Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Interview with thriller author Michael Frase

My special author guest today is Michael Frase (aka: H. Michael Frase). He’s chatting with me about his new mainstream thriller, Fatal Gift.

Bio:
Michael Frase has served as a technical advisor to numerous government and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, DOJ, Secret Service, US Marshal Service, and the California Department of Justice. A former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, this bestselling author’s work has been translated into numerous foreign languages.

Michael has been a featured guest on NBC’s The Today Show as well as a regular guest on the nationally syndicated PBS show, A Word on Words with John Seigenthaler. He was also on the advisory board of the NCIC/2000 (National Crime Information Center).

In addition to Fatal Gift, Michael has three new thrillers completed. All slated for release in the coming months. He is currently working on his fifth novel, based on a true story.

He lives in Tennessee with his wife, Anita.

Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about your current release.
Imagine that you are the witness to a sadistic killing, that only the victim is aware of your hidden presence at the scene, and that you are too paralyzed with fear to answer her silent plea for help.

That is Kasey Riteman’s dilemma.

Kasey has just quit her job to escape the sexual advances of her hateful boss. Hoping to vent her anger, she drives aimlessly into the nighttime countryside, fed up with the downward spiral her life has taken since her parents’ deaths.

Her old car quits running, stranding her on an abandoned rural road. Hearing distant voices, she inadvertently stumbles upon a completely unexpected scene and becomes the undetected witness to the savage assassination of a local celebrity. She immediately realizes that if she tells the authorities what she knows, her life as the lone eyewitness will be measured in mere hours. Yet, having done nothing before, she knows she must now, somehow, seek justice for the murdered woman.

Suddenly, a solution presents itself, an ingenious scheme so perfect it promises to make the killer pay while offering complete protection for Kasey. At first everything goes well, but an explosion of media attention turns Kasey into a most unlikely celebrity while simultaneously implicating the state’s most powerful politician in a career-ending scandal.

More dangerously, Kasey is unaware that the men to whom she has gone for help are the very men responsible for the woman’s assassination.

What inspired you to write this book?
The story is actually a compilation of two cases I studied while working as a consultant for the California Department of Justice while helping to develop their “Serious Habitual Offender Profile” system. I found the real life inspiration for my protagonist, Kasey Riteman, within those cases and thought her an intriguing and spunky character worthy of her own story. I have the sequel to “Fatal Gift,” titled “An Evil Wind,” complete and scheduled for publication later this year.

For those many fans who have fallen in love with Kasey, I believe this will be a most satisfying “next chapter” in her story.


Excerpt from Fatal Gift:
From the scene when Kasey witnesses the assassination:
__________________________

He’s coming, Kasey… RUN! RUN, DAMN YOU!
Instead, she buried her face in the grass and waited for the end to come, her body refusing to move.
Without willing it, Kasey was filled with a sensation she had gone her entire life without having felt; a feeling only those in similar circum­stances ever knew. She wanted to live!
She knew she had faced the possibility of death before—the flash of unexpected headlights around a corner when she had made a risky pass on a two-lane highway, or in that instant when the decision was made to go for the light instead of stopping—but these were milliseconds of possible tragedy, diluted in their intensity by the focused necessity to accelerate or steer or hit the brakes. All had passed in a flash with little reality attached and rarely more than an acrid aftertaste.
There was nothing hypotheti­cal about this moment, or this hellish butcher. The end of her life, her hopes, her very existence was at hand and still his steps grew closer.
The desire to live was far more than simply not dying, far more than seeing another sunrise or laughing with friends. It was a fundamental need to continue existing, to have the time she had been promised—every single, insignificant, wasted-in-front-of-the-boob-tube, too-much-damn-tequila minute of it.
She was sure the thumping of her heart was as loud to him as his boots crashing against the earth were to her.
Five feet now.
Oh, sweet Jesus, holy Jesus, her mind screamed. Please let me live!


