Nik Morton Multi-Genre Author is my Guest…
I have great pleasure in welcoming author Nik Morton back to my blog after a break of four years in which time he has been incredibly busy.
His latest book, Organ Symphony, the third book from his trilogy, is published on 13th September 2022.
Let’s hear from Nik in his own words:
Thank you for inviting me as a guest here, Jane.
I’m really happy to have you back again, Nik.
If I may, I’d like to dive straight into the writing process. My latest three thrillers have had a lengthy gestation, which may be of interest to your readers. The main character is Leon Cazador, a half-English, half-Spanish private eye living in south Costa Blanca – an area where my wife Jennifer and I lived for fifteen years. Leon first appeared in a series of first-person short stories published in English language magazines in Spain, beginning in 2005. I’d been a fan of the Saint books by Leslie Charteris and wanted to create a modern-day version. The idea of outwitting unscrupulous individuals, con-men, crooked dealers, and deceivers in society has always appealed. I gleaned some storylines from topical news items.
(Jane) Nik, I have been a Leslie Charteris fan since I was a teenager in the 1960s. Great choice...
I built a background for Leon – born in 1963 – with a timeline that took in his career in the Spanish Foreign Legion, Secret Intelligence, and attachments to foreign agencies in the United States, Japan, and the United Nations. He left the service in 2001 to set himself up as a private investigator. Having such a broad background to call upon, he has contacts worldwide and also is willing from time to time to assist law enforcement on undercover operations.
A full CV/timeline for Leon Cazador can be found here
Let’s find out more about Nik:
Nik Morton hails from Whitley Bay in the northeast of England. He served in the Royal Navy for 24 years and was fortunate to travel with the Grey Funnel Line to Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Durban, Mombasa, Gibraltar, Karachi, Rawalpindi, the Khyber Pass, Kavala in Greece, Izmir in Turkey, Naples, Malta, South Carolina, North Carolina, the Falklands, St Helena, Elba, and the Caribbean. (He worked his passage, of course…) He left the navy in 1989 and went into IT until being made redundant in 2003.
He has been writing for over 50 years, having written his first novel when he was 16. He sold his first story in 1971 and has had 120 short stories published – some winning awards – in several genres such as action, adventure, romance, ghost, horror, sci-fi, western, and crime.
To date, six collections of his short stories have been collected and published. In 2018 his stories appeared in a number of collections: his Sherlock Holmes pastiche ‘The Very First Detective: The Killing Stone’ was published in the October 2018 issue of Mystery Weekly Magazine; ‘The Adventure of the Yellow Pimpernel’ in a Solar Pons Anthology, and ‘A Repulsive Story and a Terrible Death’ in an MX New Sherlock Holmes Anthology.
He has edited periodicals and contributed to magazines, hundreds of articles, book, and film reviews. He has chaired several writers’ circles and run writing and screenplay workshops and judged competitions. He has edited many books and for the period 2003-2007 was sub-editor of the monthly colour magazine, Portsmouth Post, and for 2011-2013 he was Editor in Chief of a US publisher but stepped down to spend more time on his various writing projects.
Since his first book sale in 2007, he’s had 38 books published, among them the psychic spy series: Mission: Prague, Mission: Tehran, and Mission: Khyber; a modern vampire thriller set in Malta, Chill of the Shadow; a Sister Rose thriller, The Bread of Tears; and a romantic thriller set in Tenerife, An Evil Trade. In addition, for US publishers he has written a sci-fi time-travel adventure, Continuity Girl, and a noir western/homage to Edgar Allan Poe, Coffin for Cash. He has co-authored a fantasy series (under the pen-name Morton Faulkner), the latest being Floreskand 4: Prophecy.
His guide Write a Western in 30 Days – with plenty of bullet points is a best-seller and reviewers have recommended it for writers of all genres, not just westerns. His book Sailor up the Khyber reminiscences about his journey from Karachi to the Afghanistan border with the navy in 1969, published fifty years after the event.
Nik is married to Jennifer, a tutor of Spanish, a Musical Director, and an author. They lived in Spain 2003-2019 and now reside in Northumberland near their daughter and her family.
The most recent Cazador short story was published in 2014. After that, I decided to write a full-length Cazador novel – in the third person, entitled Rogue Prey. I had the main thrust of the plot formulated, but not enough incidents planned for an 80,000-word thriller. The manuscript sat on the back burner while other projects went ahead. As time passed, news stories cropped up and insinuated themselves into the Cazador storyline and the book was finished in 2019. Every short story has a two-word title and I continued this for chapter headings of the novels and of course the book titles as well.
Moves of house and country of domicile, plus world events, intruded. However, I was determined Leon Cazador would find a publisher and in February this year, I chose what I thought was a good fit: the US publisher Rough Edges Press which is an imprint of Wolfpack Publishing. They publish several prolific big-name thriller writers, among them Max Allan Collins, James Reasoner, Stephen Mertz, Terrance McCauley, Livia Washburn, and Mickey Spillane. I used US English in the text.
Their response was a three-book contract (including Rogue), and I offered three one-page Cazador story treatments to choose from for the other two. We agreed on No Prisoners and Organ Symphony to follow Rogue. Deadlines were set for both of them and I delivered the second in March and the third in May. The fully edited Rogue Prey and No Prisoners were published in August. That’s a pretty good turnaround. I was impressed with the covers for the three books, too.
What are you working on at present?
At present, I am writing the fifth (and final) novel in a fantasy series, co-authoring with Gordon Faulkner, the creator of mythical Floreskand, using the pen-name Morton Faulkner. This series comprises Wings, King, Madurava, Prophecy, and Tarakanda. We first met up during karate classes in Malta in the mid-1970s – that’s been an even longer gestation period for these books!
The third in the series – Organ Symphony – has just been published (13 September).
Here is the blurb:
Leon Cazador is on FBI liaison duty in Charleston, South Carolina when a dead child is found with a kidney missing. Suspecting an old foe, he jumps into action when a convoy of trucks with kidnapped children hits a snag, and a boy escapes. But what starts out as a simple cat and mouse chase turns into a convoluted web of deceit involving an underground organ transplant ring that surpasses Leon’s wildest expectations—and abilities. Years later—and carrying around the weight of unresolved burdens—Leon runs into suspicious activity in Córdoba, Spain which makes his heart stop cold. Organ traffickers are running rampant, and a three-man investigating team has gone missing. Eager to put an end to this corrupt organization’s misdeeds once and for all, Leon makes finding its leader his top priority. But will he have what it takes to bring an evil like no other to its knees?
Please share an excerpt from Organ Symphony with us:
Excerpt from Organ Symphony:
Lazzaretto Piccolo, Laguna Veneto, Italy
Gho Jun chuckled beneath his surgical mask and in his high-pitched voice joked, “Soon our rich client will be heartless, no?”
Nobody in attendance responded; they were all used to his dark humor; he was considered eccentric but he was also a brilliant transplant surgeon. Not unduly bothered at the lack of banter in his colleagues, Gho made an eight-inch long incision down the middle of fifty-two-year-old Kenneth Carswell’s chest. The wealthy British entrepreneur under the scalpel was twenty-four years older than Gho, and now in a deep sleep, courtesy of a tube inserted down his throat which was attached to a ventilator; this maintained Carswell’s breathing while he was anesthetized. His body temperature had already been lowered to around twenty-eight degrees Centigrade which would reduce the cell activity – preventing damage to his cells when blood flow halted. Earlier, the thinner heparin had been introduced to Carswell’s blood to prevent it from clotting. All the man’s blood was rerouted through the nearby heart-lung bypass machine, which would add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide and sustain blood circulation throughout the body and, most importantly, the brain and other organs.
The flesh had been peeled back and clamped by Theater Sister Li Jing to reveal the breastbone. Now, wholly professional, Gho said, “I’m about to crack the chest.” He lifted the hand-held sternum saw, placing its blade on the exposed area, and began cutting the breastbone down the center. “This is the fun part!” Well, not entirely professional: he enjoyed this bit particularly; the sound clearly grated on Nurse Weng Tao but it was music to his ears.
On the stainless steel trolley nearby were sterile packs of metal plates and screws, Gho’s preferred method when finally fixing the sternum halves together as they provided more rigid fixation than wire and improved bone healing.
All of this was standard procedure in Gho’s considerable experience. He’d been a trainee surgeon in Queensland in 2006 when Australia banned further joint research with China regarding transplantations because China wouldn’t guarantee prisoners were not being used in transplant operations. He was twenty-two then. Undeterred, he continued his work in China, harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners and Uighurs in their confinement camps. He learned a great deal and became highly proficient, but he felt his hard work was not duly recognized by the authorities. And he certainly was not receiving an adequate financial reward. So he left China to join the Black Foundation Clinic run by Aiden Black, based here. And he hadn’t looked back since.
Sister Li spread the ribcage and applied clamps on the sternum to keep the chest open and allow the surgeon access to Carswell’s dysfunctional heart.
“Clamps,” Gho said and Nurse Weng handed him the tools one at a time. He speedily clamped off all the major blood vessels to the client’s heart and then disconnected them in readiness for receiving the replacement organ.
Now he lifted out the useless heart and placed it indelicately in a bucket at his feet. “That won’t be needed again,” he said. “Where is our $300,000 replacement?”
“Right here, Jun.” Surgeon Kwan Yow and Sister Li presented him with the “donated” heart.
The two surgeons made a good team. Kwan had worked at the Nangfang hospital in Canton, a leading transplant hospital with a special wing for foreigners. It frequently used criminals’ organs. As the hospital’s chief surgeon at the time had said, “Why ask for consent when they’re going to be executed?” Enticed by Gho, Kwan also defected to the west and was recruited by Black. When he could be spared, his other place of work was in the Black Clinic in Córdoba, Spain.
“Almost there,” Gho said, beginning to connect the blood vessels to the replacement heart.
Nurse Weng swabbed his brow.
The Black Foundation Administration Offices, Venice, Italy
This was a marvelous coup, Aiden Black thought, as the Chinese professor, an expert in immunology, was escorted into the palatial room with its vaulted ceiling, marble floor, and tall windows that overlooked the Grand Canal.
Yu Wei had been poached from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “Welcome to ACM, Professor,” Black said, his lips curving in a generous welcoming smile. His voice carried deep cultured African-American tones and echoed slightly in this room. Black stood up from his plush leather seat behind the imposing teak desk. The height of a basketball player, with musculature to match, he had buzz-cut black hair, broad nostrils, a high forehead, and gleaming black eyes. Today he wore a crisp yellow short-sleeved shirt open at the neck to reveal a gold pendant, dark blue chinos, and a deep brown leather belt. He was far from being vain but preferred bright colors to contrast against his ebony complexion.
A half-dozen framed certificates hung on one wall, most from the Salk Institute, San Diego.
He walked around the desk to greet the newcomer.
Yu bowed. “Thank you.” He spoke good English, which made life easier all around. His flat features did not convey any emotion, yet his darting gimlet eyes seemed to take in everything. Yu was in his mid-forties, probably only a couple of years older than Black, though he conceded that it was often difficult to gauge the age of Orientals. Yu wore a Westernized suit in dark blue, and a crisp white shirt with a bow tie.
The two men shook hands; the professor’s grip was firm and dry.
Black gestured at two ornate gold and mahogany armchairs facing across a low-level coffee table. The two men sat opposite each other.
Aware that at the outset he should not be too direct as it was frowned upon by the Chinese, Black began, “I trust the flight was pleasant?”
“It was. The journey from the airport was an eye-opener too. No amount of exposure through books and film can prepare you for the real thing. Venice is truly unique. The boat trip here was a pleasure also. We in China have attempted to duplicate aspects of the city, but we have clearly failed.”
“I believe you will enjoy working in this environment, Professor. I confess I like it here very much, it’s a far cry from my previous residence in Washington DC.”
“Indeed, I have no doubt it will be conducive to my research. It is good to be working with an open-minded scientist like yourself, Mr. Black.”
