Please join me in welcoming Robert B. Lowe on his virtual book tour for his newest book "Project Moses". Robert was kind enough to answer my questions below. Please make sure to leave a comment or question for Robert as he will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to one commenter at the end of his tour.
Me: According to your author bio, you’ve had several careers prior to becoming a debut author. You’ve been an investigative reporter, a lawyer, an entrepreneur in high tech businesses and now a writer. Did you always know you wanted to write a contemporary suspense/thriller?
Robert: As a long-time reader of mysteries and thrillers, I’ve always wanted to try my hand particularly when I ran across those with big holes or plots that didn’t make sense. And, as a journalist, I always had a few co-workers working on book projects so it felt doable. I actually started on Project Moses when I had a few months between jobs in the 90s and finally could finish it last year. So, the interest and desire has been there for awhile but things intervened on the way to getting the first one finished.
Me: What about “bioterrorism” lent itself to you as the basis for your first novel? Was there a specific incident that made you think about it as the subject of your book?
Robert: I’ve been interested in genetics for a long time. Even in law school my main paper concerned genetic testing and how that plays out in the fairness of health insurance rates. I thought people’s fears about genetically engineered food was a place to look for a plot and my imagination kind of took it from there.
Me: While “Project Moses” is a suspense thriller, you also chose to add a romance about two characters who happen to work in careers you’ve had. Was the romance between Enzo and Sarah always a part of your plot or was there something about these characters that caused you to add it?
Robert: From the outset, I planned to have a romance subplot. I think it just adds to almost any story. So, I knew I wanted that and I knew which characters. But, I didn’t have the characters nailed in the beginning and they sort of morphed over time – both individually and in terms of their romance. I look at it as a form of personality sculpting.
Me: Can you tell us about what a typical day as a writer is for you?
Robert: A decent day of writing for me usually begins at 9 am. I’m out of pajamas, shaved, got a thermos of coffee and walk 120 feet to a room above my garage away from people and repair projects that inevitably distract me. I work until lunch, with some breaks as I finish parts of what I’m writing. After lunch, I’ll work for one or two hours more depending on other commitments. So, 5 hours and, say, 1500 words is a good day for me. I’m almost always polishing and rewriting what I’ve done the last two days so a lot of editing is built in as well. I’ll cheat on that a bit – use the afternoon time to get exercise, etc. But, I also try to get a chunk of writing on the weekend, usually several hours on Saturday, which compensates somewhat. If things are going well, I can keep this schedule. If they aren’t, I start figuring out ways to cheat.
Me: What have been your best and worst experiences as a debut author?
Robert: Well, luckily, a lot of people like the book. Even with my first wave of family and friends, I could tell that the “I couldn’t put it down” responses were sincere and I was hearing the feedback indirectly as well so it wasn’t just folks being nice to me. Then, the “reading public” response was also very enthusiastic. With any book, I think you just don’t know what the response will be and it must be many times worse with your first. So, you just go, “Whew! Thank God.” Worst experiences is just seeing how big the hill is to climb to get your book in front of people. The time, energy, multiple books and luck involved to have even moderate success - like making half a living as an author – is quite daunting.
Me: What can you tell us about Robert Lowe the man? Favorite hobbies ?
Robert: Well, I’ve entered the “golf phase of life” so I’m lightly obsessed with the little round ball at the moment. I’m a tad restless which probably has some bearing on my serial career changes. I am a bit of a foodie and enjoy throwing that element into my writing. I’m actually a pretty good cook when pressed. Lately, I’ve been needing to think of tricks to get into the next chapters and I’ve found that describing things – a detailed setting or a round of appetizers – is a good way to get going even if it gets lost or condensed later. I like plays and seeing dance performed. I also am a big sports fan and annoy my wife and daughters with the amount I’ll watch although I must confess I click away from hockey and soccer.
Me: Kirkus Reviews gave “Project Moses” an excellent review and touched on the strength of your characters, including your secondary characters. Will some of these characters ever get their own books, in specific Bobbie Connors, the female detective who has made quite an impression on several reviewers?
Robert: I was recently talking with another first-time author who remarked that everyone seemed to like one of her secondary characters. It made us both wonder if there is something about that. Perhaps we aren’t trying so hard. Maybe you can simply model the character after a person you know and let it go at that. Bobbie Conners was like that – pretty much directly based on a friend. Anyway, a couple of the secondary characters will be in the next book. I can’t say yet about a separate book. But, I do want to give them a chance to run and have a bigger role. So many plot lines, so little time. (BTW, thanks for taking the time and effort to get to know the book and the reviews. That’s amazingly thorough.)
Me: Can you tell us about your current writing project? When should we expect to see your next release?
