Veil of Deception
by Michael Byars Lewis
on Tour April 18 - May 31, 2016
For years, Air Force Captain Jason Conrad flew and instructed in the supersonic T-38. Despite his decline into a self-destructive lifestyle, he was considered one of the best instructors on the base. Following a terrifying jet crash, Jason finds himself on a very short list of people on their way out the door. It is a surprise to everyone when he is assigned to the home of the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center. Jason should have known that in a ‘one mistake Air Force’ where you ‘do more with less’, everything would not be what it appears. Attached to a secret project with a shadowy contractor, Jason is caught between two complications; an overbearing, retired general determined to see him fail; and an aggressive television reporter who wants him in prison. When a ghost from the past shows up and a beautiful, yet mysterious woman enters his life, Jason soon discovers his special project has more secrets than anyone knows about . . . and it could cost him his life.
Book Details:Genre: Thriller Published by: SATCOM Publishing Publication Date: April 2016 Number of Pages: 458 ISBN: 0991476425, 9780991476428
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Author Bio:Michael Byars Lewis, is a former AC-130U ‘Spooky’ Gunship Evaluator Pilot with 18 years in Air Force Special Operations Command. A 25-year Air Force pilot, he has flown special operations combat missions in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His first novel, SURLY BONDS, won three awards—2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Silver Medal Finalist 1st Novel (Over 80,000 words), 2013 Readers’ Favorites: Bronze Medal (Fiction-Intrigue), and the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Awards: Winner (Military Fiction). Michael has an extensive social media footprint on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest. Michael is currently a pilot for a major U.S. airline.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember the exact point, but it was around April 1992. I had an idea that was rolling around in my head. I had gone to Los Angeles to hang out with my college roommate, John Mese. John was working as an actor in L.A. (Key word “working”). I told John what I was thinking about doing and he told me, “Everybody has a story to tell. Some people just tell it better than others.” So I started fleshing out my story (which would become Surly Bonds) as soon as I left L.A. When I returned home (Enid, Oklahoma at this time), I was telling some friends about this book I was thinking about. One of my friends says, “Hey, my neighbor writes books.” I asked if he’d arrange for me to meet him, which he did. The author's name was Johnny Quarles. He was a great guy. We talked for several hours about writing books. He essentially convinced me it was something I could do.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
That’s kind of a hard question to answer. The first draft of my first book (Surly Bonds) took five years. It’s important to know that during those years, I also went to training on three different airplanes, finished Squadron Officer’s School (professional military education) in residence and correspondence, and finished a Master’s Degree. Of course, I was teaching myself how to write during that time as well, so it took longer.
The second book was a lot faster. The first draft was done in nine months and the book was ready for release around the two and a half year mark. We did end up sitting on it for six months while waiting to hear from some agents and publishers, then another four months to launch it. The last four months was for a variety of different reasons but it was a good move. We learned a lot about marketing in those four months.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
It varies significantly. If I’m at home, I usually write first thing in the morning for a couple of hours. If I’m on the road, it’s whenever I can get to the keyboard. That’s been good for me, though. I think an author needs to be able to sit down and write at any point during the day, because that may be all he has. If you wait for the “perfect time,” your book will never get written.
4. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Ideas come from a variety of sources. A news story, a location, a personal experience; it can be anything. When I first wanted to be a writer, I was going to write a non-fiction book about Air Force pilot training. Then I realized nobody would really be interested in that. But then I asked myself, “What if it was wrapped around a thriller?” Throw in some questionable relationships and we were on our way.
One of the ideas for Veil of Deception was originally from the Tail Hook Scandal. That’s the genesis of one of the characters. This particular character changed significantly by the final draft of the book, but that’s where the idea originated. Another one for this book was during the last few years of the 20th Century, there were instances where Chinese citizens were big donors to one of our political parties. This situation led to the creation of the antagonist for Veil of Deception.
5. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I work. A lot. I’m constantly on the road, flying trips. That’s not a bad thing, except that it takes me away from my family. I take my wife with me whenever I can. I also read quite a bit and I’m a big fan of the second amendment and try to hone my skills whenever I can.
6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think I was surprised at how I was able to take a variety of subplots and characters that are totally unrelated and weave them together so the reader realizes that everybody is important. That was neat. Also, the new story ideas that occur during the writing. While writing Veil of Deception, I came up with ideas for three different novels or novellas (haven’t decided on length yet) that takes place between the two books. Very cool.
7. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written two books so far. The third is in progress. It’s tough to say which one is my favorite. The first book obviously has a certain place in my heart. The second book, does as well, because it represents everything learned in the first book (from a writer’s perspective). The third book is coming along a lot easier, which reserves it a place as well.
8. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Read. Then read some more. Read outside of the genre you plan to write in. Read books on writing. Even if you only get one nugget of information you can use, it’s worth it. Be open-minded. Seek help from others going through what you are going through; help others as well. First time authors, sometimes, can get a little cocky. I’m assuming it’s because they’ve written a book and most of the world has not. Be humble and helpful. It will pay off in spades. Also, the best advice I’ve heard was in an interview with Brad Thor. He said (to paraphrase) “Don’t be afraid to write a bad first draft.” The whole point is, write the first draft straight through. Don’t try to rewrite and edit as you go. Get through the first draft, then you can go back and do those things.
9. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Not as much as I would like. My Beta readers are always contacting me with articles or information. But I haven’t really been set up for interaction with my readers until now. You can contact me through my website at www.michaelbyarslewis.com. Oh shoot, just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, let's get them letters rolling in! I'm looking forward to what you have to say! And thank you for the opportunity for the shameless plug of my website.
10. Do you like to create books for adults?
Yes, all my books are for adults. But I don’t write smut. Although some of those acts might occur in my books, they tend to take place off camera, or the day before.
11. What do you think makes a good story?
Great characters. You can have a weak plot or story structure but if the characters are strong, relatable, deep, and diverse, you will have enough internal conflict amongst the character to cause the reader to keep turning the pages. John Grisham is able to create tension on every page and that’s why we love to read him so much.
12. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Everything at one point or another. I had a very fertile imagination. But I think it was probably obvious at some point I was destined for the military. I did have the teenage revolt in high school and the early years of college of no military career, but thankfully, I recovered. I was an artist in college. Worked my way through school doing that. I had several job opportunities when I graduated but I knew I wanted something more. During that time, I thought I wanted to go to film school but I had no idea where to go or how to make it happen. See, I was always a storyteller. It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force and gained a little experience that I realized I had some stories to tell.
13. What would you like my readers to know?
Veil of Deception and Surly Bonds are not your average military thrillers. And they’re not techno-thrillers. The stories are about people and the technology (airplanes) are simply a tool in the story. Here’s a little know fact about Veil of Deception, after about the third draft, I had a Romance novel editor give me a conceptual edit on the manuscript. She was able to understand everything and really loved the story! Plus she helped make it stronger. That being said, it’s already received super strong reviews from San Francisco Book Review, Bestthrillers.com, and Manhattan Book Review. Check out my website to read those articles and check out the Veil of Deception Book trailer as well!