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Welcome to a Q & A session with Pete Anderson, the author of “One if by Air, Two if by Sea", "The High Road Less Traveled” and just completed and now in post-editing, "The Last Dance Can Be Murder". We got Pete to take a few moments from his busy schedule, as a parent, computer professional and breakout new writer, to sit and answer some questions for us.

The Last Dance Can Be Murder:
Q: So in the end of High Road, we find out that Nick and Katie survived the sinking of the carrier Ronald Reagan and have gotten married. How did you figure out how to follow that up?

A: Well, I needed a powerful vehicle to drive the story forward, and I thought of the Reagan, which was destroyed by a nuclear tipped cruise-missile/torpedo in the second book, and Katie ends up developing cancer because of her radiation exposure on the Reagan, and also turns out to be pregnant. So Nick is now faced with several horrible choices, first he is confronted with being forced to choose whether his baby lives or his wife lives, because treatment options with standard medicine in the early 21st century, in many cases, aren't that different overall than 20 or 30 years ago, radiation, chemo, and surgery are the standard go-tos for these situations, which are fatal for a fetus.

Then Nick runs into 'Hollywood', his old wingman, and he is faced with another terrible choice. He can assist the company he has sworn to take down, the company that killed his fiancee and made it look like a DUI, or he can save his wife's life by selling his allegiance to the Devil, so to speak. A case of Hobson's choice, in anyone's book. Hollywood also answers some questions (story arc) that I left hanging from book one, one of the big ones being Holly's basic character, in book one and the beginning of book two, Holly is painted by her relatives as being a sweet and naive 'farm girl' type who was exploited by greedy managers running what amounts to a super-high-class underwater bordelo. Ending up married to a very highly-paid executive, however, Nick is unable in his mind to reconcile what she would still be doing there, working in that type of an environment, when she certainly wouldn't need the money anymore, if she ever did.

Hollywood, however, gives Nick a very different backstory, that Holly was far from a good girl, and was in actuality a seductress, adulteress, sex maniac and very disturbed tatoo-manic personality, which seems to match much more perfectly with the circumstances and history that Nick has observed. Apparently even Angellina was mostly unaware of her 'wild child' tendencies, even being her cousin.

Q: Did you know this would be the last book?

A: It seemed it would be, 'Last Dance' wraps up all the major hanging threads I think, trilogy's are nice for story groups, not too short, not too long, while still leaving some openings for the next story arc, if I decide to go there. The ultimate fate of the clone army, does Clint sucessfully evade his pursusers and live happily ever after with Roseanna, what is the SecDef's agenda and involvement, why did the doctor kill Dina under orders, and from whom, and who else besides the President is a possible 'sleeper agent', are things I can use for later if I so desire, but I still feel that even if it were to end right here, the reader would feel satisfied that the major story is consumated, and Nick, his wife and his new baby girl all survive to live a happy if adventurous life afterwards.

photo courtesy classics.com Q: Where did the Talbot car idea come from?

A: I love old cars and am a big fan of Clive Cussler, and his Dirk Pitt character had a spectacular collection of old vehicles, as does Cussler in real life, so the Talbot gift at the end, from Minisoft, seemed in character with Nick's love of flashy and fast hardware, such as its older stablemate, Nick's rebuilt Pantera. The late 1930s Talbot Lagos with custom bodywork were absolutely gorgeous, I don't think there were any two that were ever exactly the same, they looked like they were going 100 MPH just sitting still, and I would have to believe that given the fact that these were penned long before super-fast computers or wind-tunnel testing, they probably aren't as aerodynamically stable as they look, but they're still fabulous eye-candy and collectors pony-up literally millions to own one. I can see why, oh to be that lucky. < chuckles > That's a hint to buy some more books < laughs >.

Q: Pastor Jeremy makes a reappearance.

