Thursday, January 14, 2016

Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction from Jorgen Flood

Today I interview Jorgen Flood, author of several works of historical fiction and non-fiction, all of which are associated with his native Norway.  Jorgen and I are members of the Brandywine Valley Writers Group (in the Philadelphia suburbs).
Congratulations on your books, Jorgen!  Although all of your work is related in one way or another to Norway, these books are all written in English, correct?
Yes, pretty much. All of my fiction books. However, one of the non-fiction books was published in Norwegian.

You self-published these books.  What was your greatest challenge in the self-publishing process?
I actually started out with a publisher for my first book, but felt I had no control over distribution or pricing. I am sure the level of support from the publisher is different if you have a best seller, but for me the self publishing route was the best. I have not regretted it, and ended buying back the rights to my own book (for a modest amount) Marketing is undoubtedly the biggest challenge for self publishers, since companies like Amazon and Smashwords (an e-book company) handle the distribution very well.  

How many books have you published?  Which was your most popular book?
I have published three works of historical fiction, and five non fiction books. Two of the historical fiction books are from the Viking age, while the last, Steel Armageddon, consists of five war stories covering the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Steel Armageddon is without any comparison my best seller. It outsells the other seven books combined.

I understand that your latest books collect articles you wrote.  Correct?  Where did they originally appear?

That is correct. The last three books are short historical stories regarding Norway. Most of the articles were originally published in "The Slooper," an online and paper magazine for the local lodge of Sons of Norway.  The book versions are expanded, both with regards to text and pictures.


Very good.  What's next?
I have started the third and final book from the Viking age, but at the moment the progress is not as fast I would have liked.

Let’s finish up with a process question: how to you write?  Do you do it in the same time and place every day?
No, though mostly at home and in the evenings. I have on occasion rented a room in the Poconos for a couple of days when I want to get something finished without interruptions.
Well, then I'll let you get back to work!  I look forward to your next book, and thanks for your time, Jorgen.
Jorgen Flood's books can be purchased from Amazon or Smashwords. His website is at

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Sarah Cain Interview: The 8th Circle

Today we interview my friend Sarah Cain, author of the new thriller The 8th Circle.  I had the privilege of reading and commenting on an early version of this book.  Sarah, congratulations on your hardcover thriller from Crooked Lane Books!  I’m sure there are a lot of writers out there who would like to know how you got an agent. How did that come about?

Getting an agent was a process. After sending out loads of query letters that didn't generate much interest, I decided to try my luck at Thrillerfest, the big thriller writers conference in New York. By this time I had a polished manuscript that had been critiqued by my special critique group--including you, thank you very much--and felt pretty confident. I went to the conference pitched and got lucky. Six agents wanted full manuscripts and two wanted fifty pages. I sent them off, and within a month I had offers from four. I went with my agent Renee Fountain because she really seemed to have the best feel for the book, and she was really enthusiastic about it.

Your main character is a Philadelphia newspaper columnist named Danny Ryan. His brother and late father were policemen.  Why pick a newspaperman for the protagonist in a murder mystery, instead of a cop?

I picked a newspaperman for my protagonist because I worked in PR in my former life and had a lot of interactions with the press. I also wrote op-eds and ghost wrote articles for the some of the Philly business papers. Plus John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News is a friend, and he was kind enough to read my manuscript and offer advice. Really, I just felt more comfortable going at it from a reporter's point of view because I've always been a writer.

You chose a 3rd person point of view for your novel, and switched the p.o.v. between several characters.  How did you decide on that?

For me, third person is the easiest way to write. There also some very distinct subplots in the novel, and the only way to manage them was to go with multiple view points.

Let’s finish up with a process question: how to you write?  Do you do it in the same time and place every day?

I always write from midnight to 2:30 am, which is a holdover from having small children. I also write from about 3 to 6 pm. I'm really not a morning person, though if I don't have anything scheduled I'll get up and write. I do 2,000 words a day always at my desk, which is kind of a cupboard filled with notes and photos and other debris.

One more question: I know you are contracted for a second book.  Does that one also feature Danny Ryan?

I'm finishing up my second book now. It is a sequel to the first and features Danny Ryan. The working title is Blood Angel. As of right now, it's a bit lighter than the first.

We’ll look forward to it.  Again, Sarah Cain’s first thriller was just published by Crooked Lane Books.  The book release party will be at the Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, on Saturday, 16 January 2016, from 1 to 3 pm.

Follow Sarah Cain at, at Twitter @sarahcain78, and her blogs at or

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Jason Pollock Interview: Could Emily Brontë Beat Up Jane Austen?

Today we interview Jason Pollock: writer, stand-up comic, actor, raconteur, magician, and man-about-town. He's just released You're Really Reading This Book? My Ramblings on Social Media

Tell us about your new book, Jason. How did it come about?

