Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blood Storm by Sam Waas: Interview & Excerpt

Mystery / Suspense
Blood Storm is a modern private detective novel based in Houston.
Design elements from Bookworms Kit by KatyBug Scraps. "Hooked" from Go Fish by Word Art World.

Mitch King is beset with gnawing insecurity and self-doubt. These inner flaws lead him to overreach and bring problems onto his head. He faces a constant struggle to keep a steady keel within his traumatic lifestyle. King’s obsession in dealing with his insecurity creates havoc. We follow Mitch through his intriguing and exciting encounters, and experience sympathy for Mitch's interior conflicts and his very human endeavor to fid himself.

Blood Storm again takes place in Houston, and the surrounding Gulf Coast. Two principal plotlines are interwoven. A serial killer, the Slicer, has been murdering women in the Houston area, and Mitch finds himself inexorably drawn into the search. Mitch also investigates a runaway trophy wife and uncovers a deeply troubled family relationship that might lead to terrible consequences. These two disparate cases create turmoil in Mitch’s life and threaten him and his clients with disaster.

Kindle  |  Paperback  |  Smashwords

Chapter 1

It was nearly midnight when I stepped off the splintery wooden porch of the tavern and headed toward my car. I’d finished my tedious business with the bar owner and only wanted to get my weary self home before Houston dumped yet another rain squall on my head.

     The earlier shower had let up, but water still pooled throughout the poorly lit and uneven gravel of the parking lot. I was negotiating a large puddle near a Silverado when I smelled cigarette smoke and heard a muffled cough. This small distraction put me on edge because muggers often target drunks leaving taverns as easy prey. I was sober but the robbers wouldn’t care. I didn’t see anyone, but I reached beneath my jacket anyway, hand on the .45’s grip, loosening the pistol partway from its holster.

     A sudden movement in the shadows, a metallic click. Something bad was going down.

I stepped back but put my foot into a chuckhole and slipped, falling square on my butt. Before I had time to cuss, fire erupted where my head had been a moment before and I was momentarily dazed from the muzzle flash and noise. I quickly scooted behind the truck’s big rear tire, pulled out my pistol, clicked off the safety, and stayed quiet.

     My ears rang from the blast but the cycling of the pump shotgun was still unmistakable. I even heard the little ching from the empty shell casing hitting the gravel. Who it was I didn’t know, but he wasn’t as much a mugger as murderer. I had about two seconds before the attacker got around the tailgate for another shot.

     I peered under the truck frame and saw cowboy boots creeping along on the other side, silhouetted by a distant streetlight. I aimed, fired, and got lucky. There was a grunt of pain and a man’s body landed with a whump. He was wriggling around on his back, trying to point the shotgun toward me beneath the truck. I fired at his bearded face three times, and then rolled away to seek better shelter, putting more vehicles between the shooter and me.

     No further movement from the man and nothing else immediately threatened. I hit the release and the nearly empty magazine dropped free. I grabbed a full mag from my shoulder rig and slammed it into the pistol.

     I cautiously rose to my feet, peeking around the far side of a rusty pickup. As people began yelling from the doorway of the bar, I eased from behind the truck, aiming my pistol at the man lying on the ground, ready to fire again.

     It wasn’t necessary. One of my hollowpoints got him straight through the neck and tore a gaping hole. There was plenty of blood and he wasn’t getting up again, ever. I took a closer look and recognized my old biker nemesis Dutch. He and I had a scuffle in Mid City last spring and he’d sworn to get even. But typical for Dutch, things just hadn’t worked out his way. A half-smoked gore-splattered cigarette lay beside his head. Dutch should have known that smoking was bad for his health.

     After making sure nobody else was trying to kill me, I clicked my .45 on safe and walked toward the bar. Everyone was calling and gesturing but I paid no attention. Things were fine until the excitement and emotional surge caught up with me, and all the steam and piss and vinegar inside went swirling away. I sagged to grab at the porch railing and plunked down on the top step, pistol dangling idly from my fingers. I gasped and choked back the tears.

Tell us about your current release.

Blood Storm is the second novel in my Mitch King private detective series. The first novel is Blood Spiral. Blood Storm was released in both paperback and Kindle formats in late 2011, and is available via Amazon and other venues. 
I’ve tried to create a mystery series that bridges the gap between old-fashioned hardboiled private eyes (PIs) and the modern 20th Century literary creation of flawed antiheroes. 
Unlike most stereotypical PIs, Mitch King is highly educated and comfortable with today’s technology. He’s definitely not a retro character. Despite his apparent sophistication, however, Mitch is deeply conflicted and agonizes over his decisions. These internal struggles often surface when Mitch attempts exert his influence over his clients and friends, and this can quickly lead to tragedy. 
So I’m combining a strong action-oriented mystery with a protagonist who’s up to his neck in a swamp of his own creation. On one hand we’ve got a modern thriller, but it’s balanced with a much more sophisticated internalized dialogue about morality and failures inherent in our human society.
This will appeal to fans seeking an exciting story as well as readers who’re looking for more complex issues and reflections into classic literature. It’s this combination of conventional thriller with the antihero protagonist that makes the Mitch King series different from other, more typical PI novels.

