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.

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.


Thanks for being here today, Michael!

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