Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today's Guest: David Pereda

Today, I have a guest, David Pereda. David was so kind as to give me an interview. He's a fascinating man and I think everyone will find his interview interesting. So let's welcome David. (clap)

1. Welcome David, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure. I was born in Havana. I came to the United States as a kid around the time Castro took over -- January 1, 1959. My family and I moved to Tampa, Florida. I did the usual things immigrants do. I worked, I learned English, I studied, and I dreamed of a better future.

I won’t bore you with the gory details of my life. I’ll just give you the highlights. I attended universities in Florida and California from where I emerged with degrees in Math and English Literature, and later an MBA. Ultimately, I became a hotshot international management consultant, jetting around the world to advise government institutions in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. Along the way, I picked up a couple more languages, a few wives, and plenty of experiences.

A few years ago, I decided that I’d had enough of that life. Although I’d been highly successful as a consultant, I felt like a failure. I felt like a failure because what I really wanted to do was write.
So I quit consulting and, with the support of family and friends, devoted myself to do what I really wanted to do -- writing and teaching.

And here I am.

2. Wow, you've held some very interesting job positions and have a number of degrees. What made you want to write a novel?
I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first book at 10, a western in the tradition of Max Brand and Zane Grey. I grandiosely titled it David Patterson, the Temerarious. As I mentioned before, I got sidetracked by life, but now I’m doing what I love to do.

3. Your latest book is Havana: Killing Castro. Tell us about this book and how it came about.

I never know, exactly, how one of my books comes about or why I write it. I can tell you how the idea germinated on my mind. My ex-wife was a successful plastic surgeon, and thanks to her, I was able to witness several complex surgeries. Since I was born in Cuba, I started thinking, “Why not a face-disguising surgery to Fidel Castro?” And the idea for the Havana Series of thrillers was born. So let me tell you a little bit about the series before I tell you specifically about Killing Castro.

In Top Secret, my main character, Miami surgeon, Raymond Peters is lured to Havana under false pretenses to perform plastic surgery on an ailing Fidel Castro and his friend Pepe…and switch their respective identities. While in Havana, Raymond, a recent widower, rekindles his romance with his childhood sweetheart Sonia and meets the son he never knew. Despite untold complications of extreme danger, the resourceful Raymond manages to carry out the double surgery and escape Cuba on a speedboat with Sonia and his son.

Killing Castro continues the adventures and misadventures of Dr. Raymond Peters – and focuses on who killed Fidel Castro. Here’s brief synopsis:

An old fisherman is gunned down on a Mexican beach, and prominent Miami surgeon Raymond Peters becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Why? The dead fisherman is believed to be Fidel Castro, whom Peters helped disguise through clandestine plastic surgery two years earlier. In order to save his own life, and protect his family, Peters must find the killers and retrieve a missing mysterious journal while outwitting the ruthless woman assassin Marcela, sent by Castro’s brother, Raul.
4. Does the reader need to read the first book Havana: Top Secret before reading Killing Castro?

No. Each of my books is self-contained. There’s enough backstory in Killing Castro to understand the plot nuances without having to read Top Secret first.

5. I hear that Havana: Killing Castro has been made into a screenplay. Can you tell us about the process you went through to get a screenplay for this? Did you start the process or did someone contact you?

Hollywood producers have been contacting me for several years now, but somehow, I have never been able to get past the frantic phone calls. This time someone I know, a close friend of my son Luis (a young Hollywood producer), contacted me about writing the screenplay for the book. We did it together. I had never done a screenplay before. I was gratified when we entered it in a screenwriting contest in Hollywood and it made the quarter finals. My partner is now trying to find the money to make it into a blockbuster film. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

6. Well, I’m sure everyone will be waiting to see what you come up with next. Would you share a bit about what you’re working on now?

With pleasure. I’m already at work on the sequel to Killing Castro. Titled Twin Powers, it’s a dramatic departure from the previous books in the series. The locale switches to the Middle East and the centerpiece of the story moves away from Castro to the twin girls born to Sonia and Raymond in Killing Castro.

7. Now something a little more personal. Would you give us a peek into a typical day for you?
My typical weekday would be kind of boring to you.

