I grew up in Des Moines Iowa. I lived and worked as a psychologist in Iowa, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, and Tennessee. I moved on invitation to the next location, not because the last place ran me off. Contrary to popular rumor there is no posse waiting for me at any of these state borders. Instead, I can return to visit friends there whenever I want and without resorting to disguise.
In my forty plus years in psychology, I worked with a variety of clients but found the forensic area of the profession most challenging. Not child custody, but working with genuine villains. I found them to be like most people, but with extreme faults that led to their legal difficulties. I feel this experience helps me make my characters more human. Good, bad. Lovable and disgusting. None are all one or the other. Remember, to reindeer, Santa Claus is just a hard driving bearded man with a whip, and Hitler had a dog that adored him.
My wife and l now live in Germantown Tennessee where we raised three children. Two boys and one girl, who, despite my influence grew into awesome adults. I now write fulltime and have written eighteen novels.
WHERE DO MY IDEAS COME FROM?
They come from everywhere. For instance, my Bridge Club Series came from the bridge club I belong to. At one session a woman got scammed just like it happened in the book. Jergen County Series got kicked off while I attended a Mystery Writer’s conference and one of my colleagues said, Can you imagine if someone got murdered here?
As for Pact With The Devil it came while watching a documentary about the Jewish Avengers who meated out revenge to the Holocaust’s. As I studied the movement and the time period, the story rose from the time period. Millions of people, men, women, and children displaced and homeless while the rest of the world played games around them to further their own advantage. In this heroes emerged. Not the kind that tilted the cold war one way or the other, but instead made a difference in the lives of those around them.
While the book is fiction it is based on true events and people. Yes folks The Silbervӧgel existed.
But mainly I get my ideas from my characters. I create them and as I bring them to life their story emerges. Pact With The Devil emerged as I wrote it. At first I wanted to tell the tale of a group of Holocaust survivors who attempted to murder 6 million German women, children and men. A very real plot thwarted by a British customs official, but instead as I emersed myself into the mess of post war Europe I found the greater story that is reflected there and told by the experience of Joe, Willie, Justine and the children.
DO YOU TRY TO BE ORIGINAL OR DO YOU GIVE READERS WHAT THEY WANT?
I want to give people what they want in an original fashion. I guess I hope to open their eyes to things they never knew or considered before. Like, the secret weapon Stalin wanted, or the way how the Americans made deals with criminals to achieve some success. But most of all how even when civilization crumbles, people remain kind, caring and loving. Rise above the brutality surrounding them to truly make a difference. Remind people that we are all humans and hence share a kinship that should be honored.
HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR PLOT AND CHARACTERS?
I am a combination pantser and plotter. Plotters layout their stories in outlines the follow it. Pantsers sit down and start spewing out their story. For me I get an idea of what I want to do, and then I follow where it takes me as I write. This reared heavily in Pact With The Devil. I began thinking I would tell a story about how everyone mistreated the common Germans following the war. That came through I believe, while I mixed in intrigue and suspense with the conflict between the Americans and the Russians I feel I captured the original intent.
As for Characters, I modified Deb Dixon’s model, defining the person’s goals, motivation, and conflict. I think of it as what do they want it? Why do they want it? And last, why they can’t have it For example, Pact’s heroine, wants to find her family exiled by the Nazis. Why? I believe everyone has a sense of belonging. A need to join with others and the family provides the basic affiliation for humans.
She can’t have it because she escaped from the train carrying her family to Auschwitz and is led to work at the Tribunal by her Russian handler.
He, in turn, wants success as a Communist. To do this he must infiltrate the Tribunal to expose the Western Allies dirty deals that will give them a post war advantage. Why can’t he have this access? Because he is a Russian so he needs Justine.
From this I hope you can see how the plot builds as you add and develop characters. Justine needs a love interest and right away you get the triangle with her and Ross, Ari, and the Russian. Fun, eh?
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST SCENE TO WRITE?
Violent scene where characters are hurt or injured. I feel some writers enjoy scripting those scenes. Te outcome seems almost gratuitous. When the children are attacked by the older kids gave the most problem. Orphaned, then losing their adopted caretakers touched me deeply. Rudi’s stabbing by the older boy broke my heart, but it spurred me to make it work out for the best.
DO YOU READ YOUR BOOK REVIEWS? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH BAD OR GOOD ONES?
Yes, I read my reviews. Good reviews I treasure. Bask in their sunshine. Bad Reviews? I curse, wail, gnash my teeth and vow vengeance. Once I calm down, I revisit the review. Look for elements of truth. Things I might do to improve. Being independently published I can even revise the book to meet shortcomings the reviewer might have identified without going through a bureaucratic maze. If I find that the reviewer is wrong, I make them the victim in my next murder mystery.
WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT PROJECTS?
My last book in the Flying Tiger Series, What God Abandoned, left me emotionally drained. I loved the characters both the real and my created ones. Recalling how the government and the world in general mistreated them in the end, affected me so strongly that I had to move onto something lighter.
With that in mind I jumped back into my Time Traveling pirate series. To escape the Covid epidemic ravaging the world they retreat to the Golden Age of Piracy in Eighteenth Century Nassau. In their travels they encounter the villians of the time including Blackbeard. Also, Marie Laveau travels to Twenty-first century to keep the folks up to date with the crew’s adventure. I hope others enjoy it as much as I do,tapping away at the keyboard.
In closing I want to thank Amelia for making space on her website for my ramblings and you all for taking time to read this. If what I say has not turned you off completely, please visit my website
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