Sunday, 14 August 2016

My interview with Jennifer Chase

Back across the pond, this time to California, the home of Jennifer Chase.  With her German shepherd Odin by her side, Jennifer writes the Emily Stone vigilante detective thrillers. Emily Stone doesn’t have a badge. But that hasn’t stopped her from tracking down some of the West’s most dangerous criminals.


Tell us about your latest book

I write the multiple award-winning Emily Stone Thriller Series. My latest book, Dark Pursuit, leads the vigilante detective on a case of the Tick-Tock killer that pushes her psychological and physical endurance to the extreme. Emily Stone is not your ordinary detective; in fact, she tracks down serial killers anonymously and covertly under the radar of law enforcement. The Tick-Tock killer abducts a victim and in four days, almost to the minute, he dumps the body leaving the cops with very few clues. That’s where Emily Stone comes into play using her innate abilities of investigation and criminal profiling to track the killer. It’s not without a price.  
What was the hardest part of writing it?


For me, writing a series, and keeping the storyline fresh and engaging for readers keeps me on my toes. I write all my books to stand-alone, but I have a personal competition to write bigger action scenes and twists for each book.  

Do you outline your books first, or just start writing and see where it takes you?

I outline my stories. This is a loose outline where I can change things if the storyline calls for it. I like to think of an outline as a roadmap of the book, and then I can take one of those other roads occasionally if the mood strikes me.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I have been behind the scenes as far as police departments are concerned. I know what goes on with forensics and how investigations are done from the real people that do these jobs. I spent my internship several years ago in forensic lab comparing fingerprints, studying crime scenes, and learning my way around a morgue. In addition, I’ve been threatened and stalked by a real textbook psychopath, which has inspired me to fine-tune my killers. Writing fiction allows for creative license, which is fun, but I’m keenly aware of procedures, realities, experiences, and technology. I try to give the reader the excitement of a police procedural, while striving to keep the story thrilling.  

What has been the best moment of your writing career so far?

That’s difficult to answer. It’s a great moment when you finish any book—whether it’s your first or tenth, and having readers enjoy it. When I won the gold medal for action through Readers’ Favorite for Dead Burn really was a great moment for me—it validated my work and that I can write action thrillers. I’m very grateful.

What is your ultimate writing goal?

I want to keep writing books and short stories, and adding a few new series to my arsenal. I cannot ignore the fact that I would love to have my Emily Stone Series made into films. Who wouldn’t, right? There are some things going on behind the scenes, but that’s for another interview.

Which authors do you read for inspiration?

There are so many awesome authors out there. I mostly read mysteries, thrillers, and horror. However, I seem to gravitate toward authors like Jeffrey Deaver, Lee Child, and David Baldacci. Besides these wonderful authors, I find inspiration from true crime authors as well. 

Where can we find out more about your books?

All of my books are available on Amazon worldwide, in addition to most online book retailers. 

Here’s a link to Dark Pursuit.

For more information about my books and crime related articles: www.authorjenniferchase.com/



Author Bio:

Jennifer Chase is an award-winning author and consulting criminologist.  She has authored six crime fiction novels, including the multiple award-winning Emily Stone thriller series along with a screenwriting workbook.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor degree in police forensics and a Master's degree in criminology.  These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Interview with Luke Romyn

Luke Romyn has been gracious enough to join me for my next Q & A session.  Luke is the USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen titles, the most recent of which was the page-turner Walking with Shadows.

What made you decide to write your first novel?


There was no definitive moment of clarity where a beam of light struck my forehead and I thought, “Eureka! I’m going to torture myself for the rest of my life.” I’ve always been drawn to writing, especially fiction, and it simply seemed a natural thing to try. I’m not the kind of guy who sits back and wonders ‘what if?’ If I conceive something that might be cool, I go out and do it. This was what happened with my first book. I sat down, looked at the screen, and began writing. It was hardly a smooth path from there to here, far from it, in fact, but I’ve always held the final goal in mind, and with that in hand, all I need to do is pave the road with words, hopefully good ones.


Tell us about Walking with Shadows, and how did you come up with the idea?

The concept for Walking with Shadows came to me while sitting down with a friend having coffee. I threw the idea out to him, of a writer flung together with a young boy, who tries to bridge the gap between their lives with fictional stories, and it kind of grew from there. My friend, who is highly intelligent but hardly a reader, was blown away by the concept, so I figured it was worth a shot. If I could interest someone who didn’t like books, then the reading community was likely to be more receptive, right? The end result is my proudest writing achievement thus far. 


Your writing covers a few genres.  Which is your favourite?

I despise genres. Genres should always be for readers, not writers. If you limit yourself while writing, your novel will never achieve its full potential. That being said, all my novels tend to have some elements of adventure in them and I loosely call them all action-thrillers. 


How has your personal life influenced your writing?

Early on in life, my parents taught me the joy of traveling. I remember standing in Tiananmen Square in China before the famous protests in 1989. I’ve walked inside one of the Pyramids of Giza and through the Valley of the Kings. I’ve swum with sharks in Tahiti and wrestled in the mud with rescued elephants in Thailand. 

On the work side of things, my two-decade career as a security contractor has let me see another side of life, one slightly less glamorous than the traveling. I’ve had to disarm people with guns and knives, wrestle with psychopaths on drugs that give them near-superhuman strength, and convince gangs of bikers it’s a good idea not to kill me. I’ve had to sneak a group of female strippers out of a country without notice, and manage a group of male strippers in a country where they weren’t exactly welcome. I’ve chased feral pigs out of movie sets on a $200,000,000 Stephen Spielberg production, and protected celebrities from escaped prisoners in Fiji. 

Throw all these elements together with an over-active imagination and you end up with the foundations of a Luke Romyn action-thriller. 


You have a huge social media presence.  How important is that when it comes to marketing your books?

Social media is good for brand recognition, but not so useful when trying to tout a product. Sure, I still throw out the occasional mention for one of my books to let people know when something is going on, but too much blathering about how great they are tends to become white noise, which people tone out. I believe it’s more important to get people to like you as a person, rather than as a product. If they like you personally, they’re more likely to look beyond the superficial and take what you have to offer more seriously. To do this, I reach out with humour, interesting articles related to reading, anything that I feel might put me in touch with readers. I see a lot of writers posting article after article about writing, which is great if you’re trying to impress other writers, but when you’re looking to make a connection with readers you’re going to be off target. It’s a slow and tedious progress, but definitely worthwhile in the end. 


What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

Sometimes, I find myself trapped inside a bubble so much that a lot of the achievements going on around me don’t truly sink in. I’m so focused on my current project or marketing and networking that events slip by without my recognizing how significant they are. One highlight that blew me away, however, happened while I was totally outside that bubble, and as such made a bit more of an impact. 

While traveling with my wife in New York last year, I was standing on a street curb when I noticed a tall man, dark skinned and dressed nicely, staring at me while we waited to cross the street. Now, being an Australian in a New York, every stereotype of getting mugged or dealing with a crazy person slipped through my mind. Nevertheless, I smiled at the man and said hello. He asked me if I was Luke Romyn and I said yes, shaking his hand. Apparently he was a huge fan of my books and veritably gushed over meeting me. This was the highlight of my career, and will stay with me forever.

What would be your ultimate writing goal?

World domination. Or at least to be able to afford to pay the bills. 


Where can we find your books?

I’m currently exclusive on Amazon Kindle for e-books. Print versions of all my books are available through CreateSpace, Amazon, and various other retailers. My website is www.lukeromyn.com.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Interview with Russell Blake

It is my great pleasure to introduce one of the true heavyweights of Indie publishing, New York Times bestselling sensation Russell Blake.   With fifty (count them, 50!) novels under his belt since he started out just five years ago, Russell has built up a tremendous following and caught the eye of thriller legend Clive Cussler.  They have collaborated on two books to date, and Russell’s Jet series has been given its own Kindle World by Amazon.


What was it like teaming up with Clive Cussler? 

As you might imagine, getting to work with a living legend was an honor and a thrill. He’s very much a gentleman, and knows more about writing a bestseller than I ever will. I learned a lot, and got the added bonus of having his agent, also an erudite fellow, represent me. So a win all around.


Your latest work is the superb post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller The Day After Never.  What is it about, and what inspired you to write it? 
I’ve been saying it’s the best writing I’ve done, and I stand by that. It follows an ex-Texas Ranger in the days after the collapse of civilization due to a confluence of economic and disease-related events. Think Clint Eastwood from the spaghetti western days, set down in a Mad Max world, and you pretty much have the idea.


