Meet John David Bethel…

Hello, bloggers!

I am pleased to welcome Guest Author, John David Bethel. John is the author of BLOOD MOON, and we are fortunate enough to get a glimpse in the following Q&A. Enjoy…


{Below is a Q&A provided by the Guest Author. Please note, some adult language is included.)

Question:  How did these horrific real-life events first come to your attention, and how soon after learning of them were you inspired to start writing your novel?

JDB:  The details of the crime came to me from Ed DuBois.  Ed runs a security firm, Investigators, Inc., and had been brought into the case by a mutual friend of Marc Schiller, the victim.  Ed read my novel Evil Town and enjoyed it, and when he wanted to explore the possibilities of having a book written about the crime, he contacted me.

Initially, Ed wanted a true crime book written to counter the treatment the real story was getting in a movie that was being made of the crime, “Pain and Gain.”  Ed was serving as a consultant on the movie and grew disenchanted with the “black comedy” slant being applied to the script.  I wrote a treatment of the book but when it became apparent a true crime book could not be written and published in time to provide a balance to the movie, that project was abandoned.

I had become intrigued by the crime, especially by the courage of the victim, Marc Schiller, and Ed’s determination to get the “bad guys.”  Schiller’s survival of 30 days in captivity during which he was brutally tortured and had every single penny of his substantial estate extorted was a story that was too compelling to ignore.  My wheelhouse is fiction so I went to Ed and Marc and asked if they’d mind if I treated the story as fiction, hewing close enough to the real events to convey the true horror of what Marc endured and how Ed worked skillfully to solve the crime.

With resources like Marc and Ed, and a story of human will and courage, how could I go wrong?    Marc agreed to add another layer to the book by writing the Foreword and Ed wrote an Afterword.

 

Question:  Tell us who the heroes are in the novel Blood Moon. Obviously abducted and tortured businessman Recidio Suarez, but do other heroic figures emerge in the telling of this sinister tale?

JDB:  Absolutely.  Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – and Suarez’s lawyer faces down the kidnappers and fights tooth-and-nail to have his client’s case taken up by the Miami Dade County Police Department.

Stevens meets with one of the kidnappers and through sheer force of will convinces him that he and his cohorts have to deal with him on a plan Stevens has hatched to get them to unwittingly admit their involvement in the crime.  In the meantime, he is fighting for recognition of the crime by the police who are convinced that Suarez’s kidnapping, torture and attempted murder were the result of a squabble between drug gangs.  Stevens is doing battle with the bad guys and the good guys on Suarez’s behalf, putting his life and reputation on the line.  Meantime, Suarez is in hiding to save himself from his kidnappers who thought they had killed him and want to finish the job.

Recidio’s wife, Carolina Suarez, also rises to the occasion and is dedicated to seeing justice done (or retribution depending on one’s point-of-view).  She is a stay-at-mother raising a family when the roof falls in.  Her husband is allowed to speak to her and convince her to leave Miami in exchange for promising his captors that he will hand over every cent he has.  After making certain her children are safe, Carolina – the timid, quiet housewife – transforms into a harpy of vengeance.  Her own plans for finding and punishing the kidnappers are brutal and unforgiving.

Suarez, his wife and Stevens are the most visible heroic figures although friends and relatives of future victims also have their moments.

 

Question:  When I read Blood Moon I realized with a start that you had recreated conversations between Recidio Suarez and his many captors that sounded as authentic as if you’d been a proverbial  fly on the wall—how did you do that?

JDB:  Someone once asked Cary Grant how he managed to portray his characters so convincingly.  He replied:  “It’s called acting.”  So, how do I do it?  It’s called writing. It’s what I have a passion for and when a compelling story or plot line occurs to me, I have to sit down and write.  I don’t think I could ever explain “how” I do it, I just do it.

That said, I had the very good fortune of having both Marc and Ed as resources I could tap as I wrote the book.  And I also asked them to read a draft before I finalized it to get their take on Blood Moon.  Both offered excellent suggestions for editing, and in other ways, for improving the plot, adding a shading to a character here and there to make them more real and so on.

 

Question:  What would you like the takeaway for readers to be when they read Blood Moon?

JDB:  I didn’t go into writing the novel with a “takeaway” in mind.  As I explained, I had a compelling story with compelling characters, and I had to tell it.

If there is a “takeaway” I suppose it would be that there is a dark and evil inhumanity to some people that is balanced by the goodness and courage of others.  I really don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.

 

Question:  How did writing Blood Moon differ from your previous novel, Evil Town?

JDB:  The books are different genres, Evil Town being a political thriller.  Other than that, there really wasn’t much of a difference in the writing or the creative process.

