Sunday, June 27, 2010

No Good Deed by Mary McDonald

Mark Taylor, a photographer in Chicago, discovers first hand that no good deed goes unpunished when the old camera he found during a freelance job in an Afghanistan bazaar gives him more than great photos. It triggers dreams of disasters. Tragedies that happen exactly as he envisions them. He learns that not only can he see the future, he can change it. Then the unthinkable happened and everyone ignored his frantic warnings. Thousands die. Suddenly, the Feds are pounding on his door and the name they have for Taylor isn't urban hero. It's enemy combatant. And, it means they can do anything they want to him. Anything at all.

Mark is haunted by his dreams even in prison until he turns them to his advantage and obtains his release. Penniless, alone, and his life destroyed, Mark knows a brutal terrorist attack is coming, and will claim countless lives. He puts everything on the line to stop it. With only hours to act, he must prevent the horror even at the risk of his own freedom. His only chance of thwarting the attack lies in trusting his worst enemy--the bastard who interrogated him for over a year.

Imogen's Review
Imagine suddenly being taken from you everyday life, being thrown into a cell and interrogated-mercilessly-for almost a year. Mark Taylor, a Chicago photographer, finds himself in this infuriatingly helpless position. All because he was trying to do a good deed-a good deed that could have saved thousands of lives. A good deed that was misinterpreted and he was held as a suspect, questioned about the very incident he was trying to prevent.

Mary McDonald immediately holds us captive along with Mark, we feel his hopelessness, his pain and frustrations. I could not put this book down, my life stopped while I was reading it.

About the Author
Mary McDonald is married, going on 25 years. She has three children, two sons, who are adults now (but still at home!). Her daughter is only nine and her makes her laugh all the time. She's a respiratory therapist and has been doing that for 24 years.

Q&A with Mary McDonald
1. What/who was the inspiration behind this story?

Initially, the story was inspired by writer's challenge/contest issued by Shilom at the now defunct Fanlib. It was to have your character wake up in a padded cell and wonder how they got there. The scene where Mark and Jessie talk in the cell is a spin off of that contest entry. It's changed a bit, but the essence is there. The reason that story came out was because I'd recently read something about an American enemy combatant and just wondered how it would be if someone who was unquestionably innocent but had no way to prove it, got caught in the wide net cast immediately after 9/11.

2. Did the interrogation scenes come purely from your imagination or were they based on real tactics employed by the CIA?
I did as much research as I could for the interrogation scenes and for all of the time Mark spent in the brig. I found recently (at the time) declassified memos and transcripts that I read over several times. A couple of the transcripts were of interrogations of prisoners at Guantanamo. I couldn't find any of the American prisoners held in Charleston, but I did find repeated comments in memos between people in authority at U.S. Consolidated Brig in Charleston that said that they had to do things the way they did at Guantanamo. So, based on that, I wrote the interrogations the way I thought they might have occurred.

Keep in mind, as far as I could find, there is no proof that the U.S. waterboarded Americans, but one of the lawyers for former enemy combatant, Jose Padilla, who was held for seven years before being sent to a regular prison, said that Padilla had been waterboarded. Padilla says he was treated well, but psychiatric evaluations done for the purpose of establishing his fitness for trial showed that he is paranoid about being sent back. The scary thing is, the psychiatrist agreed that he actually had good reason to be paranoid because if he is ever realeased from regular prison, he could be designated an enemy combatant immediately. The government has never cleared him. So, based on that, I discounted Padilla's denial.

I found information on stress positions as well, but also have no proof they were used on Americans. I claim artistic license for using those. In addition, I left out some methods just so I didn't drag the whole prison scene out too long, but there was on transcript I read of a two day long interrogation with just a four hour break for sleep between days. The prisoner was treated well in that he wasn't harmed, but the interrogators had teams rotating through allowing them time away, while the prisoner, obviously, did not.

3. What inspired your book cover? Is the image a representation of Mark?
That image is supposed to be Mark. I sketched it quite awhile back. I'm not a graphics person and did my best to make the cover look good, but I don't know how well I succeeded. At the moment, I have an email out to an artist on Deviant hoping I can use one of her works as the basis of a cover, but I have not heard back yet. It would be awesome though, if I could.

4. Are you planning a sequel?
Initially, I hadn't, but I'm working on one now that uses the same characters, and it's a continuation, but the events in it will be completely different. There is more of a religious undertone, which is weird because I'm not religious at all.

5. Who can you see playing Mark, Jessie and Jim in a movie adaptation of your story?
Kyle Chandler, without a doubt, would be the perfect Mark Taylor. I envision someone like Adrianne Palicki, only a little older, as Jessie, and Jim is harder. I saw 'Jim' in a conference room at my work one day. lol. I have no idea who the man was, but as I glimpsed him, I stopped and said, Omg, it's Jim Sheridan!" If I can't find that guy, I could live with John Slattery from Mad Men playing Jim. He's a little older than I envision. Tim Daly would be good too. ;-P

6. What are your favorite books and movies?
Favorite books are actually quite different that what I've written. I loved The Grapes of Wrath, Clan of the Cave Bear, Roots and Aztec. My favorite movies paralell my book more closely. I loved The Shawshank Redemption, The Fugitive (see a theme here? "Innocent Man Accused of Horrible Crime" Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future. (those two have that paranormal element I love)

7. What kind of music do you like to listen to?
After I had my sons many, many years ago, I never listened to the radio very often--my car only had A.M--can you believe it? So I stuck with the stuff I was familiar with growing up. The Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel, etc, but I started watching Friday Night Lights in 2006, and not only is it an amazing television show, but it has a fantastic soundtrack. As I began tracking down the songs on the show, I started putting them into Pandora, and now I mostly listen to indie bands/musicians with a heavy folk influence. Sam Baker, Matt Nathenson, Howie Day, Sea Wolf and Explosions in the Sky.

8. Which five words describe you?
Quiet, funny, impulsive, atheltic, creative.

9. Flats or high heels?
Sneakers! I work in healthcare and get to wear sneakers to work. After 24 years, I don't think I could ever work in heels. Blech!

10. Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on at the moment?
Well, I have the sequel to No Good Deed, and it's very dark, but has some feel good moments. Mark is questioning why he has this compulsion to use the camera and at the same time, his secret leaks to the media. He's suddenly a news item which isn't a good thing. Someone he'd helped betrays him and that leads to him being kidnapped by a cult looking to get attention. They do a horrible thing to him that leaves him questioning his faith, traumatized and trying to come to terms with it all.

I also have a romantic suspense with Sam Brennan, a former ATF agent and Molly Flynn, a paramedic. They meet when he tries to infiltrate the motorcycle gang that her brother belongs to. He needs some patching up, and her brother brings him to Molly to avoid a hospital. He lost his son recently, and Molly has a daughter about the same age as his son, so seeing the little girl is a constant reminder of his loss, but a the same time, it helps to heal him.

I've found out I'm good at the last bit, when he's talking with the daughter, and the romance part, but I need to work on the suspense and plot. Darn it. Do readers really need a plot? ;-)


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