Friday, September 29, 2017

Matt Hilton's Latest Thriller--WORST FEAR

My buddy Matt Hilton has a new book out. Worst Fear continues the adventures of private detective Tess Grey and Nicolas ‘Po’ Villere, and I invited him to tell us about it. Matt has previously written the twelve novels in the Joe Hunter series, and they are top-notch action entertainment that deserve a wider audience, but more on that in a minute. Here's Matt about the new book:

Brian Drake: Tell us about your latest thriller.
Matt Hilton: Worst Fear is the fourth in a series of crime thrillers featuring Tess Grey and Nicolas ‘Po’ Villere set in Maine in the USA. Tess is an ex-sheriff’s deputy who was injured in the line of service and now works as a private investigator, whereas Po is an ex-con, who spent time in Angola, one of the toughest prisons in the US. Chelsea Grace is discovered dead at the foot of a cliff, and the police write off her death as a suicide, but Tess thinks otherwise. Chelsea was terrified of heights, so jumping to her death was the last way she’d have chosen to die. As Tess starts looking into her death she discovers that others from a small group of her college friends are also being hurt or killed, and Tess herself could be on the list. It’s down to Tess and Po – ably assisted by their larger than life friend, Pinky Leclerc - to stop the killers before it is too late.
BD: How are Tess and Po different from Joe Hunter?
MH: Joe Hunter is ex-Special Forces, a tough guy with a heart, who isn’t afraid to use his impressive skill set to deal with the bad guys. He’s seen as a vigilante by the police, and quite possibly a terrifying force of nature by those he fights against. On the other hand Tess has none of Hunter’s skills, and is an ex-sheriff’s deputy, so tries to do things by the book. Po is possibly nearer to Hunter’s character, though he’s a guy who learned his skills while surviving in prison, so has a different approach to dealing with problems. Hunter’s adventures are slam-bang actioners, whereas the Tess and Po books are more mystery and suspense – with hefty dollops of action.
BD: Why the departure from Hunter?
MH: Like most authors do, I wanted to spread my wings and do something different. I also love writing in the horror genre, but my publishers weren’t interested. I was pigeonholed as the “Joe Hunter guy”. So I had to propose a new series similar but different to Hunter without straying too far afield. I have always been fascinated with Louisiana as a location, and also Maine, so decided to write a mystery set across both States. That book became Blood Tracks, the first in the Tess and Po series. I don’t see it as a departure as such from Hunter, as I’m pretty certain that the characters all exist in the same fictional world, and one day I’d love to write a cross-over novel with them all in it.
BD: Was using a female protagonist your decision or your publisher's?
MH: It was mine. The Hunter books are by virtue of their subject matter sometimes seen as “men’s books”. They can be macho and aggressive, and in the past some critics thought some of my female characters were only there as dressing. I decided to write a female lead for a few reasons, the first being to see if I could do it, the second because it might attract more readers, and third to shut up my critics! Seriously though, I felt that Tess was a worthy character, and I’ve enjoyed writing her story as much as I have any of my male characters. One thing I was certain of was that I didn’t want to write a female Joe Hunter in tights/panty hose, but a rounded, strong and determined woman in her own right. I brought in Po, and his pal Pinky, to do the kind of stuff that Tess, being a PI and also ex-cop, couldn’t/wouldn’t do, to also satisfy the readers looking for similar action they were used to from my books.
BD: What are you working on next?
MH: Anyone who has followed my books to date might be surprised. I’m known for being a Brit writing American thrillers, but the book I’m currently working on is a police procedural set in the UK, with a rather large genre twist. It could also be a psychological thriller, or a supernatural novel, depending on the perceptions of individual readers. I genuinely hope that it finds a publisher and that readers enjoy the book. After that I’ll be getting down to writing the thirteenth book in the Joe Hunter series. And Tess and Po will be back.

BD: Thanks, Matt!

