let me clue you on how it works:

We’re all there, all the characters. On time. I mean, we never leave! So, what’s happening? Nothing. We’re all standing there, restless, milling around, waiting to get to work. Looking to Blackie. Waiting for some . . . direction!

Nothing. Finally one of the other characters, maybe LaWanda, Mallet, or Griz (they all have little patience, and very short fuses) will say, “Hey, Blackie! C’mon, let’s go. Give us something to do!”

Blackie, he gets pissed, now comes the rant . . . “How many times I have to tell you people? I ain’t a @#$%&%$ outliner. I’m not a ponderously plodding plotter, bound by the confines of a structure sculpted in stone. The work is character driven! Just do something! Anything! Peril, you know what I’m talking about, act out! You’re the only self-starter here, I depend on you. Go for it!”

Translated that means . . . Blackie doesn’t have a clue. He’s only capable of writing down scenes / dialogue / action, after the fact! He should have been a reporter, except he’s too slow and lazy to meet a deadline.

Yeah, Blackie sees me not only as his star player, but his prime motivator as well. Jimmy Gee is supposed to be the protagonist, but it’s me carrying the weight. Jimmy’s got the muscle, and the mean to go with it, but, baby . . . I’ve got the panache!

Do you have a hero?

Yeah. I see her every day. In the mirror.

Do you have any special strengths?

I don’t scare, and I don’t quit. Ever.

Do you have any skills?

You bet. I was a street skater, a thrasher, for years. Skates or boards, doesn’t matter, I could do it all. Call me fearless . . . got the broken bones and scars to prove it. I was a tomboy, better athlete than most of dudes I grew up with. Better fighter too. Of course once past puberty, the boys became men, too big to match strength with. But, that’s what weapons are for. I’m pretty proficient with everything from a brick to a .357.

I used to be an ace video-gamer, but I lost interest. Yeah, lost interest just about the time I began developing a new skill-set . . . in the bedroom.

Fast cars? Put me behind the wheel . . . see ya!

Do you have money troubles?

No and yes. No: I have over half a million dollars in cash. Yes: The animals me and my boyfriend stole it from want it back. And, they’ll kill me to get it. How do I know? They already killed my boyfriend.

Are you lucky?

Not lucky . . . competent.

Do you have any distinguishing marks?

You mean besides these? *smiles wide* Ha! Don’t worry, you’re not the only one to freak. I mean, if these fangs were real they wouldn’t be shiny green, they’d be white. No, these are stainless-steel implants, anodized green. The color matches the streaks in my hair, ya think? And, *opens shirt*, it matches the green on these tats. Like this green lightning bolt from belly to boobs. By the way, the fangs are implants, the boobs are real. Now, here’s a dragon on one, a winking eye on the other. I like green.

Was there a major turning point in your life?

Everyone knows me thinks, “Peril’s hard as a diamond.” They’re right. Not that I was always that way. No, actually I was pretty sensitive. Little tom-boy on the outside, marshmallow on the inside. Till I was eleven.

I had a dog, named him Panic. Peril & Panic . . . cute. This slimeball my mom was with, a lump of vomit called Creel, he broke Panic’s back. Yeah, then he forced me to shoot the pup, put him out of his misery. Creel’s idea of my taking responsibility.

My mom called her ex, a dude called Slash, they took care of Creel. Mom too had ideas about responsibilities. She made sure I got to see it go down. Slash hacked Creel up with a machete. That was a turning point in my life. I learned about disappointment . . . Slash had refused to turn over the blade, let me administer the coupe de gras on Creel.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

You serious? That just happens to be a “closely guarded secret.” Next question.

How do you envision your future?


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Amazon Author Page:



Lee McCloud, protagonist of “No Remorse” by Ian Walkley

Tell us about your part in the story, Lee McCloud.

I’m a special operations soldier whose mentor’s daughter, Sophia, has been kidnapped in Mexico, along with her friend, Danni. I organize some buddies in Delta Force to help me go after the kidnappers. Trouble is, when we ambush the Mexican cops who took the girls and arranged an exchange, we discover that Sophia and Danni are sold, and long gone. Subsequently, I end up charged with murder. I’m offered only one way out of this mess––leave the Army and work with a secret government outfit operating outside the law stealing money from wealthy supporters of terrorism. I take the deal, but I’m still determined to find Sophia and Danni, even if it means disobeying orders of my new employers while I track down the guy who bought the girls.

