DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
upon a time, stories were shared via stone carvings and later, parchment, which
developed into printed books. Mobile devices are the continued evolution of how
we read. Taking that evolutionary path to the next level, Potboiler LLC is adding
visual ability to the reading experience. “Midnight in Juarez” presents a new
way to engage readers with stories on smart phones and tablets, offering
readers stories systematically created for these devices. Utilizing a mixture
of animations, illustrations, interactivity and digital referencing set against
dynamic backgrounds, Potboiler LLC offers readers unique prose styling and
formatting to create an easy reading narrative designed to be consumed in about
ninety minutes. The company bills the concept as, “Fast, fun and
addictive stories for people on the go.”
in Juarez” was written as a thriller around Mexican cartels and serves notice
of what readers can expect with each release in the ‘Get Fisk’ series. Potboiler’s
analytic approach to publishing deploys the practice of data driven companies
in technology industries and represents a new vision from the digital
publisher, who will release new novels in the “Get Fisk” series as well as in
other series on a monthly basis. Publishing in partnership with the digital
publishing and distribution platform Vook, Potboiler will access industry-leading
technology to design and quickly produce their original ebooks and distribute
them through Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere e-books are sold.
“Midnight in Juarez”($1.99) is available now for smartphones, tablets and all
major e-readers (Kindle, Nook, etc.).
in 2012 by Jeff Gillis, formerly of Google Analytics, Potboiler’s ebooks are
designed to be fast, easy, and entertaining reading incorporating a variety of
multi-media elements into the experience. Single chapters of each novella can
be viewed daily on www.GetFisk.com during the first month of that novella’s release.
Q) How do e-books
created for use on mobile devices differ from other e-books?
A) Most e-books are simply print books that have been
digitized - they were created within the design and technology constraints and
framework of print, for example, on paper without embedded video or web links.
But e-books can offer a lot more. The Get Fisk mystery thrillers
were written specifically for reading on tablets and smartphones, to appeal to
people with lots of choice who are on the go. In addition to enriched content
(animation, illustration, audiobook version, social components), the stories
are also quick, fun reads, stylized and tested for easy reading on handheld
screens, able to be read in about two hours with new stories coming out every month.
Q) Do you believe reading habits are changing
A) Definitely - some online retailers report higher e-books
than paperback books. Everyone who has a smartphone or tablet - 50% of
Americans and growing fast - is now carrying a portable library and bookstore
with them at all times, capable of: 1) finding any book, 2) holding hundreds of
books at one time that can be accessed instantaneously, and 3) sharing that
information with friends and family. We're entering a new age of reading and
entertainment consumption. Stories should take advantage of that!
Q) Does mystery
fiction, like “Get Fisk,” appeal equally to both genders?
A) We hope so! Studies show that thrillers are the
most popular fiction genre, and there are components of mystery and action
through Get Fisk. Also, there are appealing, strong heroes and heroines that
lead the stories.
Readers can expect a new Get Fisk novella every month.
share some examples of the current topics utilized in the stories?
A) Yes! Get Fisk plots are ripped from the headlines.
The first novella, Midnight in Juarez, puts the reader right in the
middle of drug cartel warfare in Mexico. Future novellas will involve Somali
piracy, oppressive warlords in the Congo, and nuclear espionage in Iran. Fisk
is a billionaire who is affected by events throughout the world who is also
working to further his own agenda.
demographic of readers do you believe your books were designed for?
A) The Get Fisk series is for any adult who has a
mobile device. It is fun, unsophisticated, sexy and action-packed at an
affordable price - $1.99 per novella. It is both for people who read
traditional fiction, as well as people who haven't read a book since high
school. To that latter group we say, try a Get Fisk novella - you'll be
done in a few hours and will enjoy the ride and will be reading again.
Q) Are you open to feedback, and, how can readers provide feedback?
