Posted by Literary Titan
Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?
VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.
Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.
Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.
I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.
I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.
Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy.
Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
In The Impostor’s Trail, we find Sean Kruger living out his golden years when a culprit Kruger feels responsible for losing six years ago pops up on the radar. What were the driving ideas behind Sean Kruger’s development throughout the story?
The concept of the novel originated with a short story written in 2013 titled, The Forgotten Brother Affair. The short story was featured on my website for about a year. After I completed the second book in the series, I was looking for ideas for the next one. Keeping in mind Kruger retires at the end of The Assassin’s Trail, there had to be a compelling reason for him to get back in the game. The return of the only serial killer to elude him during his FBI career seemed appropriately compelling.
In this installment, we find Kruger torn between righting a mistake he made six years prior and keeping his family safe. Facing pressure from his wife to stay retired and fighting his own internal need to bring the killer to justice, Kruger embarks on a journey of self-discovery. This journey finds our hero dealing with the conflict of seeking revenge and righteousness. I won’t reveal any more of the plot, but his journey gets intense.
You do a great job with descriptions as usual. It’s easy for the reader to picture either characters or settings in their mind. What is your writing process like?
Thank you for the compliment. I read a lot, making note of how other authors describe their settings and characters. During the journey to improve my writing techniques, more than one book on the craft of writing was consumed. Without exception, they emphasize a good writer must read. Read as many books in the genre you write as possible. I continue to do this, and try to learn from the best.
The majority of the settings used in my novels are places I have lived near or visited during a period of time when I traveled extensively. For instance, JR’s building in the downtown area is a real place. While in college, I thought it would be a great place to live. Alas, I could not afford the rent as a student. As a writer, the process of describing locations is how I see them in my mind’s eye based on personal experience. If I need to utilize a place I have never been, Google Earth is a great tool.
Describing characters is different, in my opinion. How a reader envisions a character is influenced by two factors. How the character acts and hints the author offers in the novel. I am not sure anyone has noticed, but I have never given a clear description of what JR Diminski looks like. This was done on purpose. He is a computer geek. But he is also self-assured and able to handle himself in dangerous situations. Let the reader fill in the blanks.
I enjoy the large cast in this story. If Hollywood came knocking who would you cast as the leads?
An interesting question. I really have not given it much thought. However, there is one character in the story who is already cast. Joseph’s character is described as bearing a remarkable resemblance to the actor Morgan Freeman. He is one of my favorite actors with a remarkable body of work depicting a wide range of different characters.
The rest of the cast I’m not sure about. Kruger would need to be a tall individual with an air of quiet self-confidence, Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman, or even Christian Bale come to mind. Kruger’s wife, Stephanie is a woman who survived and prospered in the cut-throat world of big corporations. She would need to be an actress who projects a strong will and intelligence. Someone like Natalie Portman or Jennifer Connolly perhaps. JR Diminski is a tough call, maybe Titus Welliver or maybe Daniel Day-Lewis.
If the opportunity ever materialized, I am sure I would have little say in the matter.
How long do you see the Sean Kruger series going for? When will the next book be available?
Right now, with The Impostor’s Trail finished, I am working on a stand-alone JR Diminski manuscript. My oldest son suggested doing one and several friends agreed. However, the next Sean Kruger book already has a concept written, which is my version of an outline. The working title is The Cold Trail. Of course, this is subject to change. But with luck, and a lot of early mornings, I hope to have it out late 2018.
As far as how far will I take the series? Good question. My best answer is when the ideas for a good story stop, the series will stop. As an Indie Author, I don’t have a staff of assistants sitting around thinking up plot ideas, it just me, myself and I. Plus I am not subject to the demands a traditional publisher puts on popular authors. I don’t want to be, what I call, a book factory. Traditional publishers make their money by publishing books. There are a number of very popular authors and some Indie Authors who publish two and in some cases three or more books a year. How is it possible? If you write full-time, maybe. But I am not sure the plots are well thought out.
So for now, I will continue to take my time with each book and strive to produce quality, well-edited manuscripts, possessing realistic character driven story lines.
Over the Indian Ocean a Malaysia Airline jumbo jet drops from radar. Three hundred twenty-seven souls disappear with it; a woman in Rockford, Illinois is brutally murdered. Unrelated news events? Retired FBI agent Sean Kruger doesn’t think so. He suspects it’s the work of serial killer Randolph Bishop.
Now a college professor, Kruger has tried to live with the mistake he made while investigating Bishop six years earlier. It looks as though the only man to elude him, in his twenty-five year tenure with the FBI, has returned to seek vengeance on those who forced the man to flee the country. With his family in danger, Kruger comes out of retirement to find Bishop’s trail. A trail that leads Sean to question his own humanity.
Randolph Bishop joins the ranks of fictional serial killers such as Hannibal Lecter, Patrick Bateman and Anton Chigurh in this tale of revenge and justice. The Impostor’s Trail will keep you turning pages late into the night.
Posted in Interviews
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