What can you tell us about your new release, Testarossa?
It’s a crime novel, a police procedural and a character study. That’s the best way I can describe it. I’ve been a fan of this genre all my life, but for me, something was always missing in the books I read and enjoyed. They seemed to be mostly focused on the crime—as it should be. But it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to know these people inside and out. I wanted to write about people, not just cops. They cry, they laugh, they love, they hurt. They’re violent, altruistic, reactionary, paranoid and generous. They are worthy of love, and capable of loving deeply. Those were the people I wanted visiting my stories.
Testarossa, in its original draft, was not about steroids. That came later. Back in 2010, the subject of steroid use among athletes was neither new nor particularly interesting. But in 2005, my then-ten-year-old-son wrote a screenplay about steroid use in professional sports, at a time when Mark McGwire, first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, was mired in scandal over his own steroid use. McGwire was a hero to my son, and I saw how profoundly the athlete’s actions affected him. I watched him rip McGwire’s posters off his bedroom wall and throw his McGwire Christmas ornament in the trash after the player retired, amid accusations he refused to address. It was a hard lesson, one my son never forgot as he navigated his own highs and lows as a college baseball player. BD was, and still is, my inspiration.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
That’s hard to say. I started writing fan fiction late in life. I’d never written a thing, ever. Testarossa morphed out of some fan fiction I was writing, truthfully. I woke up one day and I had a novel on my hands. I always admired Joseph Wambaugh. He is probably my favorite writer in this genre. He writes about real people. That’s what I wanted to do.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
Only 5? Well, that’s not fair.
Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
The Onion Field – Joseph Wambaugh
Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
The Stand – Stephen King
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
Joe Wambaugh. The first thing I’d ask is, ‘Would you work for the LAPD today?’ and then go from there, because you know he’ll have an opinion or three.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The thrill I get when the story starts revealing itself to me (I’m NOT a plotter). I also love it when I learn something new about my characters. When they can make me tear up, or scare me, or force me to consider killing them off, I know I have something special.
What is a typical day like for you?
I usually start my day with some social media/promo things—not my favorite thing to do. Then I dig in to my WIP. Sometimes, if I’m stuck, I’ll go play around in another WIP. Sometimes that helps me get back on track. I write from 8 am to 5 pm, give or take. I treat it like a job.
What scene in Testarossa was your favorite to write?
I have two: The scene with the marine in the mini mart, and the scene when one of John’s partners is shot. Both scenes held a lot of emotion for me and I got to channel that pain into John.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
‘Your story is boring; it’s the writing that makes you great’. That’s a quote from Jack Grapes, an amazing mentor and writing teacher. I am the writer I am because of him.
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