I had no intention of writing fiction, not in the 35 years proceeding, nor in that moment. My total creative writing efforts had included two terrible short stories and my resume. In the meanwhile, I had climbed the corporate ladder until I was flying to three cities a week and my little two-person company was consulting to the Fortune 100 on IT-infrastructure redevelopment. I had it all, until the moment when I had nothing.
In four months I lost the business, the career, any desire to continue in the career, my house, and finally my furniture and car. Actually I sold the last three because I’d found the solution to my burn-out mid-life crisis. The solution was to set off around the world on a bicycle… Okay, well, it made sense at the time.
Four months had seen me from having two houses, four cities, and all that noise, to sitting on a bicycle. Suddenly I could pick up my life with one hand, tent and kitchen included with nowhere to sleep that night but somewhere down the road. Four more months saw me on a flight from Seoul, South Korea heading south to ride “Down the Alice” across the Australian Outback. After lunch, on July 23rd, 1993, 7 miles in the air above the Sea of China and 10,000 miles from everything and everyone I knew, I started to write a little vignette about a freshman roommate who killed alarm clocks. He really did.
But when he woke up, he found himself sitting across a conference room table from St. Peter who needed his help to fix the software that ran the universe. It was one of the most shocking things a character has done to me in a dozen books of writing since. I stared at that page for probably a hundred miles of flight trying to figure out what had happened. I crossed it out, but it came back. So I wrote. It consumed me. I wrote on Australian beaches and in Indonesian losmens (rooming houses). I wrote in Singapore malls and the restaurants and parks of Southern India. I wrote through Israel, Greece and finished somewhere in Eastern Europe. And while neither the alarm clocks nor the roommate survived, I had written the first draft of my first novel.
It was terrible!
The nicest thing any friend said was, “perhaps you should take a class.” I did. And it was in the third week of that class that I truly became a writer. October 23rd, 1995 I, a dedicated night owl who thoroughly despised my 8:30a.m. alarm, set it to 6a.m. Every day I rolled out of bed and wrote for 2-1/2 hours before work. I completely redrafted that book 3 times that year. And then I sold it to a tiny NW press that has long since ceased to exist. But in 1997, 4 years from when it began, I held my first novel, Cookbook from Hell, a tale of the Devil’s mid-life crisis and the problems that causes her and sends everyone to Hell and back.
Another fantasy squeaked out in 2000 moments before the press collapsed. But one other crucial event happened before it did. I traveled in 1996 to the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Nation conference and discovered the genre of romance fiction. Of love stories and happy endings, of conflict and emotion and heart and love all spread across the page. It was a life changing moment in so many ways. It changed what I wrote, how I wrote, and, curiously enough, it’s also how I met my wife. We were both at the conference and, though we didn’t meet until a year later, that’s when the events were set in motion. (But that’s a different story.)
Over the next decade, I wrote, I learned, I studied, and mostly I discarded. In discovering the craft of fiction, someone who had been so deeply immersed in technical fields and technical writing, I had a great deal to unlearn and a great deal more to learn. I figure I threw out close to a million words before I found what I was looking for.
I have other books that are published, that I love, but I found my first proper love story in “The Night Stalkers” series. Book 1 of which, THE NIGHT IS MINE, has just launched from Sourcebooks. The road has been long and filled with discovering self and the wonder of family, with raising a marriage and a step-daughter, I couldn’t love either more if my life depended on it. And I’ve finally found the story I set out to tell way back on a plane in 1993, the story of two people falling in love.
Of course, I couldn’t make it easy for them either… that would be cheating! I’ll leave you with an excerpt:
Captain Emily Beale matched her stride to his.
Major Mark “The Viper” Henderson continued to move steadily across the dusty field in the middle of nowhere Pakistan. Why had he interfered? She could have laughed it off. Could have. Wouldn’t have. Maybe the Major had been right to shut down the guys’ teasing, but now she’d have an even bigger wall of separation to knock down, as if being the first female Special Forces helicopter pilot in a combat zone wasn’t three strikes already.
They reached the end of the field together, like a couple out enjoying a quiet stroll. She shook her head to shed the bizarre image. Not with her commanding officer, and certainly not with a man as nasty and dangerous as The Viper.
He stepped onto the sizzling earth that surrounded the field. They were in Chinook country now. The Black Hawks and Little Birds were but vague suggestions in the morning’s heat shimmer. Here the pair of monstrous Chinook workhorses squatted, their twin rotors sagging like the feathers of an improbably ugly ostrich. These birds looked far too big to fly, yet they could move an entire platoon of fifty guys and their gear, or a half platoon along with their ATVs, motorcycles, or rubber boats. Not as lethal as her Hawk, but they had their uses.
“I’m sorry, sir. I know I shouldn’t have discharged a firearm in camp. I’ll replace the computer, but I’m a pilot and those news guys didn’t…”
He stopped and turned to look at her. Not a word.
“I just…” She looked very small and insignificant in the mirrored shades he never, ever removed.
“Captain?” His voice was flat and neutral.
“I… Dammit! I’m a pilot, sir. They had no right. No bloody, blasted stupid right to do that to me. I—”
Her tiny, twinned reflection dropped her jaw.
Then Major Mark Henderson did the strangest thing. He reached up a meat cleaver-sized hand and pulled his glasses down his nose. Now she knew she was screwed. She’d never be able to joke with the guys again about the Major not having eyes behind those silvered lenses.
Steel gray. As hard as his body. The most dangerous-looking viper she’d ever seen.
Then he smiled. She almost fell as she dropped back a step. The smile reached his eyes and turned them the soft, inviting gray of a summer sunrise.
NAME: Emily Beale
MISSION: Fly undercover to prevent the assassination of the First Lady, posing as her executive pilot.
NAME: Mark Henderson, code name Viper
MISSION: Undercover role of wealthy, ex-mercenary boyfriend to Emily
Their jobs are high risk, high reward:
Protect the lives of the powerful and the elite at all cost. Neither expected that one kiss could distract them from their mission. But as the passion mounts between them, their lives and their hearts will both be risked…and the reward this time may well be worth it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M.L. BUCHMAN has worked in fast food, theater, computers, publishing, and light manufacturing. It’s amazing what you can do with a degree in geophysics. At one point he sold everything and spent 18-months riding a bicycle around the world. In 11,000 miles, he touched 15 countries and hundreds of incredible people. Since then, he has acquired a loving lady, the coolest kid on the planet, and lives in Portland, Oregon. For more information, please visit http://www.mlbuchman.com/.
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