T.S. O’Neil: Mexican Hat Trick

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Author Interview

1. How did you choose your genre? What made you write this book? The first book I ever read was Puppet on a Chain, a thriller written by Scottish author Alistair MacLean. From that point forward, I was hooked on the genre. The protagonist is usually up against insurmountable odds, he often faces danger, torture, the loss of people close to him and failure. But he struggles, adapts and overcomes. It’s a great genre, but I also claim membership in the sub-genre known as ‘Florida Glare’ popularized by John D. MacDonald’s hard-boiled PI, Travis McGee. Florida is always the backdrop. David Barry describes the particular genre as “South Florida wackos”—all heavily armed, all loquacious, all barely aware of one another’s existence—blunder through petty crime, discover themselves engaged in actual murder, and then move in unconscious unison toward the black comedy of a violent climax.” My particular version has Western Florida as the backdrop, specifically the Tampa bay area, with occasional detours to Mexico and the Caribbean, but Barry has got the rest of Florida Glare dead to rights. My second book was more of a military thriller, but I like to think I can cross genres easily. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. Now, I’ve written four, and I’m planning on a fifth. Writing is very addicting.

2. Writers write what they know, and must observe the world. Are you a first born, middle or last child and how does this shape your view of the world? I’m the third child of a four-child family, but I don’t think that has anything to do with what I write. I write what I know, and that’s why everything I write has a military backdrop to it because I spent my formative years in the Marines and Army. I also did corporate investigative work for a while specific to trademarked apparel counterfeiting and had a number of private investigators working for me, and now I work in cyber-security. These past experiences provide rich fodder for writing. In fact, my latest novel, Mexican Hat Trick, is a private investigator who goes to Mexico to investigate a case of trademark counterfeiting and finds murder and mayhem instead.       

3. Where is your favorite place to write? I usually write in my home office as it allows me to focus and get down to business. Sorry, there isn’t a more interesting place to name—a sunny nook in a warm corner of an
older house on an antique desk that my grandfather hewed from an ancient Oak he felled with an ax in the primeval forest. Sure, that would make a better story, but it would make me sound like a pompous horse’s ass.

4. How do you feel about killing your darlings, and what do you do with the remains? I’m all for it. One of my protagonists finds love in one of my books, and I know that in order to drive action throughout the rest of the book, he has to be consumed with the desire for revenge. My darling is that case had the life expectancy of a guy wearing a red shirt in the original Star Trek series—he may beam down with the rest of the away team but you know he’s not coming back. There are times when I hate to do it because the character has become dear to me in that he has developed well and I think the readers will like him. Sometimes my wife will plead with me not to kill the character—that was the case with Eidetic Eddie Doyle, and she was right to do so as the character has more than proven his worth. But at the end of the day, someone has to die as you want to drive character action through emotion.

5. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them? The late Elmore Leonard. How do you write dialog that is so realistic and believable? I think I would also ask him how he broke through to film as I’m sure that would be an interesting story.

6. Inquiring minds want to know…tell readers something about you that no one knows. No one knows those things for a reason. Next question. Just kidding. I was a vegetarian until I was about 16 or so. I just really had no liking for the taste of meat. I wish I was still so afflicted—it would definitely help manage my cholesterol. I joined the Marine Reserves when I was seventeen and thought they probably would not accommodate a vegetarian, so I began to eat meat. I did learn that Desmond Doss, the Conscientious Objector who won the Medal of Honor for actions on Okinawa, was also a vegetarian, but then that was the Army. 🙂

7. You are stranded on a deserted island with only a backpack for the company. What three items are in your survival pack? An implement to start a fire (Flint & Steel) A Survival Straw to filter pathogens from water and a Inquiring minds want to know…tell readers something about you that no one knows. No one knows those things for a reason. Next question. Just kidding. I was a vegetarian until I was about 16 or so. I just really had no liking for the taste of meat. I wish I was still so afflicted—it would definitely help manage my cholesterol. I joined the Marine Reserves when I was seventeen and thought they probably would not accommodate a vegetarian, so I began to eat meat. I did learn that Desmond Doss, the Conscientious Objector who won the Medal of Honor for actions on Okinawa, was also a vegetarian, but then that was the Army. 🙂

8. If you could have one super power in your existence, what would it be? I think the ability to fly would be a really cool superpower to have, but I think that super strength would trump that.

9. Favorite snack? Dry Roasted Cashews

10. Indy 500 – Do you know how to get where you’re going or do you drive the speed limit? I’ve become more a speed limit type of guy in my later years, but I still swerve off the road from time to time. I’ve definitely become more cautious and less willing to drive without a map. My wife claims I enjoy planning a trip more than I actually enjoy the trip. I think as we age we learn from our mistakes—the only downside to that is that mistakes sometimes lead to very interesting experiences.

 

Mexican Hat Trick

by T.S. O’Nei

 

GENRE: Contemporary, Action/Adventure

 

 

BLURB

Mexican Hat Trick reunites Retired Sheriff’s Department Detective turned Private Investigator, Eidetic Eddie Doyle with Former Force Recon Marine, Michael Blackfox, in a rollicking tale of murder, counterfeiting and kidnapping south of the border. A rogue’s gallery of new villains, including a pathological ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, a bloodthirsty drug kingpin, and a conniving corporate attorney, conspire to corner the counterfeit apparel market. Mexican Hat Trick is Florida Glare—south of the border.

