I want to welcome Chuck Bowie. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
I’m a Canadian Maritimer, so I’m from the east coast. I have two adult boys who are musicians, and music is also one of my hobbies. People-watching in places like restaurants is also high on my list of activities, and have gotten several amazing lines from this, which I’ve stolen shamelessly and incorporated into my novels. I’ve been reading and writing creatively for as long as I can remember, and am now writing full-time.
Tell us about your latest release.
My most recent novel is a suspense-thriller, third in the series, called Steal It All. My man Donovan is a contract thief, and although he’s seeking redemption and trying to retire, events keep dragging him back into the thick of things. Although he’s a lone wolf, in this third novel, Donovan must work with an RCMP detective and a gangs specialist from Scotland Yard. This makes him very uncomfortable, especially since he’s also taken on a freelance theft job to retrieve an art object on behalf of a millionaire.
In one extended scene, someone has been taken captive and must find their way out of a black hole without any outside help. I think this scene challenged me to ‘up my game’, as a writer.
Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.
1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Life is complicated; seldom black or white. When I read, I prefer my villains to be complex as well. Any time I am reading and the bad guy (or gal) isn’t completely evil, the story becomes a lot more interesting to me. For example, a friend of mine, Corey Redekop wrote a novel: Husk, about a gay zombie who retained his intellect throughout his zombie existence. He was so fun to read, since he needed to eat brains, yet, he felt all of the requisite emotions. Great writing.
2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
My favorite character? In the forties and fifties, Rex Stout wrote an extended detective series about a genius detective and his ‘legman’, Archie. Nero Wolfe, all 1/7th of a ton of him, was so clever, so witty, and so imaginative, he’s become my favorite written hero from fiction.
3.) What genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
These days, I write international suspense-thrillers. I was in the midst of writing a speculative fiction novel when, on business, I found myself in Bucharest, Romania. I woke up in this four star hotel, with dogs and orphans playing outside my window, and I asked myself: ‘What sort of mischief could a person who was alone in a foreign country get into, if he didn’t have much of a conscience?’ That very day, I started writing Donovan: Thief For Hire, a series about a contract thief who travels the world, grabbing things that don’t belong to him, and getting paid very well for them.
4.) What are you working on now?
At the moment, I’m working on Book 4 in the series. It’s called The Body On The Underwater Road, and the ‘conceit’ is when families move, it’s not just the furniture they bring with them. They also carry family secrets. (And yes, in my part of the country, there really is a road that magically appears with every low tide! Thus the ‘Underwater Road’).
5.) What got you to start writing?
When I was young—in grade school—I wrote an essay as a school assignment. It was so good, I actually asked myself if I had actually written it! Anyway, my teacher gave me a ‘B’. When I challenged the grade, she replied that, as good as it was, she didn’t believe in granting ‘As’. I’ve been trying, with every effort, to earn that elusive ‘A’.
6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
There is no formula. One writer said ideas come when you sit at your desk and stare at the screen until beads of blood form on your forehead. This is absolutely NOT my approach! I mentioned Three Wrongs began with a business trip. Book 2: AMACAT came from the notion that a perfect summer beach vacation can be spoiled in the nastiest way. In Book 3: Steal It All, my son and I were having a casual conversation about reasons behind the incredible success of the 1980s gangs that ruled Manchester, England. Steal It All came from that chat. Oftentimes, my essays come from a snippet of conversation I’ll overhear in a crowd, at a restaurant, etc.
7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I think they’d be surprised to find how curious I am about the universe. Every second book I read is non-fiction, and one of my favorites is Bill Bryson’s A Brief History of Nearly Everything. It’s brilliant, and the thought of learning things gets my curious mind excited!
8.) Do you have any special talents?
I love to cook things like arancini risotto balls and lemon drizzle cheesecake, I’ve become an acceptable home reno guy and just tiled my bathroom floor, and I can play a bit of blues guitar: 8-bar or 12-bar; your call. I’m not brilliant at anything, merely pretty good, which is surprising to me, as I never thought of myself as having a talent for anything. I’d like to think my writing is a talent…
9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
My buddy Victor told me when I was starting out as a novelist: ‘Never a day without a line.’ He’s right; writing builds muscles, so the more you do, the better you get.
10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I guess it would be pretty cool to have a conversation, over dinner, with Sir Winston Churchill. He was so clever with words, he was a painter, writer, world leader, and led such an interesting life. And his lines were hilarious!
11.) What song would you say describes your life?
I’ll say Penny Lane. It’s a nostalgic song in which not a lot happens, yet it tells the life of a neighborhood. A former Prime Minister once suggested there are no national jobs except that of Prime Minister/President. The converse of that is most of us have local jobs, and we live them in local neighborhoods. Penny Lane tells the story of most of us. The bonus is it runs on descending chord structures, so it is great to make one forget about that annoying song you heard two days ago that won’t go away!
