Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Mark M. Bello, author of Betrayal of Justice (A Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Book 2).
FQ: When it comes to writing a series, some find it difficult to come up with the next plot. How are you able to keep Zach’s cases and crises fresh as you move forward?
BELLO: I didn't plan to write a second book. Betrayal of Faith was a bucket list event. Then the 2016 election came and a certain candidate was advocating for a Muslim ban, mocking people with special needs, insulting other minorities. and praising white supremacists. I decided to write a book about a wrongfully accused Muslim woman with a bigoted president seeking to make her the poster child of his agenda to restrict Muslim immigration and citizenship. Since then, all subsequent novels (except Betrayal in Blue) have been inspired by real life events and circumstances.
FQ: What is your writing process? Do you create an outline for the book before beginning or do you write more organically? If you had to estimate, what percentage of the book would you say you know ahead of time?
BELLO: I write organically, read a lot about the real events that a particular book is based upon, and, so far, the words just seem to flow. I've been lucky that way. Once I get started, with bumps and changes along the way, I have been able to turn the news into compelling novels. Hopefully, my work causes people to pause and consider the real-life circumstances of people similar to my characters. Civil, criminal and social justice are not just things I write about; they are causes that I am passionate about.
FQ: When you look back on your debut, how would you say Zach has changed between this book and the first one?
BELLO: He's in love. He's been successful again, VERY successful. He has Jennifer by his side, two great kids, and he has his swagger, his mojo back. He is now confident, not cocky, and he keeps getting better and better.
FQ: In addition, is Zach following the path you originally thought he would as a character, or has he surprised you along the way? If so, in what ways?
BELLO: As I indicated in my previous answer, I did not really have a vision for the development of his character beyond the first novel. However, when the second book came along, I wanted him to mirror my social/civil/criminal justice beliefs and stand up for those who suddenly found themselves fighting against injustice against powerful forces. The difference is that Zachary Blake has the guts, determination, talent, and bank account to get it done. Fame and fortune gives him the opportunity to take on cases and causes that most lawyers cannot afford to risk time and capital on.
FQ: Taking on this particular ‘ill’ that still seems to be a part of American society, what are your personal thoughts on how this country can eliminate bigotry and prejudice once and for all? Do you have any hope that one day it will happen?
BELLO: We need to get rid of this "Us vs. Them" mentality. Whether it's black vs. white, immigrant vs. citizen, men vs. women, or rich vs. poor, religion vs. religion, political ideology vs. political ideology, we are all in this together. One would think that in the 21st century, white supremacy, for instance, would no longer exist. The white majority, with little or no justification, feels threatened by people of color, or others who are different than they are. We should celebrate our differences, not fight over them. It becomes worse when our leaders stir the pot and advocate for exclusiveness rather than inclusiveness. We should be building bridges, not walls.
FQ: What is one fun or interesting story you could share with readers in regards to meeting a fan at a signing, or perhaps an email that you received?
BELLO: It is very gratifying to receive praise as an author. A good review, a nice note or a random comment brings me cheer. I practiced law for a long time and never really though about becoming a novelist. It is surprising and satisfying to be compared to some great authors whose work I read and admire. It is difficult for me to consider myself worthy of such comparisons.
FQ: Do you attend conventions, expos or events where fans could meet you during the year?
BELLO: I've attended a few. Candidly, they were expensive and not very successful. People have certain comfort zones and don't like to try new things (authors). Come on people! Give me a try!
FQ: What fictional character would you love to have been the creator of, and why?
BELLO: Gabriel Allon, James Bond, Atticus Finch, Superman. All are very capable and on top of their game, with a flaw or two woven into their character. Their creators are brilliant.