Lisa Haselton’s Reviews & Interviews
Article 15 Blog Tour Interview
October 22, 2019
Please share a little bit about your current release.
I used to joke that if John Grisham, E.L. James and Vince Flynn had a ménage à trois and collaborated on a book, it would be Article 15: Fifty Shades of Mitch Rapp at the Firm. This story is the first contemporary piece I have written. I’ve worked the past and the future, but never the present, until now. And though the idea had been fermenting in the back of my mind for a decade or so, it suddenly came together with the uber-rich, uber-manipulative Helena Nicholson, who hires ex-Navy SEAL Griffith Crowe to supposedly find her father’s journals—but really she wants him to dig into her father’s suspicious death in a helicopter crash, set against the backdrop of C.I.A./Silicon Valley intrigue.
What inspired you to write this book?
Body Heat is one of my all time favorite movies. I loved the film noir feel, the darkly twisted plot and more than anything else Kathleen Turner’s character, Matty Walker. A great, great femme fatale. From there I wrote the first line: “She was one in a million and the day I met her I should have bought a lottery ticket instead.” That opening festered in my notes for years and years, until it all came together with Helena and Griff:
Excerpt: When Griff & Helena Meet for the First Time
Lance pulled up to the security gate by Atlantic Aviation at the approach end of Runway 16. He rolled down his window and punched the security code into the keypad. When the chain link gate opened, he pulled onto the tarmac and parked next to Griff’s Cirrus S-22. “I had them pull it out of the hangar. All gassed up and ready to go. Thank you very much.”
They got out of the Escalade. Griff loaded his duffel bag into the plane and started his pre-flight inspection.
Lance checked FlightAware on his iPhone, then scanned the approach to Runway 16. Soon landing lights glared down the glide path. A Learjet 31 quickly crossed the threshold and touched down with tiny puffs of blue-gray smoke off the mains. Lance watched it roll out, then taxi their way. He smiled.
Griff came around the left wing and stood next to Lance. They watched the Learjet turn onto the apron in front of the Atlantic Aviation hangars and get marshaled to a stop by a baton-waving line boy. Another stood by with a rolled up red carpet, which he placed by the cabin door as soon as the engines spooled down.
“I love the smell of kerosene on the tarmac,” Lance said.
Griff looked at Lance staring at the Learjet.
“Wait for it…”
The cabin door opened like a clamshell. The co-pilot scurried down the stairs and stood ready to assist the deplaning passenger.
A slender blonde in Ray-Ban Jackie-Ohh sunglasses, a skin-tight red dress frosted at the shoulders with a sheer white shawl, and stiletto heels took the co-pilot’s hand and stepped down onto the tarmac into the hungry stares of the line boys. Griff pulled off his sunglasses to watch her sashay across the apron, chased by the co-pilot who held the door to Atlantic Aviation open, then followed her in.
“Don’t tell me. The stubborn possessor of a priceless Jackson Pollack,” Griff said, looking at Lance.
“Now, who owes who?”
Griff put on his sunglasses again, then headed towards the fixed base operator’s lobby. “Guess I better go pay my fuel tab.”
He deemed it tactically unsound to confront a woman emerging from the Ladies Room, so he turned down the hall on his right to lay his ambush in the pilot’s lounge.
“That didn’t take long. I didn’t think it would.”
The low, almost husky yet honey smooth female voice poured seductively over Griff and blanked his mind as he turned into the pilot’s lounge. Though dimly lit, as they all were to facilitate napping, her red dress glowed like a hearth, yet she still wore her sunglasses as she studied her iPhone’s screen, slouching and sitting askew in one of the La-Z-Boy recliners with her legs crossed. Griff’s eye was drawn to the slow but rhythmic bounce of her stiletto heel. Predator had become prey.
She took off her Jackie Ohhs, looked Griff up and down, then took a deep breath. “Mmmm…tall, dark and dangerous…just the way I like them.”
Griff locked onto her blue-gray eyes and surrendered. He leaned against the door jam. His inside voice taunted, No plan survives contact with the enemy.
“I couldn’t help but notice Lance’s Escalade on the ramp. He is a conniving bastard, isn’t he? Of course, he is a lawyer, but he does excel at it. Not to mention the unseemly delight he takes in it.”
“Always has,” Griff said. “As long as I’ve known him.”
“Then, you really shouldn’t be surprised.”