12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
If I have to come back as an animal, I’d prefer it was an amoeba. Being an animal would be awful: no words, few demonstrable emotions, unavoidable pain. Nope. Better to be reincarnated as a non-sentient, single-celled animal. Or perhaps those microscopic bugs that live in library books! Yeah, that would be okay.
It was easy enough to enter Canada House, the embassy on Grosvenor Street just down from Trafalgar Square. He followed two young women carrying backpacks through the side door and into the main lobby. Once inside the stately building, he noted the security guard standing near the office across from the open concept desks. He and the guard watched the women read the information panel. A moment later, the taller woman moved over to a resource desk and began conversing with a communications officer. The second woman, shorter and darker haired, dropped her backpack to the floor, and used a free-standing computer to gain access to Internet.
His eyes wandered over to the trio of elevator doors. He located another self-service computer and pretended to use it, all the while keeping an eye on the elevators. Every few minutes, staff from Canada House would enter or emerge from one of the elevators. He waited until a lone, female staff member headed toward the elevator and followed her in.
The moment the door closed, the man pulled out a Glock 19 Gen 4, pushing the barrel tight against the silk blouse that covered the xiphoid cartilage of her chest.
She gasped, eyes wide, holding the breath in. Her gaze didn’t leave the man’s trigger finger, even when he snapped the lanyard holding her security ID card from her neck. He touched it to the reader on the wall by the elevator numbers.
“I’m going to press three. Once we’re there, you exit and go right. I will follow you into the women’s washroom, ten feet from there. I’ll tape your mouth and leave you unharmed. Any deviation from this and you are dead. Nod if you prefer to live.”
She nodded. Keeping the muzzle of the pistol firmly against her breast, he pressed three, and they waited for the elevator car to react, taking them to the third floor.
Her eyes flitted upward, for just a second, causing him to offer a grim smile.
“Security camera, I know. Yes, it will present an image of me after I’m gone. But I have no identity. Try finding someone who never existed, not that I really care.” A half-moan escaped from her, and he saw a fine bead of sweat appear on her upper lip.
“I have a new baby.”
“Then you have all the reason in the world to follow my simple instructions. By the way, I do not intend to blow up the building, so, no need for you to try anything desperate. Okay. Show time. Your life depends upon the next seven seconds. As we leave the elevator, talk to me in a low voice about tomorrow’s weather.”
The third floor was comprised of a hallway leading to several private offices used by consular staff. Most of the office doors were closed, so no one heard the elevator door ‘ping’ or saw its doors open, and no one witnessed their arrival. A moment later, they entered the washroom.
The man quickly went to work. “What’s your first name?” He pulled out a set of handcuffs, clicking one manacle onto her left wrist.
“Okay, Brenda, sit on the toilet in the far cubicle.” He produced two feet of wire cable and attached one end to the chain between the wristlets. Placing them on her wrists behind her back, he moved in closer to run the cable behind the toilet reservoir. He leaned in, straddled above her, in order to complete the wire attachment. Her knee came up, hard, making contact with his inner thigh.
“Ungh!” He didn’t go down. Instead, he sat down on her lap and one hand closed off her windpipe. Squeezing hard enough to send a message, but not enough to break anything, he breathed out a terse statement. “That wasn’t in our script. Bravery will make your child an orphan, Brenda.” He released his grip and covered her mouth with duct tape, completing the task of securing her wrists behind the reservoir, and then stepped away. He used the tape to secure her feet at the ankles and then wrapped it around the toilet seat, effectively imprisoning her. “I’m sorry,” he said, double checking the tape on her mouth, and then he left.
Once outside the washroom, the man continued down the hall, turned right and walked all the way to the back corner of the floor. He approached the door marked Director, Trade, opened it and walked in.
The corner office of Ian Gross, Director in charge of International Trade, was a study in cherry wood. The built-in bookcases surrounding the two windows were made from red cherry, as were the desk, the meeting table and all of the wood trim.
The door, very solid, closed behind the intruder and the discreet click alerted the director to the presence of a guest. He swiveled around in time to receive a slug between the eyes. The man fired a second shot through the director’s heart, but he was already dead.
Outside the office, the man could hear doors slamming and footsteps heading away from him, toward the stairwell. I have at least twenty seconds. A minute, at the outside. He went to a cabinet, sought a specific folder, pulled a file from it, and then smoothed the distance between folders so it appeared as if nothing was disturbed. Closing the drawer and returning to the desk, he lit the thin document, letting it burn to light gray ash on the surface of the cherry wood desk.
As soon as he heard footsteps drawing near, he placed the barrel of the Gen 4 in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Steal It All:
Book Trailer for Three Wrongs: