Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Conversation with Mystery Author Michael Allan Scott

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Michael Allan Scott
with Michael Allan Scott

We are delighted to welcome Michael Allan Scott to Omnimystery News today.

Michael's second mystery to feature psychic Lance Underphal is Flight of the Tarantula Hawk (Telemachus Press; February 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats), and we recently had the opportunity to catch up with Michael and talk with him about the character and the series.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to Lance Underphal. And what is it about him that appeals to you as a writer?

Michael Allan Scott
Photo provided courtesy of
Michael Allan Scott

Michael Allan Scott: As The Dark Side of Sunset Pointe begins the series, we find Lance Underphal passed out in his broken down recliner. The down and out freelance photographer has suffered business and personal bankruptcy, wiped out by the Great Recession, hitting rock bottom when he lost his wife at the hands of a drunk driver.

Lance wakes up plagued by premonitions. The shooting of an Arizona real estate developer and his mistress/bookkeeper immerse Underphal in a world of paranormal phenomena — his worst nightmare.

Broke and living in squalor, Underphal struggles to expose shady real estate developers, crooked bankers, and a blackmailing stripper. With the guidance of his dead wife, Lance finds the courage to share his insights with a skeptical homicide detective as the body count mounts. Lance's only hope — the voice in his head, his dead wife.

For me, Lance Underphal's appeal lies in his potential. Desperate circumstances and his dire situation make for a long haul out of personal despair to an active, productive life, once again. Redemption will be his over the course of the series.

OMN: How do you expect the character to develop as the series continues?

MAS: Lance Underphal will gradually work his way through poor health, drug addiction, alcoholism, financial ruin and the loss of the only woman he ever loved to new levels of happiness and heights of awareness he never dreamed possible.

Additionally, it's important to note that Lance is only one of a core cast of protagonists. Other central characters over the course of the series include: Sonja Underphal, Lance's dead wife; Frank Salmon, Phoenix homicide detective; Jake Jacobs, ex-SEAL and owner/operator of Two Jakes, P.I.; and introduced at the conclusion of Flight of the Tarantula hawk, Callie Harper, Lance's potential new love interest.

OMN: Into which mystery subgenre do you place the books in this series?

MAS: The Lance Underphal mysteries don't fit comfortably into any one genre. Not noir, but owing a bit to noir, not horror, but owing a bit to the horror genre, they are sometimes police procedurals, other times precog fantasies. Like good jazz, they are a melding of styles, a melding of genres. With each new novel, I work to expand the boundaries of the mystery thriller genre.

Like most genre-bending authors, I'm saddled with genre limitations for marketing purposes. And as such there are both huge advantages and horrific disadvantages. It's a labeling system we are forced to live with. For classification purposes, my mystery books are listed as mystery/thriller/suspense. They also fit into lesser categories, such as: hard-boiled, paranormal mystery, and crime fiction. I'm coining a new category "Noir Nouveau."

OMN: Tell us something about Flight of the Tarantula Hawk that isn't mentioned in the publisher's synopsis.

MAS: Jake Jacobs, an ex-SEAL, takes on a pivotal role as a private investigator. Not only is Jake combat ready, but he's highly intelligent. A shaved military cut atop an artillery bullet of a skull, thick neck, and broad muscular shoulders — at 6'6" and 247 lbs he's a martial arts and military intelligence expert with the build of a heavyweight cage brawler.

OMN: How would you tweet a summary of the book?

MAS: New & different, Flight of the Tarantula Hawk, a cutting edge mystery/thriller with a paranormal twist.

OMN: How much of your own personal experience have you included in the series?

MAS: I draw heavily on personal experience to create real-life characters and situations. All my characters are composites, containing little bits of me and people I've known.

Typically, I start with bits and pieces of real events as launching points and expand/embellish from there.

OMN: Tell us a little more about your writing process.

MAS: I start with a basic story idea and rough out the bones of the plot and characters in notes, then let 'er rip. As an old jazz drummer, I like to compare my writing process to jazz composition. Once I have the basic structure down, I improvise and let the story and the characters take me where they will.

OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your stories? Any particularly interesting topics that surprised you?

MAS: I learned early on, that good research is key to establishing the reality of a good story — what I call the Reality Factor. It will make or break any tale of fiction.

I draw on personal experience, experts on the subject matter, as well as internet resources for factual information.

To date the most fascinating topics I've researched are: 1. The causes of the 2008 financial crises; and 2. The data back of the Deep Web and the black-hat hacking underground.

OMN: How true are you to the settings of your books?

MAS: The settings for my books are real, taken from actual locations, true to the geography and environment, right down to triple digit temperatures, howling coyotes, and brilliant sunsets. However, I invent the addresses to prevent legal issues.

I view the settings as vital to establishing that all-important Reality Factor. The books' locations heavily influence the story's action and the characters' behavior, becoming characters in their own right.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? Have any of these found their way into your storylines?

MAS: In addition to scuba diving and auto racing, one of my favorite activities is photography. It's no accident that Lance Underphal is a professional photographer.

OMN: What advice might you offer to aspiring writers?

MAS: If you can do anything else, do that. If you can't, learn the craft of writing, then learn the business of publishing and marketing, then write and keep writing, no matter what.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

MAS: My mother read to me early on — the original Oz series by L. Frank Baum. Dr. Suess and the Oz books were favorites as a young boy. Frank Herbert's Dune series, Tolkien's hobbits and Poe, as an early teen. In my later teen years, Huxley's Brave New World, Doors of Perception and Island. And the list goes on, ad infinitum.

OMN: Have any specific authors influenced how and what you write today?

MAS: When it comes to author influences, Poe, HP Lovecraft, Asimov, Frank Herbert, Huxley, and Heinlein are a few of the classic masters I love. When it comes to contemporary mystery, James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly are two of my faves.

OMN: What's next for you?

MAS: I'm nearly twenty thousand words into the draft manuscript of Operation: Cut-Throat, which will be the fourth Lance Underphal Mystery. Operation: Cut-Throat adds elements of black-hat hacking, terrorism, and international intrigue to the core elements of my paranormal murder mysteries. I can hardly wait to see the ending.

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Born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona, Michael Allan Scott resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Cynthia and their hundred-pound Doberman, Otto. In addition to writing mysteries and speculative fiction, his interests include music, photography, art, scuba diving and auto racing.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at MichaelAllenScott.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Flight of the Tarantula Hawk by Michael Allan Scott

Flight of the Tarantula Hawk
Michael Allan Scott
A Lance Underphal Mystery

Realtor Carla Simon has her first showing in nearly eighteen months. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, she arrives at the bank-owned foreclosure well ahead of her prospect. When her buyer pins her against the wall, it turns out to be the last house she'll ever show.

Working on rebuilding his life, Lance Underphal attempts to bury his psychic curse alongside his troubled past. But when cryptic nightmares begin to plague him, he comes to know his struggles with the supernatural are far from over.

Lacking evidence, Homicide Detective Frank Salmon drags the reluctant psychic into the investigation. Underphal clues him in — this psycho is just getting started. Salmon assembles his crew and digs in.

Jack Jacobs, a PI and a shipmate of Salmon's, fields a call from his girlfriend's frantic daughter. She recruits him to locate her missing husband. Finding the husband's Accord parked outside a long-vacant house, Jack senses he's out of his league and calls Salmon.

Salmon's manhunt ratchets up as Underphal's predictions come to pass. Salmon, Jacobs and Underphal soon join forces, driven to stop the killings — a monumental task. And it's not long before they disagree, each tracking their own suspect. All are led astray. A wild ride full of twists and turns, from a Goth-fest gone wrong to a shiny new morgue, they grapple with demons real and imagined.

As Lance's dead wife Sonja whispers words of warning, he comes face to face with the murderer fresh from a kill. It's only then he discovers it's the murderer who's stalking him. Lance wrestles with grim choices: Give up the chase and abandon his friends, or immerse himself in the killer's dark past and risk annihilation. Lance's only shot at redemption — face the horror and reveal its source.

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)  BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

2 comments:

  1. Lance,

    Thanks for featuring my work in Omnimystery News. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the interview and hope your subscribers find it entertaining.

    Best,
    MAS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a pleasure hosting you! Looking forward to the next in the series!

      Delete

 

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