My November HUNTER Sales Promotion Results

 

I am revising and updating the original post here, to reflect the final results of this campaign:

Folks, I’ve never run a sales promotion for my books before. But going into the holidays, I thought that I’d give HUNTER a boost.

From Thursday November 13 through Monday November 17, the Kindle edition of HUNTER will be on sale for just 99 cents!

HUNTER WSJ TAGLINE FINAL UPLOAD smallerIf money is tight and you’ve been wondering what to give for holiday gifts, here’s one that won’t break the bank but is likely to be appreciated by most fiction readers. You can send the ebook as a gift, by email, right from the purchase link box in the upper right of the HUNTER product page.

No Kindle? No problem! You or your gift recipient can download the free Kindle app from the product page, too, then use the app to download and read HUNTER on any tablet, smartphone, or computer.

This is the only time in three years that I’ve run a book promotion, and it may be a long time before I run another. And at less than a buck, never has HUNTER been priced so inexpensively.

So grab it now, either for yourself or for somebody who will enjoy a tale filled with thrills, action, mystery, romance, spies, criminals . . . and the most original swashbuckling action hero in a generation.

Update #1: The “Readers in the Know” online book promotion site, besides running a HUNTER promotion scheduled for November 14, also invited me to blog about my promotion, its rationale, my expectations, and the final results. Check out my first November 13th post here.

Update #2: Also on the first day, I ran this promotion on “Free Kindle Books & Tips.” If readers sign up to subscribe to their site, at no charge, they will notify you by email of daily free and discounted ebook bargains. For authors, you pay a modest fee to have your book promoted, with a site listing plus the email to subscribers.

Update #3: The Day #1 (Thursday) sales results exceeded my highest hopes. Almost 300 copies of HUNTER sold, and the day ended with an impressive Kindle ranking of #634 out of more than 3 million ebook titles. The pace of sales hasn’t slowed a bit during Day #2 (Friday): I’ve piled on about six more promotions, plus more social media. As of mid-afternoon I’ve recorded another 162 sales, and the Kindle ranking has further plunged, to #452.

And my thriller-author friend Stephen England has just posted the long interview he conducted with me a few days ago, including many previously unrevealed aspects of my writing the Dylan Hunter series. I hope you check it out.

Update #4: Day #2 (Friday) finished up with 301 paid downloads for HUNTER. Its Kindle ranking sunk as low as #296 before settling back into the mid-300s prior to the big Day #3 promotions.

Day #3 (Saturday) saw huge sales, driven mainly by the big email book advertiser Bookbub. As a result HUNTER crested at #38 on the Kindle Bestseller List during the wee hours of Sunday morning. It also hit #1 in three Kindle categories: “Crime Fiction,” “Vigilante Justice,” and “Assassination Thrillers.” It went to lows of at least #12 in “Thrillers” and #14 in “Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense.”

All told, 1515 ebooks sold on Saturday — 1493 sales, and 22 “borrows.” About a hundred of those sales were from the UK. Collateral sales of BAD DEEDS went way up, too — 47 copies on Saturday. In addition, I found that on Day #2 of the promotion, when I was using smaller sites and lists, HUNTER generated 14 audiobook sales; on Saturday, it added a whopping 30 more.

For Day #4 (Sunday) I scheduled no formal promotions. But just driven by the momentum of the preceding promotions, plus the book’s new prominence on various Amazon bestseller lists, sales continue to be significant. As of 6 p.m., I’ve recorded 397 purchases of HUNTER plus 31 more of BAD DEEDS. While HUNTER has slipped out of the Top 50 rankings (at this moment positioned at #58), it’s still doing extremely well in its various genre categories: #1 in “Assassination Thrillers” and “Vigilante Justice,” #2 in “Crime Fiction,” and #18 in “Thrillers.” BAD DEEDS also holds a very respectable ranking in the low # 3000s.

One other nice thing: The book has been selling extremely well in the United Kingdom, too, the only other nation in which I was permitted by Amazon’s rules to run a Kindle Countdown Deal. Over 100 copies sold on Day #3, and I’ve so far chalked up two dozen more on Day #4. As a result, HUNTER is also holding the #1 position in the UK “Vigilante Justice” category — simultaneously with holding that same position in the U.S.A.

I’m extraordinarily proud that my debut thriller has now twice surged onto the Kindle Top 50 Bestseller List . . . three years apart.

HUNTER hits #1 in Kindle "Assassination Thrillers

HUNTER hits #1 in Kindle “Assassination Thrillers

 

Update#5: Campaign Results

The totals from Days #4 and 5 were excellent, adding 922 purchases of HUNTER alone.

Let me summarize by listing the major achievements during the campaign’s duration (and many will continue long afterward):

* More than 3,000 copies of HUNTER were sold. In addition, another 200+ copies of BAD DEEDS were purchased.

* On Saturday November 15, HUNTER sold 1,515 copies in a single day.

* For the second time in three years, HUNTER hit the Kindle “Top 50″ Bestseller List, peaking at #38 out of 3 million ebook titles.

* The book soared to #1 in the categories “Crime Fiction,” “Vigilante Justice,” and “Assassination Thrillers,” and still holds that top ranking in the latter two categories. It also hit #2 in “Espionage Thrillers.” It reached #12 on the big “Thrillers” list, and #14 on the even bigger “Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense” list. (It may have gone even lower in those numerical rankings; I wasn’t paying attention all the time.)

