Today I’m interviewing Michael Phelps, a man who has had a variety of interesting careers, but lately has concentrated on writing. One of his books ‘David Janssen – My Fugitive’, co-written with the actor’s first wife Ellie in 2009, has sold two million copies. In 2014 Michael’s two books of conversations between himself and David Janssen were also published. You can check out Michael’s books by clicking here: http://www.MichaelPhelpsNovels.com (Michael can sign any books personally which are bought via his website).
Michael can also be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.phelps.copnovelist?fref=ts
And on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Phelps/e/B001KHHL2M/
1. Why did you enlist in the Air Force (Military Police Combat
Defense Force) aged only 16, and for how many years did you serve?
Both of my older brothers served in the USAF during the Korean Conflict. My eldest brother Jack, came home from the Air Force and started several businesses, and for the next three years, I was “forced into labor” (kidding). I enlisted in the USAF in March, six months prior to my 17th. Birthday. I had been in ROTC in High School & told my mother I was going to “ROTC camp” so she would sign the Parental Consent form. By the time my Mom figured it out, I had completed Basic Training. As for Jack – I owe all my successes in life to HIM! My failures are all my own. LOL
2. Apart from serving in the Air Force and working in the law
firm, you have also been a law enforcement officer, a security officer for a hotel chain, and a co-trustee for a multi-million dollar trust fund. Which job have you enjoyed the most?
One thing I learned from my brother Jack, something he told me repeatedly – “Find a job you LOVE and you will never work another day in your life.” I have enjoyed every job I have ever held, law enforcement is a tough job, but very rewarding in that you actually help people in difficult situations.
3. How did you meet the late actor David Janssen?
I met David & Ellie Janssen while working a private party in the Bel Air mansion of the late Conrad Hilton. Our friendship developed two weeks later when he called and invited me to join him for drinks.
4. Did you meet other actors through your association with Mr
Janssen, and if so, are you still friends with them now?
I met Raymond Burr & Rock Hudson at a dinner party in Dave & Ellie’s home. He also introduced me to: Lucille Ball & her husband Gary Morton, Singer/Songwriter Carol Connors, Actress Rosemary Forsyth, Martin Milner and Charles Bronson. I am good friends with Carol Connors & “e-mail” friends with Rosemary Forsyth.
5. You have published 2 books of conversations you had with David Janssen. Did you find that you had a lot in common with David Janssen as you got to know him?
I think Dave and I were both shy and reserved. I joined him in drinking a lot of scotch (been there-done that – have not drank alcohol for the last several years – but do so only socially). He and I both appreciated beautiful women.
6. Which marketing strategies did you employ to be able to sell 2 million copies of the book you wrote with Ellie Janssen ‘David Janssen –My Fugitive’, or do you have an agent?
All marketing for “DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE” was handled by the original publisher, Lifetime Books, Inc. I have no knowledge of their marketing strategy. Ellie & I were both busy with other projects (individually). We made a short book tour and that was the extent of our involvement in marketing the book.
7. Do you think it’s better to live life to the full and die in middle-age before the effects of ageing take over as David Janssen did, or live to 100 and see your grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up?
Well, that is an interesting question. I am 72 now, and I have lived a full life. In regards to someone dying in “middle age”, I think of David Janssen – and aside from the shock of his passing, I felt he was “cheated”, I do not think he was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor and his tremendous success in his profession.
8. Speaking generally from the male viewpoint, do you think
that men cope less well than women when it comes to dealing with stress?
Yes, I actually do. The stress a man experiences seems to be more related to work related pressures and financial pressures. I think God provided women a better psyche for handling stress – being a mother and raising children must be more stressful than any man could handle.
9. Your detective novels in the Mike Walsh series are based on real-life crimes you encountered while working as Chief Investigator for a law firm. Which was the most bizarre case you ever investigated?
My current work-in-progress is entitled “INSANE JUSTICE”. It involves a double homicide in Miami Beach in 1993. It was the most bizarre case I ever encountered in that it revolved around a homosexual love- triangle, drugs, etc. Our firm had been court-appointed to defend the perpetrator. He was guilty, yet we mounted a solid defense and his first trial ended with a “hung jury”. His second trial, he was convicted of much lesser charges. We kept our promise to him, we kept him out of the Electric Chair.
10. The second book in the series ‘Jockey’s Justice’ deals with the murder of a highly respected horse racing jockey. Is a murder in the racing world unusual, or did you discover a dark underworld in your investigations?
Murder in the world of horse racing is rare, but not unheard of. There is a lot of money involved. We did uncover one other murder (unsolved) and a lot of corruption, race fixing, etc.
11. The third book in the series Insane Justice is not yet published. Could you give us a brief outline please?
A young Cuban immigrant became involved with a young man from Kansas in a homosexual relationship. Nine months into their relationship, he discovered his “lover” with another young man. He shot & killed both. My investigation proved the deceased “boyfriend” had been “using” the defendant, taking him for all he had and then “discarding” him. It was a very unusual case.
12. What’s next in the pipeline after Insane Justice is published?
There are about three other memorable cases I worked on for the law firm. After that, I may resort to investigating and writing novels about high profile cases in the Miami and/or New York City area.
13. If you had to pick just one, would you prefer to live in
New York or Miami?
I relocated to Miami 42 years ago after 15 years living in Manhattan. I usually make 3-4 trips to NYC during a year. I think when my book sales allow me the luxury, I will move back to NYC and get used to the harsh winters I had escaped.
14. Were you in New York at the time of 9/11? If so, how near were you to the Twin Towers?
I was checking out of my hotel, waiting for the parking valet to bring my car. It was taking a long time, I entered the lobby, and there was a crowd around the television. I saw the second plane hit the Tower. I went outside and saw the white smoke billowing up, and coming north (I was at West 49th. St. & Tenth Ave.). It reached all the way to about 34th. Street. Immediately after, I learned from the TV News that all Tunnels and Bridges had been closed. I ended up spending the next 3 days in the City before I could leave for my return trip to Miami. I also found I could not drive south past 34th. Street to get a closer view of the carnage.
15. Which is your favourite genre for reading?
American History, true crime.
16. Can you play a musical instrument?
NO – want to learn piano though – if I can make the time. (LOL)
17. Did you go to the Woodstock music festival in August 1969?
No, friends did – from what I was told, glad I did not. (LOL)
18. What do you think is the most important thing that is
needed in order to be able to live a happy life?
Love what you do and treat all others as you wish to be treated – respect each individuals right to their own religious beliefs and treat all living creatures with kindness, compassion & love.
19. Where will you be spending your holidays this year?
I spend holidays at home in Miami Shores, Florida.
20. Do you or did you practise any of the martial arts?
In the USAF, we underwent “Combative Judo” training. We joked because it was called”Operation Tough Tiger”.
My thanks go to Michael Phelps for agreeing to answer my 20 questions. If any other authors or publishers are interested in being interviewed, please contact me via my website http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk with some information about yourself in order for me to formulate the questions.