Monday, April 20, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Taya Okerlund, Author

Taya Okerlund, Author
Taya Okerlund likes to “crash differences” in her writing, and is getting ready to release HURRICANE COLTRANE, a new novel set in Hurricane, Utah, a real town with characters whose traits she pulled from real people. She integrates several themes, including music, family, friendship, polygamy, and the search for an unknown father. She has written the book to be entertaining but hopes young readers “come away more comfortable with themselves and more willing to let other people be different.”

Okerlund currently lives on the San Francisco peninsula, although she has lived throughout the United States, studied in Asia, and has “roots” in Utah. She is working on her next novel—a comic thriller. She likes to spend time with her husband and daughter, and enjoys visiting fabric stores.

Don't miss the excerpt following the interview, and the opportunity to pre-order the e-book version at a discount.

Q: Your novel HURRICANE COLTRANE integrates several themes, including, music, family, friendship, polygamy, the search for an unknown father. What inspired you to integrate these into one story?

Taya Okerlund: I love Chaim Potok’s The Chosen. The most crashing differences are often couched between the closest neighbors. HURRICANE COLTRANE is not a re-telling, but I took a minority American religion and crossed it with its red-headed, oft-despised fundamentalist splinter group.

For Robbie, I pitted a culturally impossible aspiration (music) against immovable family loyalty. 

I have special sympathy for my narrating character, however. Merrill Hinton is emotionally wounded by his mother’s secrecy and embattled by his peers’ judgment. His intrepid mind leads him into a world well beyond his depth and into very deep water.

Q: Your title cites Coltrane, a saxophonist, but your cover shows a photo of a trombone. Is there a reason that you connected the two? How did you come up with the title?

Taya Okerlund: Merrill plays the trombone. Robbie plays sax, though it’s when Robbie has “borrowed” Merrill’s trombone that the two first meet. My publisher wanted to keep some ambiguity as to the identity of the boy on the cover, because it is a dual story arc.

Hurricane is a real town. None of the setting is fictionalized. Since Robbie loves to play jazz sax, I made him Hurricane’s own Coltrane. It felt kind of snappy and my publisher likes it.

Q: How do you help readers engage with your characters? Why do we care what happens to them? Have you based them on real people? Are they heroes?

Taya Okerlund: They are types of real people…portions of people. If you’d asked me whether this story was autobiographical two months ago, I would have denied it flat. But then I was thinking about this very question, and I realized Merrill’s cantankerousness is pulled straight from a difficult period of my childhood. His intelligence more closely resembles my husband. I had no idea I had drawn heavily from an awkward period of my youth until just recently. So my narrating character is a composite of me, and my husband.

I care about my characters. They are the memes of my youth, and they stand for many of my fondest hopes—real friendship, self-acceptance, and self-actualization. I think other readers may care about the same things.

Q: How helpful is the setting to tell your story? How important, for example, is the polygamy community? Could you have told this story in another location, e.g., San Francisco, or would it have been a different story?

Taya Okerlund: The Utah desert was settled at a time inhospitable to life. Without a canal system on par with the ancient Egyptians (no exaggeration) the community that eventually thrived there could never have existed.

Those were my people. They were great survivors, but often hard-bitten and cynical. They were living on the rough fringe of the social fabric…a community of exiles, and I’m not talking about polygamy. The polygamists still are, in fact, exiles, but in a self-imposed way.

Southern Utah is inhospitable, but its landscape is glorious. (If you’ve ever visited, then you know what I mean.) I believe my characters are an outgrowth of that landscape, both rough and yet rich at the same time.

This piece of the country and the people who settled it are important to the story. There are polygamist compounds in Texas and Canada, but this story is unique to southern Utah.

Q: Did your upbringing influence your writing? How?

Taya Okerlund: I don’t know if it was my upbringing per se, but I was a solitary child, and not very clever extemporaneously. I spent a lot of time in my head, often creating dialogues where I could finally respond to people in ways I thought smart. It was excellent author practice.

