If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Term Limits by Vince Flynn, which is why I became an author in the first place. His writing, his characterization, everything stood out to me. I wanted to develop somebody like Mitch Rapp, and I think I succeeded with Jon Jericho, the main character in the Hunter series.
What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
I love Thrillers in the vein of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, mainly. And I also love Thrillers with a connection to action/adventure ell. I think fast-paced novels really feed the appetites of todays’ readers.
How important is research to you when writing a book?
Very. Though I do take certain liberties and licenses to bend the truth in order to make the story work. It is, after all, fiction.
How often do you write?
It all depends. Some days I’m in the mood to write and other days I’m not. That’s the blessing of being an author. You work your hours during moments of inspiration. Since I make my living strictly as a writer, I try to sit down every day and type out a few words, anywhere from 1000 to 5000.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
It’s not too difficult, at least not for me. Writing is something I have come to enjoy over the past 30+ years.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I actually start with a title, which is odd enough. Then I take additional ideals from current events, which is obvious in CABAL, and piece them together. Then I allow the natural flow of incidents to take place logically as I see them play out. In other words: if this event happens, then this has to happen. I have never written an outline to any of my novels.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Actually, I read very little since I’m a slow reader. But I do read. I actually learned storylines and characterization through watching and studying high-end Thriller movies, and took substantial notes. That’s probably why all my books read like movies, or so I’m told.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
For me, and this is always subjective, is pacing and characterization. If you’re going to read a Thriller, then it has to be quick. But the main character also has to be more than likeable and flawed since that has become the rule of thumb in the industry.
What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Extremely important. An eye-catching cover, preferably bright in hue and speaks ‘action,’ along with a good title (just as important), and the synopsis on the back cover is more than half the battle in trying to get someone to pick up your book. A poor cover, one that looks cheap, will probably never get off the shelf.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
In the words of Vince Lombardi: Winners never quit and quitters never win. Live by these words because I truly believe that determination and perseverance will get you there every time.
Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
Yes. ‘Salems Lot by Stephen King. Since I was a slow reader and had difficulties as a child due to zero-comprehension, it was the first book I was able to read fully and understand from beginning to end. It was a doorway that finally opened to me.
Which book inspired you to begin writing?
A few, really. Mostly books by Stephen King, Vince Flynn and Robert R. McCammon. I know, a strange combination, but one that worked for me.
How realistic are your books?
As realistic as possible. But I also add non-realistic elements to make the book race. Like I said before: it’s fiction. And usually reality isn’t as quite as exiting.
Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
No. I strictly make my living as a writer. You know the adage: Don’t quit your day job if you want to be a writer. Well, I did. And it worked out for me. I’ve been blessed.
Have any of your books been adapted into a feature film?
Not yet. However, the Vatican Knights series has recently drawn the interest from an award-nominated producer who has held extremely high-end positions with major production companies, for possible adaption, with offices in Hollywood and London. Talks are ongoing, however. So here’s to keeping fingers crossed.
Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?
It is every author’s obligation to market their own work. Without marketing, then there’s no visibility.
Are you satisfied with your success?
Yes. But as a writer you always strive for the next level. Be ambitious and never settle. The moment you settle, then you begin to stagnate.
Was it all too easy for you – the writing, the publication, and the sales?
No. I don’t think it ever is. But like I said before: Determination and perseverance will get you there all the time.
What is the secret to becoming a bestselling author?
Honestly, I think it’s 30% writing and 70% luck. I’ve read books that I thought were horrible but became bestsellers. But then again: it’s all subjective. If you become a writer, then you have to realize that some people are going to like you, some are going to hate you, and some will be indifferent to you. But if you can get more to like you than the other two listed, then you’re winning the game.
What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?
Stick with it. If you give up at any time, then this business is not for you. You have to have a thick skin.
Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
If you’re asking about my works, then any of the Vatican Knights, or at least an adaption from any of the works. But right now I’d have say Night of the Hunter, since it’s current and could really happen.
How much of a say do you have when your books are being adapted into films?
Well, since we’re still in talks, the producer has informed me that they like to work closely with the author because they have the inside track on how a certain character should be. But again, still in the talking stages.
What other genres do you enjoy reading?
Action/Adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones and lost relics. Horror. Maybe a combination of both.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
Currently working on Book #10 of the Vatican Knights. Probably after that, the sequel to Night of the Hunter, which the plot is brewing in my head.
Have you ever written a character with an actor in mind?
Absolutely. I see Dave Bautista, who plays Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, a fine actor, as the leading male. And Kate Beckinsale, a great lead for any of my female characters.
And who is that one author you would love to write the biography of?
Vince Flynn. A phenomenal talent taken too soon. He’s my mentor, my teacher, everything about his Mitch Rapp novels are exceptional. Though he was dyslexic, he ultimately fought and overcame to succeed in a big way.