Thursday, April 29, 2010

David Pereda Interview & Book Giveaway!

Today I have the honor of being a host in David Pereda’s virtual book tour. Please join me in welcoming David and be sure to post your comments. He will be giving away an autographed copy of Havana:Killing Castro to one randomly drawn commenter as well as to the tour host with the most comments, excluding David's and duplicates.  Here’s his Bio:

David Pereda is an award-winning author who enjoys crafting political thrillers and mainstream novels. He has traveled extensively around the world and speaks several languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching college-level courses, David had a rich and successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Qatar, among others.

A member of MENSA, David is the regional director of the Florida Writers Association and the co-founder of AWE (Asheville Writing Enthusiasts). He loves sports and has won many prizes competing in track and show-jumping equestrian events. David lives with his family in Asheville, North Carolina.

[Anne] When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, David?

[David] When I was 7-8 years old. I started writing around 10. I was a voracious reader, even at that age, and I loved to read westerns. Zane Grey and Max Brand were my idols, so, naturally, the first novel I wrote was a western titled David Patterson, the Temerarious that my Uncle Antonio, God bless his soul, typed for me.

[Anne] Tell us about your latest book, Havana: Killing Castro.

[David] With pleasure, Anne. The book has earned four awards already, including a Readers Favorite award. And the reviews, so far, have been excellent. It begins with a bang, literally.

An old fisherman is gunned down on a Mexican beach and prominent Miami surgeon Raymond Peters becomes the prime suspect. The dead fisherman is suspected to be Fidel Castro disguised by plastic surgery, which Peters had done clandestinely on a trip to Cuba two years earlier. You can read all about that surgery and Peters’s adventures and misadventures during that trip in the first book of the series, Havana: Top Secret. But is the body really that of the Cuban leader? In order to save his own life and protect his family, Peters must solve the murder, find the killers and retrieve a mysterious journal. And this has to be done while outwitting a sensual but ruthless assassin named Marcela, sent by Castro’s brother, Raul.

Here’s what some reviewers have to say about the book:

"The work is indeed a masterpiece of entertainment…” Gary Sorkin, Pacific Book Review

"The suspense grabs the reader from the beginning and holds it to the end…If you like a good mystery filled with espionage, you will enjoy this book." Readers Favorite

“David Pereda has done it again. In Havana: Killing Castro, he continues intriguing readers with the story begun in Havana: Top Secret.” The Laurel of Asheville

[Anne] Wow! Those are some nice reviews. And what a great cover.  What inspired you to write the Havana series?

[David] The inspiration to write the Havana series I owe to my ex-wife, a successful and highly skilled plastic surgeon who allowed me to witness some of her surgeries. One day, as I observed her nimble hands undermine aging skin and chisel a bulbous appendage into a perfect nose, I said to myself, “Why don’t you write a thriller based on a face-disguising plastic surgery to Fidel Castro?”

[Anne] I know you’ve traveled extensively, and you know several different languages, what other research did you do for this series?

[David] I picked Castro because I was born in Cuba, and I knew quite a bit about him – either from the news or from people who had met him personally. I complemented my knowledge reading books and magazine articles on the Internet. I have many doctor friends who made sure the surgeries – there are two in the first book of the series – were correct. I research my books rigorously, either on the Internet or at the library or both. I take great pride in making sure everything you see in one of my books is right -- from the weapons Marcela uses to dispose of her victims to the cars they drive in Havana or even the Mexico City polluted smell. Regarding Chango and the Orishas and Santeria, I read several books on the subject, interviewed Santeros and surfed the Internet.

[Anne] Will there be another book in the Havana series, and if so can you give us a hint of what it’ll be about?

[David] There will definitely be another book in the Havana series, which I hope to have published as early as the spring of 2011. I’m already hard at work on it. Titled Twin Powers, it’s a dramatic departure from my previous books in the series. For starters, I’m switching the locale from Cuba to the Middle East and focusing the story on the identical twin girls born to Sonia and Raymond in Killing Castro – Stephanie and Sophia. One of the twins gets kidnapped, and Marcela, the assassin, and Peters collaborate in tracking down the kidnappers and bringing the twin back home. I’m really excited about the book -- and so are the people who have read the first couple of chapters.

[Anne] What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

[David] I’m a plotter, definitely. By the time I start writing, I have everything figured out. Of course, I change everything along the way as I write – but that’s the essence of the creative process: change.

[Anne] I read on your website that in addition to your teaching career you’re an outstanding athlete who has won awards in international equestrian events, and that you maintain records in track and field. When do you find time to write?

[David] I usually begin my day at 6 am and end it around midnight. Still, I find that there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to accomplish everything I set out to do. The truth is I’m constantly revising my list of priorities, and sometimes I have to delay or drop things from it. Last year, for instance, I had to drop out of the State track and field competition in Raleigh because of a scheduling conflict, and right now I’m two months behind in the writing of Twin Powers.

[Anne] I know what you mean about there not being enough hours in the day :-). If you could be anyone of your characters, which one would you choose to be and why?

[David] Marcela. She’s fearless, beautiful and lethal. She doesn’t mind what she says or does, and she is the ultimate professional with a strict moral code. Maybe her politics are a little screwed up, but yours would be too if you had been raised in Cuba. As an unabashed heterosexual, I’d have a little problem getting into Marcela’s skin because she’s a woman – but, of all my characters, she’s the one closest to me.

[Anne] She sounds very interesting! What type of books do you like to read when you’re not writing?

[David] I read everything – fiction, non-fiction, the dictionary, Roget’s thesaurus -- but I prefer fiction. In recent years, I’ve been reading just about everything written by Harlan Coben, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Daniel Silva, David Baldacci, Joseph Finder and Dan Brown.

[Anne] As a writing instructor, what do you tell your students are most important steps to becoming published?

[David] Learn to use the tools of writing well and forget about the publishing and marketing aspects until after you have written a good book. While a carpenter’s basic tools might be a hammer, nails and a saw, a writer has basic tools too. Narrative summary, description and dialogue are the basic tools that help writers build memorable stories. The difference in the quality and poignancy of those stories depends on how well, or how badly, writers use those tools – the craft or writing.

One problem with beginning writers is that they are often more concerned with publishing than with writing. The truth is that, in today’s marketplace, if you don’t have an excellent product you’ll never get published.

[Anne] How important is it to have an agent?

[David] Not important at all. It’s desirable but not required. In fact, it’s often easier to find a publisher for your book than an agent to represent you. I think of agents as indefinite and definite articles. Remember that definition, Anne? As you may recall “a” is used in a generic sense and “the” for the particular. I’m categorical when I say you don’t need an agent. What you do need is the agent that satisfies your needs. To do that, I suggest you prepare a list of your requirements before you start sending out queries.

[Anne] Well spoken, David! What other advice would you offer to any aspiring authors out there?

[David] Never give up. A college “friend” once told me that I’d never be a published author because English was my second language and advised me to quit writing. Good thing I didn’t heed his advice. I have published five novels and won six writing awards already. You want to know what happened to my friend, a budding writer of some promise himself? Nada.

You don’t have to settle for nada. Chase your dream. And never give up. The greatest achievers in history have been dreamers who never gave up.

[Anne] Good for you. And congratulations on that success! So where can we find you on the web?

[David] You can start at my website:

[Anne] Where can we purchase your books?,,, as well as selected bookstores around Asheville.

[Anne] Is there anything else you’d like to add?

[David] Thank you for having me on your blog, Anne. It’s been fun.

[Anne] It’s been a privilege, David, and I wish you even greater success. Okay friends start posting your comments for David. And be sure to leave some form of contact information so David can get hold of you if your name is drawn.  And be sure to follow his tour for more chances to win.  You can find the locations by clicking here.  But don't click yet, I've added a blurb and excerpt and you don't wanna miss it.  Enjoy!

When an old fisherman is gunned down on a Mexican beach, prominent Miami surgeon Raymond Peters becomes the prime suspect. The dead fisherman is believed to be Fidel Castro whom Dr. Peters had helped disguise through clandestine plastic surgery on a trip to Cuba two years earlier. But is the body really that of the Cuban leader? In order to save his own life, the beleaguered physician must solve the murder, find the killers and retrieve a mysterious journal. And this has to be done while outwitting a sensual but ruthless assassin named Marcela, sent by Castro’s brother Raul.


“So what did you want to talk to me about, Raymond?” Pepe stretched on his chair to clink glasses and then took a long pull of his mojito, drinking with his pinkie finger straight up. Raymond shook his head in disbelief as he sipped from his own glass. He put his glass on the table as Pepe gazed at him. “You said it was important.”

