Hi Matt, welcome 🙂
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What would you say are the defining characteristics of your Novels?
I’ve spoken to a lot of fellow writers about “the defining characteristics” of our novels. We each have a unique one that is personal to us. My own is posted above my desk: To Champion the Human Spirit. I always write about the power of the individual to create significant change if they do it honestly and from the heart. That is my view of the world and why I write. I’ve always felt that if my writing can give one person hope, or courage, or stamina to continue pursuing what they believe is right, I will have been a success. And yes, I’m like that in everyday life as well.
Would you rather… visit the world 100 years into the past or 100 years into the future? Why?
FUTURE! I want to see what we’ve achieved, how we’ve grown as a race and faced the challenges of tomorrow.
Let’s talk about your newest release: Pure Heat
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here
FUN! No seriously. Imagine a woman, the best wildfire behavior analyst in the business, who thinks her heart is dead because of what fire has taken from her. Imagine a man, injured in the line of duty as a smokejumper who has retrained to fly observation drones. From their perch in a firefighting helicopter, it is up to them to direct the fight against wildfires wherever they are called to do so. Until the moment that the worst set of wildfires in Oregon history, the four fires known as the Tillamook Burn, once again hits the mountainous Coast Range forests. Then, they can only beat it together.
Please tell us about the characters in your book?
Carly Thomas, third generation firefighter, takes personal offense at each fire’s hungry attack. She is driven near to madness to take down each and every fire. It is a motivation that burns from deep inside her and has consumed her life.
Steve Mercer is a hard-fighting, hard-playing smokejumper, until the moment he is knocked out of the service. At a loss of who he is, he retains his shield of bravado to carry him through all occurrences. But when he meets Carly Thomas, he finally meets a woman he can’t fool, can’t cajole, can’t get around. She’s also one that he can’t stop thinking about. The problem is, if he’s not the hard-fighting, hard-playing smokejumper who is Steve Mercer and what does he want? He, least of all, can guess at the answers to those questions.
Emily Beale and Mark Henderson, retired from the smokejumpers, now lead the heli-aviation firefighting team. And just as they did in the Night Stalkers, they help the hero and heroine become their very best selves.
As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
I had never been comfortable with a character so sure of himself. When I first wrote Steve Mercer, I wondered what I could possibly do with him. His voice was so strong and clear about who he was, that I, as the author, could find no chinks. When he revealed himself in the moment he climbs out of his car at the end of his arrival scene (trying not to create a spoiler here), let’s just say that moment surprised more than perhaps any character ever before. In that moment he became real for me.
What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?
I love writing first meetings. That first chance to get to know the character, to find out who they are and what makes them tick:
Steve “Merks” Mercer hammered down the last half mile into the Goonies’ Hoodie One camp. The Oregon-based Mount Hood Aviation always named its operation bases that way. Hood River, Oregon—hell and gone from everything except a whole lot of wildfires.
Foo Fighters roared out of the speakers, a piece from his niece’s latest mix to try and get him out of his standard eighties “too retro” rock and roll. With the convertible top open, his hair whipped in the wind a bit. Hell today it could be pouring rain until his hair was even darker than its normal black and he wouldn’t care. It felt so damn good to be roaring into a helibase for the first time in a year.
Instead of rain, the sun shone down from a sky so crystalline blue that it was hard to credit. High up, he spotted several choppers swooping down toward the camp. A pair of Bell 212 Twin Hueys and a little MD500, all painted the lurid black with red flames of Mount Hood Aviation, just like his car. He’d take that as a good omen.
He let the tail of his classic Firebird Trans Am break loose on the twisting dirt road that climbed through the dense pine woods from the town of Hood River, perched on the banks of the mighty Columbia and staring up at Mount Hood.
This was gonna be a damn fine summer.
Helibase in the Oregon woods. Nice little town at the foot of the mountain. Hood River was big enough to boast several bars and a pair of breweries. It was also a big windsurfing spot down in the Gorge, which meant the tourists would be young, fit, and primed for some fun. The promise of some serious sport for a footloose and fancy-free guy.
He’d missed the bulk of last summer.
He hammered in the clutch and downshifted to regain control of his fishtail, did his best to ignore the twinge in his new left knee.
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
The hardest scenes to write for me are much deeper in the book. They are also, curiously, the fastest to write because it feels as if the emotions are being ripped right out of my chest.
No one had ever overwhelmed Carly’s senses with the sheer power of a kiss. All she could manage was to wrap herself around Steve and hang on.
Then she was free. Practically thrown backward into the current.
He stood chest deep in the river, cursing.
“I’m sorry!” The words wrenched out of him. “God, I’m so sorry. Just get away from me, Carly. Leave now!”
She didn’t move. Couldn’t. Not when she could see the pain etched across his features.
“Go!” he practically screamed into her face, like a wild animal trapped in the fire, unable to escape, knowing it was doomed.
He hung his head, panting. Gasping for breath he couldn’t find. His chest heaving aside small waves of river water.
Carly had only seen such pain once, no, twice before. When it was her own face in the mirror.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?
I always cast my characters. Often from random photos, but this time I did use movie characters.
Carly would be Charlize Theron from her her role in “The Italian Job.” Steve would be the young Michael Biehn, in his role as the hero in “The Terminator.”
