OK, truth is… I was a beta-reader on this one, so I haven’t read the final, upcoming version. Still – I liked his humor and his characters. I haven’t read the first book, but it seemed to me that I almost had. It was a fun ride, fast paced and all, and he neatly tied up all the plots. Uhm, OK, my review skills still kinda suck. Sorry about that.
I recommend Cassie’s review – she’s much better than me at that! 😀 Oh, and she’s also an excellent editor, in case you’re looking for one… 😉
Anyhow, this marvel will come out on Nov.21st and you better check it. The author was also kind enough to answer my usual nosy questions… ladies and gents, please welcome fellow Creative Reviewer C.S.Splitter!
Where do you live and write from?
Like my main character, Tom Crayder, I now live about 35 miles north of Washington DC in the state of Maryland. When my books get turned into a TV series or movies, I will move some place warm!
All of the places I talk about in my books are real, thus far, even if I do not name them. All of the houses, restaurants, and towns are real (though I take liberties with details). All of the missions Tom flies are missions I have been along on our flown in a simulator. I even know the hotels in Houston where Tom and Lorena begin book two. I may put in some fictitious locations in the future, I just thought it would be a hoot to “keep it real.”
When did you start writing?
I always enjoyed writing and even in the years before I got the idea for “The Reluctant,” I wrote. I threw a lot of it away or abandoned in on long dead hard drives—or floppy discs. Yes, I am old enough to remember having to choose between 3.5” and 5.25” floppies.
What genre(s) do you write?
I read fantasy, mostly, but I write Action/Adventure with touches of humor, suspense, thrills, and mystery. If I ever have a good and original idea for a fantasy novel, I will write one. I spent more than ten years starting and stopping fantasy novels when I realized that someone had written something too similar beforehand. At one point, I pretty much gave up on writing.
I never intended to write the stories that I do. The idea hit me one night when I was out at dinner. A police acquaintance mentioned that criminals get caught because they do stupid things, leave clues, and brag. I started wondering what would happen if someone that had to do “bad” things for very “good reasons” had a little means, a bit of MacGyver, and could keep their mouth shut.
Tom Crayder was born by the time we got home from that dinner party.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories
People think Tom Crayder must be me, but he is not. Trust me. I am not that interesting!
Tom is a conglomeration of “guys.” That is why all of us with a Y chromosome understand him. It is also why those of the XX variety like him. Everyone knows Tom. He is their husband, father, friend, or co-worker. His rough edges and good heart are familiar even if he is not based on one person.
I am a firm believer that there are every day heroes out there that we see and do not notice. Sometimes, they have conflicts in their own lives and in their minds simply because they are real. That is what I wanted for Tom. The only difference is that he encounters unique situations while meandering through life doing the best he can.
As for story ideas, they come from everywhere. The “leading two lives” and multiple identity themes came from a Billy Joel song (free eBook to the first person who names it!). The idea for book two, “The Willing,” came from an old movie called “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I know readers might not see how a guy like Tom could have anything in common with George Bailey, but he does! Tom just has to deal with more bad guys, bullets, and bodies.
I am working on the third book and the working title is “The Unmasked.” That idea came from multiple trips to Las Vegas and my love of gangster movies. Just imagine all of the interesting characters one could interact with in a town like that…
Do you have a specific writing routine?
I think a lot and write a little. I drive a ton of miles and spend most of that time thinking about stories and dialogue. I AM that guy who you see talking to himself at the stop light!
When I am doing a book, I limit myself to less than two thousand words per day with a minimum of one thousand. Any more and I find my writing getting stale. Unlike other authors, I have to avoid setting word-count goals, which is terribly difficult for me. So, I set weekly minimum goals and anything above that is just icing on the cake.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Doing an outline is vital for me, but it gets trashed about half way through the books. The writing process gives me ideas as the story unfolds. So, while the ending may stay the same, the way I get there changes.