A) Yes! We love to hear from readers - they are our
lifeblood. We can be emailed at email@example.com
and also offer surveys on the website at www.getfisk.com within
the stories where we ask readers where they'd like to see future stories take
opened author Marc Cameron’s “Act of Terror” with the intention of reading the
first five or six pages to ascertain the writer’s voice – the way he writes,
the rhythm, vocabulary, characterization, etc. When I glanced up I noticed I
was at page sixty-one. I’d become immersed in the story. I returned to the book
and continued reading until the last page. It’s very rare for that to happen
with me as I’m a tough audience who, due to reading so many books while looking
for authors to interview, tends to study and compare instead of just enjoying
what’s in front of me. Marc Cameron is now on my ‘I’ll read more of his work’
originally hails from Texas and now resides in Alaska with (in his words) his
wife and BMW motorcycle. A former law enforcement officer with a penchant for
motorcycles of all breeds, trained in martial arts, defense tactics instructor,
and a fan of good westerns, Cameron has combined his passions into the
character of Jericho Quinn. Quinn is a ‘hammer’; one of the human weapons
called upon when the president needs a warrior who couldn’t care less about
crossing lines. For Jericho, the only line is the one between life and death.
think what initially ensnared me in the book was Jericho. Though he arrives as
one of the good guys we find in many action/thriller novels, he steps out of
the pack with his attitude. He loves his wife and daughter, but accepts that he
finds a reason to live in challenging his limits. He’s a bit of a thrill
seeker, with the greatest thrill being the battle for life against those who
would take his. In the end, he understands his family is better off – safer -
without him. Still, he is also intelligent enough to know that his family
wouldn’t be in danger, or couldn’t be used as a weapon against him, if he
didn’t enjoy his job, a job he doesn’t want to stop doing. In that vein, as a
man who accepts he enjoys killing people, Jericho Quinn stands out. Credit the
author for creating a hero that remains a hero in spite of what could be a deterrent
to readers. I found Jericho Quinn to be a fascinating lead who taps into the
readers’ need for high risk adventure.
of Terror” is not the first in the series, yet stands alone as a solid novel
that did not leave me
wondering who any of the returning characters were or
their roles in Quinn’s life. Again, that’s because of the author’s skill. And,
the plot just kept on rolling, building momentum to the last page. Another of
Cameron’s trademarks is leaving the reader with the baited hook for the next
novel. In this case, that novel is “State of Emergency.” The next offering,
“Time of Attack” is due for release Feb 2014. That leaves plenty of time for
readers to grab “National Security,” the novel that introduced Jericho Quinn.
Sleep well America, Jericho Quinn is sharpening his sword and tuning his bikes.
Being such an avid Western fan, why write contemporary adventure, other than,
of course, Jesse James didn’t ride motorcycles?
Thanks, David, for giving me this opportunity to talk about the Jericho Quinn
I'm just a fan of great adventure stories, whatever the genre. When I was just
a baby, my parents took me to a drive-in theater to see Dr. No, so I got
introduced to James Bond early in life. I spent my younger growing-up years in
the area where Fred Gipson set Old Yeller and Savage Sam--and read those books
in between hunting and fishing trips before I was even a teenager. I really
can't believe my parents let me do the things I did at ten, eleven and
twelve…but I'm grateful they did. I read everything I could get my hands on and
by the time I was through middle school, I'd covered stacks of Westerns along
with Doc Savage, Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan, pretty much everything by Robert
Heinlein and much of John D. McDonald.On TV, I watched the Lone Ranger, Bonanza,Gunsmoke and the Guns of Will Sonnet with my
grandpa. Westerns were great, not so much because of the horses(though I do love horses) but because of the
adventure. I read everything I could get my hands on and by the time I was
through middle school, I'd covered stacks of Westerns along with Doc Savage,
Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan, pretty much everything by Robert Heinlein and much
of John D. McDonald. I went to see Diamonds are Forever with a friend--and
decided then that I wanted a life like Bond's--at least the jet-set adventure
part. Raiders of the Lost Ark hit the screen when I was a senior in high
school. I'm pretty sure I went to see it at least eight times right after it
came out. I knew a girl there whose family owned the theater and after a couple
of times, they just started letting me in for free. There was something about
the that movie's pace that really hooked to me. When I am writing, if the
Indiana Jones theme is roaring along in my mind, I know I'm on the right track.
started in police work in a small Texas town where I later served as a mounted
officer, riding a horse five days a week as part of my duties. It was great
work with great people. During this time I also trained as a horseshoer to make
ends meet. Those jobs, along with my childhood, gave me lots of stuff to draw
on for Western adventures. Things ramped up with I was hired by the U.S
Marshals. There was a lot more travel--to places like New York, where I helped
protect foreign ministers on several details --and federal judges overseeing
the first World Trade Center bombing trial, California (for the Rodney King
riots), Miami (Hurricane Andrew) DC, Mississippi, Idaho, South Texas, Mexico,
Canada... and many points in between.Along the way I got to deal with hundreds of fugitives, outlaws and bad
guys as well as members of just about every alphabet soup federal agency there
is. I wrote during long flights and down time in hotels and tried to take good
notes of my observations and characters I met. It was really a natural transition
for me to use my imagination to insert these characters and settings into
wouldn't mind writing some more Westerns, but these contemporary Adventures
keep me pretty busy.
