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.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thriller Author Marc Cameron


I 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’ list. 

Cameron 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. 

I 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. 

“Act 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.

Q) Being such an avid Western fan, why write contemporary adventure, other than, of course, Jesse James didn’t ride motorcycles? 

A) Thanks, David, for giving me this opportunity to talk about the Jericho Quinn books. 

Really, 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. 

I 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 fictional adventures. 

I wouldn't mind writing some more Westerns, but these contemporary Adventures keep me pretty busy.  

Q) Given you’re from Texas, what took you to Alaska and has kept you there? 

A) 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. 

I 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. 

I like to write about adventure. Alaska as been a great place to experience it. 

Q) 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 you? 

A) 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." 

I 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. 

My 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. 

Q) Eventually you will expand beyond Jericho for another series. Who is waiting in the wings? 

A) 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.  

Q) 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? 

A) 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't  sound like a Romance writer…) 

I 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…" 

Truth 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. 

She's 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 respective laptops. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and readers new to your work? 

A) 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. 

I 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.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

4 comments:

  1. Wow. Great interview. I'm generally not into these types of books at all, but I'm very intrigued, so Mr. Cameron is on my radar now!

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  2. Thank you for your comments, they are very much appreciated.

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  3. Thanks for the interview, David. I appreciate it.

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  4. I'm honored you agreed to the interview, Marc, and I mean that sincerely.

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