Saturday, September 28, 2013

Talk to the Hat: Eric J Gates

JD  Today’s guest is Eric J. Gates, writer and … well, you’ll see in a minute. This is our first Galericulate interview to be held in Thailand. Unfortunately, I don’t have a dungeon here or any instruments of torture (they’re held up in Dubai Customs, and Digby my sub-human assistant, is still on holiday), but we’ll do our best to make this entertainingTell us a bit about yourself, Eric. But skip the boring bits.

EG  I started playing with computers at an early age after scoring 100% on a logic-aptitude test (the pointy ears helped too). I soon found myself developing Operating System code for cutting edge supercomputers and then specialized in security. From there it was a hop, skip and a hack to cyberwarfare (called Infowar back in the day) and the world of spooks and such.


I ended up studying martial arts because of a lie ...

JD  Ah, mendacity! Things are looking up. Do go on.

EG  My Dad’s job meant we had to move every couple of years or so, which made me the new kid at school i.e. the target. After going through constant ‘initiation’ rites (such mind-expanding moments as being thrown into a holly tree or having my lunch ‘confiscated’ by the school bullies every day) I decided to invoke the power of Marketing. When I next change school, on the first day lunch break I was approached by the resident bully who demanded my grub and I refused. He got a little angry so I told him I knew Karate and wouldn’t hesitate to beat him up in front of his mates. Back then Karate was THE thing – this was pre-Bruce Lee and a ‘Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ movie called ‘The Karate Killers’ was the hot topic in most local cinemas. Well, I must have been sufficiently convincing because the bullies left me alone. Word soon spread, along with invitations to join various school gangs, all declined. Flip-forward a few years and I’m now working in a windowless bunker on developing software for a new supercomputer. In walks a small group of new recruits, including an old schoolmate whose first question, voiced in a room crowded with my workmates, was “You still doing that Karate thing?” That evening I joined a Karate class. I was lucky with the instructor who also taught Hapkido (a Korean Judo-like art) and Kobudo weapons, as well as Sumo! That was the start; I found I had an aptitude for kicking-butt and just started to collect training in 26 different warring arts (the competition stuff just didn’t interest me). I earned enough black belts to keep my trousers in place for a lifetime.

JD  What if you’re wearing brown trousers? Don’t they sort of clash? Oh, never mind. Continue.

EG  On the hobbies front, it’s always been reading, cinema, and of course writing. When I was 18 I wrote my first full-length novel (50,000 words – that was full-length back then – funny how things seem to be going in that direction again, right?). It was reviewed professionally, and described as “not bad for a first effort – keep at it”, which obviously, after a break of a few decades, I did – that’s consistency for you!

JD  I like the sound of the cyberwarfare bit. Go on, scare us to death about this computer phuquerie.

EG  Just imagine that when you woke up this morning you had no electricity, running water, telephones, TV, your car won’t start – and that’s just the first hour!

JD  Actually, Eric, living here in Thailand, it’s actually like that most mornings. But give us a Western perspective …

EG  OK. We use computer chips to control everything from our microwave to the International Space Station these days and that means they are what we call ‘critical infrastructure components’. Cyberwarfare has basically two sides to it – offensive and defensive. The latter is all about protecting those systems from damage (by design of our enemies etc or through ‘natural’ occurrences) where the former is more oriented to being the ‘aggressor’ and undermining our enemies’ own critical infrastructure. So the next time your tea-maker doesn’t work in the morning, that might have been something I did – or it could have been a solar flare (gamma radiation or an EMP pulse) that fried the chip. Scary, right?


JD  My tea-maker works most mornings, provided I kick her out of bed. So why write books when you could be kicking the crap out of someone instead? That sounds like much more fun.

EG  Come on, John. You’re an author too. You know how devious we are. Get on the wrong side of a writer and you may end up in their next novel, and not in a nice way. What can be more satisfying than that – it’s certainly less sweaty than raining blows down on someone.

JD  True. Tell us why you have picked the genre you write in and what sort of folks will enjoy your books.

EG  My professional life has put me into all kinds of situations that could have come from any of the thrillers I read during my interminable airport waits around the world, most of which I can’t talk about (the airport waits, that is). So writing is the next best thing. There I get to mix in a few highly disguised events or people from my past with a good dose of made-up stuff and voilĂ , you have a thriller. I prefer this genre because of the pace – as I get older my attention span is waning, so anything that helps me finish a book before my memory fails is good.

If your readers want a fast-paced thriller, populated by spies, ex-Special Forces types, wily Eastern Block arms dealers and high-tech weaponry, that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, clenching your knuckles, as you sweat it out with the protagonists then read ‘LEAVING SHADOWS’. If you don’t want your food to go cold as the novel grabs your attention from the very first paragraph, I could recommend…

JD  Go on, give me a pitch on your latest book. I probably can’t stop you doing it anyway.

