Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

10 Days . . . Who is Hemingway?

Mar 18, 2023

The Hemingway Deception hits the shelves in 10 days. The question you should be asking is, “Who is Hemingway?” The answer isn’t simple—there are many possibilities. Sure, sure, the first person that probably comes to mind is old Ernest. You know, the 1954 Nobel Prize winning author of The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell To Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea among others. In high school, I read my share of his work. At the time, I was like “Sure, yeah, brilliant. Not for me.” Now, however, his work takes on a whole new meaning and he was my kind of writer and guy—an adventurer at heart. I especially liked his portrayal in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris where Hemingway hung out at Gertrude Stein’s salon in Paris (of course) with some of the great thinkers of the time like Picasso, Miro, and Stein herself. Not only was it a clever movie, but it was a thinker, too.  But, alas, no. The Hemingway Deception is not about old Ernest.

The Hemingway Deception has a cast of characters each with a small toehold from my past. Let me introduce you to just a couple of them. I warn you, they are not who you think-and not what I thought they were while writing them, either.

Ana Karras—Ana is an enigma. A woman haunted and hunted by her past. She’s smart, strong, and tenacious. Perhaps the one quality that is a blessing and a curse, is her protectiveness for her family. All her family. A lost mother and father missing in the Colombian jungles. Her maternal Yiayia Poppi (grandmother) trying desperately to make Ana leave the past in the past. And more than the others, little Sarah—the young child she rescued from the dirty streets of Cabrera. But to understand Ana Karras, you also have to understand Ana Montilla.

Ana Montilla—Ana Karras’ nemesis and alter ego. Ana Montilla was a jungle fighter—A guerrilla from the FARC— The People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia —camps in Colombia. How is it that Ana Karras could also be Ana Montilla? Only The Hemingway Deception can explain that.

Catalina Reyes—Cat. Once Havana’s rising star within Dirección de Inteligencia—Cuban Intelligence—Cat fell from grace. Actually, she was pushed and beaten down. Now, she’s back. And she’s mad as hell and hunting private justice. The key to her mission—the key to her success—is rekindling her fire of talent and instinct. Without those, she’s dead. Her mission will fail. With them, she’s unstoppable.

Detective Luke Brennan—NYPD detective extraordinaire. Brennan goes through life with a smile and a good heart. He also goes through life letting his heart get him into trouble. Add a pretty, Greek-Latina and a secretive CIA operative and several missing bodies to the list, and Brennan is on his way to the biggest trouble he’s ever had. Oddly enough, he loves every minute of it.

Trane—is said secretive CIA operative. Trane walks the line between good and evil like he’s a tightrope expert. He’s a chameleon of character and his mission is as clear as day. What’s not clear, is if he’ll actually execute that mission or operate by his own agenda. By his own rules. With his own end game. But everyone who chases Hemingway has a dark cloud to come to terms with. Trane is no exception.

Alex McLaren—CIA Deputy Director and Chief Agitator . . . or perhaps, Chief of Deception.  McLaren is as powerful as he is duplicitous. He has three missions in life: climb the ladder of success on the rungs offered him by the White House; keep personal secrets secret; and get Hemingway. There are no rules. There are no limits. There are no innocents.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Are these the good guys or the bad guys? Hell if I know. Sure, I wrote the novel. But my characters made me. And I’m telling you what, each is both good and bad. There is light and darkness inside each one.

Oh, I should also mention a few of the truly dangerous others:

Like Colonel Luis Vergara—the evil dark lord if there ever was one. One of the grand poohbahs of Cuban Intelligence. Just wait until you meet him. Yikes.

Nico Guerro—a ruthless, immoral, and cunning Cuban operative on Hemingway’s trail.

And others . . .

Oh, did I mention Lobo the three-legged dog? No? Well, to be sure, this isn’t a Cozy mystery as I’ve written in the past. No way. No how. But I still have good ole Lobo. A loyal, intensely protective stray always at little Sarah’s side. Thank God.

There are more for sure. But you’ll have to read my next blog and get a copy of The Hemingway Deception to know the who’s who. And I warn you. Those of you who try to guess the good guys and the bad guys, and figure the ending out along the way, well, surprise, surprise.

In my next edition I’ll be talking about location, location, location—how and why I picked the key settings for The Hemingway Deception. I might even pass along a couple personal vignettes of my adventures there, too-lucky you!


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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