You have to work with a beautiful computer genius, Tally. Is that difficult? Fun?

She should’ve been left at the office. She’s had no experience in the field, so I’m gonna have to hold her hand, aren’t I? At least, that was my initial assessment. Sure, she’s smart, but her good looks make her stand out in the crowd, and that’s not good in undercover roles. Also, she doesn’t like soldiers. She dated one once, and he attacked her. Or so she said. Maybe I might change my feelings later on…

Has some event in your childhood had a profound impact on your life?

My nine-year-old sister was abducted in front of my eyes when I was fourteen. She had run ahead of me along a quiet road in a park, and a van pulled up and two guys grabbed her. One of them shot at me but missed. Then she was gone. That’s why it’s so important to me that I get Sophia and Danni back. And it explains why I have no remorse the way I deal with bad guys. Trouble with today’s justice system, it leaves too many bad guys with an incentive to keep doing bad stuff.

And what about your personal life? What sort of things do you enjoy doing?

What personal life? I almost got married once. But four weeks before the wedding she dumped me for my brother. Since then, I don’t really trust women much to get close to them. Sex is sort of a recreational release for me. And lots of the women I meet, too, fortunately. The infrequent times I get away you’ll find me doing physical activities like mountain climbing, scuba diving, skiing, parachuting, that sort of thing. I might read a book on a plane occasionally, but I’m learning to fly helicopters at the moment (after No Remorse).

Do you talk to your brother any more?

If he answers the phone at my mom’s place. And then it’s a little strained. Good luck to them, I say, but I don’t forget. As for forgiveness, some things are not worth worrying about. Get on with life. But not when someone has done something truly evil. Like Sheik Khalid and his surgeons.

What are six things you would carry around on a mission?

Knife or pistol in an ankle holster; lock-picking tools; my iPhone; a key to a safe deposit box that has lots of cash and a false passport; and a few condoms for emergencies. And a gym bag full of guns and changes of clothes (I’m no Jack Reacher)

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you like to be stranded with?

No Remorse has lots of bad stuff happening on the island of Andaran. I’m not sure I even want to answer that question. (Tally might hear.) You know, this is where the Muslims have it all over us: the seventy-two virgins thing. How can anyone beat that in paradise? Yeah, yeah, I know, keep those letters coming… One thing I am not is politically correct, okay? The real answer is: someone sexy and with a great sense of humor.

NO REMORSE is available at Amazon and other online stores, and in all good bookstores.
Kirkus Review and other buy links from Ian Walkley’s website:

Ezra Barany, Author of “The Torah Codes”

How long did it take you to write your thriller The Torah Codes?

I wrote the first draft in November 2005 for National Novel Writing Month, and spent the next five years editing it.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing crap comes easy for me. Editing’s the bitch.

Do you think writing this book changed your life?

Very much!

How so?

I always considered myself a good musician. Not many people can transcribe music, that is, hear the music and write down the notes. So I felt that was my unique ability. But after putting out a few CDs of my music, I noticed my performance abilities and my transcribing skills are two very different things. The CDs made very few sales.

When I came out with The Torah Codes, it was only a matter of months before it became (and still is) a bestselling novel. The success of The Torah Codes surprised me tremendously. Now, instead of saying I’m a musician, I say I’m an author. That was a very huge life change for me.

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

My primary goal is to leave the reader breathless at having read an exciting, fun ride. For Jewish readers, I hope to also get them to revisit their own relationship with Judaism.

Is there a message in The Torah Codes you want readers to grasp?

There is scientific proof of God’s existence, and there’s more to Her than you think.

What are you working on right now?

The sequel to The Torah Codes has the working title: Fighting with God. Admittedly, both titles are deceptive in that they sound like the books preach when the reality is both novels are just exciting adventures that have a thin Jewish thread lining the plot. I’m quite happy with how Fighting with God is coming along. While the first book was a Jewish version of The Da Vinci Code, the sequel is a Jewish version of The Bourne Identity.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his creator?

