Interview with C S Splitter, author of The Crayder Chronicles series


As part of the of C S Splitter’s “The Willing” blog tour, I have Splitter on the blog today. We chat about a lot of things, including his books, which are very interesting to say the least. So see my impression of the second book in the series, you can check out my review:

The Willing (Crayder Chronicles – Book 2) by C.S. Splitter – A review

… Tom Crayder, the protagonist of this series, is not a hero. He loves to talk and think about things such as planes, girls, sex and guns, basically all the things which would interest every guy. He is a normal guy, just like me, with all the normal problems, when life thrusts into a situation where he has to be heroic. In this book, Tom is not on a mission for the organisation, but on one of his own. His wife Jenny unknowingly gets into trouble with the mafia, and it is upto Tom and his team to save her. All the characters from the first book appear to make a comeback, and he has Lorena at his side during the entire book. …

Interview with author C S Splitter

From what I have read on his blog and his books, I can say that Splitter is an extremely fun person to be around. You’ll get to see the same thing in the interview as well! So, let me hand over the proverbial mike to him:

Hello Ritesh,
Thank you for having me.  I really do read your blog and you have had a couple of my favorite authors on here.  So, I am honored to be here.

Ritesh: Hi Splitter, its so nice to have you here. Lets get started!

Could you describe your books for us? What genre do you think they fall under?

The Crayder Chronicles is all about action/adventure and thrills.  There are also elements of suspense, mystery, hardboiled detective, and humor.  I really like sprinkling some humor in among the more serious subjects.

Tom Crayder, the main character, is drawn into a clandestine organization that administers justice outside of a broken system.  He is also wisecracking, regular guy who maybe has some delusions of being a modern day superhero, but he really does not have the “cool factor” to pull it off.

When and why did you begin writing? Who inspired you to start writing?

I have always written but did not publish a fiction book until “The Reluctant.”  My first love was fantasy and I spent years trying to come up with a good, original idea in that genre to write about.  I failed!

Honestly, I got serious about writing a fiction book when one of my favorite authors was taking years to write his next book.  I was very frustrated by his lack of production and when I went looking for information on his series, I ran into this wonderful new animal called the “indie author.”  I found this new breed was churning out books, some extremely good, at an impressive rate.

Ritesh: Wonder if this author is George RR Martin. If so, I share your frustration. Argh!

I thought: How hard could it be to write a book?  Surely, it should not take years.  Look at all of these people who are putting out three or more per year!

The truth is that writing a book is very, very difficult.  I am not sure it should take half a decade to write a book, but it certainly was more difficult in some ways than I had anticipated.

How did the idea for this series come to mind?

A police acquaintance at a dinner party made the comment that criminals got caught because they bragged about their exploits and left silly clues.  For some reason, that really struck me and I started wondering if a person with a little means, some intellect, and the ability to remain silent, could pull off capers without getting caught.

I knew I did not want to write about a stone-cold criminal and I knew I did not want to write about cops chasing bad guys.  What excited me was the idea of writing about an “everyday guy” that had to make a decision about the thin line between the law and real justice.

I have always liked characters that were conflicted and walked the line between good and evil (even though you knew they were basically good).  That is why the tag line for the first book, “The Reluctant,” was:  “If you were asked to do something really bad for very good reasons, would you?  Could you?”

Who is you favourite character?

The question is almost unfair because they are all so close to me now.  I like them all including one of the bad guys.

Lorena is probably the most interesting character because she is so mysterious.  And while Tom may be ordinary, Lorena is far from that.  She is a thunderstorm of mixed emotions and jumbled morals.

The cool guy in the whole series is Jake; Tom’s unlikely outlaw biker buddy.  He may run a crime ring, but he is a good guy.  Really he is.