For Blood Moon, I worked with a story line that had some markers for me to follow since I was inspired by a true-to-life crime.  I also had some traits I could instill in the main characters by studying the ways Marc and Ed dealt with their challenges.  Developing the characters of the antagonists was a little different since I don’t think like a psychopath.  Putting myself in the shoes of Dario Pedrajo and his cohorts was a bit disturbing.  But by playing them off against the courage and actions of Suarez and Stevens, and having the antagonists react in the extreme opposite of civilized, empathetic human beings, I think these characters are believable as multi-dimensional human beings, if very evil human beings.

For Evil Town, I mined my 30-plus years in politics to add dimension, reality and, hopefully, to create a compelling story that takes a look behind the curtain at how Washington and the political system work.  This experience provided me with markers along the way much in the same way as did those I followed in writing Blood Moon allowing me to create believable scenarios and characters.  A former member of Congress, Jim Lightfoot put it this way in his review of Evil Town:  “For those of us who have been there and lived the political life it is easy to attach the names of people we know and/or have known to David’s characters. I think you will find that part of the fun when you read his book.  Perhaps you will also pick up a little understanding of the high stakes poker is played with your life and income by thousands of faceless bureaucrats and unscrupulous politicians whose only goal in life is re-election.”

 

Question:  What similarities did you find in your research and your writing?

JDB:  My research for Evil Town focused primarily on the science related to the environmental impact on the Everglades of farming by Big Sugar, which is a major element of the storyline.  There are a few minor plot lines that “borrowed” from real events that required some research as well.  The “call boy” plot line among them.  I tried to be true to the research, that is, I did not inject a personal point-of-view but let my characters filter the information through their own lenses.

For more information on the research used for Evil Town, go to eviltownthebook.com. There is a section devoted to the research I used, with sources provided.

 

Question:  What do your current projects include? What do readers and fans have to look forward to?

 JDB:  I’m looking forward to working with Tell Tale Publishing to promote Blood Moon.  That’s first on the list.  I am also beginning work on a new novel set in a small Midwestern town during the final days of World War Two.  The gruesome murder of a local family starts an investigation that opens a door onto the national stage of politics and treason.

***

Author Bio:  J. David Bethel is a writer of fiction and non-fiction.  He has been published in popular consumer magazines and in respected political journals. For a selection of his current e-publications, please visit www.eviltownthebook.com, Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook.

***

book-cover

BLOOD MOON: FIRST CHAPTER

Recidio Suarez was tired.  Very tired.  He had spent the better part of the past year negotiating the purchase of Superior Foods, a wholesale food business.  When the sale was finally completed and he assumed ownership, Suarez had to deal with a company that had been poorly managed and needed a lot of attention.  These demands came on top of those required to run his primary bread winner, a medical supply company.  It was exhausting.

He would never have extended himself this way if he had known that the person he had long trusted to assist with running the medical supply company, and whom he had rewarded with a partnership, would prove to be a fool.  And the person he hired to manage the new venture turned out to be incompetent.  Suarez couldn’t get rid of the fool because he couldn’t afford to buy him out, and he couldn’t bring himself to fire the incompetent in the middle of a down economy, so he used him as an assistant, a glorified errand boy who helped keep the shelves stocked and the business staffed.

***

August 24th dawned overcast and muggy.  One of those South Florida days when the air has a presence.  It was heavy, wet and hot.  Very hot.  Suarez was soaked with sweat when he walked into the chilled air of the food warehouse – a short distance from the adjoining parking lot – and greeted arriving staff.  He had considered rolling over in bed that morning and trusting the day to his manager, but couldn’t bring himself to do that for a couple of reasons.  He couldn’t rely on his manager to handle the administrative tasks associated with paying his people on this Friday, and he had someone coming in later that afternoon who was interested in using Superior Foods to supply meat, fish and fresh vegetables to a string of high end restaurants.  It would be Suarez’s inaugural account since buying the business and had the potential to be a huge boost to his bottom line.

He spent the morning making certain that walk-in customers, who were the bulk of his business, were quickly and competently served, tutoring his staff on how to take care of these people quickly and efficiently.  That afternoon he retreated to his small office located at the rear of the warehouse, where he wrote paychecks and called his staff in one-by-one to distribute them personally so he could pat a few backs.  He spent the balance of the day contacting bodegas and restaurants around Miami – the foundation of his strategy to transform his customer base from individual sales to bulk sales.  It had been a good day.  Not great, but good.  The responses to his calls were, if not enthusiastic, at least polite, with some expressing interest in receiving additional information.

The walk-in numbers were better than Suarez thought they would be on a day when a tropical disturbance was heading toward Miami and that, combined with the oppressive August summer weather, probably kept some people away from a trip to the warehouse, and many businesses closed.  Since hurricane Andrew devastated the city two decades earlier, the threat of any storm mobilized Miamians, who went into serious preparation mode.

With the day winding down, Suarez focused on his meeting with the prospective client.  That time came and went.  At 4:00, he called the number the man had given him to see if he was still planning to come by, but there was no answer.  Suarez decided to wait until 4:30 before heading out the door.  It was earlier than his usual 5:00 departure, but he wanted nothing more than to be home, enjoying the quiet, and maybe even permitting himself to take a nap.