“It is.”

“You know who killed Fidel?”

“You mean the fisherman shot dead in Mexico?”

“Yes.” Pepe drained the rest of his drink in one mighty gulp and stared at his empty glass.

“Ready for another, Raymond?”

“Not yet.”

“Mind if I have another?”

“Go right ahead.”

“Keep talking.” Pepe leaned forward to refill his glass from the pitcher on the table, settled back in his chair, and took another pull of his drink. “I can drink and listen at the same time. You know who killed the fisherman?”

“I think so.”

“And that’s the reason you’re here?”

“Not really, Pepe. I came to confirm information—and to talk to you in person. As you always say, you never know who’s listening on the phone. By the way, where is Raul?”

“He’s going to join us for dinner tonight. Drink up, Raymond. I’m already finishing my second, and you haven’t really started on your first.”

Raymond sipped his drink thoughtfully. “Remember what you said to me a couple of years ago in Miami?”

“I said many things to you in Miami, Raymond.”

Pepe drained his glass and served himself another. This time he didn’t ask for permission.

“True. I mean, do you remember how you convinced me to come to Cuba with you? You told me that story about us as kids and how you had saved my life?”

“Of course I remember.” Pepe gulped greedily from his third drink.

“Do you? Tell it to me again.”

Raymond laughed amiably. “The same old Pepe, testing me out.”

Pepe laughed too.

“Okay, I’ll tell you—so you’ll know I still remember that story. We were in the park, and I got in a fight with Marcelino. He pulled a knife on me and tripped me. He was about to plunge the knife into me when you knocked him out with a punch. I’d never seen someone hit with such force. Marcelino’s head hit the grass so hard he was out cold several minutes. We were so scared you had killed him, remember?”

“Of course I remember,” Pepe said.

Raymond rose slowly, glowering at Pepe.

“That’s not the story. In the real story, you saved me from drowning in the Almendares River—remember? You’re not Pepe Orozco. And you sure as hell are not Fidel Castro either.” He leaned forward and said in a sharp voice, watching the man’s face blanch, “Who are you?”


David Pereda said...

Hello again, Anne. Dropped by to say hello to your readers and thank you for having me as a guest on your blogs. Will be happy to answer questions.

Gail Pallotta said...

Hi David,
Your book sounds so good, and it's on a subject that I haven't read about much, so I'd love to be entered in your drawing. We have lots in common georgraphically. I grew up about fifty miles from Asheville, pretty country. Also, I write beach romances in Florida, so I'm going to look into the Florida Writers Association. Good luck with your new book.

Mysti Holiday said...

David, your books sounds exciting ... I really enjoy a good political thriller. And making an assassin one of the "heroes" is a brave thing to do.

I laughed when you mentioned reading the thesaurus -- that and the dictionary are two of my favorite books.

Best of luck with your books!

David Pereda said...

Thank you, Gail. I highly recommend FWA, if you live in Florida...or even if you don't. Where in Florida do you live? Yes, Asheville is wonderful. Today is a gorgeous sun-splashed day. Best of luck with your writing and with the drawing.

David Pereda said...

Thank you, Mysti. Best of luck to you too. Whose beautiful legs are those on your website?

Melissa said...

What a great interview. Anne, you have the most facinating guests visit blog.

David, your Havana series sounds intense, just my kind of read.

Good luck with your new release.

Melissa said...

Oops, forgot to leave my email address.

Crystal Ennis said...

Hi David and Anne,
I enjoyed the interview and excerpt. Would love to read the book.

Cassie Simmons said...

Awesome interview!
This is a new autor for me. The book and series sounds great. I love suspense and political thrillers. How long have you lived in the U.S. David?

David Pereda said...

Thank you for your nice comments, Melissa and Crystal. It was indeed a pleasure being Anne's guest on her blog. Good luck to both of you in the drawing!

David Pereda said...

Thank you, Cassie. I've lived all over the world. I left Havana with my family as a child when Castro took over and moved to the United States...from where I moved out several years later (after graduating from college) to pursue an international consulting career with Booz-Allen & Hamilton. I moved back to the States in 2004. I hope that answers your question.

Mysti Holiday said...

David, I wish I knew whose legs those were! They aren't mine :-)

David Pereda said...

Thank you for the response, Mysti