Tom is probably the character I can identify with the most.  He seems to have universal appeal but only after the reader gets to know him a bit.  A lot of people start out with mixed feelings about him but, by the end, he becomes someone they feel like they know in their real lives.  I get a lot of emails from readers saying that he reminds them of themselves or their father / brother / husband / boyfriend / friend.  He really is an “every man” just trying to keep his head above water in some very hairy situations.

Where did Mr Crayder learn to do all the ‘spy stuff’?

Very astute question!  As his history is revealed, we find out that he has lived a very ordinary life.  He was never a CIA agent or Special Forces operative.  He is not someone who would be suspected of participating in the adventures he has.  And that makes him the perfect person for the organization to try to recruit.

What Tom has done in life is watch wayyyy too many television shows and movies.  He finds himself imitating childhood heroes when he needs to and faking courage when he is scared to death.  Tom is an actor, a mimicker.  He also makes a number of mistakes along the way both in judgment and action which, I think, makes him someone with whom it is so easy to identify.

I want to be like Jake, but I am more like Tom.  Ah, well, maybe next life.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the book to life?

Ritesh, if the FBI ever looks into my Google searches, I will get “disappeared” and never heard from again.  I will try to complete the series before that happens, I promise!

At what temperature do bodies burn?  How would a pilot avoid RADAR detection?  How do secret organizations support themselves?  How does someone change identities?  How are illegal drugs produced and distributed?  These are only some of the subjects I have had to research.  Not the normal fare of Internet ninjas.

I also take pride in presenting plausible situations with real world details.  All of the flights Tom takes in his plane are ones I have ridden along on or flown in a simulator that is rated for pilot training.  All of the locations I talk about in the books really do exist in the real world even if I do not name them (which I purposefully do not do).

My wife thinks I am just playing my silly flying games but, in reality, I am doing research for my writing.  Yeah, that’s my story and I am sticking to it…

What is the hardest part of writing the series?

Writing the first book in the series was positively frightening.  More accurately, the writing was fun but letting other people read it scared me to death.

Then, when people started liking that first book, I felt the pressure of making the second book, “The Willling,” even better.  Sure, I already had a book under my belt and experience counts for a lot, but it is daunting to think that you have already given your best effort and the NEXT one still has to surpass that previous effort.

All of those obstacles come down to pacing for me.  It is extremely difficult to balance action, character development, and story, in a way that keeps the reader turning pages.  That is an art that I think all writers keep learning as they go along.

Who designed the covers of the book?

The eBook cover for “The Reluctant” was designed by Dafeenah over at Indie Designz.  She is incredibly talented and a delight to work with.  Unfortunately, as I got into the second book, our schedules did not match

The cover for “The Willing” was put together by Eric Shoemaker, another talented artist, at ShoemakerDesigns.  He has also done all of my print and most of the artwork on my site.

One of the smartest things I ever did was realize that I had no artistic talent of my own.

 Did you learn anything from writing your series and what is it?

It IS difficult to write a book!  I mean, anyone can write a book, but making one that people want to read is difficult.

Getting a book ready for publishing takes a massive amount of work.  I was very fortunate in finding a great young editor, Tricia Kristufek that believed in my stories.  I came across great cover artists.  My first fan, Jenn Pringle from IndieSupporter, became a good friend and “go to” person for just about anything I needed.  That woman knows everyone!

There are some authors who can put together everything themselves, but I have no idea how they do it.  For me, the team made the books possible and put the polishing touches on them that, I hope, make readers enjoy them.

As indie and self pubbed authors, we need to turn out books that are virtually indistinguishable from those produced by large publishing houses…and while those standards are not that high, they are mandatory.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in the books?

I thought about it.  One of the great things about eBooks is that they can evolve, but print is permanent.  Before the books went to print (both are available now in print from Amazon), I seriously considered moving chapter five in “The Reluctant” to be the first chapter.

I was worried that the first chapter, as it stood, had too much action and too little context.  I had even received such feedback from some early beta readers.  Over time, I came to realize that is was all a matter of taste.  Most of those early readers were fantasy fans and fantasy books tend to have a slow lead-in with lots of background.  Many even have a prologue.

