Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spotlight Interview with Mike Faricy

Bio:
Mike Faricy lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and Dublin, Ireland. He’s been a soldier, a bartender, and a freelance journalist. He’s sold designer cakes as well as owned a small painting and decorating company. He says, “On the off chance none of my paying jobs offend you, I also play the bagpipes in the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band.”

All his books are stand alone, read them in whatever order you wish. Mike writes about the sort of oddballs we’re curious about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. None of his characters will be saving the world from terrorism, international banking conspiracies or coups to take over the government. His characters inhabit a world just below the surface of polite society with one foot on either side of the law. They serve not as an example but as a warning. The circumstance of their lives are usually the result of bad decisions, but then bad decisions make for interesting stories.

Mike has generously offered to send a coupon code for a  FREE copy of RUSSIAN ROULETTE to everyone who comments. Blurbs, images and links are shown at the end of this interview.

Without further ado, on with the interview. Tell us about your current release.
My current release is Russian Roulette, I introduce haphazard private investigator, Devlin Haskell. Dev is a legend in his own mind, a sort of wise cracking, loveable ‘ner-do-well. He might be a fun pal but you wouldn’t want him dating any family members. Initially, women find him intriguing, but in short order they seem to throw up their hands in disgust. There is an ocean of failed relationships bobbing in his wake. His idea of the perfect woman would include a penchant for alcohol, too much perfume, stiletto heels and the moral standards of an alley cat. He offices out of a bar, is not all that technically savvy, has trouble reading the caller id on his cell phone and a penchant for misdiagnosis and arriving at incorrect conclusions.

In Russian Roulette Dev ends up in bed with his latest client only to wake up and learn he’s signed on with the Russian mob. Their ‘special’ relationship has him at odds with the local police and an FBI task force investigating human trafficking. Along the way, he’s shot, beaten, car bombed and used as a human shield, all in the name of justice, at least as he see’s it.

Too funny!!  I bet you had a lot of fun creating him.  It’s so crazy because in so many ways he sounds just like my youngest son!!  Anyway, I won’t go there now, so please, do you have an excerpt you can tease us with?

Sure thing! In this excerpt my chief protagonist, Dev Haskell, was shot in the head outside a restaurant while talking with his client. Fortunately, being naturally thick skulled, the bullet merely grazed and he has returned to the scene to learn exactly what happened…

 “I already told the police everything I know,” she stammered, backing up slightly as she spoke.
“Yeah, I know, they told me.  I just wanted to thank you and hope it wasn’t too traumatic.  I didn’t mean to scare away any customers, that’s all,” I said, attempting to calm her down with a casual chuckle.
“Maddie, is everything all… oh, you, we don’t want any trouble.” Said the heavyset hostess.  She was wearing large glasses, rhinestone frames, and carried a stack of menus.  She looked me up and down.  The large black frames were severely pointed and emblazoned with rhinestones.  The lenses were thick enough to magnify her eyes, which at the moment looked a decided icy blue.
“Hello, I’m Devlin Haskell.  I was in here yesterday,” I said extending my hand.
“Humpf, you certainly were.  You absolutely ruined our lunch-hour trade.  Not to mention the fact a table of three just up and left without paying.  Couldn’t wait to get out of here.  I doubt we’ll ever see them again.  Then there’s the matter of the front sidewalk.”
“The sidewalk?”
“How could you miss it?” she motioned me to the front window, a gigantic pane of glass about ten feet tall.  She stood facing the street and gestured with her chins.
“We’ll never get the stain completely out of the sidewalk.  I’ve had Arturo out there scrubbing for hours.  He even used straight bleach.  Nothing worked,” she frowned in my direction.
“You know, I’m terribly sorry about that.  Next time I have someone shoot me in the head I’ll make sure they do it on the lawn.”
I think I caught a smile from Madeline out of the corner of my eye.
“What?  Well, you don’t look the worse for wear.  Cup of coffee?  I’m Amy by the way, I own this place,” she said, still not smiling.  I’d have to work my magic to win her over.
“Yeah, I’d love one.  Actually, I’m trying to piece together what happened.  I really don’t remember anything other than leaving the restaurant, squinting into the sun, and the next thing I know I’m in the hospital.”
“Oh for God’s sake,” Amy grunted, then took three steaming mugs in one hand and waddled back to a table close to the open kitchen.  A large black man, sporting dreadlocks and dressed in kitchen whites was rapidly preparing items on a tray.  The chair seemed to groan beneath her weight as she oozed into it.
“Did you see anything?” I asked, nodding thanks as she pushed a coffee mug in my direction.
Madeline sat down across from me.  I noticed she had dark brown eyes and a nose that wasn’t petite, but was somehow sexy with her high cheekbones.  There was a tiny scar on the left side of her chin, maybe a stitch or two as a child.  Her skin color was what could be called Mediterranean, with thick eyebrows and long eyelashes that…
“… down on the sidewalk.  Hey, yoo-hoo, are you even listening to me?”
“Yeah, of course, but tell me that again,” I said, back in reality.
Amy’s frown was back, followed by a sigh of frustration.  “As I just said, one of our customers screeched something like oh God.  The next thing I know you’re down on the sidewalk.  That little honey of yours hightailed it up the street and around the corner.  I haven’t seen someone move that fast in a long time.  Maddie, you saw everything, didn’t you?”
Madeline nodded then sipped her coffee so she wouldn’t have to speak.
“Tell him,” Amy grunted.
Madeline turned to face me, looked down at her hands a moment as if collecting her thoughts, then raised her head and focused her gorgeous brown eyes on me.
“Well, you were standing right out front, with your back to the street.  Your girlfriend was…”
“She’s a business associate, a client actually.”
Amy harrumphed.
Madeline nodded, then continued.
“Anyway, your back was sort of halfway to the street.  I was clearing a table, actually that one up there,” she pointed to a table set for four directly in front of the window overlooking the blood-stained sidewalk.
“I remember watching this car, it was going real slow, and I thought the person was on a cell phone, talking, not paying attention to their driving.  Then you kinda turn toward the car, there’s this sort of commotion, and all of a sudden you’re on the sidewalk, not moving.  Your, ahh, client took off running up the block.  I remember she held her purse like it was a football.”
“Did you hear a shot?”
“No, nothing,” Madeline said, then sipped some more coffee.
“Triple-pane window, thank god it wasn’t damaged, cost me a small fortune,” Amy interjected.
--------------end of excerpt--------------

Thanks, Mike! You have my interest piqued now, even more.  Somehow, I have the feeling that Dev is still in a heap of trouble.  Tell us what else is going on. What are you currently working on?

Mr. Softee is the title of my next book, due out sometime in June. It’s another Dev Haskell book, but I’m writing these so that they can be read in any order. Once again Dev takes on a client who turns out to be a lot more than he had bargained for. Weldon Sofmann, an ice cream baron who insists on being called Mr. Softee, he’s anything but. He has a flashpoint temper, a ruthless manor and a penchant for eliminating competition. His empire is based on a lot more than the fleet of ice cream trucks that drive parents crazy. Of course there’s a delightfully slutty woman Dev is attracted to, yet another bad decision under his belt.

I actually got the initial idea for this story from the ice cream truck that drives almost nightly past our home in Dublin. It plays a chime song and has ‘Mr. Softee’ painted on the sides of the pink and blue truck. You can hear the thing about four blocks away and you have to think the poor guy driving it would be going nuts after a minute or two, let alone hours of listening to that day after day.

The basic premise is Mr. Softee thinks someone tried to kill him and he wants Dev to find out who it was. Of course the guy is such a rat you’d have to rent Yankee Stadium to hold all the suspects but that turns out to be the least of Dev’s problems. I introduce a long time pal, Tony ‘Dog’ Colli. Dev helped clear murder charges against Dog a while back and now desperately needs his help. How bad can things be if you need help from a guy named Dog?

Sounds like this one will be another one to add to my teetering TBR pile…honestly, sounds like a book I would like.  I also think I am going to have to introduce your books to both my dad and my husband.  Can’t wait!  Ok, now that leads me to the next question. Who is your favorite author?

You know, I don’t have just one, and I’m constantly being introduced to new favorites all the time. Certainly I would include Elmore Leonard. I love his quirky characters and the general sense of a more or less innocent individual suddenly immersed in a set of circumstances that they did not foresee.

Michael Connelly I love just for his sense of story, things move and you want to get to the bottom of the page so you can turn it and see what happens. Robert B. Parker is great at driving a story through short, crisp dialogue. His Jesse Stone series was made into movies staring Tom Selleck, you read that dialogue and an image of Selleck just appears, it’s perfect.

Add Ed McBain as another great, crisp dialogue writer. I like Ian Rankin and Stuart MacBride for the sort of relationship sense they bring to things. Not necessarily a love relationship but more along the lines of how work crews, the people in an office or across a service counter interact. Of course, Carl Hiaasen is hilarious. Then I have to add John Sandford and William Kent Krueger, two great authors from Minnesota who taught me to write what you know, that’s why almost all my settings are in St. Paul or Minnesota.

Randy Wayne White has a great sense of story telling. I read a lot of history and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Stephen Ambrose, as well as David McCullough and Jeff Shaara. All three have that wonderful ability to distill great events down to the workings of individuals.


I have to say that’s quite a diverse and interesting list. What do you find the hardest part when writing your books?

There is no one hard part, there’s literally thousands of them, but it all is an absolute labor of love. I’ve read of writers who work on multiple projects at once, good for them. I can’t do that. I just get consumed by the project I’m on and I have no idea where it’s really headed. Sometimes it’s as basic as smiling with my wife at the ice cream truck that has Mr. Softee written all over it and the next thing you know I’m writing a book.

At times I get so involved I wake up in the middle of the night and worry about someone who’s been kidnapped or is in the middle of a high speed chase. We go for a walk and my wife will ask me what I’m thinking about and when I tell her someone hiding in the woods in a baby doll negligee, a couple locked in the back of an armored van, or the guy who just plays by the rules for thirty years and suddenly his bank screws him she just rolls her eyes. Who can blame her? Obviously she’s a very patient woman.

I try and write about ten pages a day, then let it sit over night. The following day I read those ten pages out loud, do a quick edit and basically get on the roll to generate another ten pages. Like I’ve said it is a labor, but a real labor of love.

You mentioned sometimes  your wife will give you the ol’ eye roll.  What does she and your other family members think of your writing career?

I have to say first and foremost they are 110% supportive, encouraging, proud of me. My wife and kids tell their friends and workmates, they read my books. Did I mention they are also very patient?

I really work, and I’m consumed by whatever project I’m working on. I don’t have a formal outline I work off of. I have a rough idea what’s going to happen but at the end of any given day there is usually a surprise as to what has developed.

I’m always mulling things over so at the dinner table I might be asking my wife did she know how many rounds are in the clip of a Sig Sauer 380? Not that she really cares or has a need to know that sort of thing. But she listens, usually patiently. She also has a sense of when I’m getting wrapped too tightly around something and then she puts her foot down and we do something social or just have a great dinner at home and the next thing I know whatever I was obsessing about, the elusive answer has suddenly washed up on shore. She’s good to me and good for me, I think I already mentioned patient.

That said I’m really very disciplined about writing. I spent twelve years in the army, I went to a Military high school and one of our instructors, Mr. Jim Keane, an English teacher, used to tell us that one of the lessons we would learn at that institution was at some point you have to put your rear end on the chair and just get to work. Of course being fifteen and sixteen we knew it all anyway, but he was spot on as they say. Just roll up your sleeves and get to work, that’s always served well.

I like to be accurate in details. The buildings or settings I describe really exist more often than not. I try and provide a sense of that, but sparingly. Tom Clancy comes to mind, great writer, by the time you’re finished with one of his novels you could fly a fighter jet, yet he is still economic in his descriptions and never loses sight of the story. 

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

I have about thirty pairs of eyes that go over my manuscript before it goes to the editor. I actually get so close to the forest I can’t see the trees. So I write, finish my draft manuscript, let it sit for a month while I begin my next project. I return to the draft manuscript after a month and do a major edit and rewrite. At that point it goes out to other readers. What I want is honest criticism, catching everything from typos to obvious errors. Things like the woman had long hair and suddenly I’ve got her in a short style. Or, the guy was hiding a pistol under the seat of his car and he parks and pulls out a shot gun. A lot of that sounds pretty basic and indeed it is, but you end up keeping tabs on a thousand different things.

 I can tell myself my manuscript is good, funny, action packed, all that happy stuff. I want my readers to give me brutally honest input, find inconsistencies. I probably go with 85% of the suggestions or criticisms that are made. Sometimes you get into situations where it’s just a difference of opinion, one reader suggested I had too much sex and a second, both women, wrote a note in the margin, said she had read 150 pages and was completely unsatisfied with the amount of sex. Probably one of the most difficult things with readers is the time frame.

I used to pass out the manuscript one at a time but do the math, twenty five to thirty manuscripts even if everyone returned it within a week after they received it, that’s a minimum of six months. I ask that the reading be completed within the week, surprisingly a lot of people have other things going on besides reading one of my manuscripts. A job, a spouse, kids, school, God forbid they might be able to steal a moment and go for a walk with their significant other, amazing as it sounds my manuscript takes a back seat to life.

I get that, but I still ask them to get back to me within the week, then I tack on a few extra days anyway. I’ve got to incorporate critiques, fix typos, basically undo all the things I’ve goofed up. Then it goes to my editor, and then comes back with the next round of things I’ve goofed up. Eventually it’s published as an eBook and then about day three of being out there I see some major thing I’ve done like spell my name wrong or give a faulty email address or something.

I know exactly what you mean.  No matter how much effort goes into making something perfect there is ALWAYS something I find later that I wish I had done differently or I suddenly see something that really “pops” (in a bad way), unexpectedly.  Isn’t that related to  Murphy’s Law, or something? What do you think makes a good story?

There are a thousand and one different things that make a good story. Primarily it has to be entertaining, has to flow, I like action. I want people to be eager to get to the next page. I love a good read where you hurry home to get to your book and then you can’t put it down. Maybe you turn your phone off or put some coffee on so you can stay up late and see what happens, in my mind that’s the mark of a good read. Like I said it has to flow, if the plot jumps around or is hard to follow, forget it.

It’s really easy for me to drift off in a direction and suddenly I’m three pages into setting up this hilarious (at least at the time) scene which has nothing to do with the story. Forget it. I think that’s close to abusing the reader. I’ve toyed with writing accents or using regional slang and things can quickly become rather ponderous. The same thing with using big twenty-five cent words, that doesn’t necessarily communicate effectively. If you have four or five paragraphs describing dust floating in the sunlight coming through the window you’ve got a good chance of losing some of your readers.

I also like believability. If a guy is using an umbrella to parachute out of an airplane and land on the roof of the White House I’m probably going to put the book down right there. That said, I’ve written a number of scenarios that people said were too far fetched and in fact they were toned down from something that actually happened. I have a scene in Russian Roulette where Dev is at the city impound lot after his car has been towed. The place sounds dreadful and you’d think I embellished the description, well, unless you’ve actually been unfortunate enough to deal with our impound lot, then you’d just shudder at the memory.

Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m pretty safe in saying my friends would class me as an extrovert. My Mom tells me that as a kid, three or four years old, I would run down the sidewalk yelling “Here comes Mike, here comes Mike.” Yeah, I know, I know, it’s amazing she didn’t have the locks changed.

I’ve always been able to tell a story, it’s a trait that’s been in my family for generations. Friends are always saying ‘tell about the time…’ That said, as a younger person I was very shy and the story telling and class clown persona was really a defense. When I was in fifth grade there were so many of us we had two class rooms of about forty-five kids each, I mean can you imagine, forty-five ten year olds and one of them me? The teacher who had the other room informed her students on the first day of class that she would not tolerate any Michael Faricy’s in her room.

That pretty much sums up my grade school days. Of course that just encouraged your boy here, after all I had a reputation to up hold. I think I spent the better part of my grade school standing out in the hall. Maybe that’s why I love writing, at its core it is a very solitary business. I’m comfortable writing all day long. I get dinner going for my wife before she arrives home but I only take about fifteen minutes for lunch. One day I was working on Mr. Softee and the clock stopped at 3:00, she arrived home at 6:15, an hour late and I asked what she was doing home so early. I just get so wrapped up I lose track of everything but the story. At least she was gracious enough to laugh about it.

Do you have a website or a blog?
My website is www.mikefaricy.com please check it out.
My email address is mikefaricyauthor@gmail.com please feel free to email me at any time.

Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
Yes, first of all thank you for getting this far in my rambling. Laurie, thank you for having me and I hope you’ll let me return at some point, its been a lot of fun. To all the folks who took the time to make it this far, please feel free to contact me with any input you have. I would like to offer everyone one of my titles as a free eBook download. Choose whichever title you wish, they’re all stand alone titles. If you enjoy the read please post a comment, and spread the word to 2-300 of your closest friends. Many thanks and wishing you all the best, happy reading.

Mike, thank you so much for taking this time with me here.  You are just so funny and witty that it has truly been my pleasure getting to know about your books and jawing with you today.  I think Dev sounds like a fascinating dude and I am really looking forward to reading his stories.

Readers, please leave a comment for Mike and  be sure to include your email address if it is not visible on your Google Friends profile if you would like a complimentary copy of Mike's newest release, Russian Roulette.  Mike and I would both appreciate "follows" though it is not required.

I have thumbnailed each of Mike's books below for easy viewing, also. Please have fun browsing!


Titles
by Mike Faricy
Long time friends Hub Schneider and Val Harwood flee financial turmoil in Minnesota to open a dance studio in Florida. Complications arise when they run afoul of Atlanta low life John Wilkes Brooks and psychotic New Jersey mob enforcer 'Crazy' Bobby Falconi. Murder, mayhem and a sprinkling of double cross become the order of the day. Eccentric characters and screwball situations. 83,980 words.

Baby Grand                                 

Terminal losers, Mickey Donnelly and Dell Dolan, have come up with the ultimate pension plan. A series of madcap snatch and grabs that go off course until it dawns on them there just might be a better way. But between uncooperative husbands, tell all mistresses and a mob contract on their heads, success doesn't come easily. In the end only their stupidity and comic ineptness can save them.  72,020 words.
Merlot has money problems, he borrowed funds from germaphobic mobster Declan Osborne. Backed by enforcer Milton, Osborne has given Merlot a week to make it right. Wouldn't you know now Merlot falls for lovely bank teller Cindy. Add Otto O'Malley's infatuation for Cindy. Season with spice from stripper Serpentina. Top off with the sinister Ditschler brothers, you've got a perfect recipe for fun. 86,640 words.


Chow for Now                                         
Dickie Mullins, private eye, owner of a failing bar, driver of a DeLorean, lives on a houseboat in St. Paul. Life would be a lot smoother if he didn't listen to ex-wife Rae Nell's get rich schemes. Rip off artists, meat markets, an heiress and an increasing body count. Did we mention the fur coat scandal? Fortunately for Dickie his girlfriend is still talking to him and eventually he listens. 76,480 words.

Brothers and perpetual screw-ups Austin and Andre Boothe decide stealing the local strip club nightly deposit would be just the thing to augment their income. They're in for a big surprise when Chicago mobsters turn out to be involved and take the brother's get rich scheme rather personally. There's a very fine line between brillant and bone headed in this bizarre date with disaster. 76,650 words.

Perkin Hoyt is a victim of the great recession and a long string of bad luck. Disbarred attorney Alfie Costello sells a'hot' laptop to Christy Keenan. Unfortunately the laptop comes with all sorts of add ons; the inept crooks, scams, a hitman and a bizarre bank heist. Perkin and Christy come together as the only sane individuals in another bizarre Mike Faricy world.  71,630 words.
When dysfuntional private eye Dev Haskell stumbles into bed with a new client he has no idea he's actually sleeping with the Russian mob. Along the way he's shot, car bombed, beaten and used as a human shield. An engrossing, funny tale of intrigue, rank ineptitude and one night stands. Russian Roulette is a fast paced suspense thriller from Minnesota's master of the bizarre, Mike Faricy. 67,620 words.
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