Up Close & Personal with Author – (Glenn Starkey) (SOLOMON’S MEN)
Interview Date: 30 August 2011
Where were you born and where do you call home?
Born in Nacogdoches, Texas. Presently living in Alvin, Texas (south of Houston)
How long have you been writing?
Over 40 years ago, while a young Marine in Vietnam, I began writing long letters home to a favorite aunt. She kept them through the years, saying they are like reading “mini-novels.” My writings continued in one form or another, chronicling my years and experiences in the Corps, and as a Texas police officer, in journals that I gave to my son one Christmas as a gift. From there I moved on to ideas, scribbles and notes that swirled in my head, until one day I realized I was actually writing a novel. When my first novel was completed, I progressed into having an agent and submitting for publication. My professional career became too demanding, plus a bout with cancer raised some hurdles, so I laid my writing life aside for several years. Now, retired from a major oil corporation as its security manager, life has given me the opportunity to return to this passion. I am dusting off all the completed novels and ideas that sat in waiting for me so long.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
“Solomon’s Men” A professional thief is hired to steal an ancient Templar artifact which swiftly becomes the ransom for his loved ones and the object of a mercenary hunt.
If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
“Buy the book!” (No, just kidding…:-)
The hero would say, “If I had known what the artifact truly was, I would never have accepted the assignment.”
The mercenary monks would say, “We must kill you, but we will later pray for your soul.”
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
“Solomon’s Men” is actually my third book, but first published. “The Year of the Ram” and “The Cobra and Scarab” are coming out this fall of 2011. None are series. Each is a different time period. “The Year of the Ram” is the first novel I wrote and “The Cobra and Scarab” is the latest. Hopefully, by end of year all three novels will be out in print as well as e-books. I’m not sure how they became so jumbled in order of publication, but it has worked out. I believe I wanted to try a modern day setting first, then release the historical fiction works. I also have two ideas for new novels and trying to determine which is best.
What or who inspired you to write?
Good question because I sincerely do not know what or who inspired me to write. Fortunately, God gave me the ability then turned me loose to see what I would do with it. I seem to have always had the need to write novels, to write the stories swirling within me. I believe writers write because they must, not simply because they want to.
Would you like to giveaway a copy of your book on this blog?
Yes, that would be a nice thing to do for my first interview since returning to writing. I would only ask for the reader’s review in return. You devise the method of selecting a recipient among all of your readers and I will give that person a paperback copy of “Solomon’s Men.”
How did you come up with the title and cover design?
Being a lover of history as well as a member of the Masonic Order, the Templar Knights provided me with the historical background and origin of name I wanted (even though the title is not based on King Solomon.) From that I created a secret Templar Order called SOLOMON’S MEN.
As for the cover design, my artistic son created it for me to send to the publisher as the general idea of what I wanted. After the publisher saw it, they said it was good enough to use – so we retained his design — AND I am happy to say that he also designed the cover for my novel “The Year of the Ram.” I’m very proud of that fact too!
Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?
As I wrote “Solomon’s Men” I kept the actor Antonio Banderas in mind for the lead role when the movie is made. (Hey, you’ve got to dream, right?) But, no, I haven’t made characters based on any particular person I know. They are often a conglomerate of the people I’ve met, worked with, disliked, or heard stories about through the years. As for including real events from my life, yes, they are woven throughout all of my writings in some form or another. I think every author does that. My wife always says that she sees me in the books (especially SOLOMON’S MEN) even though I never intentionally attempt to do so.
My experiences in the Marine Corps, as a police officer, a career as a security manager for a major global oil corporation, and having been a security consultant, provide me with sufficient realistic background for any novel I may choose to write.
What books have most influenced your writing most and why?
I have always enjoyed a variety of books – “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” “The Fifth Profession,” “First Blood,” “The Assyrian,” “River God,” “The Wolf’s Hour,” and more. But “The Wolf’s Hour” by Robert McCammon was a book given to me by a published author/friend when I first officially began to write. She suggested I fully read the book for his manner of constructing action scenes, dialogue, and so forth. I did, and it was an excellent book to read as well as being educational.
Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
I have corresponded a few times with David Morrell, but never met him in person. Through his communications I can easily tell that he is a good man, both kind and gracious, as well as being a superb author. His friends are a long list of “Who’s Who” yet he talks to you as if he were your neighbor, not down to you as many highly published authors of his status have been known to do. I believe David Morrell would be the one author that I would like to meet in person, sit and have a relaxed conversation with over coffee or Jack Daniels – or both depending upon how long the meeting would be.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
Since my return to writing I have realized so much has changed in the publishing world that it is almost difficult to comprehend. So many doors are open now that either never existed before or were welded shut. Big publishing houses used to control the market on everything, almost dictating their whims, but the gates have sprung open and the horses are out and running!
I grew up being a “paperback” person so I’m inclined to favor them. Hardcover books were always out of my price range until they hit the “bargain shelves” at the book stores. And ebooks are something I am still trying to understand because you can go from writing “The End” to an ebook and reader “Download” within a few days. So I will rank paperbacks as being first in line with ebooks coming in second.
Where do you prefer to buy your books?
I buy my books wherever I find a good book that interests me. I wish there were more small, independent bookstores near me because it is such a good feeling to go in and talk books with the shop owners…I prefer to physically hold a book, browse through the pages, and make a decision to buy in that manner rather than select at random online. But, I have purchased more than my share of books online.
Are you a self published (Indie) Author?
Yes. All three of my books. That’s not to say I have stopped the quest to obtain an agent again and be published by a major publishing house, but since I am returning to writing, I am going the self published route for now. And I feel quite good about it too because of the marketing changes and social media avenues that are available today compared to years ago when I started writing.
Have you ever read a book more than once?
Many times! Some of the books have yellow pages now and are falling apart, but every year or so I will pull one book out and read it as if it were brand new to me.
Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
No, not that I can recall. I enjoy movies, and having a son with a film degree and background keeps me abreast of the latest information (plus trivia) about cinema. I watch movies for entertainment, not to compare them to the book. Movies generally differ tremendously from the book, so I accept each on their own merits.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?
I just completed a re-read of “River God” by Wilbur Smith in paperback. My wife used to read paperback and hardcover, but now reads all of her books in ebook format.
What book do you know that you will never read?
I try to “never say never” so I don’t have to later eat my words. I’ve read my writer friends’ romance novels, biographies, all types of books. So, for now, I can’t say that I would never read a specific book. There is some form of knowledge to gain from every book as long as we remain open-minded.
Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest and why?
I am like everyone else, always on the lookout for a new author and new book that grabs me and won’t let go until I completed reading their novel.
Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?
I believe an author, if given the opportunity, would continuously go back and rewrite parts of their books. I was once told that a book is never finished until jerked out of a writer’s hands because a writer will just keep re-working it…always trying to polish one more scene, one more page.
Do you have a book trailer? No.
What are your thoughts on book trailers?
Book trailers are something new to me. You-Tube has definitely opened the marketing field for them. If done right, a book trailer can make you want the book — but a poorly made trailer runs the risk of ruining your opinion of the book even when the book might actually be fantastic in its own right.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
1. Write. Do not talk about writing a book, write it – and finish it.
2. Write from personal experience and months of dedicated research on your subject matter.
3. Never underestimate the intelligence level of your readers. You never know what expert will read your work and be turned off because you didn’t know what you were writing about.
4. Write from the heart, with passion, fury, and love.
5. Get an honest opinion. When you ask someone to read your work, be prepared for a bad review. To your family, you are always going to be Hemingway – but you need to bleed, so get an unbiased, non-related, qualified person to review your work and give an honest evaluation. And don’t get mad if someone says it needs work in a dozen arenas.
6. Don’t be afraid to re-write. Don’t be afraid to throw out a sentence, paragraph, or even a chapter if the writing doesn’t add to the story and move it along.
