Saturday, July 14, 2018

WINNERS of the MEME competition

Hello everyone.

As you may know, I ran a competition with an audiobook edition of my
'the CULL - Bloodline' novel as the prize:

Your Amazon link for the audiobook & books

It was an easy competition; all you had to do was come up with either a meme or thought bubble text for a photo of my furry footwarmer.

We were inundated with entries.

After much head scratching, we chose 14 who should have received an email from me by now with instructions of how to download their prize.

(If you haven't and see your entry below, contact me immediately via my website). 
(If you have and haven't downloaded the audiobook yet, remember there's a time limit.)

Here are the winning entries:

from Jennifer:

from Angie:

from Bonnie:

(I actually grimaced when I read this! Worst nightmare EVER!)

from Bob:

from Elizabeth:

(scrappy - yeah! ...and the werewolf bit explains a lot)

from LaClau:
(who sent in the complete image! kudos!)

from Christy:

(Kata was Scottish and drank tea... usually mine when I wasn't looking)

from Cheryl:

(I'm sure that if Kata was still here, she would be writing this)

from Jeanine:

(I'm not THAT mean... I'd take her after finishing one page)

from Paula:

(You have to be politically correct, so they say?)

from Dianne:

(Ouch! Too close to home!)

from Ian:

(I confess, this one brought a tear to my eye.)

from Judith:

(My secrets revealed!!!)

and lastly

from Kim:

I thank you all for your entries, there were so many great ones.

Watch out for more competitions only for my newsletter friends soon.

Not a newsletter friend yet?

Visit my website and wait 5 seconds... 4...  3...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The unthinkable! An Author interviewed... by readers!

As an author of thriller novels, I have been interviewed many times. However, this is usually a process undertaken by bloggers or journalists, sometimes fellow writers.

Until now, that is!

In my newsletter, I recently ran a competition where my readers could interview me. A large number of fun questions were received and the following fifteen were chosen by a small panel of three. If you entered the competition and your question doesn't appear here, I'm sorry; there were just far too many to include them all.

If you could collaborate with any author of the thriller genre, no longer alive, who would you select and why?

That’s actually quite an easy question. You see, when you collaborate with an author, you have to completely coincide on the way the novel storyline will develop, how the characters are going to develop, etc and discussions are almost inevitable. That’s one of the reasons why successful co-authoring isn’t that common. However, if my co-author, is ‘no longer alive’, problem solved!

Seriously though, without a doubt I’d choose the late British author John Gardner. I was fortunate to correspond, then meet, him when I was starting out as a writer many, many years ago and he was exceedingly generous in providing me with some of the basic skills you need to write thrillers. I used to devour his books, starting to read them as I was leaving the bookshop. I consider him to be one of the most underated authors of the late 20th Century, perhaps because he wrote popular fiction. He actually wrote more James Bond novels than Ian Fleming, and three novels about Sherlock Holmes arch enemy, Professor Moriarty amongst the fifty-five books he penned during his career.

Do you ever get to the point where you wonder if all of the years of work that you do on your books is worth it? 

Yes. I confess that, like most authors, especially Indies like myself, facing the obstacles thrown into our paths daily is often like pushing a snowball uphill in July using just your nose. What gives me the motivation to continue? People: the many readers who express their enjoyment of my tales and the author friends who altruistically support and share their skills and talent with others. Now where did I leave that snowball? 

Have you ever written yourself into a corner and had to come up with a major plot twist to get out of it? 

Your Amazon link
It wouldn’t be fun if writing a story was straightforward. I’m a natural problem solver with some of the skills I created for my character Amy Bree in ‘the CULL’ books, and the challenge to find a creative solution to a problem, without cheating (or using this special pen I have) is one of the aspects of writing I find so satisfying. So much so, I often create seemingly impossible odds for my protagonists just so they can overcome them. I say no cheating though because creating a plot twist, without it being amply justified by preceding events in the tale (something like the hero about to be eaten alive by sharks who escapes because they happen to carry shark repellent with them every day, for example), no; that’s not acceptable. Dropping a single short clue to something ten or fifteen chapters earlier, seemingly inconsequential and unimportant at the time, then using this to resolve a tight situation; that is most definitely in my wheelhouse. 

