Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Conversation with Gregory Widen

Omnimystery News: Author Interview
with Gregory Widen

We are delighted to welcome screenwriter — and debut novelist — Gregory Widen to Omnimystery News today.

Based on a little-known yet fascinating true story, Gregory's new thriller is Blood Makes Noise (Thomas & Mercer, April 2013 trade paperback and ebook formats).

We recently had a chance to talk to the Gregory about the story and the book.

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Omnimystery News: In our introduction, we mentioned that your new book, Blood Makes Noise, is based on a true story. Tell us something about it that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

Gregory Widen
Photo provided courtesy of
Gregory Widen

Gregory Widen: During the place and time where the story begins — 1950s Buenos Aires — there was enormous tension between the old FBI hands who used to run intelligence in South America and the new CIA people coming in. This led to almost open warfare between the two groups and it's a fascinating, and I think, largely untold back story to our main character's situation. As part of the new CIA, agent Michael Suslov receives more daily hostilities from Hoover's hold-overs than even the KGB.

OMN: What prompted you to choose this story to write about?

GW: I think an on-going fascination with history and travel. To be able to realistically recreate the settings of this book, you'd have to be willing to devote yourself to both. For me it's a joy.

OMN: Describe how you went about developing the plot.

GW: Since this is based on true events, at least some of the plotting had to reflect history.

Other than that, I find the most valuable thing to know before you start is a clear understanding of what exactly each character really wants and fears in their life. It's remarkable how much easier it makes everything else that follows. A character actor I worked with in my film career once said all he needs to know before playing a role is: "What's my character's biggest desire and their biggest fear?" There's a lot of wisdom in that, I think.

OMN: How did you gather the historical details for the book? Did you travel to Argentina?

GW: Yes, I did visit Argentina. But also lots of book reading, journals, first person accounts of life in Buenos Aires during that period, and walking the streets themselves. Probably the most fun was hanging out and picking the brains of some former CIA station chiefs I know who knew that area and time. It was invaluable.

OMN: Was recreating Argentina of the 1950s a difficult task?

GW: For me it's critical to get the details and geography right, and, even more importantly, the feel of a place. My favorite books to read are ones where I feel the author is really teaching me about a place I don't know, and I try to bring that to my own work.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list on a topic of your choosing.

GW: Top 5 places to visit …

• Buenos Aires. A completely unique South American city.

• Petra, Jordan. Few places live up to their photos the way the Grand Canyon does. This is one of them.

• Machu Piccu. This is the other.

• Tuscany. Do yourself a favor and rent a house there, cook some food, drink wine in a vineyard, wander an ancient walled city whose name you don't even know. It'll do you a lifetime's worth of good.

• Luang Prabang, Laos. A gorgeous little UNESCO heritage town at the confluence of two major rivers where French cooking meets water buffalo steaks. Go quick. It's changing fast.

OMN: What's next for you?

GW: I'm currently writing a film for Universal Pictures and working on another novel. I hope to be getting lost in East Africa later in the year.

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A native of Laguna Beach, California, Gregory Widen is a former firefighter, NPR station host, and mountain-rescue team member. While a film student at UCLA, he penned the script for what would become the movie Highlander starring Sean Connery. Among his other screenplays are Backdraft and The Prophecy, and his television writing includes scripts for Tales from the Crypt and Rescue 77. A committed traveler, his explorations have taken him to war-torn Somalia, Uzbekistan, Namibia, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the arctic island of Svalbard, Indonesia, and Argentina. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on a film for Universal Pictures.

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Blood Makes Noise by Gregory Widen

Blood Makes Noise
Gregory Widen

On a summer's night in 1955, CIA agent Michael Suslov is summoned to a secret vault in the heart of Buenos Aires. His mission: transport the corpse of Eva Perón to a new hiding place in the wake of her husband's fall from power. But before Michael can comply, everything goes tragically, horribly wrong …

Sixteen years later, Michael Suslov is a ghost of a man, an ex-government agent living off the radar — and the only soul alive who knows where Evita is buried. When an old friend from Argentine Military Intelligence appeals to him for help bringing the body home, Michael agrees, hoping this final mission will quiet the demons from his past. But he's not the only one on a recovery mission: two rogue CIA agents are tracking him, desperate to unearth Evita before Michael does — and to claim the secret millions they believe she took to her grave.

Amazon.com Print and/or Kindle Edition  Barnes&Noble Print Edition and/or Nook Book


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