At 4:15, Suarez sent his manager to the bank with the day’s take; took a quick tour around the now empty warehouse, turned off the lights; and returned to the office area.  There he packed up his briefcase and headed to the rear door of the two-office area that opened on to the parking lot behind the building.  He was about to enter the security code into the pad next to the door when he heard the pinging of the code being entered into the pad on the outside wall next to this same door.  Before he could react, the door swung in, hitting him in the head.  He staggered back, his hand on his forehead, when two men pushed him to the ground and began hitting him in the face, neck, chest and stomach.

Suarez tried to turn onto his side to protect himself from the blows.  He felt hands grabbing his legs and arms.

“Take my car,” Suarez yelled, now being pressed facedown against the concrete floor, a knee jammed between his shoulder blades.  “The keys are in my pocket.”

“We don’t want your car, asshole,” one the men yelled at him, but still yanked the keys from Suarez’s pocket, ripping a large hole in the leg of his pants.

“That’s all I have,” Suarez barked back.  “All the cash has been…,” he started, when he felt tape being wrapped around his forehead and eyes.

“Shut the fuck up,” was spit at him.

The fear didn’t kick in completely until Suarez realized he was immobilized, his feet and hands bound with handcuffs.

“The day’s cash has already been taken to the bank,” Suarez blurted as he was yanked to his feet by a pair of powerful and very large hands.  He was thankful he had sent his manager to make the deposit and was willing to part with his own small bundle volunteering that, “I have about a $150 in my wallet.  My computer and I Phone are in my briefcase.”

Suarez was being held against the wall by one of those very large hands, which was pressed into the middle of his back to keep him upright.  The pressure against his sternum, and the tape wound around his head from his forehead to his lips, made it difficult to breathe.

A voice announced, “Okay, it’s clear.”

Suarez was lifted off his feet and hoisted over a man’s shoulder, his upper body hanging over this person’s back and his waist and legs draped in front.  He felt the heat of the day as he was carried into the open.  A short few steps and he was tossed into what he assumed was a van judging by the swooshing of the closing side doors.  He hit his head hard against a wheel well and felt blood trickling from his scalp and pooling around the back of his ears, held there by the tightly wrapped tape that was also beginning to slice into the bridge of his nose.

“What the hell do you want?” Suarez screamed and began to kick his legs furiously.  He was sweating profusely from the heat, the struggle and his panic.

He kept kicking his legs out in front of him and heard a SNAP just before his body spasmed as a flash of burning pain ripped through it.  He managed another kick, aiming it in the direction of someone who was breathing heavily.  Suarez heard a voice angrily demand that he “Stop.”  The SNAP again, and his entire body cramped with another jolt of heat and pain, like a thousand hot pokers being jabbed into him.  His legs, arms and stomach seized and shook violently.  He was gasping to catch his breath.

Reeling from the jolts of what he realized was electricity, Suarez fought to control the cramps stiffening his body.  He tried to clear his head and make some sense of what was happening to him.  As he was struggling to put the pieces together, he felt the barrel of a gun pressed against his jaw.  “Any more shit and I’ll kill you,” a man growled and grabbed him by his hair.  He jerked Suarez’s head up and began wrapping more tape around his face, which was then driven into the floor of the van and held there by a foot.

Then the beatings started.  The punching and kicking.  Suarez tried to turn away from the jabs to his ribs, face and back.  “What the hell is going on?” he mumbled, primarily to himself, realizing he would get nothing from the men who were brutalizing him.

After his attackers appeared to tire of beating him, someone threw a furniture blanket over Suarez.  It was thick and dirty.  Dust from the blanket coated him.  He felt himself begin to hyperventilate.  The tape was obstructing his breathing.  He couldn’t catch his breath.  He realized fear was overwhelming him and panic was setting in.  Suarez willed himself to breathe evenly, deeply.  He absolutely had to take control of himself and reason with these people, try to find out what they wanted.

As he was forcing himself to remain calm, one of the men yelled, “You can’t steal and get away with it.  You’re a liar and a thief.”

Suarez’s panic ratcheted back up.  “What are you talking about?  I never stole from anyone in my life.”

“You’re lying right now,” came the response along with a kick to Suarez’s stomach that knocked the breath out of him.

Suarez managed to squeak, “Just tell me what you want.”

“Shut the fuck up.  You’ll know soon enough.”


Thanks so much for stopping by today! Please show your support to the author by commenting, sharing and promoting.

Until next time………Happy Reading & Reviewing!!

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12 Comments

  1. That was an intense excerpt, and so horrible to think that Blood Moon is based on true events. The cover is fabulous as well. Wishing Mr. Bethel all the best with what sounds like a well researched and well written thriller. I’m going to add this to my TBR list!

  2. Pingback: Meet John David Bethel | shirleyharris-slaughter

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