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Friday 22 April 2016

ℚ Veil of Deception: Captain Jason Conrad [2] - Michael Byars Lewis

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Veil of Deception (, SATCOM Publishing, 444 pages), a Political Thriller, book two in the Captain Jason Conrad series.

"Michael Byars Lewis tells a riveting, timely story that will entertain and frighten you at the same time.  You will wonder, especially after recent events in Paris and San Bernardino, whether Lewis simultaneously writes fiction and predicts the future.  Don't miss this talented author's work."  Joseph Badal, Best-Selling author of Death Ship (Danforth Saga #5)

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Trailer | Teaser | The Series | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Michael Byars Lewis

What was the inspiration for Veil of Deception?

"Veil of Deception is a story I carried in my head almost twenty years, in various forms of course.  The earliest memory I have for the story spark, was the Tailhook scandal that took place in the early 90’s.  The scandal resulted in the development of one of the books main characters, who actually evolved significantly from the first draft to the final draft.

A few years later, the president’s administration had some questionable relationships with Chinese businessmen and campaign contributions, which led to the premise of this story:  “What if the company building America’s most expensive weapons program, was secretly owned by one of our enemies?”"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Ha ha . . . I get asked this question a lot.  I used to say only the flying and the bar scenes (joking of course).  Obviously, my experience as a pilot weighs heavily in my stories.  The challenging part is weaving it in to the story in such a way, that it would seem incomplete if the scene didn’t exist.  I try to avoid the gratuitous ‘airplane’ scene; that would be pandering.

I’m sure I’m like most authors; there is a portion of me in all of the characters.  There are life experiences that transpose nicely to the written word but there is no way my life could be as interesting (and I hope not as conflicted) as some of these characters."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Veil of Deception - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"When I published my first thriller, Surly Bonds, I designed my own cover using a basic template.  After getting very strong positive feedback, I upgraded the cover using a software program.

When Veil of Deception was in rewrite, I had a firm grasp on the tone of the story and had a good idea of the feelings I wanted the cover to evoke.  It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t have time to create my own cover again.  I hired a fantastic cover artist, Damonza, who showed me several different concepts.  It was a very collaborative effort but I think the guy nailed it!

Feedback from Beta readers and early reviews confirm it; the cover fits the story perfectly.  I was so impressed with his work, I had him re-do a cover for Surly Bonds.  Again, he nailed it."
Why should we read Veil of Deception and what sets it apart from the rest?
"Veil of Deception is not a military techno-thriller.  My main objective when writing my books is for the reader to realize very quickly that this is not your typical military thriller.

Years ago, I was inspired by John Grisham’s writing.  Not simply the skill he demonstrated in getting the reader to keep turning the pages, but how he handled his ‘topic’.  What I mean is, his topic is lawyers.  Not a field that people would consider exciting.  He writes great stories that happen to be about lawyers; and because of the way he writes, we want to keep reading about them.  Grisham gets us involved with his characters and creates tension on every page, which keeps us turning the page.

This is what I try to do in my novels.  They are about an Air Force pilot but are written in a way that everyone can understand, not just Air Force pilots.  And I try to keep you turning the pages as well."
Can you tell us something quirky about Veil of Deception, its story and characters?
"Here’s a quirky fact about this book.  One of my major concerns writing military thrillers, is getting too wrapped up in the details.  And it’s hard to avoid.  My core audience (Pilots, aircrew, military folks) expect a certain amount of detail covering their favorite airplanes and weapons.  I always try to remain very cognizant of writing too technical; I don’t want to alienate large amounts of readers by writing too much of a techno-thriller.

So I did something a little abstract for Veil of Deception.  I hired a conceptual editor early on to check the storyline to make sure it made sense.  The quirky part is, she was a conceptual editor of romance novels.  The good news is, she understood it, pointed out areas that she felt could be tweaked, and raised the red flag on the few areas where things got a little too technical.  When it came time for a copy edit, I hired a copy editor of romance novels.  A huge resource!  To me, that validated the story as a legitimate thriller capable of reaching an audience much larger than strictly the military audience."
What a great idea!  I definitely like your thinking.

