Politics, drug lords, the rich, the poor, racism, sex, love and hate ... The Governor's Wife has a bit of everything.
Bode Bonner is the Governor of Texas. He has a wife and a very young mistress. He's rich, powerful and bored - a dangerous mix.
His wife, Lindsay, has had enough. She's sick and tired of plastering a smile on her face and appearing at meaningless rallies. She's sick and tired of listening to her husband's speeches. But most of all she is sick and tired of his womanising. She knows all about his latest mistress, she just doesn't know what to do about it.
Then, while on a mission for her husband, she saves the life of a Hispanic boy. This act changes her life. She goes from living in luxury to living in poverty helping the desperately poor Mexican immigrants on the United States border.
Mark Gimenez keeps the story cracking along at a furious pace. A word of warning, there are a couple of very graphic discipline scenes from the drug lords.
I asked Mark some questions.
LOTS OF ISSUES ARE GOING ON HERE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
How there can possibly be a happy ending for Mexico? The relentless flow of drugs north across the border and guns and cash south fuels an astoundingly violent drug war that threatens Mexico's existence.
Bodies hanging from highway overpasses, running gun battles through downtowns at midday, border towns now armed camps of cartel soldados fighting for control of the drug corridors into the US - how can a civilised society survive such an uncivilised state of affairs? We travelled extensively in Mexico before the drug war. It's a great country with hard-working people and a wonderful culture. The people deserve better.
WHAT COMES FIRST FOR YOU, THE CHARACTERS OR THE PLOT?
Both. Great characters without a great plot doesn't work. Neither does a great plot without great characters. I can't spend a year writing a book if I don't love the characters. And if I don't love my characters, you won't either.
But even characters we love have to do something. They must be embroiled in conflict. They must act. So my goal is always to combine plot with characters.
WHAT MAKES A BELIEVABLE CHARACTER?
We have to relate to them in some way. We'll never be the governor of Texas like Bode Bonner in The Governor's Wife, but we can relate to his rushing to save his wife when her life is threatened. We can't imagine being a Mexican drug lord like Enrique de la Garza, but we can relate to his loving his children and mourning his beloved wife. We have to see something of ourselves in the characters.
HOW DID YOU RESEARCH THE WORLD OF DRUG LORDS?
For at least the past 10 years I've read everything I could find about the cartels and their operations, books and government reports and media stories. I read newspapers and blogs from the border. And I corresponded with a friend in Mexico.
HOW DO YOU DIVIDE YOUR TIME BETWEEN LAWYER AND AUTHOR?
My law work always comes first. Then I write.
DO YOU WRITE WHEN THE MOOD TAKES YOU OR DO YOU HAVE A SET PLAN FOR EACH DAY?
When I'm fully engaged in writing a book - as I am now writing my next one - I write and make notes and practise dialogue while running, working out, driving, all the time.
My daily schedule is to attend to law work, then write while my son is at school. After school, we always have a sports break. Then I write again late at night.
WHAT'S THE FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?
To Kill a Mockingbird.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO CELEBRATE FINISHING A BOOK?
I go to the Texas Hill Country and play golf. My golf game always suffers when I'm writing a book.
TOP FIVE TIPS FOR WANNABE WRITERS?
1. No adverbs.
2. No preaching.
3. Less is more.
4. Make us care about your characters.
5. Make us feel something.
The Governor's Wife
by Mark Gimenez