 

Excerpt:

Michael saw the small panel truck approaching in the distance, trailing a cloud of dust many times its size. He heard the faint sound of the helicopter again, but this time, it seemed closer. He looked back at the mountain and could see it now—a bulbous-nosed blue dot transversing the mountainside as if looking for something. Not good, he thought, not fucking good at all.  He watched as the small, nimble craft changed direction, now advancing towards the box truck. Michael estimated the truck was slightly less than a mile away.  He  held his thumb up and measured the size of the aircraft against it—he estimated the helicopter to be about forty feet long. At a distance, Michael could cover the helicopter with his thumbnail—he estimated the bird to be about 10 miles away. It was now rapidly closing the distance and decreasing its altitude—as if preparing for a strafing run.

Their weapons were down by the lagoon, leaning on the rocks that lined its edge. He ran for the lagoon. There was an AK-47 that had the required range and oomph to take down the aircraft, and he needed it.  Clive, Eddie, and Beth stood at the edge of the water watching as he ran towards them. “Weapons,”said Michael, yelling as loud as his overworked lungs would allow. The two men scrambled to pick them up and then ran toward Michael. The effort saved Michael about twenty feet or just a few seconds, but every second counted in a time bound game. He grabbed the AK from Eddie turned and accelerated back up the sandy incline. Michael bolted up the road, leaving the two other men—quite literally in his dust. He reached the desert floor, and took aim at the chopper, but lowered his rifle. Eddie caught up to him and doubled over to catch his breath. “Why aren’t you firing?”

“We’re out of range,” said Michael. “And we don’t know what they want.” 

As if in answer, the helicopter turned it’s cargo door toward the path of the vehicle and a loud whoosh followed by a streak of propelled fire launched toward’s the truck. The warhead exploded a few feet behind the truck’s cargo compartment—apparently, the shooter did not account for the truck’s forward motion. “Holy shit,” said Clive. “He’s got a freaking RPG!”

Michael couldn’t believe what he was seeing—some madman had fired an RPG at the vehicle from inside the helicopter’s passenger compartment. He was pretty sure he knew who that was. The copter went around for another pass—perhaps to allow the shooter to reload. “Come on, let’s go,” said Michael. He broke into a run towards the truck, as the helicopter slowly circled. Michael felt he was in range and fired at the  helicopter. Tracers spaced every third round outlined the arc of fire that fell well short of the hovering aircraft. He witnessed the ineffectual results and began running again, hoping to close the distance on the helicopter before the shooter could fire the RPG again.

The copter moved to take up a hover on the dirt road, directly in the truck’s path. That maneuver brought the aircraft closer to Michael, but still not within his rifle’s range. He aimed it and elevated the barrel above the target—hoping to lob in an arc of bullets. The rounds fell short, and he elevated the barrel hoping to walk them onto the target when he ran out of bullets. He had no additional magazines. Eddie ran forward with the MP5 and handed it to Michael. He tried the same with the MP5, but given the weapons shorter range, he might as well have been spitting at them. Michael handed the empty weapon back to Eddie and looked with alarm at the hovering helicopter—the shooter had finished reloading and was aiming the rocket launcher towards the oncoming truck 

Michael reached down and picked up several large rocks from the ground. “Help me,” he said. Eddie looked puzzled. “Help me pick up some rocks.” Eddie nodded in understanding, reached down and began collecting some large rocks. Michael ran to close the distance with the helicopter as if hovered perpentidular to the road, just a few feet from the ground.

Michael had two large rocks—one in each hand. He got within thirty feet of the aircraft and launched a rock at the open passenger compartment. It flew over the helicopter. Michael ran forward again and let fly the other projectile. The rock flew through the air, arced into the open compartment and into the shoulder of the firer. The force of the impact turned him to the right just as he was squeezing the trigger.

The primary motor of the rocket fired and launched the projectile into the cockpit as the secondary motor fired and drove the warhead into the aircraft’s control console. The exhaust from the chemical-fueled motor burned the pilot’s face and blinded him. He reflectively pulled on the controls and drove the helicopter into the hard-packed dirt road. The craft turned over on its side, and the blades of the motor rotated into the hard packed desert earth and collapsed with the thunderous and calamitous sound of wrenching metal. The aircraft’s fuel tank ruptured and bled aviation gas onto the already blossoming fire.

They all stood mesmerized by the conflagration. A figure engulfed in flames struggled to escape the fire. He crawled from the inferno and rolled in the dirt as he screamed in pain and fear. Clive held up his pistol and aimed it at the man. Micheal suspected the burning figure was most likely the heartless son of a bitch who killed Jimmy, the DEA agent, in cold blood. He put his hand on Clive’s arm and forcefully pushed it down, so the pistol was aimed at the ground. “Let the bastard burn.”

 

Author Bio and Links:

TS O’Neil graduated with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Degree in Criminal Justice and graduated with High honors from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration in Technology Management.  He served as a Rifleman with the Marine Corps Reserve, an Officer in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army, and retired from the Army of the United States (AUS) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. TS is currently employed as a Senior Security Consultant, specializing in Information Security. He lives in Seminole, FL with his beautiful wife, Suzanne.  He has written four books, Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, Mudd’s Luck and Mexican Hat Trick.

 

All are available on Amazon.com

www.tsoneil.com

https://www.amazon.com/T.S.-ONeil/e/B00DK8VL1Q/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7200359.T_S_O_Neil

https://www.facebook.com/TampStar
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Danita Minnis

I should have known I would end up here…

Give me a good book and I’m in heaven. Especially romance, mystery, mayhem, the fantastic and the fey. Give me a laptop and I’m writing any one of these, and not in any particular order.

4 thoughts on “T.S. O’Neil: Mexican Hat Trick”

  1. What is the best book that you have read recently? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

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