Sunday, October 1, 2017

You Have to Earn the Win! An interview with Steve Vincent

ThrillWriting welcomes author Steve P. Vincent.

Here are some things I think you should know about Steve, other than it's darned hard that he sleeps when I'm awake an vice versa so our conversations have the dreaded lag. That's what happens when I live on the East Coast of the U.S. and he lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Steve lives with his wife in a pokey apartment where he’s forced to write on the couch in front of an obnoxiously large television. He doesn’t have any children, but he does have a demanding goldfish. When he’s not writing, Steve enjoys beer, whisky, sports and dreaming up ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to write about. Oh, and travel. He’s traveled extensively through Europe, the United States and Asia. Steve has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and History, with a thesis on global terrorism. He has received instruction from the FBI and the Australian Army.

Fiona - 
You write terror through the eyes of a journalist.

Steve - 
Each novel in my Jack Emery series deals with a terrorist plot. I pride myself on putting an element of realism into them. Jack is a journalist, not an action superhero. The books all have thinky plots, not boring Middle Eastern terrorists. I’ve got a political science degree, a thesis in global terrorism and a decade as a policy adviser behind me - so my background and my book research help make it a little real I hope.

Fiona - 
How I wish you would come to dinner and I could pick your mind all night. Since I have you here though, can you tell me what you know from your professional background that makes you NUTS when you see it on TV in films and read in books as in - no possible way!!!

Steve - 
Here are a few:
  • Mass surveillance is the catch-all solution to stop terrorism. Post Snowden, everything groups are doing is being encrypted, and it has never really been effective against solo / lone actors. 
  • That all plots are complex things with lots of moving parts. Sadly, as we've seen many times recently, a large truck can be just as damaging as a small bomb. And it's almost impossible to prevent. Simple is dangerous too.
  • That there's large conspiracies inside Government, or like a shadow Government. Honestly, large organisations have so much bureaucracy and so many leaks that it makes it pretty much impossible.

Fiona - 
Do you write from an Australian's perspective or do you write as if your characters come from a different country?

Steve - 
Jack is an Australian journalist who lives in the US. They’re mostly American focused plots, though the stories span the globe.

Fiona - 
Do you stick to simplistic plots - lone wolves?

Steve - 
No, I have far too much imagination to stick to simple, but I try to make my big and complex plots at least a little bit plausible. It's still fiction, after all, and I'm sure I get stuff wrong too.

Fiona - 
And what kinds of devices/means/opportunities does Jack employ to thwart the attacks?

Steve - 
Jack tends to investigate his way into trouble, and out of it. He's a fun character, though, because when stuff gets nasty he can't just shoot or punch his way out. He needs to think his way out. Or make friends with those who can shoot or punch their way out.

Fiona - 
Who do you like your bad guys/gals to target?

Steve - 
My bad guys (and girls!) all have their own complex motivations and personalities. Every bad guy is a viewpoint character, with a heap of chapters, so you get to see what they're doing and thinking as Jack is fighting to stop them. They want power, or revenge, like most bad guys!

Fiona - 
What do you think writers/readers should know about what a journalist does and does not have access to/ can and cannot do and still not break the laws themselves.

Steve - 
The main thing for journalists, like any character but even more important, is they have to earn the win.

What I mean by that is it's not good enough to have a character, but especially a journalist, just stumble onto a scoop / plot device and go "HEY, I FOUND THE SOLUTION TO MY BIG PROBLEM BY TOTAL ACCIDENT AND COINCIDENCE!"
Readers are allergic to it and can see right through it. It does make it harder when your character isn't an action hero, too.
In terms of breaking the law? Jack breaks the law all the time. 

Fiona - 
How do you do that? How do you show him trying and failing? What makes it an earned win?

Steve -

He fails. A lot. He starts The Foundation by waking up in a pool of his own vomit and it goes downhill from there. But he finds a lead and keeps chasing and working it. He relies on others to help him. He acts and bad guys react. When he thinks he's got it figured out, he's just getting started.

The worst review I ever got was a reader saying I didn't give him the ending he expected - the cliche hero killing the bad guy - so he gave it one star. I'm pretty happy to take that criticism.

Fiona -
Jack's not a super hero - but Jack must have some super powers - ability to reason, perseverance were examples you gave. Can you tell us what character traits help him and which ones are disabling?

done

Steve -
He's brave, possibly stupidly so. He's tenacious. He puts himself into danger for his family and friends. He's book smart - the best journalist on the planet - and street smart. On the downside? He drinks a lot. He's not in the best shape. He doesn't know when to walk away.

Oh, and he doesn't know one end of a gun from the other. That gets him into trouble.

Fiona - 
Speaking of getting oneself in trouble, a traditional question here on ThrillWriting is: Would you please tell us about your favorite scar or harrowing story?

Steve - 
Probably my dumbest tourist moment was when I was in LA for the first time. I'm used to being able to walk the streets in Melbourne with no real concern for safety. I was alone, 22 and hadn't traveled a lot. A few wrong turns in LA, and I was in a neighborhood where I definitely wasn't welcome. Dudes were eyeing me off, a few shouted at me to get out of there, one even threatened me. So I got out of there!

Fiona -
I have had the pleasure to meet you and get to know you as we work together on a project called Murder and Mayhem. I'm pretty excited about our books that are involved. 20 NY Times and USA Today, along with award winning authors put together a boxed set all for 99 cents. 

Can you tell us about your book from the collection? 

Steve -
Sure. It's called THE OMEGA STRAIN I'm very excited about it. It's the start of a new series for me. The blurb is here:
Meet Mitch Herron: unstoppable assassin and biological nightmare. Herron’s business is death and business is good. Though he’s an assassin without equal, his latest job is no walk in the park. Fanatics, hell-bent on cleansing the planet, ambush Herron and turn him into a walking bioweapon. With only days before he’s used to spread the most lethal contagion in human history, Herron can surrender himself to quarantine or hunt down the fanatics, knowing he might be the only person who can. The clock is ticking…
This one is about an action hero, a bit different to Jack. I like the contrast.

It has been great getting to know you too, thanks Fiona. I'm really excited about our collection and think readers will love it.

If you'd like to stay in touch with Steve, here are his l
inks:
http://stevepvincent.com
https://www.amazon.com/Steve-P.-Vincent/e/B00LIO5DPO
facebook.com/stevepvincentwriter
twitter.com/stevepvincent

AND OF COURSE - Steve and I would really appreciate it if you would take a second and pre-order your copy of MURDER AND MAYHEM 99 cents - 20 Books by New York Times, USA Today, and Award-winning authors. Mine is called In Too DEEP and is also about terror (in the US). www.mayhembook.com