I’ve seen people doing Gofundme and Kickstarter to get out of debt and save their mortgage. I think that’s kind of tacky. This is a way to have accomplished something and sell something at the same time.

At a horror con back in October, I met a horror writer named Joe Knetter. He said he wrote a book called Thoughts and took them from his Facebook. I said that’s a great idea! People have found my Facebook funnier than my actual stand-up. Why not compile that into a book with chapters? He said to do it. I said, “Isn’t that stealing a similar idea?” He said, “I don’t give a shit.” Thus, the rest is history.

How does your book compare with great works of American literature, such as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick or Pimp by Iceberg Slim?

This is a great question. As far as Moby-Dick goes, probably more laughs per page. Pimp? Unfortunately, not as much sex and violence.

Jason, how would your book be different if it had been written by, say, Jane Austen?

I don’t think it would be different. I, honestly, believe that Jane would’ve written it the exact same way. Not even a question.

While we’re on the subject: if Jane Austen fought Emily Brontë in a steel-cage death match, who would win?

I think we both know they don’t call her “Bruiser Brontë for nothing.

Fox News has proven that writers (such as Jason) who use the Oxford comma are terrorists. Why do you hate America, Jason?

We all know Fox News is not necessarily accurate. I don’t hate America. It’s quite the contrary. It’s because of my love of the American people that I’m really trying to correct, educate, and get America to use the proper punctuation.

We’re almost out of room. Any last requests, Jason?

Yes. Please extend the interview. HAHA!! I jest. It’s, seriously, an honor that people are reading and liking the book. Thanks for taking the time to interview me to help me publicize it. The more books sold the more I can pay off the vet bill and catch up on the mortgage. It’s all for a good cause!

Thanks Tony and fellow readers.

You can follow Jason on Facebook here.

Jason Pollock's new book is currently available here or here or even here.

Monday, January 4, 2016

"The Expanse:" Heating Up

Syfy's "The Expanse" is billed as Space Opera, but--if the setting was on Earth--most of the first three episodes of that series could have been police procedural or political thriller.

Consider the action on Ceres: murders, bribery, theft.  The setting is new, but the action could have fueled a typical episode of "Law and Order." The data smuggler could have been found in any contemporary thriller, renamed as an industrial spy.

I associate Space Opera with battles between starships. Yes, the ice hauler Canterbury was destroyed in the first episode, but that was hardly a battle, since the Canterbury didn't have any weapons.

However, Episode Four (titled "CQB," military-speak for "Close Quarters Battle") finally delivered. The flagship of the Martian fleet, the MCRN Donnager, fought six smaller vessels. Plenty of excitement there: the pride of Mars was overcome by the mysterious, technologically-superior attackers. The Commander destroyed the Donnager to prevent boarders from taking the ship.

A few observations:

The Commander of the Donnager was an Asian female, which was a nice contrast to the typical rock-jawed Anglo-male ship's captain that we usually see.

On the various "Star Trek" shows, the bridge set was elaborate, while the hanger bay was almost featureless. The art director of "The Expanse" went the opposite way. The Donnager's Commander ran the battle from a fairly small room (I was unclear whether this was the bridge or the CIC, since both were mentioned). The special effects for the sensors were good, but the overall impression was underwhelming. Ah, but the hanger bay was spectacular! It was a multi-story structure with gantries and catwalks and various cool stuff. The walls looked like a theater with box seats that went all the way to the ceiling. It didn't make much sense, but damn! It looked great, even if it was mostly CGI.

On the negative side, the final ten minutes of the episode featured everyone in space suits...and you couldn't tell who was whom. Martian marines in black spacesuits fought boarders in similar suits. They were as indistinguishable as Stormtroopers on "Star Wars."

Now, I accept that, since soldiers fight in uniforms, space-suited Marines might wear identical suits. But there was no reason for the four surviving crew of the Canterbury to be in identical spacesuits!

Yes, their spacesuits were different from those used by the Marines. But, once again, we couldn't tell who was whom! With their suits on, I couldn't even tell which of the four was the sole woman!

Look, the crew of the Canterbury were civilian workers, not soldiers. There was no reason for them to wear identical spacesuits. In fact, since the corporation they worked for was so cheap, they might well have had to purchase their own spacesuits. A single line about how one penny-pinching character was wearing an older, bulkier model of spacesuit would have explained all of that.

In my last post, I mentioned Larry Niven's Gil the ARM stories. In one of them--I believe it was "Death by Ecstasy"--he mentions that a spacesuit is the most expensive possession a belter owns. It's almost like a home, and they usually spend a fortune customizing it. And after they customize it with gizmos, they paint it.

If the art director of "The Expanse" had followed that precedent, we would have had no trouble figuring out who was in each of the belter's suits.

Overall, though, "The Expanse" has improved as it's gone along, and I expect to watch it to the end.