Monday, October 13, 2014

Rafael, Author of They Cried Wolf

suspense, thriller, diego, werewolf, political

Today we are interviewing Rafael, author of the suspense/thriller novel They Cried Wolf.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in New York City and currently reside here. People from all over the country and the world arrive every day and they’re a tremendous source of creative energy. I feed off it. I won’t admit that I’m biased, but I like to think of it as the Rome of our day. Well, maybe I am a little. Anyway, as a single guy it has caused me more than once to come home a bit late.

Is there an author that had a major influence on you while you were growing up?
I’ve always had difficulty remember
ing names. I might meet someone at a party and ten minutes later stumble to recall their name. The problem becomes worse if I’ve never met a person. Paradoxically though, I have no such difficulty with book titles. And while I’m writing one novel on a computer, I’m writing the next one in my head. But to answer your question the first influence was Ernest Hemingway. A style that strips sentences down to what is absolutely necessary to convey a thought or image instinctively appealed to me. Octavia Butler, however, raised that style to an art form.

How long have you been writing?

That’s an interesting question. In a very real sense, I’ve been writing all my life but it was always in a commercial, office, or technical context. Nonetheless, people as long as I can remember urged me to write. I always looked at them as if they had two heads. For me writing was a necessary evil to be endured if I had need to communicate important information. But when I grew bored of my Accountant/Systems Analyst career, I had a Paul to Tarsus moment. All the memories of those who said I should put pen to paper, so to speak, flooded my mind’s eye. And...I became a writer.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
The story posits a scenario in which a psychopath has slipped past the American electorate. Douglas Carswell has railed his entire life against the 1% who defy all efforts to curtail their accumulation of wealth, influence, and power. When he becomes President, he sets in motion a plan to overthrow Democracy and capitalism, the two forces he views as making the 1% possible. However, one of the nation’s most guarded secrets is that the Oval Office comes with an assassin used to eliminate threats that go beyond the Constitution or the courts. He, the story’s protagonist Diego Constance, gets wind of the plot and decides he must confront the most powerful man on Earth. The President has no idea the Executive Assassin is not just a hired killer. He’s also a werewolf.

Who (age, gender, etc) do you think would most appreciate this book?

I don’t view those who might read my novels in terms of age, gender, class, ethnicity, orientation, geography, religion or any of the other artificial barriers used to separate us from one another. If you, one, love to read, and two, love an old-fashioned story that pulls you into a credible, vivid world filled with fascinating characters, then you’ll enjoy my books.

What inspirations contributed to this book?

Though I am very much aware of its history, America as a beacon of freedom has always inspired me. That sentiment courses throughout the plot.

Do you see elements of yourself in Diego Constance? Or is he a completely unique creation?
Not at all. I’m not as good looking as Diego! It is crucially important for me that a story I write be read as a natural, organic, coherent whole. Therefore, the plot creates, shapes, and defines the people within it. I studiously avoid inserting what I think an individual’s persona should be. A reader will immediately sense a phony character.

Why did you decide to write a book where werewolves play a major role? Have you always been a werewolf fan?
Only in the sense that we Americans share a common pop culture that happens to include a few iconic creatures. As a teenager when I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula it had me jumping at shadows. But I realized the world had lurched toward the blasphemous when the appearance of a vampire or werewolf would set young girls’ hearts fluttering. Come on! These are monsters! They’re meant to terrify! Not elicit lusty sighs and wistful adorations.

This book has a political setting. Were there any political events that influenced how you wrote the political scenes?
I was fortunate to have received a classical education in which it was impressed upon us early and often that an informed citizen kept abreast of current events. It is impossible to do so without being exposed to politics although what passes for the political today leaves many of us wanting to shower afterwards. The book’s politicians, settings, and events are an amalgam, a synthesis of all I’ve read, heard, and seen.

What is your favorite thriller novel and why?
Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. It is a masterfully crafted story of well-paced suspense, twists and turns that don’t stretch credulity, and characters you can “see” acting out the drama.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
Let me answer that by first saying I do not consider myself a writer. Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Rushdie, Hawthorne, Bronte. These are writers. I view myself as a story teller. For me I’ve failed if a reader stops to admire a well-written paragraph. My goal is to have the words disappear from the page and a story unfold in the reader’s mind such that they become unaware they’re reading. In the process however, my writing has evolved. In the beginning I didn’t really appreciate the bias against adverbs and how their use was a lazy excuse for poor verb choice. When I read over my first novel I could see my sentences were swamped with “was”. And not until my third novel, They Cried Wolf, could I notice the following error: “The beast leaped in the air.” Give up? The prepositional phrase is redundant.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
Not specifically as such. Serious writers must read. The world will open before them. They must listen. They’ll hear character dialogue. They must see their surroundings. Scenes will write themselves.

What was your favorite class in school, and why?

