Category: writers

An Interview With Writer John Kildemm

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John Kildemm is a writer for the Eric Andre show and the author of the autobiographical book series, Hey Doorman; here is a link to his link to his Amazon page:

Q: When did you know you were a writer?

 

A: I knew I was a writer once I got into my major of electrical engineering in college. I disliked it so much that I actually started to read books again, which this sent me on a path of writing, in particular comedy. My mother would say that I was a writer before 5th grade, as all of my montessori teachers thought that I would grow up to be a writer based on all of my advanced reading (Stephen Hawking, Ian Fleming, Stephen King, Dean Koontz) and the fact that I used to write stories all of the time. These stories were some amalgamation of James Bond, sci-fi, and Kung-Fu as those were my biggest influences at that time. These are still major influences to this day, just add in Tarantino, Scorsese, Coen Brothers, David Fincher and Lynch, Spike Jonze and Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Bong Joon-ho.

Q: How did you come to be a bouncer?

 

A:  I became a bouncer due to two factors. (1) I am 6’3″, 200lbs, black, and look like I can whoop your ass. (2) A comedian buddy of mine introduced me to another comedy buddy of his in LA who worked as a bouncer. And that bouncer wanted some nights off, so he offered me some of his shifts. In other words, it was my physical appearance in combination with a lazy man that began my all too long career as a bouncer. Which is how at least two thirds of people get their jobs, right?

Q:  Is it true that they tell you not to let people in based on race, age and looks?

 

A:  It is true that at certain night spots in LA there are unwritten rules on who to let in which are based on beauty, race, age etc. I actually know a couple bouncers who work at those places. But for myself, I have never worked at one of those places. That being said, pretty women are ushered in at almost all costs, while a guy slipping a bouncer money will get you in just as quickly. The tricky part comes when pretty women are there with their male friends or boyfriends, because once we are near capacity a single penis will send your group to the back of the line. This is when, in my case, you need to have a witty/smart pretty woman to talk your group past the line. Because there is almost nothing a guy can say to me to get his group in, that isn’t sponsored by Jackson, Grant and/or Franklin.

 

Q: Did you ever actually have to rough anybody up, or do you just look intimidating?

 

A: Ninety-nine percent of the time I do not have to rough anybody up. Primarily because I work in West Hollywood, where there’s a bunch of models and actors. In other words, people who really need their faces intact and are generally of average human height and below average human weight. The few times I have hit someone it was more than called for. One time a guy was assaulting a woman. Another time a drunk guy was pummeling a small patron. Another time a guy intentionally knocked my book (Art Linson’s What Just Happened?) out of my hand so I had to strike him. If you don’t know that book, it has Robert De Niro on the cover. And no one fucks with De Niro, despite his poor movie choices the last decade.

Q:  Who was your most memorable drunk?

 

A: My most memorable drunk is a tough one, as there are too many to count. Plus I chronicle the best of the best in each volume of my ebook series, Hey Doorman. So I will go with the one that occurred when I wasn’t even working. It was at our company Holiday Party. A company employee got so drunk that he attacked the manager on duty that night for no reason and proceeded to pummel him until the barback stopped him. I saw this unfold on video the following day. The funny part was that the guy who attacked the manager had no recollection of what he did. He even showed up to work the next day, only to be informed that he was fired and formal charges were being filed against him.

Q: Why are people so fascinated with Hollywood nightlife, isn’t a drunk a drunk?

 

A:  Drunks are drunks are drunks. This is true. But people are fascinated by anything Hollywood (I.E. Los Angeles), because of what Hollywood represents: The American dream. Coming from nothing and rising to the top of everything. You can make an argument that, the actor, is the top spot in American culture. Our current president became pop culture famous from TV and former president Ronald Reagan was a b-movie actor. These two men became the most powerful men in the world and they weren’t even good actors. Imagine what a Meryl Streep or Denzel Washington could do? On the other side of this Hollywood coin, you have the greatest falls America has ever seen. Look no further than OJ Simpson. His meteoric fall was something that the nation, nor world, could look away from (so much so that his trial gave birth to an entire TV network). This immensely watchable dichotomy is why people are forever fascinated by Hollywood.

 

Q: How did you become a writer for the Eric Andre show?

 

A: I became a writer for The Eric Andre Show through my standup comedy connections. I have been performing standup for over 10 years, beginning in Chicago, where I met and became friends with Hannibal Buress. He and I share a similar comedic perspective and he thought I would be a good fit for Eric’s show, so he forwarded some sketches I wrote to Eric. Eric liked them and brought me into his writers room for Season 4, which I could not be more proud of as I have so much respect and admiration for his show. Since then I have also become friends with Eric, who by the way, has hands down the coolest birthday parties that I have ever been to. But due to a Non Disclosure Agreement I can not say any more (wink).

 

Q: What would surprise us about Eric?

 

A: Nothing would surprise me about Eric as I have known him for a while. But what would surprise some people is how diligent and un-crazy he is in the writers room. Eric is a good boss and writing partner. He is nurturing, kind, and open to creativity. Period. Just a good creative dude, who may or may not whip his penis out.

 

Q: Do you think the shock value of the show will ever wear thin or do you think you can keep taking it to new levels?

 

A:  I don’t think The Eric Andre Show’s shock value will ever wear thin, primarily due to Eric. He would rather walk away than not keep taking things to another thoroughly crazy level. Secondly, the format of the show doesn’t allow things to get comfortable as it has a running time of about 11 minutes. If the show was 30 minutes or if Eric was not so hands on, I would feel differently.

Q: Who do you think would win in a fight, Eric Andre or Lauren Conrad?

 

A: Lauren Conrad versus Eric Andre… Hmmm… While I am 100% sure that Eric can win the fight, I also know he is business savvy. Meaning he knows that the real money is in the rematch or rematches. So while Eric would not throw the first fight, he would most certainly exploit it for all that it is worth. There would be a lot of Vaseline and he would most certainly show up naked or at least wearing a banana hammock with Lauren’s face on it. He would then proceed to push the boundries of sex (without being pornographic; he needs the reruns to play on television), drug use, and violence. In the end, Lauren would be declared the winner. But the real winner would be the viewers.

 

 Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer Preston Fassel

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Preston Fassel is the author of Our Lady of the Inferno and an editor at Cinedump.com; here is a link to his Amazon page:

 

 

 

 Q: What is Our Lady of the Inferno about?

 

A: Literally, it’s about the intersecting stories of two different women in 1983 New York: Ginny, a runaway from the Midwest who ends up overseeing the prostitution operation of a Times Square gangster in order to help care for her disabled sister; and Nicolette, a waste management executive who moonlights as a serial killer, kidnapping prostitutes and ritualistically hunting them down in her own dump after hours. At the start of the book, Ginny has sort of become a criminal kingpin in her own right, but the moral compromises she’s made are beginning to take a toll on her, and a series of personal tragedies and professional missteps push her over the edge. Meanwhile, Nicolette is entering her third year as a serial killer, and her ability to isolate her “normal” persona from her “killer” persona is slipping. Nicolette learns about Ginny while scouting for victims one day, and she becomes obsessed with making her the next victim.

