Thursday, April 22, 2010
Because we write what we call “factional fiction,” the characters often spring from cases we’ve work on, or in Diane’s case, that she prosecuted. Sometimes we write more of our own actions and motivations into the story than we intend. Besides seasoning characters with bits and pieces from our careers, we also use our wild imaginations to keep the plots and fictional folks lively.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
We’ve both ridden on an elephant. Diane rode bareback in a hometown parade and David experienced the magnificent beast in the mountains of Thailand. David’s scary encounter is actually portrayed in our February 2010 release of Hero’s Ransom.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Diane wrote award winning poetry while in college taking writing classes. Our creative sides had to take a back seat during our careers, where each of us wrote intelligence reports, legal briefs, and policy papers. It was interesting to be a part of history in Washington D.C., where many people encouraged David to write about his undercover cases, some of which were pretty dangerous. When we were studying the genealogy of Jesus, we became interested in our families’ histories. During the research Diane felt called to write historical fiction. The writing really flowed and a Christian publisher suggested that based on our exciting lives in crime that we plunge into suspense, another genre we enjoy reading. The idea for our first novel, Facing Justice was born under a palm tree on a Florida beach.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Diane stumbled onto Christian fiction in the 90’s when she found Grace Livingston Hill books (she’s read almost one hundred). Then she dug into George McDonald novels, which led to us traveling to Scotland. She also reads Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, and historical themes including Ghost Soldiers, The Epic Account of WWII’s greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides; Winds of War by Herman Wouk; and John le Carre spy novels about the Cold War. David is reading Tony Dungy’s Uncommon, and is intrigued by Robert Whitlow, David Baldacci and Nelson DeMille. We both love the series by Brock and Bode Thoene: Zion Covenant and Zion Chronicles.
I love the Thoene books, too. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Our first three novels, Facing Justice, Confirming Justice, and The Camelot Conspiracy, were first published by FaithWalk Publishing, then in 2009, re-published by Micah House Media. In February, 2010, Hero’s Ransom will be released by Micah House Media. Diane has written another novel, which is in the can as they say about unpublished movies. She wrote an historical novel on her legal pad, which David typed into the computer. It’s inspired by Diane’s research about her genealogy, and tells the story of how a Dutch family is persecuted for their faith after befriending Johann Gutenburg and helping him to develop the printing press. It may be published sometime in the future.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Spending as much time in the natural world is a real boost. We enjoy observing diving ducks in the wild, or stepping quietly in the woods with binoculars up to our eyes and spotting a red cardinal, bald eagle or a pine warbler. What fun we have in God’s creation. Actually, life is less hectic than when we were both working in the Justice Department. We manage to carve out time for short term mission trips, traveling and spending time with families. Writing novels and traveling the country for book signings and speaking has proven to be fascinating. We never know where the road will take us.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
It is more difficult than one might imagine. We try to match the name to the character, i.e., strong names for the heroes and heroines, and off-beat names for the antagonists. Also, we don’t want to repeat names, so the more books we write, we look for names in unusual places. Because we often pepper in international intrigue, we’ll get out the atlas, find small villages and use those for foreign characters. In Facing Justice, we gave one of the terrorists the name of the missile launched by Saddam Hussein called “El Samoud”. For fun, we sometimes name a character after someone we know, especially if they have an atypical name or spelling. In those cases, we use their names for likable characters.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Diane would be some kind of cat, probably a cheetah, as she used to love running fast. These cats are so courageous, which is something she’d like more of. We enjoyed having a smart and funny cat for 20 years as a pet. David’s favorite creature is the eagle. He is impressed with their strength, their courtship, and their devotion to raising their young. He’d be soaring over the lakes and mountains.
What is your favorite food?
A great question. Food is such an important part of our culture, which we work into every one of our novels. Diane enjoys Lake Superior whitefish, served with lots of lemon for zest. For David, it has to be fresh Florida grouper.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
In the beginning, we found it difficult to find time to write given our challenging careers. Then, at a writer’s conference, a published author told how she wrote 350 words a day, finishing a novel in one year. We tried that formula and it worked. Completing the first manuscript gave us great joy. We keep working on our writing, taking classes, watching DVD’s, and reading books on the craft to keep honing our skills.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Never, never, never (you get the idea) give up if this is something God has put on your heart. He will make a way. We pray about our story lines, marketing, and the whole panorama of publishing, turning these details over to God. We want to be open to the moving of the Spirit.
