The Inside Scoop!
and this thriller
The Ghost of Africa
I grew up in . . . Atco, New Jersey. Four sisters and one brother made life in a one-bathroom house interesting. My parents lived out their Christian faith, and even though we didn’t have much, we didn’t want for anything.
I was inspired to write my first published novel by . . . my wife, Gwen. When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer nine years ago, her battle with the dreaded disease never shook her faith. She was always my biggest fan, the champion of my cause. Before she died, I promised her I would write her story, Thirteen Months. Even though it was not a novel, my agent, Jessica Kirkland, discovered the book and encouraged me to keep writing. Fiction soon became my passion. Because of my vivid imagination, Gwen had always wanted me to write fiction. As it turns out, it was a perfect fit.
The books that have most influenced my life are . . . This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, Fury by Steven James, My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni, and The End of The World by Amy Matayo. I also enjoy reading Joel Roseberg’s The Last Jihad series.
My biggest challenge when writing is . . . not getting ahead of myself. My mind is usually in front of my keyboard, so getting the story on the page accurately requires me to slow down a bit. Sometimes I need to get my thoughts on the page and sort it out later. If a story isn’t believable, no one will read it.
Two of my favourite authors are . . . Steven James and Robert Dugoni. Working with them to improve my abilities as a writer has helped me to tell the story with an interesting, captivating style. They have impacted my writing more than anyone.
If I wasn’t a writer, I would be . . . a full time doctor providing aid where it’s needed in Africa. We tend to take medical care for granted in America, but for the people in the African bush and poverty stricken areas of Egypt and Ethiopia, they’ll die unless someone shows up.
The superhero talent I would love to possess is . . . flying. I’ve always enjoyed piloting, which I only do occasionally now, but I have wanted to base-jump with a glide suit for several years. Someday . . .
Together New York City surgeon Paul Branson and his wife, Nicki, had a dream: to help the people of the African bush. After Nicki’s untimely death, Paul decides to honor her memory and carry on alone. In South Sudan, he channels grief into hope, caring for villagers and working to save Leza, a little girl with leukemia who has captured his heart.
Meanwhile, Jason Quinn, terrorist leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, has deadly plans for the people of South Sudan. But he needs information to carry out his plot―information from research Paul did for the US government years ago. Quinn will stop at nothing to obtain this secret intelligence, even kidnap a dying child. Now, in order to save the ailing Leza and stop a genocide, Paul must go beyond his medical training to journey into a world of brutal terrorism and global intrigue.
With only instinct and his faith as guides, how far will he go to save the lives of thousands?
My latest novel can be described by these 5 adjectives . . . thrilling, suspenseful, adventurous, courageous, and spiritual.
My main character is . . . Paul Branson, a six foot two, brown haired, green eyed trauma surgeon from NYC who very much misses the wife he lost to cancer. He is an experienced street fighter who met his wife, Nicki, when she was sixteen and he was seventeen. They married four years later. Paul is a champion of caring for the poor in destitute areas of the world. He loves to pilot small aircraft, skydive, and is an adrenaline junkie even though he pretends not to be. He wants to make a difference in the world by doing whatever his talents and abilities permit him to do. His faith in God is strong, which is what sustains him through the trials he is to face. It’s also what gives him courage.
My main character, Dr. Paul Branson resembles actor Ryan Reynolds, Jessica (his daughter) resembles actress Scarlett Johansson, and Quinn (the protagonist) resembles actor Djimon Hounsou—the pursuer in the movie The Island and Furious 7.
A previously unknown fact about this novel is . . . That it is inspired by personal experiences with the addition of fictional components to complete the storyline. The research for the aspects of the book I didn’t know from firsthand exposure took more than six months, and required a visit to the region with Army Special Forces, landing a twelve-seater Cessna Turboprop on rough terrain in a desolate area to prove it was possible, and consulting with members of the US Department of Defense and the FBI.
My story’s spiritual theme is . . . The underlying conflict that occurs when foreign traditions and superstitions collide with Christian beliefs. A spiritual journey must also occur in Paul Branson’s life as he learns that God is sovereign and has a plan, even when it isn’t our plan. Nothing comes as a surprise to God, and He is in charge regardless of our circumstances.
While writing this novel I learned . . . That the LRA is one of the most brutal militias in the world, even compared to ISIS. Working in an area where the LRA is active and unpredictable was a true challenge. The living conditions in this region are severe, and the threat of invasion at any moment compounds the desperate circumstances all the more. It was also a true undertaking to accurately portray the intricacies of the beliefs, superstitions and traditions of the tribes in Africa where the story takes place.
The title was chosen by . . . Me, but only after struggling through several working titles. In the end, The Ghost of Africa was the only real option. I wanted to be certain the spiritual journey that begins with the Ghost, is introduced in the beginning of the book. This is not a “ghost” in the usual sense of the word. It represents a black panther that has spiritual meaning for the tribal people, and becomes integral to the story.
As an author, the hardest scenes for me to write are . . . Those that are emotionally draining, loss-of-innocent-life scenes. They cause me to relive what I’ve been through with my wife, which never gets easier.
The story I’m currently working on is . . . Another thriller, but this time it’s set in Chicago where a surgeon finds himself in the middle of an encounter with the mafia. Dr. Bailey Pogue must go undercover for the FBI in order to expose the plan they’re about to launch. He’s quickly immersed into a world of global espionage and human trafficking that leads him to Egypt and the Middle East. He’s forced to make difficult choices if he, his family, and hundreds of others are to survive.
You may not know this about me, but I . . . am trained in martial arts and have served as the physician for several secured government agencies, which was helpful in writing The Ghost of Africa and my new book, Apollyon as well.
If I could be a character in any novel, I would want to be . . . Jason Bourne. I find his character intriguing for his ability to stay two steps ahead of his foes, to fight the bad guys and win with incredible technique, and know right from wrong when the line is not clearly drawn. He’s also dashing, handsome, and has no equal. That would be nice.