Author Manfred Leuthard is a world traveler, born and raised in Switzerland, who now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His experience with nuclear engineering and computer programming, as well as piloting a long list of aircraft, gave him a wealth of knowledge to pull from for his debut novel Broken Arrow: A Nuke Goes Missing (2020). You’ll find Manfred on his website at ManfredLeuthard.com and on Facebook.
What is your elevator pitch for Broken Arrow?
This is the story of a case of blackmail, mostly seen through the eyes of the narrator and the principal protagonist Harry — a helicopter pilot — who ends up embroiled in the heist of a nuclear weapons component from Los Alamos National Laboratories.
What challenges did this work pose for you?
Writing in first person voice was a challenge, as well as dealing with sex tastefully in a romantic setting. Grammar and vocabulary were challenges, too, because English is my second (actually fifth) language. I also tried to stay away from too many “flying stories.”
How did the book come together?
I used to fly for Los Alamos Labs, so I got to know the operation a bit and that helped spark the story idea. I tried to write 500 words (or two pages) a day. Altogether, it look about two years to put together — 1 1/2 years for 60 percent of the book and three months for 40 percent (during the pandemic). I had the manuscript edited by a professional editor, found a great book cover on Fiverr, and released it through Amazon KDP publishing in July 2020.
What were the hardest kinds of scenes to write, and what were the easiest?
Humor and sarcasm came easy, as did writing the science. Writing from the antagonist’s (crook’s) viewpoint was difficult due to my lack of relevant experience. Conflict dialog was hard to write, and violence was tricky.
What settings are included in the book, and why did you choose them?
I included Northern New Mexico because I live there. I’ve traveled extensively in Mexico, so that setting made it into the book as well. Aviation and nuclear engineering, which I’ve both done for a living, factor into the story too.
Tell us a little about your main character.
Harry Scott Anderson is a 52-year-old cynic who hates being lonely. His best friend and sole companion is a German Shepherd named Zorro. Harry is tired of constantly chasing new customers and has essentially given up on romance — until he meets Erin. His observant and meticulous nature entangles him in a plot to sell stolen nuclear weapons components.
What makes this novel unique in the thriller market?
Broken Arrow has a complex plot with many twists, including blackmailing the government and letting the crooks succeed.
What was the most rewarding aspect of writing Broken Arrow?
Getting it out of the door and reading reviews chock full of adulation.
What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received in your writing journey?
Find ONE person who believes in you. And find an editor who believes in you — even after having seen your prose.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.