Once again Bookpleasures.com is pleased to welcome as our guest Michael J. Merry.

Michael was educated at the Royal Liberty School, England. Transferred to Panama in 1959, he worked as a Telecommunications Instructor. When the Panama National Guard staged their coup in 1968, he drove the escape vehicle carrying the President, Dr. Arnulfo Arias and several Ministers, through the military blockade to safety in the Panama Canal Zone. In 1987 he became Division Vice President of a major U.S. news operation in Latin America. He was in Argentina when the Army revolted later that year and Venezuela during the attempted coup by Lt. Colonel (later President) Hugo Chávez in 1992.

In 1995 working in Miami he wrote two televised financial programs and became Editor of a popular financial report. Previously to his most recent work, The Education of Santiago O'Grady and Other Short Stories, he published The Golden Altar (2002) and The Reluctant Colonel (2008).  He is the author of eight novels including his more recent tome, Percy and Two Other Fools.

Michael and his wife reside in Miami Shores, Florida.

Norm: Good day Michael and thanks for once again participating in our interview.

With your experience as an author, is it difficult for you to read a novel just for the pleasure of being the reader?

Michael:  Not at all. I read at least two books a week. To read the works of others I find, stimulates my mind and gives me hope that one day, my writing will improve to their standards. 

Norm: If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be Percy and Two Other Fools? As a follow up, what are your hopes for this book?

Michael: ‘Percy’ is a fascinating story. My interpretation does not attempt to tell his side of what happened. Indeed, we may never know. I have provided the reader with an outlet, a solution that may, one day, happen. An answer to an unanswered question. Instead of reading a story and wondering “I sish I knew what became of them?” I’ve provided an answer. 

Norm: What was the time-line between the time you decided to write your book and publication? What were the major events along the way?

Michael: I first thought of the idea in May, 2018. I started writing in June and quickly found that this was going to take a lot of research!. Finally, in December came publication.

Norm: Can you explain some of your research techniques, and how you found sources for your book?

Michael: I know a little of Brazil having visited Sao Paulo and Rio in the past. I wrote a short story in 2017 called ‘Amazon,’ part of a book called The Tomb Robber. My research really started there. You need to go far beyond Wikipedia to find what you are looking for. Research takes up 50% of book preparation time.

Norm: Where did the title of the book come from and why did you use this title?

Michael: The title comes from an epitaph writing by a fellow officer who had served with Percy Fawcett.

Percy Fawcett, he has gone

To explore the Amazon.

With a dog, a horse, and two old mules,

Percy, and two other fools,

Crossed the ocean, climbed a hill,

In the untamed jungles of Brazil.

No one saw where Percy went,

Bones were found, all broke and bent

Wild natives said that they were beaten,

Put in a pot and all were eaten.

There in Brazil, the very middle,

The Mato Grosso hides its riddle.

The “two other fools” were of course Fawcett’s son and his friend, Raleigh Rimmel. Rimmel had no exploring experience and the son, very little.

Norm: When writing your book, did you ever have it in the back of your mind that you could turn it into a movie or television project? If so, who would you like to have as the actors?

Michael: Always! However, I see few, if any movies. Perhaps Jason Statham for Pullen?  

Norm: It is said that writers should write what they know. Were there any elements of the book that forced you to step out of your comfort zone, and if so, how did you approach this part of the writing?  

Michael: I know Latin America well and have been in the Darien jungle. That wasn’t a problem. I had to learn a lot about ancient Amazon structures and where they came from though!

Norm:  What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Michael: I provided a solution to a 90 year old mystery.

Norm:  What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?

Michael: I hope they will say “Well it’s possible and perhaps one day a lot of it might turn out to be true”.

Norm: Did you know the end of your book at the beginning?

Michael: No. I had the outline but just how it would end didn’t come to me until I was almost through.

Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your novels?

Michael: My Amazon Page  or the title of any of my books and my name will usually get you to my works on any browser.

Norm: Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)

Michael: Next will be another book of short stories. I have three subjects in mind. One concerns Pablo Escobar, the Colombian Drug lord and a tiny chapter of his many escapades. 

Norm: As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

Michael: People always ask ‘How did you think of that?’ I find such a question easy to answer. What they don’t ask is ‘How do you know such a lot about this?’ – Some secrets are best kept, what shall we say? … secret.    

Norm: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. It's been an absolute pleasure to meet with you and read your work. Good luck with Percy and Two Other Fools?