Q: Did you write HURRICANE COLTRANE to deliver a message, educate, or just to entertain? What do you expect a young reader to take away from it?

Taya Okerlund: Entertainment was paramount. This isn’t a soap-box story. I wrote it to be a fun read and I think I succeeded. But I didn’t disguise who I am. That can’t be helped and shouldn’t be. I hope young readers come away more comfortable with themselves and more willing to let other people be different. I hope they will be a little easier on each other…that they give a pass to the really annoying boy or girl who asks for trouble, and possibly deserves whatever she gets. This because we all have rough edges, and the thing is to keep them exposed so we can wear them down gradually.

Q: Does the concept of “villain vs hero” apply to your story?

Taya Okerlund: Not especially. There are no real villains here. None but misguided, sometimes horribly, humanity.

Q: What was the most difficult part about writing your story? How did you overcome the difficulty?

Taya Okerlund: I had a crisis of confidence at one point during revisions. I pushed through it and pulled the trigger with a smaller press. I do think it all came out well, but I’m still going on faith.

Q: What’s next?

Taya Okerlund: I’m working on a comic thriller. It's untitled, but is about the daughter of a fallen Chinese Communist Party leader arrested for corruption (hint: not really). The Chinese security service is chasing my heroine now and she's got to outrun the service and survive on limited funds until she turns eighteen and can claim the family fortune stashed in Swiss vaults. 

Q: Tell us about Taya Okerlund. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Taya Okerlund: I like to spend time with my husband and daughter, going to beautiful places in nature, relaxing and be quiet.

I like creative work…fabric stores--you should definitely go in after me if I get lost in one. I used to like to travel, but I’m too tired now. I like short weekend trips to Monterey, and food, if I could still eat it.

About Taya Okerlund

I grew up all over the United States, and studied in East Asia, though my roots reach deep into the southern Utah desert where most of my members still live. I currently keep house on the San Francisco Peninsula with my story-adoring husband and daughter who keep me busy and inspired.”

·      Merrill Hinton is a lightning rod in a town named for bad weather. He's an ace in math, but not smart enough to put together the pieces of his puzzling life, especially where finding his unknown father is concerned.
·      Musical genius Robbie Stubbs was born in nearby polygamist compound Colorado City. He has the chops to become another John Coltrane, but that will take running away from home, and into a firestorm of controversy--the kind his friend Merrill knows best.
·      Merrill sets Robbie onto a course that could rocket them both onto center stage, but being the focus of wide public attention will create serious issues. Robbie's mother is not well, and the shock of her son breaking the family rules like this may put her over the edge.

Hurricane, Utah, is the sticks. Not the deep sticks, like Virgin, a few miles up the mesa—and believe me, we take it personally if you can’t tell the difference—but it’s still the sticks. Hurricane will never be like Park City or other small towns movie stars put on the map.

The good thing about Hurricane is it’s on the road to somewhere. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, in fact. If you’re visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, at some point you have to find yourself in Hurricane—not because it’s your destination, but because your path lies through it.

For me, Hurricane is a starting point, not a destination . . . hopefully. But for Robbie Stubbs, Hurricane’s a mere pit stop. He is meant for the sticks even less than I am. He is going somewhere, and I’m not talking about the Grand Canyon. By the time I met him, he was already in trouble. But the road between the sticks and somewhere is never easy-going.

Pre-release sale of e-book! Click here

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Peter T. McQueeny, Author

Peter T. McQueeny, Author
Peter T. McQueeny has always enjoyed science fiction, and credits a science-centric upbringing and Isaac Asimov with creating that love. So it follows that he would write science fiction. His book of three SciFi stories, titled 3 FUTURES, is “the thinking person’s SciFi,” that “leaves the reader’s mind to run openly through the possibilities of life in the distant future while playing back to the essential qualities of an actual plot running parallel,” according to reviewers. McQueeny says his “only real motive… was to entertain.”

McQueeny plans to continue all three stories in 3 FUTURES and is also working on other writings, which he hopes to publish soon. He lives in Arkansas with his wife, two dogs, and cat. He says he and his wife are foodies and love to cook, and he is a fan of tobacco pipes and heavy metal concerts.

Q: Why did you choose to write science fiction? What is there about building “entire universes” that entices you?

Peter T. McQueeny: I've always been attracted to SciFi.  My dad was a mechanical engineer, which falls under the umbrella of "science", and growing up, science was a big part of my life.  We spent a lot of evenings sitting on the back porch while dad smoked cigars, and we would have "science talk" where my brothers and I would ask questions we were curious about, and try to stump my dad.  During those years, my family went on two or three road trips a year, and we would always listen to audiobooks.  One year, we happened to pick up Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov, and over the course of the next few trips, we listened through the entire Foundation series.  It sparked an interest in me that hasn't diminished in the intervening years.  It was like I found a way to take the science questions that I wondered about, invent new answers, and play with the results.

Q:  3 FUTURES is a collection of three stories – three “new and original” worlds. My SciFi author friends say it is difficult to build unique worlds. Yet you chose to create three. What’s involved in creating a new universe and setting a story in it? Is it easier or more difficult than setting a plot in an already-existing place?

 Peter T. McQueeny: I'd say it's definitely more difficult to create new worlds than to use existing ones.  In a story, you don't always know what granular details are going to wind up being important, but in contemporary settings, you can always draw on your own knowledge of the existing world.  In SciFi, you have to spend that time building a database of little details that you can draw upon as needed.  I think of worldbuilding like stocking a pantry.  You don't need to put the entire pantry in any one dish.  I'm lucky—to me, worldbuilding is the most fun part of writing, so I walked into this project with a well stocked pantry.  The truth is, these stories are part of a grander design that I've been working on for the past five years.  There's a lot more to come, so stay tuned!

Q: Do you agree with reviewers who claim, “Technically, it’s Science Fiction, but really it’s so much more”?  This is “The Thinking Person’s SciFi.” Why? Were you trying to deliver a message? Educate?

Peter T. McQueeny: My only real motive with these stories was to entertain, but as a Philosophy major, "thoughtful" stuff is more entertaining to me.  I'm definitely not trying to preach any sort of message, but I do enjoy playing around with grand concepts, and stirring up people's minds.  I may not be trying to communicate my own ideals, but I try to craft characters with firm ideals, so I'm not surprised if it comes across that way.

Q: What makes readers believe in your worlds enough to become involved in them? How do you create credibility or is believability not important?

Peter T. McQueeny: It's all about character.  If you can create a believable character, readers will accept whatever happens to them.  I think Hidden Deeds and Upon the Summit definitely center on strong characters (whom I plan on developing a lot more in future books), but Walker, The Prophet is part of a much more nebulous and experimental project.  I was surprised that a lot of people I talked to latched onto that story as their favorite.  To me, it's just a vignette, but I think people found it convincing because the world its set in—a post-apocalyptic wasteland—is one we can all envision.  On the one hand, it's kinda unfortunate that it's so easy for people to envision the human race destroying itself, but on the other hand, Walker is a story about people coming back from that destruction. It's the bare beginnings of us rebuilding after a cataclysm, and I think that's an emotional space that many people are familiar with.  So believability has nothing to do with gadgets and "hard" SciFi, it all comes down to emotion.

Q: What influenced your stories in 3 FUTURES? Upbringing? Education? Family?

Peter T. McQueeny: As I said before, upbringing, family, and education were all part of it.  I was brought up in a family to whom science and religion were equally important, so both of those influences pop up in my writing.  But If I were to point to any specific thing that influenced these three, I'd have to give all the credit to Isaac Asimov.  His writing is such a huge influence on me; the way he worked deep themes in without getting preachy, the way he built immense, fantastic worlds and populated them with relatable characters... Asimov has blown my mind so many times.  Everything I write is just an attempt to return the favor.

Q: How relevant are your characters to telling your story? What makes your readers embrace them and care what happens to them?