Nah. If the readers love the character so much, he deserves to die.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

My wife and book coach Beth Barany. The advice? When changing POV, also change the voice. My protagonist Nathan narrates in short, hard-boiled detective-sounding sentences. He also always states the scientific facts. The female protagonist Sophia narrates with long, embellished sentences. She uses tons of adjectives and notices what people are wearing and how she feels about them. It looks like two different writers wrote the book.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

With your first draft, write crap. Don’t have the words “flow” out of you, have them throw up all over the page. It’s easier to edit a finished draft than create a pristine first draft. So save the editing for later, otherwise you’ll never get that first draft done.

What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

Read my blog post on how to find the right title for your book. There’s only one good title. It’s the one that is a keyword or phrase people are constantly doing a search for on the internet. The phrase “Torah Codes” is searched by 50,000 people every month, so people I don’t know and have never heard of my book are finding my book every day. If you use my method for coming up with the right title, I guarantee people will discover your book.

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?


Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

I hope not. They’ll find me and kill me.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life as a writer?

If I’m bored writing it, people will be bored reading it.

Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you’ll love my books. You can get The Torah Codes on Amazon:

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

One word? Ha, ha! You’re funny, Pat.

Stacy-Deanne, Author of “The Season of Sin”

What is your book about?

The Season of Sin is the second installment in my new series and here is what the book is about:

Detective Brianna “Bree” Morris and her partner and ex-lover Steven Kemp are back. This time they are thrown head first into a gruesome homicide that brings forth as many secrets as it does clues.

Brianna’s psychiatrist, Dr. Nadia Hollister is stabbed to death in her upstairs bathroom. Brianna, who is at Nadia’s while the murder happens, is the only witness. Unfortunately she was knocked unconscious by the killer and only has the memory of the killer’s scent to go on.

Brianna and Steven sign on to help Homicide Detective Jayce Matthews solve the case. With Nadia’s journals as her guide, Bree learns that Nadia was keeping a devastating secret that has something to do with her adopted daughter. The renowned doctor was not whom she seemed to be and her secret may not have only got her killed but could ruin the foundation of her entire family.

The police hunt for suspects but Nadia’s secret could wreck the lives of many, all who have motive to kill her.

The deeper Brianna and Steven dig into Nadia’s past; the more they question whether Nadia was the true victim after all.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I began the series because I fell in love with Bree and Steven when they debuted in my ’08 novel Melody. Even after the story ended there was so much more I wanted to do with these characters so I decided to give them their own series.

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

Well I hope to impress readers and encourage them to check out my work in the future. Other than that my goal is to entertain. I write to help readers escape their everyday lives. I write to bring peace to people and bring excitement. I think most authors write because of that.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I’m way more confident in myself. It’s hard to stay confident before you’re published. You get rejected constantly so you can never be sure if you’re on the right track. All I know is I worked hard before publication to become the best writer I could and I continue to improve and grow. So I definitely see myself as a stronger writer and person thanks to all the things I’ve experienced since my first book.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Well it was buttered pecan ice cream and sometimes Fritos until I gave up that junk. Now it’s green grapes, salad and anything healthy. But I do miss my Fritos sometimes. LOL!

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

I struggle with this all the time but I remember that it’s important to do what’s best for the story. We all get attached to characters but characters are expendable if it means bringing the story to where it needs to be. I’m okay with it. The sacrifice is worth it if it makes the story better.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I have tons of notebooks and folders stuffed in drawers from 1997! I claimed for years that I’d go back and write those stories but those notebooks are still in my bedroom drawers covered in dust. LOL! I realize now I have no intentions of revisiting those ideas because it’s been over a decade and if I was going to write those stories, I would’ve. So it’s time for me to bite the bullet and throw all that junk away.

What writer influenced you the most?

I’d have to say Edgar Allan Poe overall but Oscar Wilde as well. The Picture of Dorian Gray is probably one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever known and it piqued my interest when it came to the development of suspense.

