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Ice Fire
by David Lyons

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An Exclusive Authorlink Interview
with David Lyons, Author of Ice Fire

By Diane Slocum
June 2012

Jock Boucher is no sooner appointed a U.S. District Judge than he has to take over the caseload of an ailing senior judge and immediately steps into a 20-year-old case of corruption, murder and intrigue. Scientist Bob Palmetto and lawyer Ruth Kalin emerge from hiding long enough to entangle Boucher in the race for undersea methane hydrate – a volatile and dangerous, but extremely valuable new source of energy. Some will stop at nothing to get it, including murdering anyone who gets in their way, even a federal judge or two.

“I knew I needed a body on the first few pages and decided to, as Shakespeare suggested, first kill the lawyer.”

AUTHORLINK: The story deals with the law, science and big business. What is your background?

LYONS: I am a former international lawyer. For years I spent much time in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world representing clients in the energy as well as other global business sectors.

AUTHORLINK: Why did you want to write about methane hydrate? Which came first – Judge Boucher or Bob Palmetto and the hydrate?

LYONS: At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to write a thriller. In keeping with the genre, I knew I needed a body on the first few pages and decided to, as Shakespeare suggested, first kill the lawyer. That was all I had; a dead lawyer, murdered because he was going to reveal something – I knew not what at first – to the FBI. I didn’t have a plot. I didn’t even know where I was. Then one night I had dinner with friends and met a geophysicist who was working on a government project involving methane hydrate. I began to research the subject and was fascinated by what I found. So methane hydrate came next, closely followed by Bob Palmetto, the scientist. Still, I didn’t know where I was. I thought of several cities which I had known, with ties to the energy business, then settled on New Orleans. I love the city and have been fortunate to have spent much time there. Cajun Jock Boucher revealed himself once I had determined the setting of the novel.

AUTHORLINK: How did you do your research?

LYONS: Internet. What a wonderful wireless world we live in. I found government, scientific and private business sites dealing with the subject of methane hydrate. Its potential as a worldwide source of energy is undergoing substantial study by numerous governments and a great deal of information, some of it quite technical, is disseminated for public consumption. I also spoke with energy consultants familiar with the subject.

“Sometimes I know where I’m going. Sometimes the story reveals itself as I write, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

AUTHORLINK: What was the hardest part of the process of going from your original idea to a finished book? What surprised you?

LYONS: I have a manner of writing which I don’t think I could recommend to everyone. I call it the ‘jump in the deep end of the pool’ method. I begin. Sometimes I know where I’m going. Sometimes the story reveals itself as I write, and sometimes it doesn’t. In general, I usually have a clear vision of the very beginning and a vague idea of the end, with hardly a clue of what I’m going to do for the three hundred plus pages in between. But I do maintain decent discipline. I have a daily writing schedule, a per diem word count, and I stick to it. If there is anything that does surprise me, it is the realization that the subconscious really works, and I mean ‘works’ in several ways. When I have a problem of imagination, I don’t dwell on it, I keep writing. Whatever question or confusion I had, often resolves itself not after, but in the course of a good night’s sleep. I wake up with the answer as if it had been there waiting for me to get to the place where I needed it. I find this aspect of the creative process fascinating and would love to talk to other authors and ask if they experience this as well. Now, I can't ignore the process of re-writing. It's important and not fun. It feels like work. It's harder in part because you don't have a measuring stick like a word count to judge your progress. It's painful when you have to cut; when you have to back up and start fresh. But it's a part of it. What I really, and I mean really enjoyed was the editing process. It was fascinating working with an editor's perspective of your writing. You see things a whole new way.

AUTHORLINK: Why did you decide to self-publish? How did you get from there to a contract with Emily Bestler Books/Atria?

LYONS: I met Dan Poynter, the guru of self-publishing. His inspiration came at a time when new avenues were becoming available to publish one’s work. I still had my dreams of finding a major publisher, but self-publishing in the interim was most satisfying and finding satisfaction, I kept writing. Through my local writers group I met someone with contacts in the publishing industry. She introduced my novel, Ice Fire, to Simon and Schuster.

“Having one’s dream of a lifetime fulfilled presents its own challenge. You need the next dream.”

AUTHORLINK: How did you feel when your book sold to the publisher?

LYONS: Embarrassing for a writer, I was at a loss for words. But in truth, I felt humbled and in a very strange way, conflicted. Having one’s dream of a lifetime fulfilled presents its own challenge. You need the next dream.

AUTHORLINK: It looks as if Judge Boucher will be going after more criminals. Are you writing a sequel?

LYONS: Mais oui! I have big plans for Jock Boucher. He will make the world a safer place for all those of us who love beignets, jazz, and oysters Rockefeller.

About David Lyons: Retired from his career in law, Lyons is putting his knowledge to use continuing the adventures of Judge Boucher. Born in England, educated in the U.S., Lyons now lives with his wife in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Diane Slocum
Regular Contributor:
Diane Slocum

Diane Slocum has been a newspaper reporter and editor and authored an historical book. As a freelance writer, she contributes regularly to magazines and newspapers. She writes features on authors and a column for writers and readers in Lifestyle magazine. She is assigned to write interviews of first-time novelists and bestselling authors for Authorlink.