M.A. Rothman - Riveting Thriller With a Serious Theme
USA TODAY bestselling author, M.A. Rothman, is one of the most unlikely novelists you’ll ever meet. He's an engineer first and foremost, with a background in the sciences, and somehow or another, this writing habit of his has turned into a bit more than just a run-of-the-mill hobby. He primarily writes stories that focus on two things: technology and international intrigue. This writing tends to span the genres of science fiction, techno-thriller, and mainstream thrillers. When not writing, he enjoys cooking, learning about new technology, travel, and spending time with his family. As our Author of the Day, Rothman tells us about The Inside Man, a thriller that deals with the criminal aspects of kidnapping.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Inside Man is about.
Other than what the blurb says, it really is a story about Levi Yoder, who happens to be a member of a New York mafia family, but is characterized as an angel in wolf’s clothing. He does the right things, but some of the cops may not exactly like how he does it.
This particular book has a serious theme, and in fact starts with a real (footnoted) Senate subcommittee testimonial about Child Sex Trafficking. It seems like a harsh way to start a book, but the story does touch on the topic with the kidnapping of a Japanese mob boss’s grandchild, and it evolves from there.
The book itself deals with the criminal aspects of kidnapping and how Levi can help recover the lost child, and along the way, maybe help a lot more.
The book was actually inspired by real events. Many years ago when I was in college, the young sister of a close friend of mine from North Africa was kidnapped and a victim of trafficking. The effect it had on my friend and his family left an indelible impression on me, and was the seed for writing this book. In fact, during the sale of this title (July 8th through the 15th) I am giving all the proceeds from the sales to a charity called Operation Underground Railroad. Its mission is to combat child trafficking and exploitation.
What inspired you to write about a Mafia member who starts working with the FBI?
I’ve always had the idea of Levi, an angel in wolf’s clothing, as a main character. The idea of a bad guy who does all the rights things, and has good motivations for the things he does. It’s just that sometimes the things he does doesn’t fit into the mold of polite society.
It also provides an excellent landscape for me to write about both the good and bad side of our world. The underbelly, and those who keep society safe. Levi straddles both worlds.
Tell us more about Levi. What makes him tick?
In book 1 (Perimeter), you’re introduced to Levi as a man who’s dying from terminal cancer, and by a stroke of luck/miracle, he survives and is given a second lease on life. That is a turning point for him.
Levi is a single-mindedly good person who is willing to do what needs to be done to accomplish his goals. Even if that means fracturing a rule or two.
Readers say that you describe your scenes with a lot of detail. How do you pull this off?
I have travelled extensively in my life. I’ve been in and out of war zones, have seen quite a bit from the slums of east Asia to the deserts of Afghanistan and the high society in executive board rooms. My background and extensive research helps me bring the reader into my world. Whether that world is the gritty reality of the streets of Bombay, India, or it’s walking the halls of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I suppose I’m fairly well versed in the sciences, having been a practicing researcher for close to thirty years, and I have over 1000 patents issued worldwide over my career. I’m also an excellent cook, used to play Table Tennis competitively (most people call it Ping Pong in the States), and I speak multiple languages, many of them get represented in the books I write.
Some compare Levi Yoder to Jack Reacher. Who are some of your favorite authors in the genre?
I’m fairly partial to Michael Crichton (for his birth of the techno thriller), David Baldacci (for his very fun romps with the King and Maxwell series), Lee Child (because the man created a character who in some ways also inspired the birth of Levi Yoder), J.R.R. Tolkien (the epic Fantasy deity who I’d like to resurrect and talk to at length about languages and writing), and more recently Blake Crouch (who I think has a brilliant talent with characterization and makes a reader feel for its main character.)
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I somewhat wish I’d started writing earlier in my life, so maybe it would be to start writing even before having kids.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’m an accidental author. Meaning that I didn’t ever think of being an author or even of writing stories, it just happened soon after I had kids. I began telling stories for bedtime and when they became elaborate enough that I was having trouble keeping track of things, I began writing down notes. Notes became outlines, outlines became drafts, and eventually I was writing novels.
Your book is very action packed. How did you manage to keep it fast-paced throughout?
My philosophy is that there should not be any scenes that don’t move the plot forward and that at the end of each scene, you must have a hook that drives the reader to want to read “just a little bit more."
Was there a particular character whose voice you found it easiest to write in?
I’m fairly flexible, so not really. I’ll only have a POV that I feel I can relate to in some way. If I can’t, then I probably won’t write it.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I’m a workaholic, so anyone reading this response my cringe.
Wake up at 3am, start writing, finish at 6am, then go to main job, then come home and to bed by around 9pm.
What are you working on right now?
Putting the finishing touches on Book 3 of the Levi Yoder series, and I will actually be putting it up for pre-order very soon.
I also have a working outline and about 20,000 words written in my next technothriller, currently titled New Arcadia, and I have several other books which will release in 2020, but I have not announced those yet.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My web site is not very active, but for key data, you can look at www.michaelarothman.com, and it’s very easy to contact me through there. In addition, I have a group on facebook which caters specifically to my readers. On there I talk primarily about books, technology, and other news that I want to share. https://www.facebook.com/groups/353098778599026/