But, since my target audience was more action oriented, I decided to leave the chapter order alone.  Readers that are used to such books want to be grabbed hard and pulled into the story right at the beginning.  I think the first chapter did that, but the truth of that statement is up to the individual reader.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Was there somewhere in the book you felt stuck?

I outline pretty heavily and I even write backgrounds on all of the characters.  I go into the book with a detailed plan and … about half way through, things start changing!  The end does not change, but I get ideas as I write that are better than what I had outlined.

I try to be an architect in my writing by planning things carefully.  I end up being a bit of a gardener and letting the story and character grow as they will.

What are your current projects?  When is the next book in the series coming out?

The third book in the series, “The UnMasked,” will be out in June of 2012.  It will be a bit of a change because it is going to tell Lorena’s story.  In it, we will find out how her character was formed and how she came to be part of that secret organization.  I also have a healthy portion of the fourth book planned and written because, as I had originally planned the series, it was to be the third book.

When I started writing this series, the dam in my brain broke where writing ideas were concerned.  Now, I have so many ideas coming to me for books that I doubt I will live long enough to write them all.  I even have what I think is a good character and story for a fantasy series!  Finally …

Can you tell us what happens in the next book in the series? Can we get an excerpt from that book?

Book three, “The UnMasked,” will be a bit of a prequel and show how Lorena’s character was formed and how she acquired the skills she possesses.  It will also show how she became part of the “organization” and give the readers some clues as to why she has made certain decisions in her life.

Sorry, no excerpts yet!  I mean, I could tell you, but then I would have to send Lorena after you…

No, really, we have not even gone through the first edit yet so nothing there is ready for the eyes of the public.  Part of the first chapter for book two, “The Willing” IS available on my website, however,  if people want a sample of the writing.

What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books? Favourite movies and favourite music band?

I have so many authors that I enjoy that I could comment on them all day.  I will name just a few:

I just finished Ghost Story by Jim Butcher.  Someone once compared my writing style to his and that distressed me so much that I went out and bought the Dresden Files to see what they were talking about.  I do not personally see the similarities, but I aspire to one day be as good a writer and story teller as he is.  I am now a huge fan.

Michael J. Sullivan’s Ryria Revelations is a wonderful series.  I loved his first book and went looking for information on his other works.  In the process, I found out that he was (at the time) an indie author and his story became an inspiration for me as an aspiring writer.  He writes fantasy the way it is supposed to be written.

Glen Cook’s “Black Company” series was a classic.  The largest thing I remember from his books was his character development.  He went about it in a very sneaky way and I liked it so much that I stole the technique.  And I am not ashamed to admit it!

My favorite movie is “History of the World, Part I.”  Not the most sophisticated movie ever made.  As a matter of fact, I think the working title was “Something to Offend Everyone.”  It’s hilarious precisely because it spares no one.

My favorite musical performer is probably Billy Joel.  He has been a good singer and great songwriter since the 70’s.  He actually influenced my first book in that the pacing follows that of his song, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”  I love the way he has of switching up the tempo and theme of a song right in the middle.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.

  • I am a big softy when it comes to animals.
  • I am not really a pilot!  People think that I am because I know something about flying, but I have never taken the time to actually get my license even though I get to do some flying with friends.
  • I have a very trivial mind.  While I sometimes find it difficult to recall what I had for breakfast, my brain is full of insignificant and obscure facts.  I would love to tell you that this little gift helps me in life but, really, there is no advantage!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?

Just “Thank You!”

“The Reluctant” hit Amazon’s best seller lists in January.  It made number 24 in free eBook fiction overall and number 2 in action/adventure and contemporary fiction.  More than 20,000 people now have my first book in their hands and that sort of number is truly humbling.  I hope “The Willing”, not free but only $.99 as a promotion for this blog tour, will do as well.