Tell us about the featured book.
In The Camelot Conspiracy, when young television reporter, Kat Kowicki, takes on U.S. Senator Lars Zorn, she is demoted from Washington back to Chicago. Certain her life is over and while nursing her wounded pride, Kat receives a mysterious e-mail offering her never-before released evidence in President Kennedy’s assassination. Would you like to learn part of the back-story?
Our two earlier books highlight power plays in Washington and terrorism around the globe. We wanted to set the third novel in the Midwest and looked to a case in David’s past. Thousands of Americans vividly recall what they were doing on 11/22/63 when they heard about JFK’s assassination. David was in a college class and was shocked like everyone else. That night he worked at the FBI as an investigative assistant (hoping to be an FBI agent), and took an ominous phone call from FBI Dallas. The rifle that killed the President had been purchased in Chicago and FBI Dallas requested FBI Chicago to hurry over to Klein's Sporting Goods and determine who purchased the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. David realized the momentous opportunity to be part of the nation’s history. Unfortunately, the only agent on duty insisted that David stay and answer the phones. Later, he did see the records and his experience gave us fodder to weave in true evidence in the modern-day thriller.
Once Kat Kowicki decides to run with the JFK story and she begins digging into whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, her life is rocked by a shadow government trying to keep her quiet. The back-story of this is flavored with what happened after David left government service. 9/11 stunned the nation. The U.S. government reached out to him and other former agents to help as private contractors. David did not hire on, but when he learned the mission of these former agents, it spawned an idea of how former government types could be used to do what government employees couldn’t do.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Eva Montanna slid her chair from behind a cluttered desk in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility and stretched her cramped legs. She longed to leave the super secret office in the Capitol and start her summer vacation of kite flying, wave jumping, and building sandcastles on the beach. But her special assignment to the U.S. Senate meant she first had to attend the hearing on terrorist threats from South America.
She swiftly threaded her wheat-blond hair into a ponytail, her mind pivoting from tranquil thoughts of care-free days with her husband and three children to getting to the Hart Building on time. In the closet-like office, she drained the last of her coffee, the lack of windows making it impossible for her to fathom that summer was only eight hours old. Eva gathered her list of questions when the receptionist buzzed her over the intercom.
“Eva, can you take this call? The guy sounds really strange, says he’s calling from Senator Hernandez’s Florida district.”
“I’m leaving for the intelligence hearing,” Eva shot back, hoping Amy would take the hint and find someone else.
Eva’s vacation started at one o’clock, and as she watched seconds tick by on the buzzing wall clock, she was in no mood to disappoint her family.
“He claims it’s urgent and says he can’t wait.”
Before Eva could decline with a firm no, she found herself caught in the mystery of who the man was and why he was calling. “I’ll do it for you, but then I’m outta here.”
Amy laughed, drowning out Eva’s sigh. Eva punched the line to connect the call and pushed the receiver to her ear.
“Hello, this is Eva Montanna. What’s so urgent?”
The caller’s Spanish accent was thick, so she paused for a moment to try processing his garbled response, then spoke crisply into the phone, “Sorry, I cannot hear you very well. Our connection is weak.”
His voice was a mere whisper, but he repeated the words, this time with force. “My life is in danger. Help free me, por favor.”
Eva absorbed his entreaty and then quickly calculated the impact of his plea. Was his call a hoax? More likely, he was some kook who had seen the same article she’d read that morning in the Washington Star about how the FBI had infiltrated a mosque near Seattle. For a newspaper to casually mention carefully guarded intelligence as if it were a mere accident report deeply concerned Eva. That leak might have come from a congressional staffer, and the idea planted suspicions in her mind about everyone she was working with on the Senate Intelligence Committee. And over the years she’d learned the leaks never stopped coming.
Sounds intriguing. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Visit our “home away from home” at http://www.dianeanddavidmunson.com/ . You’ll find some interesting photos we’ve taken, an occasional contest, a bit more about us, and where we’ll be around the country. Sign up for our free e-mail newsletter, which comes out every other month or so. We’d love to hear from you.
Diane and David, thank you for taking this time with us.
Readers here's a link to the book. By using this link when you order, you'll help support this blog.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. If you leave a link to any website, your comment may be deleted.
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.