* HUNTER also went to #1 in “Vigilante Justice” in the UK, and still remains in that ranking as of this writing. In a market where it has never done that well, it sold over a hundred copies in a single day.

* The collateral benefits include big spikes in sales of the HUNTER audiobook — 14 on Day #2 and a whopping 30 on Day #3 — plus many new readers who will go on to purchase BAD DEEDS and the coming sequels. I also expect sales of both books to remain considerably higher in daily sales than they were before the campaign, for a long time.

All in all, a tremendous success. HUNTER is now a two-time Kindle Bestseller!

 

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Interview with Rose Robbins — Author of “Domestic Thrillers”

 

Rose Robbins was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. A precocious child fascinated by words, she ruined many library books by leaving them out overnight in the fields of her family’s farm.

Now her life-long love of books has inspired her to write her own.

Her “Carlin Series” is a quintet of interrelated suspense novels. (In sequence, the books are: In From the Cold; A Hundred Lesser Faces; Continue As Jenyfer?; Bring Back My Bonnie; and Sheltered.) Each is a compelling, credible story of a strong woman who must escape and heal from the physical and psychological abuse she’s endured in domestic and religious settings. Each story also explores a different aspect of relational abuse, and its effects on the many people it touches.

Rose Robbins writer

Author Rose Robbins (click to enlarge)

These five novels — written at white heat, within the span of a single year — were inspired by Rose’s own experiences while hiding in a domestic violence shelter with her small children. There she found that all types of women, from all walks of life, can find themselves victims of abuse. From those grim days, she made it her mission to change the way society views relational abuse and its roots. Besides writing about it, Rose also heads a mentoring program for former victims and hosts a website that offers resources for victims and mentors alike.

Prior to writing “The Carlin Series,” Rose independently published three nonfiction books presenting her personal philosophy about how to live a happy, meaningful life. Most recently she co-authored, with her daughter Katherine, The Accidental Dragon, an enchanting children’s fantasy adventure. (See my previous interview with Rose and Katherine.)

I first met Rose Robbins in an online discussion forum more than a decade ago, and over the years we’ve become good friends. I knew her then as a brilliantly talented and critically acclaimed musician: She writes, sings, and publicly performs her own award-winning work, accompanying herself on guitar and keyboards. You can listen to her songs and learn more about her musical career at her website.

I’ve invited Rose here to share the literary side of her multifaceted life. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed her books, I’m delighted to let you share some moments with an extraordinary lady.

~~~

The Vigilante Author: Rose, even though I’ve given your books glowing endorsements on Amazon, let me congratulate you once again. Based on the rave reviews they’re receiving from other readers, it’s clear that they’re touching lives.

Since we’ve already chatted about your new children’s fantasy novel, let’s focus today on your “Carlin” novels. What gave you the idea for this series?

In From the Cold coverRose Robbins: The first book in my series, In From the Cold, was not intended to begin a series at all! I just wanted to tell the story of Tess, a young mom who was led deeply into an abusive relationship one small step at a time. But then, when I finished the book, there was another character in the story I had grown to love. I felt that I should tell her story, too.

The Vigilante Author: That first novel began with the deceptive sense of surface serenity, but with hints of menace lurking below the façade of normalcy. I think that’s the key to the suspense in the whole series. So how would you classify them? As thrillers? Or as “romantic suspense”?

Rose Robbins: I call them “domestic thrillers.” Each story’s villain is an abuser of some kind, and any suspense in the story — some of the books have more suspense, others have less — comes from an abusive situation.

The Vigilante Author: If you don’t mind my asking, what prompted you to address such unusually serious subject matter in fiction?

Rose Robbins: In 2006, I ended up in a shelter with my five young children. During the month we were there, I not only had many eye-opening experiences, but met several other women from a variety of circumstances. All strong, brave, beautiful women — all experiencing some form of abuse. Then each of us went back into the world, carrying our stories silently inside. I decided those were stories that needed to be told.

Rose in red dress 1

Rose during a recent promotional photo shoot (click to enlarge)

The Vigilante Author: And you’ve told them exceptionally well. They are gripping reads. I have my own views on this, but what do you think is unique about your heroines?

Rose Robbins: The heroines in my books are the strong women that reach down deep and find strength and courage to start over. And their allies, which can be found in unusual places. I greatly admire courage. I wish I had more of it.

The Vigilante Author: I know you, and you underrate your own courage. Anyway, anyone who meets you now would be amazed by your unlikely background. Why don’t you share a bit about it.

Rose Robbins: I grew up on a farm in southwestern Washington state. I milked cows and helped bale hay, and when I had free time, I was usually up in a tree. I was a total tomboy. I spent a lot of time watching cows, which was like being a shepherd, only with cows. I’d read and write stories and music while alone in a beautiful field at the edge of the woods. It was a pretty great childhood.

A Hundred Lesser Faces coverFor years, I tried to compensate for my upbringing by trying hard to be sophisticated and surround myself with sophisticated people. Now I’m finally relaxing into myself — a person who likes a lot of time alone.

The Vigilante Author: I know the feeling. So where do you think your desire to tell stories came from?

Rose Robbins: I have always loved words. I grew up reading older books — The Bastables by E. Nesbitt, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I love beautifully or cleverly put together words. When I dream, I see words like subtitles. I have always known I would create using words in some way. I believe I wrote my first stories and poems at age six. They were very bad.

The Vigilante Author: I’m glad adults didn’t discourage you back them. What writers influence you today?

Continue As Jenyfer coverRose Robbins: A favorite author now is Nora Roberts (or J.D. Robb). She creates characters that are funny, that speak like real people speak, and her reasons for people doing what they do are honest and compelling. I also love Jacquelyn Mitchard, whose style is much more lyrical. She writes in a way that almost feels like poetry.

I strongly dislike when I feel an author is trying too hard, whether it’s to be lyrical or to be “gritty” or to be real. You can sense that overwork, and it feels false, pulls you away from the story. I love authors who have settled into their own style and aren’t trying to make Oprah’s book list or anything.

The Vigilante Author: No one will ever accuse either of us of pandering to Oprah. So how would you compare your work with that of some familiar authors?

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Interview with Wayne Stinnett — Bestselling Adventure Novelist

The Self-Publishing Revolution has produced a lot of rags-to-riches stories. One of the most recent and inspiring is the success story of Wayne Stinnett. Reviewers are comparing Stinnett and his nautical protagonist Jesse McDermitt to the likes of author Clive Cussler and his seafaring adventurer Dirk Pitt — and even more frequently to late literary icon John D. MacDonald and his houseboat hero Travis McGee.

A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Stinnett enjoyed a colorful and varied life as (among many other things) a deckhand, commercial fisherman, Dive Master, taxi driver, construction manager, and most recently, long-haul truck driver. But two years ago, his long-simmering writing ambitions caught fire, and he has since written and published five thrilling sea-themed adventures that have shot up the Amazon bestseller lists. Their success has allowed him to escape from the cab of the truck where, hunched over his laptop, he churned out 1,000 words per day at rest stops and while waiting for loads.

Not only is Stinnett a gifted storyteller, but he is also one of the smartest guys around when it comes to marketing books. An affable and generous man, always willing to share his experiences, he’s recently been schooling me about the mysteries of Amazon’s ranking algorithms and the secrets of internet advertising and promotion.

So I was delighted when he accepted my invitation to do this interview, because you now have the opportunity to meet a remarkable man, discover his great stories, and — if you’re a writer — learn a lot about the habits and methods that lead to a successful literary career.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have.