Peter T. McQueeny: I'd like to think that my stories hinge completely on character.  I try really hard to keep the description and exposition to a minimum, because usually that's where SciFi authors get into trouble.  They're always willing to stop the story dead in its tracks to deliver a lecture, and I try really hard not to do that. 

Whenever I create a character, my hope is that people will care about them because the characters care about important things.  I'm a guy who lives in terms of concepts and ideas, so I create characters who are defined by concepts and ideas. I hope that readers can see my characters taking up the banners of these competing ideas and fighting for them.  That's what makes me care about characters, so it's natural that I ask the same of my readers.

Q: How helpful is the concept of “villains versus heroes” to your stories, or to science fiction in general?

Peter T. McQueeny: I believe that everybody loves an old-fashioned "Good vs. Evil" story, whether they admit it or not.  But I also really love stories that hinge on two competing goals that are both "good" from a certain point of view.  In my work overall, I'd say it's about half and half.  Jim Frankenstein's adventures will pretty much always feature a clear-cut bad guy.  He's an adventure hero, and I like him that way.  But other stories I write are more "realistic" in the sense that everyone is the good guy in their own story.  As a writer, I think it's important to do it both ways, because "Good vs. Good" stories are realistic, but "Good vs. Evil" stories are just plain fun to read.

Q: You are a writer.  “The Seraphim Universe” screams that it is so. What’s your favorite type of writing? Fiction? Blogging? All of it? Why did you choose to write? Besides science fiction what are some of your favorite topics?

Peter T. McQueeny: God, if it can be done with words, I've probably at least tried.  There have been moments when I've loved all kinds of writing.  I did a lot of cookbooks early in my career, as freelance work, and I really loved that for a while.  I do like blogging too, because I feel like there's a more conversational element to it.  But honestly, the thing I keep coming back to is fiction.  SciFi is the most natural for me because it fits in with my mindset.  But what really keeps me doing it is learning about story structure and all the underlying principles of fiction writing.  Every time I read a book about writing, I feel like Peter Parker on the day he discovered that he can climb walls.  I'm just itching to try it out.

As far as why I chose to write, the simple answer is that I was just never good at anything else.  I believe that an intelligent person can learn anything they want to, and I like to think of myself as intelligent.  But with other trades, I always had to work really hard to force the knowledge in.  Writing is completely transparent to me.  Any time I read some fact or bit of knowledge regarding writing, I understand it immediately and remember it forever.  To me, that's how you know what you were "meant" to do.  I'm just following the path of least resistance.

Q: What’s next? Will you be publishing an expanded version of any of these three stories in 3 FUTURES?

Peter T. McQueeny: I've got a lot on deck right now.  Too much, really.  I'm working as an editor with Catharsis, who is about to put out a new book by a great author named Tom Treweek.  I don't want to give away much more, but I'm really looking forward to that project.  As far as my own stuff goes, I plan on continuing all three of the stories in 3 Futures.  I'm in the process of editing the first Jim Frankenstein novel, and I expect to be submitting to publishers by the end of summer (wish me luck!).  Walker, the Prophet is part of a collection of short stories that I've been working on for years, Tales of Unknown Earth.  I hope to eventually publish that with Catharsis, but it'll be a while before it sees the light of day.  Upon the Summit is also part of a larger story, but I have no immediate plans to continue that.  It just depends what takes flight first.  The next thing people can expect to see from me is two short stories.  One is called Deep, and it's currently making the rounds with publishers, so I hope you can find it online soon.  The other doesn't have a title yet, but it concerns the struggles of a farmer on a newly-founded world.  I hope to self-publish that one in the next 2-3 months.

Q: Tell us about Peter T. McQueeny. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Peter T. McQueeny: My wife and I are both big foodies, we enjoy cooking and entertaining.  We're also animal lovers, and we spend a lot of time with our two dogs and cat.  I'm a tobacco pipe enthusiast, and I enjoy collecting and smoking pipes.  I'm also a huge fan of heavy metal, and I try to get to concerts whenever I can.

