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Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Ben. Tell us about your latest book.
Shadow Dance Murders: Detective Carson Chandler draws the short straw — the assignment to untangle a series of murders at the Antebellum Community Theater, in Charlotte, NC. As he pulls back the curtain the spotlight reveals the unglamorous inner workings and politics of the Theater. The large pool of suspects includes: actors, directors, staff, Board members, and shady real estate developers that are willing to do whatever to grab the choice Theater property.
As Chandler works to solve the case, his life is increasingly complicated by two intriguing, yet polar-opposite women. One is a successful Broadway actress he’s loved since childhood, or at least that is what he believes. But this belief is challenged by an incident that occurs in the scorching sands of Pakistan. He saves a mysterious female Mossad agent, who is seriously wounded in a terrorist ambush. He cares for her wound, and immediately her comrades whisk her away to a secret location. He’s left with only her first name. His military tour is cut short by a sniper’s bullet. He returns home following months of rehabilitation and struggles daily with the physical and mental effects of battle. He tries, but can’t erase the striking Israeli woman from his mind, and then when he least expects it, she reaches out.
The Shadow Dance Murders has a unique “hook” that to the best of my knowledge has not been encountered before by homicide detectives. There is a secondary hook at the ending that establishes the groundwork for a sequel.
Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
Several key characters move forward with Chandler in much broader international thriller.
General O’Malley, Chandler’s control, says, “Your wealth gives you unique credentials that allow you to infiltrate the world of power brokers that make kings and bring down governments. These days, friends turn foes faster than a short order cook flips pancakes. As an insider you can sniff out problem areas and identify hostile alliances that can’t be done by electronic means or satellites.
“If a corporation has changing attitudes that are favorable to our enemies, especially the Russians and Chinese, we have to know. We’ve ear-marked large US companies that are doing business with terrorist organizations, supplying them with embargoed goods, and laundering their blood-soaked money. Identify the key players, and then……”
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I write early, around six a.m., which includes the entire process of researching, editing, and head-scratching about the dumb stuff I wrote the day before that I thought was so brilliant. I close shop before noon or earlier if my brain goes numb. But, not being at the keyboard doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about the twists-and-turns of the story, so at six the next day I’m at it again.
When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
Most often I’m in control, but I do listen to the characters. If they show me something I think will add to the story, okay, if not I tell them to get back in line.
Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
Elmore Leonard: He wrote small, tight stories that ordinary people could understand, and chose to stay away from world-ending, apocalyptic, international thrillers. He was malleable, and successfully moved from writing westerns in his early years, such as 3:10 to Yuma, to a crime writer that had his work adapted to movies and television series, like Justified.
David Baldacci: The years he spend practicing law in Washington, DC gave him a first-hand look at the power brokers and political maneuvering that occurs with the inside the “beltway” crowd. He used this knowledge to write Absolute Power, and his body of work has an authentic feel because of his background. Plus, he’s used his fame and money to do considerable charitable work for multiple sclerosis and formed a foundation to combat illiteracy.
Robert Ludlum: I got hooked on his break-neck paced spy thrillers such as The Scarlatti Inheritance, and The Bourne Identity and its sequels. He was one of the first writers to use former CIA agents to supply his books with authentic background information and procedures. And because of his experience as an actor and producer, he brought a theatrical flair to his writing.
Promotion is a big – and usually the most hated – part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
Over the years I’ve run through the promotion gauntlet to include radio and television interviews, signings at book stores, talking at book clubs, blogs, and employing professionals (literary agents — there really are such things) to sing my praises to book buyers.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing off-and-on for thirty years, and seriously for the past eight.
If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?
Describe your writing process once you sit down to write – or the preliminaries.
I back-read recent work to pull me back into the story to verify the tone and atmosphere are correct, and then I check my outline to make sure I’m moving the story forward rather than meandering about. With the first key stroke I’m back in the zone.
Where do you get your ideas?
I rely a great deal on my life experiences, and when I find something of interest I try to come up with a different twist or angle that will help weave an interesting tale.
Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
I grew up in a house of readers. Even though my parents didn’t mandate that I read, it seemed the easy, natural thing for me to do. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a task master. She read everything in sight, expected the same of me, so I got in lock-step with her and eventually came to cherish our time together discussing books, etc.
Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
I have. Electronic publishing continues gaining traction and “respectability.” The cost-savings of “on demand” publishing and digitized e-books are substantial, which is important in this day of tight pocket books. The big expense of warehousing books, delivering them to the bricks-and-mortar houses, and then bearing the expense of unsold inventory that’s circled back, has been eliminated. Kids are growing up in an instant everything world that they access through I-phones and I-pads. They’re not inclined to spend time browsing bookstore aisles when they can access millions of titles online. Overall, electronic publishing allows a broader spectrum of writers to participate in the business, and provides readers with an excellent, inexpensive variety of material from which to choose.
Mr. Furman retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the North Carolina field division. His investigative and managerial expertise was directed against domestic and international terrorism and organized crime.
Currently he is the CEO of the Rexus Corporation, a background screening company and private investigative company headquartered in Charlotte, NC.