Given you’re from Texas, what took you to Alaska and has kept you there?
I have always had a thing for the far north.My wife is from Canada so she's good with my desire to live in
mountains. I'm writing this in front of our fireplace, watching it snow out our
living room window. Not something I could get very often where I grew up.
just finished a motorcycle ride (under the auspices of research) down the
Alaska Highway through Canada, the Rockies, and ending up in Texas where I'm
storing my bike for the winter. I still miss a lot about Texas, the people are
great, but the wide-open Last Frontier of Alaska appeals to me more. My
grandmother gave me TWO AGAINST THE NORTH by Farley Mowat when I was ten. I
read that thing like I should have been reading the Bible, and even carved my
own set of Eskimo goggles out of a cottonwood root from out backyard so I
wouldn't get snow-blind--not a great problem in central Texas. Now, I spend a
great deal of time in the snow and have some life-long friends in the Eskimo
communities in Western and far north Alaska.Every other year a cow moose has twins in our back yard. Like clockwork,
a black bear comes ranging through a day later, on the scent of the birth--but
she's already moved on. All we have to do is look out our bedroom window to
watch it all happen. My wife keeps the freezers full of salmon and halibut.
We've been in Alaska sixteen years so our kids all grew up here. They've slept
in snow caves, hunted, fished, canoed, taken long boating trips on the ocean,
scuba dived, ridden snow machines and dog sleds, picked berries and camped in a
wilderness full of bears and wolves.
like to write about adventure. Alaska as been a great place to experience it.
An author friend once told me that a fight scene is a dance, and the writer is
the choreographer. To me, your writing epitomizes that observation. You
carefully construct each movement. Why is such minute detailing so important to
I've been in a few scraps over the course of my career and I draw from them--or
at least the feelings I got from them--in the fights I write about. A lot of my
former partners from work read my stuff. US Marshals training is very physical.
They do a lot of arresting folks, so our basic academy is comprised of a heck
of a lot of fighting drills. Our eldest son boxed in college and both our sons
have been involved in martial arts as they grew up.I don't ever want any of these folks to look
at one of my fights and say "No way that could happen."
run most of the big fight scenes by my friend and Jujitsu sensei, Ty Cunningham.Real violence is more like a prolonged car
wreck than a match with rules so it's a great learning experience to to break
down Jericho's scraps into step by step movements. A two-page fight might take
all day to write with a lot of re-writing in order for it to make sense and
still move along at fight-pace. One of my favorites is the bathroom fight in
ACT OF TERROR. I think good law enforcement officers are always playing what-if
games in their mind. Over the years, I've often wondered how I would respond if
I was attacked standing at the urinal. Jericho gets to find out.
career had the benefit of letting me spend time with murderers, rapists, armed
robbers, drug lords and all sorts of bad folk. Every villain I put into the
books is drawn from these experiences as are most of the fights.
Eventually you will expand beyond Jericho for another series. Who is waiting in
I've talked over several ideas with the publisher. There's a new character
being introduced in TIME OF ATTACK. I think readers will like to get to know
him a little better but we'll see.
Writing is a solitary event, much like riding bikes. You even write in a remote
cabin. How do you keep your relationship with your wife alive and well?
That is a great question. My wife and I were apart for nearly two years before
we got engaged, and we really got to know each other through our weekly
letters. (I'll stop there so I don'tsound like a Romance writer…)
was talking to my neighbor shortly after I retired from the Marshals Service
and he said something like, "I don't see how you two stayed married with
as much traveling as you've had to do…"
is, my wife and I are best friends, but I'm not sure she would have been too
keen on me being under foot all the time if I'd had a normal 9 to 5 job. She's
much more independent than I am and, as I've come to find out, is happy with
her space. My adventures and motorcycle trips provide her with that space.
Still, we spend a lot of time together. She has her own bike, a 300 cc Vespa so
we have that in common as well.When we
got married, she knew I wanted to be a novelist--and work in law enforcement.