 

Thematically, it’s an ode to the 80s movies I grew up watching that had these very vibrant, appealing female characters like Night of the Comet and Modern Girls, and I used that template to explore a wide range of ideas and topics, like PTSD, and retaining your identity after trauma; body image; and gender relations and gender roles.

 

Q:  Who inspired the characters of Ginny and Nicolette?

 

A: Ginny is an amalgamation. Consciously, I started her out as the kind of girl I’d have liked to have dated in high school, mixed with 80s archetypes—I once referred to my original concept as “the valley girl from Hell”— mixed with bits and bobs of several women I’ve known and worked with. Her surname “Kurva,” for example, is a bit of wordplay inspired by something that a filmmaker named Jen Soska once said to me during an interview. As I got deeper into the book I started to steal bits and pieces from my wife. She used to be an inner city high school teacher and I took a lot of Ginny’s interactions with her girls from the way I saw my wife handling her rougher students. My wife’s also very good at convincing people to get things done and I took Ginny’s talent for talking people into doing stuff from her, too. Physically, I modeled her on Andrea Rau’s character Ilona in the film Daughters of Darkness, on whom I had something of a crush in college.

 

Subconsciously, I realized after I’d finished the book, a lot of Ginny’s darker elements had come from me—her drinking, her depression— but so does her fascination with outer space, her scientific background, and her taste in music and movies. I don’t know what it says about me that I made my literary analogue a strong, sexy, 21 year old woman…

 

Nicolette was initially born out of my desire to write a story about a serial killer who thinks they’re the Minotaur. It’s such a scary idea but so many people have tried and failed to do it well. Dexter had like one episode where he was the throwaway killer of the week. The Venture Bros. had an episode where the Monarch thinks he’s the Minotaur, and it’s all played for laughs. American Horror Story had their minotaur die pretty much offscreen after one episode. So much wasted potential. I also wanted to create a frightening female horror villain, and I figured that if Ginny eventually emerges as this feminist ideal—independent, brilliant, ambitious, nurturing—then Nicolette should be the opposite of that. She’s the sort of woman who thinks that all women should conform to her standards, who views women solely through the lens of their sexuality and who sees the world very narrowly, who figuratively and literally cuts down other women to get ahead in the world.

 

 

Q: What makes them worth reading about?

 

A: I tried to make Ginny a real, strong, yet flawed female protagonist, and that isn’t something there’s really a lot of. Writers are still trying to figure out how to do that. They think that “strong woman” means either she just beats a lot of people up, or she makes a lot of sarcastic remarks, or she’s super disaffected. And when a female character is strong she’s 100% strong and when she’s vulnerable she’s 100% vulnerable. They have about as much complexity and depth as an 80s action movie hero, and that’s not interesting. I wanted Ginny to be real and I wanted the reader to fall in love with her. I made her funny, and smart, and vicious and petty and loving and spiteful and strong and weak. She’s the kind of woman that most other women would want as their girlfriend. She’s the kind of woman most guys would want to date.

 

Nicolette is, I think, genuinely terrifying. I tried to make her, to all outward appearances, seem simply shy and withdrawn but otherwise very normal. And inside she’s completely and utterly consumed by hate and also very rapidly losing her mind. Her sections of the book are focalized through her deteriorating mental state, and the things she thinks and sees become more wild and hallucinogenic as the book goes on. At the same time, though, I also put a lot of dark humor into Nicolette’s sections because the more unhinged she becomes the more bizarre her thought processes get. Like there’s a point where she sees a woman at her office wearing the same blouse as her, and she has to look down at herself to make sure that the woman didn’t steal it from her when she wasn’t looking.

 

Q: What interested you about the 1980’s?

 

A: I’ve had a fascination with the 1980s since I was about twelve. I think part of it is that every generation tends to romanticize the era they were born into, either because it’s colored through their fond childhood memories or because there’s a natural tendency to feel like you “just missed out on something”. Another reason is because I grew up in a fairly rural town in Oklahoma called Broken Arrow, and into the late 90s and even the early 2000s it still pretty much was the 1980s there. If you look at my high school yearbooks some of the photos look like outtakes from a John Hughes movie.

 

Then, too, I just grew up on the pop culture of the 1980s, both what I lived through myself and then what was on television growing up, the movies my parents owned, the music on the radio, stuff I’d rent from Hollywood Video and Blockbuster… There was a certain je ne sais quoi about films from the 80s that no other decade has ever produced or been able to reproduce. In a lot of ways I had a great adolescence but in a lot of other ways it was also very traumatic, and in those darker moments the 80s—more specifically its’ pop culture—became an escape for me. A safe place. I saw the 80s as this romantic time full of bright colors and incredible music and the sort of possibility I felt was missing from my own life.

 

Q: You work for an optical magazine and website. How did you come to work in that industry?

 

A: After I graduated college I got a job as an optometric assistant and optician for a Texas State Optical location in Magnolia, Texas. The office subscribed to a magazine called 20/20, and its’ online supplement, The Optician’s Handbook. One day, during downtime, I was reading Optician’s Handbook and came across an article that I thought was just terrible. In addition to it being written very poorly, it also advocated, I felt, lying to patients about certain aspects of their lenses in order to get a sale. So I wrote this super-pissy letter to the editor explaining what I thought was wrong grammatically with the article—I actually copy-and-pasted the text into the email and dissected it line-by-line— and also taking them to task for running it in the first place. I didn’t think anyone would actually read it. Instead I got a letter back from the editor, Mark Mattison-Shupnick, thanking me for bringing it to his attention and saying that they were going to pull the article. Then at the end of the letter he asked if I would be interested in writing for them and inviting me to submit a sample story.

 

In retrospect I really think that it was more backhanded than anything, like, “Oh, you know so much about writing, why don’t you try writing something for us?”  At the time, though, I took it literally and I submitted an article about the history of Pince Nez glasses. I was really surprised when Mark accepted it, and even more surprised when he offered me a consistent, paying job writing monthly articles for them.

 

After about a year of writing for The Optician’s Handbook, I got an email one day from a man named James Spina, the editor of 20/20, the print magazine, who said he was impressed with a piece I’d done on the influence of Mad Men on optical fashion. He said that he wanted to start having me write articles for the print magazine, as well. My first article ran in the late fall of 2013, and I’ve been consistently writing for them ever since. When I entered journalism, James—who used to be a music journalist himself—became a sort of mentor to me, and helped me get my footing in the entertainment writing world and gave me advice on interacting with celebrities.

Q: You are an editor at Cinedump.com. How do you go about procuring writers for your site?

 

A: We don’t really actively pursue anyone. We have an open-door policy that anyone can submit material at any time. Our editor-in-chief, Jessie Hobson, will review it and if he likes it he’ll share it with my assistant editor, Jason Howard, and myself, and if we all like it then we’ll run the article and offer the person a consistent position writing for us. We recently added a fourth writer, Pennie Sublime, with whom I’ve worked at Rue Morgue in the past. I’d really like to see a few more people come on board through 2017 to generate more content for the site.

 

Q: What defines a “Grindhouse” movie?

 

A: Grindhouses were movie theaters on 42nd Street in New York (and more rarely the Tenderloin in San Francisco) that specialized in playing films that couldn’t or wouldn’t be shown anywhere else: really sleazy horror movies, violent kung fu movies, more mainstream pornography, and even some foreign arthouse films that were too sexual or violent for more commercial arthouses of the time. The term “grindhouse” itself comes from the 42nd Street theaters, which tended to run double-and-triple features back to back, continuously “grinding out” films. Over time, “grindhouse movie” became a catchall term for the sort of movies that would be shown at these theaters.

 

Q: What steps did you take to get your book published?

 

A: I sought out small, independent presses and submitted to them. It’s very hard, if not impossible, for a first time writer to get his or her debut novel published by a major press, and it’s just as hard for an unpublished writer to find an agent. My high school writing teacher was P.C. Cast, who’s now well known for the House of Night series, and she was my earliest writing mentor. I remembered that she’d gotten her first novel, Goddess by Mistake, published through a smaller press and built her career from there.

 

On top of that, all the places I submitted were horror and thriller publishers. I always intended OLOTI to be a literary story with horror elements, as opposed to a straight horror story; but there was also enough there in the way of horror, and so much of the story was an homage to 80s horror movies, that I didn’t feel dishonest shopping it around to horror publishers. It’s much easier to get attention from a genre press than one focused on “straight” literary fiction. At the same time, I was also doing book reviews for Rue Morgue and developing contacts in the horror publishing world who could act as advisors or guides.

 

Several horror presses turned down my pitches and query letters; a few asked for the complete manuscript and then ended up passing anyway. I think about a dozen places passed on OLOTI before Fear Front picked it up.

 

Q: What compels a person to write movie reviews?

 

A: There’s a degree of narcissism to it, I guess. The idea that you’ve got unique enough a perspective on a movie, and that you can articulate it in unique enough way, that it warrants you putting it down in print for other people to read. Then, too, I think there’s a sense of ownership of a movie once you’ve critiqued it. Anyone who reads that review is going to be made to see the movie through your eyes. You’re literally changing other people’s perception of a work of art. And when you do that, you are, in some small way, changing the art itself; and there’s a sense that, in doing so, you claim a piece of it for your own.

 

Q: What famous person would you most like to have Nicolette meet at the dump?

 

A: What famous person would I like to have my deranged serial killer hunt down and axe to death… I don’t think there’s an answer that I can give to this question that won’t result in a visit from the FBI.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer Bogdan Dzakovic

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Bogdan Dzakovic  is a former security specialist who is the author of the book, “Fortress of Deceit: The Story of a 9/11 Whistleblower.”

 

 

Q: What did your role as a security specialist entail?

 

A: I had four basic jobs as a security specialist.  Three with the Federal Aviation Administration leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks and the last with the Transportation Security Administration after the attacks.  The first job was a Special Agent in which I documented (thru inspections) the state of aviation security.  This was the second most irrelevant job ever invented.  Basically just do the same thing every year never improving the system.   The second job was serving as an Air Marshal Team Leader.  Really liked this, excellent training, world wide travel – was an elite organization at the time, not to be confused with the current air marshal program.  Problem was, however, there were so few air marshals that we were basically irrelevant in the ultimate scheme of things.  My next job was pivotal.  Serving as a Team Leader in the Red Team.  The Red Team was an adversary team designed to replicate the tactics and equipment that terrorists would use in the commercial aviation environment.  Served in this position from 1995 until 9/11.  This job helped put me into the mindset to be able to think like a terrorist.  I knew as early as 1998 that a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 was imminent.  Attempted to prevent it.  Failed of course.  But filed a federal government whistleblower disclosure with the United States Official of Special Counsel (which reports directly to the President) right after the attacks.  The Special Counsel agreed with my allegations that FAA was a grossly inept organization.  Which leads to my last job working for TSA.   After 9/11 the government terminated FAA’s involvement in aviation security and established the TSA.  As punishment for trying to prevent the 9/11 attacks TSA buried me in an entry level staff job for the remainder of my career spanning from shortly after the attacks until I retired in 2014.  This was the most irrelevant job ever invented.  You could have trained a monkey to do what I was assigned.

Q:  What is Fortress of Deceit about?

 

A: The book is a professional autobiography spanning my thirty-two years working for the federal government wonderland highlighting some of the more egregiously inept, wasteful, and even treasonous activities I witnessed and/or participated in.  ALL of which was and still is considered perfectly normal behavior on the part of federal employees and managers.  The first half covers my early years in the military and in law enforcement including a brief stint engaged in the war on drugs.  The next quarter concerns the efforts I (and some colleagues) made to try to prevent the 9/11 attacks.  The last quarter focuses on how I (and other federal whistleblowers) are treated by the government for abiding by our oath of office and to adhere to the Constitution.  An epilogue follows on how to fix this broken system.  When President Obama was first running for office he made some comments about having the most open government in history and proclaimed that whistleblowers are an important part of this process.  The reality turned out to be much different.  Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the previous Presidents COMBINED.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have made it to retirement.

 

Q: What are some of the things the government could have done to prevent 9/11?

 

A: Simply hardening the cockpit doors would have prevented the attacks.  It was proposed as early as 1992 to do this as some gifted FAA employees recognized that nothing else FAA was doing would prevent a hijacking (I wasn’t involved in this particular event).  In my book I go into why this (and other) simple steps weren’t taken in the lead up to 9/11.

 

Q: Do you think the Patriot Act has really improved national security?

 

A: Absolutely NOT!   In the latter half of the 20th century many countries were plagued with their own indigenous problems of terrorism, guerrilla warfare or low intensity conflict.  These were primarily in Central and South America and in Africa.  In virtually all of these situations the government’s knee-jerk reaction to combat these threats became an even bigger danger to their own citizens than the terrorists could ever hope to achieve (which is actually a key goal of the insurgent mentality).  Before World War II, Stalin butchered millions of his own people.  After World War II, Mao butchered even more of his own people in China.  All in the name of state security.  When it came to killing his own people, Hitler was an amateur compared to what when on in the Soviet Union and China.  The point of this being that pin-headed politicians and bureaucrats are the same everywhere.  The clowns we elect into office as well as the senior bureaucrats they appoint to run the respective agencies are no different.  They’ll do whatever they can get away with.  The Patriot Act should be rescinded in its entirety as well as the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.  They are all unbelievably wasteful, inept, are black holes absorbing tax dollars and are unaccountable.  Yes, we do have a serious problem with terrorism, but there’s a smarter way to go about this and do so while remaining within the Constitutional boundaries of limited federal powers.  How federal whistleblowers are retaliated against by the government when they attempt to stop illegal or immoral government activities just reinforces this notion that federal politicians and bureaucrats will do everything they can to maintain the lucrative status-quo they thrive in.

 

Q: How do you think the Trump presidency will effect international security and terrorism?

