Welcome Claude to Mark of the Stars to tell us about your writing and the crime thrillers you have already published and those in the works. Now you are not only a writer, but you are also an artist, a musician, and a popular twitterer with over 105,000 followers.
To begin, can you tell us how you began writing and what you did before you started writing full-time?
CB: I began writing creatively in 1995 when a story started forming in my head. I was working my day job, as I did until 2008, so the writing took place evenings and weekends.
Where did the idea come from for Vigilante, your first book written in 1995?
CB: The O.J. Simpson trial got me thinking about criminals who escape the hand of justice and from there, Vigilante was born. I do point out that Vigilante has nothing to do with the trial mentioned or any related events.
Did you always plan for Vigilante to be the first in a series, or did that idea develop as you were writing?
CB: I wasn’t thinking of a series at all when I started writing Vigilante. More ideas simply came up once I was done.
Your Barry / McCall series involves a Special Homicide Police Task Force and a security firm specializing in computer and communication networks. Do you have any knowledge or these fields, or do you know someone on the inside who has provided help?
CB: Though I never worked in I.T. per se, I was quite exposed to computers and systems through my management functions with large firms, including involvement in systems development from the user standpoint. Everything else came from research and common sense.
You are now working on the 5th book in the Barry / McCall series, 6 Hours, 42 Minutes. Can you tell us about this next book and where it is in terms of ready for us to read?
CB: In a nutshell, 6 Hours 42 Minutes involves a bank heist attempt which unfortunately takes place at a time when Chris Barry happens to be inside the bank on business. I can’t say more for now. I’m still writing it so I don’t know exactly when it will be available for my readers.
How many books do you plan on writing for this series?
CB: I don’t have a specific number in mind. As long as I can keep Chris, Dave et al in interesting and realistic situations, there will be further additions to the series.
You have also written another novel called Asylum which is not part of the series. How would you describe this book? How far along are you with Asylum?
CB: Asylum is a thriller but of a different kind. It basically tells the story of the head of a hospital for the criminally insane whose work life is affecting family relations and vice-versa. He decides to devote serious time to save his marriage and takes his family on vacation during which various incidents occur. The first draft is done and waiting for more work following comments from my agent and editor but I’ll only be returning to it once I’ve completed 6 Hours 42 minutes.
Can you tell us about your road to publication? How did you get involved with Tribe Lit?
CB: When I originally wrote Vigilante in 1995, I queried a number of agents but threw in the towel after a while due to rejections, my career and my studies. In 2009, I pulled out my old manuscripts and ran through them again to find that they still held up very well. Following another revision and some fine-tune editing, I decided to self publish Vigilante, The Consultant and Mind Games, to actually see them as “books” and to sell a few. The process brought my characters back to life which led me to write and self-publish The Homeless Killer as well. Looking for ways to market them led me to Twitter which is where I met Cari Hawks Foulk and Tribe Lit.
CB: In my search for inexpensive (i.e. free) marketing venues, I came across BookBuzzR.com where one can display one’s works including excerpts and links to other sites. As I was ending the set-up up my first book, there was an option in the process regarding sending out a Tweet on Twitter. “What exactly is Twitter?” I asked myself. I’ve figured it out since.
You and fellow author Luke Romyn are involved in a bid to get on Ellen (The Ellen DeGeneres Show). Can you tell us how this started?
CB: The whole started by accident. Luke and I were both approached on Twitter one day with an offer to do a video Skype interview with further details to be supplied by email. The next day, I asked Luke if he had received the email about the video interview and someone popped in and asked, “For what show?” and I replied, as a joke, “The Ellen Show”. Less than thirty minutes later, we already knew that we had created a monster.
When you do get on Ellen, what do you plan to talk about?
CB: Hopefully, I’ll get to talk about myself and my books but since it IS “TheEllen Show”, I’ll let her decide what questions she wants to ask.
Have you attended any writer’s conferences or are you involved with any writing organizations?
CB: I haven’t attended any writing conferences, nor am I involved with any writing organizations to date. I have developed a fine network of great people involved with writing however, many of them writers themselves, yourself included, Jessica.
Who is your favourite author and how have they inspired you in your writing?
CB: A question often asked and always difficult to answer as I have many authors whose work I enjoy. In no particular order, I can mention Robert Crais, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Ken Follett, John Grisham, Scott Turow, etc. These writers and many others inspire me in the sense that they generally produce well written, entertaining stories that keep me hooked.
What genre do you prefer to read and what genre have you avoided but would like to someday read?
CB: I enjoy crime, espionage, legal, anything with good suspense and intrigue. I’m generally not attracted by romance, science fiction, paranormal kind of stuff or non-fiction though I have read and will read such books when recommended.
Can you describe your editing process for us?
CB: I usually go back every ten to twenty pages that I’ve just written as I go along just to try to pick up on typos, wrong words, missing words, that kind of thing. If at some point I find that something should have been mentioned earlier to tie in with an idea I’ve just incorporated, I’ll go back further, even to the point of generally reviewing everything I’ve written to date. Once a manuscript is complete, I review it completely with pen in hand, jotting corrections, revisions, etc and incorporate those. Joanne, my wife, then steps in and reads it, noting additional errors which I’ve missed, questioning what I meant by saying this or that, etc, until I have a final product. Then it goes to my agent for a first Aye or Nay.
Do you write and/or edit on a schedule?
CB: I usually write and edit in the afternoon on weekdays. Mornings are more dedicated to promotion and I generally don’t write on weekends.
What is the best piece of writing advice you can give novice writers, and/or what is the best piece of advice you have been given?
CB: Make sure that your work is the absolute best it can be before submitting it; no typos, proper formatting, submission guidelines respected, etc and never, ever give up.
As I mentioned before, you are also an artist with the preference for watercolours. Where does your inspiration come from for these pieces? Where can we find your work?
CB: A little history first: I started painting in 1994 when my ex-wife gave me a paint-by-number set since I was always looking for something to do. I enjoyed the painting but disliked not being the master. Within a week, I had bought a few brushes and colours (oil) and started painting. Since, I’ve done over sixty oil paintings which hang in our home or the homes of friends and family. I started messing with watercolours in 2004 when Joanne suggested I take a class at the Visual Arts Centre where she’s Assistant Director. I’ve since done hundreds, some which are framed and hanging here or elsewhere and many which are simply stacked in our art-room. My inspiration comes simply from seeing “something” which would be interesting to paint. I can’t say that I prefer watercolour over oil but it is much easier to get going at, though a lot tougher to do. I’ve never sold any pieces, perhaps some day. Anyone who wants to see some of my art can visit my website at http://bigceebee.webs.com/.