Interview with Avanti Centrae, Author of Solstice Shadows
11 Aug 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Solstice Shadows?
Let me tell you a story about this thriller. I’d finished THE LOST POWER, which went on to win multiple awards and become a Barnes and Noble bestseller, and was in the early stages of outlining the next book in the VanOps series. I like to include intrigue, history, science and mystery in my tales, and all the pieces had yet to come together. One day, I was perusing Facebook and ran across a news story related to the pyramids of Central America. I’ve always been fascinated by archeoastronomy and it clicked – this novel would involve a race to solve a puzzle where the heroes would need to visit a number of interesting, ancient sites that had something to do with how early man saw the night sky. That’s how SOLSTICE SHADOWS ended up with an action scene in Chichen Itza, a shootout at the temple of Artemis in Turkey, and a grand finale at a UNESCO World Heritage site. No spoilers. I can’t tell you more, but the final scenes take place at a gorgeous place rife with the shadows of history. Regarding characters, there are three heroes in this story, Maddy Marshall, a smart computer app designer and aikido black belt, Officer Thorenson, Maddy’s boyfriend and a new officer at the ultra-black VanOps agency, and her tall dark-haired twin brother, Will Argones, who is also a new analyst at VanOps. Squaring off against our heroes, we have two antagonists. The first is a Russian with mysterious eyes, and the second is a Spaniard with exotic facial tattoos. Here it is in a nutshell: A computer-app designer. An encrypted relic. Can she decipher the dangerous code before extremists trigger a high-tech apocalypse?
What books are currently on your nightstand?
I’m researching my next novel and reading CLEOPATRA by Stacy Schiff, along with GOOD HUNTING by Jack Devine, which is a story of spycraft. SURPRISE, KILL, VANISH by Annie Jacobsen is proving to be an excellent resource on the secret history of the paramilitary aspects of the CIA. Fiction-wise, I’m looking forward to reading James Rollins THE LAST ODYSSEY, and KJ Howe’s latest thriller SKYJACK about a smart, complex yet kick-ass character who works as a hostage negotiator.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
My teenage self was full of angst and loved to read. The summer before I turned sixteen, I remember lazy days at our lake house where I’d enjoy a fat John Jakes novel while lounging on an inflatable in the water. In terms of advice, I’d like to tell my younger self to follow my dreams and not be so darn practical. That younger version of me wanted to be a writer, but caved to the pressure of having a real job. I went on to get a degree in computer technology, even though my favorite classes were in the softer arts. It took me decades to find the guts to pursue a writing career. Now, I’m glad for all the experiences of my youth, especially the international travel to Europe, Central America, New Zealand, and Canada, as they provide plenty of fuel for my globe-trotting action thrillers.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
If I had an extra hour every day, I’d love to spend it hiking in the local Sierra Nevada mountains. Life, especially around the time of a new release, gets pretty hectic and it would be fantastic to spend more time on the trail. We recently enjoyed a socially distanced vacation at Lake Tahoe, and had a blast discovering some new places. One hike was a lot of uphill, but the vistas of Desolation Wilderness at the top of the mountain were worth it!
What makes your world go round? Why does it bring you joy?
My family and pets provide daily amusement. We have a goofy German shepherd who has an innocent soul. Things like the wind in the trees fascinate her. One of the cats throws toys under the door so that we’ll push them back. Cracks me up. The other big thing that brings me joy is hearing from my fans that they loved my work. Writing an award-winning novel is a long, labor-intensive effort and having a fan reach out to me on social media and say “I loved this!” makes my day and keeps me writing.
What scene in Solstice Shadows was your favorite to write?
That’s tough, as the final action scenes are exhilarating, and there are many chapters with dramatic interpersonal conflict between the three protagonists. But let’s talk about the beginning. When the story opens, Maddy’s ex-boyfriend has shown up to walk her home from the aikido dojo, and she, the foster boy she wants to adopt, and the former beau head home in the cold rain on a dark San Francisco afternoon in December. As she opens the front door of her high-rise loft, a light is moving inside her bedroom and an instant later, the doorjamb at her knee explodes. The three of them run for the stairwell and Maddy’s ex-boyfriend is injured. She sends the boy to the roof of her building and takes on the attacker by herself. A shootout in the hallway leaves her with a bullet wound on her forehead, and the attacker jumps down the fire escape with an ancient star chart in his bloodied hand. From his hiding place, the boy recognizes the thief as a Russian who kidnapped him sixteen months earlier. That scene sets the stage for the rest of the action, as Maddy needs to get the boy to safety and decides she has to help the VanOps team decode the secret of the star chart before the Russians can figure it out. Thanks for a fun interview, Grant. Readers who want to learn more can get explore my website at avanticentrae.com or can find SOLSTICE SHADOWS wherever books are sold.
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