1:What can you tell us about your new ebook, Justified Sins?
Here’s my back cover copy: When Sheila Webster’s husband is killed a after double-crossing the men who hired him to crack one last safe, she finds herself the next target. What her husband stole, he managed to hide, and now the men who hired him are after her to get the stolen goods back. There’s only one person she can turn to. Her foster brother. A dangerous man named Mr. Pierce.
Justified Sins is my take on the vigilante action novels of the ‘70s, like “The Executioner” series, which I read almost exclusively when I was young. This genre is actually hard to write, I discovered, as there are certain liberties one must take with reality, more so than you would expect, when you have a fellow like Mr. Pierce, the hero. People simply cannot go around shooting bad guys and blowing stuff up real good without somebody asking questions. On the flip side there is a strong emphasis on the characters and their relationships to one another, and I think that helps elevate the story from its genre limitations.
2:What inspired you to write about a vigilante?
I wanted to write about a hero who wasn’t a cop or a private eye; somebody who could wear the white hat but be totally independent from the usual cast of heroes in urban action stories. That meant a vigilante who had his own moral code and reasons for wanting to strike at criminals and help victims who have nowhere else to turn. The hero, a crime victim himself, takes every case personally as he’s trying to prevent the tragedy that happened to him from repeating with somebody else. Thus we have Mr. Pierce. He’s not totally alone, though, he does have two key allies in local law enforcement who are sympathetic to the cause and help clean up whatever messes he makes.
3:How is Justified Sins different from other books in the action genre?
The book is less about action and adventure and more about how wrong decisions, from the hero taking the law into his own hands to the villains and their schemes, seem right when they’re made, but don’t hold up over time. I think we can all identify with that. How often do we make excuses, and lousy excuses, really, for the poor choices we make? How many people have we hurt because of our selfishness? That’s what the book is about.
4:You also have another ebook available, Reaper’s Dozen. What can you say about that one?
Reaper’s Dozen is a collection of twelve short crime and mystery stories. It’s my valentine to the hard-boiled stories from Black Mask magazine, and it’s dedicated to the magazine’s most influential editor, Joe Shaw. Shaw and his stable of writers, which include Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and Paul Cain and other big names, developed the American style of detective story as we know it today.
5: Both Reaper’s Dozen and Justified Sins have strong law enforcement elements. Do you have any connections in your local police department to give you such insight?
I don’t have any personal connections so for details like that I need to use the reporting skills I learned during my newspaper days. In the case of Justified Sins, I interviewed several drug enforcement agents to get the juicy details on the current state of the war on drugs. The war is far from being won, of course, and the agents were able to fill me in on some of the nastier elements which made it into the book, and the book is dedicated to those agents who gave me their time. They’re all hard-working people fighting a war nobody seems to want them to win. As for other details about police procedure and investigation, I have a bunch of books on that stuff so I just look things up.
6: Again both books have lots of different info on a large variety of firearms. Are you a gun enthusiast?
When I think of a gun enthusiast, I see somebody who has guns coming out his ears, and I have friends like that who buy a new gun every week. I like to shoot, but I only have a pair of personal weapons, so I don’t know if I’m in the “enthusiast” category. Is this the part where I mention that “gun control is six in the bull’s-eye”? Great. Got that out of the way, thanks. Next question.
7: Do you have any plans to bring back Pierce from Justified Sin to take part in any other stories? He is a very well developed character.
You’re not the only one to say you want more of Pierce; for now, all I can say is that Pierce appears in two of the short stories featured in Reaper’s Dozen, so that’s where you’ll have to get your fix for now. There was an entire subplot in the book that went deeper into his background, but I chopped it because somebody told me it was a little confusing and might be better as a stand-alone story. Now I’m not so sure that was the best decision because he’s becoming popular; also, I wound up using that material in another book since I didn’t expect I would write about Pierce again. However, since y’all seem to want him around, I will now have to come up with another angle to his character and do more with his story. I think the next obvious adventure is what he does when his identity and activities are discovered by a police detective who isn’t sympathetic to his cause. At the end of Justified Sins he’s in a position where he’ll be forced to grow emotionally, and I think that would be a good story, too.
8: I hear you have a spy thriller in the works. How is that coming along?
It’s almost done. In previous interviews I mentioned the book will be called The Eagle Intercept, but that’s no longer the case. I chose that title because I wanted something that was a throwback to the titles Robert Ludlum used to select for his books, but apparently I’m not the only one doing that, and I don’t want to get lost in the shuffle, so the title is now Heroes Wear Black, which, to me, is more provocative and hints at some of the story’s content. It’s about a pair of C.I.A. agents who have to determine whether or not the man who trained them—the father of one, the mentor of the other—has turned traitor. I didn’t want to churn out another kiss-kiss-bang-bang spy story. I almost didn’t want to do a spy story at all, until the family conflict presented itself. I don’t know any spies so I can’t identify with their world, but in Heroes Wear Black the spies are people with a job, and I have one of those and know other people who have jobs, too, so writing about people going to work made it an easy book to write. It just so happens that their job involves national security and a lot of kiss-kiss-bang-bang. I expect to have Heroes out by November.
9: What I like most about your stories is that you are thrown right into the action from the first paragraph, and the pace does not slow down from there. IfJustified Sins was to be made into a movie, who would you like to direct it?
Gosh, give me the easy question last, why don’t you. I have no idea, except that I hope this question goes from your mouth to God’s ears. I think the guy who has done the recent Batman movies (Christopher Nolan) would be a good choice, as I see Pierce as a Batman-Without-the-Costume. Bryan Singer is an amazing director and he would do a terrific job because I think he would dig into Pierce’s guarded emotional state and really make him a three-dimensional character. I think Singer would be my first choice. Maybe we can get Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects for Singer, to write the script. In fact, McQuarrie is a great director, too, so if he’s interested maybe he can do the job.
10:Where can we go to buy your books?
Both are available at the Amazon Kindle store and at Smashwords.Com. You can find direct links on my website, (www.briandrake88.blogspot.com), where I talk about books, writing, and whatever else life brings up.