Hello, Chris. Welcome to The Gal. Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm not a born writer. But I became one as soon as I could. My background is in corporate finance. That's definitely where I learned to use multinational corporations as the weapons of mass destruction depicted in Deadly Acceleration and God's Banker. I'm happily married, live on the coast in Southern California and am an endurance athlete - a long distance cyclist. My hobby is raising service dogs for the disabled. In fact, both of my novels feature these two beautiful, intelligent Labrador retrievers.
What are 5 things about you that most people don't know?
I'm a student and I'm coachable. I'm getting ready to begin my first quarter at Stanford's writer's school. I'm a perfectionist in my craft. I won't be satisfied until I reach the top of the NYT Bestseller list. Hanging around #20 on Amazon's mystery list - where God's Banker rose - was very nice, but I can do better. My best book is yet to be written. I have a deep respect for my reader's intellect and judgment. That's why I strive to write intelligent fiction.
What is the first book you remember reading?
Jack London's Call of the Wild. I read it by flashlight under my blanket at night after Dodger Baseball was finished and when I was supposed to be asleep.
What made you decide to begin writing?
I kind of fell into it. I did a lot of article writing when I ran part of the consulting practice at Ernst & Young, CPAs. Then magazines began seeking me out and paying me for content. I came up with a cute book idea called, How to Fire Your Boss. I wrote the book proposal, in two weeks had a literary agent, four weeks later we had us a bidding war between Simon & Schuster, Putnam and Wiley. I was hooked after that.
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
No quirks, but a definite process. All 13 of my nonfiction books were sold before I wrote them. So I had a deadline and production schedule written into a publishing contract where money was involved. I would calendar out where my production would be for each day of the contract. If I fell behind, I'd work overtime to catch up. If I was ahead of schedule - as I always am - I would press on to turn in the manuscript early. I carry this same discipline to my fiction. It takes about 3 months for me to produce a 90,000-word novel.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
Yes, I write in my lovely home office overlooking the Santa Monica bay. There is some sort of music playing. Depending on what I'm writing, the music can be anything from classical piano to the Navy SEALs running cadence to the Warrior's Song. You're welcome to see my office on my book promo on YouTube HERE.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
For me, getting the book started is always hardest. I work in a serial format - the SEC Enforcement Division. So I already know the characters, their capabilities, backgrounds and quirks. I have a detailed outline of the book's plot. But finding that moment of inertia where the story kicks off is difficult. Once I get it, though, I'm rolling and the book takes on a rhythm of its own.
What do you think makes a good story?
When I read other authors, I look for superior character development. I must like or hate the characters. I want to care about them. Then I watch as the author runs them up a tree in Act I, stands there and throws rocks at them in Act II, then gets them down in Act III. This is what I love about writing. Like my readers, I too am waiting to see what actually happens to these people I've created, then thrust into such impossible situations.
What book(s) have most influenced you?
Masters of action/adventure and suspense have shown me the way. Each provides a unique perspective that I've managed to incorporate into my own style. There's Clive Cussler for a swaggering, cliche hero. There's Lee Child for the incredibly resourceful Jack Reacher. There's the late Vince Flynn for the disciplined, but outrageously irreverent Mitch Rapp. All have affected the way I've crafted my characters.
What inspires you most?
I owe my readers a responsibility to entertain. There must be a bond of trust between author and reader. When you lay out your hard-earned money for Deadly Acceleration or God's Banker, you need to know that I've done the very best job I possibly can to make the characters and the pot come alive for you. I want to see you on that airplane or at the beach, paging thru my books, aching for Jackson Schilling to just shoot the assassin who drew down on the Pope in the Sistine Chapel. If you can say that I had you from the first sniper shot in Rome to the last scene in the Oval Office, then I've done my job and I'm a happy camper.
Where do the ideas from your book come from?
I'm a long distance cyclist. Some of my plot ideas come when I'm pedaling thru the hills where we live overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes it's the music coming over my headphones that inspires. Other times, it's my clients. I've worked for two of the world's largest corporations. I've seen what happens in the C-suites. Then I wonder, hmmm, what if that wasn't accidental. That's exactly how Deadly Acceleration came to life. Other times, it's an interest that I've always had in something and wanted an excuse to learn about it - in detail. So I wrote a book: That's how God's Banker got started.
Which of your characters do you think is the most like you?
Without a doubt, Jackson Schilling in God's Banker is me - or at least a person whom I admire and deeply respect. He's got it all - brilliant financial intellect, a deadly command of advanced military weaponry and tactics. He's a former Navy SEAL, after all. And he's a great manager of people - respectful, respected by his people and has the back of all who work for him. Jack Schilling is my kind of guy.
What have you learned creating this book?
I love this job because of all that I learn. Aside from the technical aspects of writing - which I'm getting better at with each book - I love learning things that most people haven't a clue about. For example, the Barrett M98 Bravos sniper rifle. This is the rifle of choice for the world's most highly trained military snipers. The scope used on this weapon varies depending on the mission. The precisely choreographed ballet between shooter and spotter is what brings an element of art to this deadly undertaking. Then there's the physics involved in making a mile and a half shot to a point about 2 inches in diameter. All the calculations for windage, drift, elevation, humidity and everything else is done by a laptop combat computer right there in the sniper's hide and run by the spotter.
What do you think your readers will take away from this book?
I hope my readers will take away a feeling of satisfaction. The good guys prevailed and the villains were vanquished. That I managed to tie up all the loose ends and everyone gets what they deserved. I also want them to feel my humble gratitude toward them for consenting to spend some time with me and allow me the privilege of telling them a story.
What makes your book different than others that fall under this genre?
In the case of God's Banker it's definitely the research I did for the book. The Vatican Bank is the world's least understood and most secretive financial institution. Then there's an understanding of the way the SEC audits publicly held companies and ferrets out the smallest inconsistencies that lead to allegations of global investor fraud. The way a brilliant and highly trained SEAL operator works, thinks and never, ever gives up. All are integral to the plot and to knowing the characters I've created.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have my next two books in development right now. The first is carrying on the Enforcement Division series and is also written with an eye to the young adult market. It involves a wealth of teaching moments as well as being a helluva ghost story. The second one is a departure from this series. It's about a very high-class strata of kept women.
Thanks for stopping by, Chris. It was a pleasure having you and I'm definitely looking forward to reading BOTH of those books. Before ya go, where can we find you?