Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Author Interview ~ Allen Schatz

Mystery Writers Unite is PLEASED to be interviewing Allen Schatz, author of THE MARSHALL CONNORS SERIES, which includes GAME 7: DEAD BALL (Book One), 7TH INNING DEATH (Book Two) and RALLY KILLER (Book Three) (see below).
Allen didn’t really start out as a writer and circumstances (read: "life") led him to join the working world earlier than he’d hoped. His first career was as a CPA - Accounting - Finance guru and although he enjoyed the work it never really felt like “home” to him. He couldn’t help but feel that there was something else just on the other side of all those numbers calling to him. It took him awhile to find the courage to step off the ledge and dive into writing his first novel but eventually he did and by doing so found his true calling.
Allen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, spending his youth in Ridley Township and attending college at Widener University. He married a local girl and they eventually settled in Springfield and had two children. In 1995, due to work commitments, the family relocated to the Pittsburgh suburb of Washington, PA where Allen and his wife still live today.
When Allen is not writing, he works as a consultant that specializes in budgeting and reporting system administration. For fun, he spends most of his spring and summers on the ball field where he’s been an amateur umpire for the better part of the past 30 years.
--- Interview
First, thanks for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you, it is a pleasure…now for the fun stuff J
MWU: If your wife was approached on the street, what would she say are your writing quirk(s)?
Allen Schatz: She would say: "He writes?" No. Kidding… although, that is probably one of the quirks, that I do the writing without much fanfare. I tend to disappear when I write. Not in a bad way. It's more, when I'm there (writing), I'm THERE.
MWU: Aside from your wife and children, who would you say has been the biggest supporter of your writing?
Allen Schatz: The biggest supporters have been "virtual" friends on Twitter, otherwise strangers who picked up my first book and wanted more. All remain people I've never met in person, but have developed relationships with. It is humbling to have "fans" that support you.
MWU: If you were one of the characters in any of the MARSHALL CONNORS SERIES books, what type of character would you be and why (can’t be Marshall Connor…sorry…lol)?
Allen Schatz: Well, Marshall IS the "me" I never was. It would be difficult to be one of the others with that hanging over me, but since you won't let me have that, I'd say Thomas Hillsborough. He's cool, something I am often not. That's enough reason.
MWU: If MARSHALL CONNORS could step out of the pages of your book what do you think he would say to you? What would he thankful for? Upset about?
Allen Schatz: He'd be thankful I haven't killed him yet. He'd be pissed he can't just umpire the game he loves without all the off-field drama. He'd also probably want Suze back.
MWU: Who is your favorite character, aside from Marshall, in the series and why?
Allen Schatz: Thomas Hillsborough. See previously mentioned "cool" thing. He has confidence in all situations, in his abilities and skills. He is tough without being aggressive. He knows who he is. And he has allegiance and commitment to his best friend, Marshall. Nothing will ever break that bond. He won't let it. I envy that. I don't really have anything close to it in my life.
MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from the MARSHALL CONNORS SERIES books (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
Allen Schatz: Mystery. Suspense. Baseball. It's a perfect combination. It's unique and new. And it's good. Just ask the readers.
MWU: If you were approached to make the MARSHALL CONNORS SERIES into a made for TV event, who do you think should play the role of Marshall Connors?
Allen Schatz: I've actually been thinking about that. More than a few people have suggested it needs to be on the screen. I guess I could see James Marsden doing it. Ben Affleck and Chris Pine might work too. Those guys are similar.
MWU: How do you develop and differentiate your characters and how do you “stay in character” when your writing? Has this processed changed from your first book to your second book and your second to your third?
Allen Schatz: I mostly let the writing take me where it wants to go. I had general ideas of what I wanted to do with the main characters, in outline form. As the plots evolved, so did the characters. The first book was a crap shoot mostly. I had no idea where I was headed. Having more structure is what changed the most in the second and third.
MWU: Who do you see as your “ideal” reader?
Allen Schatz: A person who likes a good story, with a good plot and believable characters. Someone who likes a fun read and likes to be entertained for a couple of hours. They don't need to be a baseball fan (and many are not). Mostly, though, the "ideal" reader is one willing to invest a small piece of themselves. That's all I can ask.
MWU: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Allen Schatz: Those who have said: "You're pretty good at this. You should keep doing it."
MWU: What are you working on now and when do you expect to release the next book in the MARSHALL CONNORS SERIES?
Allen Schatz: My latest project is a screenplay for an independent movie. I was found through the books and asked to take over writing of the story, one very much like my books (baseball, murder, mystery). I have a new book in process, titled "Liars Ball" - I expect to release it sometime early in 2012. It will have the baseball canvas but be new characters. Marshall and crew are on a sabbatical for now. I'm pretty sure they'll be back.
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?
Allen Schatz: To new writers: Just do it, just write. To new readers: Thanks for giving me a chance. To current fans: Thanks for your support. I'd have given up long ago without it.
The synopsis for GAME 7: DEAD BALL:
A puzzle takes shape as baseball’s World Series unfolds, but the pieces don’t seem to fit: missing women, strange threats, gambling problems, kidnappings, and relationships long dormant are all somehow connected, but major league umpire Marshall Connors may run out of time before he can solve the mystery...