That’s an easy one. History. A character in my fourth novel The United States of Africa observes: “The only thing new is the history you don’t know.” Indeed.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?
Consider this. Everything 50 million people will read is filtered through 1,500 some odd literary agents. Since no formula exists (or can exist) for those agents to predict what readers will like, they have only one criterion for deciding what they will represent: personal taste. Many agencies have gone bankrupt trying to pick winners from losers on something so subjective. Occasional successes occur if they sell 500,000 books. Of course that means 49.5 million readers ignored it. Ebooks have democratized an industry that technology has revealed as broken.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
(Laughing) To live and eat well! It makes writing possible.

What is the most impactful experience you have had with a fan?
When they reached out to discuss a book with me. First and foremost, my books are intended to entertain. And on that level I believe they succeed. But they also have caused readers to pause and reflect on the human insights and world views presented. Nothing gives me more pleasure than a reader who has stopped to think and then opens a discussion to exchange ideas and concepts.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?

Proofing and editing. Ugh. It is beyond tedious. It is mental quicksand that drains the joy at having written “The End”. What makes it truly diabolical is that it is essential and therefore inescapable.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?

If by writer’s block you mean not having any idea what to write, then no. Thinking about what to write, is writing. There have been times when I stopped making words appear on a computer screen to think through plot points, logical sequences, twists and turns, character development, etc. These moments have at times lasted a few days or a few weeks. When it happened during my first novel, I panicked. Now I know these are expected and natural aspects to novel writing. In fact, once I’ve decided on a starting point in time and a place, the rest of the novel is an answer to the question, “What happens next?” Until you reach “The End”, answering that question must always produce an answer and therefore render writer’s block impossible. And let me add this insight. If pondering the question,”What happens next?” produces one page a day, in ten months you’ll have a full-length novel.

Do you write with a computer, typewriter, or pen and paper? Why do you use this tool?
I cannot, for the life of me, imagine how writers of an earlier time produced novels. Obviously they did but I praise the Gods of Literature for allowing my birth during the Computer Age. They have blessed me with block copy, paste, and move. They have deigned instant formatting shall be and so it is. I kneel before the power they unleashed through spell and grammar check.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

I’ve learned to take a break between novels. In late August, I finished The Huntsman which I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks. In January, I’ll begin writing my next novel which has already begun forming chapters in my head. While not fixed in cement yet, its Foreword will be something like this:

Fear and uncertainty fueled the fervor that swept the world’s three great religions. Jews clamored the times finally heralded the Messiah’s imminence. Christians cowered and continued to turn the other cheek. The Sons of Allah despaired the Caliphate would ever rise. Into this maelstrom, the Servant of the One Lord appeared.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Well, although you didn’t, many have asked me if I have a last name. Yes, I do. Thank you, Maxine!! It’s been a great interview and I had a lot of fun doing it.

An Excerpt from They Cried Wolf:
One corridor along the port side connected the cockpit to the aft areas past the executive conference room. Dried blood stained everything. At the passageway’s juncture with the galley, two female flight attendants lay with punctured necks at unnatural angles. Hand signals directed three left toward the rear, two toward the suite. The commandos stepped into the narrow hallway. Already elevated heart rates pounded eardrums. 
Toward the rear, beyond the conference room, bodies lay everywhere. Many with chests gashed open as if multiple butcher knives had raked across their torsos. One reporter type, laptop, camera, and notebook strewn at her feet, sat with head and back flat between her legs. A snapped spine protruded at the base. What could have done that? Step by careful step they scoured the jet to the stern. No one remained alive. 
Toward the cockpit, the eyes of two bullet-riddled corpses stared into space. Three more bodies blocked the suite’s entrance—none intact, two with heads missing. Identified by their broken communication pieces, the Secret Service agents had remained true to their mission. 
Past the corpses, the door lay flat, ripped from its hinges. Just beyond, two others had met their fate in the foyer. Both had arms torn off at the elbows. They must have bled to death; huge red pools soiled the beige carpeting. On the couches and chairs, the severed limbs gripped silenced weapons.
Inside, the escape pod’s emergency lights bathed the bedroom in alternate red and green flashes. On the floor lay the President of the United States. The lead commando bent over the prone Chief Executive. A crumpled chest rose slightly and the eyes tried to flicker open. His massive wounds still seeped blood from slashes in his neck and chest. 
“Medic! Medic! The President’s alive.” The medical officer rushed past the corpses, tore off his helmet and goggles, ripped open gauze pads, screamed for the doctor still aboard the transport. He leaned down closer to his patient. Cracked lips tried to move. A hoarse whisper rose, “Were . . .” He coughed. Blood spilled from his throat. “Were . . .” he repeated. 
“You’re on Air Force One, sir, don’t speak. We’re going to get you out of here.” Not another sound emerged. The President lay dead. 
The medic had not grasped what the most powerful man in the world had tried to say. Understanding lay in the past, seven months before.
More Information
Buy the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/They-Cried-Wolf-Rafael-ebook/dp/B00DDW6O4I
 Author website: http://www.readersofrafael.com/

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