Thursday, August 2, 2012

Author Interview with Robert Downs

I'd liked to invite author Robert Downs to the blog today. Thanks to Robert for answering a few questions for us today. First, a little bit about Robert:

I aspired to be a writer, before I realized how difficult the writing process was. Fortunately, I’d already fallen in love with the craft, otherwise Casey might never have seen print. I have no idea where exactly any writing skills I may possess came from, only that Finding Forrester served as an inspiration for me and gave me a new outlook on crafting a story. But what I can tell you is that my writing grew from my love for the written word and for music. I never would have started down the writing path, were it not for my parents and some serious help from God, who has, and continues to bless my life, in many more ways than I deserve. And if not for the fine and dedicated folks at Rainbow Books, Casey never would have seen print. I do hope you enjoy Falling Immortality as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I hope we will have many more adventures together.

Now to the questions!

1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure, depending on my mood, I’m either a financial specialist or budget analyst with the government. So after staring at numbers and spreadsheets all day long, writing helps me stay sane. I have a business degree from West Virginia University and an MBA from Columbia College, which tells the world I can follow a study plan and that I’m trainable. The business degrees have served me well in the marketing of my debut novel, although the extent of my marketing skills is still debatable.

I lived in West Virginia for the first twenty-two years of my life, before I decided it might be fun to live in new areas and reinvent myself. Since then, I’ve lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, and now I reside in New Mexico.

It took me about eleven years to publish my first novel, which means I’m either a bad writer, a highly persistent one, or that I had the writer gene in there somewhere, and I just needed the proper motivation, and to write a bunch of crap before I could write anything good.

2) What do you do when you are not writing?
Aside from working for the government, which consumes vast quantities of my weekdays, I’ve been doing a lot of promoting for my debut novel, so much so that my writing has only been sporadic at best these past six months. I certainly enjoy the promoting gig, but I’d like to get back to the writing one, because writing is as natural to me as breathing.

Also, my wife and I are doing our best to singlehandedly keep Netflix in business. We have both the streaming and DVD mail-in option. Traveling and golf are a couple of our favorite pastimes, although neither of us has picked up a golf club in more than a year. A sad, sad day, especially since Albuquerque is known for its 300+ days of sunshine.

3) How did you choose the genre you write in?
Well, I would certainly sound smarter if I told you I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and that I had the mystery genre mapped out while I was still in diapers, but that just wasn’t the case. Like most writers, Falling Immortality wasn’t the first novel I ever tried to write. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, it was probably my fifth manuscript. The first three were better oriented to the thriller genre, and the fourth which was still pretty bad was my first attempt at a mystery. But Falling Immortality is when it all began to click for me so to speak, and it was my first attempt at a first person mystery. As for why I chose the genre, I liked the restrictions associated with a mystery and first person, as I had been all over the place with my thrillers and third person omniscient point of view. While I read a wide variety of authors and genres, I still gravitate most often to mysteries and thrillers, as there’s something about the chase that keeps me flipping pages about as well as my mouth full of sweet teeth keeps me focused on chocolate.

4) Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Well, it may be upcoming for those who haven’t heard about it or read it yet, but in my mind we passed the upcoming stage years ago, since I’ve been working on it one form or another for eight years, and I’ve spent more than a year marketing it.

As for the book itself, it’s what Stephen King in an Entertainment Weekly article has referred to as MANfiction. Casey Holden, former cop, current PI in Virginia Beach, VA, screens his clients the way he screens his women, based on whichever drop-dead gorgeous woman happens to waltz through his door first and manages to hold his attention. So when Felicity Farren, widow-at-large, struts into his office asking him to solve the two-year-old murder of her husband Artis, she intrigues him. When Casey starts digging, he learns the murder isn’t what it seems to be and he doesn’t have a big enough shovel to unearth the truth. And to top it all off, his former rival at the police department, Greg Gilman, is determined to disrupt his investigation. Casey's challenge is to learn what really happened to Artis, and why Gilman can’t seem to remove his head from his butt. And he’ll need all of his wits to complete the task.

5) I love that it has been termed MANfiction. Can you describe what that means?
Sure, I wrote a blog post for FundamentalGuy.com where I talk about MANfiction, and the art behind the genre. If the term has gripped your curiosity, you should check out this link:
http://www.fundamentalguy.com/guy-gear/art-manfiction. I don’t think I can do a better job of describing it.
6) Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I’m not narcissistic enough to tell you that everything in my writing is based solely and completely on my imagination. That’d be wonderful if that were the case, but it’s simply not true. Every piece of writing I’ve ever done is literally based on everything that I’m exposed to on a daily basis, whether that’s the media, friends, family, coworkers, novels, movies, TV shows, as well as other various experiences. What my analytical mind and I do is absorb as much of it as possible, pull out the various parts that I like the best, and then I regurgitate it on my computer screen. In the process of doing this, I hopefully create something brand new. I don’t ever plan to write about my real life experiences, because my life just isn’t that interesting, and honestly, it’s a heck of a lot more fun to make crap up.

