Monday, September 15, 2014

A Conversation with Thriller Writer Alan Brenham

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Alan Brenham
with Alan Brenham

We are delighted to welcome novelist Alan Brenham to Omnimystery News today.

Alan's new suspense thriller is Cornered (July 2014; Black Opal Books trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to talk with him more about it.

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Omnimystery News: When starting out a new book, how do you go about researching the various plot points? Have you come across any particularly challenging or exciting topics?

Alan Brenham
Photo provided courtesy of
Alan Brenham

Alan Brenham: For fact-checking, I use the Internet for some but the vast majority is through experts.

For Cornered, I relied on question-and-answer emails with the Temple PD Chief of Police, the Bell County DA, the Assistant Director of the Austin PD forensics lab, and the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit's Team Four. A lengthy in-person interview was done with a Temple PD detective for a birds-eye view of how modern investigative work was done in Temple. For legal aspects, I relied on my own knowledge of relevant law, procedure and the courts.

The most challenging topic was the information about profiling from the FBI. It was daunting because I had to weave my way through the FBI's bureaucracy to get to the special agents at the Behavioral Analysis Unit's Team Four. And the agent I finally was able to interview jokingly informed me that their methods are nothing like you see on the TV show Criminal Minds and that they do not have a private jet to fly all over the country.

The most exciting topic would be the forensic facts. The Austin PD's Forensic Science Center's assistant director took me on a tour of the entire facility including ballistics, and the DNA lab.

OMN: Alan Brenham is a pen name. Why did you decide to use one?

AB: When I first began writing Price of Justice, I wanted to use my birth name but discovered that an attorney-author in New York had already staked claim to it. So, not wanting to create any reader confusion between attorney-author Alan Behr of New York and attorney-author Alan Behr of Texas, Alan Brenham was born and appears on the cover of all of my novels. The obvious advantage is that the Alan Behr in New York doesn't get credit for my crime novels. The main disadvantage is when I'm signing books, I have to really focus on the author name. I caught myself starting to write my real name instead of Alan Brenham.

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

AB: The authors who most influenced how and what I write are Michael Connelly, John Sandford, James Hayman, Michael McGarrity, and Jeffery Deaver. Connelly with his principal character Detective Harry Bosch got me started. Along came Sandford and his man, Lucas Davenport. Between the two of them, I got the general gist of how it was done. McGarrity's New Mexico settings for his protagonist Kevin Kearney taught me the importance of setting in a novel. In my opinion, McGarrity is the master of settings. Wanting to branch out, I discovered James Hayman, Jeffery Deaver and John Grisham. Hayman's McCabe and Savage duo gave me ideas of how co-protagonists function in a suspenseful novel. Deaver's Kathryn Dance showed me how a male author would write a female detective. And John Grisham … although he writes legal thrillers created an interest in me to write legal thrillers — a genre I'll try after my third book has been handed off to my publisher.

OMN: Suppose your books were to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing the key roles?

AB: When I begin planning and outlining for a novel, I select actors who fit my preconceived image of the character. For my novel Cornered, Christian Bale would be my choice for the role of Detective Matt Brady. To me, he has some of the same facial features as the real-life detective I consulted with in Temple. Sarah Jones is the perfect actress for the role of Dr. Tracy Rogers. I became a fan of hers when she starred in the TV show Alcatraz. Cassidy Freeman would play the role of Brady's ex-girlfriend, Cassandra Evans. I've seen her in the TV show Longmire. The bad guys, Derek Weaver and Bruno Chiles, would be played by Michael Rooker and Michael Mando, respectively. Rooker is a perfect Derek Weaver based on his performance in The Walking Dead. Mando just strikes me as what Bruno Chiles would look like if he were real.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

AB: Top 5 places I've visited:

(1) Alaska — the mountains (I love mountains) and the wildlife. Words do not do the state justice. You have to see it to believe it.

(2) Garmisch, Germany — I spent a week there and loved every minute. The Bavarian flavor, the beer, and the food. It's another place for your bucket list. It was featured in Price of Justice.

(3) London, UK — So much to see and so little time. It was one of the stops on my trips to Europe as a special deputy US Marshal. Contrary to some views, I found the people to be friendly and courteous.

(4) Berlin, Germany — actually this wasn't a visit. I lived here for a few years when the Berlin Wall was up and the city was divided into four military sectors. A lot of WW II history.

(5) Tennessee-Virginia (Shenandoah Mountains) — Over Thanksgiving many years ago, I drove through the Shenandoah Mountains on my way to Maryland. Standing on one peak, green valley as far as I could see. Two words — very beautiful.

OMN: What's next for you?

AB: My next project is the completion of my thriller novel, titled Rampage. It will be the sequel to Price of Justice. Temptation, loyalty, and trust are the feelings Detective Scarsdale will be facing as he and his new female partner, Tatum Harper, hunt down a killer. When Rampage is finished, I'll dive right into the fourth book, featuring an assistant district attorney who finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

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Alan Brenham is a pen name used by Alan Behr, who served as a law enforcement officer and criminal investigator for seventeen years before earning a law degree from Baylor University. After obtaining his law license, he worked as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney for twenty-two years. His personal and official travels took him to several European and Middle Eastern countries, Alaska and almost every island in the Caribbean. He has lived in Berlin, Germany while working with US military forces. Alan and his wife, Lillian, currently live in the Austin, Texas area.

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

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Cornered by Alan Brenham

Alan Brenham
A Suspense Thriller

He's haunted by the memory of a kidnapping case gone wrong …

Not wanting history to repeat itself, Detective Matt Brady struggles to solve the disappearances of seven young women, but he quickly finds himself pitted against a criminal organization that knows as much about police procedure as he does — an organization that will do whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of him.

His troubles are compounded when a young veterinarian injects herself into the investigation and is targeted to become victim number eight. When he tries to protect her, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a professional cop killer. Can Brady solve the case in time to save his new love, or will this investigation be the death of both of them? Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format


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