Monday, July 26, 2021


Born in Germany and raised in southern Wisconsin, David Tindell embarked on a 20-year career in broadcasting before transitioning to the U.S. government and resuming the writing career he’d started in college at UW-Platteville. Today he lives up in the northwestern corner of the state, in a log home on a lake with his wife Sue, a Yorkie and a Siamese. After retiring from government work, Tindell returned to radio, but the writing never stops. Tindell also is a martial artist with black belts in taekwondo and ryukudo kobojutsu, a scuba diver, and world traveler.

His latest book is the thriller, The Bronze Leopard.



Can you tell us what your book is about? 

The Bronze Leopard is the third book in the White Vixen series. Our heroine is Jo Ann Geary, a Korean-American woman who’s an expert martial artist and linguist, and an officer in US Air Force Special Operations. The story takes place in September 1989, when Jo and her unit have just finished a mission in East Africa, assisting Tanzanian defense forces in tracking down and capturing a band of rebels led by a rogue East German Army officer. Jo and her 2nd in command decide to stay in country and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro before going home, and they set off for the mountain unaware that the German, known as the Bronze Leopard, has escaped custody and joined up with a band of mercenaries who task him with the mission of making sure Jo does not come down from that mountain.

Can you tell us a little about your characters? 

As mentioned, Jo Geary is a highly-skilled individual. The daughter of an American CIA officer and his Korean wife, Jo has been all over the world in the service of her country, facing threats that only someone with her talents and experience can deal with. She’s the one America sends for when the you-know-what hits the fan. Her 2IC on this mission is also her best friend, Marine Corps Major Denise Reinecke, who is different from Jo in many ways; while Jo is a little above-average height for someone of Asian descent, Denise is a six-footer, and a lot more adventurous in her personal life, shall we say, than Jo is. Denise is down-to-earth while Jo is somewhat buttoned-up. They complement each other well, in the field with their unit and when they’re off-duty. In this novel, they meet two men assigned to the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam: Pete Coffman, an Army colonel who is the military liaison at the embassy, and Darren Kirby, the veteran Marine first sergeant who heads the embassy’s security force. They’re ordered to follow Jo and Denise to Mt. Kilimanjaro and make sure they get back safe and sound. The antagonist of the story is the Bronze Leopard, Walter Speth. A former officer in the East German Army, Speth’s grandfather fought in East Africa during World War I, and Walter shares his grandfather’s vision of turning Africa into a prosperous land where Europeans run the show and Africans do the heavy lifting. If that has to be done at gunpoint, well, so be it. After his own brigade is crushed, Speth is offered a chance to join a group of East German mercenaries who are about to strike out on their own now that their nation is on the verge of collapse, and his first mission is to follow the Vixen up the mountain and terminate her.

Where is your book set?

My book is set in Tanzania, and I chose that because that’s where Mt. Kilimanjaro is. I’ve been to Africa, but only to Egypt. I started thinking hard about climbing Kilimanjaro after my wife and I successfully hiked the Salkantay Trail in the Peruvian Andes, and the more I thought about climbing the mountain myself, the more it seemed only logical to have Jo do it first.

How long does it take to get a book published?

It typically takes me anywhere from two to three years to get a book into a reader’s hand, and that’s from the moment I first jot down notes about the concept or the characters. Maybe the concept comes first, which is the case with my White Vixen and Quest series, or the character, as it is with my work-in-progress, which I’ve titled The Man in the Arena. I know that full-time writers like Brad Thor and Kyle Mills can produce really good thrillers in a year, but for those of us who still have day jobs, we need a little more time. I know authors who write in other genres and can crank out relatively short novels in a month or two, but mine tend to require a lot of research, and that takes time.

When did you start writing seriously?

I started writing seriously when I was still in high school; I wrote a science fiction novel about time-travelers going back to the time of Christ. I still have it somewhere in my storeroom, although I’m rather afraid to look at it. In college I won some creative-writing contests and thought, here I go. But then real life intervened, as it tends to do, and I really didn’t pick up the pen again until around 2010 or so. By then my kids were out of college and the pen had long since turned into a computer keyboard, and my wife urged me to try writing again. She’d read some short stories I’d dug out of the storeroom, and I think one night she was reading a paperback and tossed it aside, saying something like, “I’ll bet you can write stuff better than this,” or words to that effect. So I decided to give it a try. Pretty soon I had the idea for The White Vixen.

What advice do you have for prospective thriller writers?

What I would tell prospective thriller writers is that your first job is to read. See what real pros can do: Brad Thor, Kyle Mills, Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Barry Eisler, Lee Child. Don’t ignore those who got the genre started, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and James Fenimore Cooper. Read the classic espionage writers, like Robert Ludlum and Ian Fleming. You’ll find out how to craft characters, devise a plot and most importantly, tell a damn good story. Number two: do your research. Nothing sinks a thriller like obvious errors in things like geography, history, how certain weapons work and so forth. When I was writing The Red Wolf, which is set in Eastern Europe in 1987, I discovered that in Hungary under the communists, some places had different names than they do today. Well, I thought, who the hell would know that Andrassy Avenue in Budapest was called NĆ©pkƶztĆ”rsasĆ”g ut? But somebody would know, or would find out, and that one review on Amazon might be the one that convinces several prospective readers to pass on your book. Finally, make your characters multi-dimensional. People are multi-dimensional, after all. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, they get frustrated and angry sometimes, they say things they later regret, and so on. Oh, and one more thing: have fun! You’re creating a whole new world, so let ‘er rip!

No comments: