Defending College Heights
is a novel about an investigation into the murder of a U.S. Army recruiter within a corrupt college community. While anti-war activists are originally considered primary suspects, the novel has many surprising twists and turns.
Tell us something about yourself.
In earlier lives I was an urban planner and a government affairs manager for a non-profit economic development corporation. I left that career to pursue a MBA and later became a software executive marketing Web-based tools to college career centers. I have written about education and politics for the past four years.
What inspired you to write this book?
I dealt with corporate recruiters, including military recruiters, in my work with schools and I became fascinated by the history of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam era. I also noticed that attitudes towards the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq are very different than they were towards Vietnam. Part of this is because there is no draft, but also because the activists of the pasts have different roles–and academia has proven to be a welcoming host for them. I also wanted to show a “what if” scenario–what might actually happen if a military recruiter was killed on a college campus?
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
I went the print-on-demand route with iUniverse. I had a successful relationship with them on my first book, so I stuck with them.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I looked into controversial topics in the education arena that I could research on my own. My first novel, The Sex Ed Chronicles, dealt with conservative politics and sex education in New Jersey during the 1980s. I combined local events, a teacher’s strike and a public demonstration with the state’s real decision to adopt sex ed in all grades.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Developing the middle of the story to hold the reader’s interest and steer them to the end.
How do you do research for your books?
I use the Internet as well as contacts I have made in my career. I also visit library archives, when necessary.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
I learned more about both sides of the story with respect to military recruiting, and I also gained more respect for senior college administrators who would have a role in a real-life investigation.
What are you reading now?
I just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I like historical and political fiction as well as science fiction. I also read history and politics in non-fiction. My favorite writers are Joseph Finder, Richard North Patterson and Jodi Picoult for fiction and David Halberstam and David Mariness for non-fiction. John Feinstein is my favorite sportswriter. I like all of these writers because they share considerable research and different points of view in their stories.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am working on a novel called Tip Offs. It’s the story of a young bank executive who reluctantly becomes a girl’s high school basketball coach.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Write about what you know well and enjoy.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I did a blog tour, and now I promote through blog posts and syndicated ariticles about the topics in the story, especially military recruiting and the relationships between schools and the military. I also try to get as many reviews as possible. Word of mouth is the best way to sell anything when you’re on a tight budget.