Friday, September 30, 2016

Interview with thriller author Matt Fulton

Thriller author Matt Fulton is helping me wrap up the week, and the month, by talking with me about his new espionage thriller, Active Measures: Part I.

Matt Fulton is an independent writer who has spent half of his life working on the Active Measures trilogy. At twelve, he found inspiration in the stories of John le Carré, Graham Greene and Tom Clancy and began slowly developing the key characters that eventually found their way into his own novel. He later attended college in Washington, DC, studying foreign policy and interning with Congress and the British Parliament. Before what would have been his senior year, he decided to drop everything and realize the story that was brewing in his mind for over a decade. He lives in New Jersey.

Welcome, Matt. Please tell us about your current release.
Active Measures: Part I is a geopolitical thriller and the first volume of a trilogy about the dangers of loose nukes, terrorism and espionage.

The bulk of the action follows three major plotlines: In Iran, the United States’ most valuable agent since the 1960s uncovers a faction within the hardline Revolutionary Guards that has been secretly constructing a crude nuclear weapon designed to fit in the trunk of a car—and all without the knowledge or blessing of the regime’s leadership. As the full might of the American intelligence community is mobilized to sabotage it, the CIA’s new director is forced to navigate a minefield of global power politics from Washington to Tel Aviv.

In Moscow—after an oil trader with ties to the Kremlin is found burned alive in his Geneva home—an aide to Russia’s adored and despotic president is caught between opposing powers. At one side is an eccentric billionaire with lofty dreams of reorienting Russia toward the West, and at the other is the autocratic strongman whose ardent quest for resurgence has brought Russia into an open confrontation with NATO, and threatens a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the hasty climax of the Syrian civil war has brought the Middle East to a dangerous crossroads. Israel is set to begin peace talks with the fragile new government in Damascus, which promises to reshape the balance of power in the region. Hezbollah has been left bloodied, humiliated and exhausted with discontent simmering inside the ranks. Against this backdrop, a brilliant CIA officer in Beirut stumbles upon the trail of a master terrorist and the shadowy menace whispering in his ear conspiring to drag the world into the abyss.

What inspired you to write this book?
There was no single light-bulb moment for this story. The oldest material in the novel dates to August 2009, but it’s been fourteen years from inception to publication. The names of the five core characters in the trilogy—Jack Galloway, Ryan Freeman, Nina Davenport, Robert Harris, and David Kazanoff—were first jotted down in the school cafeteria when I was in the sixth grade. I had just read Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears, this was a few months after 9/11, and the environment just threw a switch. That was when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t exactly understand who these characters were or the world they would inhabit, but I think I always knew, ultimately, what I wanted to do, even if twelve-year-old me was completely incapable of doing it at the time. It was there, a glimmer of light on the horizon; I couldn’t describe it, but I refused to lose sight of it. So I kept going. The story matured as I’ve matured, evolved as I’ve evolved. Fourteen years later, here’s what I have to show for it.

An author should write the stories they want to read that haven’t yet been written. That’s my cardinal rule, my guiding philosophy. Certainly it’s wonderful if others want to read my work (and I eagerly invite them along for the ride), but I think every story has to begin with a degree of selfishness. That’s the case with Active Measures. I wanted to tell a story that attempts to tackle the maddeningly complex geopolitical realities of our time on a canvass that is unapologetically vast but yet remains rooted in a character-driven drama about complex, imperfect people who are simply trying to weather forces that are towering apathetically above them. There are no easy solutions offered because they truly do not exist. There is no flag-waving, no black-and-white ideals to cling to. And when it’s all said and done, mere survival will be victory.

I wanted to write this kind of story because I think precious few exist in the genre. Active Measures, I hope, helps to fill in the gap.

Excerpt from Active Measures:
There is great power in letting go.

But no one had taught him that. No one had plunged down their hands to dig up the shards and piece him back together. No one had ever tried.

Not yet.