 

A: I’m very optimistic.  Take a look at the problems our traditional establishment politicians have caused (not even counting prior to 9/11).  President Bush and his inner circle of misfits should be spending the rest of their natural lives in the worst prison in the country as war criminals.  What more heinous activity can a country engage in than war – when its not in self-defense (aside from killing its own citizens).  Iraq, in particular.  Obama and Hillary Clinton should be in the adjacent cells just for what they did in Libya, instigating its collapse.  Congress has made itself (with rare individual exception) completely irrelevant to keeping the executive branch in check when the President steps way outside his authority under the Constitution.  We started wars in the middle east and central Asia that clearly didn’t meet the minimum threshold as defined in the Constitution, we destabilized much of this area resulting in the killing of who knows how many innocent civilians, thousands of US troop casualties, we have the largest refugee crisis since World War II, and we have the largest national debt since World War II.  Trump was elected because Americans had it with these people.  He has the opportunity to bring some really creative energies into solving or minimizing a lot of these problems.  I think more bloodshed is inevitable given how nutty people have proven to be around the world, but I’m very optimistic that Trump will be a positive influence.  WE started a forest fire in the middle-east, unfortunately there’s no way to take it back, WE now have to deal with the consequences.  I think Trump will bring a more scientific or rational approach to tackling this problem.  Remember a few years ago when the viral contagion exploded out of the Congo.  The international community joined together and fought the disease head-on without fogging the situation with political correctness.  The place was cordoned off, specialists were sent into the country to kill off the disease using the best tools and understanding we had.  Lots of innocent local people died in the process.  Anyone that escaped the country was quarantined until the threat was neutralized.  No happy way to do this, but it had to be done.     Trump will hit the terrorism problem head-on.

 

Q: What was your oddest work story?

 

A: This is a tough one, so much to choose from.  I checked my big Webster’s dictionary on this to try to narrow down the meaning of “odd”.  The definition I am using is:   “Not usual or ordinary, singular, peculiar, queer”.  Particularly “peculiar”.  I mention some anecdotes in my book that some people might ascribe to paranormal activity.  But the most peculiar thing was when I had a great revelation:  Prior to 9/11, I (and some colleagues) ended up going to Capitol Hill to talk directly with our elected officials in an effort to get them to do something to stave off the imminent terrorist attacks.  I naively thought at the time, that our Congressmen would put aside their party loyalties and bickering and actually put their country first.  I remember standing near the pool in front of the Capitol Building, just staring up at the enormity of the building and the flag blowing in the wind,  saying to myself – “This is a damn peculiar place”.  What I later discovered is that Congress very deliberately and willfully sacrificed the lives of the 9/11 victims rather than upset the ways of the bureaucracy or the lucrative lobbying industry they thrive in.  They did an excellent job of covering up their involvement after the fact.  The 9/11 Commission was a whitewash.  Since then I’ve used a bit stronger words to describe the trash we elect into public office – with some exceptions.

Q: What would you change about the media’s coverage of 9/11?

 

A: The news media needs to take a lot of responsibility for exacerbating each and every terrorist attack by sensationalizing the event.  In the eyes of the fanatics and nutjobs watching their dog and pony shows, the news makes the killers out to be heroes and people to emulate.  Fighting the Great Satan, what better way to get your name in the world news, by dying in a blaze of glory killing as many infidels as you can.  Remember a few years after 9/11 when the space shuttle exploded upon re-entry.  I remember the news talking heads making comments similar to:  “Was this the result of terrorism and we should live in fear as they can reach out and touch us anytime they want, or was it an accident and you can go about doing your normal life?”  Some of the folks in the news media, particularly the TV talking heads, are as crazy and self-serving as the politicians.  Yes, we need to have a free press, but when they endlessly sensationalize this stuff I hope they at least have sleepless nights knowing they are largely responsible for egging on the next attack killing innocent folks.

Q: What can Americans do to stay more informed about national security issues?

 

A: As with many things in modern society this is a very complex issue and can be overwhelming to contemplate.  I can’t stand even looking at this crap anymore and I spent a career in it.  That’s why we hire elected representatives to deal directly with these issues.  The main thing Americans should do is READ the United States Constitution.  It’s a beautiful document and provides a working template on how our government is supposed to function.  People need to start electing people into federal office that have a track record of supporting and abiding by the Constitution, or at least with a commitment to do so.  When they step out of line we need to vote the bastards out.  In extreme cases charge these people with treason and hold them personally accountable.  Also, federal government whistleblowers need to have protections from retaliation that actually work, and hold government bureaucrats directly accountable when they do retaliate against dedicated public servants.  The federal government is so big and so complex that it takes dedicated employees on the inside to make sure the respective bureaucracies and the policies they enforce stay on the straight and narrow.  As I put in my book, after 9/11 I met over a hundred federal government whistleblowers, most of whom worked in the various agencies engaged in national security work.  The stories they related and the retribution they suffered is nothing short of horrific.  US citizens should demand that federal whistleblowers (who work in their behalf) are protected from retaliation and prosecute those who do retaliate against these dedicated federal employees.

 

Q: How were you selected to testify before the 9/11 Commission?

 

A: After 9/11 I had some communication with a few of the families of the 9/11 victims.  It was my understanding that they pressured the commission to have me testify.  Unfortunately, none of my relevant testimony is included in their final book.  I’m a footnote on page 400 and something.   The Commission also didn’t want to have any of the other good folks I worked with trying to prevent the attacks testify in front of them (namely Steve Elson and Brian Sullivan).  More importantly, nor did they want the piles of documentation offered to them.  The 9/11 Commission was an excellent whitewash in keeping the government’s bloody hands off the chopping block.

 

Q: What institutions do you think terrorists are likely to attack next?

 

A: I document in my book that I have a terribly good track record in predicting major terrorist attacks against the United States – and reference the documentation proving this.  Not only 9/11 but others.  I use the word “terrible” here because you cannot imagine what it feels like when you KNOW a major disaster is looming around the corner and try to prevent it only to be stymied by self-serving pin-headed politicians and bureaucrats whose only loyalty is their own pocketbook.  Then after the attack you get beaten down by these same people for daring to threaten this system they thrive in.  So I try not to even think about this anymore.  My book is a last desperate attempt to shed some light on this deplorable situation in government and hopefully someone in the next generation will learn from this and start fixing this broken system.  I do describe in my book, however, the methodology I used in making these very accurate predictions.  Basically it entailed examining the world-wide terrorist trends by looking solely at open source material such as newspapers, periodicals, radio and even TV talking heads, etc. Apply a bit of Sherlock Holmes’  deductive reasoning; combining these two with a Red Team mentality (which helps put one in a frame of mind to think like a terrorist); and presto – you’ve got a really good chance of being right.  Unfortunately this methodology is way beyond the capability of our illustrious intelligence, federal law enforcement and security agencies combined; these people couldn’t predict the timing of the next sunrise – at the cost of billions of tax dollars wasted.  Generally though, depending on Trumps effectiveness; I think it’s a safe bet that lone-wolf type terrorists will continue targeting venues where lots of people gather around.  What really has me concerned though is that critical infrastructures lag way behind the security measures required in this day and age.  Not just from terrorism but from state sponsors such as China, North Korea and Iran.      Fighting terrorism was easy, fighting bureaucracy and politics was what proved to be really difficult, indeed insurmountable. Hopefully our new President will start fixing things and hole these bastards accountable.

 

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

An Interview With Writer Jaie Vee

yes

 

Jaie Vee is the author of Getting her to YES; here is a link to the website:
https://www.createspace.com/6653395

 

Q: What is, Getting Her to Yes about?

