Sally Fernandez, a novelist of provocative political thrillers, wasn’t always twisting facts with fiction. Heavily endowed with skills acquired in banking, she embarked upon her writing career. Fernandez’ focus on computer technology, business consulting, and project management, enhanced by business and technical writing, proved to be a boon. Her books of fiction also reflect the knowledge garnered from her business experiences, while living in New York City, San Francisco, and Hong Kong.
Fernandez’ foray into writing fiction officially began in 2007 when the presidential election cycle was in full swing. The overwhelming political spin by the media compelled her to question the frightening possibilities the political scene could generate. As a confirmed political junkie, she took to the keyboard armed with unwinding events and discovered a new and exciting career.
Climatized is Fernandez’ fifth novel and the first in the “Max Ford Thriller” series, featuring Maxine Ford as the female protagonist. Her prior series, “The Simon Tetralogy,” was comprised of Brotherhood Beyond the Yard, Noble’s Quest, The Ultimate Revenge and Redemption. Each book provided an exhilarating platform for the next, with a gripping narrative that challenges the reader to put the book down. The ever-elusive Simon’s daring escapes add unheard of dimensions to the classic cat and mouse game. Her development of the other characters has created a lasting bond between them and the reader, especially now that Max has taken center stage.
A world traveler, Ms. Fernandez and her husband, also the editor-in-residence, split time between their homes in the United States and Florence, Italy.
After resigning her post at the States Intelligence Agency, Maxine Ford declares her independence as she bursts onto the Washington scene as a private investigator. She displays her usual no-holds-barred style, showing no obeisance to the elite politicians. Right out of the starting gate, she finds herself in the cauldron of mystery, murder, and mayhem. All of her clients are warned to prepare themselves for the truth…at all costs.
In Climatized, Max is hired by the wife of a prominent senator to determine the cause of his untimely death. It leads her to discover that three world-renowned scientists had lost their lives days before they were scheduled to testify in front of the late senator’s investigative committee. Meanwhile, a fourth scientist has gone missing. Max determined he is the key to unearthing the motives behind the deaths. Following the many twists and turns, Max and her associate, Jackson Monroe uncover a powerful organization responsible for the killings. Cogent evidence is provided to the president, forcing him to make a crucial decision—to cover up a diabolical plot—or bring down a multi-trillion-dollar world-wide economy.
Fernandez’ crackerjack international thriller once again expertly weaves fact with fiction. Readers will be beguiled by the artistic marriage of established facts with a storyline that lifts creativity to new heights. A classic blend of character study and well-plotted action sequences keeps the pages turning faster and faster. A hair-raising page-turner from start to finish.
When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
I’m not an English Lit major and never considered a writing career, although I did write technical manuals and user guides in my prior business career. But writing a novel was a bit of a fluke and started with a challenge during the lead up to the 2008 presidential election. As the endless pap rained down from the media, I began to question some of the frightening possibilities. According to my husband, who is now my editor, my questioning was more reminiscent of a rant. That is when he suggested I write about it instead of incessantly talking about it. So in a stream of consciousness, I sat down at the computer, grabbed one news event that was repeated ad nauseam and attempted to create a “what if?” mentality and ended up with a fifty-page scenario. It required a shift from business writing to turning out fiction and in the process I discovered I loved it. I equally enjoyed the research, and employing factual details, weaving them into the plot…all very much to my surprise.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
While I researched material for my third and fourth novels I touched upon the topic of global warming and discovered that the scientific data did not coincide with public policy. I soon conjured up a plot where scientists would be killed in order to cover up the truth behind the global warming dogma. I felt it would be the perfect scenario for Maxine Ford when she burst onto the scene in the new “Max Ford Thriller” series, as a private investigator. In Climatized, I also altered my style slightly by incorporating a few real-life experts in my fictional plot unbeknownst to them. One happened to be a bestselling New York Times author and the others where NASA Apollo Space Team scientists and members of The Right Climate Stuff research team. After the manuscript was completed, I decided out of courtesy, to contact these experts and offer them a copy of the manuscript for the purpose of fact-checking to substantiate my research. I’m proud to say that the scientific data I weaved into my plot was spot on and I received their acclimation and full endorsement. This experience has impressed upon me the significance of consulting with experts, although my research has been judged impeccable thus far.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
In the course of writing a book, the plot for the next book begins to gel. Invariably, I come up with a beginning and end, although they may be modified later, but not to any great degree. Then I let the story develop starting with chapter one. As I create new chapters I name them as I go along, which might actually be the chapter title I eventually use in the publication, or I might simply assign a temporary title and change it later. This gives me the flexibility to add chapters in between or to reorganize the chapters as I move forward and keep track of the content…cut and paste was a marvelous innovation. But mostly, my novels read like a movie, so in essence I write reel-to-reel as it rolls forward in my mind.
With regard to the characters, I keep track of the total image to include ages, personal appearance, and physical locations to keep my new characters that emerge fresh and unique. And depending on the complexity of the plot, I may create a timeline to ensure accuracy in timing and sequence.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Yes, as Francis Bacon said, “Truth is hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.” This statement became the impetus for my storyline, therefore most of the events are factual and weaved into a fictional plot. My overall style of writing, however, is to engender the question, “What if?” The reader is left with the challenge to sort out what is real and what is fictional. Therefore, the research must be impeccable. I use the internet to triple check my facts especially, in the instance where a person is quoted, I actually make every attempt to find a YouTube video to hear the person speak the words.
What was your goal when writing this book?
I set out with the same three goals each time I write a new novel; to create an entertaining read, to inform the reader, and to challenge the reader to ask the ultimate question, “What if?”
Are you a disciplined writer?
My writing environment is interesting. I have an office in my home in the United States and another in my home in Florence, Italy. While my locations may somewhat inspire aspects of my plot, they primarily provide a quiet haven for creating. Then there comes the hotel room somewhere in the world, when my husband and I need a change of venue. My plots are of a political nature and tend to emanate out of Washington D.C., but I do use my travels to add an international component. But wherever I write, my routine is the same; a morning workout to clear my head, which prepares me for six to seven hours of steady writing and/or research. At the end of each day, I’m greeted with a glass of wine from my husband, who is also my editor. That’s when we discuss the current status of the book, what I am working on, what he was editing, or what is in the offing.
How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?
After a year and a half from inception to completion on my first novel, I was finally ready to publish. I weighed my options between self-publishing or waiting it out with the big houses. Finally, I opted to go with CreateSpace, a self-publishing company under Amazon. Then the unbelievable occurred. Four months after self-publishing Brotherhood Beyond the Yard, I was approached by David Dunham of Dunham Books, who offered me a contract to republished my first novel under his label. He continues to be my publisher today. My situation was extremely rare, so for any first-time author self-publishing may be the initial step. It also provided a great learning curve through the steps of publishing a manuscript, from copyediting to formatting to cover design. I was well prepared when Dunham came along.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Of course. I’m an open book at www.sallyfernandez.com.
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Climatized, as the first novel in the new “Max Ford Thriller” series, says it all…another book. I have several plots tossing around in my mind, but for certain I will soon begin the sequel. However, the buzz around this current book is opening up several other possibilities. Because of receiving support among the experts, I have received several offers for book signings following the presentations of these established authorities in the area of climate change, at universities, foundations, etc. And then maybe it will be on to the big screen, where the manuscript is currently being pitched. What’s next? Possibly a dream come true.