About the book:
Zeb Carter is almost your average Private Military Contractor.
When working for a WDE (We Don’t Exist) Agency, Zeb witnesses a gruesome crime in the Congo and tracks the perpetrators down to New York. Only to discover that not only are they protected by the FBI, but also are closely connected to a very high profile politician.
Zeb can walk away from his hunt, or pursue with it and put those close to him in the sights of the killers.
A thriller that spans Congo and New York, The Warrior is dotted with gritty action, a central character that fuels imagination, and is also about the brotherhood of warriors.
Talking with Ty
Ty, you published your first book in December 2012. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I have been writing since my formative years. Initially it was short stories that I wrote for myself, some of which got published in a few magazines. When I grew up, I spent a few years as freelance copywriter and learnt the art of packing a punch in as few words as possible.
I started writing as a novelist quite recently, in 2011, when my better half kicked me out of my comfort zone.
What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favorite thing?
A writer creates worlds and with that comes enormous freedom and that’s the best thing about writing. Making your stories heard? Now that is a different story! The promoting is probably something I could do without.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
There is this author I like, Greg Rucka, who wrote a great book titled A Fistful of Rain. I then read Robert Crais’ The Monkey’s Raincoat. Ever since I read those books, I wanted to give mine a great title. I spent days and nights reading up on haiku to come up with that killer title. I filled the wall of my study with permutations and combinations. I couldn’t decide which title to go with. Till my better half, the anchor in my life, told me to go back to my copywriting days and stick to a simple, direct, message.
I came up with The Warrior.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
In the life where mortgages have to be paid, I am a workaholic and often work 12 hours a day in a job I love. Writing and promoting my work is fast taking over the rest of my life, and I am working towards the day when my writing will pay for my living.
I have yet to see you give that question a straightforward answer. Are you a secret agent? Is that why you’re keeping your real job a secret? Do you work for the CIA? The WDE? On second thought, I’ve only seen you with a green face. Are you a secret Martian? Or is the green a disguise? Okay, okay, next question. How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)
More Skyfall than Rambo!
Ty, that’s the shortest tweet I’ve ever seen. You have 116 characters left. How about: More Skyfall than Rambo, written by a real spy? Okay, okay, moving on. How did you create the plot for The Warrior?
That’s a very good question. I wanted a plot that spanned different continents and what happened in Luvungi had always stayed in the back of my mind. When I decided to write, I went about marrying the two together and The Warrior was born.
How were you able to write about the military? Are you going on other books and movies, or were you once in the military? Or are you in the military now, and that’s your secret job?
My books feature ex soldiers and mercenaries but they’re not very big on militarilia. If that isn’t a word I just coined and patented it.
I studied in a school which was a feeder to the armed forces and grew up with friends who are in the armed forces, so I have experience by association.
My secret job is more like catching 40 winks when on the job!
Still evasive. I’m betting on the spy theory. I heard you say your wife and son encouraged you to write a book. What did they think of The Warrior?
Aha, you have hit on the biggest gripe I have with my wife. Yes, they encouraged me to write it, but she hasn’t read it. It isn’t her genre she says whenever I ask her, and reaches out for that chicklit next to her! My son has been forbidden to read it. My book isn’t gory and mindless action, but I still want him to wait a couple of years to read it.
Does your wife know about the fabulous book Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction? I bet she’d like it. 🙂 What’s that look for? Yeah, yeah, moving on. Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
Again another interesting question. I have come across authors who say they have voices in their heads that makes them write their stories, or characters who speak in their minds… That hasn’t happened to me. Maybe I should stand in the rain and have lightning strike me to get that kind of creative spark.
I generally write based on a very broad outline and that gets refined as I write. I cannot write on the fly without any outline to guide me. I often go back and re-read my written chapters and might make minor changes to my plot, but in general a broad outline is with me before I put pen to paper. That means banging away on the keyboards; to that generation that doesn’t know pens.
Now that I have written The Warrior, the sequel is coming easier; not writing wise, but plot wise. The writing is still danged hard work.
Yes it is. What about your cover art? How did it come about? Tell us about the artist.
My cover artist is a fantastic author in her own right, the very successful Ros Clarke, author of fresh, fun, modern romances. She can be found here, Ros Clarke, and she designed my cover and also the images on my blog.