Imagine the book fairy comes to visit and rewards you with the gift that you going to be transported into one of your own books and have to live through it. Which book and character would you choose to be and why? 

[There's a book fairy!!! Do you mean Jeff Bezos???]

‘Outsourced’, and possibly Phil Beasley. He’s got that crazy tilt on Life which appeals to me. Besides, I’ve been ‘in’ most of my other books IRL, and what’s the fun in repeating that? I do have this pen someone sent me in the mail, though… I wonder what it does. 

If you were told you couldn't be an author, what would your choice of occupation be? 
Your Amazon link

Strangely enough, although I started writing at an early age, I intended to become a geologist using my languages to work internationally. Through no fault of my own, that didn’t work out, so, logically, I dropped into computers, then into… well that’s another story; one I can’t tell. Finally, it’s back to writing again. However if I woke up tomorrow and books had been obliterated universally and being a writer is not available, I’d probably go with science of some sort. I’ve always had an interest in Quantum Mechanics so, if I could find a way to do that, it’s something I would enjoy.

Many people asked the next question or variations of it, but we went with this one:

Are you related to Bill Gates and is that where you got all your ideas for your books? 

Well, you didn’t think I co-wrote with Bill Clinton, did you? He wasn’t available at the time so I found another Bill… 

The truth is, many years ago he and I came to an arrangement: he would keep all the fame and fortune, and I would write thriller novels...

Seriously, no, we are not related… as far as I know… but… over twenty years ago I obtained his personal email from a contact in Microsoft and wrote to him about Elizabeth Gates, the first Gates in the colonies, and a very distant relative. She was a passenger on the Mayflower, it turns out. This gem was brought to my attention by someone who did some digging into my ancestral roots. Mr. Gates (not me, the other one) found this rather interesting and wrote back saying we should meet when he was next in Madrid (Spain, not New York, Iowa or New Mexico). Shortly thereafter he sent me an invitation to an event he was attending in Spain’s capital a couple of months hence. I was looking forward to meeting him there. My work intervened and while Mr. Gates (him) was indulging in Tapas, Mr. Gates (me) was far, far away in another country doing what I did back them. When I got back I wrote to apologize and we rescheduled, with the most amazing coincidence that again he (Mr. Gates) was watching flamenco dancing while I (Mr. Gates) was in yet another far flung country. In the end, we decided to leave it up to Destiny. We have a couple of topics of conversation pending for when we eventually meet. 

Having ruled out Mr. Gates as the source of book ideas, so how does Mr. Gates come up with the stories? Well, many spring from exactly what I was doing when I was eluding my namesake. There’s a wonderful Chinese curse which goes ‘may you live in interesting times’ (please excuse the accent; my Mandarin is rusty). I did! You remember when you’re sitting on a plane, waiting for the crew to close the door so you can finally depart after a half-hour or more delay, then some guy come hurtling into the aircraft, collapsing in a seat all hot and sweaty after a high-speed car trip through the city and a mad dash to the gate? Then you start to wonder who he is and what he does for a living that they hold planes for him? That was me! Behind that scene is a very ‘unique’ ‘job’ that had me spending more time in International airports than in my own home. These days I call it ‘research’ for the books. Things I’ve seen, things I’ve done, stories I’ve heard from others, all stew together in the melting pot of my mind and some emerge on the pages of my novels. What! You thought they were fiction? 

What keeps you going to get these books done… I guess what I am asking what motivates you to keep writing?

Three things: the desire to tell an entertaining tale; the reactions of you, my readers, through your emails and reviews; and the knowledge there are many more pushing at the ‘little grey cells’ waiting to emerge onto my computer screen. Plus, it’s much cheaper than a psychiatrist. 

In your travels around the world what is the most amazing/mind-boggling thing/situation you encountered?

Your Amazon link
I could cheat here and just refer you to the first story in ‘Facets’. That did happen to me; I was the Titus of the tale in the scene where he got his nickname of ‘The Lion Man’. However, that’s just one of the many things I’ve experienced.