~~~

The Vigilante Author: Wayne, welcome to “The Vigilante Author.” And kudos for your books and your meteoric success.

Wayne Stinnett: Meteoric? Well, maybe cometic. Is that a word?

The Vigilante Author: It is now. Why don’t you start by talking about how your career as a writer began. And also tell us a bit about your series of adventure novels, including your latest.

profile_5Wayne Stinnett: I first started writing in 1987 and received 37 rejection letters from publishers big and small for my three short stories about a young guy fresh out of the Marine Corps who moves to the Florida Keys. Disheartened, I set them aside and went on with life.

My wife found a handwritten portion of one of those stories and asked me about it. Then she urged me to try again. That’s when I discovered the world of self-publishing. I took the storyline from those shorts, brought them into the 21st century, made the main character a wiser, 37-year-old, retired Marine, and completely rewrote them as novels, which became Fallen Palm and Fallen Hunter. Like a comet coming around every 26 years.

My latest novel, Fallen Mangrove, picks up the storyline of the main character Jesse McDermitt a few months after the end of Fallen Pride. In Mangrove, Jesse is reunited with his youngest daughter, Kim, who he hasn’t seen since she was a baby. She’s a 17-year-old minor character in this book, but returns with a more prominent role in Fallen King, early next year. Fallen Mangrove revolves around the search for a long-lost buried treasure in the Bahamas.

The Vigilante Author: How would you describe these novels, by genre, themes, or subject matter?

Wayne Stinnett: In the Marine Corps, we had a word for outlandish stories that got better and better with each retelling. A “sea story” is the Marine equivalent of a tall tale. I served in the Corps in the Seventies and Eighties, then went home to Florida. I’d visited the Florida Keys since I was a kid, and after a divorce, I moved there. For a while, I lived on a 1926 Alden 42-foot sloop, anchored in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon. Although I haven’t been to the Keys in many years now, I can visit easily in my mind.

My writing is influenced by several south Florida writers: James W. Hall, Carl Hiaasen, Randy Wayne White, and of course, the late John D. MacDonald. My main character, Jesse, is sort of a compilation of White’s Doc Ford character and MacDonald’s Travis McGee, but with the training and discipline of a Marine.

The Vigilante Author: What do you think is unique about Jesse McDermitt that distinguishes him from other thriller heroes? Where did he come from? Real life, or totally from imagination?

Fallen_Out_thumbnailWayne Stinnett: Jesse is my moral compass. He’s the reluctant hero. He lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his grandparents. His pap was a WWII Marine and his dad was killed in Vietnam, so it was natural that Jesse follow in their footsteps. He was an infantryman, a sniper. He did his job well, serving in the Middle East among other places. He’s a quiet man and wanted nothing more than to relax and enjoy the island lifestyle in peace and solitude, just scuba diving and fishing.

Pap had been a successful man and Jesse was his only heir, so he really didn’t need a job and lived for some time on his boat, a 45-foot Rampage sports fisherman. The death of a close friend, and later his new wife, at the hands of greedy and evil people changed all that. He reluctantly partners with the son of his friend who was killed; the son is a former SEAL and now working clandestinely for the federal government. Jesse needs revenge, and the government agency his new friend works for needs a way to move men and equipment around the Caribbean. No better cover than a high-speed, long-range fishing boat.

The Vigilante Author: How would you compare or contrast your writing with that of other authors we might know about?

Wayne Stinnett: I mentioned a few influences earlier. More recently, I’ve become friends with another Florida Keys, action/adventure, indie author by the name of Michael Reisig. Our writing is eerily similar, to the point that when we exchanged our most recent books, before publishing, they appear to have been written at adjoining desks. We have several characters that are not only similar to each other, but some even have the same name. We chalked it up to our both having lived in the Keys during the same time frame. We probably even knocked back a few beers together all those years ago.

The Vigilante Author: That’s uncanny. Of course, we writers experience lots of weird coincidences and events in our lives. If we wrote them into a story, readers would reject them as unbelievable.

Tell me, do your stories have any political of philosophical point of view?

Wayne Stinnett: I think all writers let their political and philosophical views come out in their writing to one degree or another. I’m a conservative Democrat. Never heard of that? Well, I’m old, things have changed, but I stayed the same. My characters share a lot of my own thoughts on politics, the environment, and aspirations.

The Vigilante Author: Let’s go back to your youth a bit. Where were you born and raised? What was early life like?

Wayne Stinnett: I was born in St. Albans, West Virginia, but moved to Melbourne, Florida as a young boy. The Sixties and Seventies were a lot different from today. For instance, as a twelve-year-old Florida boy with my own boat, my parents thought nothing of allowing me to explore the vast Indian River Lagoon and all of its creeks and rivers. My friends and I, along with my two younger brothers, would camp over the weekends on “spoil islands,” created from the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway, completely cut off from civilization. No phones, no lights, no motorcars — as Jesse often quotes the theme from Gilligan’s Island. I was a strong swimmer, a good fisherman, could handle either a powerboat or sailboat, and knew all the waterways around my hometown like the back of my hand. All well before I could legally drive a car. Dad would take us twenty miles offshore to the Gulf Stream and back, using only a compass and a wristwatch, finding Sebastian Inlet with no problem. I surfed, learned to scuba dive, and later, when I got my first car, explored all of central and south Florida.

The Vigilante Author: That is so cool! Did you have any writing yearnings back then? Did you study anything in school that would prepare you for your current writing career?

Fallen_Palm_thumbnailWayne Stinnett: I always liked to tell stories and wrote quite a bit of them down. I had a Creative Writing teacher in junior high school who said I had talent, but I never thought of actually being an author until many years later and never pursued it. In fact, I was pretty much a D student in language arts all through junior high and high school.

The Vigilante Author: You joined the Marines. Thank you for your service, Wayne. When and where did you serve?

Wayne Stinnett: Thanks, Robert. It was an honor to serve our great nation. Jesse is what we called a “high speed, low drag” Marine. My service was nothing like that. I had a natural affinity for cars and trucks and was assigned a Motor Transport job in the Corps. Nothing flashy — just load, transport, and unload high explosive projectiles for an artillery unit in a five-ton truck. During my time in the Corps, I visited Cuba, most of the NATO countries, and the Middle East. I loved visiting different places ever since I was a kid, and that opened up my understanding of the world as a whole.

The Vigilante Author: You’ve since held a lot of interesting jobs. Could you list some of them, and perhaps describe a few of the more unique ones?

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Interview with Fantasy Authors Katherine and Rose Robbins

 

Until now, every author I’ve interviewed on “The Vigilante Author” has worked alone. I’ve always wondered about collaborative writing partnerships and how they work. I found a most unusual one in the mother-and-daughter team of Rose and Katherine Robbins.

Katherine Robbins is a novelist currently entering her freshman year of high school. She lives in the northwestern United States with her mother and four siblings. The Accidental Dragon, a fantasy tale co-written with her mom, is her first novel. Katherine is creative in other ways, too. She enjoys weaving, working with leather, carving, and cooking. Her long-term plan is to live in Scotland and to continue writing books there, “where it is cool and misty and I can smell the ocean.”

