Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Brett Arquette

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Thriller, Military, Young Adult
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Pages:  354
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About the Book

Marshall Hail was a husband, a father, a Physics Nobel prize winner and industrial billionaire. But when Hail’s family was killed in a terrorist attack, he became a predator and redirected his vast industrial assets toward one goal, removing every person on the FBI’s Top 10 Terrorist list. With the help of his MIT colleagues, Hail designed and built a devastating arsenal of attack drones of all shapes and sizes that are flown by the nation’s best young gamers. The world will come to realize that Marshall Hail possesses the capability of getting to anyone, anywhere, at any time, unleashing an operation so disturbing that the CIA has named it Operation Hail Storm.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

The middle child of five, I was born in 1960 and anointed with my mother’s pen name “Duncan”, given to me by award-winning author Lois Duncan. During her career, my mother Lois wrote 48 best-selling young adult books, some of which have been made into movies, including the movie “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Hotel for Dogs”. I was raised in New Mexico and moved to Florida on my 30th birthday. Writing on the weekends, my first book, “Deadly Perversions”, was published in 2002. My additional titles are “Seeing Red”, “Tweaked”, “The Pandemic Diary” and “Soundman for a B-Band”. My newest book is an adventure into Young Adult writing with a series of “HAIL” books with the first one called “Operation Hail Storm. I currently reside in the Sunshine State with my wife and three children.

What inspired you to write?

My Mother inspired me to write. She cranked out 48 books during her lifetime and was still able to run a family with five children. I really had no business writing, since I had no background novel writing in High School or College. But after I wrote my first book, I came to the realization that I could do it and I was hooked.

Has having a famous best-selling author as a Mother opened doors for you in your writing career.

Yes and no. By dropping her name, I can every once in a great while get a book read by an agent that would have never bothered without my family pedigree. However, past that, every book will live or die on its own merits. And the publishing business has change 180 degrees since my Mother published her first book. I am writing a multipart blog on my website http://brett.arquette.us about just that subject.

What inspired your novel?

I had written many novels with adult themes, but had never written a book that was written for teens. My Mother had made a career writing almost exclusively for teens, so I knew there was an audience out there. One day, my son came home from middle school and told me that his teacher was reading his class “Rainbow Six”, a classic special ops book by Tom Clancy. Unfortunately, they had to stop reading the book due to too many profanities in the novel. At the time, I was really enjoying reading special ops books, such as “The Gray Man” series by Mark Greaney. I couldn’t recall anyone writing special ops books for young adults that could be read in the classroom that had no profanity and G rated violence. Six months later, wa-la, OPERATION HAIL STORM received the last typed words “The End”.

What is the genre?

The genre would be classified as a Thriller, but it has a military feel to it. Since it was written for teens, I also wanted to add some educational information. So there is the potential for math, social studies, geography and science workbooks that could accompany the CLASSROOM edition.

What draws you to this genre?

I love reading fast paced books. You know, lots of action and if you skip a dozen pages, you probably missed something important. Thrillers should thrill throughout the book; not just at the beginning or the end. And I think I accomplished that with OPERATION HAIL STORM. I also feel when I’m writing for teens, I am going up against video games and video and movies and music, all competing for their attention. So I’ve got to keep the story moving, creating action in scenes where you would not expect action elements.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

During the past few years I’ve been reading the magazine called the MIT Review. There is some crazy complicated science that is being discussed in that publication, and one of those topics was about a new design of a nuclear reactor called the traveling wave reactor. This is the type of technology that is a real game changer for our planet, because these safe reactors burn depleted uranium. The United States alone has enough depleted uranium stockpiled to supply all the energy for our entire planet for the next 10,000 years. Bill Gates currently sits on the board of TerraPower who is prototyping the reactor, so this is real science. Based on that information, I created my main character, Marshall Hail as the person who takes that technology to the next level and brings the traveling wave reactor to market. This makes him a billionaire. But what is a billionaire if he loses his family in a terrorist attack? What does money matter at that point? What matters to Marshall Hail is retribution. Hail is a flawed character and he recognizes his flaws and hates himself for them, but he is still set on using all his resources to bring terrorists to justice. The Marshall Hail form of justice.

What inspired your protagonist?

Marshall Hail lost his family in a future terrorist attack that is called THE FIVE. Five shoulder launched missiles took out five commercial aircraft in five difference countries from five different terrorist groups all within five minutes of each other. Hail was immersed in grief and could no longer go on with business as usual. So he made some significant modifications to his fleet of cargo ships, making each of them command and control centers in which to launch drone strikes anywhere in the world.

What inspired your antagonist?

There are a few difference flavors of antagonists in the novel and each of them has an agenda. There is a beautiful CIA operative Kara Ramey that is assigned to work with Marshall Hail to track down terrorist, but she has her own reasons for doing what she does. Then there is a major arms dealer who was responsible for suppling the missiles to the terrorist groups who shot down the airplanes in THE FIVE. Needless to say, his agenda is markedly different.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

As I mentioned, I like books with action and I enjoy writing the action elements, but there is always a need to humanize your characters so they have substance and the reader cares about them. Writing the personal parts of each character, how they feel, their background, what makes them tick, those sorts of segments are always hard for me to write because I have to completely change gears. And it is very easy to get carried away with emotional elements and lose the pace of the book.

What was your favorite part of your book to write?

I like writing the technical segments – how the drones fly, how they are designed and assembled. I like writing the dialogue between the engineers and designers and the pilots who will fly the contraptions. Words just seem to flow when I get into that frame of mind.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

Sadly, right now part time. I spent most of my career working as the Chief Technology Officer for one of the largest Circuit Court Systems in Florida. In 2002, Computerworld Magazine selected me as one of the “Premier 100 IT Leaders” in the world, describing me as a “visionary” in reference to the cutting-edge technology. My books are peppered with technology acquired from vast experience in advanced computers and audio/video systems. I was also the Editor in Chief of the Court Technology Forum, Contributing Editor for eWeek Magazine, columnist for ComputerWorld and SmartComputing magazines, all of which has helped to create a loyal fan base and lots of traffic on my website. Like most parents, I spend most of my free time with my faimly doing fun stuff.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading some Dean Koontz, love Jack Reacher novels, love the Gray Man series and the John Rain series, and have started reading all of my mother’s books, just to see what I can learn from them.

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

Mark Greaney, Steven King, Robert Crais, Barry Eisler, Dean Koontz, Vince Flynn

How about your favorite books? What would be your top 5?

Any books from my favorite authors.

What are your future projects, if any?

I already have the next three Hail books in the series plotted in my brain. The next one will be called OPERATION HAIL WARNING. And hold on to your seats, because this book is going to BRING IT!

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

They are welcome to email me a brettarquette@gmail.com. I will also be doing the free Kindle Download off of Amazon for a week as soon as the book posts. Please check my website for the exact dates at http://brett.arquette.us

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Yes, when you are writing books, try to put as much description as you can into dialogue. That may mean even adding some sort of confidante character who the lead characters can discuss plot elements. Always be thinking, if this was optioned as a movie, how would the screenplay be written. In some cases, such as the Gray Man series I mentioned, the Gray Man is a loner and barely ever talks to anyone. That creates a big problem when it comes to writing the screenplay. You would be almost starting from scratch.

 

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