In spring, summer and fall I typically get up around 6 AM to exercise and go for a 2-3 mile jog around a lake nearby. In the winter I stay inside and run on a treadmill inside the house. After breakfast, I go to work at the community college where I teach, usually until noon. After a quick lunch at home, I sit down at my computer to answer dozens of emails, phone calls, work on various projects and write – usually until 5 PM or so. At that time, I rush to pick up my 7-year old daughter Sophia at her school. Then it’s Sophia’s time. I work with her on her homework, play checkers, or hang out. I get back to writing, and my computer, around 8, sometimes till beyond midnight.

Weekends are different, of course, except for the exercising and the long hours working at my computer.

8. You are one busy man, and everything sounds very interesting. Thank you so much for stopping by today, and good luck with the screenplay and the next book. Is there anything else you would like to say our guests before you go?

Thank you for having me. I’d like to give some advice to all the wannabe writers among your guests. Chase your dream and never give up. Somebody told me once that I would never be a published author because English was my second language. I have published five novels and won six writing awards already. What happened to the person who told me to give up, you may ask, a budding writer himself? Nothing.

So don’t go for nothing. Chase your dream.
Put some mystery in your life

Monday, April 26, 2010

Carl Brookins Review - Death without Tenure by Joanne Dobson

Pub. By Poisoned Pen Press,2010,
Hard Cover, 230 pgs.

For me, a mildly awkward title, but the story is anything but. Author Joanne Dobson has written another fascinating insider tale about the machinations of the very private and often arcane world of higher academia. The novel, sixth in the series, is set in the rarified world of Enfield College, a private high priced and high minded institution of higher learning.

While college and collegial are from the same root, and college administrations and faculties try to project an aura of patience, calm and reasoned discourse, we all know, when we stop to think about it, it ain’t always so.

Karen Pelletier is six years into her faculty position in the English Department at Enfield.. She is beset by an incompetent department chair and a colleague who gives her the willies. It is tenure decision time. In the academic faculty world, one’s position is essentially temporary until the faculty, deans and ultimately the college administration, makes a proffer of tenure. Tenure usually means one has a life-time appointment, so it’s a pretty big deal. What’s more, if you aren’t awarded tenure, you have to leave the institution. Pelletier is in the midst of collecting and refining her tenure materials for timely presentation. There are two professors up for tenure and only one position available. Then her competition is murdered. With law enforcement looking intently her way, the intrepid professor has to deal with a raft of odd characters, out-of-the-norm students, political incorrectness and most of the other ills that occasionally beset college campuses.

Author Dobson is peerless in her depiction of the nuanced atmosphere and language of the college. Readers will be quickly drawn into campus life. Readers might want to have a modern dictionary at hand, but the quick pace and logical development ameliorates the dense language. There was, for my taste, a bit too much detail at times about a particular decor, or the details of dress where there was little need.

A fine novel, well-plotted, thoughtful, and filled with many amusing bits about the academic life.

Carl Brookins
Case of the Greedy Lawyers, Bloody Halls, Devils Island

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cool Site

I found a cool site through twitter called Crazy-for-Books. Every Friday starts a new week of Book Blogger Hop. You can check out the site and see a list of bloggers, how long they've been blogging and what book genres they review. If you post reviews on your site, you can list your own blog. Pretty cool. I'm going to check it out this week and see if I find any great blogs I've been missing.
Put some mystery in your life

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Carl Brookins review - BEARING SECRETS by Richard Barre

Occasionally, because there are books and authors that bear remembering, I will submit reviews of books that were released years ago. But I always edit them to remove dated references. This is one of them.

by Richard Barre
published by Berkley Prime
Crimea 1996
release ISBN 0-425-16641-4

For you who have been waiting for the paperback of this fine novel, it is now available. Bearing Secrets is a superb novel. One has a tendency to ladle on accolades and fulsome adjectives until the feeling that no book can be THAT good becomes a barrier to readers. Expectations can be raised too high. But this is a superb novel. This complex, rhythmic, multi-textured novel reaches out to the reader and inexorably draws one tighter and tighter.