Almost being on a plane that crashed into a mountain killing all on board still ranks as my most important near-miss, with getting shot at coming a close second. Though you did say amazing/mind boggling so perhaps herding elephants using a light aircraft in Amboseli, southern Kenya has to be an experience I will never forget. Or touching the talons of an eagle as it soared overhead while standing on the edge of a river gorge. Or fighting two Rottweilers who were attacking someone. Or avoiding a sword cut delivered to the back of my head by a Grandmaster and which I couldn’t see coming, to pass a 5th Dan exam in one of my martial arts… or…

Yes, Interesting Times, indeed. 

What do you find most exciting about being an author? 

You know that feeling of inner satisfaction you get when finishing a book you liked? It’s a heady mixture of fulfilment and sadness that it’s all over. Well, multiply that by a hundred and that’s what it feels like when an author finishes a new novel. Maybe that’s why we keep writing new books; we are somehow hooked on that sensation. I’ve discovered recently that we can relive that when we encounter our own books in a different medium. After so many years, I didn’t think ‘the CULL – Bloodline’ could hold any surprises for me, but I was wrong. Narrator, and all-round superwoman, Marnye Young gave me goosebumps when listening to my own book in audiobook format. Her amazing skills added accents and voices to my characters, dragging them from the recesses of my mind into the real world. What a rush! 

At what point in your life did you KNOW you wanted to write books and what was your first pick of genre?

The week after the dinosaurs died out I found myself reading a western novel written by two of my schoolteachers and designed to help us 11-year olds learn Spanish. Well, objective complete! What that book and its sequel also did was have me wonder, a few years later when learning French, if such an approach could be applied in that language. I talked my teacher into working with me on the idea of a spy novel featuring a French Intelligence agent, and very much in the Ian Fleming Bond books style, for 4th year French students. The project started well but the teacher dropped out because of other commitments. I couldn’t continue on my own, so I took the basic story and turned it into my first full-length novel (now, thankfully living in a box under my desk). I’d written some two hundred or so short stories (a mixture of Scifi, thrillers, and humorous) at that time, but this was the first book I had attempted. Once polished, I sent it off to an agent who read it and responded ‘not bad for a first attempt; keep on writing!’ So I did, until Life intervened and stole all the time I had available until a decade or so ago. So, Spanish teachers Brian Mitchell and N. J. Margetts, you’ve got a lot to answer for! 

Have you ever lost sleep over the way you treated a character in one of your books? 

Your Amazon link
Any author will tell you they lose sleep over their Work-In-Progress. When your exhausted body drops into the horizontal position at the end of a long day clamoring for rest to recharge the batteries, the subconscious mind kicks itself into gear and bombards the inside of your eyelids with unwritten scenes from the WIP or, if you are really unlucky, future novels (that’s why most of us sleep with a notebook on our bedside table – it’s not for jotting down dreams).

Sometimes we do dastardly things to our characters too, and these can come back to haunt us. Take ‘the CULL’ series as an example. Early on in book 2 I had decided the fate of one of the characters. He’d done some nasty, unforgivable stuff in book 1 and I felt he had to be punished. That didn’t happen until the next book though, and when it did, I felt that the character’s ‘cycle’ had been completed – he had served his purpose in the overall story. I’ve never received a single email from readers complaining about his fate either. Then came book 5, where I had decided another character was going to meet his end. Here though, and despite his nature, he was almost an anti-hero figure, and I found myself questioning my decision constantly. In the end, I went with my gut feeling and… was inundated with emails complaining I’d killed off one of the readers’ favorites. That caused me to lose sleep. Did I get it wrong? Looking back, seeing the whole story arcs from book 1 through to book 5, I don’t think I did. His dramatic end was the consequence of the changes the character experienced throughout the tale and I think it was fitting. [I’ve tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but I think you’ll find that when you get dragged into Katie and Amy’s world, you will quickly forget these words.] 