When the overtures were first made to Yu, the feedback had been positive. The professor had become disillusioned with Dr. Shi Zhengli’s cavalier attitude to containment. Apparently, she was obsessed with her damned bats but lax in ensuring that basic safety procedures were followed. “To be honest, I am glad to be getting out,” Yu had revealed. “I fear there will be another outbreak – perhaps worse than the SARS incident.”
Which didn’t bear thinking about, Black mused. The last he had learned Yu was involved in creating new biological weapons to destroy without trace the body’s immune system. Black was happy if the immunology research could reduce tissue and organ rejection. “Their loss is our gain,” Black had opined.
As the transplant coordinator of the charity All Colors Matter, Black wielded considerable power and had at his disposal almost limitless funds, which he utilized to scour the globe for suitable surgeons to do his bidding in several clinics. The charity purported to save the lives of the poor and neglected with organ transplantation, which they did accomplish, though only five percent of the operations were for individuals from deprived families. The remaining operations were performed on rich, criminal, and influential patients, all of whom paid very well indeed.
Although he was a self-made man, Black had inherited vast sums of money from his father, who had died of a sudden heart attack. Black had been frustrated that even with all the money at his disposal the doctors had been unable to save his father’s life. Grief emboldened him and he lost himself in his work, buying and selling property, fostering scientific start-ups, constantly increasing his wealth, and garnering expertise in medical and technical research. Even so, he found time for affairs of the heart with a string of available women – until he fell for young Flavia De Santis. After a whirlwind romance, they married and nine months later she gave birth to a beautiful boy, Adriano Byron. Those days and years were bliss, a mixture of luxury travel, dedicated work, and family get-togethers. Then, when Byron was ten Flavia was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and died six months later. Byron was sent off to boarding school while Black buried his heartache and redirected his energies into financing medical research and establishing the Black Foundation and a number of worthy charities, including ACM. He had no wish to die like his father and wife; he intended to live long and prosper and would employ any means to achieve that aim.
“Would you like to be given a tour of the city before you begin your work?”
“No, thank you.” The professor bowed politely. “The free time you have allotted to me in the contract will permit me to sight-see in due course. I am most anxious to see the laboratory facilities you promised and continue with my work.”
“Good. It’s only a short boat ride to the island. I will arrange it. Dr. Godsafe will accompany you.”
Charleston, South Carolina
He ran as if his life depended upon it. The boy’s breath was strained because he was bodily weak, partly from malnutrition but also from the after-effects of the operation. He’d made good his escape and he hoped the night would envelop him, hide him from pursuit.
He darted among shadows and hurried between the parked huge semi-trailers. He wheezed, clasping his side. A dull throb stabbed at his vitals. Yet the ache could not rid him of how terrible he felt, abandoning the others. He would get help, he would, truly!
The smell of oil, grease and burnt rubber from overworked tires filled his nostrils.
At the end of the alleyway formed by trucks, he glimpsed the lights of a gas station and a diner.
Help was there for the asking! His heart leaped at the prospect. A heart that, he reminded himself, had already been sold.
“Yo, boy!” the hateful man shouted from behind him.
He shouldn’t have but he could not avoid reacting; he stopped, hesitated, and looked back.
Legs splayed apart, the tail of his checkered shirt hanging loose, the man grated, “You come back here, kid!”
“No way!” the boy snapped and turned and started running again.
Until massive pain hammered between his shoulder blades and he found himself on the ground, lying in a puddle of oil. Now his breathing was really difficult. Waves of pain washed over him.
He had failed. He thought that, after all, his life really depended on him running away.
Then blackness deeper than night overwhelmed him and took away all the pain.
*** End of chapter one***
Thanks so much for being such a fab guest, Nik, and for sharing so much about yourself and your writing with us. Good luck with your books and new projects.
To learn more about Nik follow him:
or read his regular blog posts:
Nik’s Social Media links
UK Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/mw2y2y6e
Rough Edges Press: https://roughedgespress.com/project/organ-symphony-leon-cazador-3/
US Amazon: amazon.com/author/nikmorton
Floreskand books: https://tinyurl.com/3ykv8bcr