A: Pastor Jeremy is kind of like Nick's Sensei, he shows up at the most unexpected but opportune times and gives him advice and insights on what his life may bring. At the end of book one, Nick is struggling to come to grips with a loss that no one should ever have to endure, the death of his fiance, and in typical male fashion, he does what a lot of us do when faced with something almost too horrible to contemplate, he gets blind drunk for three days straight.

He sobers up and smartens up enough to realize that that isn't going to help anyone, least of all himself, and so he heads out for a drive to clear his head, something I've done myself on a few occasions, often involving tangled emotions driven by a woman. For reasons even he himself can't explain, he stops at a church and goes inside. The rest is in the book. So, here he runs into Pastor Jeremy again in Baltimore Maryland and finds out that his home church is in the area and he's doing volunteer counseling at the Johns-Hopkins Cancer Center, for people who are facing one of the scariest situations you can ever imagine in life.

Katie is facing her own rapidly approaching mortality and turns to the Word for Strength and Hope, Nick still isn't sure about his beliefs, as many of us are, and is comforted by seeing that Katie is finding some peace but terrified of losing the one woman in the world that he loves more than his own life. So he has to make some appalling decisions, decisions that seem to have no good ending regardless, and that's a very difficult row to hoe. But he being who he is, he faces it head-on and wisely remembers the cryptic warning that the Pastor gave him months earlier.

Q: How did Darfur end up mixed up in here?

A: Well, anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for twenty plus years knows about the mess in Darfur. The UN has made half-hearted attempts to intervene, but I have a pretty dim view of the UN in general, it seems almost all of their interventions are half-hearted, so, so be it. Anyhow, so the premise that came to mind is that Minisoft has created this massive clone army and wants to use it, it wasn't just an exercise in 'wouldn't it be cool if we could ....' but after investing all that time and money into crafting such a tool, you don't just plop it on a shelf, you use it. So, my logic went 'where anywhere in the world could you invade a country with massive natural resources without provoking an all-out war?'

Darfur came to mind. Its neighbors are also relatively poor, the governments are not particularly stable, and the story would be taking place in the timeframe when we have already pulled out of Iraq and are just winding down or have just ended our Afghanistan involvement. So the US would have neither the financial or military resources nor the political will to immediately jump into another large-scale conflict and so the President wisely decides to sit this one out. Minisoft is in it purely for the money, they see on-going operations in natural resources that could stretch a century or more, and if nothing else, their board has lofty and ambitous dreams on all fronts. They also realize that the 'win the hearts and the minds of the populace' credo that we attempted in Vietnam isn't pure bunk, its more like pure gold, so if they lift their standard of living and treat them well, Minisoft will walk on water in their eyes and can do no wrong even as they pillage their country. Actually, quite smart, I could see that working in reality, and not just here.

Q: A lot of books and movies have featured clones or cloning technology. Why here?

A: Well, I've been a big Lucas fan since 1977 and not only did he use it, but you had the "Sixth Day" movie, and "The Island", and so many others that use cloning simply for the expediency of driving the story, or in some cases, to examine the moral and societal aspects of such technology. Right now we can clone sheep, cats and I believe, dogs, so humans I don't see being too far behind. I don't think its morally right, that seems like the power of God to me, and could have huge legal implications as well as the more basic moral questions. What if you cloned yourself for spare parts, then harvested them, is that murder? Can you be tried for killing yourself? Does a clone have a soul? If its human, I would have to believe it does, but a lot of people don't even think that us "natural-borns" have a soul, so that could get majorly dicey.

So anyhow, here is Minisoft bent on expanding their empire way past just software, now they are building jets and weapons, and involved with colonizing the Moon and eyeballing the natural resources of other countries not wealthy enough or advanced enough to successfully defend themselves. I thought this would make an excellent moral dilemma, here you have a corporation that has taken over a country and you wonder about what their social agenda is, will they treat the people well and not utilize them for slave labor, but the flip side is that they have stopped the rape, pillage, random murder and civil genocide that has ravaged the country for decades so are they Demon or Saint? I think to a degree they are both and that's why our world is so rarely purely black-or-white.

Q: What about the tech? The Rife Generator and such?

A: All the tech in the books is either real or coming very soon, possibly with the exception of the cloning issue. Royal Raymond Rife was a real person, an amazingly intelligent scientist and builder in the 1930s who was just as far ahead of his time as Copernicus, DaVinci or Tesla. The debates over his Rife Generator being “the cure” for cancer or a Hollywood sized phony still rage, there are many websites and books dedicated to illuminating or demonizing his works. Read them if you are interested, then form your own conclusions. This is a work of fiction and in my universe the Rife Generator works, the reader must decide for themselves what they really believe.

In the book is also mentioned the work that NASA and the US military have done with treating patients who have become sick or are injured, with the application of tuned color light waves. Again, this is something that proves there is nothing new under the sun, literally, this work was started in the late 1800s based on research that actually stretches back over thousands of years. Several big names involved early on in the modern era were Edwin D Babbit, Dr Kate W Baldwin MD, FACS, senior surgeon, Womens Hospital, Philadelphia PA and Dinshah P Ghadiali of New Jersey. Again, there are many websites devoted to demonizing or canonizing any or all of them. The reader will get to decide what they really believe.

The FSLB-171 (Fighter-Supersonic-Light-Bomber) is not a real plane, but is an amalgamation of current and near-future parts, its closest kin would probably be the current F35 Lightning II combat jet being built for the US Air Force, Marines and Navy. The Marine version can take off vertically, like an AV-8B Harrier II and this is where I got the idea. The external-door drop-off weapons stealth idea was mine, I think it would work in reality but so far no one that I'm aware of has tried it, having drop-tanks or missiles that you could use then "stealth-up" when you approached a hostile combat zone. Its intriguing anyway. Carbon-Fibre fuselages are very light, but very strong and stealthy; but amazingly expensive and so is why the US still uses aluminium and titanium for aircraft parts. For the ideas of planform wings and canard control surfaces, look up Burt Rutan's planes for examples of how well and at the same time how other-wordly some of these planes work and appear.

Nick's cermamic-wrapped carbon-fibre replacement leg bones are currently fictional, but I don't see any reason it couldn't be done. We replace knees and hips all the time now, the ceramic outercoat would prevent rejection, I'm not sure if bare carbon is implantable, and the insides of bones (marrow) do create red blood cells but if you only had one leg replaced I think you'd probably be okay, the human body is amazingly resilient at accomodating for damage, like a lung growing oversized to account for the loss of one when its diseased or affected by cancer and is removed. We are fearfuly and wonderfully made, according to the Bible, and I can't see to disagree with that.

The MRAPs are real trucks, they are 4 wheeled armoured vehicles and are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they do not have an auto-loading 20 millimetre roof turret, I added that idea myself. The HEMTT is an 8 or 10 wheeled heavy diesel-powered truck that is used by the US Army for carrying massive loads. I derived the armoured version in the book from the heavier 10 wheeled flatbed model that carries Bradley Light Infantry vehicles and other heavy oversized loads. As far as I'm aware of, the armoured version of the M1075 10-wheeler only exists in my universe. The airless tires are real as well, several companies are experimenting with them right now for road car use, but so far as I know there are no models large enough for military trucks yet, but the idea of a tire that shrugs off bullets would surely be intriguing to the Army and Marines, I'm sure.

The carbon-nanotube body armour is under development by the Army and Marine Corp and shows amazing promise, it would be light and flexible like a flannel shirt but stiffen like steel plate under the impact of a bullet or the thrust of a knife blade. I could see that saving many US lives in future combat scenarios, especially in urban door-to-door scenarios where snipers and hidden weapons are a constant threat.

Pete, thanks so much for speaking with us.
My pleasure.

Site created 06 August, 2009.
Site last edited 13 February, 2012.
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