Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve always lived in New Jersey, except during a four-year stint at James Madison University and a few years living Manhattan. I transitioned from South Jersey to North Jersey after college and never moved back I had studied music to be a film score composer but ended up working in the music business before graduating from law school. I published a handful of newspaper articles and scholarly works about entertainment and intellectual property law issues. I married my lovely wife in 1998 and we now have one house, two cars and four children. After twenty years of practicing law, I knew it was time to try something new, and well, here I am.
What inspired you to write?
I had–what I thought–was this compelling idea for a story percolating inside my head for more than a couple of years prior to ever putting pen to paper. The Song of Ice and Fire series showed me how to write from multiple POVs, which was the way I wanted to tell this story. However, it was my teen aged daughter who ultimately encouraged me to dive head first into it. It happened right after Christmas day in 2013, when I told her about my plot idea which she adored.
What inspired your novel?
I’m a big fan of nostalgic spy shows from the 1960s, so I wanted to bring some elements of those into my story. One particular quote by Shalom Alechem that lamented the fact that “all scientists do is sell their ideas to murders”.
What is the genre?
I’m touting this as an espionage thriller. But actually, I first thought about this as chick lit! Yes, you heard that right. I front-loaded this tale with so many female characters, I would have liked nothing better than to market it to women. After the first draft, I even had to add male characters to balance it out, having ignored those guys’ character development altogether. I mean, a major plot point exposes the cosmetics industry so it makes sense. However, the dark and militaristic elements of the plot pulled me back to the y chromosome side. So I’d have to say that it’s an espionage/military/psychological/ urban thriller all rolled up into one.
What draws you to this genre?
I revel in all the betrayal, cat and mouse games and slights of hand that occur in these stories. The challenge for a new writer is to make all of these elements feel fresh, rather than like just another cliché.
How did you develop your plot and your characters?
During the initial stage, I focused on two or three critical scenes between the two primary female characters in the story, then built all the other characters, plot and subplots around them. While writing about the characters, I had specific Hollywood actors in mind for most of them.
What inspired your protagonist?
It’s funny you should ask that, because in the story’s original conception, the chemist herself, was the lead protagonist. However, after the first draft, I decided that Daniel Strong should be the primary one, mainly because I felt he would have more sequel potential than any other character.
What inspired your antagonist?
The question really is: which one are you talking about? There are several antagonists in this story who give Daniel trouble, but each one shifts in importance as the plot progresses. So let’s go through them. First, there is Sabir, who I wanted to be “Middle Eastern”, but not an Islamic Terrorist ala ISIS. This was my goal in making him a terrorist with a specific goal, one who had a legitimate beef with a people/country: Israel. Vanessa is a mashup of a few female bosses I’ve had throughout my career. Of course, none of them were as awful as she was, except maybe… . And then there is Joanne, another boss of a different kind. With her, I looked to other male versions of characters in her position from other spy novels I have had the pleasure of reading.
What was the hardest part to write in the book?
Romantic encounters and dialogue to go with it were challenging, to be sure. Mostly it was my attempt to attain an acceptable level of authenticity with the subject of chemistry, as well as in the military chapters that took the most extensive research to get right. I hope I came close.
What was your favourite part of your book to write?
I enjoyed a certain chase on foot chapter that took place underground in the Times Square subway station, an endless maze of tunnels and multiple levels and platforms that I’m most familiar with. The inspiration of this scene is two-fold. First, I had always adored the Audrey Hepburn/Carey Grant movie, Charade, where he chases her through a Paris Metro station. I wanted to attain that level of intensity in the prose. Second, I made a self- imposed pledge to my daughter that I would work in a subway station chase chapter. After all, it is New York City.
Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
Part-time for now. Raising four children and practicing law require a significant time commitment.
What are you currently reading?
The Tomb, by F. Paul Wilson. Next, I’ll move on to The Assassination Complex by Jeremy Scahill. Then, I’ll read The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas. I always like to sprinkle in an old classic or a comtemporary work that’s outside the thriller genre, like YA or middle grade stuff my kids are reading.
Who would you say are your favourite authors?
I consciously avoid reading too many books by any one author, for fear of starting to write like them.
How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
War and Peace
To Kill a Mockingbird
Storm of Swords (book three of The Song of Ice and Fire series)
What are your future projects, if any?
I’m on to writing the second and third installments of the Daniel Strong trilogy. Meanwhile, I’m also drafting a screenplay for The Chemist. I also have an idea for another trilogy about an FBI agent in the future who has to deal with an international assassin as well as her own addiction of an unusual kind.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
Email is best for now: email@example.com or through goodreads.com
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Learn about and utilize all the tools out there on how to promote yourself and your book, start your own publishing company, write what you like, and never, ever give up. It is so worth it!
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