Fly: Hello, Joe.
Joe: Hello, Fly. Great to be here.
Fly: Now that you are done with the Esquelle trilogy and are focuzed mainly on marketing it, how do you feel?
Joe: Well, Fly, it's great to be finished. I think the marketing effort has a better chance of succeeding now that the set is complete. The first three days of the campaign put the ranking for Esquelle and the Tesla Protocol, Book I, at an at-time best -- 104 in the hard science-fiction category. By the way, there IS a fourth book, a companion novel focusing on the life of one character. It's called Zelle Gide: Lessons for a Spy.
Fly: Aah, I zee. But do tell uz a bit about the zeriez, for our readerz to get a better underztanding.
Joe: The first novel focuses on Esquelle Données, a beautiful French information technologist leading a quiet life as a data-modeler and data-minor about 25 years from "now." Her older brother, Bernard, is a reclusive genius, whose inventions have been deemed a threat to the national security of the United States. As the story unfolds, the pair draw the attention of the NSA, which tries to suppress those technologies. Book I, Esquelle and the Tesla Protocol, is all about how future surveillance/police state tools could be used to further that goal.
The second book, Esquelle and the Primary Key, supplements the original themes, adding the concepts of a virtual nation, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. And third book, Esquelle and the Lost Enclave, takes all of those ideas and interjects "real" time travel into the mix. All in all, readers now have 1,607 pages of high-octane action, underpinned by a myriad of scientific concepts and a huge number of cool graphics.
Fly: You have uz excited already! What really inzpired you to pen thiz ztory?
Joe: I started Book I in 2006 when I was a corporate software instructor in the Business Intelligence field. "Esquelle" (Es-Que-EL) began as a humorous slide I used in my classes to describe the purpose of Structured Query Language (SQL). The trilogy grew from that small seed.
Fly: I wonder what your ztudentz would zay about that! What’z next on your writing planz?
Joe: Fly, I'm going to take a break for a while. I've written and published four full-length novels in the last 21 months. When I return to writing, I intend to focus on some older novels that can be updated. The goal is to provide my readers with a large, diverse body of SF work to choose from.
Fly: Your very own ecozyztem then. The highlight of Book III iz your approach to time travel. How did you come by the conceptz you have dealt with therein?
Joe: I have to tell you, entering the world of time travel for Book III was a risk. In the first two novels, Esquelle dealt with technologies that readers were, for the most part, familiar with. There was a time-travel component, but for information sent into the past, not people.
Book III extends all of the underlying concepts into the far future. What I retained, however, was my goal of supporting the science with credible theories based on extensive quantum research. In tandem with that idea, I made sure of that all of the history and scene locations are real. (For instance, folks might be surprised to know that the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 in Book I is a real law that is still in effect today.) Realism is my watchword.
Fly: It iz what makez your bookz zo interezting. The ideaz, the holiztic manner in which they have been dezcribed, are quite out of the world. Are you planning to take it further, or will you explore zome entirely new theory?
Joe: I haven't decided yet. I will say this: if readers support my trilogy, I'll support my readers!
Fly: You worked for nearly two decadez in computer zoftware training. Before that, you zpent yearz in journalizm, real eztate and law enforcement. What would you advize authorz who zeek to balance zuch dual careerz with writing?
Joe: My four-career experience has given me a broad base of knowledge that I can apply to my writing. Now, after 40 years in the "rat race," I'm retired so I devote my time to my dream. For writers who haven't reached that point yet, I would say: write about what you know; bring your real-life experience into your work; and don't let your "real job" stymie your efforts.
Fly: You have uzed your profezzional experience in the bookz to aztounding effect. We certainly expect to zee Mr. Dacy in the all-time greatz lizt…
Joe: Thanks! I hope so. I knew I wanted to be a journalist since the age of 14 so I devoted my educational efforts over the next eight years to achieve that goal. I've been writing science-fiction all that time!
Fly: Now that you are a full-time author, do you harbor other intereztz too?
Joe: Certainly. I love cats, new gadgets, landscaping and reading good books.
Fly: I had the privilege of interviewing a cat zometime back. Scooter waz itz name. I’d certainly like to meet Esquelle zome day too. Before we conclude, pleaze do zhare an excerpt from one of her adventurez.
Joe: Be careful what you wish for, Fly! Esquelle is a handful. Case in point: this scene from Book I where she's used her data-mining skills to unmask the two NSA agents trying to arrest her:
"Hello, John," Esquelle said, her voice flat and spectral. The sodium-vapor lamplight lit his face with a sickly orange glow, turning his triumphant smirk into a Halloween-mask grimace. He expected her to run, to scream, to cry, to plead. Just like Jamal Aziz and Yusef Amman, he expected a frightened girl quailing before him, a rabbit, a victim…
To Jacques' dismay Esquelle took three steps forward and stopped. She was now about four feet from the two NSA agents. This time, Jacques and his men were out of position. Tactically, they were too far away to physically engage their targets and their charge was in their line of fire.