Who would you recommend Veil of Deception to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

"I would recommend Veil of Deception to anyone who is looking for an exciting story that is not predictable.  This is not your average military thriller.  It’s a thriller with a military setting.  Readers of all genres will like it."
If you could / wished to turn Veil of Deception and the Captain Jason Conrad series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I get asked this a lot too; and I hope this is a problem I have in the future.

Surly Bonds has been looked at by several producers for development into film but it hasn’t gone any further than that.  Hollywood is a tough business to crack.  I’m just happy that someone has shown interest.  That lets me know I’m on the right track with my storytelling.

I think a good director for this series on film would be Phillip Noyce (Salt, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger).  He has a great feel for telling this kind of story.

For location, I think on location where the stories take place would be best and I think it would be a good move fiscally.

As far as casting this series in to a movie, let’s use the present.  For our protagonist, Jason Conrad, I could see Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class) or Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games).  For the part of Sherri Davis, I like Ashley Greene (Twilight series).  One of the most asked about characters in the series is Kathy Delgato.  I struggled with this one for a long time but I see Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) in this role easily.  That’s a few of the main ones.  I don’t think I have room for more."
I never realised that Phillip Noyce was behind so many films that I truly enjoyed.

What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I like to write thrillers.  Creating the book is fun for me.  I was told long ago to write the book you’d like to read, so that’s what I try to do.

My books are considered military thrillers but like I said earlier, they’re not your typical military thrillers; they are thrillers that take place in a military setting.  What we see in my books, is my protagonist getting involved in areas outside of the scope of the normal Air Force Pilot.  So I try to explore situations and topics not normally found on an Air Force base, as well as the ones that are.

I don’t focus my reading on strictly military thrillers.  I read all genres and try to learn as much as I can."
What is your writing process?
"Wow, another question I could take forever answering.  I’ll keep it simple.  I’m an outliner, who is willing to let the seat of his pants take him in other directions at times.

When I get the germ of an idea for a story, I start writing down ideas, scenes, characters, and even dialogue, on index cards.  I get an idea of where I want the story to start and where it’s going to end.

Then I get to figure out how to get there.  Again, that’s the fun part for me.  I like the index card technique because I can shuffle scenes around until I get the right sequence.  Once I get the sequence I want, I write it all down in outline form and the process starts all over again.  Scenes are added or deleted, shuffled around, and fleshed out.

I try to solve as much as I can in the outline process. That makes the writing go a lot faster for me.  I’m not a slave to it, however.  Sometimes when writing, new story elements come to me, so I give myself the freedom to wander when that happens."
What is in store next?
"The adventures of Jason Conrad continue!  We’ll follow him as his career progresses and his personal life evolves.  The world around him is complex and diverse, so that gives me a lot of room to develop stories.  I’m well into the first draft of book three.  I have plans for three more after that.

Veil of Deception takes place five years after the end of Surly Bonds.  As I was writing Veil of Deception, I came up with three more stories that take place between book one and book two.  Whether those are full-blown novels or novellas, I don’t know yet.  We’ll see what happens."
Excellent.  I actually found that Surly Bonds made my to-be-read pile sometime ago... I really must get to it!

And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?

"Quirky?  Hmmm . . . I guess one quirky fact is The Walking Dead used to be pizza and wine night.  It’s odd to eat pizza and drink wine while zombies are eating people or getting their heads bashed in.  My wife and I gradually evolved into this state until she couldn’t take any more of the zombie apocalypse.  I love the show because the characters are so well written.  I like how they explore the human condition under these stressful conditions."

I can see where you are coming from, I used to watch that show religiously but was left behind at season three... I need to catch up.   And pizza - one of my favourites - I LOVE making pizza!  Great combination :-)

Michael, many thanks again for talking to us today.  I hope you had a great release and wish you all the best for the current tour!  We hope to see you back soon :-)

Veil of Deception
Available NOW!

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M.B. Lewis said...

Outstanding job! Very impressed with your operation! Thank you, what a great experience!

Gary Westfal said...

Agree! Great interview, my friend. I wish you luck and good fortune!
G. Westfal

BooksChatter said...

Hello Michael, thank you! And thank you for popping over to see us :-)
Many apologies for the delays (we just had some unforeseen personal issues) - I just managed to add a few finishing touches!

Have a great week end and a great tour!


BooksChatter said...

Thank you for visiting us!