So back to what I was saying about Matt deserving a wider audience. He doesn't have wide distribution in the United States, although some of the Hunter books have been published here via Down & Out Books. If you're in the U.S., the best way to get Matt's books is the UK's Book Depository. Free shipping, no tax, quick service. I use them often.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Chris Ryan's STRIKE BACK

A couple of Brit authors have been on my radar recently--Chris Ryan and Duncan Falconer--and I'm finally getting around to reading one of them. In this case, Ryan and his book Strike Back. I'm familiar with the title from the Cinemax/Sky1 TV series, so I thought it would be best to start there. (As an aside, I haven't watched the TV version, so I have no expectations.)

And, wow, what a book. I'm only 45 pages in, having just read the prologue after receiving the novel from Book Depository in the UK (only took a week to get to me in the U.S.). Great prices and free shipping on that site, so make it one of your stops when you're looking for something new to read.

Anyway it's a whopper. Great bloody action (emphasis on bloody) and he really draws you into the story. In the opening battle in a building in Beirut, you feel like you're there with the SAS guys as they go blasting terrorists to free a hostage.

I don't often mention books until after I've finished them, but I'm so impressed with this title I had to stop and post. I'm really looking forward to this one and how it plays out. Ryan is a terrific writer, no fluff, very tight and to the point. And he knows of what he writes, having been an SAS man himself.

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

42 Years Ago Today....

....I was born in Minnesota, reportedly in the same hospital as F. Scott Fitzgerald, but nobody has ever bothered to check, let alone me because who has time, and, besides, it's better just to assume. What makes this year significant is that, unlike every other birthday where I evaluate where I am in life and bemoan my lack of progress in certain things in general and everything in particular, I'm actually finally on the road to something.

1) Engaged to a great gal who's like Nina Talikova in the Steve Dane books. Wedding is this time next year.

2) Five-book deal with Liberty Island Media, the aforementioned Dane books, with the first release due early next year.

3) I have another manuscript under consideration with a major publisher and we'll know the fate of that deal very soon; if it goes south, we have another buyer lined up.

So, yeah, it's a happy birthday.

Whatever you're working toward, don't quit. It might take 25 years but you'll get there. For that #3, I've been sending that particular publisher material since I was 16 years old.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Stiletto #3 Now Available.

I have fallen way behind in my posting so here's to catching up . . .

The next Scott Stiletto book, The Glinkov Extraction, is available on Amazon.

This book is a bit different from the other two in that it's a bit darker, there's more intrigue, and I tried to mimic Eric Ambler's "slow burn" in the plot department, meaning the match lights on page one and the fuse burns all the way to the end before it's "fire in the hole" time. I may get some complaints about that lack of shoot-em-up action (really, there's less in this one) but the ending sets the stage for the next phase of Stiletto's adventures, and I quite like the "ripped from the (future) headlines" feel of the story. Yes, I'm playing Nostradamus with this one, but we'll see if I'm right. If not, this book won't age well.

The blurb:

Stiletto Goes Rogue!

An authorized mission to rescue a friend may be the last adventure of Stiletto’s career … or his life.

A coup stirring in Russia to overthrow President Putin faces the wrath of Moscow police and government agents who swoop in to round up or assassinate the suspects. Survivors run for their lives, including Vladimir Glinkov, Stiletto’s friend and ally from several dangerous missions. Glinkov desperately calls for help, but the U.S. government will not get involved. Despite his pleas to aid a friend in need, Stiletto is ordered to stand down.

Scott cannot do nothing while a friend suffers. He’ll get Glinkov and his family out of Russia before they’re executed or die trying. The C.I.A. responds with a bounty on Stiletto’s head, forcing him to deal not only with his own people but every two-bit thug trying to claim the reward as he sneaks into Moscow to search for his friend. 

Other players who both help and hinder Stiletto’s cause raise the stakes as the scope of the conspiracy takes shape, and Stiletto is caught in events he’s not prepared for when he faces Russian police in a violent bloodbath from which there may be no escape.

As for Stiletto #4 (as yet untitled), it's done, needs editing, etc., but the first three, while performing better than any of the other books I've released, really aren't doing much business. I've decided the first three need to earn at least $100 to pay for Stiletto #4's cover before I commit to releasing that book. I don't know if I just need more advertising (which costs $$$) or if the first book isn't grabbing people enough for them to continue. I wrote it like a men's adventure book of the '70s, and maybe it shows a little too much. A more contemporary crime series is in the works, but I may shop that to traditional publishers before I self-pub. It's looking more and more, thanks to my deal with Liberty Island for the Rogue Gentleman books, like I should pursue that avenue.

Anyway, if you're one of those following along, I hope you enjoy book three. It's .99 now and for a week after release, so jump. And thank you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The World Needs a Saint

Back in 2013, a bunch of folks tried to revive The Saint for television, but the pilot didn't sell. Roger Moore appears in a cameo at the end, but he's not who you think. Whether or not Sir Roger's recent death sparked them to action or not is something I'll let the crew answer, but the pilot has now been released as a 90-minute TV movie (streamed on-line), and it's good stuff.

I watched on YouTube for $4.99. iTunes has it, and I believe other places like Vudu, so look around. Maybe Amazon will get it.

We have Adam Rayner as Simon Templar in a very disciplined performance that totally brings the character to life. The only thing missing is Rayner writing song lyrics and smoking too many cigarettes and using silly phrases likes like "as the nun said to the cow" and other wonderful lines that Leslie Charteris put into Templar's mouth (we do get one "bob's your uncle" which is almost the same thing). Rayner and Ian Ogilvy (as the heavy) are the best part, especially Ogilvy, who scene-chews his way through the show and is a delight to watch because he once filled Rayner's shoes.

The plot concerns the search for a missing two-billion dollar charity fund earmarked for Nigeria, a kidnapped girl, and lots and lots of computer hacking. And here is where we get to the first problem with The Saint 2017. Computer hacking has become one of the biggest tropes in action shows, film or television, to the point where it's eye-rolling ridiculous. Every obstacle can be solved by a couple of keystrokes from somebody in a van, who is usually a nerd saying nerd things and making nerd jokes, or a sexy girl saying nerd things (as in this case) but without the jokes--Eliza Dushku's Patricia Holm is oh-so-serious, darling. I understand that in the age of the microchip and algorithm we don't have much of a choice but to rely on computers for many things, but it's such a poor narrative device that it's now an example of lazy writing.

But back to the show. It's a solid fast-paced caper that reminded me of Leverage, except with less people. Leverage, of course, owes a lot to The Saint. And that's probably one of the reasons the show never sold.

For all of its wit and charm and clever dialogue and great locations and a solid attempt at a low-budget Bond-like show, The Saint 2017 doesn't offer much that's new or hasn't been seen 100 times already. There are a few other problems, too. Some of the cast speaks as if they've just learned English, and their acting is a bit wooden as a result. Eliza Dushku tries to come off as a sexy sophisticated vamp, but instead engages in unintentional parody of same. She looks the part, it's nice to see Patricia Holm finally portrayed properly (basically what she should have been from the beginning, but I'm not entirely sure Charteris really knew quite what to do with her), but Dushku is still the cheerleader from Bring It On and while she's aged nicely, her acting skills have not.

But The Saint 2017 finally gets the Saint right. There are a ton of literary references that I loved, including a mention of Inspector Teal and a prominent role for John Henry Fernack, although Mr. Fernack has now become an FBI agent, which is fine. Simon has a bumbling helper, like Hoppy Uniatz in the books, but for some reason they named him Doyle. No matter. It's the thought that counts, and a lot of thought was put into this show and it's a shame they didn't have better luck with selling the program. It is, however, now here for us to enjoy, and enjoy it you will.

I understand there is currently another attempt to get The Saint back on television or cinema, and that's terrific news. We eagerly await more.

The world really needs a Saint.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Rebecca Forster Announces Foreign Relations

I'm happy to present my friend Rebecca Forster and her new book in the Detective Finn O'Brien series, Foreign Relations. Give it a click and you won't regret it.

This is a great new series from the author who brought you the Josie Bates "Witness" thrillers, and it's probably better for her to talk about the book than me. So here's Rebecca:

Brian Drake: After so many books under your belt, what have you learned about yourself as a writer?

Rebecca Forster: I've learned that I have a lot more patience and determination than I ever gave myself credit for. It only took 35 books but I've finally figured out that writing a book is like being a jeweler - cracking the stone is just the first part, creating the facets, polishing the whole darn thing - it all takes extreme focus if you're going to give readers an exciting experience.