What exciting story are you working on next?
Besides the sequel to Fatal Gift, mentioned above, I have completed two additional thrillers: Dream Stalker, about a woman who dies and is revived, only to have her life turned inside out by the experience; and Eighteen Hours to Live, about a man who meets a mysterious woman on a flight to California, the woman he has dreamed of his entire life, only to have her die essentially at his feet eighteen hours later.

My fifth novel, Thief of Dreams, is based on a true story. It is about a young FBI agent in search of his mother, an enigmatic woman who disappeared the day he was born, never to be seen or heard from again. As his quest unfolds, he finds more questions than answers, and the answers he does unearth are not the ones he was hoping to find.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was in the sixth grade, my English teacher told me I had a “gift” that needed to be pursued. He may have told every student the same thing, much as a mother tells every one of her children that he or she is her favorite, but his words stuck with me and directed my course of study through high school and college. I have never regretted that decision and am grateful every day for his kind and supportive words.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time, typically around eight hours a day. Even if I don’t keep everything I write every day, I ply my trade as tenaciously as any other artisan or craftsman in any field of endeavor. The best way to overcome writer’s block is to write. I have never heard of a furniture maker having “carpentry block.” They just go to work every day and cut wood. Some days they make an exquisite chair, some days only firewood, but they cut wood every day. I find the same discipline works well for writing.

It’s not always Faulkner, but it does keep the “writing muscle” from growing weak.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have had three of my stories “delivered” to me on three successive Aprils, always on the first, second, and third of that month. I awoke on each following morning with not only the story line complete, but also the character nuances and much of the dialog and atmospheric details.

Don’t ask me why or how this happened, but it did. I choose not to look a gift horse in the mouth and just accept that it was a most fortunate trio of dream sequences.

As for writing itself, I always dictate my work using a top-notch voice dictation program. I find that when I free myself from the tedium of the keyboard, I can just “tell the story” as it comes to mind, often with my eyes closed as I “walk” through scene after scene. It’s incredibly liberating and there are never any typos (which is a good thing since I’m mildly dyslexic and have been known to type illegibly).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Either a photographer or a writer (I met Ansel Adams in Acadia National Park when I was a young boy and he rocked my world). Fortunately, one or both careers has managed to feed me for my entire work life while never having to “punch a clock.”

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that I write for people who like to read, not for my self-edification or ego. I enjoy telling big stories with visceral characters and will continue to write as long as the good Lord gives me the ability to do so.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Michael!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Interview with writer Anlor Davin

Writer Anlor Davin joins me today to chat about her memoir, Being Seen.

Bio:
Anlor (from Anne-Laure) Davin is autistic. She was diagnosed at age 46, a life-changing, and life-saving, event she traces to her Zen practice of the years preceding. Anlor is an immigrant, born in France in 1964. During Anlor’s childhood her native France was in the grip of oppressive and now discredited theories about autism. Anlor instinctively knew she had to flee France in order to survive.

Upon arrival to the Unites States in 1987, Anlor lived in Chicago, Illinois, were she married and had a son. The ensuing eighteen years of child-rearing, a tremendous challenge for an autistic mother, overwhelmed her and her life slowly but surely unraveled. Forever searching for answers to the challenges of an undiagnosed autistic life she moved to San Francisco, California, in 1999. There she started a Zen practice while she eventually became very ill and “hit bottom”. In March 2000 a painful and debilitating movement disorder appeared in her left upper body.

Anlor was finally formally diagnosed in 2010. With proper medical care and many other supports her life improved unexpectedly and dramatically. This healthy outcome and Anlor’s later fullness of life give her a secure place to stand and reflect with greater clarity on her journey. She now lives near San Francisco with her partner, her son living nearby.

Please tell us about your current release.
In the words of a reviewer: “Anlor Davin is an author, teacher, mother, French immigrant and a Zen student. She has recently published her book, Being Seen, a memoir about an autistic woman struggling not only to be seen but to be understood and respected.

Today Anlor works daily to help people understand autism of the kind that she experiences, and to let people know the value of basic meditative practice in living, and thriving, in autism."