I guess I am a fast writer when compared to George R.R. Martin! Lightning speed as a matter of fact. But I am slower than someone like Stephen King who is bloody prolific.
And that, my friends, is the only time you will see me compared to either of those writers lol.
The key for me is that when I sit down to write a story, I write every day. Even with the one to two thousand words per day pace, it adds up quickly because I do not take many days off. When the story is done, the editing and proofing process begins. By the time the story is ready for other people to read, I have played with it so much that I hate my own book!
Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)
Planes, guns, drug lords, beautiful women, dangerous men, and the resulting humor are there for the taking. If I did my job right, that is. You can find links on my website:“The Willing” is the second book in “The Crayder Chronicles” and it comes out on November 21st of 2011. This volume moves at near breakneck speed but I was still able to flesh out some important characters that my readers were really curious about from the first book.
If “The Reluctant” was about introducing Tom and his moral dilemmas, “The Willing” is about the relationships he has formed. The reader gets some insight into Lorena and other characters in Tom’s little world and people seem to enjoy them. Lorena is more than the pretty face from the first book and more than the sociopath from the beginning of the second book. Even Jenny has a surprise or two up her sleeve that begins to crack the “too good to be true wife” image. Of course, everyone loves Tiny because, well, he’s loveable.
“The Willing” asks the question: How far would you go to protect your friends and family? There may be other important questions in there, but the readers will come up with those. I just write the stories.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
I went the indie route because I did not know any better. Seriously. I had no idea whether or not the first book would be any good. I figured the best way to know was to put it out there for the public to judge. So far, it has all been positive so I am not complaining about my initial ignorance.
I write a lot on my blog about the trials and tribulations of indie publishing because I, like most, am learning as I go. It is both frustrating and exciting. Publishing these days is like the old Wild West where there are few rules and fewer answers to questions we do not even know to ask.
Will I stay indie? I don’t know—make me an offer lol. Really, I think at this point I would love to find a small publisher with good terms who believed in my work. But I am not beating the bushes at all for that publisher because I do not want to put everything else on hold to do so.
If my work is good enough and if I get “discovered” I will be happy. If I just continue with the indie route, I will be happy. I love writing the stories and the feedback I get makes the whole effort worth it.
As Tony Montana (Scarface!) might say if he were a writer: First you write the books, then you get the fans, then you get the power of a book deal.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Book three is in the outlining process right now. “The Unmasked” will be out by June of 2012…which seems like a long way off, but it’s not when you have to write and polish a whole book! I already feel the pressure.
Like the first two books, characters come first and I am writing up their life stories for myself as we speak. I am a passable writer, maybe, but I think I can write good characters and stories. For me, coming up with the characters is the part that is the most fun.
I am also going to do a “How To” book on coaching baseball but I will probably do that under a different name. I know, I know, no one reading your blog cares about that but you did ask lol.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
Hah! There is the million dollar question. I am not sure I have an ultimate goal, but I dream big. Sometimes in those dreams, I am signing the contract to make Tom Crayder a movie star. Sometimes, I am kissing my wife “good morning” and walking out to my little office in the back yard to spend another day getting my ideas onto virtual paper.
Then I have the nightmare where I am like that Jack Nicholson character from “As Good As It Gets.” When I have that nightmare, I snap back to reality and start tapping keys on the laptop furiously so as to avoid it.
I would love to sell enough books to write for a living but, really, I am just along for the ride and curious to see where this journey ends. Goals are great things as long as you don’t limit yourself with them. Dreams, on the other hand, have no limits.
There you have it, then! I’ve put The Reluctant on my Wishlist and as I enjoyed The Willing (because it’s so character-oriented), I’ll probably keep reading the series… very slowly (if I think I have 20 books on my Kindle wishlish, 20 on my Smashwords library and 20 paper book… when on earth will I have the time to read them all? Sigh!).
Thank you, Splitter for playing along! Happy writing! 🙂