I know you manage an extraordinary daily word count.  What’s a day in the life of Russell Blake actually like, and does it really involve so much Tequila? 
Is that some kind of a dig? “So much?” I prefer to think of it as just the right amount. As to a day in the life, I wake up (always good), feed the dogs, eat breakfast and gulp down a cup of coffee, and then begin writing. I’ll break for lunch and at the end of each chapter, and motor through until I hit my word count for the day, which is usually 5K. When really roaring, maybe 7K. Then comes dinner, which yes, often includes something to soothe my brutalized nerves. That will usually end in jail, at a strip club, or spooning a 300 pound Samoan cook on a tramp steamer to Jakarta. But always making for a good story.


I mentioned the Jet series being one of Amazon’s Kindle Worlds.  What does that entail, and how can other authors participate? 
Amazon approached me to put JET into their KW program, wherein interested readers and authors can pen stories in that world, using my characters, and those they dream up, in any sort of story that doesn’t involve pedophilia or a donkey. Their rules, not mine. Anyone can write in the world, and they get to keep their characters as their intellectual property. Several talents have sort of kick-started their careers doing it, most notably Jason Gurley and Tom Abrahams, who have gone on to huge success, so it can be a great deal all around.


To be a successful writer, you also have to be a reader.  Which authors float your boat? 
Besides the masterful Alan McDermott, you mean? James Lee Burke, David Foster Wallace, Lawrence Block, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Hugh Howey, Ben Fountain, Boston Tehran. I could go on for an hour. I love a lot of authors for different reasons, but those are my faves at the moment.


Your blog has some fantastic advice for new authors, but what would be the one thing that they need to get right? 
From a business perspective, to view the creation of content as a separate endeavor from operating a publishing company, and to develop the necessary skills and devote suitable time to both. The biggest mistake I see beginning authors make is to eschew the crass commercial aspect of selling books because they are arteests. Creating content is the artistic endeavor, but the day you want someone to care and buy it, that’s publishing and retail, and any competence as a content creator won’t help in the retail marketing business. They are distinctly separate businesses. From a writing perspective, it’s to ensure they can tell a hell of a story that compels readers to turn the pages. Craft, lyricism, grammar, all important, but if the story ain’t racing along, it won’t matter. Assuming competence at crafting a sentence, it’s all about the story.


As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 
Marry rich and loaf all my life. Perhaps whip the servants when they misbehave.



What jobs did you have before you became a writer? 
Ha! Name it. Everything you can think of. I ran companies in high tech and import/export, made wine, played and produced music, started an architectural and construction business, did some small venture capital – the gamut. I can’t say I was cheated out of opportunities, that’s for sure.



Is there one question that you wish interviewers would ask you, but they never do?  If there is, what is the answer? 
Tough one. I usually just rant about whatever pops into my head, so they’re lucky if they get to even ask the ones they want to. You’ve done a remarkably good job with yours, so I defer to the master.



If you could go back to 2011, when you published your first book, what, if anything, would you do differently? 
I would write in one single genre instead of a mishmash, and I would stick to a series rather than writing stand-alones. Don't get me wrong, I love Fatal Exchange and The Geronimo Breach and Zero Sum, but readers like series, and you either give the reader what he wants, or he goes elsewhere. I didn't want to limit my literary genius to any one thing, which was a mistake. Fortunately, I figured it out toward the end of the year, but doing so ate 6 months I'll never get back.


Where can we find out more about you and your books?  
I blog at RussellBlake.com. Have an author page at http://www.amazon.com/Russell-Blake/e/B005OKCOLE where you can find all my books. My facebook is www.facebook.com/Russell.Blake.Books - that about covers it!

Thanks for having me on, Alan. Very kind of you to sully your reputation with the likes of me. Appreciate it.





Sunday, 3 July 2016

Interview with Stephen Edger

It’s time to introduce Stephen Edger, a crime and thriller author from the south coast of England with eleven novels to his name.  Stephen also has a law degree, which gives him a good understanding of the inner workings of the UK justice system.



Tell us about your latest work.
My latest novel, Downfall, is a mystery thriller, featuring Private Investigator Johnson Carmichael. He’s in his late forties, and at the start of the book we find him grieving the sudden loss of his teenage daughter. He’s surviving on a diet of bourbon and amphetamines, and buries himself in work. He takes on a sixteen year old murder case to hide from his nightmares. There are lots of twists and turns along the way.

Of the characters you’ve created, which is your favourite?
I can’t say I have a clear favourite, though I always enjoy writing the villains. There’s just something about accessing that part of my personality that I find riveting. It freaks my wife out!