Griff smiled, realizing it wasn’t Mayor Daley’s fault that he was still on the ground in Chicago. “Name’s Griff.”
“Yes. I know.”
He waited, his face an implacable facade, one molded and hammered into place on the Coronado Beach while enduring BUD/S training. “You got a name? Or will you answer to minx or vixen?”
“Hmmm…you like the ‘X’ words. I prefer Helena.”
“So…how long will we be playing Three Card Monte with modern art…Helena?
“Oh, that. The Pollack is already crated up at a friend’s gallery in LA waiting to be shipped off.”
“Now, Griff. Have we come to an understanding yet?”
As a Navy SEAL, he had been well-trained never to sigh out loud. “I’ve found understandings to be vastly overrated and all too often unreliable.”
“Hmmm. So, it often is.” She sat up straight, arching her back. She ran her fingers through her blonde hair. “Lance speaks highly of your…work.”
“I’ve solved a problem or two for him—or should I say his clients. What is it you need?”
“Trust me, there is precious little that I need.” Helena smiled coyly.
“Well, then, what is it that Helena wants?”
“You’re kind of a no-nonsense guy. Don’t you believe in foreplay?”
Griff laughed. “Why, yes. Yes, I do. But you and I are a bit too vertical right at the moment. So, it’s more like teasing.”
“Huh. Men. Why must you all be so literal?”
“Because literal is where we live and work and play.”
“Well, Mr. Griffith Crowe, this has been a fascinating conversation, but I must be going. I have an engagement to get to, and my limo is surely out front by now.” Helena stood up and walked up to Griff. She put her index finger on his chin.
“So, did I pass the audition?”
She pushed his head to the left, then back to the right. “Eh, you’ll do.”
Griff broke protocol and sighed heavily.
“I’ll be in touch,” Helena said as she slipped by, brushing his arm with her body.
Griff watched her leave, contemplating the possibility of foreplay—predator, again.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a sequel to my very first book, My Brother’s Keeper. I always intended it to be a series based on a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot, who gets involved in all kinds of flying adventures through the years. This one takes place in Congo during the Sixties when the country was torn apart by civil war after being liberated as a Belgian colony and Hawk gets involved fighting the Simba rebels as a mercenary pilot. The title is Jungleland.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I just used a quote from Faulkner on my blog for his birthday: “Don’t be ‘a writer’. Be writing.” And that’s how I feel about it. It’s not about what I am. It’s what I do. And truth be told, I am more of a rewriter. That’s where the heavy lifting really takes place.
That being said, I started scribbling out stuff of, say, an “artistic” nature in high school and then as an English major in college I didn’t specialize in a specific period of literature. I studied creative writing and was lucky enough to be mentored by a great novelist and poet, Robert Flanagan, who I can’t thank enough. When I got out of school, I just started putting words to paper and kept on going. Kind of the Satchel Page thing: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am up at 5 or so in the morning and the first thing I do—I mean after I get coffee, but before I check emails, read the news, or look at social media—is write. I spend the first hours of my day piling up words while I’m still fresh, my mind is clear and I’m at my most creative. It’s pretty amazing, because before yPou know it, you have 50-60,000 words of a story and then the real fun begins. To me the writing process is a lot like woodworking. You just don’t pound a few pieces of lumber together and call it a day. You go over the piece again and again and again, fixing and hiding flaws, then polishing it to as fine a finish as you can get before you throw it out into the world. Even then, years later, I still find things I missed or could have gotten better. But that’s okay, with eBooks, you can tinker on and on and on…
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I just can’t resist sneaking in hidden “easter eggs” from The Little Rascals, Firesign Theater, Looney Tunes, Hitchcock movies, lyrics from favorite songs, etc. Sometimes the characters are in on it, like at Mount Rushmore, when Lance compares Helena and Griff to Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant in North by Northwest. Other times, the characters use phrases that will sound very familiar to those in the know, like when Maura tells Griff to “Put a sock on it, Pablo.”
I once got dinged in a writer’s group for repeating the phase, “luckless pedestrian” from the song “Don’t Take me Alive” in a different book, Murder by Munchausen. Obviously, my critic was not a Steely Dan fan. Just having some fun. That’s all.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I take my writing seriously, but then again, I’m just making stuff up and having a ball doing it. I hope you enjoy my scribblings.
Thank you for being a guest on my blog!