4Q Interview with author Michael Smart - The Bequia Mysteries.
This week on 4Q Interview, we are happy to have author
Michael Smart. The following is taken from his amazon bio.
Michael Smart is a native New Yorker, experienced blue water
sailor, and pilot, two passions the protagonists in his novels also share. Michael
writes mysteries and science fiction. His debut novel, Dead Reckoning, is the
first volume of the Bequia Mystery Series, set in St. Vincent and the
Grenadines, a tropical archipelago in the Eastern Caribbean where Michael lived
and sailed for many years. Michael draws on his knowledge of the islands, its
people, and his sailing experiences around the Caribbean to create intimate and
lively portraits of the islands and the people surrounding these compelling
mysteries. His links are listed below.
Dead Reckoning, to my understanding, is calculating one’s position related to
known sightings, winds, currents, compass errors, etc. What does this title
tells us about your debut novel?
It’s a metaphor for the circumstances facing the main
protagonist, Gage, who is in a stage of his life where everything is uncertain.
He’s in uncharted waters, navigating a life he’s attempting to remake for
himself after burying his past, and his demons, but uncertain how to get there.
In his former life he’d led an emotionally isolated existence, avoiding
personal attachments, a mantra for his survival. But now he’s broken that
cardinal rule, including a burgeoning romantic relationship with Police
Superintendent Jolene Johanssen, whose love awakens dormant emotions and
reconnects him to the world. A relationship he’s unsure he’s emotionally
equipped to handle. And a close friendship with the discerning Commissioner of
Police, Mike Daniels, who perceives more regarding Gage’s past than Gage is
comfortable with. When Mike is shot by an unknown gunman, Gage is sucked back
into a lifestyle he thought he’d left behind, and risks upending his new life,
resurrecting his inner demons, and losing those he’s grown close to and cares
about.So he also has to navigate these inner conflicts, while
pursuing a deadly quest to discover who shot his friend, and why.
Can you condense your eight years’ experience of sailing around the Caribbean
to a few paragraphs and how it relates to your novels?
I’ll do it in one sentence: A grand, epic adventure! The Caribbean provides the
most pleasurable sailing in the world. The North and South Atlantic, the Pacific,
the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, may provide more challenging sailing
adventures, but for me the Caribbean is the most pleasurable, with its constant
gentle northeast trade winds, its tropical islands, its beaches, and its
people. And for me, no other lifestyle matches that of living on the water
aboard a sailboat. In
writing the Bequia Mysteries series, the Gage character actually came to
me first. Then I decided to set the stories in the Grenadines. It was a time
when I was considering returning to live in the Grenadines. But I knew it
wouldn’t be the same as before, some things I wouldn’t be able to still do. Too
much time had passed, my perspective and my body had changed. Climbing to the
top of a mainmast, for example, was out of the question. I wondered what it’d
be like living there now. As I thought about those things the character
developed, and also the themes. So Gage arrives in the Grenadines aboard his
staysail schooner ‘Wherever’, which by the way is treated as a full-fledged character
in the novels. He has an entirely new perspective than in his past life, and he
has to cope with reinventing himself.
Please share a fond childhood anecdote or memory with us.
There are so many. It’s difficult to focus on just one. Growing up was also an adventure
for me. My family travelled for my dad’s work, so we lived in many different
places around the world. And each experience had a formative affect on who I am
today. Like my fondness for reading, and the sea and sky. While my father
usually travelled by air ahead of the family, my mother and my siblings made
the passages by sea. Next to being a kid having the run of a ship, reading
provided great entertainment during those long sea voyages. Living in London, I
feasted on graphic novels like the popular WW11 RAF ace “Battler Britton”, and
discovered authors like Leslie
Charteris of the great Simon Templar Saint series, and John Creasey’s The Toff
series, joining their American counterparts Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, and John D. MacDonald.
I cut my reading teeth on these authors, their characters, and their stories.
They inspired me to want to write. I think the “Battler Britton” comics also
lit the fire in me to fly, to be a pilot.
After Dead Reckoning, there is Deadeye and Deadlight that are part of the
Bequia mysteries. What’s next for Michael Smart?
I also write science fiction, and my first science fiction title is due for
release this summer. I’m also working on the fourth novel in the Bequia
Mysteries series, and another mystery with a sci-fi twist.
Thank you Michael for being part of The South Branch
Scribbler and participating in the 4Q Interview. Watch for an excerpt from one
of Michael’s novels in April. Date to be announced.