Today I have an interview with Paul Byers, author of the fast-paced thriller Arctic Fire. It’s all about answering the question what would happen if there was a worldwide water shortage. Paul’s graciously agreed to answer a few less stressing questions for me.
I think most writers would agree that finding and making the time to write is the hardest part. For those of us who haven’t made the NY Times Best Seller’s list yet, we still have to contend with the day job, playing taxi for the kids and the general day to day tasks of life. If you want to be successful, you have to treat your writing like a second job. You have to spend the time if you want to see the results. It took me three and a half years with my first book, Catalyst, and two years for Arctic Fire. A long time yes, but I did get it done.
I think research is very important to a book and that the reader should not only enjoy a great story but to learn a little something along the way. I have to watch myself though, when I start digging, I come across a lot of gems and think, “Oh, this is good, oh, that’s interesting,” and by the time I’m done, it looks more like a Wikipedia article than a novel! I struggle sometimes between putting in what the reader should know and what I think is just plain cool. A perfect example, while doing research for Arctic Fire, I discovered that it wasn’t an iceberg that sank the Titanic, nope it was the curse of mummy! How’s that for a teaser? But to me, research has to be more than just facts looked up and quoted back to the reader. I try to talk to the people who have personal experience with the subject. For Catalyst, I was able to talk to a WWII flyer who was a POW at Stalag III. For Arctic Fire, I spoke with a retired Air Force Colonel and also a river pilot and tug master and for Annihilation, one of the shorts from Act of God, I spoke with a sailor who served for twenty years aboard nuclear submarines. Book knowledge and facts maybe the ingredients of good research, but personal interviews and experiences are the spices that give it flavor and bring it to life.
As a general rule, I like to start at the beginning and write the story through. However, I have skipped around a few times when I was stuck and ran into a wall for what was going to happen next. Sometimes I have particular scenes in mind and I will jump ahead to those, just to keep the creative juices flowing. I usually end up rewriting those scenes again, since things in the story or the main character themselves might have change, but it served its purpose by keeping me writing.
Even though I’m very young for my age, I grew up when there were no such things as computers (hard to believe huh?) and now my kids know nothing but desktops, laptops, notebooks, ipads, touch screens, smartphones etc… You can now take a virtual electronic library with you wherever you go, heck, you can even read books on your phone while stuck in traffic. There is nothing like the feel of a good book in your hands or to have an autographed copy made out to you by the author. While there will always be “real” books, I see the wave of the future in all things electronic.
I do both, but in this day and age, online is where the world is. I have my website, and I do guest blogs and interviews, sponsor fun contests on my site and send review copies of my book out to various reviewers and to writing blogs. Having said that, there is nothing like doing book signings and meeting people face to face. I love interacting with readers, answering their questions about my writing and encouraging those who tell me that they have always wanted to write themselves. Balance between your marketing plan and writing, as in life itself, is the key to success.
Surprisingly, it’s not one of my main characters. Don’t get me wrong, I like my main characters, otherwise they wouldn’t be there, but I have two that for me, quietly stole the show. In Catalyst, he is simply known as, The Colonel. He is a man who has lived life to the fullest serving King and country and though in his eighties, would love nothing better than to show Jerry (the Germans) a thing or two if they dare step onto English soil. In Arctic Fire, Albert Jenkins is a retiring bank guard who finds himself in his worst nightmare. He wasn’t able to prevent the loss of his own daughter but he is determined not to let fate take another young life. He knows what is right and simply does it. A feat that is often harder than it sounds.
About Paul Byers:
Paul grew up in Oregon on the shores of the mighty and mysterious Columbia River, and spent endless hours daydreaming on the beach in front of his house, making up stories about the ships from exotic ports all over the world that steamed up the river – what secret cargo might they be carrying; did they harbor spies who were on dark and exciting missions?
Later in adult life, he moved to another mysterious and provocative city – Las Vegas, just outside the famous Nellis Air Force base. After work he would sit on his porch and watch the fighters take off and land, igniting his imagination with visions of secret missions and rich speculation about what could possibly be hidden at Area 51.
After moving back to his native Pacific Northwest, Paul worked for the Navy and took every opportunity he could to speak with veterans from WWII to the Gulf War, listening to them swap stories and relate the experiences of a lifetime.
So it is this combination of a passionate love of history, a vivid “what if” imagination, and a philosophy of life that boils down to the belief that – there are few things in life that a bigger hammer won’t fix – that led Paul to become a writer of exciting, fact-based action-thrillers. His greatest joy is leaving his readers wondering where the facts end and the fiction begins.
Arctic Fire by Paul Byers
Wealthy entrepreneur Nigel Cain has devised an efficient new way to bring the earth’s most precious resource to the masses – clean water – by transporting massive man-made icebergs from the frigid arctic and delivering them literally to the doorsteps of millions.
Gabriel Pike works at a small engineering firm that has been awarded the task of giving the final safety approval to pilot the first gigantic block of ice into New York harbor.
A consummate showman, Cain has built a fabulous 5-Star hotel and casino high atop the iceberg so his celebrity guests and media elite can cover this spectacle from beginning to end. Pike is whisked away from his work-a-day world and dropped into the lap of luxury where he’s expected to simply rubber-stamp his inspection.
A brutal winter storms ravages the iceberg and exposes structural inconsistencies and hidden agendas that fill Pike with serious doubts about the true intentions of the project. But a grisly double homicide on the ice puts the inspections on the back burner and sends Pike’s life spiraling out of control when he’s accused of being the jealous murderer in a lover’s triangle.
But Pike soon discovers that there is far more at stake than just his life. He uncovers a conspiracy more heinous than anything he could have imagined – a plot that will level a city, change the political face of America, and whose shockwaves will be felt around the world. Fate rests in his hands – if he can survive long enough to take action…