Today I am interviewing Gavin Reese, author of the newl released Alex Landon Thriller series, which already includes a novel, Enemies Domestic, a novella, Room Number Three, and a short compilation called Alex Landon Starter Library.
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DJ: Hey Gavin! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Gavin Reese: Yes, thanks for having me, DJ. As you said, I recently had my first novel, Enemies Domestic published and released on 3 July. I’m a full-time cop and, among other things, a part-time author, so my stories and the Alex Landon Thriller Series are all based on cases that I and my partners have worked. During my cop career, I’ve had assignments in Patrol, Field Training, Narcotics, SWAT, and Special Investigations. I’ve been blessed with great partners, and am grateful to have had tremendous professional opportunities.
DJ: What is Enemies Domestic about?
Gavin: I wrote it based on some real-world events in the Phoenix area, and it details the efforts of Alex Landon, a suburban police detective in fictional Dry Creek, Arizona, and a civilian informant to investigate a white-supremacist hate group after they are suspected of attempting to acquire explosive materials and bomb-making components. What Landon and his informant don’t realize is that the group’s leader, effectively a silent partner in the organization, has much greater aspirations and the intended physical destruction is only the beginning of their plot and long-term objectives.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Enemies Domestic and the series?
Gavin: I grew up writing. Starting in about fourth grade, my dad would make us write essays as punishment rather than resorting to corporal measures. We’d turn in an essay on “Responsibility” and he’d grade it with a red pen, give it back for corrections, and we’d lather, rinse, and repeat as necessary. This continued until both he was satisfied with the product and we were determined NOT to recommit the original offense, which, in hindsight, was likely his objective all along. After I’d been working as a cop for a while, the cop shows, books, and movies that I loved so much as a civilian had suddenly become two-dimensional, inaccurate half-truths about police work. By that point, writing had grown cathartic for me, and was just as therapeutic as running. So, I got hurt at work, was frustrated with a lot of different aspects of my personal life at that point, and started writing a realistic police story, as at least I now see them, to deal with my stress while I worked on my physical recovery. I should also give a friend and editor, Vivian Caethe, credit where it’s due here as an “influence” for this specific novel. The original text was over 700 pages and 184,000 words, and she recommended rewriting it in first person and breaking the text into two novels.
DJ: Can you give the readers a brief rundown of the other two works already out since Enemies Domestic?
Gavin: Sure. Soon after Domestic, my publisher asked for a short story that they could use to introduce readers to the main characters and the Alex Landon Thriller Series. I’d written three short, thousand-word scenes for a writing contest earlier this year. Each scene is from a very different story, so I expanded them into about ten-thousand words, and Cyanide Publishing released it as Alex Landon Starter Library. I started working on Enemies Foreign in June, and took a week off from that effort to write Room Number Three. I intended it to be a short story of about 20 pages to detail Detective Landon’s efforts to interrogate a suspected pedophile, but, after four days, it was just over 114 pages. My wife can confirm I’m nearly incapable of telling a short story.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Gavin: The main character, Alex Landon, is exactly the detective you hope shows up to solve your murder. He’s competent, compassionate, and a genuinely incredible guy. He’s got some struggles looming on the horizon, but, for now, his biggest problems are catching the bad guys on the street and putting up with his asshole boss. Alex’s partner, Michele Lindsey, is a bit of a hot-head. She’s a very confident and independant woman who knows what she wants and needs, and doesn’t have the patience to wait for them. Lindsey’s an amazing partner for Alex to work with, fiercely loyal and protective, and just as unwilling to compromise her morals. She’s just not as good as Alex at filtering her thoughts before sending them out into the world. Enemies Domestic also features Jonathan McDougal, a former US Army Captain who recently resigned his commission to come home for his family. He struggles with a number of harsh realities that our returning combat vets navigate, and I hope his part of the story is therapeutic and encouraging for anyone in that position. Readers get to meet the wives of both Landon and McDougal, and see their worlds through their perspective. There’s also an assortment of patrol cops, police administrators, and supervisors, all of whom I hope give readers a realistic look into what personalities typically occupy those positions.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Alex Landon Thriller series like?
Gavin: This series is based on my own work in the Phoenix area, which is actually a surprisingly violent place to be either a criminal or a cop. The cartels, especially Sinaloa, have an open bounty on cops working anywhere near the Mexico border. The abject suffering that goes along with drug trafficking and human smuggling cannot be overstated, and cops have to see and help victims of those crimes, realizing what atrocities they’ve forcibly endured, and, usually within only a few-second timelapse, take their assailant into custody while using only the force “reasonable and necessary” to do so. The police are recurringly and consistently professional and objective enough to calmly handcuff the cartel smuggler who just marched fifteen people through the desert with no water for five days and raped women in the group along the way. I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than a single patrol shift without taking my gun out of the holster, and I’m certain Roscoe didn’t stay holstered for more than a week when I worked in the Detective Bureau. I’m told this series is considered ‘hard boiled’ because of its graphic topics, language, and content. As I see it, I’m just writing about a typical Tuesday in a city surrounded by drug trafficking corridors and narcoterrorism. Ever wonder why cops drink off the job?
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Enemies Domestic?
Gavin: The ending. A neat-and-clean Hollywood ending never happens to us cops in real life, so I couldn’t even consider writing one here. I think readers will appreciate the closure of getting to see the conclusion of almost every point of contention, even if they don’t necessarily like the outcome. This is certainly not a mindless weekend beach-read, and, by the end, readers have endured a bit of a beating. I wholeheartedly believe the ending is worth the torment. That’s basically how I see each day at work, I guess. I understand that I might see, hear, and occasionally do, things that humans are not psychologically intended to endure, but I have to keep faith that the ending will justify the journey.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish Enemies Domestic?
Gavin: I hope to hear back from readers on their own moral and ethical choices. How would they have handled the weight, the sheer, crushing mass, of “knowing” there is a specific group of bad men who intend to commit heinous acts of violence and terror, but you can’t yet “prove” it. In my world, that means that I can do very little about it. If you take a slightly morally flexible worldview, that might mean taking matters into my own hands and becoming a vigilante. I can certainly sympathize with that mindset and decision, I just can’t rectify the resulting incarceration and deviation from the laws of our criminal justice system. Good guys are always good guys, and they don’t ever get to act like the bad guys.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Alex Landon Thriller series? Enemies Domestic is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Gavin: I really want to take readers for a ride-along. I want to give them, as much as books and human imagination allow, the experience of being in our shoes, feeling our emotions, our rage, our anguish, our occasional helplessness, while continually and voluntarily submitting to the rules and laws of our state and nation. I wake up every day and recommit to my profession, and every opportunity to deviate from my oath and the laws I swore to God to uphold is also an opportunity to renew my vows with the People. I hope readers will get a more three-dimensional picture of our experience as cops in America, and I hope they genuinely explore their own conscience, morality, and ethics. Would I do it that way, could I do it right? Could I stop punching the gangbanger after he assaulted me, just because I heard him yell “stop” and begin submitting to me, or would I push my advantage to get in some payback? Could I arrest the man who just confessed to raping eight-year-olds instead of shooting him in the face, or running him through a woodchipper feet-first? I selfishly hope that readers realize their local cops are the most tolerant and compassionate people in their city. We serve all races, colors, creeds, religions, sexes, and commonly do so without judgement or prejudice. I can’t tell you the number of young people who’ve told me they’re gay AND that their own parents don’t know yet. I’m a stranger they met fifteen seconds ago when I knocked on the door for a Welfare Check, and they just gave up one of their biggest secrets to me. Commonplace. If we’re so bigoted and horrible, how do things like this happen to us? I wasn’t a cop fifty years ago, but I keep hearing that things were different then. I’m only a cop now, and I can only tell you how committed my people today are to protecting and serving yours, however you choose to define that.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Enemies Domestic that you can share with us?
Gavin: I have a few quotes and dialogues I especially enjoyed writing. Some, I think, are just more representative of the book’s themes than most:
- “There’s no problem high explosives can’t immediately solve.”–William “Duke” Bennett
- “Thank you, Captain McDougal, Jonathan, for your selfless dedication to training your men to take care of each other and come home together. Your legacy is assured by the men, whom you trained, training those who follow them. God Speed, son, you’ll be terribly missed.”–Col JD Hall
- “Fuck the Yankees.”–Jonathan McDougal
- “Distracted cops are dead cops.”–Genevieve Landon
- “Wait for ‘em to dismount. No use in shootin’ an armored truck.”–Ned “Cleveland” Foster
- “I hope you’re wrong, Landon, because I don’t want to see another bombing on American soil, but I also pray to God you’re right on this, because if a Phoenix cop screws his Glock into this guy’s temple off your bad BOLO and he’s innocent, we’re all fucked.”–Sgt Sean Rudiger
- “Go get these assholes, Detective, ain’t nobody gonna care if you find ‘em dead or alive, neither! Be safe, son, and if you can’t do that, be deadly.”–Roger, Vietnam Vet, to Landon
- “Ordinary people who had come to work their cubicles that morning heroically rose to meet the atrocity before them and provided critical aid necessary to save your life.”–Dr Barrett
- “Thank you for your sincere compliments, gentlemen,it is a testament to my men’s lawful restraint that you feel no danger whatsoever in antagonizing us while you’re nearly defenseless. Your gratitude for preserving your physical well-being and Constitutional rights are duly noted. Now, and I mean right now, you should feel free to exercise your right to shut...the fuck…up.”–Sgt David Templeton
DJ: Now that Enemies Domestic is released, what is next for you?
Gavin: I’ve been busier since the release than I was in the months leading up to it. After I signed with Cyanide Publishing and we got Domestic out on 3 July, the Alex Landon Starter Library hit on 14 July, Room Number Three, released on 4 September. Now, I’m up to my eyeballs in Enemies Foreign, which is on pre-order now for a 15 November release, as well as trying to make sure that my subscribers get routine, relevant content through the website blog at gavinreese.com. Oh, yeah, and there’s that pesky police job that keeps me busy for about fifty hours a week. And, a happy marriage I’d like to stay that way. And, I try to make time to volunteer with Team Rubicon on local service projects and disaster recovery missions across the US. So, not much…
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Gavin-Reese/e/B072W5PPGS
Author Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/c1a4a6
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Enemies Domestic and the Alex Landon Thriller series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Gavin: I’ve been asked several times if Alex Landon is me. Not the case. I’ve used my own belief systems, training, experiences, and investigations, along with some from my partners, to write Alex. However, he’s not me, and I’m not him. I strive to become the man that I’ve written him to be.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Gavin: I’d just like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who’s supported this endeavor and given up some of their precious time and hard-earned money in exchange for hearing my stories. I’m exceptionally flattered, honored, and humbled that folks are choosing to allow my characters and books into their lives. I hope that my efforts to recreate reality, at least as I see it, will eventually allow readers to hold the soft place in their hearts for Alex Landon that I’ll always hold for Jack Ryan and Mitch Rapp. Thank you for the opportunity to answer some questions and introduce myself to your fans.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Enemies Domestic is published by Cyanide Publishing and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
ENEMIES DOMESTIC – An Alex Landon Thriller #1
With the fate of thousands at risk, can Detective Alex Landon afford to trust his intuition over circumstantial evidence?
For the past few months, Detective Alex Landon had seen retired US Army Captain Jonathan McDougal as both a sympathetic suspect and a less-than-cooperative informant. But, when a local hate group acquires explosives and the circumstantial evidence indicates McDougal’s potential involvement, their relationship sours and grows distrustful.
When the terrorist’s deadly plan is triggered, Landon and McDougal are forced to decide if they trust each other enough to prevent the loss of thousands of innocent lives.
But at what cost?
Failure will end thousands of lives, while success may require their own.
Gavin answers his call to service by working as a professional cop, spends most weekends and holidays in a patrol car, and is honored to protect and serve the public in this manner. His ongoing training and experience in areas such as Patrol, Narcotics, Undercover Operations, Counter-Terrorism, Sex and Human Trafficking, S.W.A.T., and Dark Web Investigations provide an ever-growing queue of ideas and stories for his fact-based fiction. Gavin’s rare free time is devoted to family, travel, martial arts, SCUBA diving, mountaineering, and pursuing the perfect ice cream. A portion of all Gavin’s sales is donated to charities that serve law enforcement professionals and veterans, their families and heirs, and honor the memory of our Fallen Heroes.
Visit – http://www.gavinreese.com