Some writers will write even if no one reads their work.  Maybe they have some sort of gift, but that is not me.  The feedback that I get from readers is my reason for writing.  I need the interaction with fans to keep me going and I SINCERELY appreciate the fact that they took time and spent money on my work.  As a writer, I should come up with another word here, but I will just have to go back to the whole thing being humbling.  That fits.

Quick-fire questions:

ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
I felt like an author when I held my very first “dead tree” printed copy in my hand, but I have to say that I love carrying around a whole library of books on my phone.  Ebooks are the future.

Cats or dogs?
I have both and love both, but I am a dog person.  Dogs have masters, cats have staff.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee.  Double strong, double sweet.  Or Espresso.

Favourite food?
Crab Imperial.  So rich it bypasses digestion and goes straight to your arteries.

Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?
Soft-serve vanilla DIPPED in chocolate sauce.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Phone, Keys, Wallet and Cash

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
My recliner.  Yes, I have reached that age where I have a favorite chair.

If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you any why?

  • Abraham Lincoln.  Truly, a complex man whose brain I would like to pick.
  • The Professor from Gilligan’s Island because he could make anything from a cocnut.
  • Jennifer Anniston because…well…have you seen her?

List 3 of your all-time favourite movies and 3 of your all-time favourite songs/bands.

Movies:

Bands/Songs (I am old skool, remember):

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
Bedlam on BBC.  Insane Asylum turned Apartment Complex = Win

Thank you for having me, Ritesh!  You ask wonderful questions.  I have done a number of this type of interview and your question actually made me take a step back and further analyze some of my answers.  It has been very nice to meet you!

About Author C S Splitter

C.S. Splitter is a businessman, author, and stand-up philosopher living in rural Maryland with his beautiful wife, small dog, and astonishingly large cat. He is an avid shooter and loves being 5000 feet above the ground, upside down, in an open cockpit. He will never again jump out of a perfectly good airplane and feels the need to color outside of the lines.

You can find him here:

Blog    |    Goodreads    |    Twitter   |    Facebook

Amazon Page    |    Smashwords

About his books:

The Reluctant (Crayder Chronicles Book One)

Action, adventure, suspense, and thriller in one story told with a liberal dose of humor.
Tom’s problems are not unique. His business is failing and his wife has to work too many hours to make ends meet. He is under some rather large financial pressures and wants more from his marriage and his life.
He finds his respite in the air as a private pilot. Unfortunately for Tom, he is behind on payments for his plane and is forced to take odd jobs from a local crime boss. Tom is no criminal, but the errands he is running are just slightly on the wrong side of the law and the money is almost good enough to allow him to make his plane payments.
Just as things begin to come under some semblance of control, he meets a woman who just might represent the adventure he seeks. He soon discovers that appearances, and beautiful women, can sometimes be deceiving.
“The Reluctant” is the first in the Crayder Chronicles series and yet is a stand alone story with a satisfying conclusion of its own.

Buy on Amazon:    Kindle    |    Paperback

The Willing  (Crayder Chronicles Book Two)

How far would you go to protect your friends and family?
Tom Crayder is the All-American guy next door with a business, a wife, a son, a mortgage, and an expensive hobby. He is also a politically incorrect, wisecracking operative working for a shadowy organization dedicated to administering justice outside of a broken system. Not even his wife knows of his other life when she finds herself unwittingly involved in a drug war.
Strap in with Tom as he navigates his way through the strata of a drug cartel. Lock and load with Lorena, a hard-hearted assassin, as she lends her deadly skills to Tom’s fight for his family. Sit back to watch Tom and Lorena figure out how to work together without killing each other.
Join the rest of the cast from “The Reluctant (Crayder Chronicles)” as they pitch in to track down the hitmen that threaten their associate.
Some mysteries are solved. Some questions are answered. Some live. Some die.

Buy on Amazon:    Kindle    |    Paperback

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