You were a federal prosecutor and federal agent prior to becoming authors. Why did you decide you wanted to write novels?
Diane has loved reading and writing since she was a child. David didn’t particularly enjoy reading or writing, but he liked telling stories. After studying her genealogy, Diane wrote an historical novel set in the days of Gutenberg. While publishers liked it, one suggested with Diane’s background as an attorney and a prosecutor, she should try suspense.
After learning David was a former Federal agent, that publisher was even more certain this was a winning idea and Diane came home from the writer’s conference with a searing questions: How would David feel about writing a suspense novel with Diane? His reply was swift, “Let’s try it.” The rest is “His-story.”
Tell us a bit about your latest novels. What “what-if” got your minds spinning and your fingers typing?
With our legal backgrounds, we’re intrigued by why people do what they do, which helps us build real characters. In Facing Justice, the story sizzles with several key “what-ifs.” What would it be like to be a respected person running a non-profit is accused of aiding terrorists? What would happen if the federal agent’s twin sister died on 9/11 and that agent finds a family from her church is accused of helping terrorists?
Then in Confirming Justice we flesh out what it’s like for a federal judge who tries to hide a medical secret when he’s nominated to the Supreme Court and his enemies seek to derail his life-long dream. In our most recent release, The Camelot Conspiracy, we blend historical fact from the JFK assassination and weave it into a modern tale where rogue government-types target Kat Kowicki, a young television reporter who is brash, but also naïve about what some will do to keep their power. Our previous two novels were set in Washington, DC, the Middle East and Florida, and since we had spent much of our lives in the Midwest, we wanted to write an international thriller with Chicago as a key hub in the suspense.
Camelot Conspiracy steps back to the JFK assassination in some ways. What inspired that plot?
David was a college student in Chicago when JFK was assassinated. He attended school by day and worked nights at the FBI office with plans to become an FBI agent. On the night of November 22, 1963, David took an ominous call from FBI Dallas—they had just found the rifle that killed the President, which had been purchased from Klein Sporting Goods right in Chicago. Someone had to get Klein’s to open their records that night to determine who bought that rifle. David was denied the opportunity to go with the agent to find the records because he was a “mere” college student who had to remain behind and answer the phones. But he remained in the office long enough to see the mail order form that Lee Harvey Oswald had used to purchase the rifle, using an alias. Also, Diane had studied the assassination in college and after reading the Warren Commission Report, wondered how Lee Harvey Oswald could have acted alone. After traveling to the Dallas Sixth Floor Museum and researching the record, we decided to build a novel around a fictional Chicago Police detective who went with the FBI agents and who found additional records that the FBI did not release to the public or find relevant. Readers will be fascinated by the detective’s discovery as well as recently-released evidence we season throughout Camelot through the television reporter, Kat Kowicki.
Your books bring the same characters together in fresh high-stakes races to investigate or stop terrorism. Should readers read them in order or do they stand independently? What’s the challenge of writing books with reappearing characters? Which of these characters has become your favorite?
Each of our novels can be read independently. Some of the characters move through, but in each we introduce new characters. Once we created Eva Montanna, the feisty Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, and her task force partner, FBI agent Griff Topping, who have separate lives but work well together, we didn’t want them to end. Married and struggling to spend time with her family, Eva’s faith wilts and then grows as she faces the pressures from her career. In Facing Justice, she wants another child, but is warned by her doctor to slow down. Will she be able to have another baby? Griff is a young widower who loved his wife. While it takes him time to recover, in Confirming Justice he meets a federal probation officer who is a widow…
The more we wrote about Eva and Griff, the more we became attached to them as real people. They are too cool to let die. Some readers want to know if Diane is Eva and David is Griff. The answer is they are a blend of our personalities and some of their own to boot! To our readers’ delight, we found a way to get these courageous agents from fighting terrorists in the Indian Ocean, battling the bureaucrats and media in Washington DC to the alligator infested swamps in Florida, then to the gritty streets of Chicago.
I’ve found as I write that each book teaches me something. What lesson has surprised you the most as you’ve written?
Years ago as we studied our families’ histories, it seemed God was prompting us to move from the field of law into writing.
How we can be ready for that still, small voice and the changes that might come is the challenging aspect. The source of inspiration can be a mystery and where our ideas flow from often surprises us.
It might flow from a vivid dream, a snippet of a story we hear at a book signing or watching God’s creation as we hike trails that brings forth wonder and delight. We place every writing project at the feet of Jesus and aspire to glorify Him in all we do. Each of our lives has purpose and we hope to infuse that miraculous idea in our writing.
To be continued...