Interview with Jeff Gunhus, Author of Killer Pursuit
by Sarah Pannenberg
in Author Interviews, Mystery, News, Thriller
07 Feb 2016
When a secret webcam is found in the Georgetown bedroom of a murdered high-society call girl, everyone in Washington, DC wants the recording…especially the killer. FBI Special Agent Allison McNeil is asked by beleaguered FBI Director Clarence Mason to run an off-the-record investigation of the murder because of the murder’s similarity to a case she worked a year earlier. Allison knows the most direct path to apprehending the killer is to find the videos, but rumors that the victim’s client list may include some of Washington’s most powerful men makes her doubt the director’s motives. As she starts her investigation, she quickly discovers that she’s not the only one pursuing the recording…but that the most aggressive person racing against her might be the murderer himself.
Who are your literary heroes working today? Why do you admire them?
I love Stephen King because he’s able to write in so many different genres and still keep that incredible voice. I enjoy a story he tells about meeting a woman in a supermarket, an old New Englander, who really lays into him for his disgusting books he writes and the movies that come from them. She ends by saying, “I like things like The Shawshank Redemption.” “But ma’am,” Stephen King replies. “I wrote that.” She stares him down for a long second, then says, “No you didn’t.” I hope I’m able to some day have the breadth of work that will keep people guessing and surprised
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I fall in love with my characters, especially the bad guys. It’s a masochistic pleasure to drag them through the dirt to see how they will react. The moments where they have epiphanies and change their worldview are really epiphanies I get to have with them. It’s awfully sad when they die, but sometimes it such happens. If it’s a main character, I hold a little private wake in their honor at the local Irish Pub near my house. It’s the least I can do…and it gives me a reason to have a pint on a writing day.
What do you think is the best way to get kids who are reluctant about reading to pick up a book?
First is to choose a book that’s going to hold their interest. Sounds logical but I talk to parents all the time who can’t figure out why their reluctant reader doesn’t love Catcher In the Rye or Tale of Two Cities the way they did when they were a kid. Get something the matches their interest with short chapters and a driving plot. Then carve out time to read with them. Out loud, taking turns. This is the equivalent to getting the motor going. If you’ve picked the right book, once you read together for two weeks (every day, 30 min minimum) the book will be all the gas you need and they will start sneaking the book to read on their own. Modeling is the other essential ingredient. If kids see their parents reading all the time then they will too.
BAM! You’re a superhero. What’s your superpower?
Is bad grammar a superpower? No, that’s my kryptonite! I’d go with the power of flight. I mean, c’mon, what could be better than that? Other than maybe the superpower to find kids shoes around the house. With five kids, half of my waking moments of the last decade has been spent looking for shoes!
What is the one movie that you can quote the most?
My family sings lyrics to Scrooge, the musical with Albert Finney. “Thank you very much!” and “I like life, life likes me.” My 5 year old does a pretty sweet Tiny Tim. He’ll just randomly belt out, “God bless us, every one.” It’ll be a little awkward when he gets to college.
What scene in Killer Pursuit was your favorite to write?
The bad guy scenes are aways fun so Harris was a blast to write. However, the scenes with Allison and her father who has Alzheimer’s were both the most challenging and the most rewarding. I’ve had reports that those scenes usually cause even the toughest reader to suddenly pretend they have something in their eye.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I have four (is that cheating?). “Leave people happier than you found them.” I got that from my Grandpa Joe. “Make friends with the people that serve the food.” Got that from my dad. “Go gettum.” Got that from my mom. “Writer’s write.” That’s mine, a message to myself when I find myself thinking about writing (easy) as opposed to actually writing (hard).
Jeff Gunhus is the author of the new book Killer Pursuit.
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