 

A: THIS BOOK IS EXCLUSIVELY FOR MEN.  This book is exclusively for MATURE men, showing average men how to get ladies or the wife to give SEX. It details a lady’s mind-set, so men are clear why such cheap and simple tactics are effective. It includes erotic sex stories that can excite dominant male, and submissive female emotions. One can preview the first seven pages at eden3000.com/yes.html and see Reader’s Favorite 5-star review at the link attached there.

 

Q: What made you decide to write it?

 

A: I started tinkering with writing about sex many years ago, because I was always helping men I knew “get sex”. Just a few basic “tips” changed their entire sex lives from no sex to lots of sex. Men know so much about a lot, but nearly nothing about female’s motivation for sex, or how to get sex.

 

But I couldn’t write a complete “understanding” till I was in a relationship with a gorgeous talented, self-driven amazing man. He was so wonderful to me each time I came back to him, then fairly quickly removed all MY gifts, leaving just the sex. I’d hint about this and that, but like many females, I couldn’t flat out tell him stuff. I left the last time feeling “used”, though I know he believed he was really trying. Then is when I realized, no matter how smart a man is, men really have no clue what ladies get out of the sex dance. And no woman will ever tell them.

 

As a strong woman, it took me “a lot of guts” to write that females choose the submissive position in sex, and why we ladies biologically have to. I reveal all the secrets we ladies will never tell our man. I had to, because, though those secrets are of short-term benefit to ladies, in the long run, ladies lose because men have not any clue what makes us want sex.

 

Q: What qualifies you as an expert in this area?

 

A: Having never desired children, and never needed a man’s money, company, or help, I got to observe the relationships of others with some emotional distance. And emotional distance is what a lady would need to state some of this stuff.  I got all the attention a lady could want when I worked as a dancer (in states where the men could not touch). Also, as an engineer and inventor, I tend to know stuff others want to learn, so I always get plenty of “feeling needed” attention.

 

My mom just read the first 24 pages and said she’s,  “finding it hard to stop reading.  So far, a very interesting book and I do agree with you.  Good job, I think you have sorted things out pretty well.” I never expected Mom to read it, but that was a great compliment.

 

Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it effect your ability to write?

 

A: I run a small business, mostly involving the sales of my top-rated Silent Sleep  Snore Stopper(R) nasal inserts. When on Amazon, the Slim/Avg. size was the 593rd best selling product on all of Amazon. I sell less than that volume now on my eden3000.com website, but I also get friendlier customers, like half of which write me thank you emails.

 

When selling on Amazon, large-nosed men would buy the most popular Slim/Avg. size, then write “doesn’t work” one star reviews. I’d have to convince them to return the insert for the correct LARGER size, then I’d wait the painful weeks for them to change the review. Sometimes they would not return it because it cost so little money, it was not worth their time, so they’d leave the bad review. The issue was more due to the way Amazon set things up, to let the customer stab the seller with a bad review, versus having the customer contact the seller first. Such size issues are important for products like mine.

 

I’ve also spent the last few years renovating two houses, entirely replumbing, rewiring, adding gas, fixing foundations, rebuilding rotted floors, changing walls, etc all myself, using mostly free or used supplies. That gave me lots of time to think and write the most concise and clear book I could, as well as work on other non-physical projects.

 

I take on new odd projects every year. Last year I did a property conversion to business for someone else, which required knowing all the building codes, drafting, and “how to build stuff”. That was great fun.

 

Q:  If your tips don’t work is there a money back guarantee?

 

A: Well, I don’t know how Amazon runs the book end of things, but I have a Twitter account listed in the book, for men to ask me questions, and I will do my best to reply. But, frankly, men know so little about how to get a woman to want sex. Often, only one tip of the hundreds I state will fix a man’s sex life. Simply reading the “why” will help men the most. I write the book in a conversational style with lots of examples from my own life, and those of others I know, so to give some dimension to the tips.

 

Q: Who are some of your writing influences?

 

A: I read mostly just technical and biological stuff, no novels. I learn best by experimenting and tactile work, and searching out those who are willing to give negative feedback.  Like, I found a guy who does reviews, who suggested putting “yes” in the title. What a great tip! I put requests up on Craigslist to read a draft of my book, and got lucky that an editor type guy volunteered to comment on the first 40 pages. Without his advice, my book would not have been something most men would actually listen to. He suggested the conversational style and adding my own stories. Great advice!

 

Q: What makes your book different than other sex tip books?

 

A: That’s easy! Most sex books focus on the PHYSICAL aspects of sex. The physical aspect of sex is what the MAN enjoys. It is the emotional and fantasy part that excites the female. It is a complete reverse thinking than what is out there in books. Some books might say doing chores can help get a lady in the mood. That’s way too boring and abstract for a man to “understand” the “why”.

 

Q:  What are some common mistakes that men make when trying to seduce women?

 

A: I go through most of them in the book, but saying they are “very passionate”, touting their manly sports as a main focus of their free time, and thinking just “being friendly” or “giving her stuff” will move ladies towards sex.

 

Q:  What is the weirdest thing a man has ever said to you when hitting on you? 

 

A: No man has ever said anything “weird” to me. The sickest thing a man ever did was, after my sister divorced my brother-in-law, he actually tried to kiss me at Thanksgiving. Gross.

 

Understand, I most often dress in paint-covered, multi-layered sweats, mostly wear two hats and never wear make-up (but for photos), so men cannot quite define what “I look like naked” to “hit” on me. I also don’t even glance at men as if I am “looking”, cause I’m not “looking”. (“Glancing” is the only thing men are good at spotting). Men instead talk to me as the source of information that I am, especially on construction, code issues, patent writing, etc.

 

I find “being hit on” to feel like someone wants to take a bite out of me, and that is NOT a good feeling. Because I have confidence in my physical appearance, I do not need or desire others to boost my ego by flaunting myself. (That body shot I took of myself this September, when I got in the mood to “make a book”.) The few men that dare hit on me? I give them tips on how to get sex from someone else.

 

 

Q: What have you done to promote your book? 

 

A: YES just got published Nov. 2, 2016, a few days ago. I got a Reader’s Favorite 5 star review, saying my book will “revolutionize the way most men view sex”. I am trying to get a review in a chosen male-oriented magazine. I’ve investigated the politics with the magazine, its owners, and other stuff like how reviews are distributed, publisher’s issues…  I am looking for the loose mortar no one else is targeting in the brick wall that is in front of “getting noticed”.

 

It may come down to want versus NEED. I have two 5-star rated children’s books. No one needs another children’s book. But men really need my YES book. It’s like my Snore Stopper inserts, where I did zero advertising to get to ranking 593 on all of Amazon. Once the word gets out about my YES book, I hope every man on earth reads it.

 

Women might never see anything interesting in my book, because they know this stuff. The problem is, men don’t know ANY of this stuff. Ladies, if you accidentally buy my YES book, PLEASE, give it to your dad or uncle! There is ZERO romance in the book. There is nothing of any value at all for the ladies in my book.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

 

An Interview With Writer John Ramaine

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John Ramaine is the author of the novel, “A long Time Ago”; here is a link to the Amazon page:

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Long-Time-Ago-Dreams-Sometimes/dp/1469948907/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?ie=UTF8&keywords=john%20ramaine&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&qid=1475582735&ref_=mp_s_a_1_1&sr=1-1#

 

 

Q: What is A Long Time Ago about?

