Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Fractured Legacy, and the Party of His Life

A while ago I read and reviewed Dire Salvation by Charles Neff. It was a fascinating book, set in the Pacific Northwest, centering around drugs and Indian tribes and more.

When I learned that Charles Neff's recent book, Fractured Legacy, was also set in the Cascades, I began to wonder if the stories were connected. They are, but it turns out those connections run both deeper and wider than I'd imagined. So now I'll have too look out for the whole series... except it's not a series... and the author's enjoying the Party of His Life.

So party on!

Welcome to my blog, Charles, and thank you for letting me learn so much more about you and your  books.

                              Writing: The Party of My Life
By Charles B. Neff

During my working days, I read for relaxation, favoring spy thrillers and detective fiction. Retired, and with some time to spare, I thought back over the authors who had made an impression on me. Some of my favorites (Deighton, Le Carre, McCarry, Innes, Burke, Connolly, Lehane) really could write compelling prose. But others…? Maybe I could do at least that well – maybe better. At work I had written countless reports, analytic pieces, proposals. Why not fiction? Why not me? Around my 70th birthday, I gave it a try.
At one point late in in my career, I had met a former ambassador. As we grew friendly, he told me about a secret meeting that had occurred before the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal broke. What, I thought, if someone had taken notes in that meeting and they surfaced later? With just that notion, I started Hidden Impact (2004), set in Nicaragua where the notebook of an old secret meeting about Iran-Contra surfaces. Lots of bad people try to get their hands on that notebook.

One of the characters in Hidden Impact was a successful businessman and former Peace Corps volunteer. He, now Governor of Wisconsin, gets a leading role in my second book, Patriot Schemes (2006) That story takes place on the East Coast and in Wisconsin, and reveals how a small group of very rich men try to gain control of major parts of the US government.
By that time, I had dreamed up my third book, Peace Corpse (2008). In that story someone tries to bring a violent end to an international youth conclave addressing conflict in the Middle East. The action takes place in Stockholm, where we meet Magnus Torval, a Swedish detective and internationally-known power lifter. He, in turn, meets Mariela Fuentes, who expands the small role she was given in Hidden Impact into a much bigger one.
Magnus and Mariela are such an appealing couple that we meet them again at a family reunion in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. They become central characters in Hard Cache (2010), joined on center stage by newly-arrived Ukrainian Pentecostals who are shadowed by their old ties to Russia and unable to escape the interest of the new Russian mafia.
The central Cascades have been hard for me to forget. They have a rich history of mining and railroads, which has not been explored much in fiction. Could that setting be a gold mine for me? So I stayed there, along with some of the Ukrainians, for Dire Salvation (2012) and its tale of what happens when the history of Native Americans meets the scourge of new drugs.
Fractured Legacy (2014), my sixth and newest book, stays mainly in the Cascades, but also flows westward over the pass into Olympia and Seattle. The role of Native Americans increases in scope and, as in each of the previous books, new characters push front and center. In this case, the new arrivals are a part-Native American policeman, a reclusive director of the local historical society, and a couple reappearing all the way from Patriot Schemes, novel number two.
Now I can see what I have done (but never planned). No sequels, but instead the chance for a few characters to provide loose connections to previous stories. In all my books, you may also notice my life-long interest in cross-cultural issues and how they shape the plots.
I’m already plotting the next book. Party on!

-Charles B. Neff

Are you as hooked as I am now? There's something seriously enticing about seeing those characters reappear in world-spanning plots.

Here's where to find the author:

and here's where to find his books on Amazon:

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