Friday, November 8, 2013

An Interview with Jac Wright, Author of The Reckless Engineer

I would like to welcome Jac Wright, author of The Reckless Engineer to Shelf Full of Books today. Jac is here to talk with us today about his book, and writing.

Where do you like to write?
     I have to move sometimes for my engineering contracts.
      I like to have one large room with tall and wide windows or French patio doors with a lovely view and a peaceful scenery.  My solid oak pedestal desk and comfortable chair is set to the side of the window.  I need a king size bed and a comfortable armchair in the same room with plenty of adjustable lighting.  I like the room carpeted wall-to-wall.  I like my PC with a wide screen on the desk and also my laptop so I can write from my bed or my armchair when I feel like it.  I like having kittens and puppies vying for my attention around me while I write.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? 
     I have loved English literature since I my mother enrolled me in weekend Speech & Drama classes when I was 3 years old.  My mother had this rack full of books like The Pickwick papers, The Tale of Two Cities, Lorna Doone, The Animal Farm etc. stacked on it along with piles of Readers’ Digests. My mother used to read to me from them when I 

was too young to read; and soon I was reading them myself.  That sparked my interest as a reader and a spectator very early. 
     I started writing seriously when I took my Freshman English course during the first year at Stanford, and then I kept writing over the years.  I first thought about presenting my work for publication only from about 2008.  One needs a level of maturity and life experience to write with impact and I felt that I had reached this level about that time.

Do you have a specific writing style?
     I think there is a lot of influence from my training in and composition of poetry in my writing.  There is a lot of imagery and poetic phrasing. 
I think my early training and study of Drama bleeds into it, particularly in some scene setting.
     I wrote The Reckless Engineer in the first person, and then changed the whole manuscript to the third person because I wanted to include the POVs of two other characters.

Where do your ideas come from?
     The mostly come from some creative place in the back of my subconscious mind.
In my stand-alone stories the central idea of the plot for the story comes to me first in a moment of inexplicable inspiration along with look and the personality of the main character, kind of like a segment of a dream or a scene of a movie.  It is a strong image sequence or a clip of a movie in my mind.  And then I build the rest of the story – the setting, the supporting characters, the mood etc. – around it.
     For example, this June I woke up with this image of a fugitive, a man escaping from the van transporting him from prison to the courts that had had an accident and overturned by the roadside. Prisoners wear regular clothes in England and are not chained. He runs into the crowds and a bus parked behind a mall to hide among the people only to find that it is a film set.  The actor playing a main character of the movie and the director are having a fight. The actor suddenly punches the director in the face who falls backward. My protagonist fugitive hiding among the supporting film crew catches him and breaks the fall.  The director gets up, wipes the blood off his nose, fires the main actor loudly, and asks him to get out of his movie set.  He turns to my protagonist and asks: ‘You there, what’s your name?’  ‘Art Miller,’ he gives a fake name.  ‘Art, you are playing Michael Fallon. His trailer is yours now. Go with my crew and get dressed.’  And there I have the plot, the main characters, and the first chapter of my standalone, In Plain Sight.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I do a lot of substantive editing myself because I don’t like someone else’s voice in there.  However, I hit the jackpot when I found my editor, Debbie Gilbert at Soul Mate publishing.  Her advice to me through 3 rounds of editing enhanced the writing without intruding in any way; it transformed the book.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
     I’d like to be financially a little more independent so that I can free my mind and not have the burdens of worrying about mundane things.   
     It would help me buy the services of an expert to do the mundane parts of the marketing, leaving only the parts like this I love to me.  It will free up more of my time for my writing and my engineering work.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It takes a year, while balancing my writing with my other responsibilities.  And then it goes through about a month of editing with the publisher.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
It is different for me from writing a stand-alone, or poetry, or a short story.  I need to build the plots more deliberately around the series lead.  And then I have to balance the story just right so that the personality of the series lead – in the case of The Reckless Engineer, Jeremy Aiden Stone – does not impose too much on the central characters of the story.  I have to develop the series lead slowly in the background, which I develop the characters of each particular story strongly and rapidly in the foreground.

What are your current projects?
I have two stories – The Bank Job (Summerset Tales #2) and Buy, Sell, Murder (The Reckless Engineer #2) – half written. 
I have started the fifth, In Plain Sight, with just the plot and the main characters designed and only the first chapter written.  I have a hunch that In Plain Sight is going to be my favourite.
I should like to finish all 3 in 2014.

Do you see writing as a career?
No.  It is a calling.

Please tell us a little bit about your book. 
     Love is a battlefield.  The aftershocks of an affair reverberate out to those in the lives of the lovers, who will NOT take it lying down.
     Jack Connor's idyllic life in the Portsmouth countryside with his billionaire heiress wife Caitlin McAllen is shattered when sexy Michelle, with whom he is having an affair and who is pregnant with his child, is found dead and Jack is arrested for the murder.   Jeremy Stone brings a top London attorney to handle his best friends defence.

What genre are your books?
Literary Suspense, Legal Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Mystery … in that order.

What draws you to this genre?
     I really like the psychological motivation of my characters.  I studied Freudian and Jungian psychology as part of Stanford’s humanities course requirements.  And I have read how the movement to modern wiring came about with the Bloomsbury group led by Virginia and Leonard Woolf who were also deeply influenced by Freudian theory.  Hence I like to write psychological thrillers.
     The literary fiction aspect comes from my background and training in poetry and drama.
As for the thrillers I grew up watching Tales of the Unexpected based on Roald Dahl’s writing, the old Mission impossible series.
     Therefore I combine these three aspects to write Literary Suspense/Psychological Thrillers.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? 
     Well, the series lead is and electrical engineer.   He is very versatile and adventurous like MacGyver.  He is courageous, cerebral, and highly skilled like Barney in Mission Impossible.  He is a little bit adrenaline addicted and reckless and this gets him into all sorts of trouble.
      Most of the stories build suspense and tension from the very start - from the title, the blurb, and the first paragraph – and it never eases.  And then there is usually a twist like in Tales of the Unexpected.
      The stories are character driven, characters who I draw to take you through an emotionally roller coaster.  And I build a world for them using my skills as a poet even though the world I build is a little corner of contemporary Britain that I live in.

How did you come up with the title?
The series lead in The Reckless Engineer, Jeremy Aiden Stone, is an electronic engineer.  His adrenaline addicted adventure seeking personality gets him into trouble often.
The first story in the series is also about an engineer, Jack Connor, who is a brilliant and charismatic guy (the character Jack Connor) can get into whose character fault is that he is weak in love, someone like John F. Kennedy.  Then I built the characters of the four very different women who are in his life who pull him in different directions.  Jack is weak in character and very confused.  He gets drawn into different conflicting and rather irresponsible actions as he is pulled by these string women in different directions.
They are both somewhat reckless in their own different ways and the title captures that.
After I decided on the title I was quite pleased to find that there is a pub in Bristol called The Reckless Engineer that is a regular haunt loved by the engineers and technical managers who work in the surrounding industrial parks that are home to many small engineering firms.

Who designed the covers?
I designed the cover for my short fiction story.  The publisher, Soul Mate Publishing designed the cover for The Reckless Engineer based on my write-up of my concept.  Oh, they got it amazingly right beyond expectation, pure gold.

Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
     Strangely enough my favourites are two of the supporting characters.
     The first one is Magnus Laird, a bumbling solicitor.  He is definitely a loveable Dickensian character who I created specially as a tribute to Charels Dickens whose writing inspired me early on in life.
     The second character is Otter, the gay half-black actor working in the London West End.  I develop him further add Jeremy’s sidekick in the series from the second book, “Buy, Sell, Murder.”

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?
I don’t like the victim because she is manipulative and she is a bully.

Are your characters’ experiences taken from someone you know, or events in your own life?
     Some aspects of the series lead, Jeremy Aiden Stone, are based on me and my best friend who is also an electrical engineer.  I would say Jeremy lives my ideal life and I live it through him. 
     A lot of my experience gets into the stories into the stories, but in a way that is disjointed and mixed up together.  For example I might model the look of a character on one person I have known, but give him a personality of another person or one that is purely fictional.  I might pick a venue or a pub I might have seen in Salisbury, Hampshire and place it in Bath, Somerset.  Hence it is a very disjointed mix-up of my experiences mixed together with pure fiction.  I would therefore say that any resemblances to real life events are used fictitiously.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
-      Passion can blind one and can get one into a lot of trouble.
-      The fall from grace happens in smalls steps.  “One did not see the chasm between normal life and the state of abject insanity because one slipped a little bit at a time, and the next step was a small slip and almost a natural state of minor transgression from the present one.”
So get a grip.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?  
Daniel Craig would be good to play the series lead, Jeremy Aiden Stone, though he would have to look a decade younger.
 A great alternative would be Scott Eastwood (Clint Eastwood Junior) if his acting abilities are anything like his dad’s, but they would have to age him a decade which is not hard.

Desmond Harrington (from Dexter) could play the mess that is Jack Connor really well.

Jessica Biel had the right looks for Caitlin McAllen-Connor, Jack Connor’s wife, with a shorter haircut; and she would have to play the character a stronger personality than she is used to.

Jeremy Irons for Douglas McAllen, Caitlin’s father.

I know Otter looks like Lenny Kravitz.  So they will have to cast a new actor in the role.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If there were anything to be changed Debbie and I would have changed it.  It is perfect as it is.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing work and letting us get to know you a little better.

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  1. Thanks, Kathryn, for the very insightful questions. I have enjoyed discussing my writing on your fine blog immensely.

    I should also like to thank the members of the blog for participating in my giveaway. To the first place winner, Lorna Holland, I am giving away a copy of The Reckless Engineer ebook itself. For the other two winners, I shall be sending a copy of The Closet.

    Both books are now available on Amazon. Please follow the links from my Amazon author page.

    If you have any questions, please do comment here or contact me through my emails and social media pages.

    Thanks so much for being such a great host and audience.

  2. It was a pleasure to have you on Shelf Full of Books Jac. I hope you'll come back with your next book!