Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Interview with mystery author Gray Basnight

Welcome, readers. I have mystery novelist Gray Basnight here today to chat about his new political thriller, Flight of the Fox.

Gray is deeply immersed in his third career -- fiction writing, after almost three decades in broadcast news; preceded by a few years pursuing an acting career. Prior to Flight of the Fox, his other published novels are The Cop with the Pink Pistol, a modern NYC-detective mystery; and Shadows in the Fire, a Civil War historical novel about two young slaves on the edge of freedom as Richmond falls in April 1865. He has many projects in the works, including YA and literary fiction.

Like most with a passion for writing, it’s been with him all his life, or at least from the second grade when, at the age of seven, reading took hold and never let go.

Gray lives in New York with his wife and Golden Retriever. When not writing, he's thinking about writing while walking the dog, watching movies, and all other daily activities. He has lived in New York long enough to consider himself a native, though he grew up in Richmond, Virginia.

Welcome, Gray. Please tell us about your current release.
An innocent math professor tries to decode a mystery file that lands in his in-box while a team of hitmen chase him down the East Coast. Their goal is to suppress dark government crimes from decades past. His goal is for the truth to be told. With the action switching between the J. Edgar Hoover era and Professor Sam Teagarden’s decoding of the mystery file in 2019, the professor runs for his life armed only with his wits and intellect. Along the way, he worries whether the truth will be told, and if he’ll be seen as a hero whistle blower or a pariah. Or worse, will he end up dead? 

What inspired you to write this book?
I like the idea of combining history with fiction and had been looking for a subject that would work. I found it way back in 2011 while watching the Ellen DeGeneres show. Her guest that day was Clint Eastwood who was promoting his movie called “J. Edgar.” When she asked him about the legendary rumor that Hoover was gay, he punted by saying, “the jury is still out.” That was the moment I landed on my subject: the FBI of the Hoover years during the mid-20th Century when tectonic events happened in the U.S., including Vietnam, and the assassination of two Kennedys and Dr. King.

Excerpt from Flight of the Fox:
He knew the pages would be historic if made public. It would be a mean revelation that many would prefer to leave hidden, to keep the past cloaked in beguiling innocence.
He opened the sliding glass door just wide enough to slip out. Once outside, he stooped low and pushed it closed with a foot.
Crouching low, there was a strong smell of freshly cut grass and store bought chemical fertilizer. He moved slowly, going as easy on his still-healing knees as he could while maneuvering down the embankment of the neighboring yard, Ernest Blair’s yard. He paused every few feet, cocking his head, first to one side, then the other, listening for any sound that might be out of place with the night. The most prominent noise was the lapping of tiny waves at the shore’s edge caused by a light breeze. Beyond that, the night was still.

 *** For an audio excerpt recorded by Doug Shapiro, visit graybasnight.com ***

What exciting story are you working on next?
Among other things, I’m working on a sequel to Flight of the Fox. No spoiler alerts, but this time, the everyman hero is drawn to the Mideast and Europe as he tries to decode a mysterious cryptogram that’s causing endemic loss of life around the world.

In addition to that, I am fine-tuning a YA about a teenage girl detective with a genius IQ. But she hates the “G word,” so we must never call her that.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the second grade at the age of seven, when I realized that I was reading several levels ahead of my peers. Unfortunately, I was average in every other way, so I never skipped a class.

Before that class concluded, I was writing mini-stories about monsters and dinosaurs. Of those early scribbling efforts, I only recall that my gentle brontosaurus was named Mr. Patterson, though I’ve no idea why, and that he was good buddies with “Casper, the Friendly Ghost,” who was my favorite comic book character at the time.

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?
Yes, full-time. I try to sit at the keyboard a minimum of six hours a day. It doesn’t always work out, and even when it does work out, that doesn’t mean I’m actually writing for six solid hours.

As for finding time, it’s easier now that I don’t have a regular job. Not that writing isn’t regular, but I don’t have to take public transportation to get to my desk, and the only office politics I must cope with are going on inside my head. Yet even now, there’s so much that pulls me away from the keyboard: chores, family, friends, travel, goofing off with the dog, and afternoon naps.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Like cats who love cardboard boxes, I like small spaces. At home, I work in an office space that I set up in a walk-in closet, about 4’ X 7’ with no windows, obviously. I call it my in utero writing hideaway.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, actor, reporter, and/or college professor. I’ve now done all except teacher. But I make up for it in Flight of the Fox, where my central character is a professor.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that I love hearing from readers: the good, the not so good, the tangential stuff, all of it is welcome. And I promise to respond to you!


Thanks for joining me today, Gray.

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