I'm delighted to welcome novelist Patrick Parker, who has written three intriguing novels so far, to my blog. Welcome, Patrick!
Thank you, Maggie, for your time and giving me the opportunity to talk with you.
Tell us about yourself and your life to date.
I retired from the US Army, then worked in the defense industry for fifteen years. My duty assignments took me to Italy, Germany, Panama, as well as the United States. My corporate work took me to Europe, across the United States and England. I am now settled in Texas, writing full time. I enjoy scuba diving, sailing, going to the beach, and astronomy.
A challenge issued by your wife led to you writing 'Treasures of the Fourth Reich' - can you elaborate?
I picked up a suspense book to read on the plane for a trip. This particular book, by one of the large publishing houses, was hyped as a “must read” and had several endorsements. I thought I couldn’t go wrong. However, I found numerous errors and holes in the plot. In some instances, the story line was not believable. When I returned home, in a conversation, my wife asked how I liked the book. I told her about it, and that I was disappointed. I made an offhanded comment that I could write a better book. She said flat out, “Why don’t you?”
Time passed and I began thinking of her comment, but doubt filled my head. A few travel excursions later, I bought another suspense book and it too, disappointed me. Then I was sent to Panama on a classified assignment. I stopped in at an art gallery hoping to buy a painting as a memento. The owner of the shop was active in the resistance against Manuel Noriega and looked to the United States to rescue her country. She told me at length, about the situation in the country. I found her fascinating. My trip to the isthmus did have many tense and exhilarating moments. Soon after I returned, in one conversation, my wife asked me again if I was going to write a book. “It is harder than you think,” she said. I think she was just tired of me complaining of the quality of some books. Her comment was all it took. Panama was still fresh in my head and I thought the art dealer would make a very interesting character in a book. The idea took shape and 'Treasures of the Fourth Reich' was born.
How far is the character of Maria Conner based on that art dealer you met in Panama?
Maria Conner is based on a real person in Panama. That person, I’ll call her Mary (not her real name), did own an art gallery. Mary was very vocal in her opposition to the Noriega regime. She intrigued me, although it was a bit frightening. Almost immediately, she asked me if I was going to save them. She began to tell me of the atrocities occurring there. She even told me she and a number of others were organized against the government. Her flat out statements were alarming. If we were overheard, I probably wouldn’t be here. Mary is about the same age as Maria Conner and, probably, much the same personality. Mary did have tragedy in her life as well. Yes, I did buy a watercolor painting from her.
From where did you get the inspiration for the character of Dydre Rowyn in 'War Merchant'?
Dydre Rowyn is a combination of several women I knew from my work in the defense industry. I took from their personalities, traits, and background. Usually, the protagonist in a book like War Merchant is male. I thought a female would not only be a better twist but also add to the suspense. I didn’t want to have the usual stereotypical book. I knew it would be a challenge to maintain her femininity and it was. This character had to be smart, cunning, attractive, not cower when faced with danger, and deadly. I have known some female soldiers that were tougher than woodpecker lips. A female is more deadly than a male. So, after all that, Dydre came to life. The excellent reviews and comments on my female protagonist, from women, tell me that I accomplished my goal with her.
Tell us about your latest book, 'Six Minutes Early'.
Your books so far have focused on issues of war. Will you write about other themes and in different genres in the future?
Yes, they have but I don’t want people to think they are war books. I have been asked many times if some of my characters will return in another story. I would like to bring them back and have a few ideas to do just that. For the time being, I think I will stay in the suspense genre. Yes, that is a broad area and one I like and enjoy writing. I may bring a character(s) back for a crime story or mystery. For now, I have several ideas that incorporate politics, history, and current events. There is so much going on in the world now that you can’t make up. It is ripe for storytelling!
How does your writing fit in with your non-writing life?
That is a good question. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you it infringes too much. I look at it as a full-time job and I am focused on the story at hand. It is time consuming, but if you want a good product, you must devote the time. I do get involved in a story and probably do drive everyone nuts until it is finished. How do you see your writing career progressing?