EG  The latest one is called ‘LEAVING SHADOWS’ and it’s basically a spy story. It kicks off with the Head of the Secret Intelligence Service being kidnapped in an audacious daylight attack. The surprises keep coming for his MI6 colleagues, however,  as they discover they are forced to use a seedy private recovery service for his rescue. An operations team quickly picks up the trail and heads into Europe just hours behind the kidnappers. Now I like a good twist or three in my books, so nothing is as it seems. Soon opposing forces descend as a race ensues to control the deadliest Weapon of Mass Destruction ever devised by Man. And just to make it more interesting, a countdown has started with a major city as the target. It’s a tale of deceit and betrayal, where you never know who to trust, set against a background of real events.


JD  So, what's next in the pipeline for Eric?

EG  Late last year I wrote a vampire novel entitled ‘the CULL’ as a birthday gift for a young family member. At the end of the tale I asked my readers if they wanted more of the two female protagonists and was inundated with emails demanding sequels. I’m currently writing two, back to back, to turn the tale into a trilogy (for now). What I think has made this novel so popular is that I have avoided the well-trodden memes of teen romance or toothy eroticism. I have taken what one fan described as a ‘Dan Brown meets Michael Crichton’ approach, looking to recover some of the disconcerting scariness that populated the original Bram Stoker novel and place this in a present-day setting. Vampires today would be serial killers and the authorities would react accordingly.

Once these are finished, I have three more projects jostling for a place on my keyboard, including a sequel to ‘Full Disclosure’, and a second novel featuring the kidnap recovery firm from ‘Leaving Shadows’. Time will tell.

JD  Eric, it’s been a pleasure. But even if it had been crappy I wouldn’t tell you.


Book links:
Leaving Shadows      http://authl.it/B00DJANLQS?d
Full Disclosure          http://authl.it/B007XIR5Z0?d
The CULL                http://authl.it/B00AGZ27FA?d

Author website (with extracts from all the novels and their Inside Secrets): www.ericjgates.com
Eric blog featuring many guest posts from a wide range of authors: my-thrillers.blogspot.com




Monday, September 23, 2013

Guest Post by Jade Kerrion, Author of the 'Double Helix' Series


SERIES: To Be or Not To Be (and when to stop being)

If Amazon (the company) were a river and all the books in its vast online repository were drops of water, you wouldn't be able to skim a pebble across its surface without hitting a book that is a part of a series. Series are popular--they work in movies, on TV, and in books--and for good reason. No one ever likes saying goodbye to the people they've fallen in love with. We like to see our heroes and heroines overcome adversity, and then do it again, and again. Novel series come in at least three different flavors. 1. Standalone books within a series with a rotating focus on various protagonists. Each novel within the series focuses on, and resolves, one major storyline, but the protagonist (usually a side character in one of the other novels) will claim the spotlight for one book within the series instead of all of them. Romance novels tend to lean this way (after all, happily ever after usually happens only once per couple.) Nora Roberts has written many trilogies of families and friends, with each book focusing on a particular person finding his or her happy ending. Sherrilyn Kenyon does this with her (apparently unending) Dark Hunter series as well. 2. Standalone books within a series focus on one or two key protagonists. Each novel within the series tackles one major problem and resolves the problem by the end of the book. Many detective and mystery novels adopt this flavor. As a teenager, I enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. These days, I read P.L. Blair's Portals series that features human detective, Kat Morales, and her elven partner, Tevis. 3. Non-standalone books within a series focus on one or two key protagonists, and story is typically best enjoyed in order from the first novel to the last. Fantasy and science fiction novels, with their sweeping storylines and their tendency to put entire worlds and civilizations at risk of extinction (hey, high stakes, right?) tend to lean in this direction. Each book should resolve a major crisis, but some threads are clearly left trailing as feeders into the next book. Some of my favorite authors fall into this category, including David Eddings who wrote the Belgariad and Mallorean series, and Neil Gaiman, author of the Sandman. Just about all of my favorite authors are series writers. In hindsight, it's no surprise that I would, as an author, lean toward writing a series. My Double Helix series is a series of four novels. When I finished writing the fourth book, I finally tackled the issue I'd been avoiding since November 2010, when I first started writing Double Helix series. When do you stop? Sometimes, the answer is easy: When you save the world. But what if the answer isn't as obvious? What if the world careens from crisis to crisis (sounds like our world, doesn't it?) What if the world always needs saving? I wrote the Double Helix series as a blend between a type 3 series (non-standalone) and a type 2 series (standalone.) The fourth book, Perfection Challenged, was actually the transition book between a non-standalone and standalone series. In theory, I could have gone on forever, coming up with yet another crisis for Danyael Sabre, the alpha empath, to handle. Challenges would always abound in a society transformed by the Genetic Revolution. Danyael would likely encounter most of them, but did he have to be the protagonist? Let's segue briefly into another series - Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series. Occasionally a storyline or plot transcends each book and unifies the series. In Kushiel's Legacy, it is the rocky path to love and happiness between the heroine, Phedre, and her protector, Joscelin. That storyline is the single thread that runs through the series, and for the series to end, the thread needs to be neatly knotted by the final book. My readers love Danyael. It was hard to make the decision to move him to the sidelines, yet in practice, I knew that Danyael's story was done, and for one primary reason. His story had come a full circle. He dealt with different challenges and antagonists over each of the four books, but the storyline that unified the series - his apparently unrequited love for the assassin Zara Itani - reached its conclusion in the fourth book. It was my gift to Danyael, the ending he deserved. But, dismayed readers howl, you haven't yet done this, or that, or another. You haven't finished telling all the stories. I've moved the spotlight off Danyael, but that doesn't mean he won't appear in a smaller role in another novel. Spin-offs are popular among series writers. Some side characters in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series show up as focal characters in her Dream Hunter series. And so it will be for my Double Helix series. I've already written a young adult spin-off. I have others planned, including a standalone series of romantic thrillers featuring mercenaries from Zara's agency, a novel about Xin, the Machiavellian clone of Fu Hao, a 1,200 BC general, priestess, and queen (busy woman indeedÉ), and a novel about Galahad, the genetically engineered perfect human being. Inevitably though, those novels and series will someday end. Quoting one of my favorite characters, Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series: It always ends. That's what gives it value.