How difficult is it to write when you have a young family?
I am disciplined with my writing. I wake up and write for up to two hours before work each morning. But I’m lucky, and work from home most days, which means I still get to spend lots of time with my wife and children, rather than being stuck in traffic.

What’s your strangest writing quirk?
I do most of my thinking whilst walking the dogs. Each novel has a plot structure written down so I know what I’ll be writing each day. When I take the dogs out, I put in headphones and picture the next chapter’s scene unfolding. That way, when I get back to my desk I can write what I’ve just pictured.

What is it like to get fan mail?
I’m always embarrassed when I hear positive things about my books. Like most writers, I suffer with chronic self-doubt, and only tend to believe the negative things I hear. 


How do you treat negative reviews?
I try very hard not to look at my reviews, but usually give in to temptation. I don’t have issue with reviews where readers simply did not enjoy the story, but some reviews can be very hurtful. I try not to take it to heart, and the easiest way to do that is to look at the bad reviews some of my writing heroes have received. It helps keep things in perspective.

What would your perfect writing retreat look like?
Ooh, I know this one! A wooden shack on a secluded beach in a tropical paradise. I would write each morning in the shack, and sun bathe in the afternoon with a cocktail and a good book.

Which author are you reading at the moment?
I love reading crime thrillers. I am a massive Simon Kernick fan, but have read all of his. I am just about to read my first Peter James book, and I can’t wait to get started. 

Where can we find your books?
All of books are available on Kindle, iTunes, Nook and Kobo, as well as in paperback from Amazon. If you go to your local library, you can even request they order the paperbacks in for you.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Interview with John Paul Davis

John Paul Davis is my next guest, and this international bestselling author has been the subject of international attention, including articles in The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Yorkshire Post and Nottingham Evening Post, mentions in USA Today and The Independent and reviews in the Birmingham Post and Medieval History Journal.

Tell us about your latest book

My latest is a thriller called The Cortés Trilogy, a three-part series that centres on the Noche Triste Treasure: the legendary hoard Hernán Cortés temporarily got his hands on after defeating the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, during the Spanish conquest of the New World. Each section of the trilogy is concerned with a different part of the treasure that many people believe to still exist somewhere in Mexico.


How much research goes into each book?

A lot. My writing career began in historical non-fiction, where a typical list of sources could include more than a small library’s worth and the references’ section be half as long as the actual book! Though fortunately thriller novels don’t require a bibliography, old habits die hard and I try to ensure my facts are correct – especially as I tend to base my stories on real life historical events or legends. I also like to visit most of the locations first-hand, and set various parts of the story in places I’ve experienced, which I definitely believe helps add a little extra bit of authenticity. At the end of a novel, I always include an additional ‘Facts Behind the Fiction’ section to detail what was accurate and what was made up.


What is the strangest thing you had to research?

Interesting question! There’s usually something in every book that either beggars belief or leaves me temporarily wondering if I’m going insane! One that really springs to mind was while researching The Templar Agenda back in 2010, I was conducting some research into the ins and outs of the Vatican, and a story from Belgium got me totally side-tracked. Apparently in response to allegations of paedophilia among elements of the local clergy in one of the cities, the Belgian police are alleged to have drilled holes into the tombs of two cardinals and hidden cameras inside in order to capture any suspicious activity. I still can’t get over the fact something that would seem far-fetched in a James Bond movie actually happened in real life!


What is your favourite book of all time?

Gray Justice ;). I also really liked David Copperfield, as nobody rivals Dickens when it comes to characters, and Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity.


When you’re not writing, what do you like to do to relax?

Fortunately, I do genuinely find the creative side of writing relaxing, so I guess I’m really quite lucky that I’m usually pretty relaxed. I’m passionate about sports and go to a lot of football games – though I guess it’s debatable whether being a Villa fan could ever be considered relaxing! I love travelling – especially getting to know sites that would be great in a book – reading, watching action/thriller movies, going to gigs, hiking or generally just hitting the gym. I’m also extremely lucky that I have a really close-knit group of mates who always find new ways of being entertaining.


Which three authors, living or dead, would you like to meet?

Growing up, Ludlum was my hero, so I would certainly have loved the opportunity to meet him: maybe hang out and have a couple of drinks in one of the many great and glamorous locations he used in his novels! In my mind, he still sits unrivalled as the greatest thriller novelist of all time. I’d also quite like to meet Dan Brown and ask him whether hanging upside down wearing gravity boots in order to receive inspiration actually works! There’s a lot of other thriller writers I could mention, but as I’ve only got one choice left I’d have to go for Dickens and basically ask him about the world he knew and maybe learn a thing or two about characterisation from the true master! In the meantime though, hanging out with yourself, Dave Leadbeater and Keith Houghton was still pretty cool!


What would mean more to you: having a number 1 bestseller; or winning a top literary award?

At the end of the day, a number 1 bestseller means your book has come to the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, many of whom are now your fans, and that what you’re doing is probably making a splash in the world beyond the publishing industry. Winning a top literary award might be a nice achievement, but ultimately it still only means your book’s been brought to the attention of a handful of people, many of whom probably never even bought the book to begin with, and that an entire generation of school kids probably now hates your guts after being forced to spend two years of their lives studying it for their GCSE in English Lit, which most of them probably failed because they didn’t have a clue what the hell you were on about! For me, storytelling is the dream and I’d rather write something that proved to be popular than be worried about whether the ‘experts’ approve of it!


Where can we find out more about your books?


These days, I have two websites. www.theunknowntemplar.com which was originally set up for my first ever book, and www.johnpauldavisauthor.com which is my new official website. All of my thrillers are exclusive to Amazon, and listed on Goodreads. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter – handle @unknown_templar

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Interview with Jennifer Jaynes

Next up in my series of interviews is Jennifer Jaynes, whose new book Don’t Say a Word was released a few weeks ago.  It is the third in the Stranger series, which started with Never Smile at Strangers.  That first novel was originally self-published, but it caught the eye of Thomas & Mercer, who snapped it up and re-released it in January 2015.


What was your reaction when you found out that a major publisher was interested in your work?
I was ecstatic. 
I’d dreamt about being with Thomas & Mercer for a couple of years. They’re the best home for my books. Unlike many publishers, they really know how to reach the right audience for our work.

What have been the major differences between self-publishing and working with Thomas & Mercer
The marketing. 
I no longer have to do nearly as much marketing. They have a terrific marketing team—and they’ve been very kind to my books.

How many drafts do you write before sending it to your publisher?
Way too many! Seriously. It takes me a long time to get everything just right. 
I don't write in a linear fashion. My brain just doesn't work that way, so I bounce around from the end to the beginning to the middle to some other point. Over and over again.
After the first draft, I have like 5,000 puzzle pieces before me. I have no idea where many of them go and about 500 pieces are still missing. 
So from there, it's all about tearing apart, rebuilding, framing, re-framing, layering. It’s all very time-consuming.
I have novelist friends who write from beginning to end and release a book every 3-4 months because their minds work so efficiently. But that’s not me.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Wow, great question. Maybe “Silence of the Lambs.” 
I thought it was brilliant.

Describe what your ideal writing space looks like.
A cabin in the woods with just a laptop, a refrigerator, stove, small bed. No clutter. The only sounds are a roaring wind during the daytime and insects at night. 
I went to a place like this three times over the last six weeks to write. 
It was perfect.


What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
Hmm. There are too many to just pick one. ;)

How difficult is it to balance your writing with looking after young twins?
Very. But it’s much better now that they are in kindergarten. I’m pretty sure that my life isn’t very balanced right now. It’s a constant struggle. But one I’m incredibly grateful to have. I’m living my dream in so many different aspects.

Have any authors had an influence on your work?
Yes, many. Janet Fitch, Tawni O’Dell, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Mary Higgins-Clark.

Where can we find out more about your books?
My website: www.ProjectJennifer.com
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1rX1Ljm 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferJaynesAuthor/ 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Bloody Brighton!

I've been at this writing lark for about 6 years now, and in all that time I've been happy to let others do the festivals, telling people how they wrote their bestseller and how you, too, can do the same.

That's about to change.

I'm getting together with six other bestsellers for an afternoon of alcohol, book signings and general chat about writing, and it won't cost you a penny* to join us! I'll be at The Marwood Cafe on Saturday 30th July with David VidecetteStephen EdgerWilliam ShawPaul GrzegorzekCharlie Flowers and Alex Shaw.

If you're in the Brighton area, why not pop in and join the conversation!

Here's the address:

The Marwood Cafe, 52 Ship Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1AF




*You have to pay your own fare to and from the venue and buy your own drinks/coffee/cake, etc..  We might be bestsellers but we're not made of money!
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