We welcome the esteemed and accomplished Author John David Bethel aboard The Whimsical Herald Blog! He is the author of books that include riveting storylines, complex characters, and pulse-pounding situations. His first bestselling title was 'EVIL TOWN', and he is currently preparing to celebrate the December 4th release of his new work, ' BLOOD MOON'!
Question: How did these horrific real-life events first come to your attention, and how soon after learning of them were you inspired to start writing your novel?
JDB: The details of the crime came to me from Ed DuBois. Ed runs a security firm, Investigators, Inc., and had been brought into the case by a mutual friend of Marc Schiller, the victim. Ed read my novel Evil Town and enjoyed it, and when he wanted to explore the possibilities of having a book written about the crime, he contacted me.
Initially, Ed wanted a true crime book written to counter the treatment the real story was getting in a movie that was being made of the crime, “Pain and Gain.” Ed was serving as a consultant on the movie and grew disenchanted with the “black comedy” slant being applied to the script. I wrote a treatment of the book but when it became apparent a true crime book could not be written and published in time to provide a balance to the movie, that project was abandoned.
I had become intrigued by the crime, especially by the courage of the victim, Marc Schiller, and Ed’s determination to get the “bad guys.” Schiller’s survival of 30 days in captivity during which he was brutally tortured and had every single penny of his substantial estate extorted was a story that was too compelling to ignore. My wheelhouse is fiction so I went to Ed and Marc and asked if they’d mind if I treated the story as fiction, hewing close enough to the real events to convey the true horror of what Marc endured and how Ed worked skillfully to solve the crime.
With resources like Marc and Ed, and a story of human will and courage, how could I go wrong? Marc agreed to add another layer to the book by writing the Foreword and Ed wrote an Afterword.
Question: Tell us who the heroes are in the novel Blood Moon. Obviously abducted and tortured businessman Recidio Suarez, but do other heroic figures emerge in the telling of this sinister tale?
JDB: Absolutely. Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – and Suarez’s lawyer faces down the kidnappers and fights tooth-and-nail to have his client’s case taken up by the Miami Dade County Police Department.
Stevens meets with one of the kidnappers and through sheer force of will convinces him that he and his cohorts have to deal with him on a plan Stevens has hatched to get them to unwittingly admit their involvement in the crime. In the meantime, he is fighting for recognition of the crime by the police who are convinced that Suarez’s kidnapping, torture and attempted murder were the result of a squabble between drug gangs. Stevens is doing battle with the bad guys and the good guys on Suarez’s behalf, putting his life and reputation on the line. Meantime, Suarez is in hiding to save himself from his kidnappers who thought they had killed him and want to finish the job.
Recidio’s wife, Carolina Suarez, also rises to the occasion and is dedicated to seeing justice done (or retribution depending on one’s point-of-view). She is a stay-at-mother raising a family when the roof falls in. Her husband is allowed to speak to her and convince her to leave Miami in exchange for promising his captors that he will hand over every cent he has. After making certain her children are safe, Carolina – the timid, quiet housewife – transforms into a harpy of vengeance. Her own plans for finding and punishing the kidnappers are brutal and unforgiving.
Suarez, his wife and Stevens are the most visible heroic figures although friends and relatives of future victims also have their moments.
Question: When I read Blood Moon I realized with a start that you had recreated conversations between Recidio Suarez and his many captors that sounded as authentic as if you’d been a proverbial fly on the wall—how did you do that?
JDB: Someone once asked Cary Grant how he managed to portray his characters so convincingly. He replied: “It’s called acting.” So, how do I do it? It’s called writing. It’s what I have a passion for and when a compelling story or plot line occurs to me, I have to sit down and write. I don’t think I could ever explain “how” I do it, I just do it.
That said, I had the very good fortune of having both Marc and Ed as resources I could tap as I wrote the book. And I also asked them to read a draft before I finalized it to get their take on Blood Moon. Both offered excellent suggestions for editing, and in other ways, for improving the plot, adding a shading to a character here and there to make them more real and so on.
Question: What would you like the takeaway for readers to be when they read Blood Moon?
JDB: I didn’t go into writing the novel with a “takeaway” in mind. As I explained, I had a compelling story with compelling characters, and I had to tell it.