7. Be prepared to meet good authors, the type that talk to you – and be prepared to encounter the authors that will talk down to you because they see themselves as God’s gift to literature.
8. If you make the big time in writing, always remember you started small. Keep your feet on the ground and always reach for the stars.
9. And last, always carry a small journal with you to write down your thoughts or observations about a location, event, people, etc. You might find yourself even writing a scene in the journal that later can be transferred to a book.
What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?
“Write what lies in your heart – then edit like hell!”
Do you write under a pen name? No.
Do you ever write in your PJ’s?
Do orange, fluffy-haired, house shoes with big rabbit ears and a leopard skin patterned speedo count? PJ’s only, huh? Well, thankfully, you can wipe those mental images away. The worst I’ve been dressed while writing was wearing my gym shorts and a ragged tee-shirt because I intended to later go to the gym.
Cats or dogs?
No cats. We don’t seem to get along. But, I have a two and a half year old, 93 lbs, Labradoodle named Willie. Matter-of-fact, as I write this he’s sleeping up under my chair so close that I can’t move.
White wine or red?
Nope. Jack Daniels “Gentleman Jack.”
Coffee or tea?
Coffee with cream and sugar, please.
Mexican food. (What can I say, I’m from Texas 🙂
Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?
Either. Unfortunately, they both equally add to the beltline.
What do you normally eat for breakfast?
I have a bad habit of skipping this meal because I jump up and start my day rushing about. I know it’s the best meal for you health-wise, but if I do eat, then it would be coffee and breakfast tacos (eggs, sausage, etc, rolled into a tortilla.)
Laptop or desktop for writing?
I use both, always making sure that I keep my documents updated on both machines through a program which uploads and downloads to each computer as they are turned on. It allows me to stay current. Program is called “Dropbox” and allows me versatility to move between either. It’s a free program and great when moving between computers.
Where do you prefer to do your writing?
Generally, I write only in my home office, but the kitchen table comes in a tight second. (It allows me to spread research material out to easily review. But doesn’t make my wife too happy.) And I’m one of those nocturnal writers who prefer to write late at night. Daytime remains for research and general paperwork.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?
I hate these questions. Always reminds me of a shrink asking a patient what they see in the ink splotches. There are so many pros and cons to making this selection that I believe I will pass because depending up what day and mood I’m in, I would probably change my selection of people. And if the island was beautiful, and I didn’t take my wife along, I would NEVER hear the end of it upon my return home! J
One of your favorite quotes –
“It is the internal, not the external which makes a man.”
List 3 of your all time favorite books?
“The Agony and the Ecstasy,” “The Assyrian,” and “The Wolf’s Hour.”
List 3 of your all time favorite movies?
Tough question because I like so many. “Tears of the Sun,” “The Searchers,” “Hombre,” “Gladiator.” (okay, I know that’s four but- )
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
I dislike the flood of reality shows on TV so I mainly watch History channel, Discovery Channel, and such. One of the last movies I watched was “Sherlock Holmes” with Jude Law and Robert Downing. I also enjoy foreign and independent movies such as “Mongol.”
Where can your readers follow you?
My blog: I intend to setup a blog on my website, www.GlennStarkey.net
My facebook page: Glenn Starkey
My Goodreads author page: To be setup in the future.
Other: www.GlennStarkey.net (Excerpts to my books are available on my website.)
Smashwords: Not yet…soon.
Other: My website has a Contact Me section.
How do you feel about readers contacting you?
I encourage readers and writers (both aspiring and established) to write me with whatever they wish to discuss. I know from a personal standpoint that I truly appreciate a well known author taking the time to reply to me. Hearing from readers allows me to better understand my writings, plus I always learn something new. Good feedback is extremely valuable to me.
Is your book in Print, ebook or both?
“Solomon’s Men” is in print now but will be coming out in ebook format by end of year.
“Year of the Ram” and “The Cobra and Scarab” will be coming out by end of this year, 2011, both in print and ebooks.
Patti Roberts – Author “Paradox – The Angels Are Here”