What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
My most recent book, published by LazyDay Publishing, is Piety and Murder. The book is a pre-Katrina thriller set in New Orleans and Mobile.
The protagonist, Mack Brinson, has two major problems. He’s trying to recover from the long trauma of losing the love of his life—his wife Song. Now, his only family, Song’s mother Huong, is being systematically, and legally, bilked by a sleazy televangelist’s organization. He tries to intercede on her behalf. When Brinson goes to the smarmy preacher’s headquarters in an attempt to stop the thievery, he is physically threatened.
Brinson is a former Green Beret and isn’t intimidated. He goes after the preacher in an attempt to gather embarrassing information. When he gets too close, someone tries to murder him in a running gunfight on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway Bridge.
Brinson meets a woman, Pattie, who finally begins to dissolve the emotional walls he has erected. He begins to learn how to love again. Pattie also proves very helpful in a hostage rescue situation.
There is an unseen hand behind the preacher’s organization. The face of the antagonist is unclear, but when Huong is kidnapped, Brinson has to call on his old Special Operations contacts to find the kidnapper and rescue her.
The face of the man behind the televangelist finally becomes clear and shocking. Vengeance: slow and awful lies ahead.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born and reared in the deep south–Alabama. I graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in English. Eight days after graduation, I entered active duty with the U.S. Army. After only a short time, I knew the career path the Army had laid out for me would be boring. I volunteered for Airborne and Special Forces. I passed the tests and courses and was awarded the fabled Green Beret. I had found a “home” in the Army. Then about ten years later, I was unhappy–again–with the Army’s plans and left active duty for the Reserves. I am now a Major, Retired Reserves.
What inspired you to write this book?
I spent seven or eight years working in New Orleans, from five to eight days a month. I could hardly turn on the TV in my hotel room without coming across a televangelist’s site.
I began to wonder what would happen if unscrupulous people took over one of these organizations from inside and used it as a cover for nefarious activities.
How did you choose the title?
“Piety” for the smarmy cover the phony preacher’s organization provides. “Murder” for the way the unseen antagonist enforces his will. The contrast seemed to work well.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The usual. Agents said, “I like your ‘voice’ but couldn’t get into the plot.” I fixed that. When I found LazyDay, by a serendipitous accident, I sent the book to them and was accepted.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve been writing stories since I was in grade school. For years, after the Army, I wrote textbooks, Continuing Education courses and articles. Many of them are currently in use.
Do you have any writing rituals?
None. I’ve tried working from outlines, but it doesn’t work for me.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Frequently I’ll look at news articles and slightly change names to fit characters. Some are names of people I once knew–slightly altered.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Marketing the book is as necessary as writing. If no one found the book, it would languish. That’s why websites such as yours is so helpful.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would realize that digital publishing has come of age. I would have sought out LazyDay rather than happen upon their site.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I read a lot. I read thrillers, mysteries, SF and even fantasy. So far, I haven’t attempted fantasy.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
My next book is a prequel to Piety and Murder. It is set in South Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. One person who read the first several chapters asked, “Is this a war story, or a love story?” My answer: “Yes.”
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t give up. Make sure any work you send to a publisher or agent is as clean and well-edited as you can make it. Follow the guidelines for submissions precisely.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
They say that Yeat’s poem, The Fisherman, describes the audience he hoped for his poetry. I hope for a reader who loves the people in my books and wants to support the protagonist and be fearful for their well-being. I hope to engage a reader’s imagination and emotions.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?