Interview with mystery author Gray Basnight

readers. I have mystery novelist Gray
here today to chat about his new political thriller, Flight of the Fox.
Gray is
deeply immersed in his third career — fiction writing, after almost three
decades in broadcast news; preceded by a few years pursuing an acting career.
Prior to Flight of the Fox, his other
published novels are The Cop with the
Pink Pistol
, a modern NYC-detective mystery; and Shadows in the Fire, a Civil War historical novel about two young
slaves on the edge of freedom as Richmond falls in April 1865. He has many
projects in the works, including YA and literary fiction.
Like most
with a passion for writing, it’s been with him all his life, or at least from
the second grade when, at the age of seven, reading took hold and never let go.
Gray lives in
New York with his wife and Golden Retriever. When not writing, he’s thinking
about writing while walking the dog, watching movies, and all other daily
activities. He has lived in New York long enough to consider himself a native,
though he grew up in Richmond, Virginia.
Welcome, Gray. Please tell us about your
current release.
An innocent math professor tries to decode a
mystery file that lands in his in-box while a team of hitmen chase him down the
East Coast.
Their goal is to suppress dark government crimes from
decades past. His goal is for the truth to be told. With the action switching
between the J. Edgar Hoover era and Professor Sam Teagarden’s decoding of the
mystery file in 2019, the professor runs for his life armed only with his wits
and intellect. Along the way, he worries whether the truth will be told, and if
he’ll be seen as a hero whistle blower or a pariah. Or worse, will he end up
What inspired you to write this book?
I like the
idea of combining history with fiction and had been looking for a subject that
would work. I found it way back in 2011 while watching the Ellen DeGeneres
show. Her guest that day was Clint Eastwood who was promoting his movie called
“J. Edgar.” When she asked him about the legendary rumor that Hoover was gay,
he punted by saying, “the jury is still out.” That was the moment I landed on
my subject: the FBI of the Hoover years during the mid-20th Century
when tectonic events happened in the U.S., including Vietnam, and the
assassination of two Kennedys and Dr. King.
Excerpt from Flight of the Fox:
He knew the pages would be historic if
made public. It would be a mean revelation that many would prefer to leave
hidden, to keep the past cloaked in beguiling innocence.
He opened the sliding glass door just
wide enough to slip out. Once outside, he stooped low and pushed it closed with
a foot.
Crouching low, there was a strong smell
of freshly cut grass and store bought chemical fertilizer. He moved slowly,
going as easy on his still-healing knees as he could while maneuvering down the
embankment of the neighboring yard, Ernest Blair’s yard. He paused every few
feet, cocking his head, first to one side, then the other, listening for any
sound that might be out of place with the night. The most prominent noise was
the lapping of tiny waves at the shore’s edge caused by a light breeze. Beyond
that, the night was still.
For an audio excerpt recorded by Doug Shapiro, visit ***
What exciting story are you working on
Among other
things, I’m working on a sequel to Flight
of the Fox.
No spoiler alerts, but this time, the everyman hero is drawn to
the Mideast and Europe as he tries to decode a mysterious cryptogram that’s
causing endemic loss of life around the world.
In addition
to that, I am fine-tuning a YA about a teenage girl detective with a genius IQ.
But she hates the “G word,” so we must never call her that.
When did you first consider yourself a
In the second
grade at the age of seven, when I realized that I was reading several levels
ahead of my peers. Unfortunately, I was average in every other way, so I never
skipped a class.
Before that
class concluded, I was writing mini-stories about monsters and dinosaurs. Of
those early scribbling efforts, I only recall that my gentle brontosaurus was
named Mr. Patterson, though I’ve no idea why, and that he was good buddies with
“Casper, the Friendly Ghost,” who was my favorite comic book character at the
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
full-time. I try to sit at the keyboard a minimum of six hours a day. It
doesn’t always work out, and even when it does work out, that doesn’t mean I’m
actually writing for six solid hours.
As for
finding time, it’s easier now that I don’t have a regular job. Not that writing
isn’t regular, but I don’t have to take public transportation to get to my
desk, and the only office politics I must cope with are going on inside my
head. Yet even now, there’s so much that pulls me away from the keyboard:
chores, family, friends, travel, goofing off with the dog, and afternoon naps.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
Like cats who
love cardboard boxes, I like small spaces. At home, I work in an office space that
I set up in a walk-in closet, about 4’ X 7’ with no windows, obviously. I call
it my in utero writing hideaway.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
A writer,
actor, reporter, and/or college professor. I’ve now done all except teacher. But
I make up for it in Flight of the Fox,
where my central character is a professor.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Just that I
love hearing from readers: the good, the not so good, the tangential stuff, all
of it is welcome. And I promise to respond to you!
Thanks for joining me today, Gray.

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