Tell us about your next release. 
I’m now working on the third novel in the series, Blood Turf.
Who is your favorite author?
My favorite authors in the mystery genre are Bill Pronzini and Robert Crais. I also like John Sandford.
In mainstream literature, I enjoy James Joyce, Umberto Eco, Thomas Pynchon, and Cormac McCarthy. My favorite of all is James Joyce. I’ve read Ulysses many times.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
I tend to work in the afternoons or late nights, about five hours per day on average.
Who are your books published with? 
Solstice Publishing. They are a fairly new conventional non-subsidy publisher that offers both paperback and e-format.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

I’m a big classical fan so my music tends to be Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Puccini, and Verdi. Problem is, if I try to write while listening, I end up singing along with the music and get distracted. So I write in the quiet solitude of my own fevered brain.

What was the scariest moment of your life? 
You don’t want to know (ha, ha).
What books are you reading now?
I’m a voracious reader. I review mysteries for the online magazine Over My Dead Body (omdb.com) so I always have a few of those to read. As a member of the PWA (Private Eye Writers of America), I’m on the committee to review for best hardcover PI novel of 2011, which means that I’m now working my way through a bunch of PI books. Otherwise, I read lots of mainstream literature and lately I’ve been focusing on Roman history.
What do you do to unwind and relax?

Spending time with my girlfriend is always a treat. We get together as often as our schedules allow. We go to local rock or blues clubs, have dinner, see movies, and just hang out with friends.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
Start. Start now. Don’t wait until you’ve got the “greatest idea ever” and then start. If you do that you’ll never begin. Start now, write constantly, save it all on disk, and keep writing. You’ll get better, I promise.

What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing? 

I enjoy watching classic and offbeat movies on DVD, chatting with friends, and attending the occasional opera. Pistol shooting is also a hobby.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why? 

My books are realistic and therefore I choose modern names with varied ethnicity and devise a name that is neither too ordinary nor too unusual. None of the names are meaningful per se. I don’t use gimmicky or cute character names.
What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

Truthfully? Avoid drugs and be very circumspect in alcohol consumption. It won’t improve your writing even if you think it does. What does help is to maintain your sense of humor.
What hobbies do you actively pursue?

I’m a classically trained baritone and sang in opera, chorales, and choirs, which was more of an avocation than hobby. Now retired from that.

Beatles or Monkees? Why?
Beatles, of course. They were real. And Sgt. Pepper forever changed the face of popular music, the same as Mozart did for classical.
New York or LA? Why?
 Neither. NY is too pushy, LA too phony. Other than Houston, where I live, my favorite US city is San Francisco.

What one word best describes you?
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book? 
Because you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how literate and entertaining a PI novel can be. You’ll enjoy the mystery and also be fascinated by the internal turmoil of the protagonist.

Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it?  If so, can you share it? 
Failure was to haunt me even more than the ghost of my dead father. Hamlet had it easy. We both had the spirit of a departed father to prod us on, but Hamlet at least had a tangible foe on whom to vent his revenge. I had only phantoms. 
I also knew that I would continue to strive for the goal of satisfying these strict and austere specifications because I was duty bound. How much more pain would I cause, I wondered. How many sacrifices, how many ashes would I continue to heap upon that cold and silent altar?

Do you have a Website or Blog?

I'm a lifelong fan of mysteries, particularly private investigator fiction. My favorite PI authors are Robert Crais, Bill Pronzini, and the late Robert B. Parker.

I have strung for daily newspapers and have written book and movie reviews for small press weeklies. I've written articles on firearms and gun safety, and short stories in several genres. I have recently dedicated my time to working on the Mitch King mysteries.

I'm a passionate classical music and opera fan. I'm a trained baritone who's sung in choirs, chorales, and opera productions. I also enjoy blues, jazz, and classic rock.
Besides mysteries, my favorite authors are James Joyce, Umberto Eco, Thomas Pynchon, and Cormac McCarthy. My nonfiction reading includes physics, astronomy, Roman and Greek history, biography, politics, and general classical studies. I also enjoy watching motor sports. playing pool and chess, and pistol shooting. I live in Houston. 

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