 

A: The essential premise is plainly expressed in this axiom, ‘What if the mistakes you’ve made could be erased creating a path for you to fulfill your destiny’?  This question crosses many lines and is capped with a ‘what if I’ or ‘if only’.  Many books and stories have been penned using this idea.  The way I went about making it my own was through the influence of films and the iconic images they leave in the human psyche.  I used the paradigm of time travel to convey a personal story, using the film industry as a backdrop.

 

Q: What made you want to write about time travel?

 

A: Time travel allows us to fulfill our deepest desire in having personal involvement with a particular period, setting or era long since gone.  It’s also an interesting way of correcting your mistakes while retaining the memory of why you made the mistakes and how you never want to repeat them.  But as in any time travel story, just because you correct a mistake doesn’t mean that the alteration doesn’t have its own set of problems.  Probabilities and dimensions come into play.  It’s discovered in A LONG TIME AGO that mistakes are a part of who we are and how we’ve become who we’ve become.  It allows the reader to travel with the writer and experience the unexpected that comes about in trying to work out what happens in fixing the very thing that led you to the time machine in the first place.  And if you try to fix the mistake, do you still find the time machine and try to correct the mistake that essentially never happened?  It can play with your mind a little.

 

Q: What would you say the theme of the book is?

 

A: When you open the cover of the book, there is a caption written at the bottom of the first page; ‘Dreams never die, they just sometimes get put on hold.’  Every dream and desire we have as individuals is plainly attainable through our imagination.  But just because you get a dream or a vision to create something or be someone, it doesn’t automatically fall onto your lap.  It may take time…years even, to reach a glimmer of what you see inside of yourself.  You face delays and setbacks that are constantly screaming at you to give up and that it’s never going to happen.  But the impediments along your path are maturing you in ways that nothing ever can.  Time permits the lesson of patience and experience.  Nick Webb, the main character in A LONG TIME AGO goes through this on a constant level.  Numerous setbacks and personal problems are the theme of life for every character ever written.  It’s how they come out of it that’s worth the price of admission.   And also, after the dedication, I added a page long quote that icon, James Dean said during his struggling days as an actor.  It is a very satisfying passage and lends largely to the theme of the novel.

 

Q: Who inspired the character of Nick Webb?

 

A: This being my first novel was originally birthed from a screenplay.  And like anything that’s first, it’s born from you.  Every experience the character feels and goes through is in some way my own.  Broken dreams and disappointments that cascade on Nick are merely a reflection of myself, save for the heightened sense of his environment.  Nick has a strong moral background and impression of what’s good and what’s evil.  He is also a movie guy who has an appreciation for the cinematic arts and hates to see it succumb to the banal influence of social media and the demographic pie chart.  Nick is a man who knows he has a destiny to fulfill.  He is a man of principle and like myself, a dreamer with purpose.  When I read the book and the description of Nick, I see myself.  Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be able to separate the two.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

 

A: In addition to writing, I am also an actor.  I was just hired to play Banquo in Frog and Peach’s Main Stage production of Macbeth here in New York City.  It’s wonderful but doesn’t pay squat.  Like any creative person trying to break through, I have had numerous jobs in my journey to help make ends meet.  Anything from census taker, theater usher, dog walker, furniture mover, vacuum cleaner salesman, flower shop delivery boy, ice cream scooper, envelope stuffer and pen salesman to name a few.  I’ve also done film industry jobs working as a production assistant, first AD, casting assistant, hand model and photo double to name some.  As of last week, I worked as a greeter.  All of these jobs keep me hungry in pursuit of success in my field.  They don’t require a heavy mental strain, which allows me to concentrate on more important matters.  The experience of meeting new people in these positions adds a myriad of characters and circumstances that feed the writer in me.  It’s all cataloged quite well.  But mostly, and I would be remiss in not mentioning that it is my wife Julie who is the main breadwinner.  Her indissoluble spirit of faith in me, as an actor and writer keeps her doing what she does in helping me get to where I need to go…for now.

 

Q: What sort of educational background do you have?

 

A: I never took a novel writing class but I did take various seminars along the way on screenwriting.  I attended the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU for a year before dropping out but that was for film productions mostly.  A LONG TIME AGO was born from a screenplay I wrote.  In a way I was very pleased that it didn’t get produced.  Despite a wonderful stage presentation and some interest from film producers, it just didn’t get off the ground.  But I could not, for the life of me, let the story go.  It was too personal and important to just die on the shelf.  The story needed to be expanded but I had no idea how to do that.  One day, while taking a walk, I was presented with a choice.  My heart spoke very clearly, ‘Write the novel.’  I had an epiphany.  This was the answer in taking the story to places that a screenplay could not go, while at the same time reaching deep into the character’s motives and intentions.  I knew a screenplay could only skim the surface.  It made all the sense in the world but the problem was that I’ve never written anything like this.  I had no idea how to start.  Through Julie’s encouragement I simply jumped into the process, mistakes and all.  I began writing A LONG TIME AGO, using the screenplay as a template.

 

Q: What are some of the writing influences and how is this evidenced in your book?

 

A: The voice in the book is my own.  During the process of writing, I would read out sections to Julie to get her reaction.  She noticed a gist of Mickey Spillane in the narrative, the way things were being set up and resolved.  I really appreciated that since I read a few of Spillane’s books, which obviously seeped into my subconscious.  I also thoroughly enjoyed reading Vonnegut, so he may have gotten in there as well.  I would say that my main influence is the movies.  Filmmakers tell the story through pictures.  As writers, we tell our story through words.  When people read our stuff, they have to see it.  It has to be visual.  This is the link to the imagination, taking the reader where the writer wants them to go.  I do believe that this is my gift as a writer, in that I describe everything to a visual term.  I take you there, making the story all the more enjoyable.

 

Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote your book?

 

A: First of all, the book is a self-published work on Amazon.  I never ran it through an editor nor did I take it to publishers.  I never really saw it beyond my ability to self-publish and just put it out there.  A LONG TIME AGO is a near diary of my life, not to the events that surround the main character but his emotions and the sacred oaths he takes in pursuing the high road.  My intention was to get this novel on the record.  It was a challenge I’m glad I reached.  There are also particular intricacies that I wanted secured in my name, which includes a high level of science acumen regarding the time traveling device.  Should the book ever get optioned, I will have secured the actual idea.  In the meanwhile, like everyone else, I created A LONG TIME AGO Facebook page that is accessible for view.  Every once in a while I will promote my book on my regular Facebook wall.  The first couple of years I did receive residual checks, although that’s kind of dried up now.  I also read the favorable reviews on the Amazon site, which are amazing.  In the years since its availability, I have had many friends who expressed interest in reading it.  In return I simply asked for an honest review.  Good or bad.  Yet, I have not received any reviews from the people who said they bought it.  The book does run a tad over six hundred pages, so there is a commitment to it, but because it involves films, science, romance and action, I was counting on reaching the better nature of my colleagues.  I’m still waiting.  I do have grander plans for the book; I’m just not able to articulate them now.

