Today I am sitting down with my good buddy E.J. “Russ” McDevitt, author of a growing series of thriller novels about Danny Quigley, a retired Special Forces agent who, even as a civilian, offers his services when the need arises—which it always does.
Russ, I understand that your character, Danny Quigley, is based on a real person. Tell us how you met this person, and what it was about him that inspired you to write Danny.
McDevitt: Melissa, I was training sales people for a Life Insurance company in the UK, where a class came in on a Monday morning and I worked with them for a number of days or even two weeks. One of the people who came in one morning was ex Special Forces, known as the SAS , and obviously suffering from some sort of post traumatic stress. He kept failing exams and I had to counsel him. He looked like he could have reached across and torn my throat out. However, as I was ex Canadian Military, he gradually relaxed and I was able to help him. He also started to share some incredible combat stories of operations he’d been on in the Special Forces which, under ‘The Official Secrets Act’ he wasn’t supposed to reveal to anyone whatsoever.
Danny Quigley was born right then, and when I started writing some years later, I just couldn’t get that man out of my mind! Go figure: he was probably killing people the week before he came in for training….. then wanted to sell Life Insurance!
Pretty amazing. I’m not sure I’d want to let that guy into my house on a cold call, but on the other hand, he probably didn’t have too many prospective customers saying no to him! Can you give us a brief overview of the series? What has Danny accomplished so far?
McDevitt: Not surprisingly, the first novel, The Quigley Alchemy, was about a guy who gets out of the UK Special Forces and tries to earn a living by selling life insurance, (sound familiar?). Initially he fails, but hears about some super salesman who broke all records and then disappeared. He decides to track him down. This leads him across to Ireland, but MI5, the UK’s Domestic Intelligence Service, want him back to carry out a political assassination. They won’t take ‘NO’ for an answer and kidnap his wife to make sure he does the job.
Subsequent novels are black ops that he carries out for MI5, MI6 and the CIA in various countries. Oh, yes, he has some interesting, and in some cases, ’kick-ass’ ladies on his team. (The odd steamy love scenes as well)… ‘NO’ not 50 shades of anything. (Danny IS British after all!)
Sounds like he’s had some pretty interesting adventures, and the stories have something for everyone. Now what’s up for Danny in your latest book, The Jihadists’ Return?
McDevitt: Highly-trained, hate-filled Jihadists are returning to the UK to create mayham. Britain has a major problem in that literally thousands have left Britain and joined up with ISIS and Al Qaeda overseas, and are returning with instructions to create a 9/11 attack on the UK.
Danny is tasked by MI5 to carry out surveillance on some of the groups, try to target their contacts, and discover their operational plans. In the meantime a Pashtun from Afghanistan wants revenge on Danny for killing his cousin, and unleashes attacks on Danny and his family. To add to this situation, a former female colleague in California begs him to come and help find her husband, a member of the elite Seals, who has disappeared.
Later in the novel Danny is kidnapped by the Jihadists who intend to behead him on video to launch the UK’s 9/11 attack.
Whoa! That’s a lot on Danny’s plate. We can see that your stories circle the globe and take Danny into all sorts of tricky situations. How much research do you do for your books?
McDevitt: Lots… obviously Google is a tremendous support and I use it quite a bit. Melissa, you have urged potential authors to read a lot and I’m a prolific reader of my genre: action novels. I even saw someone recently correct the guru Chris Ryan, with a scribble in his Special Forces books over something quite miniscule, so readers want the genuine thing and ideally from personal experience.
As an author I feel I can provide real credibility to my portrayal of action, having travelled as a young man in Australia in a boxing and wrestling troupe for 3 years, taking on all comers.
You were also a military policeman in Canada for six years; how much of your training and experience play into the Quigley books?
McDevitt: Yes, I served 6 years in the Canadian Military, 3 of them with the NATO Brigade in Europe. You can bet that I use this knowledge quite a lot in my stories, particularly where weapons are concerned. When the recruiting Sergeant found out about my unique experiences in Aussieland he immediately processed me into the Military Police. (I wonder why?)
You’re right; my experience is certainly reflected in the Quigley books. In those days, when it comes to unarmed combat, the Canadian MPs never carried a pistol or a club (apart from in action zones overseas), and so they handled themselves pretty well.
What’s next for Danny Quigley? Do you already have a new book started, or are the ideas still simmering?
McDevitt: I have some thoughts spiraling around in my head. Too early to share, and I wouldn’t want some eager beaver author to beat me to a story! Watch this space…
I know the feeling. Have to let the ideas percolate until they take the brain hostage and insist on being written down. Have you ever veered off in a different direction, written in a different genre or with a different main character?
McDevitt: I have written a Personal Development Journal that I updated recently which is basically a blueprint for those people who want to create a more fulfilling life for themselves.
However Danny Quigley is such an interesting character and hard to let go. I was also amazed and delighted to discover how many women loved my books. I didn’t figure on this initially.
One woman volunteered that Danny Quigley is what men used to be like: the genuine article, that the world needs more of.
Perhaps Danny is moving into the long-vacated space occupied by James Bond, who definitely had an appeal to women. Danny stays pretty busy, and his life makes most of the rest of us look tame. What do you do for excitement? For relaxation?
McDevitt: I’m a member of Toastmasters. Some years back I won the Irish and British titles.
I exercise just about every day, Tai Chi, Che Gong, the local gym, and some martial arts. I read a lot and am a carer for my wife Marie who is disabled with arthritis. I have 6 grown up kids who live all over the world, so I travel whenever writing activities allow.
Sounds like a full life, and very satisfying. Thanks so much for sharing it with us today, Russ. Now, if readers want more information, how can they find you?