FEATURED AUTHOR: GRAY BASNIGHT
ABOUT THE BOOK
An innocent math professor runs for his life as teams of hitmen try to prevent publication of their government’s dark history.
College professor Sam Teagarden stumbles upon a decades-old government cover-up when an encoded document mysteriously lands in his in-box, followed by a cluster of mini-drones programmed to kill him.
That begins a terrifying flight from upstate New York, to Washington, to Key West as Teagarden must outfox teams of hitmen equipped with highly sophisticated technology. While a fugitive, he races to decode the document, only to realize the dreadful truth—it’s the reason he’s being hunted because it details criminal acts committed by the U.S. in the 20th Century.
If he survives and publishes the decoded document, he’ll be a heroic whistle blower. But there is no guarantee. He may also end up dead.
Title: Flight of the Fox
Author’s name: Gray Basnight
Publisher: Down & Out Books (July 23, 2018)
Print length: 381 pages
INTERVIEW WITH GRAY BASNIGHT
Gray, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
It was originally called The Dear John File, but the publisher correctly worried that it may be misunderstood as a romance novel. I changed it to Flight of the Fox, which I think is better, and certainly more intriguing.
Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
This is definitely a series. Flight of the Fox is the first title. The sequel is now in progress. It too will explore a subject rooted in history that some readers may find controversial. Meantime, number three in the series is cooking somewhere deep in my cerebellum.
Where’s home for you?
Where did you grow up?
What’s your favorite memory?
Saturday bus trips by myself to downtown Richmond for a movie, followed by a long exploration of my favorite book store on Broad Street where I purchased paperbacks priced between 50 cents and $1.95. I typically came home with two to four books each trip.
If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
I truly have no idea. I need nothing at all except peace on Earth and coffee.
What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
An expensive mountain bike which taught me that biking in the mountains is…um…difficult. It also taught me that riding a mountain bike in the city is…um…not fun.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Be tolerant and cultivate your garden.
What do you love about where you live?
In all modesty, New York City is the greatest city in the world. The reason why is because it is the world in miniature.
Have you been in any natural disasters?
Not really. I was around for Superstorm Sandy which hurt many and damaged a great deal of property. I personally suffered little impact, except for the prolonged power outage.
What is the most daring thing you've done?
I do it every day by sitting down to the keyboard to write.
What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Sitting down every day at the keyboard to write.
What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
If you want to be a writer, put your butt in the chair for four to six hours a day, that’s the only rule.
If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money?
This question is a real challenge. My inclination is to give it to a worthy charity, but that doesn’t completely solve any particular problem in its entirety. So, how about this—I’d buy a restaurant’s services for a full meal period, either lunch or dinner. Then I’d bus in all the homeless and hungry people I could find in need of a full meal. It’s not a solution to hunger. I’d rather teach a homeless person to fish than buy a homeless person a fish. But for five-grand, hey, abatement of hunger is at least a worthy temporary solution.
What makes you nervous?
Drivers who behave as though the highway were their own personal NASCAR track and cops who do nothing about them because they focus only on speeders.
What makes you happy?
My golden retriever, especially when she misbehaves by trying to steal food from the kitchen counter by stealth.
Who are you?
I am an American who believes in the promise of America, and I’m a writer.
How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?
I met her in Studio Three at WOR Radio in NYC and liked her immediately because she popped her knuckles. Naw, not really love at first sight. How about: like at first sight.
What are your most cherished mementoes?
My well-preserved comic book collection which I keep safe in a New Jersey rental storage bin. It’s all Silver Age with a lot of Superman, Superboy, Uncle Scrooge, Blackhawk, The Haunted Tank, Herbie, and many others.
Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” - Twain
If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Paris, in the Montmartre neighborhood.
What would you like people to say about you after you die?
He was a good writer.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“I could be bound within a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” - Hamlet
How did you create the plot for this book?
By inventing the characters and letting them take me on their journey. Oddly, the subject of the book was born in 2011 while watching Ellen DeGeneres interview Clint Eastwood about his movie “J. Edgar.” At the time, I’d been wracking my brain for an event, or a period in history that could spark a thriller in the mold of alternative history. I found it during that interview. Long story short: Mr. Eastwood said the “jury is still out” as to whether J. Edgar Hoover was gay. I believe Mr. Eastwood was mistaken about that. And—that—sets up the plot for Flight of the Fox.
Is your book based on real events?
In part, yes. It’s loosely based on my emotional reaction, and my continuing bitterness over Vietnam, the assassinations of two Kennedys, Dr. King, and finally—9/11.
Who are your favorite authors?
So very many: Daniel Dafoe, Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Somerset Maugham, Graham Green, Erich Maria Remarque, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Sylvia Plath, Saul Bellow, Isabel Allende.
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Tangerine, by Christine Mangan in hardback.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Morning and afternoon, in solitude.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
As a freshman at North Carolina Wesleyan College, after taking a composition assessment test, the chairman of the English Department called me into his office and told me I displayed superior writing skill, that he was impressed, and that he hoped I’d work on developing it. That did it for me. I was eighteen-years-old. In that moment, I became committed to writing.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I worked for several years as a broadcast news writer at 1010 WINS, a major all-news radio station in New York City. It was a terrific place to hone both journalistic and fundamental writing skills. Cranking out accurate, well written stories in a highly abbreviated format under intense time pressure can be likened to the Marine Corps of writing. It’s a difficult, challenging job because if you get it wrong or write it poorly—you will hear from the newscaster who must read your stuff.
Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
New York Public Library, the main branch on Fifth Avenue. Shy of the Library of Congress, it’s the best for research. And the Rose Main Reading room is spectacular. Whenever I go there to sit and write for a few hours, I feel like I’ve stepped back into history. My laptop is plugged in, but I’m sitting in a 19th Century cathedral of scholarship.
You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Robinson Caruso. He’s one of the great didactic and heroic figures of literary fiction, the ultimate example of playing the hand you were dealt. He not only played it and survived, but he prevailed.
What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
In 2013, I attended a Q&A literary panel in NYC. Well-known editors and agents were on the dais. Afterward, without knowing me or ever reading anything I’d written, an editor with a large and well-known publishing house said to my face: “I doubt you could write anything I’d be interested in.” As for dealing with it, I’m still trying.
What would your dream office look like?
I already have it: a tiny walk-in closet loaded with books and knickknacks. I call it my in-utero hideaway.
What are you working on now?
A sequel to Flight of the Fox as mentioned above. I’m also fine-tuning a YA manuscript about a sixteen-year-old girl named Junior Binét with a genius IQ. Readers who love Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson will recognize Junior as a contemporary, female version of Jim Hawkins.
READ AN EXCERPT FROM FLIGHT OF THE FOX
OneThe officers spotted him while straining to hold their K-9’s. One of them pointed, yelled an order, and all three released their dogs.
That’s when Teagarden ceased being a smart fox. In that moment he became a dumb fox. He could think of only one thing.
And that one thing was as dumb as they come.
He bolted as hard as his creaky knees could manage. The nearby presence of a subway entrance helped. Once underground, it was dumb luck that a train was entering the station at that moment.
Paying the fare never occurred to him, but getting over the turnstile wasn’t pretty. There was no way he was going to jump it like an ordinary fare beater. His lousy knees forced him to pause, hoist his weight to sit on the turnstile edge, pull up his legs, spin his butt, and delicately slide over to stand down on the opposite side.
The police dogs had no such limitations. All three were in the station and plowing under the turnstiles as the train doors opened. Their momentary confusion amid the waiting crowd gave Teagarden enough time to move down the platform by one car-length.
As he entered the train, he saw the K-9 trio casually stepping aboard the adjacent car as though it were their daily commute. In the crush of passengers, the conductor must not have noticed because he closed the doors and the train pulled from the station before the pursuing cops caught up.
Unbelievable. If anyone ever makes a movie about this, no one will think this scene remotely possible.
It was a downtown N-Train. “N,” as in nuts. “N,” as in nasty.
Excerpt Copyright © 2018 Gray Basnight. Used with permission of Down & Out Books.
The Cop with the Pink Pistol; a Civil War historical novel, Shadows in the Fire; and now Flight of the Fox, a run-for-your-life thriller. Works in progress include YA and literary fiction. Like most with a passion for writing, it’s been with him all his life, or at least from second grade when, at the age of seven, reading took hold and never let go. When not writing, Gray is reading and thinking about the current project or ideas for the next manuscript.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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