Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Charles Ambrose, and I write under the pen name Marc Rainer. The pen name is a tribute to two families members lost to cancer: my younger brother Marc, and my mother, whose maiden name was Rainer. I’m 66.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, about an hour from the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve lived in Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri, and my wife and I are now retired and living in the mountain west near Boise, Idaho.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I also have a Master’s Degree in History from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a law degree from the University of Mississippi. My wife is a retired Special Agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and also worked as an analyst for the FBI. I have two daughters, six grandchildren, a brother who is a doctor in Florida, and a sister who is a writer, editor, and musician living in the U.K. My wife and I are the proud “parents” of three rescue mutts.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I write crime dramas, and last week, the first book in the series, “Capital Kill,” climbed to number one in Amazon.com’s sales rankings for a mystery series novel in their kindle store.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I recently retired after thirty years as a federal prosecutor. I tried hundreds of major cases: murders, conspiracies, mafia trials. I’d come home with a lot of “war stories.” My wife kept saying, “You should write a book,” so I did.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m self-published, and the first book didn’t sell much in the first couple of months, but about month number four, it sold over a thousand copies. It was at that point when I thought there might be a future for me in writing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My wife’s encouragement, and the desire to write some realistic police procedurals, including a prosecutor as a protagonist. Hollywood is full of nonsense police and courtroom dramas, with really bad technical advisors. Good guys are always outrunning machine gun bullets, then turning and snap-shooting a bad guy off a roof 200 yards away. The legal scenes in courtrooms are usually ridiculous. I think most plumbers would hate movies about plumbing if they tried to make them.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I was an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C., for a while, and after trying to find a title about D.C. and homicides that had not already been used, I decided on “Capital Kill” for the first book. The other books in the series include “Horns of the Devil” (about the MS-13 gang plaguing North and Central America), “Death’s White Horses” (concerning the opium trade and the Mexican drug cartel “Los Zetas), “A Winter of Wolves” (about Islamic terrorists), and “Death Votes Last,” a novel about a political assassination.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I recently learned at a writing conference that I am an “organic writer,” which I guess means that I start out with the most general of a plot line – certainly not an outline – then I put myself inside the heads of my characters as I mentally watch them act out each scene. The only real challenge I face is time. I seem to be busier in retirement than when I had a “day job.”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There might be a bit of some imaginary drama in each book, but the vast majority of each plot is as real as I can make it. I try to employ real criminal organizations, real investigative techniques and technology, real courtroom procedures and laws, and even use transcripts from some of my real trials, changing the names to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. I’ve had professionals in both the law enforcement and legal fields tell me that, “Finally somebody got it right,” which is very gratifying.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’m fortunate enough to write in the digital age, and to have already traveled. I can stay at my desk and visit any street corner using Google Earth, and can research any topic without even having to visit a library, as long as I remain aware that Wikipedia always needs some checking up on. I never use just one research source.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do the ideas, and have pros that execute them.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Each novel is designed to inform as well as entertain. I call them “current historical” novels, because they concern real criminal groups and current events. A friend who has read them calls them “faction.” The fourth book, for example, calls for the removal of the Department of Justice from the President’s cabinet so that it can be the independent conscience of the government.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite writer at the moment is Michael Connelly. I love his characters and style. I’m not sure that he’s very “new.” I went to law school with John Grisham, and he seems to have done pretty well with his writing career. I think “A Time to Kill” and “The Chamber” are exceptional novels.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My high school classmates picked the books up and started reviewing them on Amazon. I knew the honest ones in the group (most, actually) and when they said the books were worth reading, that was a confidence booster. Thanks, Hattiesburg High Class of ’69!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I didn’t at first, but it’s becoming a second career for me now.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nope. Once one is done, it’s on to the next one. I don’t look back.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
My research on the last book taught me a lot about the salaries and other funds used and manipulated by members of the United States Congress. They don’t make that much on paper, but when you add their office budgets and campaign slush funds, it’s no wonder that they all leave office as millionaires.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’m available. I haven’t tried that yet, and I’d work cheap.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Persistence. Don’t just try, do. There’s no such thing as “writer’s block” once your fingers start typing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Read with an open mind, and don’t ever be afraid to learn something new.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m between them at the moment. I’ll probably pick up Connelly’s latest soon.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first great one was Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea.” It’s a masterpiece because a twelve-year-old can read it s a fishing story, a lit professor can pick it apart as being full of religious symbolism, and anyone between the two can get out of it whatever they want. It succeeds on every literary level.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Monty Python still cracks me up. The death of a pet wrecks me.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to spend about a week with Churchill. I think he was the last century’s greatest figure.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Alpine skiing, softball. I use to say writing, but that’s become the second career.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Bluebloods, musical talent shows like The Voice.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
The good old American cheeseburger has all the food groups: dairy, meat, veggies, bread. I like the color blue, but not on food. I’m a classic rock fan, and thing Led Zep was far better than the Fab Four. The Beatles just had a better marketing plan.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Talk a lot.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He lived and played as long and as hard as he could, and did so fairly.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website is www.marcrainer.com, and I have a facebook author page for Marc Rainer. I’m also on Goodreads and Authorreach.