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

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 Have an author page at where you can find all my books. My facebook is - 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.

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