Jack Galloway weighed his surroundings with a wary intent: a few muted women, their bodies engulfed by the deep, black, obscuring fabric of a chador; the cliques of men, young, old and plenty lost somewhere in the gap between; and their voices—the usual voices, the normative patterns—at times exuberant toward the cricket match on the television suspended from the far wall, at times silenced by an assuaging drag on a water pipe, at times hushed in acquiescence of the CCTV camera suspended to the other; at no time content. Their faces were unfamiliar to him yet their patterns, their movements, their fleeting glances, their questioning eyes were not—all caught by his own, all measured, processed and stored lest his eyes ever fall upon them again. Then he would know. Then he would vanish. Familiar faces in unfamiliar places were deadly in the denied corners of the world.

Jack took his cuff and wiped down a ceramic cup. He hadn’t seen his potential minder since he ducked into the café, although that was likely by design. In Moscow, it was called “dolphin surveillance”—now you see me, now you don’t. The KGB would tail the subject with a sloppy team, making the surveillance obvious and then promptly pull the team off, replacing them with a much more skilled unit, of which the subject wouldn’t be granted the slightest hint. It was meant to deceive the subject into a false sense of security—the illusion of reality: an unreality—like the shadows dancing over the cave wall before the captivated prisoners, chained and ignorant of the raging fire at their backs. All mere projections; charades; lies in the dark.

Jack left the café, averting his face from the CCTV camera—the security services had unfettered access to the hard drives—and returned to the street under a gentle fall of rain.

It was just as his father had shown him in the front room of their embassy housing in Hampstead. His father would extend his arm and on cue, four coins would drop from his sleeve onto the table. He would count them and smile, “Are you with me?”

Jack continued down the street toward Tajrish Square, the hub of the affluent neighborhoods of northern Tehran. The streetlamps lit the way before him, and behind him. His minders hadn’t made themselves known, if they were even there. He hailed a passing cab. It pulled to the curb, splashing through the runoff that had gathered into shallow lakes of light. He directed the cab three blocks south, then promptly ordered it to stop, hopped out and doubled back five blocks north, where he arrived at Ammar Street, a quiet, leafy residential lane flanked by distinguished walled homes. Here, even the most capable surveillance unit would be pressed to find cover. Jack wasn’t keen to make it easy for his shadows. He kept on down the street.

His father would place the coins in a line on his right palm and count out each one, again, deliberately. Then, he folded his fingers on both hands, the right one touching the edge of the coins. He smiled again. “Are you with me?” Jack would nod. His father sharply flipped his hands, the backs turned to the ceiling. He smiled, turned over his right hand and opened it. Three coins. He turned over his left hand. One coin. “Did you see it jump?”

On the opposite side of the street, Jack saw a white, stone villa surrounded by a high wall and a manicured garden. The lights inside were doused and the curtains drawn—save for one. Suspended in a window on the upper floor was the soft orange flicker of a candle. Jack took note and walked on. He would wait for contact. That candle in the window was all he could concretely know, the only static light in a field of shifting shadows, flickers, projections and charades—lies in the dark; a solemn sign his father had shown him twenty-five years before.

That candle had been snuffed out. But no one had ever taught Jack why.

Not yet.

What exciting story are you working on next?

Active Measures: Part II, the epic continuation of the trilogy. If Part I is a six-hundred-page doorstopper, Part II will be a door-breaker! There are moments coming up in this story that I’ve anticipated for over a decade. If I’m lucky enough to write them well, I can die a happy man.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a difficult question to answer. There’s no triumphal arch to pass under, no embryotic cocoon to shed. If you’re fortunate someone might throw you a party? For me, I guess I just looked up from my laptop one day, frowned at the empty coffee cup, saw all the research and notebooks and crumpled manuscript pages and figured, “Well…this is happening.”

