What is your background in martial arts? Like many guys (and gals), I was intrigued by martial arts movies featuring stars like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, and like a lot of people I actually started training and then stopped when I discovered it was a lot harder than it looks. Finally, though, I got back into training in 2001 and have never stopped. I earned a black belt in taekwondo in 2005 and have also studied Russian Systema, and in August 2014 my wife Sue and I earned black belts in the art of ryukudo kobujutsu, the study of Okinawan weaponry. In the next couple years I intend to start training in the Israeli close-combat art of krav maga.
How about languages? Having been born in Germany, I have always been interested in that country, its history and culture. I minored in German at UW-Platteville and am conversational in it today. I’ve also studied Russian and Italian. I encouraged my kids to study foreign languages, too, so for Kimberly it was Spanish, for Jim it was French and Chinese. Learning a language is not particularly difficult, although some that use different alphabets, like Russian and Japanese, are more challenging. There’s no such thing as having a “knack” for languages; a person who is successful in the study of foreign languages has a knack for studying.
If your books are made into movies, who would you like to see play the lead roles? Hey, if the books make it to the big screen, I’ll be happy no matter who plays the leads. If I had my druthers, though, I can see someone like Maggie Q or Ming-Na Wen playing Jo Ann from The White Vixen. Both ladies have played secret agents on TV, in Nikita and Agents of SHIELD, respectively. As for the Hayes brothers in Quest for Honor, I could see Hugh Jackman in the role of Jim. He has the physical attributes and of course is a fine actor. I really enjoyed him in The Wolverine. Gerard Butler from 300 is another possibility.
Now that we’re talking about movies, what are your favorites? One of the first movies I can remember really appreciating as a kid was The War of the Worlds, the 1953 version starring Gene Barry. (Years later I showed that to my daughter Kim and her friends when they had a sleepover. Might not’ve been the best choice for 11-year-olds, as it is terrifying in some parts. But today they laugh about it.) The first time I saw Gone with the Wind was when it was first shown on TV during my college days. It was also the first time I saw Clark Gable on screen, and then I understood why my grandmother raved about him. He had quite a presence, a man’s man. There are a lot of action pictures I’ve liked, but the film I found to be the most moving was The Passion of the Christ.
How about TV series? My all-time favorite is the Spartacus series that aired on Starz from 2010-13. To me, the character of Spartacus embodied the true spirit of the hero, and I like stories about heroes. I’m also a big Star Trek fan. Recently-completed series that I enjoyed include, 24, Covert Affairs and Nikita. As for series that are currently running, I like Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and Agents of SHIELD, and my wife and I are big fans of Longmire and Elementary. I'm not normally a fan of historical romance novels, but the Outlander series, adapted from the works of Diana Gabaldon, is excellent, with beautiful cinematography, a compelling plot and great attention to period detail.
So you like superheroes? I was a big Batman and Superman fan as a kid, and still am. I think we’re in the Golden Age of superheroes now, especially if you consider all the movies being made about them. Although not really a Marvel fan, I’ve enjoyed the films featuring Iron Man, Captain America and the Wolverine. Someone asked me the other day why these movies are so popular now, and I said it’s because we as a society really are longing for heroes. Our recent political leadership, sad to say, has in many ways been disappointing, if not downright incompetent. Most people yearn for leadership, for someone to inspire them, show them the way. Heroes do that, and superheroes are at the top of the list. It’s too bad they’re fictional. We could sure use them.
Do you work with a writers group? Early in 2012 I was very fortunate to be invited to join four ladies in a critique group that meets every other Monday evening to review our latest chapters. Without their help my work would never have been published, so a big thanks to Donna White Glaser, Marjorie Swift Doering, Marla Madison and Helen Block. You’ll find their work on Amazon.com, and it’s definitely worth a look.
Who are your favorite authors? Thriller writers are at the top of the list, of course. Like many of today’s writers in the genre I was inspired by Tom Clancy, but I also like a lesser-known writer from the 1980s, J.C. Pollock. The last decade or so has produced a great stable, including David Poyer, Barry Eisler, Stephen Hunter, Ward Carroll, Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. When I venture into the mystery/crime genre, my favorite is William Kent Krueger. As for non-fiction, I enjoy the works of many writers, particularly Dick Couch, former Navy SEAL and Vietnam veteran, who has also written some pretty good fiction.
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