Interview with John Waite, author of The Tursiops Syndrome

Welcome to the kickoff of the book tour for The Tursiops Syndrome by John Waite! Today he is giving us some insight into the writing of the book, as well as a bit of writing advice and a peek into his next projects. Please enjoy getting to know him and his book better. If you want even more, be sure to follow the book tour for further interviews and guest posts. Also leave him comments and questions along the way. Plus there’s a great giveaway you can enter as you go!

Describe the plot of the book in one sentence, twenty-five words or less.

Can bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) be the lynchpin in a Middle Eastern plot to destroy the foundation of the U S government? Yes, they can.

What kind of research did you have to do for it? What was your inspiration?

I really didn’t need much in the way of inspiration to make dolphin a major factor in The Tursiops Syndrome. I remember clearly the summer I spent working at the Gulfarium in Ft. Walton beach Florida. A friend who had applied for and obtained a summer diving job sponsored me, and I was hired to care for the “small aquaria” room at the establishment. I had asked for a position on the diving squad but those were all filled before I applied. I was hired to maintain the concourse that included a dozen or so aquaria in ranging in size from typical tanks to one they called the “reef tank” which was about the size of a mobile home. It housed a gigatic grouper which performed by not biting down when the female divers stuck their heads in its mouth.

        One of my duties was to clean the inside of the windows in the main tank, which I did wearing scuba gear and going from window (about a foot square) to window, wiping the glass with a towel. A couple of the dolphins always watched me as I worked, and one day the youngest and smallest surprised me by yanking a towel from my belt and copying my movements at another window. For a while I had a companion in drudgery, until he tired and sought other amusement, which often involved making passes at one or more of the female show divers. Despite the aggravation he caused the women divers, several of them developed a special affection for him. He disrupted dolphin shows by displaying a massive erection during the performances, detracting somewhat from the performing dolphin that leaped 15 feet from the surface to snap baitfish from the teeth of human showmen.

        Then one night he knocked over a rock formation that adorned the floor of the big tank, trapping himself, and he drowned. The diving corp was devastated.  Quite a few tears were shed. The divers winched the body out of the tank, swung it down to the beach, took it to the dune line, fashioned a makeshift coffin, and held a funeral.

        That funeral will stay with me forever.

        Since that time I have enjoyed several experiences with dolphin in the wild. But, a word of caution. Wild dolphin are just that, wild. They aren’t flipper. They are powerful creatures with mouths full of sharp teeth. Approach with caution.

Which was the most challenging character to construct?

Dr. Jame Crabtree provided the biggest challenge. He is a multifaceted individual, both overly egotistical and yet self-questioning. The challenges that drove him onto the shady side of the scientific world would probably have defeated an ordinary marine biologist, yet he persisted in proving what he sought. He just didn’t understand to what use his research would be put. I liked Jim when I started developing his personality. That changed as he grew. But he was a totally interesting creation.

What was one of your favorite scenes?

My favorite scene in the entire book is when two bad guys attempt to kidnap Hickory and Kevin as they are preparing to take a boat in search of the vessel Turiops. When the men board the speedboat one of them makes the mistake of underestimating Hickory, who knocks him overboard. When his companion tries to intervene, Kevin and a friend quickly and violently disarm him. That frees the hero and heroine to renew their search for a missing ship, the key to the mystery.

Tell us about your other published works.

My other books available on Amazon are The Grand Turk File, a mystery-adventure set in the 90s, Splinter Island, a middle-grade adventure that sees the heroine transformed into a minute mermaid, and Beauty and the Singularities, a volume of short stories including a couple of ghost  and mystery tales.

What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Just do it. Write as much as you can using as few adverbs as possible.

On what are you currently working?

I have several projects in the works, the most difficult of which is a novel, perhaps novella, about my best friend who might have become the president of the United States had he not died in Viet Nam. That was his ambition, and he could have done it. He went to Nam in 1965, a first lieutenant, and while on patrol, trying to talk in evac choppers, was killed by a mortar shell. That is the toughest thing I’ll ever write, and it may take me the rest of my life. I am working also on several briefer and more pleasant pieces. Some of my short works over the past couple of years have appeared in the online journal, Page and Spine.

