It is a tremendous honor for me to be connected (even in a small way) to "The Famous Simon Templar!" Sincerest possible thanks to Ian Dickerson for making this happen and Andrew Howard for his new series of covers!
Here is the trailer to the new series, starring Adam Rayner. Cameos by Sir Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy:
It’s a combination of nostalgia, memories of “old” Las Vegas, and missing it badly. I lived there during the 1960’s & 70’s, and it was a very different place. I'll admit there's a touch of re-writing history to suit myself, but there you have it. That is why it's called 'fiction'!
What genre does your book fall under?
I would say it is a mystery at the core. There will be some thriller elements going on, and a romance.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Due to the time frame, I’ve gone old school in my head. The perfect ‘Andrew Scott’ - known as 'Scotty' - would be Tom Selleck. His personality, the laid back, calm, 'whatever happens we can handle it' personality is perfect for the character. Scotty is very much a product of his time; enlisted in the U.S. Navy on December 8th, 1941, served in World War II, came to Nevada one time, and fell in love with the place. Using his educational benefits from his military service, Andrew holds a degree in Casino Management from the University of Reno, and is the graveyard manager at Buckingham's Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Scotty prefers the midnight shift; as he says, "You can see everything there is in life and never go past the front door."
'Benjamin Raymond’ is Christopher George. Benjamin is the 'official'
one of the two, a State Investigator with the newly formed Nevada
Division of Investigation, answering only to the Governor. Benjamin and
Andrew met at UNR after WWII, became friends, then went their separate
ways. When Benjamin's investigation into an apparent suicide brings him
to Las Vegas, they meet again. Benjamin was raised by a single mother;
his father is the Chicago based mobster Frank Scolari. Benjamin knows
who his father is, but has had little if any contact over the years,
none since he became a cop. Unfortunately, his path will cross with his father once again.
‘Moira St. Clair’ looks a lot like the singer Rosemary Clooney. Don't need to add a lot more there....:) Moira is receiving death threats, and the Governor asks Benjamin to to look into the matter while he's in Las Vegas. As the investigation progresses, Scotty and Benjamin uncover more than the sordid secrets they expected to find.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A casino manager and a State Investigator probe the alleged suicide of a mysterious billionaire, along the way dealing with a terrified singing star, fugitive Nazi scientists, a Satanic cult, and politics at a level where people can be made to 'disappear'.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ve done both independent and traditional publishing, so that's an open question at the moment. We'll have to see how it shakes out.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
At this point, it is still in progress. The idea has been cooking for a while but, to quote Dan Jenkins, “Life Its Ownself” kind of got in the way this past year. I’m working on it. I was hoping to be done by the end of the year, but it will be 2013 before it is ready for release.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
(1959 Downtown Las Vegas. Buckingham's Hotel and Casino is two blocks behind the Neon Cowboy at the intersection of Fremont and Main Streets)
Las Vegas in the late 1950’s and ’60’s was a completely different world. It was an ‘open’ town, which meant pretty much anyone with an idea and some seed capital could come in and take their chances. The goal was (and still is today) to separate the customers from as much of their money as possible. Joe E. Lewis, a famous comedian in that era, once said, “Vegas is the only city where money really does talk…. it says ‘bye bye!’” It was a time before STD’s, when drinking and smoking ruled the day, casual relationships were the standard, and most of the action compressed into a very small part of the city. Fortunes were literally made or lost with one roll of the dice, or a single hand of cards.
A lot of KNIGHTS is set in the fictional Buckingham's Hotel and Casino downtown on Fremont Street; at that time, The Strip was in its infancy and Downtown Vegas was where the action was. About six blocks long,in the day it was the place to be! It was very much a different era, a different time. Nostalgia is ‘back’ all of a sudden… for some of us, it never went away, and I am hoping I can properly evoke that era and those times for the reader.