About Peter T. McQueeny

Peter McQueeny grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, KS.  He studied Philosophy at the University of Kansas, and spent a decade bouncing from job to job in the restaurant & retail industries.  He met his wife Stephanie in 2008, and after a move to Los Angeles, decided to take up writing full time.  They now live in Arkansas with their dogs Tini and Smitty, and their cat Davy.  Peter enjoys cooking, pipe smoking, heavy metal, superhero movies, and beer pong.


3 FUTURES is the ideal introduction to the work of Peter T. McQueeny.  Featuring a conversational foreword from the author, this book is a perfect weekend read for the casual SciFi fan or the neophyte looking for an approachable starting point in this vast and popular genre.

The first story, Hidden Deeds is taken from the series Jim Frankenstein, Rock & Roll Space Priest, which chronicles the adventures of Father Jim Frankenstein.  In Hidden Deeds, Jim travels to Earth's Moon to investigate a possible case of demonic possession.  Instead, he finds government corruption, new enemies, and a monster he believed to exist only in fairy tales.

Walker, The Prophet is the overture to a forthcoming story-cycle entitled Tales of Unknown Earth, which details the trials and tribulations of those who survive Earth's final disaster.  Walker, The Prophet shows us a vignette of human society as it crawls out of the rubble of the past, and gives us insight into the stories that shape it.

Upon the Summit of the City is drawn from The Colonist Saga, a far-reaching group of stories concerning the fate of human civilization as it reaches outward into the galaxy.  In Upon the Summit of the City, we get our first look at Arkat Rowland Hawkes, a seemingly innocuous hypnophobe whose understanding of the universe is revolutionized by an encounter with a strange relic from the past.


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Author Links

Twitter: @FrFrankenstein

Monday, April 6, 2015


H.L. Katz, Author
H. L. Katz brings us CAPITOL CRIMES, highlighted by a reviewer as “a suspenseful DC thriller.” Katz describes himself as someone who closely follows current events and has created a novel that he fears could happen. Although he has written his novel mostly to entertain, he encourages readers to pay attention to what’s happening in the world so that we can “take back what is rightfully ours-our own government.”
Katz, a husband, father and grandfather, currently lives in the eastern U.S. He is writing a sequel to CAPITOL CRIMES and another novel in a different genre. He works in the private sector and also coaches athletics.

Q: One of your reviewers fears that CAPITOL CRIMES hits “a little too close to home.” How did you conceive of the plot? 
H.L. Katz: I am an avid follower of current events and situations in every day life that seem a bit out of place. Additionally, I try to understand politics from different prisms not the least of which are geo-political circumstances that surround even the most simplest of decisions. As someone who attempts to understand the motivations behind each of those events, I like to play the writer's "what if" game as in "what if this happened" instead of what may have actually taken place. I know I am far from unique in that regard, but I do believe the plot and its intrigue are fresh and captivating with a heavy dose of reality that indeed hits a little too close to home.
Q: How relevant is it to us today?
H.L. Katz: I am of the opinion that not only is the plot extremely relevant to us today, but someplace in the deep recesses of my mind, I fear this book may indeed be a case of life imitating art. I have always believed citizens should have a say in how they are governed. Sadly, the American electorate seems to know more about Jay Z and Beyonce, than they do about Iran and a potential nuclear weapon. The only way the governed can be silently imprisoned by those that govern them is because they were busy not paying attention. As our freedoms continue to slowly erode and those in power work daily to make sure they stay in power, the governed are left wondering how that happened and what recourses they have, if any, to change it. CAPITOL CRIMES is eerily relevant and I wonder if that is actually a good thing for our country and the world. 

Q: Your reviewers also appreciate your ability to build suspense. How do you create a “page turner?”
H.L. Katz: I actually consider myself an untrained "ham-and-egger" so I am probably the wrong person to ask this question to, but I remember a long time ago a former boss of mine used to say "Never give them too much, but always leave them wanting more." While that applied to my work at the time, I think that sort of advice goes a long way in generating a page turner. I try to stay away from being too spot on in dialogue and look to create a story that not only helps the reader turn the page, but builds a world in which events are far from neat and tidy. On the contrary. Like any great story, the challenges your protagonists face on each page should not only be relatable to your reader, but should take them to a place they have never been and never want to leave. 

