Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Conversation with Thriller Writer Thomas Maurin

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Thomas Maurin
with Thomas Maurin

We are delighted to welcome author Thomas Maurin to Omnimystery News today. Actually, authors as Thomas Maurin is a pen named used by the husband and wife writing team of Bonnie B. Hartley and Michael T. Hartley.

Their new suspense thriller, the first in a new series, is Broken Trust (November 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to talk with them more about it.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your series characters.

Thomas Maurin
Photo provided courtesy of
Thomas Maurin

Thomas Maurin: Our three protagonists, known as The Three Musketeers, have been friends since college. They are reunited unexpectedly to finish an SEC investigation. We like that they are loyal to one another in spite of tremendously stressful situations, that they solve problems using their brains not guns or violence, they have complementary skills,
and that they share a strong moral commitment to societal justice and fairness sometimes at great personal risk.

Mary Catherine Fitzsimmons (Fitz): a forensic analyst for the SEC;
Charles Henry Haines (Chas): a venture capitalist and entrepreneur
James Goeffrey Edwards (Jamie): a philanthropist and independent consultant to the US DOD and the UK Ministry of Defense.

OMN: How do you expect these characters to develop over the course of a series?

TM: The three characters develop over time. They are all on personal journeys of development and change. Sometimes one of them is a catalyst for change; sometimes one will be actively supporting change of another; and sometimes they challenge one another's changes. The relationship among Fitz, Charles and Jamie is dynamic and evolves as they change individually and as they respond to the external challenges they face.

OMN: How did you go about developing these characters?

TM: We are a husband and wife writing team. Bonnie did the initial development of all the characters including in-depth family backgrounds for the three protagonists. Mike always had input on all character development. Gender wasn't a challenge in character development. We tried to have a good balance of strong, differentiated male and female characters.

OMN: Into which fiction genre would you place your book?

TM: Broken Trust is an international financial thriller. The main advantage to this label is that it kept us focused on action and pace. The main disadvantage to this label is that we cut a lot of descriptive material to keep the thriller pace.

OMN: Tell us something about Broken Trust that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

TM: The Bulgarian arms dealer Valentina is going to factor into the protagonists' effectiveness as they focus on what they can collectively do to set things right in the world. There may also be a developing love interest between Valentina and one of the Musketeers.

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in the book?

TM: None of the characters is based on someone we know. That said, there are elements of our own experience as advisors to wealthy families and our personal backgrounds woven into Broken Trust.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

TM: We created detailed biographies of the Three Musketeers (Fitz, Charles and Jamie). We also created a story board that laid out the development of the characters in their personal story arcs, and then overlaid plot devices and elements that would help propel them on the desired trajectories, knowing that Fitz, Charles and Jamie would not have completed their personal story arcs by the end of Broken Trust. Those story arcs continue through the next two books, Broken Web and Broken Code. Sometimes all of the characters evolved in ways we didn't anticipate so we had to adjust the plot and story arcs accordingly. That kept the writing fun.

OMN: How did you go about researching the plot points of the story? Did you come across any particularly challenging or exciting topics?

TM: Both Mike and Bonnie fact-check using the internet, talking to people who have personal experience or expertise, and using our own personal experience of thirty years working with wealthy families.

For Mike, the most challenging topic of research was finding technology that would allow us to surreptitiously determine whether a cargo ship had heavy weapons aboard.

For Bonnie, the most challenging topic of research was the family histories for Fitz, Charles and Jamie since it involved researching social, political and economic history that went back four generations for each of them.

For Mike, the most exciting topic to research was 6D because it pre-saged the current big data movement.

For Bonnie, the most exciting topic to research was creating the astrological charts for Fitz, Charles and Jamie.

OMN: How true are you to the settings in the story?

TM: We tried to be very true to the geography and local environments, based on personal travel experience, Google maps, and other research about each of the venues in Broken Trust. Venue was critical to both the characters' story arcs and the plot since the Three Musketeers are constantly moving from one place to another, e.g. New York to Basel, Basel to London, London to Washinton DC, Varga to Monoco, DC to Grand Cayman. It took some figuring to keep Georgetown DC and George Town Grand Cayman clearly differentiated. Both were important and necessary venues for different reasons.

Geographically speaking we also tried to be true to travel times, including the maximum speed of Jamie's private jet and how far it was from one airport to the next, as well as from one locale to another within the various venues in Broken Trust.

We both tried to avoid what we call the "Jack Bauer syndrome" of characters being able to get anywhere in a densely populated urban area in five minutes. We researched traffic patterns, weather and other variables for all travel scenes in Broken Trust. We also wanted to avoid the trap of providing too many details since that would have derailed the fast pace of the thriller.

OMN: If we could send you anywhere in the world to research the setting for a book, all expenses paid, where would it be?

TM: We would travel to China to understand the political environment and the impact of the internet on the world developing outside the US since in our next book in the series, Broken Web, the plot focuses on the internet.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of these found their way into your books?

TM: Mike's interest in technology runs through all of the books in this series. He also writes music and plays the guitar, bass, piano, drums and banjo. Music hasn't yet been included in the series, but it could be. He curates magazines on FlipBoard ranging from business buzz, global economics and investing, business travel insider, social impact & philanthropy, the performing arts, technology and cyber war. He has more than 200,000 followers.

Bonnie is a voracious reader of mysteries, especially series based in other cultures. She likes reading the Sunday New York Times cover to cover, playing online bridge, walking, yoga and gyrotonics. She is also learning to play the drums.

Both Bonnie and Mike love to travel, love opera and movies, and having lively dinner parties that may include playing bridge or music. And we love spending time with our three grandchildren (and their parents).

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Thomas Maurin is the pen name of husband and wife writing team Bonnie B. Hartley, Ph.D., and Michael T. Hartley, CFP. They both write non-fiction books and articles regarding financial and family business topics and have delivered talks on those subjects internationally over the last thirty years.

For more information about the author, please visit their website at and their author page on Goodreads, or find them on Twitter.

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Broken Trust by Thomas Maurin

Broken Trust
Thomas Maurin
A Suspense Thriller

This is a story about three smart, successful people who were once fast friends in college and have now been thrust together again in an unlikely, multi-layered investigation with far-reaching international implications and billions of dollars at stake. One is a forensic accountant for the SEC, one beta tests hardware and software for the US Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defense, and the third is a wildly successful entrepreneur, software developer and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

They get caught up in the hunt for a corrupt Swiss banker intent on finally unloading the last of the gold stolen by his father in World War II; a violent, narcissist leader of a Mexican drug cartel making his move to take over as the head of all cartels in Central America; and the daughter of a murdered Bulgarian arms dealer making the deal that will give her mother financial stability and get them both out of the increasingly unstable arms business.

The plot unfolds as financial crimes committed by insiders put common criminal activities to shame in a world where technology has increasingly insinuated itself into our lives to good and bad effects. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for interviewing us! Your questions gave us a wonderful opportunity to reflect.

    Bonnie Hartley


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