Interview With Erika Mitchell
Hi folks. Today I get to chat with Erika Mitchell. If you are a follower of my blog, you will have seen the recent book release post back on May 5.
Erika, thanks for being here today. Please tell us about you
I’m the survivor of an author mother and amateur spy father. My childhood was an eclectic mix of pickpocketing lessons infused with insistence of perfect grammar. We’d unwind as a family with reruns of MacGyver and Get Smart, with frequent James Bond marathons when the mood struck. It’s really no surprise at all that I turned out to be an espionage author!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I lost my father to cancer five years ago. He was only fifty one years old. As I was standing over his hospital bed, holding his hand and watching his body give out, I realized a long life is not a given. It wasn’t for him, and it isn’t for me, either. I’m not saying I live every day to the fullest, because I don’t think anyone can really sustain that long term, but I try not to waste time. Life is too short not to walk in the rain with your kids, or to write stories that don’t make you happy.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Joss Whedon. I’d just want to shadow him at work, talk over story ideas and universes with him, and have lunch and drinks with his actor friends. Yeah, I think breakfast with the Avengers, followed by lunch with the Dollhouse cast, drinks with the cast of Serenity, and then dinner with Joss and his writer family would be just about the perfect day. I wouldn’t even talk, I’d just soak in all that brilliance.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
Bai Tide is the kind of spy book I’ve always wanted to read but never been able to find. When I wrote it, I set out to create a story that was the novel equivalent of a Michael Bay movie: A fast-moving plot with lots of explosions. As much as I love Jason Bourne and James Bond, they’re quite dour, aren’t they? I wanted to write a spy who’s human, a guy who’s at the beginning of his career. I wanted him to make mistakes, and react to the realities of his job. I think I succeeded, I’d definitely go grab a beer with CIA case officer Bai Hsu!
Tell us your writing process.
I come up with the beginning of the story, and then just kind of start writing. I never know how a story is going to end when I start it, I just kind of make a mess and then write down what happens.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Like I said, my mother was a writer so I almost think I was born a writer! It’s in my genes. I’ve always expressed myself best through the written word. I didn’t realize I wanted to tell stories for a living until I was out of college, though. I wrote a novel on a lark and was surprised to find I quite enjoyed it.
Tell us about your main character:
Bai Hsu is a CIA case officer. Most people think of spies as CIA agents, when actually the agents are the ones who supply information to the CIA! A case officer is what most people would think of as a “field agent,” they’re the CIA employees out in the field keeping an ear to the ground. Bai is relatively new to the job and he’s finding his second assignment much more difficult than his first one was (You can read about his first assignment in my first book, Blood Money). Bai is second generation Chinese, the only child of very ambitious parents who are not really on board with his life choices. He’s tall, terribly intelligent, and sarcastic. He has a law degree from Stanford, but knew early on in his life that he wasn’t cut out for a suit-and-tie life. He’s a good person who got into working for the CIA for the right reasons, though the nature of his work will necessarily take a toll on him the longer he does it.
What are you working on next?
The second book in this series, Take the Bai Road. Bai Tide takes Bai to North Korea, and Take the Bai Road will take Bai to the drug cartels of Mexico. I had to brush up on my Spanish swear words to write that one!
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I’m a decent clarinet player, and I’m quite good at soothing fussy babies and anxious animals. I’m a pretty decent bowler, a surprisingly good ping pong player, and I can unpack and organize a kitchen like no one’s business.
Who are your favorite authors?
Jim Butcher, Jonathan Kellerman, Lisa Gardner, Robert Dugoni, Jon Land, Aaron Elkins…I could go on and on.
What do you like to do with your free time?
I don’t have much of that! I enjoy spending time with horses, taking my kids on adventures, trying new restaurants with my husband, learning how to play pool, practicing my marksmanship at the gun range, drinking coffee on the beach, eating chocolate, exercising at the gym, and baking. I’m an excellent baker.
Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
Book two of this series, Take the Bai Road, will take Bai to Mexico, book three, Bai Treason, will plunge him into the civil unrest in Ukraine, and I think book four will take place in China but I haven’t decided yet! The first three books of the series have been written, however.
Where can people find you on the web?
I’m everywhere! I’m on Twitter (@ParsingNonsense), Facebook (/erikamitchellbooks), my blog (www.parsingnonsense.com), and my author website (www.erika-mitchell.com). I love meeting new online friends!