What inspired you to write this book?
When I was ill, one of my symptoms was pressured speech (Wikipedia definition: “a tendency to speak rapidly and frenziedly, as if motivated by an urgency not apparent to the listener”). I indeed wanted to urgently share about my illness, its chronic pain and the sensory problems I experienced, which all were rooted in my history, all the way back to childhood. Two friends I knew from my zen practice thus encouraged me to write a book. I hoped to tell about autism a little bit, this misunderstood condition; it might be better understood in some circles nowadays, but the public at large may still often have misconceptions.


Excerpt from Being Seen:
The school’s midday break lasted two hours. This meant that after lunch in the cafeteria I had ninety minutes of unstructured time before resuming classes. It deeply hurt that I was not accepted in the little groups of students that were scattered on the grounds, with Marie in one of them. At first I huddled in hidden places to read but eventually I developed another obsession: I kicked a pebble over and over around the yard. I tried to keep the same pebble day after day, noticing where I left it at the end of the lunch break so I could use it again the next day. I counted how much the pebble traveled, wondering if it had made it to China yet.

Would I ever be able to travel thus?

It is no surprise then that the school requested I no longer eat lunch at the school’s cafeteria. Instead I went home and my brother followed. As was the custom in France my mother also had a long lunch break during which she had barely enough time to come home and cook. It may have been an added responsibility for my mother as it increased her already full load but to her credit she never made me feel guilty. At home during lunch my father, my mother, my brother and I were now together, which I liked much better than the school’s cafeteria. The problem with a child not being given reasons for changes like this is that then she may think it is her fault, as I did.

I took much pain to hide my different perceptions and the ensuing behaviors. Not being diagnosed autistic as a child was my saving grace. Had I been dragged to doctors, I may have been labeled and looked down at. An autistic diagnostic label can be cause for troubles, and especially at that time in France. Many teachers and other support staff feel superior to their diagnosed charge and opportunities are denied, which can be perceived so overwhelming by an autistic person that we may fall into the abysses leading to mental illnesses, medical drugs, institutions, or suicide and other problems. When autism is thought to be a disease that must be cured, the fragile and nervous child might be destroyed by inappropriate treatments. We are often so sensitive it is as if we had an insincerity meter, and the smugness of the people around us (who are often completely unconscious of it) may seriously rock us. On the other hand I have now met many younger autistic people for whom being diagnosed autistic has had several positive effects on the individual. As a teacher friend told me, “How can I help if I do not know the child has a challenge?” Allowing access to the now much improved services can obviously be very helpful, the answer to the situation is not simple at all, autism has many facets and I certainly do not have all the answers


What exciting story are you working on next?
I don’t know yet.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I saw how this book had an impact on others.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full-time, as I write above one of my major interest is my daily zen practice, which I try to bring to others, especially those on or near the autism spectrum. I started to facilitate a monthly zen meditation group for people on the autism and neurodiverse spectrum, in a university, and once a year my partner and I organize a meditation retreat, and these are most important to me these days. You can see more about that on the website autsit.net

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That my native language is French but I write in English, may be?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This has often changed, depending on what was my passion at the times…and I have had many passions, which is often an “autistic trait”.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Be well my friend.

Thanks for being here today, Anlor.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Interview with YA fantasy author Kathrine LaFleur

YA fantasy author Kathrine LaFleur joins me today to chat about The Dream Traveler: The Cardonian Chronicles Book One.

Bio:
Kathrine LaFleur grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lurking beneath the stairs where her grandmother kept a small, dusty library is one of her best childhood memories. She has many years of experience as an elementary school educator and enjoys nurturing a love of reading and writing in her students. She has written books for a range of ages from four years to young adult. She hopes that her writing will empower readers to value their unique qualities and see their own potential to transform obstacles into opportunities to triumph. She currently lives in Oakland, CA where she joyfully pursues her passion of writing and publishing books.

