Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview: Helen Hanson, author of 3 Lies

This week over at Good Book Alert, I reviewed Helen Hanson's thriller, 3 Lies. I enjoyed it so much, I invited Helen over for a little interview so I could pick her brain a bit more about the book.

1) Please tell us about your novel.

At CIA headquarters, a young officer discovers that terrorists may have commandeered their computer systems to launch an unauthorized mission. Elsewhere, conspirators abduct nine people to manipulate the rules of their game. Two disparate ambitions — Clint Masters becomes the reluctant link in the chain of danger.
Ever since Clint’s almost ex-wife dumped him, he bobs along the Massachusetts coast in a sailboat with his black lab for company. He avoids all forms of technology, a counterintuitive effort for the burned-out founder of CatSat Laboratories. Tired of clutching the brass ring, he needed to untether, step off the corporate treadmill, and smell a flower. Fortunately, he met one, a beautiful, unspoiled woman who doesn’t treat him like a commodity. His relationship with Beth offers more promise than his marriage ever did, even if she is on dialysis for her recovering kidneys, until she disappears.
In spite of the evidence, her family refuses to admit she’s in danger. Without routine dialysis, she won’t survive. As Clint realizes that he loves Beth, damn-near ex-wife Paige sashays back into his life with disturbing news.
While the CIA young gun tracks his quarry, Clint enlists the help of two men to find Beth, a blithe Brit named Merlin, and Todd, his playboy partner-in-tech. But Clint must find Beth before her kidneys fail. And before someone unloads a bullet in his head.

2) What was your inspiration for this novel?

We live with a level of convenience and comfort unimaginable in prior centuries.  My husband and son visited Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield, IL home, and the man had a three-hole outhouse. Yet, all our technology and connectedness create tethers that generate a constant level of tension.  For some it’s a comfortable companion, but for others it can form another set of chains.  I know it’s unrealistic to think that life was idyllic at any point or place in history, but I occasionally pine for more simplicity.  However, I am immensely grateful for the strides of modern medicine, as is  my character Beth.

3) In this book, you have a character kidnapped who requires dialysis. This element added an unusual tension to the search for the character. What made you decide to include this as a character aspect?

We all meet someone with chronic illness, eventually.  How we treat them reveals our character. And while they may be down, we must never count them out for good.  A friend of mine has a condition that could lead to reduced kidney function.  In studying this, I made some discoveries that altered my assumptions about the dialysis process.  The first successful dialysis treatment occurred in 1945, and while the basic process remains the same, the equipment has vastly improved. Research always sparks my story lines. 

4) Given the way the book ends, I can easily see a sequel featuring some of the characters introduced in 3 Lies. Are you working or do you plan to work on a sequel? 

Currently, I’m final-editing DEEP POOL, and it does contain one of the characters from 3 LIES in a minor role.  So far all my stories exist within the same timeline, consequently, my characters have opportunity to meet.  I’ve given thought to a sequel, but Maggie and Travis Fender, from DEEP POOL, were anxious for me to tell their story next.  Travis is fresh from jail for hacking, but maintains that he was framed. His step-sister, Maggie, a struggling waitress, is legal guardian to Travis and their father who has Alzheimer’s.  After billions of hedge fund investment dollars go missing,  investigators and mobsters decide that the Fenders merit watching. 

5) There are some fairly obscure aspects of technology involved in several key scenes in the book. Were these informed by your background or research? 

Background, research, and imagination.  The premise presented, regarding satellite technology, is not entirely factual, to my knowledge.  It is a science fiction element that is theoretically plausible.  I’ve worked in technology fields my entire professional career, so it spills over into my writing.  Marrying a bigger geek than myself offers another brain for mining.  That said, since the book came out, I’ve encountered some articles on the web that indicate the techno ideas may actually be in operation.  However, I’m still waiting for my replicator . . . 

6) Are there any authors who have influenced you?

If you read, you’re influenced, whether pro or con or positively or negatively.  As a writer, every book you read binds another protein to your DNA, though some you may wish to excise.  My gratitude to other writers started with Dr. Seuss, who gave me a  love for silly and a delight for the rhythm of words, and progressed to John le CarrĂ©, who gave us George Smiley and a glimpse into the dreary world of spies.   

7) Tell us a little about your writing process?

I start with a basic premise and the main character, and then I create a timeline of events.  As I research, I add points along the timeline and list ideas for consideration.  My plan is more of a list of possibilities rather than a specific outline.  I need details for a few chapters out from wherever I am, then I write it and see what happened.   I liken the process to taking a road trip from New York to Los Angeles; I know where I’m going, but I’ll decide which attractions to visit after I’m driving.  Maybe I’ll want to check out an albino squirrel or eat the world’s biggest turnip.  Too much planning and you lose your own sense of adventure. 

8) If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring author, what would it be?

Read books on writing until the information oozes onto your page.  Find other writers who will come alongside you and tell you what works and what doesn’t.  You want people to help you strengthen your voice and corral your excesses.   Sorry, I guess that’s really two. 


Thanks, Helen.

For those who are interested in a great thriller, you can purchase 3 Lies at a variety of vendors:


Helen Hanson said...

Thanks for sharing your pixels with me, J.A. I appreciate the opportunity to hang out here today.

Take care.


J.A. Beard said...

You're welcome.