My latest novel, The Carnevale Conspiracy, was released on July 20, 2021. This is my 17th published suspense novel. My next release won’t be out until early in 2022.
Please give us a short pitch. “Bob and Liz Danforth are on the vacation of a lifetime-Venice, Italy during Carnevale. But, when they are caught up in the diabolical actions of a secret organization, patterned after the 11th Century’s Hashashiyan, or Order of Assassins, their trip becomes a nightmare of herculean proportion.”
Evil Deeds is one of my early novels. It was based on the actual kidnapping of our 2-1/2-year-old son in Greece when I served there with the U.S. Army. Evil Deeds is the first of 7 books in my Danforth Saga. Here’s what N.Y. Times Best-Selling Author Sheldon Siegel wrote about this novel: “Another tightly plotted, deftly executed page-turner from a master of suspense and international intrigue. Joseph Badal writes timely stories with authority and compassion. Highly recommended.”
What brought you to writing?: Our family has had a tradition of passing stories down from generation to generation. That tradition, along with an insatiable appetite for reading, combined to make me want to be a writer from an early age. But I was diverted from a writing career and spent most of my adult years either in the military or in the banking/finance industries. I finally got serious about writing in my late fifties and had my first novel published in 2003.
What are you currently working on? My current project in the 4th book in my Lassiter/Martinez Case Files series features two female detectives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez have been described as the best female detective duo since the Cagney & Lacey television series. Barbara and Susan are smart, courageous, and professional. They aren’t superheroes but rather are real life protagonists who have to balance careers, personal relationships, and personal problems while confronting believable villains, bureaucrats, and power brokers.
Has an association membership helped you or your writing?: When I decided to get serious about writing a novel, I joined Southwest Writers Workshop in Albuquerque. This was one of the best decisions I have made regarding furthering my writing career. The classes and conferences sponsored by SWW and the friends I made in that organization have contributed mightily to honing my craft and advancing my career.
Who’s your favorite author?: I can’t even begin to answer this question with one name. It’s a bit like asking, “Which of your children do you love the most?” If you will allow me to, I would like to list a few of my favorites: Michael Connelly, Robert Ludlum, Elmore Leonard, Tony Hillerman, James Lee Burke, Steven Pressfield, Steve Brewer, Donald Westlake, David Morrell, Doug Preston, James Clavell, etc. I’ve learned at least one thing about writing from each of these writers which have made a large difference in my career.
How long did it take you to write your first book?: My first published book, The Pythagorean Solution, fermented in my brain for a good thirty years. When I finally sat down and wrote the story, I felt overwhelmed with passion and was driven to complete the work. I finished the first draft in three months. But then the hard work began. I worked with an editor who was demanding and critical. It took three years for me to “get it.” The book was published in 2003. Thanks to the help I received from that editor, The Pythagorean Solution was optioned by a movie production company in 2003.
We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave, or do they run the show?: When I began writing, I was under the false impression that all I needed was a good plot. I quickly was disabused of that thinking. I learned that characters really drive a story. In a sense, the characters do drive the story. But it’s not as though they are anarchical. They still have to answer to me. I love creating irreverent, sometimes diabolical characters, but I always put a governor on them so that they don’t get out of control. If a character truly misbehaves, I always have the option of killing them off.
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?: Although I always include strong female characters in my books, my first stories had male protagonists. When I decided to write my first Lassiter/Martinez Case Files book, Borderline, I was confronted with a problem. I realized that female protagonists needed to be more complex. Being married, I should have come to that conclusion early on. Now that I am deep into my 4th book in that series, I find myself challenged and thrilled to write female protagonists.
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc?: I don’t outline. I am a pantser, so I never quite know where my plot is heading. My books are replete with subplots which seem to appear in my head during the writing process and, at that moment, appear too attractive to ignore. I believe that these subplots are what add depth and breadth to a story.
What kind of research do you do?: I do extensive research for all of my books. In some of my international thrillers, technology becomes important, which requires me to do research via interviews with experts or on the internet. In books like Death Ship, The Nostradamus Secret, and The Carnevale Conspiracy, where much of the stories are located overseas, I travel to those locations as much as possible to ensure accuracy of sites, customs, etc. Since I was in the military, weaponry has changed dramatically. Again, I interview experts and rely on the internet to keep current.
Do you have any advice for new writers?: I frequently speak to writers groups. The advice I give aspiring authors is, first, put your story on paper. Don’t worry about how good or bad it is. Just put your butt in a chair and write. And don’t use the excuse that “I don’t have the time to write.” If you’re passionate about something, you’ll always find the time. I also tell aspiring authors to not fall in love with their work. Pick it apart, critique it, edit it, then edit it again and again.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books?: I am the luckiest guy in the world. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I am passionate about writing, and I still get a thrill when I see one of my titles in a store. Writing is hard work, but it’s worth every second I put into it.
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