 Q: You chose to feature a woman as your protagonist. Why did you choose a woman? 
H.L. Katz: I was intrigued by the challenges that she presented to me as a writer. While I don't think it's easy to write a male character, giving voice to a woman and making her believable throughout close to 400 pages seemed like something I could not pass up. I like to think I was able to meet that challenge head on, however I will leave it to the reader to decide. Additionally, I think in the political thriller genre, female protagonists are few and far between and most definitely underrepresented. I thought Callie Wheeler would be a refreshing change to the landscape. Again, I believe the readers will let me know if indeed that is the case.
Q: What characteristics did you assign her to engage readers? 
H.L. Katz: I think Callie is a complex mixture of a multitude of characteristics. She has adaptability and confidence. Toughness and loyalty. She's diligent and kind, while also being resourceful, vindictive and manipulating. Readers will be drawn to her toughness and willingness to be brutally honest while at the same time irritated by where it seemingly leads her. Without giving too much of the book away, Callie sets off on a journey that spins her life out of control and calls on all of these characteristics and them some. It is ultimately her wrestling with these and many other characteristics that hopefully engage the reader, move the story forward and make her a complex multi-dimensional character readers care about.
Q: How relevant is the concept of “villains vs heroes” in CAPITOL CRIMES
H.L. Katz: I think the concept of villains vs heroes is at play from the first page until the last. Interestingly enough, the concept of hero might be different for each reader. Nevertheless, the hero in this novel may be someone you least expect. There are plenty of villains in Capitol Crimes but only a few drive the plot forward on a consistent basis. 
Q: What makes an effective villain? 
H.L. Katz: I think an effective villain stretches the readers’ limits and imagination. I believe an effective villain crosses lines that most people would never cross themselves if faced with the exact same choice and on top of that the effective villain makes their choices with no remorse. On the contrary, the effective villain actually enjoys the havoc he/she creates and builds upon that with each subsequent action. Ideally, the boundaries of the villain then expand almost uncontrollably. The truly effective villain however, never lets you see them coming. There are those you see and those you don't. They both drive the story and while they both conjure up emotions, the one you don't see can be far more dangerous than the one you do. I guess I will leave you with this: is the villain you see more effective than the villain you don't? 
Q: Are your characters a bit of both?  Is your protagonist your hero?
H.L. Katz: Yes, I think some important and complicated characters in CAPITOL CRIMES blur the line between villain and hero leaving the reader engrossed in the moral quandary that makes them question exactly who is what not only during the story, but even after they have finished. Most people, I believe, have tendencies to be both a hero and a villain in their daily lives. But for their own moral compass, they make decisions that lead them to be either. I think the best characters in novels have those same tendencies and characteristics. With that as my guide, the characters in CAPITOL CRIMES are complicated people who wrestle with their own sometimes blurred lines of right and wrong and what they are willing to do or not do to insure their own survival. I like to think it is that very thin line that keeps the reader turning the page again and again.
As for the protagonist, well, therein lies the rub. 