7) How did you come up with the title?
I want to thank you for your question. You’re the first interviewer to ask me how the title came about. As you’ll see, there was a method to my madness. Falling Immortality came about for a few reasons. First, it’s a first person narrative, which means both the reader and I know I can’t likely kill off the character, unless I have another character take over the story. Second, I wanted to have my main character, Casey Holden, have at least one near death experience, or in some cases more than one near death experience per novel, since there will probably be at least a few readers cheering for him to fail, simply because he’s such a strong male lead. Next, he’s still relatively young, so he’s at an age where he still considers himself to be immortal, and he has a big enough ego to think he’ll live forever. Last, a large number of titles reference immortality, mostly of the vampire variety, but I couldn’t find a series with two-word titles where a descriptive word was jammed together with immortality. I came up with the title fairly early on in the writing process, and I couldn’t come up with a better one, so it stuck.

8) What project are you working on now?
It really depends on how you qualify or define now. The next two novels in the series are currently with my publisher. Graceful Immortality, the sequel to Falling Immortality, involves the murder of a female dancer from the Virginia Dance Company. Kathryn Gable, another dancer in the company, comes to Casey, and asks him to solve Jessica Mason’s murder. Like in the first novel, things aren’t quite what they seem, and before he even realizes it, he’s in over his head again.

Right now, though, I’m working on a thriller with a serial killer. It’s been done before, probably a bit overdone, but I like to think I have a new and interesting take on this overdone topic.

9) Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I sure hope so. I’d like to have a new novel in the next year or so, but that’ll depend on my publisher, the alignment of the stars, the economy, and a whole lot of other factors that are completely out of my control. All I can control is that I sit down at my computer, write on a regular basis, and work on becoming the best writer I can be. That’s my universe, and in some cases, it can be quite a bit to handle.

10) What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author. What has been the best component? What inspires you to keep writing?
Every time a reader doesn’t enjoy Falling Immortality, especially the rather negative reviews that I have found on the Internet, are always tough. It always hits with as much force as a Mike Tyson uppercut, but I’ve been known to experience a pretty quick recovery. My skin may be thicker than most, but I’ll still bleed the same as everyone else. I’m rather good at accepting and receiving criticism, which I’ve heard is a bit different from your average author. But then I’ve always played in a different sandbox than the other kids.

The polar opposite end of the spectrum: when I inspire a reader to want to read more of my work, or other authors in the mystery/detective genre. That’s better than staring at a five foot tall ice cream sundae.

Simply love of the craft. It’s really not much more complicated than that.

11) Tell us about your characters. Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others? Do your characters help make the plots or do you have to coax the plot out of your characters? Are any of your characters based on friends, acquaintances, etc., or are they purely fictional?
Casey Holden has his own megaphone. There’s a reason I wrote Falling Immortality in the first person. It’s really his story, and he rules with an iron fist. I’m just lucky enough to be along for the ride, and I hope I tell his tales as accurately as possible. Otherwise, I’m liable to find him inhabiting some other author, and I’ll have to come up with a new series character. I wouldn’t even presume to coax a plot out of Casey. I’d have better luck yanking off my own fingernails with a pair of pliers. I should probably leave that up to my friends and acquaintances to decide, as I certainly don’t want to speak for them. I will say, though, you can begin to connect the dots with just about anything, if you’re willing to look hard enough.

12) Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

At the time I discovered Casey, I was heavily into Robert B. Parker, and I was also a fan of Lawrence Sander’s Archie McNally character.


Thank you Robert!

 You can find out more about Robert and his novels at his website or Facebook.





 
Casey Holden, former cop, current PI in Virginia Beach, VA, screens his clients the way he screens his women, based on whichever drop-dead gorgeous woman happens to waltz through his door first and manages to hold his attention. So when Felicity Farren, widow-at-large, struts into his office asking him to solve the two-year-old murder of her husband Artis, she intrigues him. When Casey starts digging, he learns the murder isn’t what it seems to be and he doesn’t have a big enough shovel to unearth the truth. And to top it all off, his former rival at the police department, Greg Gilman, is determined to disrupt his investigation. Casey's challenge is to learn what really happened to Artis, and why Gilman can’t seem to remove his head from his butt. And he’ll need all of his wits to complete the task.

1 comment :

  1. Nice interview. Interesting, I hadn't heard of MANfiction before. Great questions for the author Dalene! Best of luck with your work Robert :)

    ReplyDelete