Welcome, Kathrine. Please tell us about your current release.
Four hundred years ago everyone in Cardonia Gifted with Telepathy was exiled to the Badlands, a stretch of unforgiving, unlivable desert. Now the spirits of those who were so cruelly and unjustly punished have invaded Cardonia, and they are out for revenge.

With no warning, Raven and her family are forced to leave home and join their fellow Cardonians on a journey to the kingdom’s shielded core, four mountain ranges each encircling a protected space. For once she has bigger worries than the fact that she is the only one her age still lacking a Gift. When her Gift does emerge, it sets Raven on a course of action that can either save Cardonia or cause her to lose everything she holds dear.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, and wanted to write a story about two people who were connected through their dreams. This book turned out to be so much more than that, which is something I love about writing – the surprise and discovery of what comes out when you open up and explore different possibilities.


Excerpt from The Dream Traveler: The Cardonian Chronicles Book One:
The birds were restless, even for birds. Five of them twittered and fluttered among the old oak’s leaves, barely settling on one branch before lifting up again and hopping to another. This made the pigs who lived in the pen below the oak tree nervous, and Barrett never doubted the word of a pig.
After dumping the slops, which they ignored, into their trough, Barrett knelt and put his hands on either side of Mama’s face. Mama was a large pig with black and white markings across her broad back. She had lived on Baron Tumero’s farm for eleven years, giving many fine litters during her fertile years, and each year Barrett had mourned with her when her offspring had grown fat enough to be taken to slaughter. As an unspoken rule, those with the Gift of Animal Speaking were strictly vegetarian.
Barrett closed his eyes and allowed Mama’s knowing to enter his awareness. She was restless, wanting to find a way out of the pen, but she gave no specific reason.
Barrett thanked Mama with a gentle pat and rose, trying to tune into the hysterical chirping of the birds, not an easy task given his own racing heart and sudden rising of anxiety in his center. Birds had never been his strong suit. He needed physical contact to get a clear message, and they were so flighty, barely able to piece two solid ideas together.
A sense of sinister darkness overcame his mind. He caught fragmented flashes of shadowy wisps, flailing arms, figures clawing at their own faces, others raging, striking violent blows, frenzied bloodlust fed even more by anguished screams. The birds themselves broke the connection by taking flight.
Barrett opened the pigpen gate and left it open.
Something is very wrong, he told Mama. I might have to leave for a while.
He made his way to the cottage, striding quickly at first, then running, pausing only to open more gates on the way: the chicken coop, the horses’ enclosure, the rabbit pen.
“Violet, Raven!” he shouted. The girls were inside, cleaning up after lunch.
Raven’s slight form appeared in the doorway, a grey rag in her hand. A rider came from the south then, and the ground was rattled by the horse’s hooves. The rider was young, maybe twenty, Barrett guessed, and his face was panicked, pale.
“Listen, listen,” he shouted, still some distance away. “You must listen to me!”
Barrett changed course to run towards the horseman. The horse’s golden sides foamed with sweat. It danced side to side, unable to still its body after such a frantic gallop.
“Spirits from the Badlands have escaped,” the rider gasped between gulps of air. “They attacked my village just before daybreak. There’s no way to contain them.”
Barrett held onto the bridle and put a hand on the horse’s neck, willing both himself and the horse to be calm. “Setton Village?”
The man took another large breath and nodded, then shook his head. “They’re all infected; I’ve never seen so much blood.” The rider’s face paled even more. He leaned his torso over to one side, keeping steady with an outstretched hand on his horse’s mane, and was sick on the path.
“Everyone… Yadira.” Barrett grasped the young rider’s arm. “A Healer from this village, she went to Setton to help with the fever. My wife.”
“I’m very sorry.”
“How? How did this happen?”
“A rip in the Shield- ”
“Dad!” Raven called to him from the house and began to run forward.
“Stay there,” he commanded, holding out one hand. She stomped her foot and whirled back into the house.
“Please,” the rider spoke. “What this does to people… It’s mindless killing. This morning my closest friend lay dead on the floor of his home. His stomach had been ripped open,” he swallowed hard and Barrett thought he would be sick again, but the rider continued. “I saw the iron poker in his wife’s hand. She was dead as well. Her head was crushed, and she was sitting on the fire. The mantle above her was so bloody, I think it’s where she...”
