Writer Interviews reader
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
This interview took occurred on 9.30.2011 and was posted on my old website on 10.1.2011.
Here is Part One:
(Don't miss the photo of Alan at the end of the interview.)
A couple of months ago (July 2011) I was contemplating giving another book interview; someone else interviewing me, the author. I had the thought, “What if the author interviewed a reader?” The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea and began to think about questions I would ask a reader, a fan of the Michael Grant – Black Book Investigations Series. About that time a recent friend, Alan Steacy, emailed me to let me know that he was going to buy all three of my books, at one time, and give them a read. I was intrigued and figured Alan Steacy would be the perfect reader to ask for his opinions!
I hope you enjoy Alan’s thoughtful answers as much as I did. Perhaps his answers will help other readers make the decision to begin reading one of the current titles: Jamaica Moon, Judas Oracle, & And… Never Again or dive into the Michael Grant series all at once as Alan did. Since Alan seemed to enjoy reading all three books, I thought I would offer him the opportunity to proof an advance reading copy of my latest Michael Grant book: Innocent And Guilty. Gratefully, Alan obliged.
Below are my questions regarding Jamaica Moon, which are designated as “AQ”, Author’s Questions; and Alan’s responses designated as “AA”, Alan’s Answer. Several of Alan’s answers also posed a question. So, I have answered those with a comment, and they are designated as “AC”, Author’s Comments.
The Alan Steacy Interview:
AQ: Alan, please tell the readers a little bit about yourself; life, business, interests, and etc.
AA: I’ve been married to my wife, Sharon, for 34 years. We raised three boys, all out of the nest now, thankfully, and live in Massachusetts. I enjoy the occasional round of golf, dinners out with friends, and spending day trips to the coast of Maine. Even though my boys are long out of youth baseball, I still enjoy coaching during the spring season, keeps me feeling young!
AQ: What other books do your read, beside novels?
AA: You’ll probably find this amusing, but I really like reading books about marketing and copywriting, especially those relating to direct response marketing techniques and the psychology of selling. Sounds pretty dull, but I enjoy it. I also like to read motivational and self-improvement books. One of my favorites was “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. It really got me interested in reading more about the Law of Attraction, Joe Vitale’s materials for instance. By the way, he’s a fellow Texan too. For entertainment, I really enjoy international espionage save-the-world style novels with lots of action, suspense and subterfuge. Now don’t laugh, but that inclination probably began with The Hardy Boys mysteries when I was a kid. Never did finish the whole series.
AQ: How quickly were you engaged, as a reader, with Jamaica Moon; immediately, fairly soon, not for a few chapters or never?
AA: Actually the one page prologue had me hooked right away, triggering my curiosity and leaving me with a nagging question that you conveniently left unanswered until deep into the book. Beyond that, I would say about halfway through the first chapter I knew my reading lamp was lit.
AQ: What seemed to draw you in or out and why?
AA: The character development and your attention to detail really drew me in, painting vivid images for me to wrap my imagination around. It was apparent from the start that your life experiences were in play here, breathing life into the characters. For example, interestingly, I found Michael Grant (MG) most believable due to his being haunted by his past failings, fears and “ghosts”. While being a strong, successful and savvy investigator in James Bond fashion, MG isn’t portrayed as the ‘all-knowing-one-step-ahead-of-the-bad-guys’ hero. As any good detective might, MG works his way through each case based on his wits and plentiful connections, rather than any super powers. MG is a great balance of flaws and virtues.
AQ: Since Jamaica Moon seems to cross genre-lines and it might be considered to embrace: ‘mystery’, ‘thriller’, ‘PI/Detective story’, and contain some ‘police-procedural’:
What other authors of these types of genre do you read?
What do you like about those authors and their stories?
How does JM compare with the other authors and stories you’ve read?
Well, these authors probably fall into the “thriller” genre and not the others, Tom Clancy, “Red October” for one and Robert Ludlum, “Bourne Identity” for another.
I like their attention to detail and their knowledge of the elements contained within their stories. For instance, in “Red October”, Clancy’s technical descriptions of the operations of the sub made me wonder if he was privy to ‘top-secret’ or ‘insider’ information, stuff we shouldn’t know about. Also, their attention to crafting very detailed descriptions of locations, buildings, characters, etc enhances the reading experience. Another factor is the twists and turns woven into the stories – the unexpected.
Very favorably. In my estimation JM has all the parts covered…certainly the ones I enjoy most.
AQ: What is your overall opinion of JM?
AA: Overall, JM kept me actively engaged, almost to the extent of blocking out the rest of the world, much to my wife’s chagrin. As I became involved in the story line, the characters took on a life of their own, invoking my emotions and stirring my feelings, both good and bad. I found myself eagerly anticipating what was coming next, not being able to read quickly enough to catch up with my piqued imagination. Sometimes I was right, most times not, always surprised by new twists sending me off in a different direction.
AQ: What are the three things you would want a reader to know about JM?
AA: The three things I would want a reader to know about JM would be:
Pay close attention to the characters as they pop in and out, remembering who is who and how they are connected.
Be prepared to be drawn in to the exclusion of everything else; eating, drinking, sleeping, etc. (warn your spouse, if you have one)
If you are offended by language or graphic descriptions you may want to re-read “Mary Poppins” instead.
AQ: Did you have a most favorite part? If so, what was it?
AA: A favorite part was the description of MG office set-up, the aroma of fresh-brewed Jamaica Blue coffee and the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking. Now I know that may seem a little odd, but that’s just me. Apart from that, I really liked MG’s vast network of contacts ranging from snitches to CIA operatives, connections seamlessly employed and believable based on MG’s past professions. These contacts serve to add depth and intrigue to the story line.
AQ: Did you have a least favorite part? If so, what was it?
AA: My least favorite part – MG’s long wait at the airport in Jamaica – I think I may have audibly screamed, “Grant, what are you thinking! Get back to the hotel now!”
AC: Alan, trust me, I fought with that too, but Michael thought everything was under control, and he was being true to his character. So, I had to go with it.
AQ: If you could change, add in, or leave out one thing what would that be and why?
AA: Sara’s death at the hands of Deke…it just didn’t seem fair. I wasn’t happy with MG at that point – despised Deke – and was haunted by that scene for several weeks after. I guess you, as the author, might consider that success!
AC: Alan I have to say, that surprised and haunted me! In my first interview with Solana D’Lamant regarding Jamaica Moon, I said: “In answer to your question “was it hard to write (her) death in the end,” no, rather than hard, it was surprising! I had not plotted her to die, not at that moment or in that way, but her death came out of my fingers before I realized it. I thought Michael had found his true love, and everything would be great. He’d have a whole new vibrant relationship that would enhance the future of the series. At the time I was astonished, saddened and even shouted, “No!” out loud.
That is one of the mysteries of writing, I have encountered, that characters acting within their own imbued self-interest can jump up and do the unexpected. I remember reading Daniele Steele novels in the 80′s. I enjoyed her characters and was amazed by two things:1) how quickly I came to care about the characters, and 2) how quickly she killed them off. I said when I started writing that I would not capriciously be killing off my characters. Maybe Ms. Steele was not intentionally offing her literary offspring, rather they were acting on the own. If that was the case, I understand it now.”
AQ: What is your opinion of Michael Grant?
AA: MG is an intricate and complex character, but definitely the kind of guy anyone would value as a friend or partner, unless you were a bad guy. Then MG would be your worst nightmare. MG is a man’s man, generous to a tee without flaunting it or his vast resources. A consummate businessman, confident, though not egotistical, MG knows how to get things done. Still, he is a man haunted by his past and one who feels deeply for those special people in his life, even more so for those that have met untimely deaths – his ghosts, as he puts it. MG is, as you might expect, keenly observant.
AQ: Did you develop any strong likes/dislikes for any of the characters?
AA: Yes, Deke was a despicable character, followed closely by Stuart Marquis, but Deke was as vile as any villain I’ve run across. Hard not to really like MG and Tom Darrow, but Sara was the one character I found most likable.
AQ: What was your opinion of the ‘action’, ‘mystery’, ‘suspense’ in the story?
AA: There was a great mix of all three throughout the novel. I often found myself anticipating and imagining the next scene as I was drawn into the story line. The Prologue continued to nag at me as I read on, trying to figure out its relevance to the story. I probably read that part 3 or 4 times to be sure I didn’t miss something. It kept me guessing. The action scenes were highly engaging and suspenseful, though I was a little miffed that MG didn’t handle Deke a bit more adroitly in the end.
AQ: Were you surprised (or not) by what the characters did/how they acted?
AA: Perhaps by Sara, considering where she was when she first surfaced and how she evolved as the story progressed. The other thing that struck me was how MG didn’t always play the right hand, often being so close to getting it right, but just figuring it out too late, which made him more realistic as in life, that is more the case than not. I like that about MG’s character.
AQ: Did you try to guess what was going to happen next? If so, how often were you right or wrong?
AA: Yes I did. I got it right a few times, but honestly, I was usually caught off base by unforeseen plot twists. How many times? Sorry, not enough fingers to count that high. I figure any book that has me playing mind games with the characters has been a good read.
AQ: Did you enjoy reading JM enough to want to read more Michael Grant novels? If so, why? If no, why not?
AA: How many more are there? I’ve read three so far! Why? Because each one leaves something unsolved. Loose ends that beg to be resolved in the next investigation, the next book.
This is the end of Part One of Alan's September 2011 interview - to answer his last question...
AC: Alan, there are now thirteen (13) Michael Grant novels (as of 2019 -- #14 on the way). With 13 Michael Grant novels in hand, I guess you could say that Alan, my avid first reader, is a fan. And can quite possibly lay claim to being my number one fan.
MY NUMBER ONE FAN!