Q: How important is credibility to telling your story? What kind of research did you do to assure believability?
H.L. Katz: I think readers give the writer a certain level of suspension of belief in regards to fiction, but in a political thriller or a love story for instance, as opposed to the paranormal, the reader expects the story to be anchored to reality and in that sense I think credibility is important. In order to deliver that, I spent hours upon hours of interviews and research on the lobbying trade, along with the inner workings of Congressional and Presidential daily lives. With the help of a few industry insiders, I was able to lend that aura of credibility to the story. Like any author, there are a few times I may rely on the readers’ suspension for fiction, but for the most part, if the story is far from reality in this genre, it tends to fall flat. For a writer's audience to buy into the story, it has to be believable in the readers imagination not just the writers.
Q: Does accuracy add to suspense? Do back-story details help?
H.L. Katz: I think historical accuracy, which I rely on quite a few times in the book, not only adds to the believability of the characters, but it can add to suspense if used correctly. Because of that, back-story helps the reader imagine the character in a more defined way and can see them living inside the book and ultimately, in the readers mind. In the case of CAPITOL CRIMES, I think accuracy within the back-story actually helps the story move forward and gives the reader a deeper insight into each character. I did struggle at times with how much back-story is enough or too much, but my editor's advice regarding "if it doesn't move the story forward, it doesn't belong" helped me limit how much depth I needed to add. I like to think I got it right, but again, I will leave that for the reader to decide.
Q: How helpful was your own background to writing CAPITOL CRIMES?
H.L. Katz: More than my own background, I think my relationships with some very influential people in Washington, helped craft the book. My own background as a political observer for many years, drew me to the project, but in truth it was my relationships with people who work in both the Lobbying industry and Government, that were most helpful in bringing a credible novel to fruition. 

Q: Did you write CAPITOL CRIMES strictly to entertain, or did you also want to deliver a message? Educate?
H.L. Katz: I wrote CAPITOL CRIMES first and foremost to entertain. That being said, I would be lying if I said I didn't want to deliver a message. As I mentioned before, I think the American people are asleep and while they are not paying attention, a lot of nasty things are happening right under their noses. I believe it is time to wake up and take back what is rightfully ours-our own government. As Thomas Jefferson said, and I will paraphrase due to my lack of eloquence, a citizenry that fears their government, lives under tyranny, but a government that lives in fear of its citizens, that is freedom. I hope the reader will walk away knowing that while they've gotten lost in "The Walking Dead" or "Mad Men" there were some real bad people doing and still trying to do bad things to America and her citizenry. 
Q: How helpful is humor to telling your story or developing your characters?
H.L. Katz: I think humor can be a wonderful tool in getting to core issues and character development without the story becoming stagnant or maybe even blasé. I think all relationships are buoyed in some way with humor and the use of it in fiction lends a certain believability to your characters and invites the reader into a very real give and take they can relate to from within their own lives. Most of all, a writer needs their readers to connect to their story and their characters. Humor offers a tangible attraction for the reader to hold on to and when used intelligently, will leave them wanting more.

Q: What’s next? Will you be writing more novels?

H.L. Katz: I am working on a sequel to CAPITOL CRIMES, which I hope to finish by the end of the summer. I am also working on another story although not in the same genre. I never thought I'd end up writing a novel and getting it published on top of that, but now that I have, it seems I have tripped into the start of something new. While that is exciting, it also has to be revenue-generating for it to become a career. It is my hope that your blog and this terrific opportunity you have given me and many others, will go a step towards doing just that. On that note, I wanted to thank you for your platform and how generous you are with your time. I, for one, am very appreciative of the opportunity. Thank you so much. 
Q: Tell us about H.L. Katz. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
H.L. Katz: Truth be told, I am a pretty boring person. I am the father of eight children: five of my own, a son-in-law and two daughters-in-law-and a grandfather to four. I have tried my best to raise responsible adults who live a life infused with integrity and character. I believe I have done that based on the actions of my offspring and the lives they have carved out for themselves. Of that I am very proud. Other than that, I have worked in athletics for more than three decades and have developed cherished relationships with my players that mean more to me than money can put a price on. When I am not writing, I like spending time with my wife who is the love of my life and the best decision I ever made, and helping others through acts of kindness that hopefully go unnoticed. I do like to study and do things to enhance my knowledge of all things important and hope each day I have improved the world we live in.  I do enjoy watching and teaching basketball on all levels, but after that, I am pretty much an empty page. Lastly, I try and live every day hoping My Creator is proud of me-I suppose on that, only time will tell. 