It starts with hard-nosed PI Wil Hardesty and an anguished cry for help from a prickly, vulnerable, twenty-year-old hard-case named Holly Pfeiffer. Hardesty’s marriage is coming apart and he doesn’t know how to stop it. Mostly to distract himself from his personal troubles, he agrees to see Holly. But when he gets to her cabin near Lake Tahoe, he is repeatedly, rebuffed. This woman is a product of her radical father’s teachings. He was a veteran of Viet Nam, and then returned to Berkley where he used his considerable intelligence and skill to harass the authorities and teach military tactics to a violent splinter group of dissidents. Naturally, his activities draw the attention of the establishment.

When Holly’s father Max, dies in a fall from a high ledge in the mountains, Holly accuses the FBI of killing him. After all, the gospel according to Max had taught her that years earlier the FBI engineered her mother’s death via a car bomb. In spite of her attempts to rid herself of Hardesty, in Holly’s view just another establishment lackey, Hardesty begins a patient, earnest attempt to learn some truths. For a time, the only secrets he bares make Max look guilty. But of what? And then....

Read Bearing Secrets and you will be appalled, exhilarated, horrified and energized. This way lies death, explicit and terrible; here lies corruption and there is exploitation. You are quickly caught up in wheels within wheels. Barre builds tension and suspense cleanly and handles both with dexterity and believability. Fully-formed characters strive against insidious power, fail under the weight of crushing secrets, and strive again.

Yet author Barre does not dwell lovingly on the horror. This book is cleanly written, carefully plotted and very, very intense. It will require attention and careful reading, but Bearing Secrets will reward you in full measure.

Carl Brookins

Monday, April 19, 2010


I've decided to expand my blog a bit and add some more things.

To start with, I have partnered with Goddess Fish Promotions. What that means is, I have agreed to host bloggers who have booked a blog tour through Goddess Fish. So be sure to watch for some interesting upcoming guest bloggers. I'll post names and dates on the sidebar.

Second, Carl Brookins will be a reoccurring guest writing book reviews. So welcome Carl. I'm looking forward to seeing what he's been reading.

As for the rest of my blog, I'm keeping it the same. A bit about my writing, a bit about my personal life, nothing too formal.

Put some mystery in your life

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Annirthday?

(Man, I look so young in this picture.)

Okay, I made up that word. But today is my husband's birthday and it's our anniversary, 11 years. So, Happy Annirthday, honey!

Put some mystery in your life.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Interesting Idea for Walmart Bags

If you're like me, you have a ton of these. Even though I have bought the reusable bags, I forget to take them. So the cupboard is overflowing with these. Or it was.

I live in Mississippi and if you don't know much about this controversial state, let me explain a couple of things. First, we have what is called red clay instead of dirt. If you dig, you'll find clay instead of dirt. Second, the winter and spring here is mostly rain. Third, driveways in the country are made out of red clay and pee gravel. It should look like the picture below when it has set up and if you have enough gravel in it.

But when you put the above three factors together with a new driveway, you get mud. My driveway stands in mud for months. Huge pot holes have formed and are getting out of control. it's pretty costly to get a truck load of rock, but we had to do something, the music instructor keeps getting stuck in the drive.

A few months ago, we got a couple of bags of rock at Home Depot. Not that much, but we had a few big holes and need wanted to do something. We left the rock in the plastic bags and threw them in the hole. After a few months of driving over them, they have stayed in the same place. The clay getting soaked and then drying out again has rooted the bags to their spot.

However, we have plenty of holes to patch. We grabbed a few more bags of rock at the store. But the plastic bags of rock stuck in the ground gave me an idea as we started to patch another hole. We were going to shovel some of the gravel/red clay drive material that had been washed into the side ditch and add back to the holes. But if the plastic bag around the rock had held the rocks in place, and people add plastic lining under flowerbeds then layer with dirt, they why not do that to the holes? So I grabbed a ton of my Walmart sacks and lined the holes before my husband shoveled the clay and added the rock. A few weeks later and the clay is still holding.

Now we still need to do more work, add more rock and clay. But one of the holes might have swallowed a small car before. Now it is manageable. Sill filled with water, but workable.

Yes, I buried Walmart bags in my driveway. But what is American doing with them now? Throwing them in the landfills to be buried. At least I have a good use for them and a reason to do it. (And yes, I do use them for other things. One year I made a white Christmas wreath out of them instead of buying one.)

What do you use Walmart bags for?

Put some mystery in your life.