Interview with Michael Byars Lewis

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Discipline; years of military training. And life. No really, I love life. I look forward to every day. When I was younger, I never wanted to get old. Now, I look forward to getting older. Each year, I want to get older and older! I also look forward to writing and getting my books prepared for publishing.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many...I cut my teeth on John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, and Bob Meyer. Lately, I've really been enjoying John Gilstrap, Gayle Lynds, Greg Iles, and Brad Thor. Of course, I really enjoy the books of my fellow military authors Joseph Badal, James R. Hannibal, and Tom Young.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Flying airplanes, exercising, reading, and worshiping my lord and savior Jesus Christ! I do spend much of my time trying to show my beautiful wife how much I love and appreciate her!
What are you working on next?
I'm working on the third book featuring my protagonist, Jason Conrad. It's exciting! Jason is now a member of Air Force Special Operations Command and finds himself in some precarious situations in Thailand.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer the kindle. Mine is one of the older ones, no keyboard, so it fits in my pocket if I need to. No backlit screen. It's like an electronic book. I must admit I was skeptical when I first bought it, I'm a huge fan now.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1.) The Bible - Greatest story of all time
2.) The Firm - My all time favorite novel. What Grisham did for lawyers, I want to do for pilots.
3.) The Bourne Identity - Helped groom my style; showed me they type of books I wanted to write.
4.) The 5000 Year Leap - Should be required reading in our schools.
5.) The Lions of Lucerne - Non-stop action, thrill-a-minute, joy ride.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in the early 90's, although I've always been a creative person. I'm not sure if I fell into writing as a default or if it simply took me that long to find myself. Most probably the latter. I originally wanted to write a book about pilot training. To give student pilots an idea of what to expect when they arrived. It didn't take long for me to realize the audience for such a book was extremely small. Then I decided, "What if it were wrapped in a thriller?" Now we're on to something. I started to formulate a story and was talking it over with some friends. One of them says, "Hey my neighbor writes books. You should talk to him." It turns out the neighbor was Johnny Quarles, an author of westerns. I went to his house one night and talked about storytelling and writing for a couple of hours. He convinced me it was something I could do. And he recommended some authors to read as well as books on writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, at the time of this writing, is VEIL OF DECEPTION, which comes out next month. The premise is "What if the company building America's most expensive weapons program was secretly owned by one of our enemies?" It takes place five years after SURLY BONDS. Jason Conrad had become one of the better instructor pilots on the base, but he doesn't want to leave. He is quite happy hiding in Enid, Oklahoma; staying out of the limelight. It has taken it's toll on him. He won't or can't stay involved in a relationship with women; he drinks too much. Of course, no one can stay hidden for long...
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted to get my story out. The success of the first book was totally unexpected. I had worked on SURLY BONDS for years, finished the first draft, and put it on the shelf. As my wife likes to say, "Life gets in the way." In 2011, I had an accident that some doctors told me I'd never recover from. I did. One of the results of the accident was me doing a serious self-evaluation on where I was and where I was going. One of the fallouts of this was I wanted a hardcopy of the book made; for no other reason than to sit on the shelf so my grandkids could see it one day. So I cleaned up the manuscript and showed it to some friends and the feedback was good. I'd tweak it some more and I finally published it. It got better feedback and I tweaked it some more, then entered it in some contests. Next thing I knew, I'd won three awards (okay, it wasn't overnight, but it was exciting nevertheless).
What is your writing process?
I'm primarily an outliner. I have a germ of an idea and I'll write it on an index card. Then I'll start writing down everything I can think of an index card; scenes, events, dialogue, characters, action . . . whatever. I'll hone down the details as much as possible, then I spread the index cards out on a table and start to build the Three Act Structure to tell the story. Index cards are great for this because you can see everything at once and move things around. Once I get things where I want them, I'll transfer the data on the index cards into a working outline on MS Word. This is what I use to write from. I'll update it as I go and I'll deviate from the outline from time to time; but I've always got a place to go back to if I get lost.

When I wrote my first book, I was very structured on when I wrote. First thing in the morning for an hour a day; then two hours. On my second book, I learned to write anytime I had time; morning, noon, night, hotels, airports, restaurants; you name it. You do it when you can.
How do you approach cover design?
I designed the first two covers for my first book myself. I have a background in art and I think the books looked nice. When it came time for the cover for VEIL OF DECEPTION, I realized I wouldn't have time for designing the cover so I hired a cover artist. Best decision I ever made! It was fantastic and he was great to work with. The cover was so good, I went back and had him make a cover for SURLY BONDS, which also turned out fantastic! I look forward to him doing the cover for my third book.
Published 2016-03-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Right to Know
Series: A Jason Conrad Thriller. Pre-release—available February 5, 2019. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 90,940. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Adventure » War & military adventure
Meet Jason Conrad. A young man whose only desire was to fly, but sometimes, life gets in the way. Michael Byars Lewis creates one of the most intense, action packed aviation related military/political thriller storylines as we follow Jason's career and adventures through his multi-award winning series! It's "The House of Cards" meets "Top Gun"
Series: A Jason Conrad Thriller. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,080. Language: English. Published: April 19, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
England - 1994 - When Lieutenant Jason Conrad is offered the trip of a lifetime, how could he say no? But the trip quickly turns into more than he bargained for, and Jason is in a fight for his life! At the 50th Anniversary of D-Day celebration, a methodical killer executes a deadly path of revenge, and Jason is caught in his crosshairs! Can he survive? It all starts here!
Surly Bonds
Series: A Jason Conrad Thriller. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 102,690. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
Enid, Oklahoma - 1995 - Jason Conrad, a student pilot in the U.S. Air Force, soon realizes his friends have bigger secrets than his own. When a classmate dies in a plane crash, secrets are discovered and Jason's life begins to spin out of control as finds himself in a life or death struggle to prevent World War III!
Veil of Deception
Series: A Jason Conrad Thriller. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 143,040. Language: English. Published: April 19, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Southern California - 2000 - What if the company building America's most expensive weapons program was secretly owned by one of our enemies?