Welcome, Readers. Thriller author Hawk MacKinney is visiting again. This time we’re talking about his new suspense, Westobou Gold.
During his virtual book tour, Hawk will be awarding one $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!
Internationally acclaimed author and public speaker, Hawk MacKinney began writing for his school newspapers. Since retiring from over 20 years in the US Navy Reserve and a tenured faculty member at several state medical facilities, teaching postgraduate courses in the United States and Jerusalem, Israel, Hawk has authored several novels that have received national and international recognition. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel, was nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. This was followed by the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Volume 1 - The Bleikovat Event began his science fiction series, The Cairns of Sainctuarie, and was followed by the release of Volume 2 - The Missing Planets. Hawk’s latest project focuses on The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series—Book 1 in the series, Hidden Chamber of Death, and Book 2, Westobou Gold, a 2016 release. The third title is in the works.
Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Hawk.
Thank U…It’s nice to be here and see familiar faces.
Please tell us about your newest release.
Westobou Gold is a mystery thriller about a legend of the hidden treasures entrusted to an Indian queen determined to protect it. The legend stirs the weak-brained greed and warped blinding madness into a reality unto itself. Treasure hunters following long-dead Spaniards are desperate to find the golden hoard. Centuries pass; empires rise & fall, but the whispers grow faint…the hunt for the treasure lurks. Burial mounds are plundered, no treasure ever found; yet the legends persist.
The lavender fragrance of grey-green wisteria and crisp Turkish coffee permeated the mist-shroud lowlands between the bayous and the river of the Westoes. Moccasin Hollow lazed in the creeping twilight dawn. Beyond the kitchen door Lucky, Craige Ingram’s German shepherd gnaws a favorite bone. Looted burial mounds seem to belong to another world. But they aren’t. Fresh ransacking on Moccasin Hollow land brings amateur archeologist PI Craige Ingram into the crosshairs of kidnapping and stealthy hideaways concealed in the revolutionary grottos river-dug in the basements of colonial Ardochy plantation. Sex-tape sex-ring blackmail, and thrill killings on federal land spurs a medical examiner’s preliminary postmortem to more than a hired mercenary cleaner’s quickie cover-up passed off as drug deals gone sour. In a witch’s tangled pigswill of illicit affairs and murder-to-hide-murder, shady investigators and shadier politics go awry with unforeseen consequences as greed and madness ensnare the lives of those at Moccasin Hollow in a spiteful plot with ex-SEAL Ingram dead center.
What inspired you to write this book?
Some surviving historical book-wormy libraries full of disintegrating historical originals, plantations, unstable rat and spider tunnels along a very deceptively sluggish river, and backwater bayou ‘gator homes…it was tale waiting to be spun.
Excerpt from Westobou Gold:
Leeza picked one of her days off when Crawforde was out of town. She second-guessed herself as she thought how to go about it, and found herself making the turn onto the curved weeded Ardochy drive and parked next to the old granite buggy steps. She walked around to the front door and turned the ornate brass bell ringer; listened to its clang-ding echo. Waited. Nothing. She gave the brass knob another twist.
The door opened a crack, “Who’re you? What you want?” The door opened slightly more, “What you doin' on this property? Radcliffe and Ardochy is closed for renovation. Won’t be open till restorations are complete.”
The gruff bushy-brows startled her. A bit of sweetness couldn’t hurt, “I wanted to visit Ardochy.”
“Both are private property. I asked you what you were doin' here?”
“Are you the caretaker?”
“I don’t see that’s none of your business. Ain’t your place to ask questions. You’re on private property.”
“I’m doing a research paper for my history professor at the university in Columbia about the confederate battles near Aiken.”
“The Battle of Aiken?” The door opened wider.
“The McGiffern family and the name of Ardochy has come up several times. The university librarian told me most of the McGiffern papers were still in Redcliffe and Archochy.”
“Far as I know they’re all still on the shelves, but they’re book-wormed and full of silver fish. Pages are rotten. Fall to pieces in your hand. Ink faded, barely readable. I think the fellow handling the McGiffern properties is making arrangements to move them.”
“I’d be ever so grateful if you could show me. I know it’s imposing, but I won’t take long.”
Grumpy face disappeared; the door opened, “Only for a few minutes. I got things to do.”
Leeza gushed, “Thank you ever so much.” In the stifling afternoon humidity she felt a twinge uneasy as she followed him up the age-worn creak of solid wood stair steps that spoke of by-gone years. The long hallway talked to her, and she caught the slow steady tick-tock of a great clock somewhere.
