Alison S. Parkins Fun Author Interview with
*~* John David Bethel *~*
All about you!
Name: John David Bethel
Location: Miami, Florida
Star Sign: Taurus
What genre/genres do you write? Political Thrillers/Psychological Crime Thrillers
Tell us a random fact about yourself: I played rugby for the University of Miami and for club teams in and around the Washington, D.C. area.
Where is your dream holiday destination? Tahiti
What is your all-time favourite food? Filet mignon with grilled asparagus and Lyonnaise potatoes.
What is your favourite Take-Away choice? Cheese pizza
Tell us your favourite sweets/candy? Kettle Corn
If you like to cook, which dish do you enjoy preparing and cooking yourself? Not much of a cook but I can make a pretty good vegetable omelette (tomatoes, onions, green peppers and potatoes).
Do you enjoy baking? If so what is your favourite food item you love to bake? Here again, not much of a baker but with the aid of a prepared mix I can make biscuits and edible brownies.
What is the one dessert you can never resist? Chocolate cheesecake
Which of your book characters has a lot of you in them? I suppose all of them have something of me. In order to bring them to life, I borrow on what I know; what I’ve experienced; and so on. That said, I don’t think any have “a lot of me in them.”
Who, so far, has been your favourite character to write? Norman Bremen the lead nefarious character in Evil Town was a challenge to write as I had to mine dark places in me to bring him to life. At times it was an unpleasant exercise, but it allowed me to hone my craft and served me well when I developed the truly evil and psychotic characters in Blood Moon. Those characters in Blood Moon were my least favourite to write as I had to deep dive into darkness.
If you could be any character from any book, who would you be and why? Any of the major characters in the novels by Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the case of Hemingway, his characters were adventurous, intellectually curious and usually gained personal insight during the course of situations the author placed them in. Fitzgerald’s characters were sophisticated yet bold and daring, and experienced the highs and lows of emotional commitments.
Is there one of your book characters that you have disliked or do you love them all in some way, even the bad guys?
Blood Moon was inspired by a true crime of kidnapping, torture, extortion and murder. The psychotic characters in the novel are written very closely to those who committed this horrendous crime; very representative of the evil they carried within them. It was a chore to get in their heads and what I found when I did was frightening. These are despicable people worthy of dislike as fictional characters.
What car do you drive? Honda CRV
What is your dream car? I’m not much of a car guy. Any car that gets me from Point A to Point B will do.
Who is your current eye candy/crush? My wife has been and will continue to be my eye candy/crush. A beautiful, strong, caring and understanding woman who has the patience of Job to put up with my being “unavailable” when I’m writing, which is constantly.
Which celebrity did you have a crush on as a teenager? Any of the rock and roll stars of the day were exciting figures to me. Elvis Presley. Buddy Holly. Chuck Berry. Little Richard. I’m really dating myself.
What is your favourite movie of all-time? I have two: Casablanca and Shane.
Who is your favourite band/singer of all-time? I would have to include three: Cream, Beatles and Frank Sinatra. But with a gun to my head, I’d single out Cream which was comprised of the three premier musicians of their day (hence the name Cream): Jack Bruce, classically trained musician, bassist and vocalist; Ginger Baker, jazz drummer extraordinaire and legendary bon vivant; and the inestimable Eric Clapton on lead guitar and contributing vocalist. Together only a short two years, they combined elements of jazz, rhythm and blues and psychedelia to create music that sounds as contemporary today as the day it was recorded.
Tell us more about you…
My father was in the Foreign Service and I spent my formative years living in Germany, Japan and Cuba along with stops in Hawaii, Virginia and New York. It was both a blessing and a challenge. The opportunity to interact with many different people and cultures was an invaluable experience, but the constant travel and many, many new schools – ten in eight years — was unsettling.
I survived and grew from those experiences, and after college I spent the next 30-plus years working in politics and government as a speechwriter and communications strategist. I served on the staffs of Members of the U.S. Congress and directed speechwriting offices for the Secretaries of Education and Commerce.
All the while I was stealing time early in the morning and on weekends to work on my first novel Evil Town. It is a political thriller and I mined my years in D.C. to inform the tale. I didn’t complete Evil Town until I retired and have written a few others – including Blood Moon – during the past few years.
If we wanted to stalk you where can we find you?
Physically you’d find me planted in front of my keyboard lost in my latest manuscript. I make it a habit to spend at least four to five hours every day (usually starting at 7:30 in the morning) writing. The balance of the day I try and do something physical – run, work in the yard, go to the gym – to keep the blood pumping and limbs working.
Following is a link to a Q and A in which I discuss my writing. It also includes a clip of me reading from the first chapter of Blood Moon:
Also available is an interview with the noted journalist and author Deborah Kalb…
If you’re looking for me in the ether, I can be found at:
Now we know more about you, tell us about your books…
The most effective way to describe the novels is by offering a synopsis of each one.
Blood Moon is a big, compelling, entertaining novel about right and wrong, good and evil, choices and responsibilities, and justice and retribution.
On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted.
What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war.
He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors. These psychopaths include an ex-con who has served time for embezzlement; his former cellmate whose reputation while in Florida’s notorious Union Correctional Institute was so fearsome, the guards refused to discipline him; Suarez’s business partner whose past includes accusations of paedophilia and murder; and an aspiring NFL football player who was kicked off his college team for attempting to maim a coach.
After draining Suarez’s millions in properties and investments, his captors attempt to murder him. In what can only be described as a miracle, Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.
Having suffered no consequences for their crime, and wanting to build on their success, the bad guys kidnap a wealthy young couple, but things go haywire. The couple is accidently killed and the group decides to carve up the bodies and get rid of the remains in the Everglades.
Carolina Suarez, a housewife and mother, whose docile personality and dedication to her family kept her insulated from the vagaries of life throughout her marriage, escapes to her parents’ home in Mexico City. Upon learning of her husband’s abduction, torture and survival, Carolina returns to Miami and begins a transformation that leads her to the forefront demanding justice for her husband and the other victims. Not trusting the police, a consequence of her upbringing in her corruption-ridden homeland, she enlists the help of acquaintances from a previous life who make her husband’s captors look like Boy Scouts.
The FBI and CIA jump into this mix of crime and retribution to protect ongoing cases that touch various characters caught up in the investigations. The federal agencies are determined to prevent the discovery of past activities in Central America, current involvement in the Middle East, and in investigations of gang-related crime in South Florida.
Nowhere but Miami is suited for this tale of crime, murder and intrigue – a beautiful city teeming with beautiful people looking for the easy life, and all too often an easy way to get there. It is an international hub where multi-million dollar business deals are conducted under the table and trust is in short supply. Sex, drugs, extortion and murder are part of the fabric of this city. A city with an elusive moral core.
Indeed, Blood Moon is a story of one man’s struggle to survive unspeakable evil in the midst of international intrigue complicated by indifference from those who should be seeking justice for the victimized. In the end, it becomes a tale of vengeance.
Evil Town is a tale of contemporary politics that pulls the curtain back on how business gets done in Washington, D.C.
The wife of popular Florida Congressman (and prospective Senatorial candidate) Clegg Caffery is murdered. FBI Special Agent Matt Thurston begins an investigation that leads him from the Pentagon to the small town of Clewiston, Florida in search of a photographer responsible for the photo found in the murdered woman’s hand. He arrives too late. The man has committed suicide. Although Thurston uncovers a strange and suspicious story about the dead photographer that he believes is worthy of continued investigation, he is abruptly steered away from the case by his superiors.
Angered by this turn of events, Thurston enlists the assistance of two reporters. With their involvement, he begins to peel away layers of lies and deceit hiding the truth about the murder. Along the way, Thurston slowly unravels a complex weave of story lines that includes a sex for hire plot involving the President’s wife; an attempt by computer magnate Norman Bremen to subvert the workings of Congress to ensure the survival of his sugar interests in Florida; and the revelation of a cover-up of a war crime in Vietnam that threatens the Presidency.
Although Evil Town is a work of fiction, it is based on historical and current events. The Vietnam element of the plot delves into the massacre of Vietnamese villagers at Co Luy. This occurred on the same day as the My Lai killings and happened as described in the novel. The military and political cover-up of the incident detailed in Evil Town is an interpretation of actual events that relegated Co Luy to the back pages of history. The description of the political gamesmanship related to the restoration of the Everglades, and to the “sugar wars” in Florida, is a dramatization of the intrigue currently being played out by power brokers, the media and Congress on this issue.
While it should come as no surprise that the drug war can be managed and waged for political purposes – a subplot in Evil Town – it is the subtleties of international politics that often allow this to happen. The novel provides insight on how this is possible. Through it all, Matt Thurston and his allies match wits with the most powerful in Washington putting themselves in harm’s way.
Truth, honour and justice are slippery concepts in this story of politics and fragile human relationships.