I gave her the briefest brief and that was enough for her to make magic. I cannot thank her enough, or mention her enough.
Well, let’s mention her one more time: Ros Clarke. There. Now, what books have you read more than once or want to read again?
I re-read many books. Some authors that I read over and over again are James Michener, Robert Crais, Leon Uris, Herman Wouk, and funnily, many books on economics and quantum physics.
Economics? That doesn’t sound very funny. Sorry. Please continue.
Electronic readers have made life so easy to read stuff again and again.
Woops, how could I forget. I read Asterix and Obelix again and again and again. I hope I never stop getting pleasure out of reading them.
And here I thought you were going to say you read Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction again and again. Oh well. Tell us your favorite line from a book:
I knew you were going to ask me this. My favorite lines are from Alice in Wonderland. They never fail to inspire me.
“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“Can’t you?” the queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath and shut your eyes.”
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying.” She said: “One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Good old Alice. Have you ever bought any books just for the cover?
Nope. I unfortunately am a cynic and do not fall for fancy covers.
What do you do to market your book?
I am actively considering selling my soul to market my book.
On a serious note, I am trying to use social media as a platform to create a reach which in turn should create a pull for my books. All good in theory. In practice it means hours on FB, Twitter, blogs, sending my book for reviews, interviews, etc.
I am trying to stick to a marketing plan which says ‘x’ many tweets a day, ‘y’ many blog posts a week, and I try to look back and see what worked and what didn’t. What I haven’t done so far is promotions by discounting and that is something I might look into.
Do you have any imaginary friends?
The cynical me is also a very pragmatic, realist me. So no imaginary friends, no voices in the head. I am very unromantic in that sense I am afraid.
When you start writing a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
My next few books will be part of a series, The Warrior being the first. So most of the cast is pretty well defined now. What I will be looking to do is flesh out the characters in greater detail in each book of the series.
Sounds good. Which character did you most enjoy writing?
The main character, Zeb Carter, is one I loved fleshing out the most. He is a taciturn person about who not much is known, who hardly speaks. The challenge, the interesting challenge, was to give such a character depth and layers, given his stoic persona.
I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?
Naming characters is tough. I wanted character names that would resonate with readers and yet were simple. I think I spent a few weeks researching character names before going with Zebadiah Carter for the main character, Broker for the secondary character. I hope I have succeeded in creating names that suit the characters, but I think it will take a few more books in the series to embed the characters in readers’ minds.
What would your main character say about you?
I would like to think he would thank me for giving him life and then go on using superlatives to describe me! But knowing the guy he is, he would just shrug. His rationale would be that I brought him to life because I wanted to, not because he asked. He isn’t a guy who asks favors of anyone.
Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
None of them are inspired by real characters. Whilst I want my books to be as real as possible, I also want them to be worlds to which my readers can escape, so I want to distance the characters from real people.
Are you like any of your characters?
I have Zebadiah Carter’s silences but not much else. The second character, Broker, is handsome, witty, and urbane. Two of that three I am not, and I am not going to tell you which.
Oh come on. Please? Maybe later? What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I only read e-books now and am reading Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan, a book on macroeconomics.
Once again, I thought you might say you were reading Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction. You’re breaking my heart. How do you handle criticism of your work?
I have luckily a thick skin and can take criticism. I have also been lucky enough to receive good reviews. So far I have not been savaged by critics. If it happens, I will shrug and accept it.
Some are easier to shrug off than others.
The way I look at book reviews and criticism is this: criticism is the easiest thing to do in the world. Giving advice, being negative is so easy and all of us do it.
Very true. And we tend to dwell on the negative reviews we get, and not the positive ones. At least, that’s what some of my friends tell me.
What takes more courage is to go off the beaten track and do something. What takes more courage is to raise your head above the parapet. That is what us self-published authors have. Courage. We may not have written the world’s greatest book. We may not have written the next best seller. But what we did do was sit our bottoms on the chair, pound away, and write the best story we could write.
If that invites negativity, so be it. But I for one am proud of what I did. And that is how I handle/will handle criticism.
I will try to remember that. What are you working on now?
I am now working on the sequel to The Warrior. I hope to finish this by late spring. I hope it stays in readers’ minds.
I think it will. And I hope you’ll come back when it’s published and tell us more about it. Good luck with The Warrior, Ty. Check it out people.