About the Book:
Some years earlier, Alec McNee hit the jackpot, winning a landmark Supreme Court decision against the use of cameras to issue traffic infractions. Buoyed by this success, he attempted his own crusade to alter the campaign finance laws of Washington State. In this endeavor, he met the enigmatic research lawyer Lukas Schmidt. Before Alec could determine exactly who this guy was, Lukas was abducted. Local authorities identified Lukas as a convicted sexual predator, but were unable to pursue him into Montana. Alec was drafted to do so. To solve the mystery of Lukas’ disappearance, Alec followed him into the most unusual of Federal prisons.
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?
I was an early university dropout, and spent many years working in a great variety of odd jobs, until I eventually found a real job that I enjoyed and where I flourished, as a research consultant at a major university. I had many writing bouts over the years, short stories, a couple of screenplays, and even a little poetry. The impetus for the short stories and poetry was not estimable, it was usually a failed attempt to impress a female with my brilliance. I tried only sparingly to get the screenplays produced.
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
I write at home, at the desk in my den. In my earlier years I tended to write very late in the day, finishing well into the a.m. The rest of this commentary will be concerning the writing of my only novel, “Strawberries Are Free”. For this I was much more disciplined. I would edit and amend the previous day’s work in the morning, and add new material in the afternoon.
3: Where do your ideas come from?
Most of the ideas for this novel came from my own convictions. There were three social issues I tackled, Big Brother and his cameras, campaign finance, and the quandary concerning sexual misconduct and punishment. The third of these was the last dealt with in the novel, but was the main instigation for the novel. Many of the anecdotes giving the novel some flavor were adaptions taken from my personal history.
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
I wrote an outline, and tried to follow it, but the story took a life of its own. At times I felt like I reading a good book rather than writing, thrilled by what might be coming next. I would hope that every writer has that sensation at one time or another.
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
My intention was to write a political mystery. Because I created a legal outcome for the first segment mentioned above, Big Brother and cameras, I felt the need to go forward in time to put that in context. This added a mild piece of futurism to the novel, and the need to add some technological advances to society. This was totally unplanned.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
I’m an old movie buff, so I’ll select accordingly.
Alec McNee – Robert Montgomery (Lady in the Lake)
Angela Nelton – Jessica Chastain (as a redhead)
Lukas Schmidt – Peter Lorre (Arsenic and Old Lace)
Roscoe Romar – Delroy Lindo (The Cider House Rules)
Spencer Dawes – Raul Julia (Presumed Innocent)
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I read in spurts, and I tend to read specific genres in spurts. In my teens it was Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan, followed by the mysteries of John Dickenson Carr and Agatha. Then I got into science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke in particular. Later I read all of Hermann Hesse; some read like butter (A Journey to the East), and others were a severe challenge (The Glass Bead Game). I moved into spy fiction, my favorite was Frederick Forsyth. Lately it has been detectives, all of Michael Connelly.
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m currently reading the speculative science fiction novel “Spiderworld” by Richard Bunning.
9: What is your favourite book and why?
I like the classics. I was particularly fond of two books by Wilkie Collins, “The Woman in White” (1859), and “The Moonstone” (1868), often considered the first British mystery.
When I was in my science fiction phase in 1965, I found a copy of “The Sirens of Titan” in a used book store. I had never heard of Kurt Vonnegut. I was completely won over, I still believe this to be his best. I devoured all of his books after that.
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
Stop thinking about it and do it. You will find out pretty quickly if you are up to the task.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
I have a “Goodreads” account, but that’s about it. I am backward in this regard.
About the Author:
W. T. O’Brien has written short stories and screenplays, Strawberries Are Free is his first novel. Prior to being a full time writer, he has worked at an extensive number of occupations from which to draw ideas. O’Brien is a lifelong resident of Greater Seattle, now living just north in Mountlake Terrace, WA. He enjoys his large family living in the surrounding area.