Wednesday 31 October 2012

Author Interview: Howard Manson

About the Author

Howard Manson is the pen name for Kim Chamberlain.

Kim Chamberlain is the name given to a boy who grew up taking a lot of crap because his name was Kim.

Tall and skinny, not a great fighter living in a series of harsh environments, at an early age, Kim learned the art of quickly evaluating personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and then using that to mess-up people’s minds, both defensively and proactively, as a means to avoid getting his butt kicked, or to stay out of trouble with the adults.

His entire adult life has been spent unlearning this behavior and redirecting those talents into the fictional pathologies and behaviors of his characters.

Learning the spy business for fiction purposes is simply a matter of reading and retaining the information in many hundreds of books, mostly non-fiction, and talking to people who know what’s up. Knowing how to make characters stand-up off the page and visit with you is a priceless gift and worth the harshness of the education.

Howard, on the other hand, is all business, writing extensively researched and meticulously organized spy-fiction. 72 Hour Protocol: is Howard’s debut thriller.

“Manson’s clear technical knowledge of the work Sunday does, whether interrogation or inflicting pain, is impressive.” --Kirkus Reviews

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I do both, but I refer to spy-fiction as ‘technical writing about people,’ so I had to read forty non-fiction books and outline the scenes and sequences before I wrote anything. My book is an accounting of a three-day interrogation, and a good interrogator must research his subject and plan the interrogation thoroughly.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

Most of the main characters are government or military and they heel-to pretty well. The first word in a description of Katherine, however, is ‘willful.’ So when she’d get out of hand, I’d have to send the authorities after her. Most of the locals in the story just do as they wish; they have no idea what’s going on.

What is your favourite food?

Sushi, dim-sum, and Fatburger (the world’s best hamburger).

Are you a morning person or a night owl?


Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I wanted to get a group together and make the motorcycle trip through Eastern China that Michael and Katherine make in the book. I spent many hundreds of hours on Google Earth plotting this route, as well as Flicker, travellers’ blogs and city and business websites: all the landscapes and buildings and street names are correct—with allowances for the lag in imagery updates.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Always. 72HP takes place in Eastern China: Nanjing, Wuhan, Shanghai, Suzhou, and all around Taihu (lake Tai). I have a new novella that moves from China, through India, and on into some unsavory, unnamed desert land.

Do you listen to music while writing?


Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

72 Hour Protocol: is an action spy thriller in which the love story is the reason for the book. I wanted people to feel something I was feeling about my late wife. The structure of the book is what it is to mask the developing emotion in the reader (hopefully) enabling the end to work. The plot is remarkably simple: Katherine Richmond has a secret that she’s not telling; Michael Sunday has three days to find out what it is—and use it to save her life. The purpose of the book is made clear in the closing dedication.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

Imagining a story is art; creating a story is craft; selling a story is a business.

Is there anything you would do differently?

I love my girls too much to make that gamble.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

Everyone, and everything! I am obsessed with improving as a ‘people-renderer’ in fiction. I have a fairly mediocre imagination, so I try to hang on to any observation about any person I see, because someday, that tidbit of humanness is going to be the exact thing I need to make something work in a story.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

So much so that my original author’s page for the book morphed into, a professional looking web-magazine where new writers can see their stories in print, and then want to make them better.

Or, Don’t get angry; don’t cry; don’t quit—or get angry; cry; don’t quit—read more!

What are three words that describe you?

Coffee. Tired. Coffee.

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

Much like a first love, the books that created the foundation for whatever it is I do when I write are: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.; Crime and Punishment and The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte; The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carre.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

72 Hour Protocol
by Howard Manson

An American scientist with knowledge of nuclear secrets is abducted in China, interrogated, and tortured before being spirited away into a three-day mind-melt in this debut spy thriller from Howard Manson.

Katherine Richmond has two secrets. The Chinese want one of them—and the Americans, embroiled in the political scandal that brought her here, want her to give it to them!

But she isn’t talking, and it falls to ex-Ranger, double agent, master interrogator and torturer, Chinese/American Michael Sunday to use any means possible to learn what she knows.

Three days of constant running, without sleep, they grow close enough to find they share a personal hope together. As the certainty of her fate as spy becomes all-to clear to them, they fiercely battle all sides in an effort to save her life…or at least that’s what he says they’re doing.

In China where Tao is The Way, it’s wise to remember: Warfare is the Tao of Deception.

List of previous books if any

Nothing professionally published.

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.

Indie Wriers’ Network



Thanks, and good luck with your books :)

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