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Interview: Ray Ellis, Author of N.H.I.: No Humans Involved

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Ray Ellis knows what he is talking about when it comes to the law, police precedure and crime.  Mr. Ellis worked for a number of years in the maximum security facility in Orange County, California, at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and then on to working patrol, along Orange County’s coast as well as the inner canyons and barrios.  Ray Ellis then moved to Idaho and continued his law enforcement career, serving as an instructor for the Idaho POST Council.

Mr. Ellis is an ordained Minister — who now serves as the Associate Pastor in his home church in Nampa, Idaho — a former U.S. Marine, as well as a public speaker, who speaks on topics of community and personal safety.  Ray Ellis is currently serving as the lead sex crimes investigator for the agency where he works.

Mr. Ellis resides in Idaho with his wife and children — two sons and one daughter.  N.H.I.: No Humans Involved is Ray Ellis’ debut novel which focuses on the genre of Urban Fiction.

Readers can learn more about Mr. Ellis by visiting his website, Facebook and Twitter.

Please tell us a bit about your book, N.H.I.: No Humans Involved and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

Treasure Valley, Idaho has come under siege. A teen killing and cop turn up dead within 24 hours of each other and a new and savage street gang has settled in the city and Nate Richards has been tagged to fix it. N.H.I.: No Humans Involved is the story of Nate Richards, a police detective wrestling with the conflicts of being an effective homicide investigator while growing in his faith. When Nate finds himself assigned to investigate the violent death of a young gang member, he thinks it may be his lucky break; perhaps this would be his one big chance to prove himself to the investigative team. But when the death is linked to the mayor’s office and a new street gang known as Abyss, Nate soon realizes he has been thrust into the midst of a struggle of racism, drugs, and the possibility of police involvement.

Overnight his new life is shattered, and Nate finds himself caught between an evil gang lord and political pressure to make it all just go away. Drugs, vice, and the lust for power all converge on Detective Nate Richards and threaten to draw him into a darkness that will consume him and destroy his fledgling faith. Nate has to solve the murder and discover the identity of the mysterious leader of the new street gang all before his girlfriend, who turns up missing, is destroyed by the evil unleashed on the streets.

Can Nate hold up against the pressure put on him by his command and stop the swelling tide of fear threatening to take over the city and will he find his girlfriend alive? The fate of a city and one man’s faith hangs in the balance.

I hope readers will take from NHI a sense of adventure and gain a unique look into the world of a homicide detective from a psychological and spiritual perspective that is based on my 22 plus years of experience working these types of cases.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

I would have to say my favorite characters are Nate and his new partner Mac; they just really bring to life what it means to live in the trenches and still be whole ‘people.’

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

One of my favorite scenes happens near the beginning of the story. This is where the Amber character is introduced and we see Nate stumbling over himself in his obvious attraction to her. But this is in that early-awkward stage where each party is afraid to say out loud what they are really feeling.

(page 7 in the story):

“Nate stopped. His smile evaporated and the smug feeling he briefly enjoyed disappeared. He rubbed his hand across his chin and smirked, feeling the fatigue again. “I forgot I’d left that pass for you at the front desk. I should have known you’d choose now to walk in.”

Amber smiled at him from across the small space between the desks that made up the central corridor of CID. “Really, Nate.” She smiled and it warmed him in ways that embarrassed him.

He loved looking at her. Although he typically liked long hair on women, Amber’s shorter cut suited her. Rich brunette hair framed her heart shaped face causing her chocolate-brown eyes, playing exotically against her olive complexion, to dance with soft lights. But, if he had to choose, he would say it was her smile and Nicole Kidman type nose that were his favorites. The twin dimples set deep in her cheeks didn’t hurt either.

“Mmmh,” he stammered, “I, uh. Yeah.”

“That’s what I thought. How in the world are you going to be able to share the gospel with that guy if you keep antagonizing him? Really.” She grinned and took his arm, locking hers through his.

“You forgot you promised to buy me breakfast this morning.” She smiled up at him. It had not been a question.

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

If NHI were a movie I would like to see Will Smith play Nate because I think Mr. Smith could understand the depth required to play a biracial character in mono-cultural setting. Also the internal battle that brings the Nate character alive reminds me of the struggles portrayed by Smith in his role in I Am Legend.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

The exploration… the newness you find in discovering who these characters, these people really are.

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

My least favorite aspect of writing is perhaps the technical restrictions. There are just so many things you have to do that sometimes it feels like binders.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

On the non-fiction side of writing I like C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce, and George McDonald, Your Life in Christ. Now, on the fiction side of things I also enjoy C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love, and The Mark of the Lion Series. I also enjoy Ted Dekker, Three, and Randy Alcorn, Edge of Eternity.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow and Eye of the Mountain God by Penny Rudolph.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

I would invite C.S. Lewis, Francine Rivers, George McDonald, Frank Peretti, and J.R.R. Tolkien. I would serve this great group of writers steamed Alaskan King Crab legs, home-made rice pilaf, fresh rolls and drawn butter, and steamed green beans. I would begin the first course with lemon ice and then a light tossed salad and cucumber water. After all is said and done I would follow up with a serving of strawberry ice.

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

That’s easy, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As a child this story captured my sense of adventure and romance. Just the idea of creating a world as deep and diverse as Oz with all its iconic characters is a writer’s dream. Who doesn’t know by now that, “There’s no place like home.”

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

For writers I would say never ever give up, and to just stop talking about writing and start writing. And for life, I would say live today as if God would hold you accountable tomorrow.

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