Sunday, January 8, 2012

Splattered Blood by Michael Draper - Interview, Excerpt

THE CHIEF OF INTERNAL SECURITY for New England's professional basketball team, the Highlanders, is found dead in his office, with a suicide note and conflicting evidence of foul play. Refusing to believe he would have had reason to kill himself, and frustrated with the slowness of the police force's progress on the case, Johnny's widow, Roseanne, and best friend, Randy, launch a renegade investigation of their own. Aided by Roseanne's brother Graham, a fiercely protective loose cannon, they dig up evidence that Johnny, just previous to the date of his death, was running his own undercover investigation into the drug overdose of a star player for the Highlanders. The amateur detectives find themselves mixed up with a ruthless gang of mobsters, many of whom are responsible for the drug trade-and a string of violent murders - from Washington, D.C. to Boston. When their quest takes a gruesome and deadly turn, the three wonder if they're in over their heads. A gritty tale in the vein of Dennis Lehane and Robert B. Parker, Splattered Blood keeps readers guessing,with suspense and retribution on every page.

Amazon Print  |   Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble Print

This book is in my TBR and I hope to read/review it in March or April.


EXCERPT



                                          Chapter 1

"Johnny's ...dead!"

I recognized Roseanne Kelly's voice and leaned forward in my chair and took a breath.

"My God, Roseanne, I can't believe it. I remember when you and Johnny were at my office going over your finances. You had little JJ with you and it touched me to see the happiness Johnny showed watching JJ concentrate on his coloring book."

When she didn't respond, I asked, "Can you talk about it?"

After a few moments of silence, Roseanne slowly let out a breath.

"Randy...I knew it was terrible news...I saw the police car in my driveway...two officers got out of the cruiseer."

She sniffed and I heard her blow her nose. "I knew...my life was gonna change with what they were gonna tell me. I wanted to bolt the door, run upstairs and not let them in."

There was another pause as Roseanne must have been reliving the meeting. Then she sighed and resumed. I had to put my hadn against the wall to steady myself, 'till they asked me to sit down...got me to my couch...told me that they were sorry but they had some bad news."

"Roseanne, I'm so sorry."

She continued as if she hadn't heard me. They told me that the Boston P.D. had found my husband, dead, in his office, with a suicide note on his computer."

I tried to picture the scene with Roseanne and the police but couldn't imagine the anguish she must have been feeling.

She went on again, as if she could only say a few words at a time. "I felt dizzy and my fingers went numb. Must have looked like I didn't understand what they were saying...asked if they could call a minister to be with me but I shook my head."

I wanted to say something helpful but it seemed better to let Roseanne talk.

Finally she told me what happened. "They said that one of the employees was working on a project over the weekend. The door to Johnny's office was open and he saw Johnny slumped over his computer...when the employee saw what looked like blood, he called the police."

I gazed over at my file cabnet, to the drawer that held Roseanne and Johnny's file, with the copy of the application for the life insurance that Johnny had purchased a while back.  Then I remembered them telling me how they met when Johnny was a new D.A.R.E. officer with the State Police and Roseanne was a second-year teacher in the middle-school. Johnny had chuckled, saying he'd been taught about how to make a presentation to a class, but when one of the students began acting up, he didn't know what to do. He told me, "Roseanne just walked over to the young boy, put her finger on her lips, and the boy became quiet. She sure saved me from being embarrassed."

Through the years, we'd gotten together for U.Conn's sporting events or for dinner. I always appreciated how lucky Johnny was to have met Roseanne, and knew that if I could find someone like her, I'd have the kind of woman I could find happiness with. We'd become good friends, and for our financial reviews, we'd meet at his office or mine. He always had a smile and seemed glad to see me. Johnny had helped me by referring a number of other State Troopers to me for financial matters.

My mind returned to Roseanne. "Did the police say anything else?"

Again, I heard Roseanne take a few breaths before continuing. "Don't know where to turn...they have a suicide note but won't release it yet. They're checking things out to see if it's bona fide."

