Mike Houtz releases debut novel, Dark Spiral Down

Welcome, Mike!

Tell us about what you write.

I write full-length action and medical thrillers.

When did your writing journey begin?

I believe I was born a storyteller. The process of writing has always been a way for me to express my imagination. I’ve written with the intent to entertain as far back as junior high school. I put those thoughts aside for a career in medicine, but that desire never left me. When I decided to stay at home for my kids, I revisited my earlier life goals and writing reached out to me once again. When I see someone’s face light up after reading my work, I feel this deep satisfaction from entertaining them. I’ve had that inner feeling as far back as I can remember.

What was your inspiration for DARK SPIRAL DOWN?

I’ve been involved in children’s concerns—professionally and personally—for most of my adult life. My series shines a light on a little-known issue with the kidnapping of American children by one parent and taken to a foreign country against the will of the other parent. In 1983, a small consortium of countries adopted the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child abduction. Only about half of countries worldwide recognize the status quo child custody arrangement existing before an unlawful removal of a child from their home country. I wanted a hero that brought justice to this real-world problem. When the court system fails a child’s return, Cole delivers his brand of justice.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing?

I do. I have two boys at the breech of their teenage years. I’m hoping that they see their father pursuing his passion with gusto and determination. Just like writing, I want to show them what it’s like to pursue a dream and not just tell them they should live their lives in that fashion. We adults might not think our kids are paying any attention, but I’m convinced they see it all.

Tell us about DARK SPIRAL DOWN.

Cole Haufner is a rising superstar in the professional mixed martial arts world. At the peak of his success, Cole suffers a horrible personal tragedy. His grief grows further when his brother, Butch, a Delta Force team leader, goes missing during a mission. Desperate to find Butch, Cole’s search for his brother takes him back to his childhood home in southeastern China and the Shaolin Temple where he was raised by his uncle, Master Li.

When Cole meets his brother’s Delta teammate, code name Hammer, Cole’s fame and personal agenda collide with the Delta unit’s recovery mission of a stolen twenty-year-old invention that could transform the human race; one that could also see its downfall, if the pursuing North Korean agents can find it first. Cole’s personal spiral downward approaches madness as a family secret is revealed to him, one that could force him to choose between his brother and one of the most important, and potentially deadliest, discoveries in modern human history.


“If you’re in the market for a fast paced, action filled, page-turning thriller, Mike Houtz delivers a must-read novel. I highly recommend this emotional rollercoaster of a book for every die-hard thriller reader…Get it ASAP!”

 - Lima Charlie Review

Dark Spiral Down is a phenomenal debut novel by Mike Houtz! This book has everything readers of the genre love: a great plot, memorable characters, and a powerful voice. It’s a must-read!” 

  - Ammar Habib, Bestselling & Award-Winning Author, Editor-in-Chief of Thriller Magazine 

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.   

I’d just finished what was truly a rough draft of my novel when I came across a writing contest offering feedback from the judges. I needed some professional eyes looking things over, and I really wanted to know what I needed to work on both in the story as well as my own writing knowledge. I honestly forgot about my submission and months later, I received a call one evening announcing I’d won the Zebulon Award for the suspense/thriller category. I’m fairly certain my lower jaw bounced off the floor. A few months after that, I pitched my newly awarded manuscript to The Wild Rose Press, a smaller traditional publisher out of New York, at the Colorado Gold conference. After a request for a full, I was quickly put in touch with a senior editor who pushed the book through their committee at light speed. The communication along the way was outstanding, and I had that gut feeling I was in good hands. Because of how they’d treated me along the way, I had zero qualms of accepting the contract they offered. Working with my wonderful editor, Leanne Morgena, I’ve learned a ton this past year, and my writing has improved immensely. A great start to my career.

Any new projects on the horizon?

I have two in the hopper. I also just submitted a short story for an anthology set to release in 2020. Short stories are hard work! I’m working on book #2 in the Cole Haufner series. I’m also back at my original WIP, a medical thriller. When Tess Gerritsen says she can’t wait to see it, you better believe I’m going to finish that ASAP.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

It’s a marathon. The winners are those that stay the course and don’t let outside influences drive their own narrative. Write your own ending.

What was the hardest/most unusual/interesting part of the story to write/research?

The most difficult part was the North Korean characters. As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of available research because of their closed society. It was also fascinating to imagine their mindsets and motivations. Their way of thinking is so different than our own, and I had some mental fun crawling into their heads.

Find Mike:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub

Now for an excerpt…

Anger born of helplessness rose in his chest. In contrast to Master Li's placating tone, Cole straightened to his full height and stared into the man's face. "Let me guess, more 14K cowards?"
Another man stepped forward and cocked his pistol's hammer. "I show you coward." 
As at the Crowne Plaza earlier, Cole refused to back off, even in the face of impending conflict. "The coward is the man who needs a gun." 
The other with the shotgun pointing at Cole's chest stood only some seven or eight feet away. "You will come with us now!"
"Please. Violence is forbidden here," Master Li spoke again. "The Temple is sacred. We cannot have this type of behavior."
"Maybe you don't hear so good," the leader sneered. "He comes with us whether you approve or not."
"He is a famous American! If you take him, the government will arrest anyone involved. They will have no choice but hold immediate trials and executions." Master Li cupped his hands together and held them against his chest.
"Famous American," the man chuckled. "If you are so famous, what are you doing here then, huh?"
Cole stared straight into the man's eyes. He took several steps toward the shotgun-wielding thug. "How about I show you?" 

Speed-dating round:

What does your desk look like? Ten squirrels fighting over one nut

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? Lead singer for KISS

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? So far, London. So far…

You have a time travel machine: past or future? Where/when? 2 weeks into the future and grab the Lotto numbers.

Above, Mike atop Mount Gray, a 14+er in Colorado, and his dog, Saber.

If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? DaVinci

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? Milky brown color called Backstory Barf. No one wants to see that.

What are you known for? Original member of Zydeco band Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night owl

Favorite book of all time? Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising

Where can you find Mike?   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads  ~  Bookbub

Where can you find Mike?

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub