Prior to writing her Mark Taylor thriller series, M. P. McDonald didn’t think of herself as a writer. She said, “I had always thought of stories or scenes, but never thought about writing them down.” In this interview, McDonald reveals where the idea for the thriller series came from and how her research may have brought her to the attention of a government agency.
“No Good Deed” is about Mark Taylor, a man wrongly accused of terrorism and imprisoned as an enemy combatant with no rights, no trial, and no way out. Those were the real-life issues McDonald became interested in after reading about Jose Padilla, a Chicago man also known as “The Dirty Bomber”.
McDonald said, “He was arrested in 2002 and it was pretty big news then, but was forgotten by most. As an American, Padilla wasn’t sent to Guantanamo Bay like the rest of the enemy combatants, instead, he was held in a U.S. Naval brig. In 2008, I came across some articles about him and was astonished at the lack of a trial and the fact that no charges were filed against him for years. He was basically just locked up without a trial or even getting a chance to speak to a lawyer. That just struck me, as an American, as a very scary scenario—whether Padilla was guilty or not—I couldn’t understand why he didn’t receive a trial.”
McDonald said she didn’t intend to address the issue in the first book, but readers have commented in reviews and email that “No Good Deed” made them rethink their ideas about some of our government’s policies regarding treatment of enemy combatants. McDonald said, “The reason I say I didn’t intend to make an argument for or against the policy was simply because my intention was to just portray the treatment as realistically as possible based upon research. I think, because my character was innocent and wrongly accused of being a terrorist, readers were able to put themselves in Mark’s shoes.”
While working on the third book in the series, “Deeds of Mercy,” McDonald was researching ways terrorists could attack a city. She said, “I guess my terms like ricin, sarin, chemical weapons combined with searches on dispersal and crop dusters, got me flagged briefly. Two days after an especially heavy research day, I had a hit on my website from The U.S. Department of State. People have told me it didn’t mean anything, that if they were investigating, I wouldn’t know it, but I still think it got me flagged for a least a quick check by someone there. I don’t think it was someone looking for a book to read on their lunch break.”
In “No Good Deed,” Mark Taylor finds an old camera while working on a freelance assignment in Afghanistan. The camera triggers dreams of future catastrophes. Mark finds that he has one day in which to change the course of those events, but when he tries to stop a terrorist attack, he’s imprisoned as a terrorist. When the government confiscates the camera, Mark must find a way to prove his innocence, but with no trial and no rights, will he ever get the chance?
Learn more about M.P. McDonald on her website at www.mpmcdonald.com.
Terry Ambrose (terryambrose.com) writes mysteries and thrillers. His latest funny Hawaiian mystery, “Kauai Temptations,” was called “More delicious than a Coconut Mocha Frap” by New York Times Bestselling author Jenn McKinlay (www.jennmckinlay.com).