DUNDEE: The new novel from a Richmond County author continues to win more accolades.
Dundee author Michael Gerhartz recently won gold in the thriller category of the 2020 International Elite Choice Book awards competition for his second novel Dark Times. This recognition marks the sixth international literary award for the novel.
“When you find out that your book is in the running for an award, you naturally get excited, especially for the first one,” Gerhartz told The Reporter. “Being invited to the 2019 Reader’s Favourite Award ceremony in Miami was very special, and finally hearing your name being announced is certainly an experience I will never forget.”
Once he realized how much scrutiny each entry receives in each literary competition, Gerhartz said the awards became even more special.
“Hearing positive feedback through the Internet or on Amazon is really nice, but winning an award is a different story,” he noted. “It took me a while to understand what it actually meant. There are multiple judges involved, each of them with their own score card. They are taking the plot and the book apart, down to the letter. If they still like it and give you a medal, then you know you have something. So yes, it does mean something to me. For me it means that I did my research right [and there is lot of it], it means that I created likeable characters, that people rooted for and identified with, and it means that my story touched the one or the other sensitive subject.”
Dark Times follows the story of Natascha, a once most-wanted terrorist who is looking to live a normal life but is forced into another mission after discovering a sinister criminal operation at a nearby abbey. Dark Times addresses human and organ trafficking, the child abuse scandal in Great Britain by the Catholic Church in the 1950’s and a self-proclaimed group of “elite” people, who stop at nothing to get their way.
Noting that he has not changed as a person, but as an author, Gerhartz said the plot of his second novel is more complex than his first.
“The characters are easy to identify with,” the author says of his second work. “The heroine is just a normal person. In her daily routine she works part time at an aquarium and fills up her hours by working a second job at an elite security company, where her husband and former bodyguard works. They are loving parents to their daughter and are facing the daily grind of trying to make enough money. Natascha is not the invincible super hero with unlimited financial resources. She is a very emotionally young woman, who has to grow and overcome her fears to safe her family against the villains, which she cannot do without the help of her friends. It shows that everything is possible if you believe in yourself and face your challenges, and that there are always people out there who want to help you.”
After three years writing it, the book was published in February 2019. The novel is a stand-alone sequel to Thin Ice, which Gerhartz read at Port Hawkesbury Literacy Council’s FEIS 2011. Thin Ice took part in the Northwest Passage, focusing on greedy politicians, global warming and the exploitation of natural resources at all costs.
Gerhartz added he is gathering ideas for his third novel which will delve into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“In most other thriller novels, the hero or heroine have to deal with horrible experiences [getting shot at, getting kidnapped, whatever], yet they just move on living their lives laughing,” he noted. “This is not the case. PTSD is real, and it is a much bigger issue than most people realize. So in my third novel, Natascha and her friends will also face their inner demons, woken up by the events in their past, and it will be a difficult battle.”