1. Tell us about your latest release, DEAD MAN’S FIRE.
DEAD MAN’S FIRE was just released September 2nd. It’s the first in my Marc Huntington series of thrillers, which follows the exploits of recovery experts Marc and Dana Huntington as they travel the world recovering stolen items of great value, rescuing kidnapped persons, and generally using their skills to recover anything – provided there’s a reward offered. In DEAD MAN’S FIRE, Marc learns that the son of his former Delta Force commander has gone missing from a scientific expedition in the Amazon Rainforest. Marc and Dana investigate only to find nearly all of the expedition members dead and a fossilized skull steeped in superstition at the heart of the mystery. Marc and Dana get caught up in a frenzy of intrigue as multiple factions seek the skull and consequently the young man caught at the heart of the situation – the man the Huntingtons had come to rescue.
2. Can you share little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
I’m about a month or so from finishing the second book in the Huntington series, CHASING KELVIN. Marc and Dana are in the process of recovering a valuable diamond when they learn of a terrorist plot on the train they’re currently riding. A bio-toxin is released. One of the Huntingtons is infected, there are simultaneous attacks around the globe, and officials have been compromised in multiple governments. Otherwise it’s just another day in the life.
As to other projects, my publisher is asking me for additional story ideas, so it looks like the Huntington series will be continuing. As well, I have another book, THE EMPTY, due for release in a couple of months. This is coming from a different publisher (L & L Dreamspell) and deals with a human-like race that has no genetic matrix of its own, and so its people must infuse genetic information from others – often both human and animal. These people have lived on the outskirts of humanity for centuries, but in today’s modern world they risk exposure and possibly extinction.
3. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
For me, the big concepts come from the question, “What if?” What if a race had unstable genetics and were forced to steal new DNA from others in order to survive? What would that society look like? What would be their internal struggles? What if someone that could cause serious damage found out about them? What if I found myself caught up in the midst of a terrorist attack? Those are big concepts, but each scene in a novel can have inspiration as well, and here, the daily flavor of life becomes the inspiration.
I could be inspired by watching a mother deal with a disobedient child, with that special relationship between the two. A strange man on a bus, or a cranky check-out clerk, they could all find a way into a story. I think it’s the little day-to-day inspirations that bring a story to life. These little touches that make what might be a far-fetched concept feel natural and believable.
I used to frequent a music store run by a quirky old man. The place was a mess. Guitars scattered across the concrete floor, dust covered counters. As well, I’ve found ancient artifacts sold very cheaply from a catalogue. These were things that were day-to-day items 3,000 years ago, and were to numerous for museums to display, and so they were sold quite cheaply to the general public. In THE DEMON BAQASH, I married these two concepts. The music store became an ancient artifacts shop, with 2,000 year-old swords scattered on the floor, and ancient pottery and idles on dusty counters. Anything can inspire if given the chance.
4. How long have you been writing?
I didn’t really realize how important writing was to me until adulthood, but looking back it seems I’ve always written stories. In middle school I created, wrote, and drew, my own comic book series. I’m sure it wasn’t good, but I was coming up with stories. I made my first attempt at writing a novel while still in high school. I came across it a couple of years back and was surprised that it actually wasn’t too bad.
5. What is a typical writing day like for you? Do you have any habits or established routines that work best?
I’m a morning person. I get up anywhere from four to five AM, have a cup of tea, and start writing. It’s quiet. No one is up but me, and my mind is fresh. I generally start by editing what I wrote the day before. This gets me into the groove of the story and helps me flow right into new material.
I just finished reading George R. R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. His characters are some of the best I’ve encountered in literature. Deep. Multifaceted. Complex. I also like Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Great pulp fiction. Ken Follett is very good. Stephen King is another one with fantastic characterization. I think that sometimes due to his commercial success and his choice of genre his talent is sometimes overlooked. He would be amazing in any genre. Clive Barker is also fantastic, and in an entirely different arena, I enjoy Clive Cussler from time-to-time. His books are simply a fun ride. Neil Gaiman has a wonderful imagination. Orson Scott Card – thought provoking. I could go on all day.
7. How do you promote your work? Any tips for other authors?
Promotion is a never-ending part of an author’s life. I do book signings, interviews, blogs. I’m looking into purchasing advertising, both print and online. I don’t know that there’s any secret other than perseverance. Keep looking for opportunities even in unusual places. My first novel, THE DEMON BAQASH, was supernatural in nature. As such, I found that it was a good fit with comic book readers, and found that comic book stores were very receptive to granting me book signing opportunities.
8. In addition to your novels, you also have a short story collection, 13 Bodies: Seven Tales of Murder and Madness. Can you share a bit about the collection and how it came to be?
I wrote and coproduced, with my wife, a weekly audio drama radio program in Las Vegas. It was a half hour format and primarily featured stand-alone stories: murder mysteries, sci-fi, horror, suspense, humor. Every week was different. A publisher, Speaking Volumes, contacted me about releasing some of our audio dramas as downloads and CDs, which we went on to do. The publisher then asked if I would like to do a short story collection based on these dramas. That’s how 13 BODIES came about. Each short story is based on one of the audio dramas. Some have been expanded considerably as the short story format allowed me to develop the concepts well beyond what I was able to accomplish in the half hour audio drama format. On a side note, the Marc Huntington books also started as an audio drama series.
9. Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
I think I could give a different answer to that question on almost any given day. Of course, the authors that I listed earlier have influenced me, but so have so many others. Bram Stoker was a big influence on my approach to THE DEMON BAQASH. I think my Marc Huntington books owe something to Cussler, Ludlum, and Follett. I read classics as well as pulp, as well as the latest and greatest. My favorite book of all time is EAST OF EDEN. I’m always reading and absorbing. In addition to traditional print books, I listen to audio books every time I’m alone in a car, often listening to over forty books per year from different authors and genres. I don’t think a writer can read enough.
10. What part of the craft of writing has improved since you wrote your first book?
I hope all of it. Writing is a process and I do feel like I get better with every draft of every project. I’m big on characters, and am always striving to make my characters more human, more real. I believe I’ve grown in terms of plot development as well. That said, I don’t think I’ll ever feel that I’ve reached a point where I can sit back and put it on cruise control.
11. Are your stories plot-driven or character-driven?
The two are intertwined. A fantastic plot with great twists and tension will still fall flat if the characters are uninspired or two dimensional. If I don’t care about a character then I don’t care about what happens to them in the story. The flip side is that a story with wonderfully developed, multi-dimensional characters that are not confronted with interesting trials and challenges will become boring and can come off as pretentious. I generally begin with a plot idea and then fill that plot with characters that I care about and find interesting. My hope is that my readers will feel the same.
12. What do you consider the single, most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
Seeing the story come together. I love the process of refining, of working through multiple drafts and seeing what started as perhaps a solid, but incomplete idea, coming to completion.
My blog: http://thomreese.wordpress.com/
THE DEMON BAQASH chapter 1: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/
My audio dramas: http://www.speakingvolumes.us/results.asp