 

Q: Why do you think old Hollywood fascinates people?

 

A: The movies of our past and I include anything before 1980, left indelible impressions that have found their place in our vernacular.  Images of Bogie, Marilyn, Wayne, Liz, Brando and Cagney, et al, exist in our subconscious.  They live and breathe in our movements.  We quote them, enact them and watch them repeatedly.  Books rarely do this and television never.  Movies built our myths.  They are the foundation of our dreams.  They are handed down generation after generation because they still speak to us.  We don’t judge or ever get weary of them.  Also, the movies exhibited a tone of class and elegance.  This is surely lacking in today’s cinematic culture, which distributes soon forgotten and rarely quoted content.  Actors don’t carry the same impact that the old actors emanated.  This is an ongoing mention in A LONG TIME AGO, a sort of personal frustration on my end.  Also, old Hollywood appears remote and otherworldly, as seen through the prism of its current state.  It’s unattainable.  The character of Nick Webb goes back there and finds a spirit of renewal.  This is the reader’s opportunity to go with him and feel refreshed.

 

Q: If you had a time machine what would you change in the history of film?

 

A: Great question and it is answered in the book.  The character of Nick Webb is rebuffed in going back through a documentary to change history.  I hope this doesn’t give away too much.  I will share that the most recognized film in history is the Zapruder film, which documented the assassination of JFK.  Like Nick Webb, I would eagerly figure out the most accessible way to stop the assassination.  And I would do it over and over again until I got it right.  But part of the problem comes back to alternate dimensions and outcomes.  Are things meant to be?  Can we really correct the past?  In A LONG TIME AGO, the movies play a big role in answering that question.  But this very dilemma is presented in the book and for anyone interested in the assassination; it is a fascinating approach to an event that we, in our imagination, still try to solve.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

An Interview With Writer Ilanna Sharon Mandel

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Ilanna Sharon Mandel is the author of The Bridge of Haunted Souls; here is a link to her website:

https://www.amazon.ca/Bridge-Haunted-Ilanna-Sharon-Mandel-ebook/dp/B01BAXHM6A

 

Q: What is The Bridge of Haunted Souls about?

A: The Bridge of Haunted Souls is an action-adventure in magical realism inspired by Jewish mysticism and a belief in the enduring need to hope for an afterlife. It’s a novel that explores the importance of friendship and loyalty, especially for young teens. In the story, Tamar is contacted by her young cousin Gabriella who recently died in an accident. Tamar and her two friends Rachel and Diana brave an adventure through an ancient cemetery, and the bridge between the world of the living and the afterlife. Their guide is Bruria, the Guardian of Souls. The three friends learn the terrible truth about what happened to Gabrielle and how she plans to re-enter the world of the living, so that Tamar will take her place in the world of the dead.

 

Q: What experiences in your life inspired you to write the book?

 

A: I have been writing practically my entire life. I published my first poem when I was 16 and never looked back. It has been my dream to publish novels. I recall being a young girl in Regina, Saskatchewan, when the famous writer W.O. Mitchell (Who Has Seen the Wind) came to our school and gave a reading. I was transfixed. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a writer. This novel in particular was inspired by my own childhood experiences with my friends when we found an ancient gravestone out on the prairies. We concocted an entire story for the gravestone, although we never did learn the truth about it.

 

Q: What makes Tamar an interesting character?

 

A: To me Tamar is interesting because she’s not a caricature of someone; she’s a full person. She is smart, adventurous, funny and kind, but she also worries and always feels she has to be in charge. Tamar finds it hard to hold back; she’s always interested in moving forwards. From her parents, who are archaeologists, she gained a love for adventure. But, she has an incredibly open mind, and so although the wonders of the afterlife are revealed to her, she’s ready to see them. Tamar is also a loyal friend and is always watching out for Rachel and Diana. Ultimately, her sense of responsibility and love for Gabrielle set her off on the adventure to begin with. So, she’s very brave, but in many ways also a regular teenage girl.

 

Q: Why do you think people are so fascinated by the afterlife?

 

A: Because it’s the ultimate question in life; what happens after we die. We all want to know. Some people have a deep-rooted belief that when we die, our souls live on, while others believe that death is nothing, and still others don’t know what to believe. It is one of the most enduring issues of our human existence.

 

Q: You work as an instructional designer; what does the job entail?

 

A: As an instructional designer, I do a lot of different things; I write curriculum, training, courses, workshops, create e-learning, interactive learning, and write live action and animation scripts. I have had the opportunity to work for a broad spectrum of clients and a huge range of topics. I focus a lot on the healthcare and education sectors, and am a specialist on disability-related issues.

 

Q: What is the least effective thing you have done to promote your book?

A: I think the least effective thing I have done is announce it on Facebook. People just don’t seem to pay any attention because there is so much going on all the time, the information just gets lost.

 

 

 

Q: What famous writer would you most like to meet?

A: I would love to meet Ursula K. Le Guin. She is truly my idea of a complete writer. Ursula has written in fantasy, science fiction, academia and practical, informative articles. She’s a brilliant woman whose work in science fiction is some of the most seminal writing that exists today. As a writer she brings a strong social conscience to her stories, and always develops deeply complex yet relatable pieces. She is one of the reasons I began writing in science fiction.

 

Q: What is the best advice you have gotten about writing?

 

A: Find your own voice and don’t give up. I believe strongly in these twin principles. It’s imperative as a writer that one doesn’t try to mimic or sound like anyone else. All writers are inspired by others, but don’t try to emulate them. Take the time to find your voice and your stories. Write about the topics and situations that are most meaningful to you. And, don’t give up. I’m in my 60s and publishing my first novel.

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

A: I’m currently three quarters of the way through my second novel, entitled Prairie’s Edge. The novel is quite a departure from this novel as it’s far more adult in nature, although the protagonist is a 16-year-old girl named Lesley who lives in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. Lesley copes with a plethora of challenges – her Mom is an alcoholic and has brought a strange, drifter to live with them, and then her dying grandfather comes to stay so he can die with his family around him.  Lesley feels her world closing in on her and only wants to escape the prairies. Her mother ends up in rehab and the drifter named Grant becomes a seminal figure in her life, who helps her to take care of her dying grandfather.

 

Q:  If you could bring anyone back to the land of the living, who would it be and why?

 

A: I would bring back my Mom. We lost her young and it was quite shocking as she died of a brain aneurysm no one knew she had. My father came home to find her in a terrible state and called the ambulance, but she passed away quickly. We were extremely close, and her way of raising me was to tell me stories. Whenever I asked her a question, she invariably had a story to tell me. She was also a talented writer, as was her brother (who won major awards for his poetry). My Mom was writing her own first novel when she died, so sadly, it was never finished.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview with Author Derek Thompson

 

dtconservatory

Derek Thompson is the author of The Spy Chaser series; here is a link to his website:

 

http://alongthewritelines.blogspot.com/

 

Q: What inspired you to start your Spy Chaser series?