About H.L. Katz

H.L. Katz has been a keen observer of the political landscape both in America and abroad for more than three decades. He works in the private sector and has also coached athletics on every level. He has tried to instill in his players a love for life and all that is good. He is a happily married father and grandfather who currently resides on the east coast of the United States. CAPITOL CRIMES is his first book and is currently working on his next Callie Wheeler novel.

Ripped from today’s headlines, CAPITOL CRIMES is a gripping tale of political intrigue, espionage and personal destruction. Callie Wheeler always seemed destined for great things. She landed the job of her dreams straight out of Law School and rose to prominence as the top lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Mike Ferguson is Callie’s fiancĂ© and a CIA operative. He is in pursuit of terrorists who threaten to destroy America and in the process, discovers information that hits a little too close to home. Kacey Mercer is Callie’s best friend and a reporter at the Washington Post. She uncovers a story of political corruption that has Callie’s fingerprints all over it. As Callie’s charmed life begins to unravel, her enemies in Congress who have plenty of their own secrets to hide, pounce on her misfortune. It is only after Callie discovers how deep the corruption actually goes, that she is forced to choose between America’s demise or her own.

“Oh, Mike. Remember, tomorrow night we are at the Kennedy Center for the President's birthday party.”
Callie reached across the table for her daily planner. She pulled it towards her, opened it up and removed the raised lettered invitation.
“What time does that start?” 
“Private dinner at six, program at eight, reception afterwards,” Callie said. She closed her planner and ran her fingers across the raised black lettering.
Mike picked his head up from the Post, looked at his beautiful wife-to-be and took a drink from his coffee mug. “Remind me again why we have to go to this thing?”
“Umm...Because he's your boss?”
“Oh, right.”
          The ring from the house phone interrupted their conversation. Callie stood up from her chair to answer it. Mike couldn't help but stare at Callie's creamy long legs. He smiled as he admired her perfect structure and took a long sip of his coffee without losing sight of her finely trimmed physique. Callie picked up the phone with her right hand, shifting the invitation still in her left one.
No response from the other line.  
Callie was about to hang up the phone when she dropped the invitation on the floor. At the exact moment she bent down to pick it up, a bullet pierced through the bay window in the front of the house. The bullet impaled itself into the wooden support next to the sliding doors, directly behind where Callie stood just a moment before.
“Callie! Stay down!”  
“Stay down!”
Mike, his gun already drawn from the holster on the back of his belt, rushed over to Callie and moved her behind him and against the kitchen wall. He used his body to shield her as he crouched over and quickly rushed her to the corner of the den away from the sight-lines of the bay window and the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck. He looked around, still protecting her and motioned her behind the couch. “Callie, go over there and don’t move. I’m serious. Stay.”
Within seconds another bullet, this time coming from the back of the house, shattered the sliding doors. It was followed by a rally of five more shots that exploded inside the house, but missed their intended targets each time. Mike surveyed the situation and checked on Callie’s safety once more, while he contemplated his next move. 
“Stay behind there, Callie. Don’t do anything stupid. Stay there.”
Mike, now looking to go on the offensive, remained out of the line of fire as another round of bullets came flying through what was left of the glass doors. Pressing his back against the wall, he caught the shooter’s reflection in a picture frame across from what used to be the sliding doors. Callie had insisted on hanging the picture of Mike and Akiva in the living room instead of Mike’s study where he wanted it to be. He checked the glass protecting the photo and caught a glimpse of the shooter, who had made his way onto the deck, only steps away from entering the house. He stepped in front of the shattered glass and lodged two bullets dead center in the shooters forehead from less than ten yards away. 
Not knowing if there were any more snipers around, Mike turned over the kitchen table and took cover behind it. From a distance, the sound of police sirens rang out and he knew that within moments they would be at his front door. 
“What the hell?” Law enforcement was already in transit. That didn't make sense. He turned around and saw Callie curled up behind the couch, the kitchen phone still in her hand.
Mike looked out at the shattered bay window and saw the police approaching the house with their guns drawn. He told Callie to stay where she was before greeting the officers at the door.


Twitter address @coachk09