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Q & A

 What did you do before writing?

I stuck to one career. My day job was a structural engineer. For those who are unfamiliar with what we do, in simplistic terms, structural engineers "make sure buildings don't fall down." They are the ones who design the foundations and framework in conjunction with the architect, thus enabling the contractor to build the project. After many years, it was time to slow down and do something else. I turned to writing.

 You write thrillers, why?

Why not? They're an easy way to escape and someone is always in danger, and it never is the reader—and that is a good thing. I was never a voracious reader growing up, but the books I did read were packed with adventure, thrills, and mayhem, with words and characters that got your blood flowing. I always felt an urge to write, but the responsibility of running an engineering firm and the headaches of trying to keep the doors open during lean times never allowed me the luxury to really get serious about writing. Several years ago, writing became a reality. I thought science fiction would be a great genre to explore, but I eventually settled on thrillers.

 What's your writing process like?

When I was still working full-time, I would usually write in the evenings for a couple of hours and on weekends. Since retirement, I research or write in the morning, rush to the pickleball court or the health club, have lunch and come back for an afternoon of working at the keyboard. This schedule seems to work for me.

 What kind of research do you do for your books?

This is where you find the engineer in me. Engineers have to be precise in their field, as mistakes or errors can cause monetary losses, or worse, loss of human life (if the building has a life/safety structural failure). Having that burden hanging over one's head, forces you to be precise. In my writing, I like details and I like accuracy. I really hate it when I read other authors, sentences such as "Stepping off the last riser onto the cement floor, Doc Watson's senses were on high alert." It is not a cement floor but a concrete floor. I shudder when I see these errors. I don't want to create a situation or scene where the reader will step back from the page and say "that doesn't make sense," or "that doesn't seem realistic or accurate." I enjoy the research and spend a great deal of time making the setting, characters, and plot precise and believable. I rely not only on the Internet, but find that libraries still hold a wealth of information.

 You have created a woman protagonist in your novel, IRRATIONAL FEARS. What was the impetus behind her character?

I have a fascination with mathematics, and took a variety of math courses in college as any engineering student can attest to. From that passion, it was obvious to me a mathematician would have to be created, using logic and calculating skills to overcome ever-pressing obstacles in his or her way. I settled on a woman, Mallory Lowe, a college mathematics professor. I felt this character would have a broad range of appeal; a woman put in perilous situations taking advantage of her mathematical skills; a woman who uses the left side of her brain in lieu of a left hook.

Empowering women in math and science is another reason I created Mallory Lowe: to serve as a role model for all women. I believe it is way past time women like Mallory receive the same recognition as men, whether in real life or in fiction. The first woman to win the coveted Fields Medal, the highest honor a mathematician can obtain was Maryam Mirzakhani, who received the award in 2014. Unfortunately, she died in 2017 at age 40. Her passing brings a somber note to the obstacles that women in math and science have had to endure. To all the young women aspiring to go into these exciting careers—your time is now.

 Why is Mallory Lowe a college professor?

I wanted to showcase a protagonist with a background that does not include a license to kill—no CIA, FBI, or Black Ops. Her lack of machismo allows the reader to relate to her as an intellectual problem solver as she battles the forces of evil. Although given a gun, she knows how to use it. My aim is to create a hero (or heroine in this case) equipped with mathematical reasoning and logic, able to zero in on the psychopathic minds of terrorists and power-hungry despots.

 What kind of conclusions do you like to see in the thrillers that you write?

I believe all novels should have some kind of sentimentality for the reader, where they can see themselves as one of the characters going through an emotional phase. Engineers, I believe are mislabeled as emotionless in their life work—nerdy, technical, but contrary to that, we do possess fear, sadness, joy, and love, just as most humans do. I strive to reinforce these feelings in the characters that I create.