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Thanks so very much for being here today and taking time to chat. False Positives is your debut novel. Tell us a little about it, if you will.
False Positives is a techno-thriller set in
Washington D.C. with scenes that play out in Saigon during the Vietnam era as well as contemporary Bangkok and . Tehran
It’s based on the idea that the U.S. Government is reliant on technology in the fight against terrorism—maybe a little too reliant. And this can be a real problem when the technology has bugs.
It all starts out in 1972 when a gifted student at
writes the first computer virus. Thirty-five years later, a government computer system recommends some ostensibly baseless assassination orders, and its creator goes in search of the ghost in the machine. What she discovers is a legacy black-ops program from the Vietnam Era that is alive and killing today. Berkeley
Marnie, the protagonist, is pitted against adversaries hell-bent on wielding her machine with Machiavellian ruthlessness to achieve their political ambitions. Joined by an eclectic band of characters, she plots to bring down the system before it is used to start a war of biblical proportions, and in doing so, she becomes marked for termination by her own creation.
That’s from the back cover. How’d that sound?
I like it! Sounds exciting! Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I grew up in
California and spent my twenties in . At some point, I decided that I needed to find a place as beautiful as Hawaii Hawaii but as cheap as . I think I’ve found that in Mexico . Where next? I may have to wait until I decide the location for my next novel. This might be Thailand . I miss Hawaii . Hawaii
I think that one of reading’s great treats is the ability to allow you to escape. If a book’s good enough it can transport you to anywhere in the world. It can even do this to other worlds if you’re reading science fiction or fantasy. So yes, travel is important but probably not in the way you’re asking.
For example, I’ve been to most of the places in False Positives. I’ve been to
, but not during the war. I’ve never been to Vietnam Iran, and I’ve never been inside the , either. I guess that having been somewhere may allow one to write with a certain verisimilitude about a location, but I believe that with enough inspiration and talent one can do justice to any locale imagined or not. National Counterterrorism Center
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
No formula. Not yet at least.
I’ve had four real stories bouncing around in my head for over 20 years now. It’s kind of weird because the longer I wait to actually write them down, the more I see others having similar ideas and getting them published or made into film. I think that’s a result of what Jung called the collective unconscious. That’s pretty much where my core ideas come from but then my own experiences and perspectives personalize them. I dream a lot and take notes when I wake up, but things do tend to change as they get written down. Also, time has an affect on things.
Some of my characters are based on people I’ve met or read about while others are pure fabrication. Some share my own viewpoints on things while others have minds of their own. How they develop is interesting. It starts with imagined conversations in my head. This I’m sure is entertaining when people catch me doing it, but eventually, their dialogue shapes the relationships of the characters with each other and within the story.
I will draw upon archetypes sometimes as a base, but often I find the characters tend to form themselves. Once I get to know them, I understand what drives them and how they must change as the story progresses.
What book(s) are you reading now?
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I’ve been a long time fan of spy and espionage thrillers and John Le Carré has yet to disappoint. I’m actually re-reading this after many years, and it’s better the second time around.
Who are some other contemporary authors that you enjoy reading?
Wow, this might be a long list. Let me think… way back.
I think it all started for me when a friend of mine handed me Vixen 03 by Clive Cussler. That pretty much hooked me on action and adventure. I read all of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne books way before they were made into movies. The books had Carlos, not sure why the movies didn’t.
Then came Tom Clancy, I think someone invented the word techno-thriller to describe his work. Then there was Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Crichton… God, there’s too many.
I also really enjoy historical fiction. I loved Gary Jenning’s Aztec and The Journeyer. And then—wow—The Eight by Katherine Neville, that might be one of my favorite books ever. I worked through all of the James Clavell books while I was living
—Epic. Stephen King, Wilbur Smith… sorry, I’ll never finish this and I’ve barely started. Japan
That was a great start! I know exactly what you mean. I always HATE to get asked my favorite author. My favorite is often the one whose story I’m currently reading! Lol Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
It’s hard to really say, as I’ve felt like a beginner all my life. I mean it took me until I was forty to actually think I was good enough to produce anything respectable.
The well-worn chant that everyone will repeat is to write! That and read a lot. It’s either that or kill all adverbs, but for me—and I believe Ray Bradbury said this many moons ago—a very important thing that I’ve learned is that what you don’t write possibly more important than what you do. Don’t become to attached to what you’ve written, and don’t be afraid to cull it. No matter how good you think something you’ve written is, chances are it can be better. So be sure to edit, slash, burn, and re-write as much as possible, and THEN be sure to hire a copy-editor before you try and publish. And THEN get a proofreader. Some argue otherwise, but I think writers are just too close to their work to be able to properly edit their own work.
I think you nailed it! Thank you so much for this opportunity to find out more about you and your novel. I wish you every success!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
False Positives is his first novel.
Thanks for Looking!