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An Interview with Death Watch Author Michael Sedge

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I was so taken by an ARC of Death Watch that for the first time, I had the guts to delve more about the book. So yeah, this is my first author interview but not my first attempt. My supposed interviews fell short of execution when I felt disappointed finishing those other books. But for the book, Death Watch (published Nov. 1, 2014 by Motivational Press, Inc.), overall there was nothing bad I could say. Death Watch is just amazing! It was a great read that it's kind of sad that it has to be shelved for 20 years before actual publication. As to why, then read on.

Michael Sedge Death Watch Author
Michael Sedge is a veteran journalist and author. His career included activities as a war correspondent, contributor to over 47 publications around the world, more than 4,000 published articles, 14 books, 3 television documentaries, and screenplays. He has lived in Southern Italy for the past 40 years, where he runs two companies: The Sedge Group and Michael-Bruno, LLC. Sedge has won numerous prizes for his writing, including the President of Italy’s Best Book of the Year by a Foreign Author and the Paris Book Festival’s Best Fiction Award.

He can be reached on Facebook at Michael Sedge or through The Sedge Group, www.thesedgegroup.com.

  1. I've read in one of the reviews by readers in goodreads that this book was to be published initially 2 decades ago. Is it true and when was it exactly?
    • We actually wrote this book prior to 9/11. It was optioned for a film by a major production company in Los Angeles and we had a New York Publisher lined up. After the attack on the Twin Towers, all contracts and options were cancelled because, according to the studios and publisher, "We simply cannot put out a product that emphasises terrorism given the circumstances."
  2. What's the reason for such a long holdup?
    • Joel and I therefore put the book "in a drawer" until last year. The world has moved on and we felt the timing was right, given the Ebola outbreak, the success of the TV series "NCIS" and the global knowledge of terrorism today. So we re-wrote the book and it was immediately picked up and released by Motivational Press, as part of their new push into the fiction market.
  3. Did you have a publisher for the book at that time? What publication house was this?
    • We did, but part of the settlement was that we are not legally allowed to say who they were/are. I like to think that this is because they did not want to be the ones that "turned down this one" if it becomes a bestseller.
  4. I've read books that are a collaboration between 2 authors and I've always wondered how 2 authors work 1 book out. I'm assuming you're the author of the story, what was Joel Jacobs part in it?
    • Joel and I have known each other for many years. He was an active duty navy photo-journalist and I was a correspondent for the Associated Press when we first met in Naples, Italy. I originally came up with the concept for the Death Watch story. Then we met in Shelbyville, Tennessee, at a Shawnee's Restaurant. We spend 16 hours there—through breakfast, lunch, dinner—working on plots, themes, characters, etc. Once we worked out the outline and general story, I returned to Italy, he returned to Texas, and the process began. We had selected the sections that each would work on and as we wrote, we passed chapters back-and-forth by email. I had the final task of putting the storyline together—piecing it so that the various plots flowed logically and intertwined.

      Once we completed the book, we again meet at the Shawnee's in Tennessee and spent another 14 hours editing. The manager and waitresses all say, "You're the guys writing the book." We had made lifelong friends. Hopefully they all bought copies of Death Watch.
  5. How old were you when the story was conceived and how long did it take to finish it?
    • I had worked on the book idea for about a year before Joel and I linked up in 1996. So I must have been 42. We completed the original draft of the book in 1997.
  6. The movie industry is currently bombarded with lots of adaptations from young adult books. I think this book is way bigger than the YA books I've read that made its way into the big screen. Also, even though there are no fire shots, this falls under military genre. If someone will contact you for this to be made into a movie, will you give the go signal? If no one contacts you, is there any way that this book will be made into a movie?
    • If we received a serious offer, from a reputable production company, we would certainly give it consideration. We have always considered Death Watch a movie, as well as a book. We were working with an agent in the 1990s who, by chance, was a former VP of Columbia Pictures. She had even begun lining up actors, prior to 9/11. It is ironic that our ''Blockbuster" book and movie about Ebola and terrorism was derailed by an act of terrorism.
  7. With the book's writing style, who were your inspirations?
    • I can speak for Joel, but I tried to incorporate the details of a Stephen King Novel and the research and military angle of Tom Clancy. I had done a magazine interview with Clancy a year or so earlier and stayed in touch with him. In fact, one of the experts we used in Death Watch, to insure accuracy was retired U.S. Navy Captain Mike Rogers, who was also a consultant for Clancy.
  8. Have you thought of becoming an author one day as a child? If not, what did you dream of becoming to be?
    • Not as a child. I was 22 and in the U.S. Navy when I wrote my first short story. I entered it in a USO Writing Contest and won first prize. That triggered a career which, so far, accounts for over 4000 articles in some of today's top magazines, 14 books, 3 TV documentaries, and several prizes, including the "Best Book of the Year by a Foreign Author" from the President of Italy. This was for my book, "The Lost Ships of Pisa."
  9. Was Ebola also the same virus you've written about 20 years ago or you changed the virus to Ebola since it's a hot topic for 2014?
    • We have always used Ebola. Our inspiration was based on the 1976 Ebola outbreak in Zaire and Sudan.

      We were actually ahead of our time in this book. In 1996, relatively no one knew about Ebola. Similarly, few people knew what NCIS meant. And terrorism was something that happened in the Middle East or Africa. Now, 19 years later, Ebola, NCIS and terrorism are household terms, recognized by everyone.
  10. Reading wikipedia's entry about you (military affiliations), what made you decide to stay in Southern Italy?
    • I got here in October 1973 with the U.S. Navy... and have been here since, traveling almost constantly. In the past 60 days, for example, I have been in 8 countries, 18 cities and 3 continents.
  11. As a military man, did you meet someone special during your deployment there?
    • You guessed it. My wife of 40 years is Italian. We have two children—my daughter lived in Naples, Italy and my son lives in Utica, New York—and three grandchildren. I just wrote a children's book for my granddaughter in NY called "Giada Learns Italian." It is available on Amazon.com.

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