Even though we were very poor, she found the money to give me two gifts that
first year--a ballistic vest (the PD didn't provide them back then) and a Smith
Corona electric typewriter. She was the perfect law enforcement bride--and now,
she is my first reader, my final reader, and my Jiminy Cricket before the
manuscripts go off to the publisher.
a teacher and talented playwright, so nowadays we spend a lot of time in front
of the fireplace, sitting next to each other on the couch and working on our
Any parting comments for fans and readers new to your work?
My books are marketed as Political or Military Thrillers, along with Vince
Flynn (a tragedy that he's gone) Brad Thor, Steve Berry, Ben Coes, Tom Clancy,
etc. And while I'm flattered by that, I always think of my books first and
foremost as Adventures. Politics plays a supporting role but I really try not
to be too political. I'm not so much trying to drive home my views (though I'm
certain they do come out) as tell a compelling, fast-moving story. In doing
that, I might stretch the possibilities a bit. I do try and get the facts
basically correct though. For instance, when I have a V22 Osprey land in
Chinatown, I went to Manhattan and measured the intersection to make sure it
was possible. Is it likely? Of course not. But it is possible. TIME OF ATTACK
takes Jericho to Japan. I spent three weeks there talking to police detectives,
learning about Japanese tattoos and hammering out details that would be fun and
cinematic for the reader to experience with Jericho.
had a reader once tell me that she reads my stories through splayed fingers.
That's a good sign. My aim is to make it hard for the reader to take a breath,
let alone put the books down.
Mabry is the real deal in medical suspense novels with a thriller edge. His
stories have enthralled readers, resulting in awards and accolades, including
the Selah Award at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. During
his thirty-six years in medicine, Dr. Mabry wrote or edited eight textbooks,
authored over a hundred professional papers, and was a world-wide sought after
speaker. But there’s much more behind the man.
Mabry served with distinction in the U.S. Air Force. He’s also been a Christian
for more than sixty years and believes that thriller novels do not require
profanity to be well-written. Judging by Mabry’s popularity with readers, he’s
Richard Mabry roared onto the writing scene with “Code Blue,” an intense tale
featuring Cathy Sewell, a fallible physician in need of her own healing, and a
killer who’d just as soon give her last rites. This book became the first novel
in what is known as the ‘Prescription for Trouble’ series. “Medical Error”
followed, and, due to exemplary writing and an insider’s knowledge of the
medical world behind the scenes, Mabry’s place as a respected thriller author
was solidified. In fact, all four of the author’s initial novels were awards
finalists; a true credit to Mabry’s skill.
Mabry’s latest offering is “Heart Failure,” another suspenseful tale surrounding
a doctor seeking a respite from the darkness life has thrown at her.
Unfortunately for her, the man she thinks she’s falling in love with turns out
to be a moving target for some gunmen with an agenda of death. Of course, it
doesn’t make things any easier when the doctor learns her new love isn’t who
she thought he was at all.
all said, I have to mention Dr. Mabry’s nonfiction book “The Tender Scar.”
After Dr. Mabry’s
first wife passed away, he began keeping a journal. He was
lost and needed guidance. As he wrote, he realized the power of a healing God,
and ultimately decided to share his personal journey as the book “The Tender
Scar.” This isn’t a book about death, but about life, and is a must read for
anyone who has suffered loss. No joke – add this book to your library, both
your community library and the one in your home.
The obvious question: What inspired you to write thriller novels and stay true
to your Christian beliefs?
I have to give you a two-part answer. My first book was The Tender Scar, but it
didn’t just happen. I had a thick stack of journaling but no idea how to turn
it into a book. Finally, an editor took pity on me and pointed me toward a
Christian writers conference. There’s where I not only learned the rudiments of
writing a book (with more…much more to come) but encountered Alton Gansky and
James Scott Bell who encouraged me to try my hand at fiction. After lots of
false starts (four books written over four years garnering forty rejections) I
found my “voice” in medical suspense fiction, and that’s been my style since.
for staying true to my Christian beliefs, I have to confess that I never gave
it any conscious thought. I was going to write from a Christian worldview
because I’d been a follower of Jesus for six decades and wasn’t about to
change. Apparently my readers agree with my choice, even the non-Christians
Generally, your protagonists tend to be women doctors instead of men. Why?
This goes back to my unsuccessful attempts to write novels. After lots of
rejections, someone pointed out that the vast majority of readers of Christian
fiction are women, and they like female protagonists. As one of my medical
school professors said, “You can teach a white mouse in three times.” So I made
years after the death of my first wife, God blessed me yet again with the love
of a wonderful woman, and it’s her input that’s allowed me to write from the
perspective of a female protagonist. For my last couple of novels, I’ve stepped
out and had co-protagonists, one man and one woman, but it’s taken me years to
get that far.
A question for my own curiosity. Have any of your former colleagues commented
on how you portray behind the scenes medicine?
I’ve had several physicians, including Drs. Harry Kraus, Michael Palmer and
Tess Gerritsen, read my work and endorse it. One did point out an error in a
protocol I had cited, and I appreciate that. Medicine is constantly changing,
and sometimes it’s tough to keep up. But by and large I think I’ve managed to
stay pretty true to actual fact.
You combine your personal knowledge and experiences with today’s headlines. How
do you decide what backdrop/drama to set your characters in?
The novels will always feature a physician and/or nurse as major figures. I’ve
set them variously
in a small town, a mid-size town, and a large teaching
center/hospital/medical school. A lot of times the location depends on the plot
I develop. If I choose a fictitious setting, it’s as close as possible to one I
for the drama, most of the time my plot line comes from reading something in a
newspaper, hearing a TV report, or in the case of Stress Test, walking into a
parking garage at the medical center and wondering if it wouldn’t be a good
setting for a kidnapping. After that, it’s just a matter of populating the
story, getting to know the characters, and seeing where they take me.
Any parting thoughts for fans and readers new to your stories?
When I first read Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, I stayed up all night
to finish it because I didn’t want to turn off the lights. That doesn’t happen
with my brand of “medical suspense with heart.” However, I have had people
complain that the books are hard to put down. I don’t mind those kinds of
books are available via your favorite bookseller (both online and
brick-and-mortar). And if you want to read my thoughts on writing and life in
general, they are posted twice a week on my blog: http://rmabry.blogspot.com.
Hauser is one of those dynamic personalities whose presence is felt a step or
two before she appears in the doorway. A lady in constant motion, it would be
easy to say she is ‘driven,’ but, in her case, that cliché wouldn’t be a fair
assessment. GA sets goals, and then meticulously establishes and enacts a
strategy to attain each goal.
in New Jersey, GA graduated college with a Fine Arts Degree, only to abandon
the idea of being a starving artist after realizing ‘starving’ literally meant
no food on the table. She headed to Seattle where she joined the police force,
serving as a patrol officer for eight years. Her quest to expand her universe
of experience took her to the UK where her first novel “In the Shadow of
Alexander” was published. Set in 356 BC, the story chronicles a young soldier’s
unrequited love for his ruler, and the youth’s attempt to thwart Alexander’s
murder. The book quickly garnered fans and strong reviews. That success fueled GA’s
wanderlust, and she headed out to travel the world, honing her writing skills
while learning about the many varied cultures that would eventually seep into
her now more than eighty published books.
GA’s many novels is the ‘Action! Series.’ True to GA’s established mix of
solid, skilled writing, humor, drama, romance, and in-the-bedroom sex, this
series, as with her others, has attracted thousands of loyal readers. However,
the prelude to the series, a book titled “Capital Games,” inspired much more
within GA than another successful pairing of characters fans were eager to
follow. This book fired up the dream many authors have of seeing their stories
on the big screen. GA had a new goal: She would see the lead characters Mark
Antonius Richfield and Steve Miller take life in the movies, even if it meant
producing the film herself. The fact she knew nothing about the film industry
was simply another door she needed to pry open. So, crowbar in hand, she set
off to educate herself and make the dream reality.
droplet by sweat droplet, GA gathered a production crew, scouted out the sites,
and hand selected the actors, which include Shane Keough of “Housewives of
Orange County” fame. She also chronicled her journey on her blog: http://www.capitalgamesthemovie.com/movie-blog/
“Capital Games: The Movie” is set for distribution via DVD this holiday season.
you prefer books or movies, followers of erotic romance intertwined with
stellar drama peppered with humor and believable characters and plots will
enjoy the stories of GA Hauser.
