Friday, 27 March 2015

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.

4Q: 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?

MS: 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.   


4Q: Can you condense your eight years’ experience of sailing around the Caribbean to a few paragraphs and how it relates to your novels?

MS: 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.


4Q: Please share a fond childhood anecdote or memory with us.

MS: 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.


4Q: After Dead Reckoning, there is Deadeye and Deadlight that are part of the Bequia mysteries. What’s next for Michael Smart?

MS: 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.

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