Rose and Katherine RobbinsRose Robbins, Katherine’s mother, is an accomplished songwriter, singer, and musician. She also is the author of nine books, six of them novels that she wrote and published within the past two years. Her “Carlin series” consists of five romantic suspense novels set in the same town. They all explore domestic abuse and its effects on the many people it touches. Rose also heads a mentoring program for former abuse victims and hosts a website that offers resources for victims and mentors alike.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying The Accidental Dragon [which is available as a free ebook download through October 31, 2014], I invited this unusual writing team to be interviewed, and they graciously accepted. I think you’ll be charmed by what they have to say.

~~~

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Welcome, ladies. Well, this interview breaks with established tradition here on “The Vigilante Author.” It’s the first time I’ve jointly interviewed two writers; the first time I’ve interviewed authors of a book that is not in the “thriller” genre; the first time I’ve ever interviewed any author under the age of twenty; and the only time I expect to ever interview a mother-and-daughter writing team!

Before we get into your writing backgrounds, let me start by chatting with both of you about your jointly written children’s fantasy novel, The Accidental Dragon—which I thoroughly enjoyed. (Note: For details about the story, see my Amazon review here.) Why don’t you briefly summarize the story?

KATHERINE ROBBINS: Basically, Kit Markham, the main character, sees a dragon, which accidentally pops through the veil of energy between our world and his. She discovers his world with the help of her friend Merlin, and they go on a wonderful adventure there.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00021]THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Which one of you first came up with the idea for the story? And what inspired it?

KATHERINE ROBBINS: I actually thought I saw a dragon when we were driving home from school one day. But it turned out to be an airplane.

ROSE ROBBINS: So disappointing!

KATHERINE ROBBINS: Yes. But then we thought, wouldn’t it be cool if it really had been one!

ROSE ROBBINS: So we decided to write it.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Without giving away secrets, what are your favorite parts of the story? And who is your favorite character?

KATHERINE ROBBINS: My favorite character is Kit, and my favorite part of the story is the part with Septimus the Serpent. He was so fun to write!

ROSE ROBBINS: I love the part where Artemis [the goddess of the Outer World] is telling Kit that she should give up, and Kit suddenly has this great moment of maturity . . .

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: I have to ask this, Katherine: Based on the similarity of your names and ages, how much of Kit Markham is based on you?

KATHERINE ROBBINS: Um . . . a lot. She is pretty much me, based on personality. Although, sadly, I have never seen a real dragon.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Both you and your mom are extremely talented, so I imagine each of you brought your own individual creative contributions and strengths to the story. Who invented which characters, and who came up with some of the plot ideas?

KATHERINE ROBBINS: I invented Endymion [a faun]. Oh, and Drudd [a cyclops], and he was pretty fun. Also Septimus. And although Artemis already existed in mythology, it was my idea to use her. And I invented Gol the Gryphon. As far as plot, most of the action parts of the story, the fights and battles, those were all me!

ROSE ROBBINS: Yes, Katherine has such a great touch with the action that I really let her make all those scenes happen. I tried to flesh out the meanings behind things, the reasons why. That sort of thing. I also put in touches of humor, like the baby gryphon trying to sneak into the battle.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: I noticed a number of funny references to C.S. Lewis’s “Narnia” stories in the book. Katherine, was that because you’re a big fan of those tales?

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THE ACCIDENTAL DRAGON — An Enchanting New World for Kids

I’ve just posted an Amazon review of a delightful children’s fantasy adventure, in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’s “Narnia” stories: THE ACCIDENTAL DRAGON, co-authored by prolific romantic suspense author Rose Robbins and her young daughter, Katherine Robbins.

Accidental DragonThe ebook may be downloaded for FREE during the week of October 27. So please do these talented writers a huge favor: Check out my review, then DOWNLOAD the book on your Kindle, tablet, or smartphone. Those downloads will help to boost the book’s visibility on Amazon, and encourage the mom-and-daughter duo to continue writing these charming tales.

Also, please note that the ebook and the inexpensive paperback edition will be perfect birthday and holiday gifts for your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews.

So, give them a gift of creative imagination: a wholesome tale of adventure, featuring a heroic young girl and boy who are great role models. And these days, our kids need such models more than ever.

 

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Interview with Tim Stevens — Master of Action Thrillers

 

British novelist Tim Stevens is described in reviews as “one of the best writers of thrillers working today” and “the new master of the genre.” Even though he began publishing only about four years ago, Tim already is the author of eleven action and espionage novels, including RATCATCHER, SEVERANCE KILL, OMEGA DOG, and the forthcoming CRONOS RISING. Incredibly, he’s managed to do this while being a fulltime practicing physician. Tim is also a family man who lives near London with his wife and daughters.

Somehow, I managed to catch this busy man’s attention recently and invited him to participate in an interview, to which he graciously agreed. I don’t know how he found the time, but here’s our recent email exchange. You thriller fans and aspiring authors are going to love this.

~~~

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Congratulations on your success, Tim. Your books have attracted a lot of fans and great reviews. Why don’t you tell us a bit about them.

TIM STEVENS: Thanks, Robert, and first of all may I say what a privilege it is to be interviewed on your site. I’m an enormous fan of your thriller HUNTER.

My books can broadly be classed in the action thriller genre, though most of them have elements of espionage. I have ten novels currently published in three series, with the eleventh book due for release in early November.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: That’s impressive. Looks like I have a lot of catching up to do, both in reading your work and in my own writing. So, give us some details about these series.

Tim Stevens Photo 1TIM STEVENS: The flagship series chronicles the exploits of John Purkiss, a former MI6 operative who now works as the so-called RATCATCHER, which is the title of the first in the series. Purkiss’s job is to track down and bring to justice rogue elements within MI6, whether outright traitors, abusers of power, or simply criminals.

My second series features Joe Venn, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and former Chicago detective who finds himself in New York City, initially as a down-at-heel private eye, and in the subsequent three books (so far) as a reinstated detective lieutenant—this time with the NYPD, heading up a special unit dedicated to the investigation of politically sensitive crimes.

Finally, series three, which so far consists of two novels, belongs to Martin Calvary, a disgraced British Army rifleman turned assassin for a black-ops division of MI6, who’s had enough of the killing and goes on the run from his employers.

My newest book is SIGMA CURSE, in the Joe Venn series, and is about a serial killer stalking victims in New York in a seemingly random way. It’s a bit of a departure for me, being more of a police procedural than an outright action thriller, but it’s proving highly popular judging by its sales. Next month sees the release of the fifth John Purkiss novel, CRONOS RISING, in which the origins of the whole “Ratcatcher” program are explored. And in December, the Martin Calvary trilogy will be completed.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: That’s incredibly ambitious, Tim, and my Indiana Jones hat is off to you. You say “action thrillers” with spy elements. Would you elaborate a bit?

TIM STEVENS: Rather than fitting into the categories of traditional espionage stories and police procedurals, my novels are first and foremost unashamed action thrillers. I love the slow-burn styles of John Le Carre and Charles McCarry, to name two classic spy authors, and also the intricate and clever plotting of mystery writers like P.D. James and Michael Connelly. But whenever I try to write something more sedately paced, all hell breaks loose and a chase or a fight scene erupts. I can’t help it. Most of my novels contain a whodunnit aspect, but in the setting of a breakneck-paced thriller. So I suppose my books can be summed up broadly as Agatha Christie with added firepower.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Now that sounds like a newly minted niche. So, you have these three series protagonists. What do you think is unique about these characters that distinguishes them from other thriller heroes? Where did John Purkiss, for example, come from? Drawn in part from real life? Totally your imagination?

TIM STEVENS: I’m nobody’s idea of an action hero, and I suppose my characters represent to some extent wish-fulfillment fantasies on my part, something I suspect is true for many authors even if they’re reluctant to admit it.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: I plead guilty—as if those who know me couldn’t tell.

TIM STEVENS: So I write protagonists who embody a lot of the traits I’d like to have myself. Physical courage and prowess, unflappability, the ability to think quickly and creatively in a crisis. That said, there’s a ruthlessness about all three of my main characters—Purkiss, Venn, and Calvary—which I’m in many ways glad I don’t possess. It would make me damned hard to live with.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Most fictional heroes would be hard to live with in real life. I wonder if female readers fully realize that? But it’s still inspiring for us to create and for readers to contemplate larger-than-life heroes.

Annihilation Myths Cover MEDIUMTIM STEVENS: I’ve always been drawn to larger-than-life, over-the-top characters, rather than Everymen who discover courage and resources within them they never suspected they had. Some of the negative comments about my heroes is that they come across as cartoonish at times, but I don’t mind that. I want my characters to be able to achieve things the average person can’t. Nonetheless, my protagonists are vulnerable: They don’t always win their fights; they bleed; they hurt.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: Why don’t you tell us something of your background, Tim, and how you arrived where you are now.

TIM STEVENS: I was born in England but moved to South Africa with my parents in the mid-1970s when I was five years old. It was supposed to be a holiday of a few months, before my brother and I were old enough to start school, but for various reasons we ended up staying for almost twenty years. So although I regard myself as British, a big part of me is still South African.

At the age of twelve I decided I was going to be a doctor. I made my way through medical school in Johannesburg and spent my year as a junior intern at the largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere in Soweto, the township outside Jo’burg. It was a formative experience, to say the least. This was at the beginning of the 1990s, and the apartheid system was on its way out, thankfully; but the country was in an unofficial state of civil war, with various factions including the ANC [African National Congress] and its rivals, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Pan-Africanist Congress (or PAC), vying for political dominance. The violence I witnessed was extreme, and it’s affected my writing, in the sense that I tend to portray violence quite graphically in my novels, because it feels dishonest not to.

After returning to Britain in the mid-90s, I took an interest in psychiatry and did my postgraduate training in this field. For the past thirteen years I’ve worked as a hospital consultant—that’s “attending physician” in the U.S.—in the specialty of old age psychiatry, working mainly with people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and neurodegenerative disorders.

The fiction writing, at least for publication, has been a recent development over the last three or four years. I still work full-time as a hospital doctor, fitting in the writing around work and family commitments.

THE VIGILANTE AUTHOR: All of this writing in just four years, while holding down a full-time position as a physician? You’re making me feel like a real slacker, you know. Anyway, what experiences or influences in your early life do you think drew you to writing action thrillers?

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My Post at The Kill Zone: Presenting Controversial Ideas in Fiction

 

Jodie Renner — a respected editor, and author of several great how-to books on writing — is a regular contributor to the prestigious group blog “The Kill Zone,” an online hangout for prominent mystery and thriller writers (and readers). Recently, Jodie invited me to submit a guest post.

Titled “‘Preachiness’ in Novels: How to Present Controversial Ideas in Fiction,” I challenge the conventional advice (spread by many genre gurus) that writers should avoid discussing politics, religion, or other “divisive” topics in popular fiction. And I use my own thrillers as examples of how a writer might approach the presentation of controversial ideas in popular genres. Enjoy.

 

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Best Book Video Trailer Ever?

 

I want to share with you a brand-new video “book trailer,” promoting the “Emily Stone” thriller series by my criminologist-friend and author, Jennifer Chase. Actually a mini-movie clip, it is THE most sophisticated, gripping, and exciting book trailer I’ve ever seen, bar none. Jennifer wrote the script; the acting, direction, and editing is first-rate.

Sit back and enjoy; it’ll take about 5 minutes. Comments welcome!

After you do, you might also enjoy my interview with Jennifer.

