Here we have it! An interview with a man many of you have already heard of. For those wondering who wrote “The Cruising Serial Killer” I am here to tell you that his name is Michael Don Fess. I caught him for an interview and you will enjoy it. Indulge, enjoy and learn from a writer who has a lot to say.
Q) What does writing give you?
A) It’s one of the creative outlets I enjoy. I also do sculpture, paintings, music arranging, creative landscapes, etc.
Q) So, what is so creative about writing?
A) You get to invent characters, situations, adventures, and just explore many fictional escapades
Q) I wonder– have you always been an adventure seeking kind of guy?
A) I’ve spent a lifetime enlarging the envelope, trying new things, and to use a trite expression, going where no man has gone before.
Q) What is the most extreme example?
A) Probably, in my thirty plus career as a developer, buying old buildings and changing the use with creative remodeling. It was very challenging and profitable.
Q) Let me ask you this: Are books profitable?
A) Not yet, in monetary terms, but they’ve been a bonanza in reader responses and feedback.
Q) What do you like to write about?
A) My favorite subjects are mystery tales in the Caribbean. I also had fun writing about the wild Louisiana politics during the 1964 period, but that doesn’t seem to have a wide appeal. My non-fictional work is also a little controversial, but appealing to many. I’ve had some great response from readers.
Q) Mystery tales? Are your tales more “Murder She Wrote” or “Law and Order?”
A) The Caribbean tales are more like adventure stories and high-tech mysteries. I like to end my stories on a happy note.
Q) Do you believe readers react positively to happy-ever-after endings?
A) They seem to . . . it gives them a good feeling. I think there is enough ugly, depressing material in this world. I don’t want to add to it.
Q) Ah! Do you believe the book market is flooded by miserable, depressing books then?
A) I don’t know, but I see a lot in other creative fields like art.
Q) Artists are just miserable by nature?
A) Some artists try to gain quick fame with “shock” art. There are also a lot of scam artists in the marketplace.
Q) Have you written a book with all of these characteristics in mind? How has your audience reacted so far?
A) No, but an art expose’ is on my list of fictional tales. I also have some issues with most museum curators. They have helped proliferate some of this trash art.
Q) Do you feel, as many other authors feel, that the book world has its fair share of trash?
A) I do . . . especially in the eBook selections. Many are poorly written, poorly formatted, and are just plain crude.
Q) What do you think about book covers? How do you rate a cover as an artist?
A) I’ve learned that covers are important when marketing through retail vendors. I originally used my art as covers, but I’ve changed several of them for a more appropriate visual connection to the novel.
Q) How have sales been? Can you say changing a cover has increased sales?
A) I think so, but I’m just getting into that market; and as you know, there is a time lag between sales and getting paid. Most of my sales have been through book signings where you can discuss the content with the reader. The cover doesn’t seem to matter in that area. Readers have downloaded hundreds of eBooks from most of the retailers.
Q) Would you say book signings are important for the modern writer?
A) Of course . . . I think people like to know the author. It makes the book personal for them. Some people buy a book, get it signed, and never read it.
Q) Have you done many interviews? Is this a process you are comfortable with?
A) I’ve had one television interview about my non-fiction book. I’ve conducted several interviews on my art website. I’m pretty comfortable with the process, having done a lot of public speaking.
Q) What’s your non-fiction book about?
A) It examines the evolution of Christianity over the last 2000 years. I look at the way the Catholic Church has perverted the message of Christ. I also analyze the two biggest money pits in the history of man, war and religion.
Q) That must have taken a pile of research. How are readers taking to it?
A) I’ve had a lot of good feedback. The book seems to say what a lot of people think but are afraid to say. I have conducted several group presentations and sold many books at them.
Q) Was it hard to jump into the fiction world after writing a hard core non-fiction book?
A) No, It’s like deciding to eat steak or fish. The fiction world allows my creativity to reveal itself . . . much like when I played Dixieland music, as opposed to overtures and classic music.
Q) So, if a reader asked you which of your books he or she should pick up, which would you recommend?
A) It would depend on whether they want a quick, entertaining read or a serious round of head scratching. The novels are definitely more fun and entertaining.
Q) How do you keep your novels fun and entertaining? What makes a Michael Don Fess novel?
A) I feel the story should have one or more “larger than life” characters. It should also have several sub-plots along with the main plot to keep the reader from out-guessing the author. If the reader can forecast the storyline and the ending, they become bored. Unexpected twists and turns are important to maintain the reader interest. The characters should tell the story and each should have a distinct voice. The tale should have enough facts to convince the reader that it is believable and possible.
Q) Of all your characters, which is your favorite and why?
A) A good question . . . most of my main characters use some of my own personality traits, so it would be difficult to pick one. Probably, if I had to pick one, it would be Minor Fox in “Politics . . . Louisiana Style.”
Q) Tell me about your big hit novel “The Cruising Serial Killer.”
A) You gave a wonderful description in your review. I couldn’t say it any better. So, to add to your words . . . Cruise ship passengers had no idea they were being watched by a serial killer as they walked down the pier to tour the island. He always selected a man who looked similar to himself, lured him away, killed him, and assumed his identity to enjoy the cruise.
A high-tech chase ensued from Miami to Puerto Rico as his hired guru electronically stole money from various accounts found on his victim’s iPad. The FBI tracked him with the help of a computer forensic expert until he outsmarted them. Can they ever catch the slippery con man, the worst serial killer in history?
Q) It is part of a series, correct?
A) Yes, some of the characters continue on in sequels with some pretty wild adventures.
Q) Like what?
A) The head of a security firm involved in tracking the serial killer sells his business based on multiples of those revenues and uses some of the killer’s unique methods to enrich himself. His live-in girlfriend teams with a widow in the third novel to help the FBI rescue some amazing artifacts. They use her yacht to evade the mafia and save those artifacts found on Elbow Cay.
Q) Thank you for your time, Michael.
A) Thank you, Nick!