What are your literary aims and ambitions?
What's been the most joyful part to date of being a novelist?
The most joyful is getting my books published and reading the reviews. My mother, wife, and daughters are very proud of my accomplishments. That in itself is very gratifying. Some of my old friends and classmates are not only astounded that I am published but elated as well. I guess I just surprised everyone.
What are your top three strengths (as a person, not just as a writer)? Your top three weaknesses?
My top three strengths are: I am very tenacious; I have great attention to detail; and I am disciplined. I want to produce quality work. Sometimes my tenaciousness and attention to detail consume too much time. My three weaknesses are: I get impatient at times; I fret too much over the small things, which I have no control over; and incompetence drives me crazy. I do work on these weaknesses and try to keep them in check.
Thanks, Patrick! It's been a pleasure interviewing you.
Wow, those strengths and weaknesses mirror my own! Want to know more about Patrick and his books? Visit his website at http://patrickparkerbooks.wixsite.com/author
I’m delighted to welcome horror and thriller author Iain Rob Wright to my blog today! Iain was born in 1984 and is the author of several novels, including the apocalyptic, critically acclaimed 'The Final Winter' and the deeply disturbing thriller 'ASBO'. Iain is also a member of The Horror Writers Association. So let's start!
Iain, tell us about yourself, please.
A few years ago, I was a phones salesman. Due to being a bit of an emotional wreck during my teen and young adult years, I had dropped out of the Army, university, and pretty much out of life. The one thing and only thing I had going for me was the woman who is now my wife. Her support and belief in me led to her pushing me into doing what I’d always dreamed of. She made me start writing in my spare time more and more, and most importantly she made me stay the course and actually finish a novel in full instead of constantly giving up halfway. Now, two and a bit years later, I have twenty-five novels out and am earning more than twice what I did working nine to five in a job I hated. Self-publishing very literally changed my life – it made me richer, happier, and less stressed (when considering how working in sales used to make me feel).
Have you always wanted to be an author? How did your interest in writing originate?
I would write awful stories as a kid that were pretty much just blatant rip offs of movies, but I enjoyed the act of writing and moved on to poetry as a teen. I’ve been an avid reader and movie watcher my entire life and really wanted to tell stories that moved people the way I had been moved.
What have been the greatest problems you've faced in gaining your success?
It’s difficult riding on the high that I am right now, because I want to plan ahead based on my current fortunes, but the way this business is, next year I could be a failure and having to go get a job. The hardest part of this job is not knowing what the future holds. There’s no contract of employment.
Who or what has helped you the most on your writing journey?
The author Joe Konrath has been instrumental in my success. When I started out, I followed the publishing/writing advice on his blog about pretty much everything. Everything he advised worked for me and I have now reached a point where I am trying new things out for myself and passing on that advice to the new guys coming up. I think if established guys all do their bit to help the newer guys get better then everyone benefits; and Joe Konrath is the absolute embodiment of that philosophy.
Who's your favourite author and what is it that resonates with you about their work?
I don’t really have one as it changes so much. I’m currently enjoying Matthew O’Reilly’s work, but in the past, my favourite authors have been Jeff Strand, Jack Kilborn, Brian Keene, Stephen King, James Herbert, Richard Laymon, J F Gonzalez, Kim Paffenroth, Scott Sigler, Max Brooks, Blake Crouch, Terry Pratchett… The list goes on and on.
Tell us more about your collaboration with Joe Konrath on the novel ‘Straight Up’. How did that come about?
Joe publicly announced that he was looking for collaborators and wanted short stories to be the test for authors to pass in order to work with him on longer projects. I wrote 'Straight Up' specifically to work with him but also used it as an introduction for one of my own characters, Sarah Stone. I have also just finished a full length novel that Joe and I have been working on, which is a sequel to both Joe’s 'Origin' and my own 'Final Winter'. It’s loads of fun.