If there is a “takeaway” I suppose it would be that there is a dark and evil inhumanity to some people that is balanced by the goodness and courage of others. I really don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.
Question: How did writing Blood Moon differ from your previous novel, Evil Town, also published by Tell-Tale Publishing?
The books are different genres, Evil Town being a political thriller. Other than that, there really wasn’t much of a difference in the writing or the creative process.
For Blood Moon, I worked with a story line that had some markers for me to follow since I was inspired by a true-to-life crime. I also had some traits I could instill in the main characters by studying the ways Marc and Ed dealt with their challenges. Developing the characters of the antagonists was a little different since I don’t think like a psychopath. Putting myself in the shoes of Dario Pedrajo and his cohorts was a bit disturbing. But by playing them off against the courage and actions of Suarez and Stevens, and having the antagonists react in the extreme opposite of civilized, empathetic human beings, I think these characters are believable as multi-dimensional human beings, if very evil human beings.
For Evil Town, I mined my 30-plus years in politics to add dimension, reality and, hopefully, to create a compelling story that takes a look behind the curtain at how Washington and the political system work. This experience provided me with markers along the way much in the same way as did those I followed in writing Blood Moon allowing me to create believable scenarios and characters. A former member of Congress, Jim Lightfoot put it this way in his review of Evil Town: “For those of us who have been there and lived the political life it is easy to attach the names of people we know and/or have known to David’s characters. I think you will find that part of the fun when you read his book. Perhaps you will also pick up a little understanding of the high stakes poker is played with your life and income by thousands of faceless bureaucrats and unscrupulous politicians whose only goal in life is re-election.”
Question: What similarities did you find in your research and your writing?
My research for Evil Town focused primarily on the science related to the environmental impact on the Everglades of farming by Big Sugar, which is a major element of the storyline. There are a few minor plot lines that “borrowed” from real events that required some research as well. The “call boy” plot line among them. I tried to be true to the research, that is, I did not inject a personal point-of-view but let my characters filter the information through their own lenses.
For more information on the research used for Evil Town, go to eviltownthebook.com. There is a section devoted to the research I used, with sources provided.
Question: Would you still consider yourself to be a Washington Insider?
I guess that depends on how you define “Washington Insider.” I am no longer on the inside of the political process and I really don’t closely follow the goings on in Washington and politics. That said, due to my knowledge of how the system works, and still being acquainted with many of the players, I understand the “who, why, what, where and how” of much of what is going on in Washington these days. And it ain’t encouraging.
Question: What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Follow the Golden Rule, and take responsibility for your own actions.
Question: Can you share your favorite quote and/or joke?
I used the following story to begin a lot of speeches I wrote during my days in Washington and it never failed to elicit laughs. Read carefully and you’ll pick up a layer beyond the humor.
Lady Astor walked into Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s office and looked at him disgustedly. “Mr. Prime Minister,” she hissed, “it’s only 10 o’clock in the morning and it’s obvious you’ve had enough to drink to fill this room with alcohol from the floor to your waist.”
Churchill smiled at Astor, took a drag on his cigar and looked from his waist to the ceiling as he exhaled a cloud of smoke. “So much accomplished,” he said, “and so much yet to do.”
Question: What do your current projects include? What do readers and fans have to look forward to?
I’m looking forward to working with Tell Tale Publishing to promote Blood Moon. That’s first on the list. I am also beginning work on a new novel set in a small Midwestern town during the final days of World War Two. The gruesome murder of a local family starts an investigation that opens a door onto the national stage of politics and treason.
The Whimsical Herald crew would like to thank Author John David Bethel for sailing with us and giving us the inside scoop on his upcoming new release, "Blood Moon"!
The premise for his previous TT book, Evil Town, sounds just as intriguing!
Shiver me timbers! It's fair weather and full speed ahead for David's newest work in progress! Thanks for joining us!
Mistress of Madness, Patricia Mattern
The Whimsical Herald would also like to thank John David Bethel for taking the wheel and inspiring us with a live reading of his engrossing and fast paced new release, 'BLOOD MOON'! Outstanding! We wish our featured author smooth sailing and continued success!"
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)