Robert: I’m hoping to have the next one ready to go in the Fall. I’m half way through the first draft although I’m polishing as I go. If Project Moses is any guide, the second half will take me half the time as the first half. The setup is harder for me and some reviewers have commented on that as well. Enzo Lee again is the star. But, I again have a secondary character – a new one - clamoring for attention. I was pleased that no one was overwhelmed by everything that went on in Project Moses – and there was quite a bit. In fact, readers seemed to like that. That’s good for me because my big challenge is keeping things manageable and not overloading with too many characters and subplots.
Fast and Fun Questions:
1. Favorite Beverage? Coffee, strong, cream, no sugar.
2. Favorite Vacation Local? Southern Europe – Italy, Greece, Turkey. In the U.S., I go to Southern Oregon a lot and I miss NYC.
3. Preference in movies? Generally, I don’t go for over the top action. I mean Transformers? I’ll check out the first one and have an OK time but that’s enough. I get a dose of chick flicks because – well, I’m married. Everything else is fair game. I like foreign just to break out of the formulas – not just plot and character types but even cinematic look and feel.
4. What is one snack you can’t live without? I like nuts a lot but they’re slowly ruining my teeth.
5. Name one person (living or deceased) you would love to spend the day with. One of my college roommates I only see infrequently. I’d love to see what a day was like for folks like Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar but don’t know that I’d want to have an 8-hour conversation.
“A thriller with an ideal fusion of wile and wit.”- Kirkus Reviews
Project Moses is a high-tech bio terrorism thriller in the Grisham mode that has been well received on Good Reads, Library Thing and Kindle (4.8 stars based on 18 reviews as of April 4). It has romance, suspense and humor.
Enzo Lee, 37, a burned out reporter, has forsaken investigative reporting on the East Coast to churn out feature fluff in San Francisco. He likes his North Beach apartment, steps away from his Chinatown roots. Running, tai chi, great food, women who are attracted to his exotic looks. Life is good.
Then, Lee is ordered to cover the unexplained deaths of a local judge and prosecutor. Intrigued by the connection, and the judge’s attractive niece, Sarah Armstrong, Lee begins to uncover a bio terrorism scandal whose perpetrators - including government officials and Silicon Valley titans - will kill to conceal.
When Lee and Sarah become targets, the question becomes whether the pair can evade their hunters and piece together the story before their time runs out. Project Moses is set in San Francisco, New York and Silicon Valley.
REVIEW SOUND BYTES
A journalist and a lawyer stumble upon secret experiments and a government conspiracy in Lowe’s debut mystery novel.
Reporter Enzo Lee is keeping a low journalistic profile in San Francisco by specializing in light newspaper features. After he reluctantly tackles a story of a judge found dead in her office, avoiding front-page news becomes the least of Lee’s worries. The judge’s death is associated with a prosecutor—killed by a hit-and-run—another attorney and the judge’s niece, Sarah Armstrong, who’s nearly a victim herself.
As more people are murdered, Lee and Sarah learn of a company, AgriGenics, that genetically enhances fruits and vegetables—but the company’s ties to biological weapons put the snooping couple in its scope. Lowe's taut thriller is fronted by a likable protagonist who retains his sense of humor even under a constant threat of death. Lee easily generates sympathy, especially since he doesn’t particularly enjoy his unbearable circumstances—he was content averting controversy with his newspaper features. Both he and Sarah are resourceful characters, and their mutual attraction and ensuing relationship is believable. In the same regard, the two convincingly manage the intrigue: Sarah connects the murders through her prior involvement and Lee, the former hard-hitting reporter, utilizes sources and information as a means to take the offense.
The story’s long-reaching conspiracy is elaborate but never overwhelming, so readers can appreciate the stockpiling of secrets, elusive characters and murders committed to preserve those secrets. One of the supporting players, a female detective named Bobbie Connors, who proves an asset to Lee, threatened to steal the spotlight completely if she’d been allowed a more substantial part in the story.
A thriller with an ideal fusion of wile and wit.
A thriller with an ideal fusion of wile and wit.
Robert B. Lowe is a Pulitzer-prize winning author whose fiction is based in San Francisco, his adopted home.
His past experiences – a 12-year career in investigative journalism and a Harvard Law School degree – enable him to write gripping mystery thrillers in both the legal and journalistic fields. Lowe draws his inspiration from John Grisham, Dick Francis and Lee Childs and adds his own San Francisco twist. Readers will enjoy his references to the city’s landmarks such as Chinatown, North Beach and Pacific Heights and the Bay area’s foodie culture.
When Lowe isn’t writing he enjoys a day at the golf course and spending time with his wife and daughters.
I want to thank Robert for answering my questions and being on my blog today. Please don't forget to leave a comment or question for him below as he will be awarding a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one commenter at the end of his blog tour.
You can follow all of the stops on his tour here. The more often you comment the better your chances at winning.
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