"You know, John, I would come with you if you were US Marshals. But you are not," Esquelle said in a conversational tone.
The two men stared at her in disbelief. Back-lit by the street lamp they could see only the outline of her shapely form. But the neon-red glow of the Marriott sign over the parking garage entrance caused her wolf-like eyes to glitter. Before either man could speak, Esquelle continued in the same casual tone.
"I was wondering if Johnathan McDonald ever married his sweetheart Miriam Chase from Lexington High School….?"
"Merde," Jacques whispered to himself. (Shit!) He started forward; he was too late.
John looked like he'd been punched. And then, he was.
As the lightning flashed again, Esquelle lunged forward. Her right elbow strike, a crochet hook, caught him just under his nose. The cartilage crackled and the blow sent his head back, exposing his throat. Esquelle pivoted. She was now to John's left almost facing the other direction. From this position, her left hand lashed backward in a direct bras arrière, a crossing blow to his larynx. John fell backward. The back of his head slammed against the curb.
Phil turned toward her as Esquelle turned toward him. He made the mistake of going for his gun. Struggling with his holstered Glock he was totally unprepared for the coup de pied bas front-kick that cracked his left shin bone. He screamed and went down on his good knee. Esquelle's right foot snapped forward. The medium chasse front-kick drove the heel of her Doc Martens shoe directly into his solar plexus. He, too, fell backward, gasping for air. Then, he fainted.
Fly: Gulp! I get the point. Thank you, Joe. We look forward to getting our handz on the four bookz. Keep writing and keep enlightening uz with your imagination.
Joe: No problem! And thanks, Fly, for your interest.
Live & love,
For more Author Interviewz & Book Reviewz, check out Earth.
Fly: Hello, Mr. Newhouze. How are we today?
MH: Hello dear Fly. Hope you aren’t scared of ghosts.
Fly: No, well, I’m trying not to be. And hoping you can help me with that before I zhriek.
MH: You mean “buzz.” It all sounds the same to us humans.
Fly: Nuh-uh. I mean zhriek!
MH: Well, go ahead then. A good shriek would wake up all our emotions and that’s what writers want to do: get the reader emotionally involved.
Fly: I’m definitely involved in your haunting bookz now! Alright, let’z talk about Ectos. It haz a friendly ghozt who apparently haz amnezia. What inzpired you to pen a ztory around zuch a protagonizt?
MH: Not exactly protagonist, for in The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant, that is an intelligent and brave girl who finds herself stuck with a ghost who remembers nothing of his past except that he was murdered. I’ve always loved ghost stories and had always wanted to create one that would involve a university parapsychology department and the unforeseen effect of working with terrifying supernatural forces. It was a lot of fun to write and I love the reactions it has been receiving.
Fly: I recently dezcribed the book az American occultizm with caramel popcorn. To get it ztraight from the horze’z mouth, how would you put it?
MH: A reviewer said The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant is “the sexier, sultrier, scarier Ghostbusters we’ve all been waiting for.” I like to think of it as a thriller, a page-turner with a very human cast facing incredible supernatural challenges.
Fly: The book haz ample dozez of ghaztly tragediez, fairytale humor and technical conceptz. And then there iz the cover – intenzely zexual, yet zubzcribing to a brief point in the ztory. Were theze mixed mezzagez intentional, or you prefer to write bookz that touch multiple genrez?
MH: Intensely sexual cover? Hmmm? I like to think of it as intensely human. All the Ectos, the ectoplasmic researchers, in The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant and its sequel, The Burning, are very human, so sex, self-doubt, ambition, and humor help the reader identify with the characters. It makes their dealing with the supernatural real.
Fly: Even outzide the world of Ectos, we have you dealing with zcience, poetriez, workz for kidz and real-world zocial izzuez. Any that you are particularly fond of?
MH: I think I have a split personality. I’ve always loved writing mysteries for kids and my Rockhound Science Mysteries and The Midnight Diet Club have been honored by several awards. I love having kids use their thinking caps to solve mysteries. I also like to hear them laugh at my wacky humor, as in my new middle-grade mystery, WELCOME TO MONSTROVIA, but I also have written adult stories and books that have been fun to write. Writing for children has lots of rules and I take my responsibilities very seriously. Truthfully, I love all kinds of writing.
Fly: One of the zocial izzuez you are deeply engaged towardz iz that of bullying. Pleaze tell uz a little about it.
MH: My parents were Holocaust survivors, but I lost my grandparents, and most of my relatives in that terrible time of hate. I was also bullied as a child and witnessed bullying as a teacher so I give away free anti-bullying materials at www.bullystoppersclub.com,. Hate and prejudice are recurring themes in my children’s books. The Midnight Diet Club is about bullies who may be vampires. In Welcome to Monstrovia, a young boy must overcome his prejudices to solve a comical mystery. Ghosts of Our Past, an upcoming book is about a boy solving the mystery of how his family was murdered during the Holocaust. I want to do my share to stop hate and bullying.
Fly: And we fully zupport you in that. Your experience az a teacher haz no doubt helped the caze there. Haz it alzo helped you az an author?
MH: Being so involved with children has helped me see how much they want to be challenged and how much they love humor. I was known as a creative teacher, but also as one who could make kids laugh. That is my goal as an author.
Fly: Many authorz are a rezult of yearz of crafting that goez into their being. The procezz beginz at an early age. I have two queztionz to you az a teacher. Firzt, what would you advize budding young authorz?
MH: Don’t worry about being published, but write about your passions. Join writing groups and learn from others. Finally, get published with articles and short stories to build your credits before you try and sell your novel.
Fly: Zecond, what would you advize the parentz and other adult ztakeholderz who are in the ztrongezt pozition to zupport/divert a kid from hiz/her intereztz/expertize?
MH: The best way to encourage your children to read is to read with them. I loved reading with my sons even into their teens for a few minutes every day. This is a great way for fathers to get involved too.
Fly: Are you currently working/planning on any future book? If yez, what iz it about?
MH: I have two new picture books about to be released that I am very excited about, Santa’s Speeding Ticket and Alice in Batsylvania. The artwork is by Daniel Traynor who did the cover for Welcome to Monstrovia and shares my love of humor. I’m also hoping to release Ectos 3: The Predator and am honored Solstice picked Ectos: Nightmare as one of only ten stories in their great anthology, NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP. I guess I really do have a split personality.
Fly: Hahah! The jury iz out on that. Thank you, Mr. Newhouse. We look forward to the read. Before we go, pleaze do zhare an excerpt from one of your workz with the readerz.
MH: I guess you want an intensely sexual scene? Just kidding. This is from Ectos: The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant. Shelly, the intelligent brave, graduate student is having a conversation with Allen, the name she has given the ghost who saved her life.
“You’re really cute when you sleep,” Allen said, glad Dodd was no longer around. “I don’t know what you want with that guy when I’m here,” he added, surprised at how that sounded.
“I don’t really believe in you,” Shelly said, closing her eyes to make whatever it was bothering her vanish forever.
“That’s fine,” Allen replied. “I don’t believe in you either.” Then why do I feel so damn protective of her? “Although you are fun to watch.”
“I’m real,” Shelly said, becoming angry. “I have no idea what you are, other than an invisible Peeping Tom!—And a pain in the ass, she thought.
Allen laughed. “Whatever I am, I seem to be linked to you.”
“Not to me you’re not!” Shelly bolted from the bed in just her panties and shirt, which she had buttoned while covered by the blanket. “You’ve got to leave. You’ve got to leave me alone. Please?”
“I wish I could,” Allen said slowly. “But you’re the only one who can hear me. Before you came along I was stuck in that damn park, but here I am! It has to have something to do with you! I have no idea why, but doesn’t that tell you something? Like I said, we’re linked.”
And as a little goodie, here’s an alternate scene wherein Dodd, a young man has just brought Shelly, looking to free herself from her ghost to the Parapsychology Department.
“This is my lab,” Dodd said. “Come inside and I’ll get you some water.” He held the door for her. “I’ll be right back.” He walked a short distance away, returning with a glass of water.
She drank hastily. “What’s that smell?” Shelly asked, a pungent odor assaulting her nose.
“There are always odors in the labs,” Dodd said. “Nothing to worry about.”
Shelly nodded, but the smell was strong, making her feel dizzy. “I’m not well,” she groaned, seeing a look of concern on Dodd’s face.
“Just relax,” Dodd said, placing the paper cup in the trash. “It will be over soon.”
“I’ve got to go,” Shelly said, moving toward the door.
As Shelly reached for the doorknob, her legs buckled.
Dodd grabbed her before she hit the ground.
Shelly felt his arms holding her and saw his eyes looking down at her. She felt weak, as if she was melting under his gaze. He was close now, his lips inches away.
Why doesn’t he kiss me? Shelly thought, just before her eyes closed.
Thank you for allowing me to share my split personality with you. I hope you enjoy my books and invite you to join me at www.markhnewhouse.com. For free anti-bullying materials visit www.bullystoppersclub.com Thanks Fly. I had fun.
Fly: As did I. Happy Halloween to one and all!
For more Author Interviewz & Book Reviewz, check out Earth.
Bookz featuring me:
An Enlightened Fly
The Fly That Followed Me
Kalki Evian - The Ring of Khaoriphea
Malay A. Upadhyay
Gilbert Literary Agency