 

A: When I attended a novel writing summer school a few years ago the main character just arrived in my head. I knew he was a photographer so I asked him why he was doing and why, and followed the thread of my imagination. I saw right away that he worked in surveillance, but I also wanted to know about his personal life. How does someone compartmentalise their work and their relationships, and what happens when the barriers break down?

 

As a fan of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, I chose to create rounded and morally complex characters and then added some snappy dialogue to produce my version of a contemporary British noir. I wanted to write about a different kind of ‘hero’ – the kind that doesn’t have killer martial arts moves, and who isn’t a crack marksman. In that respect, Thomas Bladen is a fairly ordinary person (on the surface!) in extraordinary circumstances. He has a relationship with Miranda and her family, a woman he clearly loves (and who doesn’t take any crap from him!), and almost no relationship with his own family.

 

Usually when you read thrillers and spy stories most if not all of the working dynamics are already established, but I wanted to watch a group of people form a bond, learn to trust one another over time – with a few false starts – and gradually come together as a team. I also wanted to explore what makes someone go into a job where they need to keep other people’s secrets, and hide their own.

 

In the interests of disclosure I should add that while I’m no spy, I did once help someone track down and turn the tables on a blackmailer and I have been a casual victim of gun crime in the past. You draw upon what you know…

 

 

Q: What is the series about?

 

A: In the first book, Standpoint, Thomas Bladen has worked in the UK government’s Surveillance Support Unit for two years, but has kept it hidden from those closest to him. One decision – to withhold some evidence until he can investigate it privately – is the loose thread that steadily unravels his carefully controlled existence.

 

Thomas discovers what his colleague, Karl McNeill, already knows – that parts of the SSU are being used to gather intelligence by the Shadow State: a United States of Europe that no one has voted for, run by industrialists, military figures and politicians. There is also an American strand to the plot and some US characters feature in the series (I lived in the US for a year, a long time ago).

 

Thomas repeatedly has to decide where he stands and whether he can hold the line without crossing it. As the series progresses he learns that the difference between friend and foe can be a matter of expediency. He could walk away at any time, but when did that ever solve anything in his life? Besides, once he knows what’s really going on, he can try to do something about it.

 

 

Q: What makes Thomas Bladen worth reading about?

 

A: I think that’s the hardest question and probably the most important one.

 

One of my favourite lines that’s said to Thomas in Shadow State is by a US government agent. He tells him: “You haven’t come out of a box like most of the people I deal with in the community.”

 

That’s the draw. Thomas Bladen isn’t James Bond or Jason Bourne (both great characters in my opinion). He’s a little down-at-heel but very resourceful and has a strong sense of justice.

 

Naturally, I’m biased, but this review on the Amazon page for Standpoint about sums it up:

This book is an excellent read from cover to cover. The storyline is compelling and the characters are deep with many levels of complexity which indicates that the author has an in depth knowledge of the human psyche. The dialogue is sparkling and witty with amusing one liners sprinkled throughout. The character of Thomas is very ordinary and a little seedy and is somewhat reminiscent of the erstwhile George Smiley. The plot is multi layered with twists and turns at every point and one is never too sure where one is going to end up. All in all, this book is a jolly good read for anyone who enjoys a thriller that will keep them hooked from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

 

Q: What happens in Shadow State?

 

A: Thomas Bladen has supported his surveillance partner, Karl McNeill, in the intelligence war against the Shadow State for three years now. But finally they have taken an interest in him.

 

A code word triggers a betrayal, bringing Thomas face to face with a Shadow State operative who can wreck his life. All Thomas has to do is expose a defector and they’ll leave him in peace, but why – and who is the real enemy?

 

Consequences stack up like poker chips. A stakeout becomes a rescue mission; an intervention leads to murder; allies may pose the greatest threat and loyalties are stretched to breaking point. Soon Thomas and Karl are forced into a deadly game, where the only way out is to turn the Shadow State against itself.

 

Shadow State will be available later this year.

Check in with my Author Central page for updates: https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Thompson/e/B0034ORY08

 

 

Q:  How did you become affiliated with Joffe Books?

 

A: It was a combination of preparation, effort, luck and timing!

 

After completing Standpoint I wrote the sequel, Line of Sight, and I mapped out plans for a series. I submitted Standpoint to a few agents, without success. Fortunately, I had subscribed to http://www.writethismoment.com and one week they carried a listing that Joffe Books was open to submissions from new authors. Jasper Joffe was looking for a thriller series and because I had carried on after Standpoint I was able to pitch him the Spy Chaser series. They are primarily an ebook publisher and they’re very good at what they do. So far the series has sold around 15,000 copies and I am exploring how the books could be adapted for television.

 

 

Q: How does your day job with the National Health Service, affect your ability to pursue your writing career?

 

A: It’s a triple edged sword!

 

Firstly, the job gets me out of my own head and into the world. It also pays some of the bills (I work as a part-time freelance writer as well).

 

Secondly, as the job is part-time and local it leaves me space for writing.

 

Thirdly, as the NHS department I work for is involved in mental health it has given me an opportunity to talk with healthcare professionals about psychology, trauma, therapeutic tools, and the human condition. This has helped me understand my characters and their motivations better, and hopefully myself as well.

 

Longer term, my goal is to reduce the office hours and derive more of my income as an author and freelancer.

 

 

Q: What have you done to market your book?

 

A: At the time of writing this, Shadow State hasn’t launched yet. But as far as the previous three books go, I have:

  1. Blogged about them and sought out other places where I can blog.
  2. Set up a Facebook page for my writing: https://www.facebook.com/ProfessionalWriter1/
  3. Set up a Twitter account @DerekWriteLines so I can use a service like Tweetdeck to set up Twitter campaigns.
  4. Set up an Author Central page on Amazon, where people can find out about all my books:

https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Thompson/e/B0034ORY08

  1. Written a press release for my local newspaper.
  2. Taken a guest spot on local radio.
  3. Networked online until my fingers ached.
  4. Continued to engage with readers wherever and however possible.

 

 

Q:  What makes for a good spy thriller?

 

A: I think it’s a combination of intrigue, action and good characterisation. The plot can be down-to-earth or saving the world, as long as the characters live and breathe on the page. I also think good dialogue is key for illustrating character, bringing the plot down to eye level, and creating a sense of reality and perspective that makes us want to return to the author’s world and the people who inhabit it. Authentic voices help readers care, and writers need their readers to care.

 

 

Q: What trends in spy novels annoy you?

 

A: Interesting question. I’d say I’m not a fan of the reset button, where a character starts the next book (sometimes even the next chapter) totally unaffected or changed by the events they’ve witnessed or experienced. I don’t want to see superheroes in spy novels. I prefer characters who can be vulnerable and who sometimes get it wrong. The reader will root for them all the more.

 

 

Q:  If Thomas Bladen got a job in your office at the NHS what job would suit him best?

 

A: Given Thomas’s ability to spot the details other people miss and his talent for finding trouble I’d see him in an investigative role. That could be as a diligent patient advocate, in a meticulous audit capacity, or perhaps as a spy gathering evidence in order to root out malpractice or corruption in the organisation. I’d expect him to follow his own moral code and to challenge any kind of injustice. Consequently, I think it might be a short assignment!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.