by Bernard Maestas
on Tour February 1-28, 2017
A crooked conglomerate makes a move on fictional Newport City by first attempting to incite a war between its existing criminal organizations before taking over with its own “in-house” group. Hired by a major gang leader to avert the war, freelance information broker Kevin recruits his ex-enforcer, ex-con brother Chance, and Kaity, a reporter with a vendetta, to uncover the conspiracy.
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Published by: Rebel ePublishers
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: 1944077154 (ISBN13: 9781944077150)
Series: Internet Tough Guys, #3
Purchase Links 🔗: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗
Read an excerpt:
Bernard Maestas lives in paradise. A police officer patrolling the mean streets of Hawaii, he has a background in contract security and military and civilian law enforcement. When not saving the world, one speeding ticket at a time, and not distracted by video games or the internet, he is usually hard at work on his next book.
Q&A with Bernard Maestas
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR GUEST AUTHORS
Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Absolutely! My first series, “Internet Tough Guys,” was inspired by a mix of both, with headline-ripped plots and some of my real action sequences mixed in.
Those who have been following the development of “Concrete Smile” on social media and/or have followed this tour already know that a big portion of the novel was written as a way for me process my feelings after a loved one’s death a few years ago. Digging deeper, the three novels I mashed together to create this book were all, in one way or another, written for the same purpose of coping with grief.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I have a habit of skipping around. I struggled so much the first two decades of my writing career because I couldn’t start at the beginning and write straight through anything. I’d always have an idea for something in the middle, or I’d be missing something in between, and I’d lose interest. Now, I write what’s fresh, in the forefront of my mind, and work around it. Whether it’s a chapter, a paragraph, even just a great sentence, I put it down and move on to wherever my imagination takes me next.
Everything starts with an idea, though. Sometimes it’s an ending, sometimes it’s a beginning, sometimes it’s something in the middle.
If I had to pick a jumping off point for “Concrete Smile” (harder to do than you might think)… No spoilers, but there’s a certain scene with Kaity, a sweatshirt, and a cigarette. I remember mourning and thinking up that scene and it grew into a whole book. You’ll know it when you read it.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Definitely. In “Internet Tough Guys,” the two protagonists were based off me and one of my oldest friends – quite loosely, of course.
In “Concrete Smile,” it’s a longer story. One of the two males started as the hero of his own series who was, in turn, inspired very distantly by eighteen-year-old me. He grew from there but his story was partially inspired by something that happened with a friend of mine from high school. I borrowed that friend’s look to make the second male protagonist in this book.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Ugh, I wish I had a routine. I wish I knew the formula for the magic when I get in the “zone” and can churn out thousands of words at a sprint.
Music is always a thing, for sure. I used to rely on Pandora shuffling – which is how I wrote “Concrete Smile.” For the book I just finished, I made a (extremely long) playlist on YouTube but I did it mostly while I was procrastinating.
Speaking of which, if there’s one thing that’s constant when I’m writing, it’s procrastination. I click away from Scrivener for just a minute to confirm something on Wikipedia and two hours later…
Tell us why we should read this book.
Because I asked nicely and I want to get a puppy.
Seriously, though, aside from the “only if you want to” stuff, I think people will like it. I learned a lot from my first three published novels and I feel like this is a new pinnacle for me. I really did a lot of things right with this book. All the flaws in the novels I combined to make it cancel each other out.
Everything’s been done at this point, nothing is truly original anymore. But with “Concrete Smile,” I feel like I’ve captured some really good film noir tropes but presented the whole thing in a different package that’s sort of original. The characters are really solid and play off each other well. Plus, the story, the mystery, I’m really proud of the whole thing.
Beyond those reasons, if it counts for anything, is all the blood and pain I let out onto the pages. Sometimes, some really bad things can pave the way for something beautiful. If that’s true, “Concrete Smile” is a perfect example of that.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Rob Thurman of the Cal Leandros (among other) series is likely my absolute favorite. Her wit and clever fantasy have spoken to me since I picked up her first, “Nightlife,” on a whim. Karen Traviss – who rocked my world by blurbing my third “Internet Tough Guys” novel, 2015’s “You Think this is a Game?” – runs neck-and-neck with her, though. She can write the hell out of some military sci-fi and techno-thrillers, let me tell you.
Comic writer Alan Moore has had a hand in just about every one of my favorite comics and I credit him a lot with inspiring me as a writer.
I have to take this time to mention Orson Scott Card. By the time I picked up “Ender’s Game” in grade school, I’d read a decent amount, done a few short stories, made a lot of comic books and even short films and screenplays… but “Ender’s Game” changed everything for me. Not only did I love the story – though I never did read any of the sequels – it might singlehandedly have pushed me to write prose novels. Even though it was over a decade before I actually finished one, I remember that being the moment that the seed blossomed in my brain of writing only in prose. That’s gotta be worth a vote or two for favorite, no?
What are you reading now?
Two of my friends, separately, just finished (hopefully) debut novels and I’m beta reading those
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
As I write this, I just wrapped up my latest manuscript. I can’t share too much about it, obviously, but it’s an urban fantasy and superhero tale, sprinkled with a bit of horror and wrapped up in a YA package. I think it’s going to be great! Hopefully it’ll get published…
That said, I’m also working on another thriller, this one sort of a military/spy one. I’m debating on a course for the future of “Internet Tough Guys” as well. I have book four hanging in limbo until I decide.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Gosh, I loved this question the second I read it but, as I went to answer, I found it harder than expected. First off, I’d really love to see some no-name, up-and-coming young actors step into the roles and shine. People even I’ve never heard of. That would be ideal.
If I had to pick… Carlson Young (of the “Scream” series) almost has the look for Kaity and I think she could pull off the role. For Chance and Kevin, even though they already starred in something together, I could almost see “Awkward’s” Beau Mirchoff and Brett Davern, respectively, playing them. Beau would need to bulk up for the role (quite a bit) but I feel like their looks, their talent, and their chemistry would actually really capture what I was going for.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Most of my fans know that meme-slinging and PC gaming are definitely in the conversation. I’m also a karaoke superstar and take any opportunity to do that. I enjoy NFL football, anime, Netflix/Hulu shows, and I also play in an adult kickball league. (Yes, that’s a thing. Shout out to Team Ridiculously Good Looking!)
Steak. Or pizza. But mostly steak. And also pizza.
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