Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Author Interview – Chris Angus

How do you promote this book? The process for promoting most books is generally the same: get attention any way you can. It’s difficult to rise above the cacophony of so many books competing for attention. We live in a very literate society, which is a good thing. But it sometimes feels as though every citizen in America, indeed in the western world, wants to publish a book.

This is doubly true of anyone who has any level of fame or notoriety. A number of years ago, I remember being astonished to learn that when the New York Giants football team (of which I was a fan) won the superbowl, thirteen members of the team published books. This sort of thing obviously takes up space that other writers might reasonably expect would be open to them.  It’s why writers find it so hard to locate agents and publishers. These professionals are buried in submissions.

Someone once said that writing a really good book represents about 10% of the effort needed. The remaining 90% goes to finding a publisher. If you manage to make it through both those hurdles, there’s little time to celebrate. Getting published is pretty much the first step. Then the author has to promote himself through interviews, blogs, social media, speaking to book clubs and so forth. It is very time consuming, time taken away from writing.

Will you write others in this same genre? Yes. While I’ve written collections of essays, a biography, a photo book, young adult novels and mysteries, I really feel I’ve found my niche with historical thrillers. I love the exotic locales, the rapid pace, the interesting characters and world shaping events. I enjoy fitting complex plots together, almost like a puzzle, bringing all the pieces together in an exciting conclusion. I also like to base my books in two things that really interest me: world history and recent developments in the sciences.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Beware of messages. No one likes to read a preachy book. Just tell your story. If it’s a good one, it will find an audience. My books are factually based. Readers will learn something about history and science when they read them. I certainly learn a lot by writing them.  But I’m not trying to teach here. I’m trying to entertain, with a plot that pulls the reader along and that fascinates with detail and precision.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? We’re all a conglomeration of the people we know, the places we’ve been, the books we’ve read. There’s no separating our life experiences from what we write about. But the brain is a marvelous instrument that takes in everything and allows us to regurgitate it in new ways, filtering it through our own personal lens.

I was greatly influenced as a writer by young adult books I read when I was growing up. One of the things I would be proudest to leave behind would be a really good young adult novel that takes that inspiration I felt so long ago, filters it through my own world view and perhaps allows me to influence young people the way I was so long ago.

I once began a book about the interesting characters I knew growing up in my hometown. Unfortunately, it is still my hometown. Somewhere along the way, I realized I could never publish such a book unless I either moved away or passed away.

How important do you think villains are in a story? There’s nothing better than a great foil. Because of my interest in world history and the sciences, I’ve set a number of my books during World War II. Hitler and the Nazis are perhaps the greatest villains history has given us. And because my books are often broad-based, involving world shaking events, they fit well with the all-encompassing nature of that terrible conflict. But there are other good foils in history, and I’ve used them as well. The book I’m currently working on deals with the legacy of Stalin, one good candidate for an even bigger villain than Hitler.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG

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