As an aspiring writer myself, I find that when I attempt any writing session I have certain routines I go through. Certain chair, ambient noise, lucky socks, snacks. Do you have any pre- writing necessities? 

the War Room
Regarding the ergonomics of writing books, many would be amazed that writers these days often take measures to avoid the injuries that could keep us away from our profession of choice. Just about everyone knows about carpal tunnel syndrome, which can result from an incorrect angle of the wrist when typing over an extended period of time. Getting chair height right and having an ergonomically designed keyboard and mouse are a serious measure to take in this respect. I used to get through about two keyboards a year (no, I don’t hit the keys with my fists. I do have exceedingly strong hands though through all my martial arts sword practice), but as the years have progressed I’ve been buying progressively more solid (and expensive) keyboards and my turn-around rate is now about 18 months for a keyboard. The chair itself is well ventilated and articulated so I can press back into it which helps with the additional lumbar support I affixed, thus taking the strain off the lower back. I also have a device which I use to apply up to 10 kilos of traction on my neck (not when I’m writing though) which I use, in conjunction with a portable electric massager I run through my phone to get rid of the kinks after a long session on a project. Every two hours or less I get up for a while and walk around and do something else for fifteen minutes or so. Exercising is also essential as they say ‘sitting is the new smoking’ and writers are very prone to this (no standing desks for me). 

When I sit down for a writing session, I have usually gone through all my email accounts and replied to any that need my attention, as well as dealt with anything else that could distract me once I’m ‘in the zone’. I can usually tell if things are going well as the cup of tea I make at the start, or during the breaks, will still be full and stone cold when I realize it is sitting less than 20 cms from my right hand. 

I also have a large screen on my PC, currently 23”, which allows me to open slightly more than half with the book I’m working on, and also have several more open windows sitting in the space alongside with notes, images, a thesaurus and dictionary and any other stuff I might need to use. I used to have music playing in the background when writing, but now prefer to work in silence, letting 'the voices' tell me what to do! Told you it was cheaper than a psychiatrist. 

Would you rather write one mega bestseller and then give up writing for the rest of your life or write many midlist books or series for the rest of your life and be comfortable but never rich or wildly famous? 

Your Amazon link
Great question that had me thinking for a while. The answer is simple though. I have never been a materialistic sort of person, though would like to achieve success with my writing as a sign that what I write provides enjoyment for others. Thus, the one mega bestseller then no writing option is ruled out. I do get recognized every day though, so I must be reasonably famous… my wife calls me by my name. 

If you had a superpower where you could morph yourself into anything, what would it be and why? 

I don’t know about morphing myself into anything, but the power of invisibility would be interesting. Just thinking of all the places I could visit that are off-limits… and then write about them… 

Of all the countries you have traveled to, which is your favorite, and, why? 

Before answering this one, I'd like to urge people to travel internationally as much as their circumstances permit. But please, travel with a light heart. What do I mean by this? I've seen so many visiting, even living, in what are foreign countries to them, who impose their values, language, food preferences, way of life in general, on that country and its people, judging them by their acceptance or not of this yardstick, and then brag about their 'wonderful' experience of other cultures. Sorry, in my book that's xenophobia. Seeking refuge in the stuff of life in your own country whilst living, albeit temporarily, in another is nothing but fear. Fear of being exposed to things that will make you question your core beliefs. Only by challenging what you accept as being 'the best' can you evolve and become a better person. Every single culture in this world has something to teach us if only we don't allow our biased behaviour to filter out what they have to offer. I'm proud to say I have friends all around the world. When I think of them, talk to them, listen to them, I'm not conditioned by their nationalities, skin pigmentation, or beliefs. They are fellow souls on this global journey of discovery, and all, without exception, have something to teach me, if I'll only listen. The key to getting the most out of  visiting a foreign country is twofold: learn the language (even a small smattering will make all the difference; when you try to speak someone else's tongue, their smiles bridge the cultural gap instantly; soon you will be smiling too) and respect (never assume you know better). Challenge yourself by travelling; evolve as a person.

That said, it's difficult to pick out one place I've been that stands out as a favourite. I try to immerse myself in the places I've visited, and will visit in the future, keep an open mind and endeavour to see the lessons I can take from how they live their lives. Remember, travelling is not about seeing a new culture from behind the windows of a bus or train, or from the deck of a cruise ship ('If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium', to quote the title of a 1969 comedy movie). It's about people; individuals like yourself. It's about crossing barriers. It's about giving your treasured Swiss Army knife to a young boatman off the East African coast; it's about sharing a meal with a friend from Hong Kong, discovering new flavours; it's about listening to the experiences of someone who lives in a place that doesn't have the freedoms you take for granted. It's about enrichment of your soul. 

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in this interrogation, even if your specific questions were not included. I hope you had as much fun reading the questions selected as I did answering them.  And to the reader who wanted to know my inside leg measurement (to judge how tall I am), there is no direct correlation between that piece of data and a person's height. As Monsignor Cancelli says, I assure you, when I'm walking, my feet reach the ground. Thank you all.

Eric @ - if you would like to receive my newsletter, just go to my website and wait 5 seconds. The newsletter goes out every three weeks or so and contains lots of fun stuff, freebies, special offers, insider information, book reviews and recommendations... and some very bad jokes!

Friday, November 24, 2017

World's TOUGHEST Author Interview: John Dolan

Some of the toughest questions anyone could ask of a novelist allow you, the reader, a chance to get to know your favourite authors even more. Not for the faint-hearted!

My victim this week is:

John Dolan

John's Bio:

"Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants."

John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between Thailand and the UK.


Twitter  @JohnDolanAuthor

and now the hard bit:

1. Describe any strange writing habits or a sequence of things you always do before clicking away at the keyboard. 
I guess I need to keep this clean, right? OK. The first thing I do before clicking away at my keyboard is to put my laptop in a bag and go and find a nearby coffee shop. It is usually a Starbucks: not because I like the coffee, but because there are so many of them locally. They seem to breed like rabbits. I have no idea why, but the sound of bored, disgruntled baristas, and the sight of inedible processed food sets my creative juices flowing. Or maybe, like a serial killer, I work most efficiently when I am among strangers. In fact, my probation officer expressed the view that this method of working was likely linked to some uncontrollable violent urges on my part, and he wants to discuss this idea further once he is out of hospital.

2. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I suppose it was listening to jokes when I was a kid. In the working-class area of North-East England where I come from, everyone told jokes. I think it was – and still is – a coping mechanism for the disenfranchised. (Gosh, am I getting political here?) Funny stories have a strange power, and sometimes they can make you cry, as well as laugh. An example? Sure. “I’ve just been to see an art exhibition on depression. The pictures had hung themselves.”

Your Amazon Link
3. What is the toughest criticism you have received as an author and what did you learn from it?

When I gave the manuscript of my first novel Everyone Burns to my wife Fiona she told me the first forty pages were ponderous and needed a fundamental re-write. It taught me never to give her a copy of one of my manuscripts again. But she was entirely correct, dammit.

4. If you could have written any book in the world (old or new) what would it have been and why?

I guess, the Bible, because technically that would make me God. But seriously, and setting all pretentions of divinity aside, it would have to be The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – a beautiful, faultless masterpiece of restrained emotion. It reduced me to tears.

Your Amazon Link
5. What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process and why?

Most Indie writers I have encountered hate marketing their books – and I can understand why that would be the case, since selling yourself/your works can be a dispiriting and perhaps at times demeaning experience. It doesn’t feel like something we signed up for when we wanted to be writers. However, for me, editing is the worst part of the whole deal. It is necessary to ensure you end up with some kind of quality product, but I still find it awful. Hence, I invest a lot of time in planning out my novels beforehand to try to reduce the amount of editing required. Writing mysteries (as I do) makes this a bit of a prerequisite anyway if I don’t want to discover plot holes the size of the Titanic at a later stage. Even so, by the time the editing is done, I am heartily sick of the sight of my latest book and cannot wait to get it published and off my desk. Inevitably, it will be at least six months after publication before I can even bear the thought of opening that book again. So, the biggest emotion I feel on publication is relief.

Your Amazon Link
6. What attracted you to writing crime novels?

Is that what I write? Certainly, that’s the genre you’d find my books filed under, but at the time I started out I had no intention to write anything that would fit into a ‘genre’. I recently heard a talk by the Scottish crime fiction writer Ian Rankin, and he said pretty much the same thing. Apparently, in his early years he would sneak into bookshops and move his novels to the Literary Fiction section, since he considered himself a ‘serious’ writer (or so he said, chuckling). The other strange thing is, that I don’t usually read crime fiction (in fact, I prefer non-fiction to fiction, but that’s another story). So, why I write what I write, I really have no idea. Some little guy in my head comes up with the ideas, and I’m just the typist really.

7. How would you describe your writing style, and why?

Your Amazon Link
First off, I would not have the temerity to compare myself to the writing greats I most admire, e.g. Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell, Kazuo Ishiguro, William Boyd, Haruki Murakami, Natsuo Kirino, and Eric J. Gates. My books contain either philosophical musings or self-indulgent mental masturbation, depending on your point of view. So, there is a reflective element to the action going on in my novels – a kind of broader commentary on life issues, if you will. I try to layer my writing, so that different themes poke through the plot, and hopefully help to tie everything together in a coherent manner. I endeavour – probably not always successfully – to give the reader something to think about, as well as just a story and a collection of characters. I don’t follow a ‘good guys always win’ formula, because I don’t think that’s how the world actually works, and if people want more rosy, predictable tales of Good Triumphant … well, that’s what Disney’s for, right? So, I guess to summarise, my writing style is one that relies heavily on plots laced with moral ambiguity, damaged characters, and probably too many long words. But that’s just the smarty-pants in me.

Your Amazon Link
8. Of all the different aspects of writing, which do you think is the one you concentrate most on and why?

Planning. The thought of looking at a blank screen with a blinking cursor, is terrifying to me. Hence, before I embark on writing a book, there will be at the very least a detailed spreadsheet showing all the key events etc by chapter, and a Word document describing the main characters and their development trajectory. Some writers can write with little more than a vague outline, but not me. I’m much too anal for that.

9. What are your future writing plans?

My first priority is to complete the Karma’s Children series – which requires me to write another two books: the first of which, Two Rivers, One Stream, I am aiming to publish in 2018. I also have a collection of poetry and two unpublished plays, which I am musing on what to do with at present. I have ideas for two completely new trilogies, one stand-alone novel, and a non-fiction book. In what order I will tackle these, I don’t know. Once Karma’s Children is done and dusted, I can take a deep breath and decide where to plunge in next, assuming my creative well-spring hasn’t dried up by then!

NOTE: To celebrate the launch of Restless Earth, from 24-28 November, A Poison Tree will be FREE to download on Amazon Kindle, Everyone Burns will be available at the heavily-discounted price of 99cents (99p in UK), and the short story Jim Fosse’s Expense Claim is also FREE. So, this is your chance to get lots more background stories and information on the characters in Restless Earth while this offer lasts! (Available on all Amazon sites worldwide.)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Restless Earth by John Dolan

Restless Earth

by John Dolan

Giveaway ends December 31, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Thank you, John, for your interesting answers. I have to take exception to be mentioned in the same sentence as one of my own writer heroes though... Richard Greene, Lorne Greene, maybe - both author luminaries as we know ;-) but Grahame Greene!!! OTT! 

I must point out that John's latest 'Restless Earth' be out soon. I've been waiting for this one for a while and already have mine on pre-order for its Nov 24th release date! You can pre-order now too!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

the CULL - Blood Kill ............. BOOK LAUNCH

Today presents both a happy and a sad moment.

Happy because years of effort have come to fruition and fans of the adventures of Katie Lindon and Amy Bree will be able to read the final installment in 'the CULL' series.

Sad because it's time to say goodbye not just to two characters who have accompanied me since 2012, but the whole cast of 'the CULL' novels - Miach, Enrique, Tadhg Griffin, Jennifer Craven, Monsignor Santiago Cancelli; not to forget Interpol's Irene Laker and the FBI's Alan Marshall, among many others. It's almost like a family has moved from their cozy house next door to some far-off country.

Yes, the final book in this outstanding 5 STAR series is now available.

Let's give the series a fitting farewell.
Leave a review for each of the books on Amazon, please.

Your Amazon link for Book 1: HERE

Book 2: HERE Book 3: HERE  Book 4: HERE

The first 3 books in the series are also available in a single download: HERE

Adieu, or Au revoir?

Monday, June 26, 2017

World's TOUGHEST Author Interview: Judith Lucci

Some of the toughest questions anyone could ask of a novelist allow you, the reader, a chance to get to know your favourite authors even more. Not for the faint-hearted!

My victim this week is:

Judith Lucci

Judith's Bio:

Hi Everyone, I’m Judith Lucci and I write medical thrillers and crime. I’m a nurse with a doctoral degree and I have seen hundreds of patients, saved lots of lives, taught thousands of nurses and written and researched a bunch of stuff. I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I love my family, painting, writing and all things canine. I think my greatest strength as an author is using my medical knowledge to create unique ways to kill people. Anyway, thanks Eric, for inviting me to do the World's Toughest Author Interview.

Amazon Author Page:
Join Judith's mailing list and receive Chaos at Crescent Center Medical for Free: (

and now the hard bit:

1. Describe any strange writing habits or a sequence of things you always do before clicking away at the keyboard. 
ALL e-Readers Link 

Wow, I don’t know if I have any truly weird habits. I do, however, have a few compulsions that must occur each day before I start to write. I complete my morning chores (tidy up, feed the dogs, wash dishes, water plants), have at least two cups of coffee, and complete my book marketing for the first part of the day. All in all, I don’t want any interruptions when I write and I want nothing hanging over my head. I generally write from nine in the morning to noon and paint in the afternoon.

2. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I learned the power of language (and discipline) when I was a little girl. My sister and I, even thought we’d been told not to do so, raided the deep freezer in a storage house outside. We wanted popsicles (well, it was hot outside, what can I say?). Of course, my father had expressly told us not to open the freezer without a parent but we didn’t listen. We left the freezer door open and most of the frozen food spoiled. I can still remember my dad saying, “I told you to get permission,” just before he spanked us. That’s when I learned to listen, that’s when I figured out that language… voice, and tone… had lots of power.

3. Define what literary success means for you
All eReaders Pre-order Link

My measure of literary success means I've written several series of good books and have a bunch of loyal followers who anxiously wait for the next book. I think I've achieved this with my Alexandra Destephano medical thriller series and am on my way to being successful with my Michaela McPherson crime thrillers. Writing is a pleasure and I'm not writing for the money. I would, however, like to make the USA Today Best Sellers list just once - because consumers consider placement of that list a testament to successful writing. I hope my boxed set of my first three medical thrillers, Crescent City Chronicles, will help me get there in a few weeks. Of course, those of us who write books know better.

4. What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process and why?

My least favorite part of the writing process is editing, actually proofreading. Editing is hard for me because I don't see my own mistakes. Since I read my manuscript so many times, I no longer see errors. And, I’ve found that when I correct errors, I often make more errors. It’s a vicious cycle. My books are reviewed by five or six people and several professional editors before they are published. And, there are still mistakes… it’s a fact of life. But, I must say, I see many errors in books published by traditional publishers!
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5. If you could time travel, what would you do differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult?

Wow… time travel. If I could time travel and do something differently I probably would've entered more writing contests and written short stories instead of presenting with a full-length novel. I’ve spent most of my life writing academic papers. Of course, that was my life’s work and my scholarly contributions to my profession are significant. I’ve published several textbooks and numerous scholarly articles. As a result, I want to write as much fiction as I can as a “senior citizen” (I personally like the term “older person”) I think I'm typical of many Indie writers who never had the time to write earlier in life.

If I could time travel, I would definitely live in the Southern U.S. before the Civil War. I deeply embrace the southern culture and am a typical Southern woman. ("Hi Y’all. Want some grits?") I would be like Scarlett O'Hara – or the other heroic women of that time - who managed farms and plantations without ‘menfolk’. I’d probably start a Confederate Hospital in the ballroom of my plantation, or I would be part of the underground group that smuggled slaves up North. I’ve always taken risks in my life and have done what people said I could never do. Just tell me I can’t do something and trust me, I’m on it.

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6. Is there a character in your books, protagonist or antagonist, whose story you would like to rewrite, and why?

I regret killing Mitch Landry in book one of the medical thrillers. People have suggested that he ‘reappear’ or have a twin brother, the stuff of which soap operas are made, but, unfortunately, Mitch will remain forever dead. I never wanted to kill Mitch but I had an agent in those days and he told me too… and unfortunately, I listened.

7. How would you describe your writing style, and why?

I write rather informally. My books are filled with dialogue and my plots are character-driven. When I wrote my first book, Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center, I was constantly getting turned down by publishing houses because my dialogue was considered 'robotic' and my characters were considering 'stiff and stilted'. Of course, back then I was an academic writer and researcher and had only written for the academic press. The transition to writing for the popular press was significant and it’s taken years. I'm always getting emails about whether or not Alex is going to remarry Robert or whether Alex and Jack Fran├žoise, the New Orleans Police Commander, could be a couple. It's pretty funny when I think about it but honestly, I feel like my characters are parts of my family. I don’t like it when they’re hurt or upset.

8. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

I'm not sure what I would give up to become a better writer. In fact, I'm not sure what I would give up to become a better anything. At this point in my life, I’m satisfied with my life, self-actualized in most things, and happy that each book I write is a little bit better than the one before. What I do need to do is figure out how to reward and motivate my street team and how to market more effectively. Writing, editing and marketing my books is the hardest thing I’ve ever done… and I’ve done a bunch of stuff.

Eric has given me permission to add two questions to this World's Toughest Author Interview, so here goes:

9. Why in the world, in the waning years of my life, am I spending 8 to 10 hours a day writing fiction?

The simple answer is I don’t know. I never planned to write novels when I retired. I'm not sure when the desire to write began. But, one day, I simply decided I was going to write a book. I wrote my first book, CHAOS at CRESCENT CITY MEDICAL CENTER during the Blizzard of 1995 when I was snowed in at my farm for three weeks. I sent my novel out to dozens and dozens of agents and it was always rejected. Then, my personal life changed rather dramatically and I moved to New Orleans to assume a full professorship at LSU in New Orleans. I didn't write for 10 years. Five years ago I was cleaning out my basement and I found a hard copy of Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center, in a drawer. I read it and decided it was pretty good. So I rewrote it, changed beepers to cell phones, Clinton Care to Obamacare, and published it. Seven novels later I'm still writing and I love it. I suspect I'll continue to write until I die. When I'm not writing, I paint, teach art classes and hang out with my family and five dogs.

10. How has writing changed me?

The worst part of writing for me is that I have become reclusive. This is a huge change for me because I've always been gregarious and surrounded by people. In January of 2016, my friends ‘staged an intervention’ about my reclusiveness. The truth is I am reclusive. Anyway, to get them off my back, I meet friends for lunch at least three days a week and participate in several organizations. Truth is, I've never been lonely since I retired. I've got my family, my dogs and my characters. I understand why authors become reclusive. We have our characters in our heads all day long and we talk with them. Consequently, I’m never lonely; Besides, I can manage my characters control them - what they say, what they do and how they feel. I certainly have never been able to do that with my friends or family!

Well, that's about all I've got for the World's Toughest Author Interview. Thank you, Eric, for reviewing the rantings of this half-crazy, reclusive dog lady.

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Thank you, Judith, for your awesome and heartfelt answers. For readers of superb Medical and Crime Thrillers, the boxset of Judith's first three books in her Alex Destefano series has been released June 26th (CRESENT CITY CHRONICLES). Don't miss it! And there's more. Book Five in the series, EVIL, where the serial killer St. Germaine's identity will be revealed, will be out soon. I've been waiting for this one for a while! You can pre-order now too!