A lack of realism in fiction writing was the impetus for a Richmond County man to take a “novel” approach to his work.
Michael Gerhartz is the author of “Thin Ice,” published in 2012, and its sequel, “Dark Times,” which was released earlier this year. Both are modern-day thrillers featuring the main character, Natascha, a marine biologist. But despite plots dealing with global warming, terrorism, human trafficking and white supremacy, don’t expect Natascha to be the superhero who never stops saving the world and everything around it.
That’s just not Gerhartz’s style.
“I was reading books by very famous and well-known authors and it always came to a point where I would think ‘that’s not very realistic’ or ‘that cannot happen like that in the real world’ and I was complaining so much about it that at one point my wife said 'why don’t you just sit down and write your own book?'” said Gerhartz during a phone interview from Canmore, Alberta, where he was on a photo assignment in the Canadian Rockies. “And I said 'I’m just going to do that' and that’s how I started writing the books.”
“My books have always been very realistic and I think that was very important.” — Michael Gerhartz, author
Gerhartz’s background certainly qualifies him to know what is realistic and what is simply impossible. Born in Germany in 1974, he worked as a police officer before emigrating to Canada. He has lived in Cape Breton since 1999, working as a scuba diver and diving instructor as well as an underwater photographer. He currently lives in St. George’s Channel, near Dundee, with his wife and two dogs.
“My books have always been very realistic and I think that was very important,” he says. “If scuba diving is involved in it, some of the scenarios they describe (in mainstream books) are physically impossible. You see people getting shot and they still move on and take on a whole army on their own — it’s stuff like that. You see people with unlimited resources (in other books) but in my books they have to pay bills and they complain about it and have to make ends meet. If somebody gets hurt, then it hurts. My characters are not super woman nor super man.”
And even while Natascha is the lead character in his first two books, her role will evolve if she appears in later works.
“One of the biggest things that is coming to my mind is that you have characters go through six or seven books and they have no symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) — that’s a huge issue that we have with some of those books. We have to be realistic.”
Gerhartz’s realistic plots are gaining respect in the thriller world. The 2019 Independent Press Award chose “Dark Times” as a distinguished favourite in the thriller category. He has also received a Five Star Reader’s Favourite Award.
He plans to write a third book as soon as he’s ready.
“I try to keep things interesting and keep things busy. I do a little bit of everything. Mostly I try to do what makes me really happy.”