Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Featured Author: Ken Boehs

The Tilted #1 of the trilogy Desire is a Vicious Mistress is an action suspense thriller by Ken Boehs. I'm happy to have him here today to tell us about it and to let us get to know him a little bit too. I've had former police officers who now write crime novels, but Ken is my first guest who draws from his work in the intelligence field to write spy thrillers. To read an excerpt of the book, go here.

About the book:

The Tilted Truth introduces a heroic duo: the handsome and clever CIA agent Major Ben Kloes and the ambitious FBI Special Agent “Cat” Morella whose beauty and seductive ways are hard to resist. Together they turn an official in Hugo Chavez’s inner circle in Aruba, stop terrorists from using a suitcase nuke to destroy locks in the Panama Canal, and ensnare a murderous, criminal gang laundering money in a Nassau casino.

There are many surprising developments and plot twists in this action-packed narrative: The FBI is double-crossed and conned out of their money; a wily informant caught in his own web of deceit jilts the CIA; an extremely cunning woman seduces a prominent military general who has public office ambitions; and a business partner conned out of his life savings launches a vendetta against his associate.

The psychological underpinnings that motivate each character come into play in a maze of manipulation interspersed with the intrigue of clandestine operations and government entrapment, all ending in a diabolical turn of events.

This fast-paced, riveting story will leave readers satisfied and exhilarated.

The Tilted Truth Book Trailer

Interview with Ken Boehs:

Ken, The Tilted Truth is your first book. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

During my career in Washington, D.C. I wrote hundreds of analyses and reports, as well as proposals to the government in response to their solicitations for work. I had plenty of fodder to write a novel along with the knowledge of intelligence community operations from an insider’s perspective. And many times I considered writing one, but job time constraints kept me from doing so – it’s a major commitment.

Then I retired and moved to Santa Barbara, California. I started on The Tilted Truth, my debut fiction novel, in late August 2011 after sitting in a court room for hours on end listening to a convoluted case involving the brother of my life partner, Lauren. Elements of the case stirred me. I had my own theories of what led up to his charges, considering that truth practiced by the prosecution’s witnesses seemed illusory. It was the catalyst I needed. I envisioned developing a highly fictionalized story around my suppositions. The day the trial ended, I started.

Lauren was my sounding board on the effectiveness and acceptability of various alternatives I considered while writing scenes, and whose point of view and ideas contributed to the overall story.

My editor, Gail M. Kearns, from Santa Barbara, was tireless in her support, superb guidance, and critical comments. At the end of the process I felt as though I’d received a college education in creative writing from her.

I love the title of your book. How did you come up with The Tilted Truth?

Lauren came up with the name. She was struck by the web of manipulation and intrigue woven by the characters in the story as they distorted the truth for their own self-interest. A tilted hat worn by the heroine in one scene was the trigger and - voilĂ  - The Tilted Truth.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I actively day trade stocks in the morning and read the day’s emergent news while I do it - to include tweeting comments for articles relevant to the CIA, FBI or sex, as necessary to build my social media presence.

How would you describe your book in six words?

Intrigue, manipulation, action, sex, FBI, CIA.

That's a powerful combination. How did you create the plot for The Tilted Truth?

It was inspired by the case of Lauren’s brother, mentioned above, who was conned out of a lot of money by an old friend. When he suspected he was swindled, he went on a vendetta to recover it. But his quest took a bad turn. He was set up by an interlocutor, entrapped by the FBI and arrested. Around that supposition I created an expanded fictional story, developed characters and subplots from my imagination and experience, and then seasoned it all with years of intelligence world insight.

How do you get to know your characters?

I prepared detailed psychological and physical attribute profiles for each character on a three page form. Then Lauren and I gathered up a few of our most insightful and creative friends, drank some wine, and based on the profiles, validated the psychological drivers I’d developed. We also dressed some of the characters and gave them unique gestures. It was a fantastic exercise that I’d recommend to any writer.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Electra. I liked the idea of a brother/sister pair of “bad guys.” Also, it gave me an opportunity to interject a controversial element into the novel. Electra and Barry Vador are half siblings with a common father. When they were teens they developed a sexual attraction for each other, consummated it, and in the story it becomes an important element in their relationship. Genetic sexual attraction (GSA) was first broached in Oedipus Rex, the Athenian tragedy by Sophocles, circa 429 BC…also found in Moll Flanders and Le Morte d’Arthur.

What would your main character say about you?

Ken your imagination has no limits. Couldn’t we just kick back sometimes? You’re always thinking up trouble for us.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people? Any real spies?

FBI Special Agent Caterina Morella is based on a KBG agent I was aware of during the cold war.

Are you like any of your characters?

I’m going to let readers guess that one.

Now that sounds intriguing! Can you tell us about your favorite scene in the book?

FBI Special Agent Caterina “Cat” Morella uses sex in a bondage scene to turn a foreign official into being an informant for the CIA.

Who are your favorite authors?

Ian Flemming, Tom Clancy, and Barry Eisler.

How long is your to-be-read pile?

It is piling up! Writing the trilogy is taking all my time.

Do you have a routine for writing?

I wake up between 6-7AM to trade stocks, read news, input social media, finish around noon and head to the beach. There I make detailed notes for how I want a scene to progress, write dialogue, make interaction diagrams, etc. I use an old fashioned composition notebook and write with a pen (seem to think better that way). I’ve found the beach is a very creative space for me. I sketch the story out while there and pound it out on the laptop keyboard at home.

Now that's what I'd like to do! Where is this beach?

Santa Barbara, California.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk.

Neil Gaiman said, “Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you'd most like not to lose.” So...what are your five favorite books and your five body parts you’d most like not to lose?

Caine Mutiny, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Sum of All Parts. Head, eyes, ears, arms, and the family jewels.

LOL. Your last meal would be...

Lobster roll and blueberry pie.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?


You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

A marvelous house overlooking the beach.

I'm with you there. You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Go somewhere fun with my darling.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

James Bond.

Of course! I should have known. What would your dream office look like?

A simple desk in a sheltered alcove overlooking the ocean.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

Seize the opportunity.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Looking after a large begonia/orchid garden, exercising/gym/running on the beach in bare feet, seeking interesting cultural events and travel.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I already found it!

It sounds like you have. What are you working on now?

The second book in the trilogy Desire is a Vicious Mistress. It goes by the working title Citizen Ignited.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about it. I hope you'll come back once it's completed. One more question, Ken...what four legged black dog is always in your heart?

About the author:

Ken Boehs graduated from Muhlenberg College and served as an Army intelligence officer in special operations engaged in surveillance and intelligence collection for the National Security Agency, NSA, and the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, during the nineteen-seventies. After leaving the military, he was a private contractor to the government and performed analyses of command and control, communications, and intelligence systems programs. He lives with his life partner in Santa Barbara, California where he does his writing on the beach.

Connect with Ken:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Visit Ken's YouTube page for videos of interviews and a book signing talk.

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble (also available on iTunes, Vook, and other online stores)