Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
I’ve written four novels and one nonfiction book (soon to be published). My first three novels have all been Amazon Kindle bestsellers, including attaining #1 ranking in paid Political Fiction and Spy Stories. My fourth thriller, “Havana Queen,” was recently released. I’ve been covered by NBC’s Today Show, The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, SiriusXM Radio and other media. I’ve had three good agents, my last also representing the Stieg Larsson (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) series. I now go it alone.
What got you into writing?
Twenty-five years in the federal government placed me in situations which made me say, "Fiction can't rival this." So, I cut short my diplomatic career to have more fun writing stories which encompass the chicanery and fecklessness of government. If you thought Washington was out of control, then don't read my books. They'll only confirm your worst fears about how things are done in our nation's capital.
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
My latest thriller is “Havana Queen.” The magical and sad country of Cuba got under my skin during my service there as a diplomat in the mid-90s. Yes, there was the intrigue: being constantly surveilled and harassed by Castro's secret police; the politically charged yet constructive monthly meetings with Cuban military officers on "The Line" at Guantanamo Naval Base; cork-screwing in for a landing at GTMO as mine fields exploded by accident on the Cuban side; attending policy discussions at the White House.
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
“Havana Queen’s” Larisa Montilla is a deliciously wicked antagonist in this spy thriller. She is Castro’s chief of intelligence, the communist regime’s highest ranking female. Larisa is ruthless, yet seductive; hard, yet vulnerable. And she conceals a deep secret which is found out by the protagonist, FBI agent Nick Castillo. This gives the plot an extra charge and intrigue.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
“Havana Queen,” Chapter 43. Cuban spy chief Larisa Montilla confronts her nemesis/lover, FBI agent Nick Castillo, minutes before he is to face a Cuban firing squad. Her feelings are conflicted. Nick combats mortal fear. The reader is kept guessing as to what will happen next. A real cliffhanger.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
Description is my forte. I have a keen eye for detail honed from my training as a news reporter.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
“Havana Queen” took over three years of intensive research, writing, editing and launch. I put my heart and soul into it. I maintain a running outline to keep the plot on track.
What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?
I spent twenty-five years in a career that plunged me into war, diplomacy, espionage, and national security decisionmaking. It’s what I know. So, I follow the old adage: Write what you know.
Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?
Joseph Conrad, John LeCarre, Graham Greene, Daniel Silva.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
All the time.
Thanks for stopping by!
Page-turning suspense on power gone awry
Available at all online book sellers