Barrett noticed there were bruises on one side of the man’s face, and a weeping cut on one hand looked as though it traveled upwards beneath his sleeve.
“You were attacked as well?”
“Darren, he owns our supply store. He’s a gentle, soft spoken sort. He was. He came at me in a rage. And it wasn’t just him. People I see every day… . If you want to survive you have to leave here now.”
“And go where?”
“North. The Core Mountains are full of Shielding and will create a safe haven. All Shielders know about it. The Fortress Basin will be the closest for you. Messages have already been cast. They’ll set up camps along the way. We’ll keep as many safe as possible.”
“And you?”
“My Gift is only strong enough to shield myself plus one or two others. I’ll alert as many as I can before the spirits attack, then move on to the next village.”
“Would you take me back to Setton? If there’s a chance that my wife is still alive...”
The young man shook his head, trying to erase the image of his friend lying on the floor, blood and entrails spilling from a vicious gash below his stomach. “You didn’t see how bad it was. I’m sorry to say her mind has already been infected, and she is certainly dead, if not by her own doing then by someone else’s.”
“Please.”
“I’m sorry. I need to save those who can still be saved.”
Barrett was silent for a moment, torn between ensuring the safety of his daughters and desperate hope for Yadira. He glanced toward the cottage and saw his elder daughter, Violet, watching him, worried. He turned back to the rider and gave a slight nod.
“Your horse can’t run any farther. He can rest while we prepare and I’ll bring him with us.”
Barrett pointed to the western field, where a black mare pawed the grass beneath a twisted apple tree. “Bella is our fastest and strongest.”
He was already unfastening the rider’s saddle and whistling a beckoning call to Bella. The rider staggered to the ground.
“If she’ll let me saddle her, you should go,” the man said.
Barrett nodded and turned to Bella, who arrived with her neck arched, already sensing trouble. Barrett pulled her head low and whispered into her ear. Bella moved to stand beside the rider, who handed the reins of his own horse to Barrett.
Barrett nodded toward the house on the far end of the field. Even from this distance its size was notable, spreading across space enough for ten of his own small cottage. “I’ll inform the baron and household there. Good luck to you and thank you,” he told the man.
“You’ll need to hurry. The spirits will be here soon, perhaps within the hour, and while they can’t attack until nightfall, their presence itself will make you want to crawl out of your skin.”
Barrett nodded and ran to the cottage where both his daughters now stood in the doorway.
“Pack up what you can. We’re leaving. Now.”


What exciting story are you working on next?
Book three of the Cardonian Chronicles is in the works, and I hope to it release this summer. I’m excited to share the growth of certain characters from the first two books and introduce new ones.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was a closet writer until my late twenties, when I finally faced fears of failure, made a commitment to writing, and learned to call myself a writer, even in front of other people.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full time… yet! Currently I also teach elementary school. In between teaching and tending to a household that includes three dogs I take about an hour and a half at a local café to enjoy some very quiet, peaceful reading and writing time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a thing for pens; I’m extremely picky about what kind of pen I use. I tried out several different kinds and finally chose a Parker refillable because I love their gel ink. The pen itself, though, doesn’t have the comfy grip I was looking for, so I keep a squishy pencil grip on it. I also have conversations with my characters, but I have a feeling both of those quirks could be pretty common for other writers, too. At least, I hope so!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian, a dancer, and an author.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Cardonia is a place where everyone has a special supernatural Gift, and I’m always curious to know what Gift people would have if they lived there. I think I’d either be an Empath, Dream Traveler, or Animal Speaker. I’d like to invite readers to check out the Cardonian Gifts on my website and share with me on Facebook or Twitter which best fits them, or suggest one that isn’t listed.

Links:


Thank you for being here today, Kathrine.