“Library is right in here,” the caretaker ushered her in.
The moment she walked into the smaller room Leeza was bewildered, near to the point of being overwhelmed. Crawforde’s office had nothing like this. The narrow shelves were crammed with frayed folio volumes and stacks of handwritten papers and letters. “I expected this room to be bigger.”
He said, “This isn’t the main library. This room was Miss Theosia’s. Where she took her afternoon tea and sit and read.”
On the small desk with its rickety chair lay large leather-bound volumes, one trimmed in blue. Too big for her to hide and sneak out, “All these books and papers.”
“Still laying right where Miss Theosia last left them. Nothin’ fake about this place. Old man Virgil told me once when the landings flooded and the river got high, how he saw pottery and bones sticking out along the washed-out river banks. When the water went down Virgil went back and reburied the bones. Never told nobody what else he found. If he found anything he wouldn’t have told nobody. Folks talked about him. How Virgil was a dumb field hand. He wadn’t one bit dumb. Times when Redcliffe was a workin’ plantation and when the field bell rung after supper, I’d often see him sitting in that very chair with one of these books on his lap, readin’ away. He read every one of these books, sometimes more’n once.” Quick look at the shelves, “Some got wet during times they was hid in the tunnels and caves along the river ’twixt here and Savannah. Tunnels are older than Redcliffe. Indians likely lived in the first ones. McGiffern's been hiding things in the tunnels since before this place was built.” With a wicked chuckle, “Early on it was corn squeezin’s bein’ shipped to Savannah Towne. Ain’t safe to go in them no more. All soggy when the river’s high. Timbers gone rotten. Most clogged with cave-ins. Lots of critters, turtles and snakes. Easy to get buried; no one’d ever know. Mud an’ river an’ rot can make a body disappear real quick if’n gators don’t take it first.”
“I’m terrified of snakes.”
He said, “Plenty of them about.”
Leeze recalled what her fifth grade teacher once said—how a book's value comes from what’s inside. Leeza said, “One of my teachers knew about some of the tunnels.”
What’s the next writing project?
Final edits of the galley manuscripts in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series and the sci-fi The Cairns of Sainctuarie.
What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (Or the biggest challenge with this book)
New book or this book…thank the powers that be that my editors are relentless in spotting my challenges/stumbles incorporated in the outlines/plots/characters, and quickly let me know, “Do something.” I trust them totally. Wrong character, wrong setting, dead people speaking…it’s not easy keeping up with gory murder and who done in whom, but it’s sort’a fun when you resurrect them.
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Yes – on the research. Usually done at the same time…however…during the first two or three draft edits, when the early smoothness of flow and transition is scrutinized. Should a scene/character/section need deeper additional research, that part of a draft is coded for reference/research. The internet is a great tool, and, of course, everything on the net is factual since it wouldn’t be there otherwise…and down that black hole we go. It’s a real caveat in the field of science fiction where quantum physics and the large hadron collider are changing things almost by the hour. Reference librarians with their antique equipment of a pencil and note pad are gems among the smart-phone clutter. They must be aliens from an advanced society
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
My writing space where I put the freight train with its passengers through twists and double-twists is the usual writer’s space…one window behind me – the rest of the room full of notes and manuscript edits. No music, no distractions, no interferences with the fantasies. A given definition of a writer: a person alone in a room full of paper.
The muse is always hyperactive, resulting in some rude social behavior when I get lost in my radar of people/crowds/settings etc. while in a public place with guest AND totally ignoring them. It’s totally unintentional but nevertheless quite inexcusable. I love the habit of it…ooo…that is bad.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
Historical nonfiction. - the unabridged Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, Kosovo, Midway, Battles of Leyte Gulf. Stuffy boring stuff except to those of us who are bookworms with a penchant for things dun Gone with the Breezes.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Keep guessing the who-dun it and the how-dun it. I’ll keep trying to elude the readers with blind end stumbles until the last chapter. Ain’t it fun…kind’a like chess with pawns and knights and bishops went and gone someplace else.
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
It a genuine pleasure to interact with readers/hosts, along with a sincere thank you, Lisa, for hosting Westobou Gold, Book 2 in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. The galley for Book 3 in the series is in final edits as well as a sci-fi title also in galley. An earlier historical romance, Moccasin Trace, establishes the bloodline(s) of Craige Ingram in the Moccasin Hollow Series.
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