Marshall’s post-season plans were to spend a week in Florida, helping his mentor teach a training class followed by a lot of sun. The vacation is cut short when Marshall gets assigned to work the World Series as crew chief, but the real reason is not discovered until he is neck-deep in trouble.
The surprise assignment rekindles a relationship with the O’Hara family and Marshall realizes some things truly are better left alone. As the games play out, so does the truth behind long-buried O’Hara family secrets and Marshall is caught in a storm that threatens to destroy him and those he loves.
With the help of his best friend, Thomas Hillsborough--ex-CIA spy--Marshall fights to solve the puzzle before the Series reaches its climax in GAME 7: DEAD BALL, the ultimate contest of survival.

The synopsis for 7TH INNING DEATH:
Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Sometimes, good people do bad things. And sometimes, people are just plain bad...
Major League Baseball umpire Marshall Connors is trying to regroup and get his life back to something resembling normal. After surviving the wrath of a psychotic revenge-hungry killer during the most recent World Series, Marshall wants nothing more than a return to the relative obscurity of his profession, and the simplicity of the game he loves, all while nurturing a new relationship.

Former FBI agent John King isn’t really a bad person, but a few loose wires make him seem that way. He, too, is looking for normalcy, but disgraced and fired by the FBI, King must battle through a horde of personal demons to get there. A new job gives him hope, but the struggles grow when King discovers another monster, one more vicious and dangerous than those in his head.

Before the walls of his world collapse completely, King makes a last desperate attempt for salvation, leading him once again into Marshall's life. The collision leaves the umpire in the middle of another game he would rather not play.

With the help of his best friend, Thomas Hillsborough--ex-CIA spy--Marshall can only hope a solution arrives in time.

The synopsis for RALLY KILLER:
Marshall Connors longs for a return to the days when nobody cared about him or who he knew, when he was nothing more than a major league baseball umpire, calling 'em like he saw 'em, a footnote and not a headline, when the game, baseball, was all that mattered, the days when things were fun.

But his life has been something of a movie the past few years. An assignment to work the World Series nearly ended in tragedy for Marshall and a few others in his life, courtesy of a revenge seeking maniacal serial killer. During the season that followed, chaos came again in the form of a mentally unstable ex-FBI agent.

The near-death experiences extracted a heavy toll. Marshall lost his mentor, he lost his girlfriend, but more than that, he lost a lot of his innocence. His world was no longer the grass and dirt and smells of the ballpark. It was something darker, a place he would never willingly choose to be.

And now, it's happening again…

A man from Marshall's darkness has returned. An explosion rocks the world. A suicide takes place. People are dead and dying, but nothing is as it seems. Confusion reigns and Marshall is once more in the middle of it, unsure of the connections, but wanting very much to not know what they are: Links in a chain started years ago, by a man Marshall trusts like no other.

As the links are revealed, trust becomes betrayal, stability becomes chaos, and Marshall must do all he can to avoid being pulled under for the last time. He must break the chain, he must find an out…

He needs a RALLY KILLER.

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