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Think before you speak, dude. Please god, think first.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
I’m currently deep in Firehawk #3 which will be published in late 2015. But that doesn’t mean that 2014 is going to be a dull year for the M.L. Buchman name.
May -Pure Heat (Firehawks #1)
June -a Firehawks novella
July -an all new romantic suspense series…someone is killing off the nation’s television chefs!
Aug -Light Up the Night (Night Stalkers #8 -counting the short novels) -Trisha O’Malley’s story
Sept-Nov -bound to be 2nd chef tale, and I do love my Christmas novels
Dec -Full Blaze (Firehawks #2)
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Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: A print copy of PURE HEAT (US & Canada only, sorry about that).
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The pilot swung them down over the heart of it. A couple of trees exploded when the superheated pitch simply went off. A whole line of trees toppled over right behind the crew still scrambling into the edge of the black.
“Shit!” came over the radio.
“What is it, Ground?”
“Trapped. A couple burners toppled and my leg is pinned. Getting hot. Shit! Dump. Right on me. Dump.”
“We don’t have you, Ground.”
Steve leaned out and searched the area. This is what he’d trained for, waited for, but his equipment wasn’t here yet. Not for another day.
“Kicking smoke,” came Ground’s strained response.
Five. Ten. Fifteen agonizing seconds they waited until the billow of brilliant green smoke from the man’s marker flare finally showed among the brown-smoke and orange-flame mess down below.
“Eight o’clock, two hundred yards out,” Steve called. Damn, the fire was on all sides of the guy—and close. The green smoke flare had mixed right into the brown and black generated by the fire.
The pilot was already diving on the spot.
The doors opened and the load of retardant hammered down. The guy on the ground would be lucky if he didn’t drown in the stuff.
Steve scanned the cabin quickly. He found a rope and harness. A portable breather and a Pulaski tool, ax on one side, adze on the other. The tool was as new as the chopper and sharp enough to slice skin if he wasn’t careful.
The rest of the crew had continued to scatter downslope. They’d be a long time getting back up the near-vertical terrain to the injured man. Several burning trees now lay scattered across their path of retreat like matchsticks.
“Get me over him!” Steve shouted into the headset.
He snapped the rope onto the ring in the ceiling, slung it through the rappelling brake on the harness, and strapped himself in.
“Wait!” one of the front-seaters called out.
“I’m safe if we do it now. I’ve got air and can get in on him before the fire catches its breath and overruns him.” Steve ripped the headset free and pulled on the breather. His voice echoed strangely inside the face mask. It was an echo of his former life. One tug on the forehead strap and it fit like a favorite pair of shoes.
“Now!” he shouted forward, then stepped out the cargo bay door.
They were too high and still hovered over the flames.
There were times you trusted your helitack pilot, and this was going to have to be one of those. He just hoped he’d been right about her being experienced, based on watching a ten-minute flight.
Even as he slid downward, the chopper moved. He wasn’t rigged for the heat. Jeans and a button-down shirt rather than a Nomex jumpsuit and fireproof underwear. But he wore good boots and had the Pulaski jammed into his harness. Would have to be good enough.
He began to fear that it wasn’t, but the pilot got him clear of the flame before he slid too low and started to cook. He went from black smoke to green and almost planted his boots on the man’s red-covered face.
It looked like blood. Steve hoped it was retardant. That much blood and the guy wouldn’t survive to be rescued.
First he scanned the area, ready to signal for an immediate evac, but the pool of red retardant had knocked out the fire completely for twenty feet around and slowed it for another twenty beyond that.
Steve cleared the line from his rappelling brake and looked down.
The guy pointed frantically toward his foot pinned by a six-inch-thick tree limb connected to a tree trunk at least three feet across. Too big to leverage free. No digging beneath because he was on rock.
Steve shifted a few feet toward the tree and laid in with the Pulaski. He could hear the guy’s hiss of pain each time Steve planted the ax. The vibrations up the tree limb must hurt like hell. He ignored the man and kept swinging. Long swings, even strokes, making each slice count, each swing kicking another large shard of wood loose.
Halfway through, he glanced up to make sure the guy was watching the fire. He was, but Steve checked anyway. The outer ring of defense was already cooking again. The flames were building.
He turned back to his chopping, resisting the urge to try and hurry. Hurry never helped in these situations. Steady and even, make every slice count.
“BEST 10 ROMANCE OF SPRING 2014″-Publisher’s Weekly
These daredevil smokejumpers fight more than fires.
The elite fire experts of Mount Hood Aviation fly into places even the CIA can’t penetrate.
She lives to fight fires
Carly Thomas could read burn patterns before she knew the alphabet. A third-generation forest fire specialist who lost both her father and her fiancé to the flames, she’s learned to live life like she fights fires: with emotions shut down.
But he’s lit an inferno she can’t quench
Former smokejumper Steve “Merks” Mercer can no longer fight fires up close and personal, but he can still use his intimate knowledge of wildland burns as a spotter and drone specialist. Assigned to copilot a Firehawk with Carly, they take to the skies to battle the worst wildfire in decades and discover a terrorist threat hidden deep in the Oregon wilderness—but it’s the heat between them that really sizzles.
M. L. Buchman has over 25 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named NPR and Barnes & Noble “Top 5 of the year” and Booklist “Top 10 of the Year.” In addition to romance, he also writes suspense, fantasy, and science fiction. In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world. He is now making his living full-time as a writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at www.mlbuchman.com.
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