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?
Sadly, I don’t. Getting to the point where I can write full-time is probably my greatest struggle right now. I once read somewhere that you have to be fanatical about claiming your writing time and defending it at all costs. It’s true! I’ve spent more gorgeous weekends locked inside my office and gone into my day job on only a couple hours of sleep much more than I care to admit. Hopefully that’ll change soon. I’m trying.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t really do much outlining, which admittedly for a novel of this size and detail—with a few hundred named characters and multiple plotlines wrapped around the globe—can be pretty dangerous. It’s just never worked for me. I haven’t found a way to structure my thoughts in bullet points or flowcharts that accurately reflects the story on a sort of macro scale, I guess. It all stays in my head until I’ve gotten to that particular chapter or scene and then I’ll sketch it out on paper until I feel I’m ready to write. If you looked in my notebooks, the bottom half of the pages are all blank.

Also… Gym shorts. Gotta stay comfy. And it helps if my cat is snoozing nearby.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actor about as early as I can remember. I was perpetually in costume (went as George Washington for Halloween when I was seven… I was a weird kid, I know), always telling a story, annoying my older cousins at Thanksgiving. After that phase wore off, I probably first toyed with the idea of being a writer of some kind at around ten and was fixated on that for a while. When I was fourteen my guidance counselors convinced me to look at something a bit more practical, so I decided on intelligence analyst. In college I strayed perilously close to becoming a born-again political hack—then I had a quarter-life crisis and saw the light.


Thanks for being here today, Matt! All the best with your writing!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Interview with writer Bob Selden

Writer Bob Selden is in the hot seat today. We’re chatting about his communication/self-help book, Don’t: How Using the Right Words Will Change Your Life.

Bob Selden has coached many sporting teams and coaches over the last 30 years, and has taught leadership at the prestigious International Institute for Management Development, Lausanne Switzerland and the Australian Graduate School of Management, Sydney.

Bob has a degree in psychology and qualifications in management and organizational psychology. He is the author the best-selling book What to Do When You Become the Boss, which has sold over 55,000 copies and been published in four languages.

Welcome, Bob. Please tell us about your current release, Don’t: How Using the Right Words Will Change Your Life.
Why do some people seem to have all the luck? The answer is simple: people with a more positive outlook can recognise opportunities that others miss. How? By converting negativity into a powerfully positive working and personal life.

My new book DON’T shows you how to avoid the negativity in your life and your relationships. DON’T shows you how to filter out negative words and phrases which create both negative thinking in your brain and negative behaviour in your life. The book suggests words, phrases and actions to encourage the very opposite of negativity. You’ll soon learn how positive words can and will activate the positive parts of your mind. 

DON’T answers the question ‘can the words we use in general conversation actually impact our relationships?’ The answer is yes, we do behave according to the words we hear and use. For example, recent studies show young male drivers increase their speed when they hear male-type words like “beard”, ‘tough’ and ‘rough’ – yet female-sounding words like “lipstick”, ‘pink’ and ‘gentle’ make them slow down. We are surrounded and misled by thousands of negative messages every day.

Using multiple how-to examples, scientific studies and stories from real-life, DON’T is packed with practical insights into what makes us who we are. Discover how to transform your working and personal life into positive successes which flows from a new understanding of positive action and perception.

What makes some people more successful and dynamic than others? Is it luck, upbringing, training? Or could it be something as simple and powerful as the words we use? I invite you to find the answers in my new book DON’T and take a new path.

What inspired you to write this book?
I remember standing in a gift store in Canberra, Australia some years ago when a mother with two young boys entered the shop. At their age of about three or four the only thing children want to do is to touch and feel things – to explore. The store was stacked full of open shelves with many delicate and breakable items such as glass and chinaware. If you were the boys’ parent, what would be your natural instruction to your children?

In those days my instructions would probably have been, “Don’t touch anything”. I’m pretty sure your instructions might have been quite similar.

By using an instruction such as “Don’t touch anything” the only visual image the boys receive is ‘touch anything’. Although we put the word ‘don’t’ in front of ‘touch anything’, there is absolutely no visual image for the word ‘don’t’. The boys are left with the image of the act of touching anything (and knowing boys of that age, probably touching everything).

Not only is there no image for ‘don’t’, it creates a further problem. People, and particularly children, have to double-process. The child has to think “What does she NOT want me to do?” as well as “What does she want me TO DO instead?” This can be very confusing, especially for young children as they may not know or understand the ‘to do’ part or have difficulty accessing it in memory.

Those of you who are parents will probably remember the many necessary corrective actions or commands which have to follow the instruction of “Don’t touch anything” (it rarely works).

You could surmise that this is simply ‘children being children’, or ‘boys will be boys’. I believe there’s another reason.

Let’s return to the mother and her boys. Instead of saying “Don’t touch anything” to my surprise she actually said “Boys, keep your hands in your pockets until we get back outside this shop”. Here the image is of ‘putting hands in pockets’ – there is no mention of touching anything. Not only has she given them a positive instruction of what to do, she’s also put a finish-time on it, “until we get back outside this shop”. Brilliant! That experience has stayed with me for many years.

The impact of giving positive instructions with an image of what you want the child to do rather than putting ‘don’t’ in front of what you want them not to do can be seen immediately. If you’re a parent, try it out sometime.

And that’s what got me started on the impact words have on our behavior.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m still thinking about that. I’ve discussed co-authoring a book on “How to successfully run a family business: with a colleague of mine who is an expert in that field – it could be a good partnership as he’s the expert and I’m the writer.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a very good question. Until recently, I’ve always considered myself a management consultant with the aim of helping managers become better managers. Then I wrote my first book What to Do When You Become the Boss: How New Managers Become Successful Managers which has currently sold 55,000 copies and been published in four languages. At this point I started thinking “Perhaps I am a writer after all”. And recently when my wife suggested I work on the messages in “Don’t” (which has been an integral part of who I am for the last 30+ years), I’m now just (a little embarrassingly) starting to call myself a writer.

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 write a number of short articles and like to work early morning when I’m fresh. I get ideas from the media that take my fancy and which relate to a topic of interest for me (there are plenty at the moment with all the negativity in the world being described with negative words – war – politics – sport – instead of solutions).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to listen to people having conversations in coffee shops. For example, with my current interest in the impact of negative words I heard one person last week saying to his partner “You know, that’s not a bad idea. Why wouldn’t that work?” Whereas I would suggest “That’s a very good idea. I believe it will work”. And today I heard at my local coffee shop, another (male) saying to his partner “Don’t worry about it”, whereas I would suggest “That will be OK” or “This will work out well”.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Funnily, I seem not to have had any really great ambitions to be anything when I was younger, except to do everything I do to the best of my ability. I am a very high-achiever and set myself tough goals, so I’m always looking for a new challenge.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m now just recovering from lymphoma which I contracted in April and am in full remission. I believe part of my successful outcome (in addition to the specialist treatment) has been the positive approach I’ve been able to display. If readers would like to hear the short story it’s here and the short YouTube (5 mins) I was able to complete while still on chemo.


Thanks for being here today, Bob!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Interview with playwright and novelist Richard Slota

Playwright and novelist Richard Slota joins me today to talk about his debut piece of literary fiction, Stray Son.

Richard Slota is a mother-son incest survivor. He writes poetry, plays, novels and non-fiction. He just published a non-fiction book, Captive Market: Commercial Kidnapping Stories from Nigeria. Stray Son is his first work of fiction.

His new plays, Babatunde in Hell and Mascularity, will have staged readings this October in San Francisco. His short play, We All Walk in Shoes Too Small was produced at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Dream Big and Famous Michael were staged by Solano Repertory Company in northern California.

He earned BA degrees in psychology and theatre arts and an MA in Creative Writing. He has 3 grown children.

He is a member of the Playwright’s Center of San Francisco and serves on the Mental Health Board of San Francisco.

Welcome, Richard. Please tell us about your current release.