Considering how many books you’ve written, which two books (one historical, the
other contemporary) would you recommend to readers new to GA Hauser stories and
Which book to choose! I hate to admit, it’s such a tough question. Some readers
like it so hot the sex oozes out of the novel. For those, Down & Dirty will
do the trick. Like sweet coming out stories? Lancelot in Love. I write about
firemen, cops, military guys, nurses, models, actors, doctors, just pick a
fetish and enjoy.
far as historic novels, I don’t do many. One reason is the research. I like to
be accurate, so they take time to write. But, one that has not been read by
many, which I enjoyed very much in writing is The Rise and Fall of the Sacred
Band of Thebes. This tale is about 150 sworn pairs of lovers who lost their
battle against Alexander the Great.
Mark Richfield and Steve Miller of “Capital Games” are truly complex
characters. What was it about Gregor Cosgrove and Eric Presnall that convinced
you they were the right fit for the roles?
Finding young men, with little film experience who were willing to take on
roles as gay men, with nudity? A nearly impossible task. Many auditioned, many
Gregor Cosgrove auditioned for the part for Steve Miller, I was surprised. He
walked into the studio in LA and I immediately said, “You’re Mark Richfield.
Can you do a British accent?” Putting it bluntly, Gregor was stunning, had long
hair and light eyes. He was Mark. Though he was intimidated, we gave him a day
to hone up on an accent. And well, since Mark has an American dad and British
mum, I knew and my fans knew, he didn’t have to be perfect. But he did very
Presnall bowled me over with his enthusiasm. He wasn’t my first choice for
Steve, but he had so much power and charisma in his audition reading and wanted
the part so much, we had him read with Gregor. Well! The chemistry between the
two men was so hot, it melted the video camera. Two straight boys willing to
kiss. I was so proud of them and the work they did, I wish them huge success in
the future. They took a chance and did a heck of a job.
Obviously, you had a lot to learn about making a quality movie, and “Capital
Games” is a first tier film that deserves its early accolades. Still, what was
the biggest shock you encountered?
The biggest shock was ego!! My word, I was shark chum to a few individuals with
egos so unmanageable, they became a bane of my good will. Two in particular,
who were oh-so-sweet to my face, ended up being criminal…or should I use legal
terms and say, ‘suspected of criminal wrong-doing’. While I was very lucky and
did find pure gems, these two men were out to over-run me since I lacked
experience. And they nearly derailed production. Let me say I learned so much
from it. And will never make the same mistakes again.
If “Capital Games” becomes as successful as we would all hope it will, will you
begin another film, and, if so, what book will be the basis for that movie?
Capital Games has been a success to me personally. Being released at Qfest, and
getting great feedback from my fans and non-fans alike, it was a labor of love.
I am finalizing a contract with a film distributor soon, and also the DVD will
be available in only a few weeks, as you have mentioned. The next film is
already in the works. Naked Dragon. An interracial love affair between an LAPD
cop and an FBI psychic, during a serial killer crime spree. The screen play has
begun being written and I am already reaching out for the cast and crew. I
suspect filming will begin in February or March.
Any parting comments for fans and potential new readers?
I owe everything to my fans, and future fans. Where would a writer be without
them? We’d be screaming into a tunnel. I hope I continue to please my readers
with fresh ideas, out of the box writing, and challenging them in every way. My
passion, my ambition, and my drive will keep me writing for many years to come,
and hopefully I see myself in five years as a filmmaker as well. So a big thank
you to you for inviting me to write this blog, and for anyone who reads my
work. When I tell you it is wonderful to get great feedback and encouragement
for years of very hard work, believe it.
Oak is the pseudonym for the writing duo Ben and Beth Oak. Connecticut natives,
they met at Boston University and have been together ever since. Besides the
enjoyment they find in each other, the pair of writers has an affinity for Henry
David Thoreau. It is this kinship and respect, as well as a love of mystery
that inspired the Oaks to create a unique, though very real, role for the
iconic Walden Pond resident.
Beth and Ben’s debut novel “Thoreau at Devil’s Perch,” Thoreau adopts a
Sherlock Holmes style of investigating as the storied author and poet seeks to
identify the killer of a young black man he found at the bottom of a rocky crag
called Devil’s Perch. Told through the voices of Thoreau’s partners in this
investigation, displaced lovers Julia Bell and Dr. Adam Walker, the Oaks draw
upon Thoreau’s own documented words, passions, and survival skills to create a
scenario so believable, many will agree that Thoreau could have rivaled the
greatest detectives of the time had he chosen that pursuit.