Who is your writing muse?

Elmore Leonard, mixed with a little Dennis Lehane and some J.K. Rowling.

How do you get a nuke into the heart of the city? Maybe a dolphin can help. From Author John Waite, the tale of a police detective who matches wits with a mad scientist and terrorists intent on destroying America. When detective Hickory Logan joins Park Ranger Kevin Whitehead investigating the mysterious death of a dolphin she finds herself sucked into a far deeper whirlpool. Can she and Kevin stop the tide of terror that threatens to kill thousands or will they be fodder for a nuclear fireball?

A newspaper review described Tursiops thus: “The writing is, well, wonderful. Waite has a gift for dialogue and story-telling, and his plot is adventurous and perfectly paced. “

Read an excerpt:

Red Logan hunkered down next to the Humvee's left front wheel. He folded his lanky frame in several places to assure that the vehicle shielded him from rifle fire emanating from the house a hundred feet away. 

A furious fusillade had greeted A-Company, first battalion, 407th Special Forces when their vehicles pulled to a halt in front of what was a rather strange building for northern Afghanistan. In the early morning darkness it looked for all the world like a California ranch-style home.

But there was no BMW parked in the driveway.

The firefight lasted less than fifteen minutes. There was only an occasional round pinging off the slate-riddled soil and infrequent bursts of automatic fire keeping the soldiers from charging the structure. Red wondered why the squads weren’t using some of the heavier weapons. He knew the unit armament included shoulder-fired missiles and a Carl Gustav 84-mm recoilless rifle but so far, the big stuff had been silent.

The tip had placed Azam al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's chief organizer for nine-eleven, in the house.

Numerous such tips over the past two years had come to nothing. Most of them originated in minds overly-motivated to garner the twenty million American dollars offered for the capture of several of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

At least one Osama bin Laden look-alike had been found dead. And it took weeks before authorities identified the body.  The man had been killed and left in a house to which an Afghan citizen directed U.S. forces. Not only did he not get the reward he sought, but his countrymen also jailed him for mutilating the corpse by cutting off its hands and feet.

Army intelligence, a title Red thought oxymoronic, had considered tonight’s tip more credible than most since it had come in anonymously. The tipster hadn’t mentioned the reward. So the Special Forces unit had headed out in the predawn darkness for a two-hour drive north from Kabul into the mountainous terrain.


The voice belonged to the figure squeezed into the wheel well behind him.

He could barely see Jessie’s sinewy shape, strangely gawky where the video camera and its now-dark lights rested on her right thigh.

“Yeah, what?” he whispered.

“Should I get some video?” Jessie asked, cocking her left hand back over her shoulder.

“Hell no. We're reporters, not soldiers. CNN's not paying us to get shot. Just keep your ass down. There's nothing to shoot."

Before he could finish his sentence, an amplified Afghan voice rang out from the vicinity of the lead Humvee, imploring the occupants of the house to surrender. The answer was a three-shot rifle volley, the rounds pinging off the hard-pack and whining away into the darkness.

“Now,” Jessie said, pushing past Red and swinging the camera onto her shoulder, leaning on the Hummer’s hood.

“No.” Red yelled, trying to pull her to the ground. But it was too late. The light on Jessie’s camera flared brilliantly then died in a crash of glass and the harsh double bark of a Kalashnikov. The rounds zinged away into the darkness, but Red heard in the report the crunch of bone.

“Jessie.” he screamed.

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Thousands of author John C Waite’s words flew past Alpha Centauri years ago,  heading for the center of the galaxy, perhaps sparking an arthropod’s grin in route. Waite, a degreed journalist and retired Merchant Mariner has numerous writing and broadcasting awards to his credit, and millions of words in print and broadcast media. Originally from New Orleans he has called Panhandle Florida his home for fifty years, but still retains a taste for things Creole and Cajun. A recreational and professional sailor, his travels have covered the Caribbean, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, portions of south and Central America, Canada, Hawaii, Ireland, Britain, and Europe. John resides in Pensacola, Florida. He is a father to four, and grandfather to four.  His books are available on Amazon.

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John C. Waite will be awarding a $50 Gift Certificate to to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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