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Master of the Game
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Simon says, ”no body, no crime scene, no witness = no murder!”

Title: Master of the Game

Author: William Tepper

Publisher: Synergy Books; (June 2004)

Genre: Fiction/Crime/Mystery

ISBN: 097476440X

Paperback: 448 pages


Rating: Highly Recommended


July 25, 2004


Reporter Frank Wycheck’s big break comes with “Jaws” murders. After the killer is captured and media dies down Wycheck receives a phone complimenting him on his coverage of the case. The caller identifies himself as “Simon” and immediately invites Wycheck to play a part in a game.


Using disguises Simon is a shrewd, calculating individual who like a well-played game of chess – meticulously plans his every move. Carefully selecting his victims. The game, like baseball: 9 innings, and 9 victims. His rules for Wycheck: tell no one and quit your job. His role in all of this is to write a book, chronicling what will soon take place.


In the meantime the FBI has received several faxes signed by “S”, which at first Special Agent Mark Berlanger assumes are sick joke. For Simon, the game has already begun.


Once all the players have been selected and in place, Simon initiates a riveting game of cat and mouse mimicking the infamous Zodiac killer. Taunting authorities to catch him, while ridiculing their intelligence.


After the FBI’s regional director, Kevin Fitzpatrick’s wife and secretary is abducted, Assistant Director Tim Dawson, places the distraught man on medical leave. Dawson following chain of command gives charge of the investigation to high-profile FBI investigator John Hightower.


Hightower is an intelligent man who has solved many a case, and a “worthy” opponent for an “invisible” killer. But like all serial killers, Simon makes a move that will open his own eyes.


The questions that will haunt readers with such an impressive lineup are: Which of the players will emerge as Master of the Game? Can Hightower’s mental approach prepare him for when he steps up to the plate? Can he swing, realistically? And what will rewards will Wycheck’s book bring him?


Author William Tepper should be commended on well-developed novel with characters, as intriguing as the plot. Master of the Game has all elements of a blockbuster thriller so perfectly entwined that one can't wait to turn the pages and before realization it dawns on one, the book is finished!


   Reviewed by Betsie



An Interview with William Tepper





To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?


Master of the Game – Simon is not your usual deviant killer.


He chooses his prey carefully, patiently watching, waiting, until he knows her every move.  Simon is a coworker, a friend; she likes him, trusts him.  Then one day, she simply disappears and a horrible new world awaits her. 


And that was before Simon became angry. 


Now, he challenges the FBI to a diabolical and deadly game.  To John Hightower, the FBI’s best, falls the task of stopping the mayhem.  Simon enlists Frank Wycheck, a talented reporter, to chronicle the play.  And for each of these “players,” the Game becomes more personal than they could ever have imagined.




Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?


I grew up in New York City and playing ball was my whole life.  In school, I read and wrote only what I had to for homework and tests.  As a working adult, again I did only what was required for my job.


Retired, I still like to play ball, but limited by a tired old body and with all that extra time, I now enjoy reading a good novel.  And writing one that other people enjoy reading is extremely rewarding. 


Who were your earliest influences and why?

Mickey Mantle because he could run, field, throw, hit, and hit with power better than anyone else.



What would a typical day be like for a writer?


I suppose that would vary from writer to writer.  Stephen King writes four hours every day and we all know how productive he has been.  I lack this type of discipline or consistent inspiration. There are no typical days for me.  I just kind of muddle along and occasionally something gets finished. 




How long have you been writing and in what capacities?


I have been writing for four years, for my own satisfaction, and as long as it remains a labor of love, I’ll continue.




Which is more difficult to write - Fiction or nonfiction and why?


Decidedly nonfiction is more difficult because you can’t just make it all up. 




Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?


Yup, daily; sometimes I wanted to throw in the towel sentence by sentence.  And actually, I gave up on Master of the Game dozens of times.  Then mysteriously, somewhere, sometime, in the shower, or watching a movie, I got a new idea and marvelous possibilities formulated in my mind.  And then, my keyboard was in real trouble.  




What is the hardest part about being a writer?


Convincing yourself that you can do it.




Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?


I enjoy sports, both actively and as a spectator and I’m positive that I would be the best General Manager ever.  But, alas, I’m an outsider, an unknown, and no one will give me a chance. 


Now, you see, this provides motivation.  If I can become a really successful author, I’ll buy a team.  Then no one can stop me.




Articles and media alike make it sound as though the only way to rise to the top is to sacrifice. What do you find to be good sacrifices?


Sacrificing by definition is not a good thing.  But, while not all writers have to starve, we all have to sacrifice – everything enjoyable that you could be doing with the time, your peace of mind as you are constantly racking your brain for ideas, and worst of all, you risk your self image since there is the very real possibility of failure. 




What question do you get asked more than any other?


How can you take on and accomplish such a large undertaking? 


I answer, “very simple, divide and conquer.  Break your book down into chapters, or if you relate to movies, scenes.  Now you have a short story, a much less daunting task.  Divide each short story into smaller segments; write one paragraph at a time.  Then, in just one short forever, you have your book.”




What’s the coolest thing a reader has said to you?


“I’ve read a lot of books in this genre and liked Master of the Game the best.”




What has been your feedback from readers? What do they say to you about their interpretations of your book?


The feedback is always good.  But people never want to hurt your feelings.  So I listen to them very suspiciously; they must be extremely positive and have good reasons for their praise; their tone and intonation have to be just right; their facial expressions must not give them away; and, they may not turn away from my penetrating gaze.  If anything is not perfect, I know they hated Master of the Game.


Interpretations vary and say more about the reader than Master of the Game.  I’ve tried to make the plot plausible, logical and airtight.  A lot of things happen on many levels and my killer is a very complex individual.  So, there is much more than just the killing and chasing for the reader to digest and process.  Some see it, some don’t, and I’ve had a few people tell me they reread Master of the Game several times to get it all.  Now those, I find to be some pretty intelligent readers.      




Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?


Absolutely!  Unfortunately, sometimes between my curiosity and nearsightedness, I often wind up staring.  And that sometimes gets me in a little trouble.




Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?


I’d like to think that would be me.




If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?


Start writing!




What kind of movies do you enjoy?


I actually like all movies.  It has to be a real clunker for me to walk out.  But, the ones that are really worthwhile leave you thinking after they’re over and long after.




What is your favorite city to visit, but one that you wouldn’t want to live in?


Lahaina, Mauii.  Imagine, Paradise and I don’t want to live there.



What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?


Which character do you identify yourself with, the killer or the drug addict?




What’s the best part of being a writer?


Writing something that you really think is good.




What's next?


A sequel, maybe, The Return Game, or I might just finish one of the six other books I started.




It's been a pleasure for Betsie's Literary Page learning about William Tepper, and hope to see more of his work in future!