Oaks go to great detail to remain true to the era, and the end results are
carefully crafted settings such as the woodlands, town streets and businesses,
and even a den of ill-repute. Historical fans will find little to raise a brow
at. Thoreau fans will discover a character much like the man himself who speaks
in his time-tested manner that has kept readers enthralled for centuries.
Mystery fans will have their powers of observation tested against that of
Thoreau, the American version of Holmes. And, of course, if Thoreau is Holmes,
then star-crossed lovers and narrators Adam and Julia are Watson.
at Devil’s Perch” has something for everyone. Most of all, it contains a very
enjoyable, well-written story utilizing uncommon characters that will create
fans for books to come. And, yes, the next tale in the series is on the
Placing Thoreau in any role other than “expected” could have been a literary
death knell.But, you pull it off.What gave you the self-confidence to turn
Thoreau into a man determined to solve a murder others scoff at?
Ben – Thoreau's own self-confidence
inspired us.He never gave a hang about
what others expected of him.It was
Thoreau, after all, who coined the phrase about marching to the sound of your
own drummer.Like all great gumshoes, he
was a loner with his own sense of honor and justice.
Beth – And he was a
master of observation and deduction, as his journals demonstrate.So we simply portrayed him as he was in life,
a natural born detective devoted to seeking out the truth and fighting
Had the two of you not met, what writing paths would you each have embarked on,
and, will those paths make appearances in your future works?
Beth – Never to have met Ben?Impossible to contemplate!Even at eighteen we both knew that we wanted
to be writers and would most likely stay together.
Ben – What we
didn't know is that we'd be writing together.Our career paths have gone in different directions until now, so we
bring separate skills andinterests to
our writing partnership.
Beth - Ben is a lot
better at writing actions scenes and nature descriptions than I am.
Ben – Beth is
better at dialogue and character motivation.As far as plotting goes, we talk it out together, bouncing ideas off
Beth – And trying to
top each other to make the action scenes more exciting and the plot more
complicated.Turns out Ben is quite
Ben – And Beth is
Julia and Adam are risky characters – cousins in love.Why create an atmosphere of forbidden romance
for them in a story already rife with intrigue?
Ben - We wanted the mystery to
unfold from both a male and female perspective because men and women lived in
separate spheres at that time.And to
make it all the more interesting, we decided to have the two characters telling
the story develop a strong sexual attraction for each other as the mystery
Beth – It's not just
a sexual attraction.Julia and Adam have
loved each other since they were children.Their love might even go back centuries.They could well be soul mates that have lived past lives together.This ties in with Thoreau's open-mindedness
to the possibility of reincarnation.
Ben – In any case,
if you're going to have romance in a mystery, it should be rife with conflict and
Beth -And isn't what is forbidden all the more
Even Sherlock Holmes grew and changed as a character.Will readers see Thoreau grow as well
future books, and if so, what areas do you see as potential areas for change?
Beth – Thoreau is only twenty-nine
when the first book opens, filled with expectations and wide open to
Ben – As in real
life, he'll become less a loner when he leaves Walden Pond.He'll form very close relationships with
Beth - Especially
with Mrs. Emerson.In our second book,
Thoreau is living with Lidian while Ralph Waldo travels in Europe.
Ben – Thoreau has a
lot of trials and disappointments ahead of him, but he'll always remain
purposeful and principled.We intend to
stay true to the basic elements of the real Thoreau's character, which we find
Beth - And we hope
to show him as he really was, a vital young man full of joy and warmth and
Any parting comments for readers?
Ben – Well, being big fans of historical
mysteries ourselves, it's tempting to tell them that "Thoreau at Devil's
Perch" delivers what readers of the genre want.But maybe that sounds presumptuous.
Beth - You're right,
it does.How can we presume to know what
other readers want?
Ben - Then I'll
speak for myself.The sort of historical
mysteries I want to read are well-researched, have fascinating characters that
reflect the era, and are filled with rousing action and unexpected plot twists.Weren't those the criteria we used when we wrote
Beth – Yes, but it's
up to the readers, not us, to declare if we met them.My only parting comment for them is that I
hope they enjoy reading "Thoreau at Devil's Perch" as much as we
enjoyed writing it.
Ben – Ditto.
Beth – And we also
appreciate having this opportunity to answer such interesting questions.They really made us stop and think about our
book and why we wrote it.