Interview and Review with Author Mike McNeff

28 Oct

GOTU by Mike McNeff

Buckle up! Today we are featuring author Mike McNeff and his gripping police drama “GOTU”. Seriously….strap in. It’s one hell of a ride.

A brief description: When a drug cartel attacks a cop, the rules apply. When they attack a cop’s family, there are no rules.

Sergeant Robin Marlette’s special narcotics squad has killed a dangerous drug courier and the brother of a prominent Mexican drug overlord. When Marlette’s daughter is kidnapped as an act of revenge, it’s a race against time to save her. Marlette and his team are very good at what they do-but are they good enough to defeat a drug cartel on its own turf?

Written by a 40-year law enforcement veteran, GOTU puts you side by side with the law enforcement brotherhood as they battle the world’s most vicious criminals. GOTU will have you rooting for the good guys and turning the pages well into the night.

Let’s hear more from Mike McNeff!!

What was your favorite part of the book?

When Robin gets the BMW and he, Burke, Rocky and Marv set a perimeter on a hilltop.  In the midst of hell, their bond is still unbreakable.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The family scenes…they are written from the heart.

What do you wish was different about the book?

More character development.  I wasn’t experienced enough to weave more into the plot.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea.  Joseph Conrad – Lord Jim.  John Steinbeck – Cannery Row

What sparked the idea for your novel?

My experiences leading a state police squad that investigated drug smugglers crossing the Arizona/Mexican Border.

How personal is your writing?

I don’t know how one can write a novel without it being personal.  There is a good part of me in every book…the good and the bad.

How strict are you with plotting? Do you outline or go where the story takes you?

I let the characters dictate how the story is going to unfold.    After I’ve written the story, then the real work begins.  I do at least two edits and then it goes to my editor.  My editor knows I don’t want her to pull punches, so she is quite thorough and blunt. Her editing always creates hard work for me.

What is your writing routine?

I write at least one thousand words a day, usually in the afternoon or evening.  I don’t always work on the same book every day.  If I run into a wall on one story, I’ll work on another until the wall crumbles on the first book.

Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?

The idea for the novel comes first.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

“Genre” is a dirty word to me.  When an idea for a story hits me, I’m not concerned about genre.  The story is the important thing.  I have five books in the works with some in different genres.  The one common theme in all my books is there will always be a law enforcement officer of some kind as a prominent character.

How did you come up with the title?

GOTU stands for Guardians of the Universe, which was the actual name of my narcotics squad.  It also stands for “got you.”

What project are you working on now?

I’m finishing two more Robin Marlette stories right now.  I also have a very dark cold case mystery that delves into the emotional toll cases have on homicide detectives and  I’m writing a western that analyzes at the concept of justice.  When those are finished, I’m planning to write a dual mystery about a murder of a bluesman in the 1930’s and the murder of a bluesman in present time, where I’ll weave in history of the blues and blues lyrics. I’m also hoping to embed some blues songs in the ebook version.

Are there certain themes you like to address in your writing?

My experiences as a police officer and a lawyer has given me an in depth look at the worst and the best of humanity.  Many of these themes are issues people don’t even want to think about, but I try to present them in an interesting and entertaining way, so folks can learn and better understand the world around them.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

Write every day.  Set a word goal and meet or exceed it.  When you think your book is ready, give it to a professional editor.  The excuse “I can’t afford an editor,” doesn’t hack it. If you want to be a professional writer, you can’t afford not to have a good editor.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The truth is I haven’t experienced tough or unwarranted criticism in the 36 reviews I’ve received.  I take every review to heart and learn from them.  I don’t think anyone can be as tough a critic as my editor and I count her as my most valuable writing asset.

If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Ernest Hemingway because of his life experiences and his ability to convey them in his writing.  Thomas Jefferson because of his keen intellect and his endless ideas.  Winston Churchill because of his extraordinary life experiences and his absolute love of life.

Now the fun questions:

Favorite junk food?


Tea or coffee?

Coffee, strong and black.

Favorite superhero(ine)? Why?

Superman because he has the most super powers and uses them wisely.

Favorite color?

I love all bright colors, but if I have to pick one it would be the blue of the ocean on a sun bright day.

Favorite place you’ve visited?

I’m lucky…I live on Whidbey Island in Washington State and it is my most favorite place.

What’s one quirky or fun fact about you?

I like to jam with friends and members of my family.  I play the guitar pretty good, but singing…oh dear!

Here’s what I thought about “GOTU”:

Let me start by giving you two disclaimers. First: Do not read this book if you suffer from any kind of heart condition. Second: It’s worth the risk.

McNeff grabs you from the first page with action and imagery straight off the silver screen. It reads like a film and moves like a film. I could easily see this being adapted into a screenplay. And then I would pay money to go see it.

The main character in this police procedural/drama/thriller/tome of excitement, Robin Marlette, is reminiscent of familiar action heroes and fills out this novel in excellent detail.

The storyline is timely for today’s current climate, yet accessible to readers of all genres. Die-hard thriller fans will be right at home; those not as friendly with the police drama jargon may get a bit lost in all the descriptions and acronyms. Stick with it, I promise there’s a payoff.

While I enjoyed the entire cast of characters, I have to say there were a lot of them. Once or twice, I had to flip back and clarify my grasp of who was who.

McNeff’s background in law enforcement enables him to offer a thrilling and satisfying read that moves at a breakneck pace. The action sequences are tense and heartpounding. The dialogue is snappy and natural. Nothing ever feels forced or awkward.

What I liked was the realism of the plot. Yes, it was worthy of Hollywood, but nowhere did the plot veer into “that would never happen in real life” territory. Cartels are dangerous. And the men that run them are ruthless. When pushed, they will take exactly the kind of action that McNeff describes so crisply.

Hard-hitting and engaging, I give this 5 out of 5 stars.

Bio: Mike McNeff is a cop who writes about cops. During his 40 years in law enforcement Mike has worked patrol, criminal intelligence, narcotics, and he has been a SWAT team leader and commander as well as a hostage negotiator. He is also an experienced trial attorney in both criminal and civil cases. Writing is Mike’s third career and GOTU is his first novel. He’s married with four grown children and seven grandchildren. Mike likes to cruise on his boat, fish, shoot, and of course, write.

Where to find him:

Where to buy “GOTU”:



2 Responses to “Interview and Review with Author Mike McNeff”

  1. Natasha Slight October 29, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    One of the coolest compliment an author can have is when someone says they could see the book as a movie. And since I don’t have a heart condition, I’ll gladly take the risk. 😉 I love your reviews, Tara, you do great work with them. Mike, congrats on a great book!


  2. Hunter S. Jones October 29, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    Excellent interview. thank you for bringing Mike to my attention, Tara. Can’t wait to read the book and see the movie.


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