Today we welcome J. Mark Bertrand.
Author of "Back on Murder". A book I simply love!
Here is my review of his book.
A MISSING GIRL. A CORRUPT INVESTIGATION.
They thought they could get away with it, but they forgot one thing:
ROLAND MARCH IS
BACK ON MURDER!
1. How long did you write before you were published?
I’ve led a charmed life, at least where writing is concerned. I finished my first novel-length manuscript four years ago. Before that, I’d published other things, but never managed to see a novel through to the end. Unfortunately I’d written a book that editors loved and publication boards didn’t. It opened doors, though, and led more or less directly to my writing the series of
books I’m doing now.
2. Tell us about your featured book "Back On Murder."
Back on Murder introduces Roland March, a Houston homicide detective on the brink of burnout. He’s being farmed out on various assignments, and is the designated “suicide cop” --i.e., the detective who lands the thankless task of investigating the occasional suicide of a fellow
officer. Then something happens: he spots something at a crime scene that no one else notices, and gets a shot at redemption. The only problem is, to vindicate himself, he has to prove a theory no one else believes in and face down some very dangerous people. In a lot of ways, this is a risky sort of book. Crime fiction written by an author who’s a Christian about a protagonist who isn’t. And Roland March isn’t a textbook hero. He’s a flawed, conflicted man doing a difficult job. You’ll either love him or hate him. Either way, you’ll definitely remember him.
3. Is there any person who has been a strong influence in your writing journey?
Like many writers, I’ve been mentored more by books than people. My influences are books like Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners, the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, the complete work of Graham Greene and lately James Lee Burke. I was fortunate enough to study with Dan
Stern when I was at the University of Houston. He turned me onto many of the writers in my personal pantheon.
4. What message(s) do you want to be clear to your readers?
Back on Murder is a story about what happens when people make the right choices only to meet with tragic consequences. We sometimes thing good choices lead to good outcomes and vice versa, but a quick look at reality suggests otherwise. People take principled stands, they make sacrifices, they stand up against evil in the world around them, and then something terrible
happens as a direct result. Now what? Do you go back on your beliefs, or hold onto them with tenacity? That’s a question most of the characters in Back on Murder have to face.
5. What are some of your likes and dislikes? Your hobbies, interests? Where do you like to vacation?
I love books -- not just what’s inside, but their physical form, the way they’re designed and made. That love led to an unlikely success story, BibleDesignBlog.com, where I write about “the physical form of the Good Book.” With two novels coming out this year, I’ve neglected the blog a little of late, but it’s been a real pleasure to discover a like-minded readership.
As far as vacations go, my wife and I honeymooned in Edinburgh and keep talking about going back. Air travel is one of my dislikes, though, but I’m a big fan of that all-American pastime the road trip. I like to travel and it doesn’t really matter where I end up. Getting there is half the fun.
6. Tell us a little-known fact about yourself that readers may not know.
I grew up in Louisiana, but I don’t have an accent. Somewhere along the line, I lost it. When I went to college (in Tennessee), people were always trying to figure out what part of the North I came from. If you’d been born farther South than me, though, you’d have drowned in the Gulf of Mexico. I’m a terrible mimic of accents, too -- they all come out sounding like an Indian/Swedish hybrid. This is not an advantage for an author, believe me.
7. How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
By the time I start a draft, I’ve done a lot of work in advance, figuring out the general arc of the story and how I want to tell it. So I’m free to focus on the storytelling. I write a chapter at a time, which can make for some exceedingly long days, so my first draft of a book takes anywhere from a month to a month and a half. During that time, I live and breathe the book. The rest of my life is pretty much on hold. But for me there’s no other way to do it. Novels are too complex to set aside and take back up.
Of course the real work is revision. Some of that I do the first time around, but a lot of it comes later. I read my books out loud from start to finish, cutting and tweaking as I go, until I’m finally satisfied with the result.
8. What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m halfway through two novels, Martin Booth’s A Very Private Gentleman and John Steinbeck’s The Pearl (which I managed to get through high school, college and grad school without reading). I just finished Jim Thompson’s Savage Night.
9. Do you grow flowers or vegetables? What are your favorite flowers?
Mainly I grow weeds. Our neighbors have turned their property into a botanical wonderland, though, so whenever I look out the window it’s easy to pretend I have a green thumb. I’m not sure I have a favorite flower -- my tastes are mainly shaped by whatever my wife prefers. But I’m fond of jonquils, not so much because of their appearance or scent (I’m not sure I could describe either one) but because a story I liked used that word, and it struck me as a very fine name for a flower.
10. What are you writing now?
I recently turned in the manuscript for the second Roland March novel, Pattern of Wounds. This one comes out next summer. Still some revisions to make on that one, but my thoughts have already turned to the next of March’s adventures.
1 1 . How can readers find you on the Internet?
BackonMurder.com is the best place to look for info on the book. In addition to BibleDesignBlog.com, I also blog at CrimeGenre.com. And of course my central location in the virtual world is JMarkBertrand.com.
Thank you so much Mark for the interview and your wonderful book.
Many blessings to you.
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This giveaway is for U.S. residents only. The deadline for entry is July 14, 2010. A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator and the winner will be notifed by email.