The book description says: Stray Son is an adult novel telling the story of a haunted Vietnam vet in the year 2000, reduced to working for a Santa Barbara mortuary, picking up dead bodies. One day he picks up a live one—his elderly father’s young ghost, a WWII Marine who starts following him around town. Then son receives a phone call that his old father just died. At that moment the young Marine knocks on the son’s trailer door. The grieving, confused son can no longer keep this apparition from his wife and kids—and opens the door. The Marine finally declares why he is there: to straighten out his stray son—and bum a ride to see his dying mother in a 1942 Sioux City, Iowa hospital. The son needs to take his family to Sioux City in the year 2000 to attend his father’s funeral. So the young father and the old son take their battles back to World War II on a trip across a wartime America towards death and an elusive reconciliation.

However, I don't believe anything I can say about my book in a synopsis really captures the quality or deep humor of the writing. Yes, it's a dark subject, with dark scenes, but interspersed and mixed in are highly comic scenes--like life. A big part of this story describes driving across America in 1942. The painstakingly researched descriptions are full of extremely accurate detail. I even calculated the speed of the '37 Packard Super 8 Fleetwood, the distances traveled, and the length of all the family's rest stops. The next town appears on the horizon at the correct time and the sun sets at the correct time. The weather in Western Iowa really occurred on that day in 1942. Thank you, Sioux City Library. Why'd I do that? It helped me, the writer, believe my own fantasy. 

What inspired you to write this book?
The death of my father. My parents and siblings had kicked my out of my family 10 years before he died. But I put my family in the car and took us all to his funeral anyway. This novel is in part a fictionalization of that event and an attempt to deal with my dead father with whom I could no longer fight. I hated him when I started writing and loved him when I finished.

Excerpt from Stray Son:
I’M TRYING TO HOLD off an eviction notice and pay my shrink’s bill by picking up dead bodies at night for Mission Memorial Cemetery and Crematory in Santa Barbara. One night, I’m waiting on a suicide at a hospital morgue, killing time reading an article called Reasons To Kill Yourself” in the local weekly entertainment rag. Reason number thirty-four is, You pick up bodies for a cemetery.” Needless to say, the article put a damper on the rest of the night.

TWO NIGHTS LATER, the cordless phone ringing rouses me. I reach over and grab it from the floor beside the bed, not wanting to wake my dutiful wife, after routine sex that failed to burn down our seedy, aluminum-sided doublewide at the Santa Barbara Arms Mobile Home Park.
I press a button and say, Hello.
Patrick Jaworsky,” mispronounces the familiar voice of our cemetery answering service’s female dispatcher.
“It’s Ya-woor’-skee. If you’re gonna wake me up at whatever the hell time it is, at least get my name right.”
“Okay Patrick,” she answers, her voice both dismissive and unapologetic. “Anyway, I have a death call at a private residence. Can you take the assignment?”
 What time is it?”
Two oh six.”
I feel an achy resentment.. I just wanna go back to sleep. I’m tempted to use the ol’ “I-have-diarrhea” excuse, but I’ve used it before with this woman and a removal’s worth a hundred dollars cash under the table. Our landlord just sent a thirty-day eviction notice. Since I got run out of the sewage treatment plant job six months ago, we can’t pay all our bills with just my unemployment and my wife’s paycheck. Now, after three months of body-snatching, we’re only a month behind on rent. And last night our six- and sixteen-year olds were asking for new clothes and their own computers.
I finally convince myself: I’ll do it.”
She asserts she’ll put me through to voicemail.
Hold it one ever-loving minute,” I protest as I walk out to the kitchen, naked, turn on the light, find the cemetery clipboard and a pen, drop into a chair at the kitchen table.
Okay, now.”
After a click, the recording starts; male voice soaked with alcohol says his partner just died of AIDS. I listen to the answering-service woman ask the standard questions and scribble the information on my form: Was the coroner called? Yes. Was the death expected? Yes. Then, name: Mr. Clark; next of kin: Mr. Geis; address: a condominium on West Cabrillo Boulevard; date of birth: 3/30/1964; date of death: 6/1/2000; the details of pre-need arrangements; the phone number.
I call the phone number. The same male voice on the recording answers, and I say, I’m Patrick Yaworsky from Mission Memorial Cemetery. I understand your partner has died at home.” I confirm the directions to the residence, and tell him that two of us will be there in twenty to thirty minutes.
I consult the June-on-call list. I’m paired with Gino and I call him. After a minute a very groggy Gino says, No problem, let’s roll.”

