What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Doomsday Medallion (A VanOps Thriller Book 3)?
After penning the first two books in the VanOps series, The Lost Power and Solstice Shadows, I wanted to tell a different tale, one that probed the origin of the deep-seated conflict between Maddy Marshall and her twin brother, Will Argones. A newly minted VanOps officer, Marshall is a tall, emerald-eyed truth seeker with special martial arts abilities. Her long-legged brother is a skeptic, an engineer by training, and uses his cynical nature to poke holes in black ops mission planning.
Before this novel, all we knew was that the six-year-old twins were emotionally wounded when their mom died in an icy accident. I wanted to rip off that scab by delving into their mother’s backstory. Was Mom’s death really an accident?
I also wanted to delve into the history of VanOps, which is not your typical black ops organization. It was created to be a deeper shade of black, to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the CIA’s failed parapsychology missions from the 70’s, back when ‘the company’ was trying to weaponize out-of-body experiences to compete against the Russians. Those ideas were bouncing around in my head like pinballs when I hit upon the jackpot idea of using Nostradamus to pull it all together.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Doomsday Medallion (A VanOps Thriller Book 3), what would they be?
Ooh, fun question. Main characters… don’t have a theme song in mind for them. But my publicist put together a video trailer of the book and it has an awesome soundtrack that reminds me of Mission Impossible.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
Yes, I love to read thrillers with a historical or scientific bent. James Rollins, Steve Berry, Andy McDermott, Ernest Dempsey, JF Penn sort of thrillers. I also enjoy really well-penned domestic thrillers, like Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series or K.J. Howe’s Thea Paris thrillers. Sometimes I’ll read fantasy, too, and am a huge Robert Jordan fan. The new Wheel of Time series is off the charts!
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
I have an advance review copy of Rob Samborn’s latest thriller, Painter of Paradise, a follow-up to his delightful and fantastical Prisoner of Paradise. Also on the TBR list is Divided States by Rick Treon, and I’m currently listening to an advance copy of The Chase by Candace Fox. Echoes of Atlantis by David S. Brody is on there, along with Unthinkable by Brad Parks, and The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. Top of the list is Kingdom of Bones by James Rollins and Steve Berry’s latest, The Omega Factor.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
In this novel, The Doomsday Medallion, there’s a crazy long action scene, which takes place over several locations in old Marseille: the stacks of a library, picturesque French streets, the harbor filled with yachts, a storm-tossed Mediterranean Sea. It takes place on foot, in cars, and on jet skis.
I think the length of it works because by that point in the novel, we’re invested in the characters. Besides Maddy Marshall, Will Argones, and her lover, Bear Thorenson, we get to know Avril. She’s a sixteen-year-old who uses a gecko as an avatar to make TikTok video predictions because her face and neck are mutilated by a horrific burn scar. The primary antagonist, Henri Seymore, also known as The Watcher, has been wanting to kidnap Avril for years. When she accurately predicts the Chinese invasion of one of Taiwan’s outlying islands, he finally gets his chance, and in this long action scene he and his henchmen rain bullets down on the heroes as they attempt to escape.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
My most unusual quirk is that I don’t like to do the creative aspect of writing in front of a computer. I prefer the couch, the lounge chair, the striped hanging chair under the pecan tree in the back yard, or better yet, the hiking trail. For some reason, my muse lives mostly outdoors.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
There are a lot of those that help me in life, and they often find their way into my novels in a subtle way. Here’s the epigraph from this thriller: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” —The Art of War, Sun Tzu
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
I would like them to remember the rush of excitement and keen sizzle of suspense that kept them turning pages and wanting “just one more chapter.” As with all great novels, I’d hope they’d share their experience with a friend. There is a memorable twist to the story, but I’d hate to spoil the surprise!
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