Friday, January 23, 2015

Featured Author: Thomas Maurin

About the book:

This is a story about three smart, successful people who were once fast friends in college and have now been thrust together again in an unlikely, multi-layered investigation with far-reaching international implications and billions of dollars at stake. One is a forensic accountant for the SEC, one beta tests hardware and software for the US Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defense, and the third is a wildly successful entrepreneur, software developer and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

They get caught up in the hunt for a corrupt Swiss banker intent on finally unloading the last of the gold stolen by his father in World War II; a violent, narcissist leader of a Mexican drug cartel making his move to take over as the head of all cartels in Central America; and the daughter of a murdered Bulgarian arms dealer making the deal that will give her mother financial stability and get them both out of the increasingly unstable arms business. 

The plot unfolds as financial crimes committed by insiders put common criminal activities to shame in a world where technology has increasingly insinuated itself into our lives to good and bad effects.

Interview with Thomas Maurin

Thomas--or should I say Mike and Bonnie, since Thomas Maurin is the pen name for a husband/wife team--where’s home for the two of you?
Mike and Bonnie spend the winter and spring in Venice Florida, an island on the Gulf Coast, and summers and falls at their vacation home in Eugene Oregon.

Where did you grow up?
Mike grew up in Anderson, Indiana.  Bonnie grew up in Pocatello, Idaho.

What’s your favorite memory?
Our favorite memory is our wedding in 2005. At the rehearsal the evening before, a double rainbow appeared. The wedding itself was filled with love, close friends and family, music and poetry, great food and wine, with lots of champagne. We still consider ourselves newlyweds.

What do you love about where you live?
In Venice, we live in a penthouse condo that has 240 degrees of water and faces west.  Pelicans and osprey fly right past our windows and herons and other gorgeous birds nest in the rookery on the Intracoastal Waterway right below us. We see dolphins, manatees and lots of boats that are coming from the Gulf into the Intracoastal Waterway. And the sunsets are fantastic.

In Eugene, we live on a hill that looks out onto hills and mountains. We are surrounded by evergreens and live on the same street with Bonnie’s brother and sister (and their respective spouses). Our vacation home is filled with musical instruments, art and plants. And the sunsets are terrific.

Sounds wonderful! Have you been in any natural disasters?
Bonnie was in a minor earthquake. Mike has lived through several hurricanes and earthquakes.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, both Mike and Bonnie have worked with wealthy families for 30 years. Mike is an investment advisor and serial entrepreneur who serves as trustee for family trusts.  Bonnie is an educator and advisor to families on family dynamics, governance, and creating entrepreneurial legacies.

How did you two meet? Was it love at first site?
We met in San Francisco during a client engagement in early 2005. It wasn’t love at first site, but there was definitely chemistry. We married several months later and still work with that client.

What brings you sheer delight?
Hanging out with our three grandchildren.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be? 
We love where we live now. We also spend two weeks a year in Grand Cayman. We like the idea of spending a month in the autumn every year in New York. We love spending time in Paris, London, Idaho, Barcelona, Santa Fe, and San Francisco. We could spend part of the year in any of those places.

How did you create the plot for this book?
We first started discussing the idea for the book after we saw an exhibit in the Brussels Museum of Money about Belgian gold that had been seized by the Nazis. Some of it disappeared and has never been found. Some has been in litigation for decades and sits in a vault in New York. Then, we started creating the three characters who would be involved in finding some of that missing gold. After that, we wrote the first several chapters and realized we needed to learn more about writing fiction, so we hired an editor who helped us learn how to create character story arcs and story boards that linked the plot and story arcs we had created in a format that allowed us to continue writing. One of the biggest challenges we faced was that Broken Trust takes place in multiple venues and the characters are constantly moving from one time zone to another. The storyboard (and our editor) helped us manage logistics.

Do you have a routine for writing? Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
We tend to write in bursts. We both work full time, so we dedicate two weeks a year to write in Grand Cayman. Since our work has predictable times when we are less busy, we carve out time to write during those periods as well. Bonnie tends to write most of the dialogue; Mike tends to write the action scenes. We both edit our own and each other’s efforts before we give the manuscript file to our editor. Then she edits it, and we edit it again. We like to write at home, either in Venice or Eugene, but also write in hotel rooms, in the car (but not while driving!), and sometimes on planes. 

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write? Why?
Bonnie: The hardest thing I had to write was my mother’s eulogy. My mother requested that one of her children write her eulogy and speak at her funeral. I was blessed that I was able to discuss it with her and with my siblings before she died. Their insights and suggestions helped me frame how and what I wanted to say. It was even harder to read what I had written at her funeral. This was also one of the best experiences of my life. I was able to understand my mother’s life in a much deeper way and to honor her as a mother, a daughter, a sister, a grandmother, an artist, a musician, and a teacher who loved life and loved us.

Mike: My dad’s eulogy. It was hard because I was trying to do something for a lot of people while emotionally distressed, to perform this duty when I would rather have just been grieving.

Why did you decide to self-publish?  What steps did you take?
We decided to self-publish after spending considerable time looking for an agent or a publishing house. Bonnie had published one book with a major publisher so we were open to that, but also understood realistically that getting a first novel published that way would be challenging.

We already had a small publishing house for our non-fiction books so we knew how to sell on Amazon and iBooks, how to register copyrights, how to pour Word texts into electronic and traditional book formats, how to get book covers designed through 99 Designs, and texts formatted, how to create websites to sell books, and lots of other parts of the publishing puzzle.

Since we travel a lot, live in Florida and Oregon, and work with an editor who lives in California, Mike created an intranet site where we could all save and review files while we wrote and edited Broken Trust. That way everything was saved in one place and we didn’t have to send texts as attachments to emails. Our editor found our independent reviewers and managed that process very well. Mike created a survey for them to track their experience on Survey Monkey. Laura also found the man who formatted Broken Trust for different electronic publishing formats. We didn’t know how to market a novel, but at our editor, Laura Matthews’s suggestion we contacted Penny Sansevieri at Author Marketing Experts. 

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish? 

What are you working on now? 
We are working on the next two books in The Three Musketeers Series, Broken Web and Broken Code. We are also working with our editor on the movie script for Broken Trust.

About the author:

Thomas Maurin is the pen name of husband and wife writing team Bonnie B. Hartley, Ph.D., and Michael T. Hartley, CFP®. They both write non-fiction books and articles regarding financial and family business topics and have delivered talks on those subjects internationally over the last thirty years.

Connect with them:  Website   |  Twitter