What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

First off know your audience and focus on what fits you individually. Every book is different and not every mode of promo fits every book. Your genre also determines your best mode of promotion. Also you have to remember the type of person you are. If you’re shy or uncomfortable about certain things then stick to promo for your comfort zone. I suggest all authors take advantage of free online promotion before spending tons of money on anything. Online promotion is worth its weight in gold.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

Definitely and this is the most interesting part of writing a book to me.

Who designed your cover?

Peace in the Storm Publishing

Where can people learn more about your books?

People can learn more from my website:
They can also join me on Facebook and Twitter
Also check out The Season of Sin available in paperback and ebook. On Kindle and Nook for $4.99
Add The Season of Sin to your shelf on Goodreads:
Link to book cover:

David M. Salkin, Author of “Forever Hunger”

What is your book about?

FOREVER HUNGER is written as an NYPD Crime thriller… except it’s not. The story is actually a vampire romance / horror thriller. The NYPD and FBI are after a serial killer—they just don’t realize it’s a killer who has been dead for several hundred years. It isn’t until the DNA evidence presents them with some disturbing information that they begin to have to accept the possibilities.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Partly, because it’s commercial and a popular topic (vampire romance), and partly because I wanted my own brand of the genre. Vampire romance has become so clichéd and soap-operatic. I wanted a story that would attract that audience, but give them something NEW. Also, I wanted to see a contemporary horror story where the “good guys” don’t believe in vampires. Not a bunch of VanHelsing types who are vampire hunters, but rather, regular old cops, who do NOT believe in such nonsense. Until they HAVE to…

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

My characters aren’t “me”, per se; however my political views and patriotism are difficult to hide in my military / espionage thrillers. Crescent Fire was written right after 9-11, and my anger is obvious in some of the characters. I also try to give the “other side” as much as possible to make the story realistic. No doubt there are plenty of folks who hate America, and I like to show their ideologies in the story. If nothing else, perhaps it will serve as a reminder and a warning to remain vigilant in protecting this great nation.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I have written eleven novels. The fastest was three months to first finished draft. The longest was the first, and because it was a learning experience, it was a chaotic mess. Learning to outline has helped speed up the process. That first one tool over a year to first draft, and another year of revisions. It isn’t sold yet, but remains one of my favorites. (Hard Carbon is an international thriller about the Russian mob, synthetic diamonds, the FBI, and a whole lot of fun.)

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I do a lot of research when preparing to write. The internet saves thousands of hours. Poor Michener must have spent years before writing “The Source”, an all-time favorite book. I can research everything from advanced weapons systems to tribal customs in deepest jungles, right from my home.

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

I write thrillers. No matter what genre—military, espionage, crime, horror…always thrillers. And that means at the end of the book, I want my reader to be exhausted because they stayed up way past bedtime because they HAD to finish it. I want them to close that cover and have a huge smile and say “Awesome…” as they put it down.

What are you working on right now?

The sequel to FOREVER HUNGER.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

The easy part is making up the story. The work doesn’t begin until I start editing and proof-reading—yeuch!

Does writing come easy for you?

Absolutely. It is great FUN. I think about the story for days or weeks before I touch the keyboard. Only after I’ve watched the movie in my head for a while, and know the characters and beginning of the story at the very least, do I sit and start to write. Writing a book is the same as reading one—you’re totally absorbed and you want to see what’s going to happen next. Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

Have you written any other books?

I have finished eleven novels, four of which are available. I currently have Ben Bova trying to sell a deep-sea adventure thriller for me as I work on the sequel to FOREVER HUNGER.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

LOTS of my friends and family are in my books. I always tell them to be nice or they’ll end up dead in my book…

What genre are your books?

I have written international thrillers, military espionage thrillers, crime thrillers, a deep-sea adventure / horror thriller, and a vampire romance – urban fantasy horror story. The truth is, I am much more concerned with writing an original story that will grab and entertain my reader than I am with fitting neatly into any genre.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?

“Never, never, never, never, never give up.” Sir Winston Churchill. (Yup, 5 “nevers”.)

Where can people learn more about your books?

There are lots of reviews on, but folks can also learn more at