Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Glenn Starkey Interview
5/12/2012 6:06:13 PM
Glenn Starkey discusses his novels and the writing life!
Glenn Starkey Interview:
LTS: For today’s guest blog, I’d like to introduce you to another talented author, Glenn Starkey. I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Glenn. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
GS: Thank you for the opportunity to be on your site, Lorna. At present I am a fulltime author, but in my former life, I was a Sergeant in the Marine Corps, am a Vietnam veteran, was a Texas law enforcement officer, have a BS degree in Security Management, and retired from a global oil corporation as security manager. When not writing, I’m a volunteer in the ‘Reading Buddy’ program at my local school district to help kindergarten children. Between writing and reading with the kids, I chase a golf ball all over golf fairways and wonder why I enjoy the game so much.
LTS: You have an extensive background in law enforcement and security management. When did fiction writing fit into your life, or is it something you’ve always done?
GS: Writing has always been a common thread throughout my professions. In each, whether military, law enforcement or security, I learned to note the details about every aspect of my activities. My novels are simply infused with the trainings I’ve undergone, the good and bad experiences in life, and the actions, antics and mannerisms of the people I’ve met and dealt with through the years. Life is the greatest show on earth and I’ve truly had a ringside seat.
LTS: Currently, you have three titles published with your fourth, Amazon Moon soon to be released. Is it fair to classify your novels as works of historical fiction?
GS: A great question; one I’ve always struggled with to answer. My novels have historical settings, but I view them more as action-adventure. “The Cobra and Scarab” evolved from the true life-long conflicts of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. “Solomon’s Men” has a secret Order of the Templar Knights and Templar legends as its foundation but hinges upon a professional thief wanting to retire with his Autistic son. In the “Year of the Ram” I used the history of the Mongols as the backdrop for a story of a warrior father discovering a son he never knew was born to him. As for “Amazon Moon,” it will be unique. For the first time I am writing an action-adventure novel with a sci-fi flavor.
LTS: How much time do you invest in researching your characters and their periods before you hunker down to writing, or do you research and write in tandem?
GS: Research is a critical component of my writings. I spend at least four exhaustive months immerged in the research of every aspect of a novel before writing the first word. Once I hit a certain mental overflow point of information, I know I’m ready. I continue my research as I write because new ideas will always come about. But, my belief is that an author never knows who may one day read their work. The last thing you want is to fabricate information about a “widget” and have a “widget expert” read your book. That reader may write an article in a “widgets national magazine” pointing out your errors. Once that occurs, you have lost creditability as an author among potential future readers.
With my experience and training in a variety of weapons, I know how I feel when reading a novel and come upon information which is totally wrong. (Example: placing a silencer on a revolver.) From that point forward, regardless of how good the book may be, a part of me wants to lay the book aside.
LTS: I’ve had a chance to read an excerpt from you novel The Cobra and Scarab and I was intrigued! I’ve always been fascinated with the Egyptian Queen that ruled as a pharaoh. How did you decide on Hatshepsut when so many are more familiar with Cleopatra.
GS: You’re right. Cleopatra is often the only name people can recall when thinking of legendary women rulers in ancient Egypt. She’s known primarily for using her beauty and physical attributes to achieve power and the throne. I see her as a perfect fit for romance oriented novels. Hatshepsut on the other hand, wanted to be ‘king’ as well as Pharaoh—she even dressed in male attire at ceremonies. Her story involved a life-long conflict with her stepson, Thutmose III, who later became one of the most magnificent military leaders of Egypt, as well its Pharaoh. A documentary about Hatshepsut on the “Discovery” channel hooked me and the more I learned, the more fascinated I became with her life. She stole the throne from her stepson. For years they allegedly hated one another. She was a perfect fit for the hard hitting novel I had in mind. We know Cleopatra theatrically committed suicide using a viper, but for ages little was known about Hatshepsut’s cause of death. This further intrigued me. One day she was alive and Pharaoh, the next she was dead and Thutmose III was ruler—and he had her name smashed from every monument.
LTS: Are you a stickler for details when you consider historical accuracy, or do you take certain creative license because this freedom to write fiction makes for a more intriguing story?
GS: To a certain degree I want accuracy. I want readers to learn from my novels as well as enjoy the creativity I placed into the story. But I am careful not to over-burden the novel with historical facts which then makes you feel as if you have a high school textbook in hand. If your work is historically based, then you must be quite careful where creative license is taken or you may lose a reader as I previously discussed about the ‘widgets.’
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open one of your novels?
GS: Before a reader opens any of my books they have my personal guarantee I have written the best story I can possibly create. My intent is to draw a reader in, hold them tightly to the story and take them on an emotional roller coaster ride they will wish would never end. The simplest, yet best review I ever received said, “I lost so much sleep because I kept reading one more page to see what happened next!”
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. What made you decide to go the indie route and self-publish your books.
GS: Years ago I had agents and went through the big house submission processes. My first agent retired and I was fortunate to find another agent. I learned a lot about the publishing business. While on the verge of signing a three book contract, the editor left that big house and the deal fell through. My second agent later chose to retire, and the perfect storm of a bout with cancer, my personal career as security manager, and the events of “9-11” struck. I stopped writing for 10 years. During this time the indie route, along with Internet and social media activities, became more prominent. Although I intend to search for an agent again, I felt it was best to go the indie route first to re-establish myself in the writing community.
LTS: Your novels have beautiful covers! Do you mind sharing who you used as your cover designer?
GS: Thank you. I’ve had excellent responses to my covers. I can proudly say my son, Jake, designed the covers of “Solomon’s Men” and “Year of the Ram.” He also designed my website banner and other book related projects for me. I designed the initial layout for “The Cobra and Scarab” and the publisher polished it all quite well. As for “Amazon Moon” I worked with Ryan Bibby - Ryan.NovelBranding.com - an extremely talented illustrator. Ryan did the covers for Micheal Rivers and other authors. Right now you have to contact Ryan by email because his site went down due to technical problems, but he does excellent work.
LTS: What is the most rewarding part of self-publishing? What has been the most frustrating?
GS: You have far more control over your work by going the indie route. My reward is simple: it’s receiving great feedback from readers. As for frustrations, it is a demanding process which cuts into every aspect of your time because you are a one man show – writer, agent, publisher, marketer, etc…. The most frustrating experience came recently. I donated 3 brand new, signed books to my local library only to later learn the library either lost them or discarded with other books to be sold as unwanted. Atop that, I was informed the library doesn’t want self-published books, doesn’t feel they are properly reviewed, and they charge $10 per book to process them with no guarantees of retention for their shelves. (See Another Gut Punch to Indie Authors and My Library Won the Battle but Lost the War )
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
GS: You must have a well written, well edited, good novel completed before you ever begin thinking about publishing! It’s the same as building a house – first must come a strong foundation so you have something to build upon. Without the foundation, you have nothing.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
GS: I tried to outline a story once and wasted more time than it took to write the novel. I discovered that process was simply not for me. My novels visually play out in my head in cinematic fashion so I make rough notes on paper, circle them and draw lines to each, connecting them as I want the story to progress. From that point forward, other than the descriptive pages I have of my characters, I begin writing what comes into my head. I realize it goes against all the “How to Write” books but it works for me.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
GS: I am nocturnal. Writing becomes fluid for me during the late night hours. I’m more relaxed. I read a few book notes and listen to some music related to the scenes I want to write then gradually ease into my novel. Rarely have I ever walked into my office, sat down and immediately begun to write.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
GS: While studying martial arts in Japan, I learned that force achieved little but going with a natural flow of energy obtained the greatest outcome. When writer’s block strikes, the more force you apply, or the harder you try to think of the next creative move, will only produce poor and frustrating results. I walk away and get involved with something totally unrelated. Once I clear my head and relax I find the writer’s block has a way of dissolving and my thoughts return as they should.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
GS: Nicholas Guild, author of “The Assyrian,” ranks number one with me for his style of dialogue and historical fiction. Robert McCammon, author of “The Wolf’s Hour,” ranks number one with me for his action sequences and overall plotting. Combined, these two authors have been my mentors of the writing craft and had tremendous influence on my style. They have shown me how authors should draw in a reader and never release them until the last word.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
GS: I am reading “Verliege” by author Micheal Rivers. I have always enjoyed the paranormal world and his work allows me a break from thinking about my own project. Mr. Rivers is a fine author, a ghost hunter, and his paranormal novels are intriguing.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch into other genres? Can your fans expect the release of Amazon Moon in the near future?
GS: My next five years are to be progressive steps toward even stronger writings; novels which challenge all I’ve learned about the craft. Hopefully, an agent is in the future as well. “Amazon Moon” is my first break out from historical settings into an action based story with sci-fi orientation. It’s been a wonderful experience to develop this novel and I’m anxious to complete the project so I may obtain feedback from my beta-readers. If all goes well, I hope to be nearing its release by year’s end.
LTS: Thank you so much for sharing in your novels and writing experiences, Glenn! I’ll catch you on Twitter.
For more information about Glenn Starkey and his novels, check out:
Follow Glenn on Twitter: .GStarkeyBooks
Follow Glenn on Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/GlennStarkeyAuthor
Where to buy the books: https://www.Amazon.com/author/glennstarkey
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