Think Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code meets The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry . . . fans of those ones will devour Douglas Misquita’s latest adrenaline-pumping thriller, Specter.
If you’re looking for an action-packed book that touches on history, asking tough questions along the way—here it is. In my ongoing quest to unearth the best of the lesser-known thrillers out there, I came across Misquita’s work and was immediately drawn into his premise. Honestly, the less you know going into it the better, but here’s the deal—few writers have touched on religion, specifically Christianity, and turned in a fictional story that’ll force readers to ask questions that’ll shake them to their core better than this one.
While part of a series, readers can easily jump in here, and once you do, Douglas Misquita brings it in a big way. So, strap in tight . . .
Thankfully, just after the release of his new book, Misquita agreed to go on the record for our Five Questions segment, and I asked him about everything from which writers have inspired him to how he came up with the plot idea for his latest thriller.
TRBS: Before we get to the book itself, let’s talk about your writing style and career. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer, and what pushed you over the edge to finally start your first book?
Misquita: I was intoxicated by the power of an author to transport readers to an imaginary world after reading Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. This was 1993, I was 13, I knew I wanted to write to entertain. I grabbed a 100-page single-ruled school exercise book and in neat handwriting penned my first thriller set in the mythical El Dorado. The second nudge was Mission: Impossible II. I decided that I would write a gun-fu book with great action visuals. That resulted in Haunted. With no knowledge of publishing, I uploaded the draft to scribd.com. A year later, I was astonished to discover I had 800+ reads and an average rating of 4.5/5 – the third and final push. Realizing I had something, I set about locating an indie publisher. When Haunted was well-received within and outside India, I wrote an Indiana Jones-esque adventure, Secret of the Scribe, predicting brain-to-brain communication and AI-language-translation which are now a reality. Before I knew it, I was writing another book, then another…
TRBS: What is your writing process like? Do you outline beforehand, or have a target word count that you try to hit each day?
Misquita: I have themes based on contemporary events/ issues that I want to weave in my story; I have plot way-points that will take readers through the theme; I’ll develop ‘key’ action-sequences and figure out how they could be integrated into the story. During the writing process, I’ll research certain geographic locations – towns, cities, landscape features – and work out how to get my characters there.
So far, writing isn’t my full-time job; I write in snatched moments and use it to the fullest. My mantra is: write every day, even if it is a few lines.
TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what was the last great book that you read?
Misquita: I have a list of “bankable authors.” Among them, James Rollins, Scott Mariani, Andy McDermott, Matthew Reilly, Steve Berry, Stephen Hunter, Lee Child, Clive Cussler. This week, I added Simon Gervais to that list, and with all that I’m hearing, I hope to add Don Bentley. That last great book I read? Can I break that down? Spy-thriller – Daniel Silva’s The New Girl; Action-thriller – Simon Gervais’ Trained to Hunt; non-fiction – Ed Hussain’s The Islamist. I’m currently reading Andy McDermott’s Resurrection Key, which, I’m certain will be entertaining.
TRBS: Okay, about the book . . . first, can you tell readers about the story, and then, how on earth did you come up with the plot idea for this one?
Misquita: Spectre picks up after the events of Diablo. Kirk Ingram and his girlfriend, Amanda Gunner are in self-imposed exile. On a commercial flight over Italy, Ingram experiences a vision – so vivid that he is unable to discern reality from imagination – and unwittingly attacks passengers, forcing the pilots to land at Rome. Simultaneously, thousands of feet below, a secret monastery in the Italian Alps is attacked by an ethereal force. The monastery is a haven for people with extraordinary power – they can communicate with the afterlife! Only Jovanni Rossi, the latest arrival at the monastery escapes the massacre. As Jovanni struggles to understand his disturbing powers, news leaks that the incident about the passenger liner is attributed to Kirk Ingram. Believing that Ingram might be similarly gifted, Jovanni sets off to find Ingram. But the news report has also drawn an enemy from Ingram’s past, and the vengeful father of a woman who died aboard the ill-fated flight. Ingram must confront a shocking truth about what he has become. This means returning to where he lost his wife and daughter and facing-off against the demons from his nightmares. Ultimately Ingram is tasked with a mission by an individual who lived 2000 years ago, and he, Amanda and Jovanni are all that stand between an ancient power that seeks to consume Earth.
How did I come up with the idea? In Haunted, I introduce Ingram as an FBI agent, who witnesses the brutal execution of his wife and daughter. Ingram barely survives but is plagued by his inability to save them. This manifests in the form of nightmares. Invariably, popular vengeful heroes have nightmares; I wondered what else I could do with Ingram’s condition? Then I thought about the times I had a vivid dream of somebody dear to me who is no more. Could the dead communicate with the living? If Ingram almost died in Haunted, what if he is 50% dead – can he move between life and the afterlife? On the heels of that, I recalled the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and His own resurrection. The words from Matthew 7:15 came to mind: beware of false prophets. What if the Christ wasn’t the only person with the power to raise the dead to life? How cool would it be if I could somehow merge the themes? That took me down a detailed research journey into ancient Rome and the then-blossoming Christian religion. In 2017 my family visited Italy. Surrounded by monumental edifices to Christianity, I thought: this is the backdrop for Ingram #3 and it all came together over two months!
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you, and when can readers expect a new book?
Misquita: I have a backlog of two books. Next year will see the release of Trigger Point, the third book in my Luc Fortesque adventure series. After that, I’m introducing a new hero in an as-yet-untitled book-series. Both stories have exciting sequences, but Trigger Point might take the cake. As always, I strive to give readers an insight into contemporary issues through my stories and both books touch topics I’m interested in: religious fundamentalism and illicit antiquities.
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance developmental editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.