BD: Tell us about Finn O'Brien. What has reader reaction to the first Finn book been like?

RF: Detective Finn O'Brien is a man with a foot in two different worlds. He is a naturalized citizen who came to the U.S. from Ireland in his teens so he still holds tight the moral tenants of faith and family. But his introduction to America was brutal - his little brother was abducted and killed - so he has a finely honed sense of responsibility to those who are marginalized and without power or wealth. I mixed him up with a partner named Cori Anderson who is a practical Texas gal. I think they are a fabulous duo. Together they are going to explore all the boroughs, the nooks and crannies of Los Angeles. Severed Relations juxtaposes a rich enclave against the gritty underbelly of Hollywood. Severed Relations looks at a section of the city called Little Ethiopia. Readers are calling Finn a more sensitive Jack Reacher. Not a bad thing, I would say.

BD: Are you able to find a balance between writing and marketing?  If so, how? If not, how are you trying to do that?

RF: Even if I think I am balanced between the business and creative aspects of this business it will never feel that way. I have accepted that the world of digital marketing moves way to fast to keep up with everything, so I have chosen four basic ways to keep up with readers - Twitter, Facebook, advertising and occassional newsletters (I don't ever spam). I think writers need to be a little kinder to ourselves in terms of marketing and I hope that our readers will help out with the most effective marketing off all - word of mouth and reviews.

BD: What is something, other than reading great books, that fuels your imagination for your own stories?

RF: That's an easy one - travel. I have been some very unusual places - China in 1983, Hungary in 1985, Albania in 2011. Everywhere I travel I make sure to engage the people, learn the language and a bit about the culture. Many of the places I've been appear in my books; many of the people I've met become characters; much of the legal history of these place fuel my plots.
Buy it now!

BD: After being in the business for so long, do you find your level of enthusiasm has increased, or remained the same, from when you started? Did you ever consider an easier line of work, such as brain surgery?

RF: I checked into brain surgery but decided to pass. Same with sitting on the Supreme Court. Your question is really good, though, because it's something I've been thinking about the last few years and what I find is just when I think I'm ready to wind down I get an idea that just has to be explored. Then it's off to the races again. I don't think writers retire, but I do think we become more selective in our projects. Mine are getting more intricate.

BD: You've also written the very popular Witness series featuring attorney Josie Bates. Any chance you'll bring her back someday?

RF: Oh, she'll be back. I am really honored that I get reader letters about her all the time. This year I did write a Spotlight Novella called Hannah's Diary as a gift for my newsletter subscribers. It literally shines a spotlight on Hannah Sheraton (Josie's ward and the subject of Hostile Witness). It's about what happens to her between Hostile Witness and Silent Witness. I'm hoping to do a few more of these to keep the witness series fresh. I just haven't figured out what's going to happen in book eight. When I do, Josie will be back with a vengance.

BD: What else would you like to add?

RF: Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my two favorite people - Finn O'Brien and Josie Bates. I hope everyone will love the Finn O'Brien thrillers. They are definitely gritty. My favorite reviews so far of Severed Relations was "The bad guys were so bad" and 'Watch out, Hollywood will be calling'.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Stiletto Strikes Again!

Stiletto #2: The Fairmont Maneuver is now available for $2.99 so grab it!

An SOS brings C.I.A. agent Scott Stiletto to San Francisco. Ali Lewis was once a capable agent herself, before she left the covert world and took over her mother’s clothing company. When her father is murdered by a former business partner who wants the business, Stiletto is the one man Ali can trust to learn the truth behind the killing.

Legally, Stiletto’s hands are tied. There is only so much he can do to stir the pot of police corruption he soon discovers, led by a young inspector who has no interest in solving the crime. When evidence points to a growing international conspiracy orchestrated by Iran involving the smuggling of nuclear bomb parts, kidnapped scientists, and a decades-old mafia / Silicon Valley alliance the government has been powerless to stop, Stiletto has no choice but to break the rules and show this domestic enemy what .45-caliber justice looks like.

Get ready for a non-stop thrill ride … you’ve never read action like this before!