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Interview with Thriller Writer Ian Graham

 

Ian Graham is the third generation in his family to be born on the Fourth of July. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that he writes thrillers rooted in the historic intersections of politics and religion. And perhaps that also explains why his thrilling tales dramatize themes of patriotism, revolution, the struggle for liberty, and the clashing loyalties of violent partisans.

A self-employed entrepreneur in his mid-thirties, Ian has been writing since his teens. To date he has published two short-story collections—Signs of Violence and Patriots & Tyrants—and his first novel, Veil of Civility. Along with their first-rate literary qualities, what distinguishes Ian’s thrillers is their protagonist, Declan McIver: a former terrorist in the “Black Shuck” unit of the Irish Republican Army, now trying to make a new life in America. (Of course, things never stay that simple for thriller heroes.)

Ian had just published Veil of Civility in April 2013 when he was touched by one of the serendipities that occur frequently in the lives of authors. The tale was inspired by a real-life incident a decade earlier, when 25 Chechens were smuggled into the United States and disappeared, never to be found. In Ian’s telling, the 25 Chechens were terrorists smuggled here to wreak chaos. Declan McIver, hiding out in America to escape his own terrorist past in Ireland, is roused to action when the Chechens assassinate one of his friends.

Just two weeks after the book’s publication, Ian was parked by the side of the road near Roanoke, Virginia when news came over the radio that the Boston Marathon bombings were committed by two immigrants from Chechnya. “For several minutes I was speechless,” he told the Roanoke Star. “I knew it was possible . . . Still, it blows you away.”

Ian’s stories have appeared in Action Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1  and Volume 2, alongside stories by best-selling thriller authors Matt Hilton, Stephen Leather, Adrian Magson, and Zoe Sharpe. He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his wife and two daughters, where he is at work on Rules for Revenge, the second full-length novel in the Black Shuck / Declan McIver thriller series.

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Ian Graham larger b&WThe Vigilante Author: Congratulations on your books, Ian. They’re getting stellar reviews from readers. Why don’t you tell us about them.

Ian Graham: First off, thank you for having me as a guest here at The Vigilante Author. It’s an honor to talk with you and the many fans of your thriller hero, Dylan Hunter.

In addition to my two short-story collections—Signs of Violence and Patriots & Tyrants—my first novel is titled Veil of Civility. It’s the debut novel in the “Black Shuck” thriller series, which follows a former Irish Republican Army volunteer named Declan McIver who has left his former life behind and moved to America to begin again. Events in the story kick off with a small group of Chechen Islamists crossing the US / Mexican border in September 2004—which isn’t fiction, it actually happened.

Earlier that same month, Chechen Islamists had taken a school full of children hostage in North Ossetia, a sub-region of Russia. Many in the American law enforcement and intelligence communities feared the covert nature of their entry meant they were here to perpetrate the same type of attack against Americans. Fortunately, that never came to pass, but the Chechens were never found either, so we really don’t know what they were up to. Veil of Civility explores the possible explanations, in the setting of a globetrotting political thriller.

As far as the reviews are concerned, to borrow a phrase from one of my British characters, I’m chuffed to bits. To have received so many positive comments from both readers and book bloggers is a high mark I hadn’t expected to experience on my first novel.

The Vigilante Author: Wow. You’ve covered quite a bit of ground there. You have the Irish Republican Army, Chechen Islamists, American law enforcement and intelligence . . .

Ian Graham: (laughs) Yeah. It probably sounds a little ambitious for one book, but the whole thing actually came together in a very organic way. As I researched the various backgrounds and situations around the world that gave birth to groups like the IRA and other terrorist organizations, I was struck by how, in a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon kind of way, they all seemed interconnected.

Being non-professional civilian fighting forces, without the backing of legitimate governments, these organizations were always trying to stay one step ahead of the state authorities who were trying to stop them. That led them to reach out to many of history’s greatest villains—including the Nazis, the Soviets, and the early predecessors of today’s Islamic hordes, such as Yasser Arafat and Moammar Qaddafi—for funding, training, and weaponry.

So in a sense you had on one side this sort of unholy alliance between communist and fascist states and loose-knit terror organizations; and on the other side you had America, Great Britain, Israel, and their allies. The states played ball because the terror organizations had “boots on the ground” behind enemy lines, and the terror organizations desperately needed the support even though they didn’t always agree politically with their benefactors.

When you really step back and look at all the lines that can be drawn, the phrase “It’s a small world” takes on a whole new meaning.

The Vigilante Author: How would you describe or characterize your fiction, either by genre, by themes, and/or by subject matter?

Ian Graham: It’s hard to nail down one specific genre, but in a broad sense my stories can all be considered thrillers. The Black Shuck series contains elements that are popular in political fiction—John Le Carré or Frederick Forsyth; in military fiction—Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn; and in action-adventure fiction—Brad Thor or Clive Cussler. The pace speeds up and slows down throughout, and I love blending in history, both factual and speculative.

Veil of Civility coverThere are several themes in Veil of Civility that will run throughout the series: the exploration of the effect someone’s past has on their present and future; an exploration of the circumstances and attitudes in the various cultural and religious hot spots that give birth to or play an integral role in the larger picture of a world at war—which you could say we have been in since World War II; and the role of America and her allies in deterring and combating that epidemic while still providing their citizens with freedom and liberty.

Ultimately though, what I really hope people come away with is a feeling of having been entertained, first and foremost, and secondly, with a feeling of having learned something they didn’t know about the world and the people around them.