Something flew through the glass window, shattering it. A whole lot of somethings started hitting the wall behind us. I threw myself down onto the floor, seeing Benjamin grabbing Moira in the middle of her scream and drag her behind the sofa, pressing her down out of the line of fire. He slapped at his side, but under the circumstances I knew good and well a pistol was less than useless. The glass kept shattering as more and more bullets hit it. There was no aim, no finesse at all, just a hosing down with what sounded like an automatic weapon. I wrapped my arms over my head as glass flew across the room. There was a pause, and I risked lifting my head up only to throw myself back down when more bullets came flying in. Stupid, I told myself. He was reloading. Now I recognized the distinctive chatter of a sub-machine gun. I stayed as flat as I could and rolled across the floor to where the two of them huddled in front of the couch. Moira was beyond scared, but she was holding on. Benjamin’s eyes burned with a fire that could be seen in the darkness as the rage began to envelop him. The shooting stopped. A few shards of glass tinkled to the floor as they dropped from the ruined window frames. The silence was glorious, broken only by the howling of a dog down the way. Before I realized what I was doing, I was on my feet and heading for what was left of the french doors. Trying to keep what little wall there was between myself and the outside, I dared a peek around the corner. Nothing. Benjamin left Moira and was standing on the other side of the ruined doors. He looked at me with raised eyebrows. I nodded in return, and we both came out of hiding and went through the door frame. A bullet spranged off a railing. We both instantly hit the ground again, but I’d caught the flash when the shot fired. The shooter was by the west end of the brick wall that surrounded the property. “What are we gonna do?” Benjamin whispered. “Split up and head for the wall,” I said. “One of us has to draw his fire.” “Sounds okay,” he said. “Who goes first?” I was staring into the darkness, looking for something, anything. “How do I know? You want to flip a coin?” Without taking his eyes from the blackness, he replied, “Tails, I win. Move!” Grabbing the railing and hauling myself up in one motion, then vaulting over it in a way that would have made my high school gym teacher proud, I flew through the air and hoped I’d miss the rose bushes that lined the front. Landing on my feet, I crouched down at the same moment it occurred to me wearing a white dinner jacket with a snow white dress shirt looked terrific in the casino, but was probably not the best thing to wear for guerrilla warfare in the dark against an unknown assailant who had a machine gun. Crouching down as low as I could to make myself invisible - as effective as holding up tissue paper to deflect the bullets I was certain were going to be flying in my direction any moment - I strained my ears for any clue to where the gunman might be hiding. Silence. Without turning, I held up my right hand so Benjamin could see it, pointing to the right to show him which way I was heading. He whistled to let me know he understood, one short sharp blast, and I took off deeper into the shadows. A crunch of gravel behind me told me Benjamin had come down and around and was moving in the opposite direction. The plan was we’d circle around and catch the shooter. That was, as I said, the plan. Another footstep behind me and I half-turned. Next thing I knew, I was up close and personal with the gravel on the pathway, feeling it dig into my face. Vague sounds registered; a scraping sound nearby, a man shouting. A thud. Silence. A car started and I heard it roaring off into the night. I wanted to get up, I really did, but it just all seemed too much trouble, so I did the only logical thing. I closed my eyes and drifted off....
I have no earthly idea who first thought of filtering hot water through coffee beans, but whoever did certainly deserves a place in the history books.
The past few months have wrought some changes in life. No big deal, really, but adjustments needed to be made. The reason I mention this is, on one occasion, the doctor was listing all things now forbidden. The nano-instant he paused for a breath, I jumped in with "What about coffee?"
He asked what kind. "Regular, nothing added." He shrugged and said, "Knock yourself out." (Which I thought was kind of odd, as coffee is supposed to keep one awake, but that's just the way my mind works sometimes.) But that was my first and most major concern at the moment: you cannot take away my coffee!
(He then went on with The List, which ended up rather substantial; months later, a friend cracked, "That leaves you Air, Water, Ice, and Broccoli!" Sad to say, Peter kind of nailed that one.)
I'm not real sure when my obsession with the Java Bean and the Nectar it delivers began, but I do clearly remember the first time I ever tasted coffee. It was an immediate bond, a necessity to get through the day, and I've never looked back. Lots of little placards are showing up these days, like the one at the top of the page, and it got me wondering about this obsession we have with coffee.
Personally, if I have a choice, I stick with the fresh-ground slow dripped magic that comes from my Capresso. This poor coffee maker has been used and abused for almost fifteen years now, and it chugs along like a little train, delivering cup after cup of coffee just the way I like it. I'll admit there have been occasions, especially when working and/or traveling, when I drank stuff that didn't belong in a Tennessee pickup truck crankcase, but it got the job done, delivering that much needed jolt to clear the mind and help me focus.
Just for the fun of it, in no particular order, here are some responses from friends. (If you click on the authors' names, you'll go to their web sites where you'll find some of the best Summer Reads going on today. I promise you that.)
husband is the coffee drinker; he's a reporter for the Tribune papers
in Florida. He uses store bought Gevalia coffee and a Krupps coffee
maker. I like the smell of coffee and have been known to snort the bags
of ground coffee, but I drink hot tea -- Dragon Well Green. I like loose
tea and need at least two cups to jumpstart in the morning. Around 11 I
take a tea break with more green tea, or flavored green -- strawberry
green with real chunks of dried strawberries, or white tea with
lavender. At bedtime, I may have a cup of chamomile -- plain old Bigelow
bags. Avoid energy drinks. Just cold water from the fridge in a pint
beer glass with a bendy straw.
We buy coffee beans and grind them at the shop using their self-serve grinder. We buy our coffee at Trader Joe's. On the other hand, I do enjoy going into Starbucks and buying a fresh-brewed cuppa. We use a drip Melitta maker. As long as it doesn't taste like shit, I'll drink it. I do doctor my coffee with milk and sugar. I'll drink hot tea if I'm sick. No energy drinks.
I have a 4 cup drip Mr. Coffee machine. I was on an Only-Italian-Ground-Coffee-From-Harrods-Dept-Store-in-London kick for years but last year my husband didn't travel as much so I buy ground Folgers 'Black Silk' (we own a bunch of stock in P&G.) I am not picky about my coffee- I will buy and drink a cup anywhere (if you want the junkyard-in-TN taste try the coffee at Becks Prime at Memorial Park, my every Sat morning beverage, yikes!) I drink one large mug of coffee a day, then water the remaining hours. No beverage gets my fingers to fly across the keyboard or the creative juices flowing unfortunately. But if one is ever invented, I'll buy it and guzzle it!