Tell us more about your thriller series featuring your character Sarah Stone.
She is a broken woman with a painful background. She is also an expert on Middle Eastern terrorist cells, which is why the Major Crimes Unit tracks her down and asks for her help. The only problem is that she’s a complete asshole and doesn’t want to help anybody. Eventually she gets roped in and starts kicking butts and taking names. She is a lot like Jack Bauer but with a very wobbly moral compass. She won’t think twice about killing a bad guy. Eventually all of the hate and hostility inside her will begin to take its toll.
Will you write in other genres besides horror/thriller in the future?
Yes, I switched over to techno-thrillers/terrorism books (featuring Sarah Stone) for a short while, but I imagine horror is where my career will lie for the most part.
Sounds great! While you are writing, do you ever feel as if you are one of the characters?
Not really, but sometimes I do act out scenes at my desk to get the emotion right.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Not wanting to work in a phone shop anymore!
How do you come up with the titles for your books?
Through hours of sitting there trying to think of one. I find naming books really hard. Sometimes I have the title before I even start, but sometimes I am wracking my brains right up to the day it goes live.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Erm…The Rising, World War Z, The Rats, Under The Dome, Contagion. Only in that they made me want to write horror.
And which person?
Joe Konrath, Stephen King, and Joss Whedon.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Need you ask? Joe Konrath.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just trying to improve with every book. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m trying really hard to be.
Lastly, how do you see the future for self-published authors?
Bright! What still makes me sad, though, is that there are many decent, talented authors out there who have not had the same success. I want to see more of them stuff their unfulfilling day jobs and live their own dreams – because, right now, it is more possible than ever.
Thank you, Iain, for agreeing to appear in my blog!
You can find out more about Iain and his novels from his website, www.iainrobwright.com; on Facebook or on Twitter: @iainrobwright. Iain's novels are all available from Amazon.
I'm delighted to welcome novelist Peter James to my blog today! Peter is the author of the best-selling crime thrillers featuring Brighton-based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, which have sold 18 million copies worldwide. Peter also writes supernatural fiction, such as 'The House on Cold Hill', a book I enjoyed very much. Welcome to my blog, Peter! With no further ado, let's proceed with the interview.
To what extent does DS Roy Grace reflect aspects of your own personality?
Roy Grace is based very loosely on former Chief Superintendent David Gaylor of Sussex CID. I was lucky enough to shadow David for many weeks over several years, during which he rose from Detective Inspector to Detective Superintendent. His office is Roy Grace’s office, and one of his areas of specialization was cold cases – also shared by Grace. But there the similarity ends – David is happily married and has no particular interest in the occult – although he is very open minded. I like Roy Grace the most of any character I have created, and there is a lot of myself in him. I’m in some ways quite a loner, too. I have a fascination for the paranormal. I share his views when he attacks bigots, when he attacks horrible architecture, or when, in ‘Not Dead Enough’, he launches into a tirade at the terrible state of our hospital in Brighton, the Sussex County. Roy Grace is a man who believes that we all have an obligation, with our lives, to try to leave the world a slightly better place than when we first came into it. That’s my view and it is partly why I write, to examine and try to understand better the world we live in and why people do the things they go. But I do also love the terrible Norman Potting. He is able to say all kinds of politically incorrect things that can no longer be said!
Out of all your antagonists, who’s been the most fun for you to create, and why?
Jodie in ‘Love You Dead’, and Dr Crisp in ‘You Are Dead’. Jodie is inspired by a woman I met in a prison, who murdered her husband and mother-in-law; she is so evil she makes you smile at her audacity. Similarly, I like Doctor Edward Crisp’s combination of charm, quirkiness and utter evil – modelled on someone I know who is in a different profession.
What’s been your most challenging novel when it comes to plotting, and why?
‘Dead Like You’ because it took place in two different time periods which was very complicated.
How does your writing day shape up? Lark or Owl? Plotter or Pantser?
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