DEATH IS FUNNY TO THINK ABOUT because, although my job is all about death, it’s not my issue.” I try to empathize and I try to comfort, but I feel disconnected. I’m not the age, on average, that people die, and right now me and my wife and kids are doing well.
Then, last week I got a scare when my boss called me into the office. He invited me to sit down.
I stayed standing and said, What’s this all about?”
Patrick, you need to improve your ‘customer satisfaction scores’ with the bereaved.”
There’s been no complaints from the dead,” I said.
“Don’t be so sure.”
So, I’m cold with stiffs.”
Cold with the living, too.” He pointed at a chair, Sit down.”
I turned and walked out.
He called after me. It won’t work. You’re not fired.”
I grinned and kept walking. It must be hard to find employees in this line of work.
My shrink told me last session I’m not in touch” with a whole range of things I’m afraid of. My family life has gone so well for me since I was kicked out of my original family back in Iowa ten years ago. Fact is, I have no way of knowing if my parents are living or dead, unless I get a call from one of them. Fat chance, which is fine with me. Saves the trouble of acting like I care.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have a staged reading in October of my new play, MASCULARITY: a play about Men, Gravity and Gender, set in the world of power lifting in a grimy, rundown gym. It stars the world’s second strongest man and his motley crew of hangers-on and wanna-bes’.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was trying to woo my high school girlfriend by writing her poems.

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 write full time. I write in the mornings, which can spill into the afternoons. I am retired and do unpaid work as a appointed member of the Mental Health Board of San Francisco. I also am an Adjudicator for Theater Bay Area, an arts organization. I see 50 to 60 plays a year and grade all aspects of these plays, for an annual theatre awards program.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Coffee is my fuel. Going to the gym 5 days a week is my way to stop writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Catholic priest.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am working on a book about the multi-billion dollar business of evangelical religion in West Africa as a sequel to my book about the commercial kidnapping trade in Nigeria.

Kindle | LinkedIn 

Thanks for being here today, Richard!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Interview with novelist Izai Amorim

Author Izai Amorim is here today and we’re chatting about his new literary fiction (with humor), On the Run.

“Make me think, make me laugh, make my day!”
That’s why Izai Amorim reads and writes books. He has great interest in the interplay of media, information, and politics in a globalized world and the quest for identity and borders in a worldwide cultural melting pot. Izai was born and raised in Brazil but spent most of his adult life abroad, briefly in the USA, mostly in Germany.

He was trained as an architect and worked many years in this profession. But his real passion is storytelling. At some point in his life he decided to mix storytelling with architecture, changed professions, and became a branding consultant, something that he loves and has been doing to these days with his branding company BRANDLEAGUE. He also runs a social business, CERTIFIED COOLNESS, where he uses his branding and storytelling skills to advance the cause of sustainable behavior and environmental protection.

Izai also does sculpture and photography. He has already published two photography books: The Lace Curtains of Berlin (2013) and Sky Over Liberty Farm (2014).

His first novel, The Games (2013), is a humorous but dark, even mean, political thriller. This mother of all conspiracies shows how information is processed to create and spread the stories needed to establish power structures not accountable to anyone.

Welcome, Izai. Please tell us about your current release.
On the Run is my second novel and is about identity. It's the story of Pablo, a young, rich, and well-educated Central American man on the run from the police and Colombian drug dealers. He is accused of crimes he didn’t commit. Ready to do what it takes to survive, Pablo ironically embraces the very drug trade that threatened his life in the first place. Who is he? What is he really capable of? More than a contemporary story of survival, it’s a journey of self-discovery.