The best of the four books the perfect ending to an amazing series.

Perfection Challenged, the thrilling conclusion to the multiple award-winning, bestselling DOUBLE HELIX series, is finally here. Grab your copy today. If you've never picked up the DOUBLE HELIX series, keep reading for a special offer on the six-time award-winning novel, Perfection Unleashed.

perfection-challenged-600x800PERFECTION CHALLENGED

An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre has survived abominations and super soldiers, terrorists and assassins, but he cannot survive his failing body. He wants only to live out his final days in peace, but life and the woman he loves, the assassin Zara Itani, have other plans for him. Galahad, the perfect human being created by Pioneer Labs, is branded an international threat, and Danyael is appointed his jury, judge, and executioner. Danyael alone believes that Galahad can be the salvation that the world needs, but is the empath blinded by the fact that Galahad shares his genes, and the hope that there is something of him in Galahad? In a desperate race against time and his own dying body, Danyael struggles to find fragments of good in the perfect human being, and comes to the wrenching realization that his greatest battle will be a battle for the heart of the man who hates him. E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK

PERFECTION UNLEASHED Perfection Unleashed

"Higher octane than Heroes. More heart than X-Men." Recipient of six literary awards, including First place in Science Fiction, Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and Gold medal winner, Science Fiction, Readers Favorites 2013. FOR A LIMITED TIME, E-BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR JUST $0.99 (Discounted from $2.99) E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository Connect with Jade Kerrion: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

'The Reluctant Savage'

Anyone who has been following this blog over the last year, will know that Billy Ray Chitwood is one of my favourite Indie authors. I very much appreciate his gritty writing style and the fact that he goes where many writers fear to tread.

Accordingly, any new novel from this talented writer is a cause for celebration.

His latest work, 'The Reluctant Savage' (great title, eh?), is officially launched this week. Murder, mystery and a love triangle: what more do you want? Personally I can't wait to get my hands on a copy - and watch this space for a review in due course!


High school sweethearts, Billy Jay Campbell and Marcie Dangino reunite after many years apart. They discover the fire of their love still glows brightly. With the Air Force behind him, Billy now works as an investigator for a law firm.

Two problems threaten to spoil his homecoming. Marcie is now married to a junior partner at Clarkson and Dangino, a firm that has occasionally employed him for investigative work. The second problem occurs when Billy's close friend and boss is murdered.

'The Reluctant Savage' is available in paperback and for Kindle from all Amazon sites worldwide. Here are the two most popular links so you can go and buy immediately!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Connect with Billy Ray Chitwood - just click the links below.

Twitter @brchitwood
Main website
Blog
Amazon author page US
Amazon author page UK 


"Prolific author Billy Ray Chitwood does it again, creating yet another gritty and spine-tingling five-star murder mystery full of carnage and romance. In his latest release, 'The Reluctant Savage,' Mr. Chitwood expertly creates suspense as he develops his flawed-yet-likable characters. After protagonist Billy Jay Campbell is set up to take the fall for a grisly and especially depraved massacre, he must prove his innocence, uncover the powerful hidden evil behind the deaths, and figure out his own heart which is torn between two equally beautiful and loving women. Masterful writing by the author of the Bailey Crane Mystery Series. Bravo, Mr. Chitwood. You keep us coming back for more."
Timothy M. Tays, PhD, is the author of Wannabe Distance God: The Thirst, Angst, and Passion of Running in the Chase Pack (2013) available at Amazon.com/books