Halo me lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with author Alan J. Field
Alan practiced as a lawyer in New York for more than 20 years in the entertainment and high technology space. Three years ago, he knew it was time to step back and write what he liked reading: gripping international thrillers that focus on relevant geopolitical issues of the day. Over the years he published legal articles, but The Chemist is his first crack at fiction and has enjoyed the experience immensely. He grew up in Moorestown, New Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia, and graduated with a music degree from James Madison University in Virginia. He lives with his wife and four children in Demarest, New Jersey, a stone’s throw from the George Washington Bridge.
Book grabber: The Chemist; Espionage Thriller
Kate made for the downtown platform as Wiggy closed in. The rumble of the oncoming train shook the platform and it grew louder as all three were running alongside it, with only a few people standing in their way. Kate was running out of breath as the train halted and the doors opened. Then she stumbled and fell, then looked back at Wiggy, who had made an ill-advised decision to pull out his semiautomatic and point it at Kate, who instinctively took cover behind a green painted metal riveted column adjacent to another wooden bench. But Jen caught up to him and grabbed his arm, causing the gun to fire three rapid fire shots in Kate’s direction, one ricocheting off of the column as green paint chipped off, the second striking a wooden bench and the third just missing Kate’s left ear, deflecting off of the platform and landing harmlessly onto the opposite express track below.
Jen horse-collared him from behind and reached for his face with both sets of nails digging in, as they both started toppling back toward the moving train, still moving at a good clip. Jen lost her Taser and it clattered to the concrete—and her grip as they fell backward, but she fell to his left away from the oncoming train, while he fell toward the train, he lost his balance and fell in one of the gaps between two of the cars dragging him forward, ripping both arms out of their sockets, followed by moans, groans and screams by horrified onlookers.
Kate dropped her head down to the platform in horror to avoid the gruesome scene.
“F—. Me.” Jen said in a trance, before she got up and ran over to Kate helping her up.
“Are you shot? I thought…”
“Just go!” Kate shouted as Jen helped her up, then proceeded to run further down the platform to the second set of stairs as the train jolted to a stop. She ran right past Jasper, who was groaning in pain, both arms having grown about six inches.
“Later.” Jen yelled and sped back up the stairs from which they came, before anyone could ask any questions.
Kate glanced over the other platform to see Gunther charge for the adjacent set of stairs, he did the same on his side. Kate hit the concourse level first, but Gunther would catch up, fast. She confirmed his presence on the concourse with a quick backward glance. The only thing separating them being the hoard of people walking between them in all directions, but Gunther had no compunction about pushing them out of the way. She ran to the downtown 2 train platform as quickly as she could, gulping for air. I have to make it.
A downtown local train had just rolled alongside that platform, more crowded than the other one. The doors opened as straphangers poured out. As Gunther closed in, Kate resorted to weaving around exiting riders. Then she felt a burly hand grab her shoulder, but jerked it lose when more riders looking to board rudely pushed their way between them. Hoping Gunther was held up, she continued running up the platform as the robotic conductor warned the world to release the closing doors before the, familiar electronic high-low warning bells chimed.
With Gunther a full car length behind her, Kate scooted in just before the double doors started to close. She looked toward the rear of the car and saw no Gunther. She thought “I must have been locked out completely” as she caught her breath.
The train inched its way out of the station and reached full speed into the tunnel. Still winded, she glanced to the rear of the car again, but this time saw Gunther’s torso through the glass, trying to turn the handle of the door connecting the two cars.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I had–what I thought–was this compelling idea for a story percolating inside my head for more than a couple of years prior to ever putting pen to paper. The Song of Ice and Fire series showed me how to write from multiple POVs, which was the way I wanted to tell this story. However, it was my teen aged daughter who ultimately encouraged me to dive head first into it. It happened right after Christmas day in 2013, when I told her about my plot idea which she adored.
Any advice for aspiring authors? Write what you want to write about, not what you think will sell, and never, ever give up on your dream.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? I think Daniel Strong, who had to overcome heartbreak as well as personal demons, is someone who is fully capable of using violence to escape from life-threatening situations, but also deft enough to use alternative means to accomplish the same thing.
Where do your ideas come from? I’m a big fan of nostalgic spy shows and movies from the 1960s, so I wanted to bring some elements of those into my story. One particular quote by Shalom Alechem lamented the fact that “all scientists do is sell their ideas to murderers”.
What is the hardest thing about writing? For me, it is achieving an acceptable level of authenticity that I can only attain by extensive research.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Hands down, it’s the chemist’s Goth drug dealer, Jen, who becomes her side kick for a time. I wrote in her character last, after I realized that this dark tale required some comic relief.
If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? Ooh, I love this one. My tripartite band of evil would be led by Sharon Stone, aided by Sean Bean and Lucy Liu. Daniel’s CIA boss would be Halle Berry. My drug dealer would be Mila Kunis. As for Kate and Daniel, I did not have particular movie stars in mind while I wrote about them, but come to think of it, Emilia Clarke and Chris Pine would not be bad choices.
What is your next project? I’m on to writing the second and third installments of the Daniel Strong trilogy. Meanwhile, I’m also drafting a screenplay for The Chemist. I also have an idea for another trilogy about an FBI agent in the future who has to deal with an international assassin as well as her own addiction of an unusual kind.
Who is your favorite author and which of their books is your favorite? I consciously avoid reading too many books by any one author, for fear of starting to write like them.
What are some of your favorite books and why? The Godfather by Mario Puzo: It provided us a memorable inside look into organized crime.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: This epic drama encapsulated the Russian mindset 200 years ago.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: There is no need to give a reason for this timeless classic. The depiction of the racial inequality African-Americans faced each and every day in the 1930s rings even more true today.
The Patient by Michael Palmer: This is a guilty pleasure I had read just before I began writing the novel. It involves a smart female protagonist thrown into an impossible situation by a ruthless terrorist.
Storm of Swords (book three of The Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R.R. Martin: There are too many reasons to state for this one. Most of all, I enjoyed how the multiple POVs and story lines expertly intertwine.
What book are you currently reading or just finished? I just finished The Tomb, by F. Paul Wilson. Next, I’ll move on to The Assassination Complex by Jeremy Scahill. Then, I’ll read The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas. I always like to sprinkle in a classic or contemporary work that’s outside the thriller genre, like YA or middle grade stuff my kids are reading.
Many thanks Alan for sharing! For more about Alan and his work, follow the links below: