Monday, 22 June 2020

The Write Stuff with... David Liscio

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author David Liscio to the blog to talk about how Covid-19 nearly derailed his upcoming thriller Pacific Poison which is published today.

I didn’t know who Hannah Summers would become when I first created her five years ago while writing the serial-killer thriller Deadly Fare

Our relationship grew slowly. She was physically attractive based on the description I had concocted. But that didn’t matter as much as what was going on inside her head -- the thoughts, emotions, and memories I had yet to insert. 

Deadly Fare centers on an opportunistic taxi driver who abducts women, usually after picking them up at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Although police view these as unrelated missing-person cases, intuitive Hannah recognizes the patterns. When she unveils her serial-killer theory, the commanding officer smiles condescendingly, ogles her shapely legs, and asks her out to dinner.

As the sole female detective on the state police major crimes unit, Hannah must withstand mockery and harassment. It takes spunk. 

By the time her colleagues start listening, Hannah is past caring.  She pursues the killer without them, a lone wolf. Her character is evolving in my mind. She can be tough-minded, but can she really track down the so-called Boston Butcher?

My words flow, painting Hannah as resourceful, brave, and kind, with a fondness for bourbon, turtles, horses, and flowery summer dresses. She’s good at her job, but not so insightful when it comes to her love life. She’s involved with a pompous Boston surgeon two decades older, who belittles her while talking ceaselessly about himself. The May-December relationship unveils her loneliness. It also gives me opportunity to introduce Decker, a handsome CIA contractor hunting for the same serial killer.

By the time Deadly Fare reaches its climax, Hannah has proven her mettle, but the outcome isn’t what she expected. Ever righteous, she prepares to surrender her badge and gun. 

With Hannah’s fate seesawing in my head, I begin imagining the next book. 

The plot of Blood Sons is straightforward. When a DNA test reveals an accidental hospital baby-switch fifteen years prior, two teenage boys find their lives turned upside down and their futures uncertain. One boy must return to his biological parents, members of an organized-crime family plotting to retake control of Cuba’s once-flourishing casino scene. 

Blood Sons sweeps Hannah off to Cuba. As a CIA recruit, her confidence increases, as evidenced by her words and actions. I really like her. I want her to soar, but I have no idea what will happen once she arrives on the island. That’s the joy of allowing the characters to interact. 

By the end of Blood Sons, heroic Hannah is questioning whether her CIA career will deprive her of marriage, motherhood, and family. She’s thirty-one. Her biological clock is ticking. I help her character make a decision by dangling the offer of a new foreign assignment.

Heavily-tattooed Japanese yakuza are running a heroin smuggling empire on Saipan Island. The CIA must stop it. Hannah snatches the assignment like a cat clawing a faux mouse on a string. She’s in her element. Blood Sons finds its audience as I move on to the third and latest book in the series, Pacific Poison.

I’m on a roll, just about half way done, when several important magazine and photo assignments land on my desk. As a photojournalist, I can’t ignore them. Besides, like most writers, I’m low on dough. 

Some days I’m so tired from lugging two cameras around that I can’t settle down to write. I want to check in with Hannah, see how she’s doing. I hope she’s still safe in Saipan.

Weeks go by before I can once again settle into a daily writing routine. It’s just about then that the Covid-19 pandemic descends upon the globe. Thousands of people become sick, die, or lose their jobs. My book editing and design teams get lost in the shuffle as businesses close and work-at-home rules send them into a tailspin. We Zoom meetings, but video just isn’t as effective as face-to-face.

My routine is further disrupted by the need to wear masks in public, wash my hands tens times a day, and coat them with anti-bacterial gel. Instead of rising fresh each morning to pick up on the novel’s thread, I instead open my laptop to scan the news for virus-related statistics. How many dead in Massachusetts over night? How many in the U.S.? How many in various countries around the world? 

Mundane tasks require more time and energy as my wife and daughter disinfect supermarket purchases and deliveries from the local wine merchant. We sanitize the mail. We comply with a million little things that take me away from concentrating on Pacific Poison as the television blares on about food shortages, racial violence, antifa, and a collapsing American economy.

With resolve I shove the noise aside and continue writing.  Hannah is in trouble. The yakuza want her dead. I need to find out what will happen.

As May approaches, I finally type The End and begin the tedious final edits. I should be celebrating, but these are dark times. The television spews endless stories about the elderly dying of Covid-19 worldwide, a growing intolerance of gays, and Blacks being murdered in the streets of America by police. It makes me wonder if anyone is actually reading books beneath the dark coronavirus cloud.

By June I’m in panic mode. Thankfully, my editing and cover design teams are finally freed from quarantine and distraction. They make quick work of excising the last batch of typos and factual errors. Pacific Poison’s extraordinary cover buoys my spirit. 

Time to take a deep breath, cross my fingers, click the publish button on Amazon’s author dashboard, and begin counting down the minutes to today, June 22 -- publication day. 

CIA officer Hannah Summers is dispatched to the South Pacific with one simple objective: discover the source of heroin being trafficked to the United States, and destroy it before another shipment hits the streets of San Francisco.

But on the coral island of Saipan, the yakuza — powerful, elaborately-tattooed Japanese gangsters — have no intention of allowing Hannah and her partners to interfere with business.

With bodies beginning to pile up on the tiny island and tensions mounting between yakuza and local law enforcement, it could be the perfect opportunity for a plucky, blonde undercover agent to infiltrate Orochi “Big Snake” Tanaka’s organization.

Or, it could prove a fatal mistake…

Here’ s the link:

Amazon US: Pacific Poison
Amazon UK: Pacific Poison

You can find out more about David Liscio and his books via the links below:

Twitter: @DavidLiscio
Facebook: author David Liscio

All book links in bold are Amazon UK Affiliate links which will earn me a few pence if anyone clicks through and makes a purchase - any money earned will go towards buying books or gifts for giveaways.

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