I'm a big Starbucks guy but I get my coffee at their local store. Don't grind beans or brew them myself. But my local store has a Clover single serving brew system which is great. I use Starbucks Via for instant coffee and pretty much just boil water. I wouldn't say I'm overly picky but I like to avoid the overly acidic lines and prefer full-bodies flavor. Caffeine sure helps!
Don't drink coffee. Yuck! (Ed. Note: Jenn and I are still friends, despite this.)
I drink *gasp* energy drinks, preferably Sugar Free Rock Star.
Drinking the energy drink is part of my writing process. Don't know
why. It's like when smokers drink alcohol. They will invariably have a
cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other. That's me only with
pen, paper, and Rock Stars.
We grind our own beans--well, our Cuisinart coffeemaker does.Until a few years ago, I didn't drink coffee at all, preferring Coke Classic to get me going in the morning. But now that I drink coffee, I'm pretty picky. When we travel, I drink my coffee at Starbucks or Caribou Coffee. Never just plain coffee, black--always have lots of creamer and favorings! my current favorite is peppermint mocha or white chocolate peppermint mocha. In the fall/winter it's pumpkin spice or gingerbread lattes. I also drink decaf tea, peach and mango tea as well. Energy drinks? They'll kill you.
Store-bought beans - I love hazelnut creme - and we grind the beans ourselves. (Well, actually, we use a coffee grinder - its much easier than using the thumb and forefinger.) and Mr. Coffee. You know, the dumbed-down version. A child could use it. I don't like bad coffee--spent most of my life drinking bad coffee. So I try to go to a place that at least has a decent cup of coffee, but I always put nonfat half 'n half in it anyway. Won't drink bad coffee--like percolator coffee or Folgers coffee from a can. I mean that literally. I will not tip up the grounds in the can and pour them into my mouth--I tried that once and I nearly choked to death. Don't like soda, don't like energy drinks, don't like bow-hunting, either. I know that's not relevant, but that's how I feel.
Pre-ground. We used to grind, but I realized that was a whole lot of time I'm never going to get back. Drip machine (with ILLY) for weekends, Keurig (with Double Black Diamond) for weekdays. Very very very very picky. Meaning: it has to be coffee. I adore (and of course prefer) great coffee--really appreciate it. I have rejected some, I guess…but it would have to be pretty darn awful. Love tea. I've never had an energy drink.
Well, as we all know, I don't do coffee. I'm the tea sipper. Spent too many
years in colonial British countries. I used to drink Earl Grey, but have
developed an aversion to it. Now I prefer English, Irish Breakfast,
Darjeeling or most any other nice straight forward black tea.
I grind them myself, but not daily. Whenever I run out. So I'm not a true purist. I'm half pure and half . . . well, bean slut, I guess. I have a ridiculously pricey machine called the Moccamaster, but I admit, I truly love it. It's not even fancy, just expensive. Unless I'm having withdrawal headaches, I can't stand anything that's been sitting around too long. But I've been known to drink cold coffee in the afternoon that's leftover from breakfast. Does that make sense? If it's hot, it must be fresh. Cold, I'll drink anything. I drink everything. And let's not forget chocolate.
Grind the beans ourselves. Lately Independence Coffee from
Brenham (so many flavors to choose from! Jet fuel, Vintage Bin #007 (Ed. Note: Laurie said "007"....heh....) ,
and EarlyWine Breakfast Blends are our favorites). Mr. Coffee, Keurig, 2 separate French Presses
(single and multi-serving - until we discovered French Press raises
cholesterol levels - really??? so sad), single drip for a single cup,
machine we haven't figured out still (we got it for our wedding - 5
years ago!). I think that's all..... We're pretty picky. Skyler carries small bags on the road
since the hotels don't always stock enough (and decaf just doesn't work -
ask any pilot!). I used to drink it all - especially in my flight
instructing days when free was all I could afford. That stuff had been
made at 4 am usually and we were still drinking it at 5pm. That stuff
will eat holes in your stomach, but we drank it happily! I do drink tea first thing in the morning. Until the first pot of
coffee gets made and I can't refuse that smell! I am half Canadian and I
do appreciate a good cup of tea.
a piece of advice you won’t find in any manual, leaflet, monograph,
self-help book, or national talk-show: when an agent with the FBI’s
Violent Crimes Unit opens an email, then spends the next ten minutes
vomiting in the men’s room, do not under any circumstances lean across the desk and look at the screen…."
★Thriller 3: Love Is Murder
Edited by Sandra Brown. Mira, $24.95 (608p) ISBN 978-0-7783-1344-1
If a person is known by the company she keeps, then the company of the
30 romance and suspense writers in this stellar all-original anthology
speaks volumes about bestseller Brown.... There are
familiar characters such as Allison Brennan’s Lucy Kincaid (“Vacation
Interrupted”) and new ones readers are sure to want to see more of, like
William Simon’s Nicholas White (“Spider’s Tango”). Chockablock with
nifty plot twists, these stories aren’t to be missed. (June)