The story is set in New York City in the early nineties and is told in the first person by Pablo. His voice is funny, sometimes mean and merciless. He moves with nightmarish ease from recounting his adventures to recollecting his early life. Not always politically correct, On The Run gives you an insightful, twisted, humorous, and often disturbing view of conflicting worlds and beliefs: North and Latin America; black, brown, and white; rich and poor; rational and esoteric – and shows how they mix, match, and clash.

What inspired you to write this book?
As a person who has lived in a lot of different places and cultures, I’m very interested in the issues of identity and borders, especially our own limits, taboos, and red lines. How do we feel when we are forced to cross one of those red lines? And after we’ve crossed it, how far will we go? How does our moving between cultures change our sense of right and wrong? If we were given the chance to start over, to build up your identity from scratch, who would we choose to be? Which values would we have? How would we behave? I find these questions fascinating and I tried to answer them.

Excerpt from On the Run:
Some people say that when you’re about to die, you see your whole life flashing before your eyes, like you’re watching a movie. Others say that you see angels. Some talk about out-of-body experiences. These different theories have one common characteristic: it’s supposed to be a cosmic experience.

It’s all bullshit. I didn’t see any movie. I didn’t see any angels. No out-of-body experience. As the bullets were flying around me, all I could see and hear was Mom screaming at me, “Shame on you, Pablo! To die wearing dirty underwear! How could you do this to me?” There was definitely nothing cosmic about that.

I had picked a seat opposite the entrance, with my back to the glass wall. That way I could observe the whole restaurant. I had been doing that since my nightmare started two days before. Never sitting with my back to the door. Always keeping an eye on everything happening around me. Looking out for cops or killers.

The moment I saw the guy coming through the door, I knew that he was trouble. Big trouble. His eyes looked weird. As he walked in, I scanned him from head to feet. I saw the bulge under his sweatshirt, and I instantly knew that it was a gun. In my head all bells started ringing. The Colombians found you, boy. You’re dead. You can run but you can’t hide. But then I noticed something strange: he was a redneck. Blond and blue eyed. Not the Latino killer I was expecting. Could he be an undercover cop? No, he didn’t look like a cop. Unless he was a cop on drugs.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m still working on On the Run! The project is not over when you finish writing. I have spent the last months getting the book reviewed. I’m very happy that it has received such a good response. Now that it is finally published, I have to promote it. The Frankfurt Book Fair is coming up soon. I guess I’ll be busy with On the Run until the end of the year.

But I have been thinking a lot about my next project. My first book, The Games, is set in Europe. On the Run, in America. Maybe time has come to write a book set in Brazil. I’m considering writing a family saga. Right now I’m doing some research and thinking about plot and characters. But I’m at a very early stage.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I did the first version of On the Run many years ago. It was a very short novel, about forty thousand words. I started it just for fun and it turned out really well, though everything was still very sketchy: characters, plot, etc. Last year I decided to develop the story into a full-length novel. But considering oneself a writer and feeling like one are two different things. I really felt like a writer when I got a hard copy of my first novel in my hands.

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?
Due to my work in branding and environment, I can’t write full time. But in my free time I work on the story all the time, inside my head: under the shower, jogging, riding the subway, etc. I only write things down when I know exactly what I want to say, so I don’t have writer’s block. Of course the story has a life of its own and sometimes I end up writing down something completely different from what I had initially planned. I find these surprises very gratifying! Then I spend my free time thinking about how this sudden development affects the story and what should follow up. And so it goes...

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Because, as I said before, I first develop the story inside my head, I tend to get lost in my thoughts a lot and forget the world. This can be very annoying to people around me. I hear very often, “Are you still there?”

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lots of different things, all related to building stuff: architect (buildings), civil engineer, (bridges) mechanical engineer (cars and machines), aircraft engineer (airplanes), marine engineer (ships)... I ended up choosing civil engineering and architecture.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Many thanks to you, Lisa, for inviting me here – and to everyone reading this interview. Gaining exposure as an indie author relies mostly on word-of-mouth. Please spread the word!


Thanks for being here today, Izai!