The Vigilante Author: As a thriller writer, I second those priorities. So, where did your hero, Declan McIver, come from? Real life? Totally from your imagination?

Ian Graham: The idea for Declan McIver came to me several years ago—’05 to ’06—while I was listening to a popular radio show host talk to a woman whose husband had moved to America from Eastern Europe. He had built his own business—something he was unable to do in his home country—and was now very prosperous. I didn’t have a name for Declan or any kind of a background yet, but I thought it would be really cool and unique to build a story around a man who had come to America from somewhere else; who appreciated everything born Americans tend to take for granted; and who chose to fight and defend the country, as well as himself, when confronted with a terrible problem. And that is in a nutshell what Declan does in Veil of Civility.

The Vigilante Author: What is unique about Declan that distinguishes him from other thriller heroes?

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Thoughts About Book Piracy

 

As some readers know, various online “pirate” sites electronically duplicate thousands of popular ebooks from legitimate sales sites, then make them available to readers — either free or at a nominal charge — without paying their authors for each downloaded copy.

Now, there is considerable debate among authors and publishers about whether ebook piracy is really harmful. A number of prominent indie authors argue that ebook pirates are actually beneficial: They increase the audience for an author’s work, providing him or her with readers who wouldn’t have bought the book otherwise.  Some even come close to glorifying and encouraging piracy of their works. They draw the analogy to the popular practice of running “free” ebook promotions: If free downloads are beneficial for an author, they argue, then why object to a pirate doing essentially the same thing?

Well, there is an essential difference. An author chooses if, when, and how to run a “free” promotion, and with what title; a pirate deprives the author of any of those choices about his own work, forcing him to participate in a free distribution scheme, whether he wants to or not, and whether he benefits or not.

As an author who has had both of his books pirated, I have a dog in this race. Here is what I think:

All property, including even what we tend to think of as mere “physical property,” is in reality rooted in the concept ofintellectual property. Someone had to apply a level of intelligence to transform those physical things for human benefit, or else they would have remained just worthless “stuff.”

piracyIt’s that intellectual element — the value added by somebody’s creative human intelligence — that creators expect to be paid for when they offer products of their intellectual efforts for sale in the marketplace. The moral-legal principle of property rights, including “intellectual property” (IP) rights, is intended to benefit those who take the initiative to create and market products that benefit others. Property rights recognize, protect, and reward creative causal responsibility, in the form of ownership rights. And our laws codify property ownership regarding creative works in the form of patents (for inventions) and copyrights (for literary and other intellectual works).

Now, whenever we sell something that we’ve created to a willing buyer, that relationship is trade. And trade is “win/win.” A reader benefits from what he gains from an author’s creative efforts; the author gains from the reader’s payment for the work.

By contrast, pirates are thieves — period. Instead of trading for the benefits that creators have to offer, they simply take them. Instead of “win/win” relationships, in which readers and authors mutually benefit, they impose “win/lose” relationships on authors, in which pirates and their reading clientele simply appropriate the benefits provided by authors without compensating them. They win — authors lose. That is especially of concern to authors like me, who aren’t simply seeking readers, but who are trying to make a living by publishing and selling our intellectual property.

Book piracy is analogous to counterfeiting. Pirates, by flooding the marketplace with free, “counterfeit” copies of a book, undermine the paying market for the book. And if book piracy becomes rampant, it can threaten an author’s livelihood every bit as much as rampant shoplifting threatens a store owner. The argument that “A pirated author hasn’t lost a paying customer, because that reader wouldn’t have bought your book, anyway” is akin to saying, “Don’t fret about the guy who stole the merchandise in your store, because he wouldn’t have bought it, anyway.” And while it is true that the loss of an ebook is unlike the loss of physical merchandise, since the ebook can be instantly duplicated and replaced, the loss of financial compensation is real.

All that said, what to do about piracy is a trickier question.

In principle, I believe that enforcing serious legal penalties against the hackers/sellers of pirated works can help somewhat.  But of course that becomes problematic when the pirates are located in other countries and are using the internet to distribute across borders. DRM (digital rights management protection) and similar software measures against piracy are usually counterproductive, because they impose inconveniences on paying customers while failing to stop determined hackers.

For now, as long as piracy theft remains at the margins of the book marketplace, authors and publishers probably have to resign ourselves to accepting it as an unavoidable business loss — just as store owners and their insurers have to “write off” a certain percentage of losses due to pilfering and shoplifting.

But morally condoning piracy is another matter.

If you as an author wish to give away your books, that’s fine, as long as it’s your voluntary choice. And if you don’t mind having pirates simply take your work without compensating you, that’s your choice, too.

But for those of us struggling to make a living from our work, having the products of our long, grueling hours of creative effort stolen from us without compensation is no cause for celebration. No, we don’t have to like piracy — let alone rationalize or even glorify it.

I hope readers tempted to download from a pirate site will pause to realize what will happen if your favorite writers finally give up, because piracy no longer makes it possible for them to write for a living. Ebooks aren’t expensive; in fact, they provide more value for their price tags than any other form of entertainment and information. Please remember that, and honor the authors who work so hard to provide you those values by purchasing their works only from authorized sites.

Posted in BAD DEEDS: A Dylan Hunter Thriller, Book business, HUNTER: A Thriller, Self-Publishing, Traditional publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments