Interviews with South Bay Authors

TalkBooks is a group who reads and reviews books written by members of South Bay Writers, a Branch of the California Writers Club. Every month, we interview an author. Talkbooks Interview 1, June 24, 2015: Stone and a Hard Place by R. L. King

Book description:

It’s hard enough for Alastair Stone to keep his two lives—powerful mage and mundane Occult Studies professor—separate without an old friend asking him to take on a new apprentice. Especially after a university colleague wants him to investigate a massive old house for things that go bump in the night. Still, Stone figures it’s an easy job: just turn up, put on a little show, and announce that the house is clean.

Only it isn’t. A malevolent spirit is reawakening in the basement, imprisoned between dimensions and intent on escape. If it succeeds, countless people will die. Worse, a trio of dark mages want to help it break free so they can control it for their own sinister purposes. They’ll do whatever it takes—including seducing Stone’s young apprentice and using him against his master—to get what they’re after.

With time running out, Stone has to stay alive long enough to uncover the spirit’s secrets. But even if he does, he fears that his own power won’t be enough to send it back.

***

  1. What is your elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch needs that catchy line. I’m good at back cover blurbs but not at pitches. That’s something I think I really need to work on.

  1. How did you happen to write this book?

I’ve always liked magic, but I’m not a big fan of traditional medieval fantasy. I like the idea of magic in the modern world, but I didn’t want to use all of the same tropes that appear in so many urban fantasy books. For example, everybody and his dog does vampires and werewolves—I didn’t want to do that.

  1. Stone, your Mage, practices magic on par with Harry Potter and the wizards at Hogwarts. How did you learn about the magic used in your book?

Harry Potter was not my inspiration. I made up the magic system used in the book while I built Alastair Stone’s paranormal world. People tell me that my books remind them a little of the Dresden Files, which is funny because I hadn’t read any of those books until after I wrote two in my own series. I’ve since read them and I love them.

  1. How long did it take for you to write this book?

Two or three months. I try to write every day. During one month, I wrote 90,000 words, but I don’t keep up that pace all the time.

  1. This book is part of a series. How many books (of the series) have you written?

I have written five of the books in the series. The second one came out this week, and the third just came back from the editor. I’ve got one more finished in first draft, another that I’ve started, and ideas for at least five more.

  1. Do you think of the whole story at once, or do you do part of it and let the character suggest what happens next?

My books are character driven. If people don’t like the characters, they’re not going to read the book. I like to use the same characters. I know where the book starts, where I want it to end, and roughly what needs to happen to get there, but I let the characters do what they do in the middle when possible.

  1. On publishing?

The more I found out about traditional publishing, the more I knew I wanted to have final control. I am self-published but I use professionals’ services to help me make the best book I can: good editor, good cover design. I used CreateSpace for my paperbacks, and everything went way better than I expected. Most of my sales are in ebook format, though, through Amazon.

Talkbooks Interview 2, June 24, 2015: Rough Waters by Jac Fitzenz, writing as Doctor Jac

Book description:

Michael grew up in a small town but always had his eye on something big. He wasn’t sure what to do with his life until he joined the Navy and found his place in the world.

Professionally, he falls in with Navy intelligence. He infiltrates China for secret information and leads a successful mission to Vietnam. He uncovers fraud within the officer ranks and exposes black market thieving of government property.

Personally, Michael struggles for years before finding true love. He travels extensively through Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. He lives a life of passion and excitement but always remembers the small town boy he once was. Michael is a man with dreams and the passion to follow them, even into the path of danger.

***

Some questions and answers:

  1. The book seems to have three distinct parts: Michael grew up in a small town; Michael falls in with Navy intelligence; Michael struggles for years to find true love. What is the most important theme in your book?

I have rewritten the story regarding Navy intelligence as The Spy from Nowhere. The memoir will be treated differently.

  1. How much of this book is true but disguised memoir?

Much of the book is true, but not all. In my new book, The Spy from Nowhere, I took out the memoir part, the first two chapters. The Spy is the first of a series; the second is Grace Under Fire.

  1. What is your elevator speech? What do you tell someone who asks what your book is about?

The book is the story of a young man from a small town who escapes to the real world.

  1. What is your background?

In 1959, I started in business: sales and marketing. My experiences in sales and marketing carry over to selling books. There are four kinds of people:

Innovators: 10%;

Early Adopters—they copy innovators: 20%;

Mainstream—the average Joe: 60%; and

Zombies—they have trouble, just getting up in the morning: 10%.

I market to the first 30%.

  1. Your writing background?

I am an experienced nonfiction writer with 14 books published over the past 30 years. This is my first venture into fiction. I read everything I can about fiction writing and then pick up what makes sense for me. I’ve got a lot to learn.

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