She whispered. He had a new job as chief of internal security with the New England Highlanders. He had responsibility for employee and player background checks. He also oversaw employee physical safety and adherence to governmental rules. We bought a condo in Boston that Johnny could use during the week. Johnny was so happy as he packed the car to go to Boston...he kicked the soccer ball with JJ before leaving. You know, his work involved team personnel matters as well as with the facilities. He told me that the case he was working on, concerning some of the players, was beginning to take shape. He wanted to go to his office over the weekend so he could put things together without distractions. God help me."




INTERVIEW

I'm having fun being an author. The first thing you might like to know is that this is a lifetime dream that has taken me 10 years to achieve.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Splattered Blood?

A: There is a basketball team in Boston that had two players die, one from a drug related incident and one had a heart attack on the playground. They also had a star arrested at the airport while attempting to bring drugs into the U.S.

I thought if these incidents could be squeezed into a short time, maybe it could be a conspiracy.

Also, this team was the first professional basketball team to have stockholders. Being in finance, I thought, if a stockholder meeting was approaching, someone might be causing these events to manipulate the stockholders into changing the management of the team.
Finally, working in financial planning with law enforcement personnel, I thought if one of them took  a job with the team and was then murdered, it could add to a good mystery.

Q What is the premise of your book?

A: When the chief of the basketball team's security is found dead at his computer with a suicide note on his desk, and conflicting evidence of foul play, his widow refuses to believe that he would have reason to kill himself. She asks her close friend, Randy, who is also her financial advisor, what to do. Randy helps get the information that changes the investigation to murder. But when the official investigation slows down, the widow, Randy and the window's protective but unruly brother, launch their own investigation.

Q: I know you have a career in financial planning, how did you come to write this novel?

A: I have been doing my work for over 35 years and while dealing with people in law enforcement, there are many stories of incidents that the employees run into.  I've been a story teller for most of my life and thought I'd put a story together enlarging on some of the incidents I've heard and imagining others.

Q: The cover of Splattered Blood is eye catching. How did that come about?

A: While on a trip to San Antonio, TX,  my wife and I went to Luckenback, Texas because of the old country song. As we were leaving, I noticed these vultures sitting on the branches of a dead tree and thought it would be a good cover for my novel. My wife, Diana, took the photo.

Q: How about the protagonist taking a leave of absence from his job to catch a killer? How did you come up with that?

A: My favorite book is "Lonesome Dove" and in that book, as Gus McCrae is about to die from blood poisoning, he tells his friend, Capt. McCall that he has a favor which would also be an adventure for him. Gus wanted Capt. Woodrow Call to take his body to San Antonio and bury it by the San Antonio river. He know Call would have many adventures in getting the body to the river.

Q: What type of research did you do?

A: Studied the history of basketball in New England, then had many questions for clients in the State Police about weapons and tactics. My friends in the Connecticut State Police were so helpful in this that in the dedication of Splattered Blood they are given a special thanks.

Q: What is your own background?

A: I hold a master's degree in teaching from St. Michael's College in Vermont then served four years in the Air Force, leaving as a Captain.  I'm currently in the field of life insurance and financial planning.


Q:  You mentioned that a well-known, best-selling author helped you get the book started. Tell us about that.

A: The beginning of the novel had extensive help from "New York Times" bestselling author, Lisa Gardner. She had volunteered to be a mentor for the New England Crime Bake" and since my novel was a thriller, we were assigned to each other. She was wonderful and stayed with me until I had the start of my novel up to what she thought it should be.

She said, I had been writing in full English and that's not how a widow would be talking after learning of her husband's death. She wanted pauses and incomplete sentences.

Thanks so much Mike for taking this plunge; allowing me to feature you and your debut book here today.  The interview was fun and I look forward to reading your book soon.




GIVEAWAY
Enter to win a PRINT copy of Splattered Blood. US only.
Comment on this post / Like Splattered Blood on Facebook for a bonus entry. 
This Giveaway ends Feb 4th 11:59PM Central Time.








ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael A. Draper holds a master's degree in teaching from Saint Michael's College in Vermont. He spent four years in the Air Force, achieving the rank of captain. Currently in the field of life insurance and retirment planning, Mr. Draper found a great deal of inspiration for this novel while working with law enforcement personnel.

Mike's Social Connections:

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