Howdy, all. It’s been quite some time since I have had a 13 Questions segment on the blog, but I am happy to say the long wait is over. Today I am interviewing Thriller author Jeremy Robinson, author of PULSE, INSTINCT, BENEATH, and a whole lot more. Jeremy is truly a classy guy and is also a rising star in the thriller genre. If you haven’t read any of his work, you are missing out.
OK, enough of that. You guys want his words, not mine, right? Of course you do. So let’s get started:
1) First thing’s first. You self-published your first novel, THE DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience? Why did you self publish instead of seeking a publisher?
I had been writing screenplays for years and writing DIDYMUS as a novel (based on a previously written screenplay) was something of an experiment. I was able to get in touch with James Rollins at the time and he loved it and provided a blurb for it. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to self publish because 1. I had been through the slush pile experience with screenwriting and didn’t want to re-experience it, and 2. Jim and I both felt the story was too different (a time travel, sci-fi thriller with Jesus) to sell easily.
So I decided to go it alone. Being a graphic designer and illustrator, I knew I could package the book well enough. So I published on Lulu.com, because a B&N.com bestseller, Lulu’s #1 fiction title (DIDYMUS still holds that honor even though it hasn’t sold via Lulu for years) and landed my agent, who found me on Amazon. That makes it sound easy. But it wasn’t and still isn’t. I spend half of every day and a lot of money on marketing.
2) How long have you been writing fiction? Any reason you write in the thriller genre? Could you see yourself writing in another genre?
I’ve been story telling longer than I’ve been writing. As a kid I was an artist, drawing my storylines. After college I was a comic book illustrator and eventually realized what I was doing with my art was telling stories. I wrote a few comics, moved into screenplays (not a huge leap) and then to novels (a bigger leap).
My genre is already hard to peg. I write thrillers technically, but my books are also full of horror, sci-fi and action/adventure. That said, my biggest break from the norm is underway right now—a SIX book young adult series. Of course, the only thing different is that it features a teen main character and is written in first person present. Other than that, it’s still science, mythology and monsters.
3) I know you are working on a YA project based on your novel ANTARKTOS RISING. Can you tell us something about that?
I should have read all the questions before answering! To fill in more of the blanks from question 2, yes, the YA series is based on ANTARKTOS RISING. The first three books are prequels with the first one taking place in 1987. Book 4 parrallels ANTARKTOS. 5 and 6 continue the YA series AND completes the ANTARKTOS storyline. Pretty sweet if you ask me! Of course, now I just need to sell a publisher on it. The proposal is about 90% done, then its off to my agent for input. After that…we’ll see.
4) Who are some of the authors that you read regularly?
I read James Rollins, Jeff Long, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, and a bunch more. Basically, all the guys you see giving me blurbs on the back of my books, which is incredibly exciting for me. I’m an author, but I’m and honest to goodness fan-boy of all these other guys.
5) What do you like most about writing? Is there a downside for you?
What I like most is getting these stories out of my head and in front of other people’s eyes. As fun as it is coming up with this stuff, the best is when someone reads and enjoys one of my books. The downside? I can think of two. 1. Marketing. I hate it. But it’s a necessary evil and I’ve spent an incredible amount of time experiment and mastering ways to spread the word. 2. Pay for authors is not steady. There is always a feeling of uncertainty. When will the next check come? I’ve waited more than a year for some. When will the next deal come? Everything is up in the air for a new author. With three kids and a mortgage, that uncertainty can be distracting.
6) How many projects are you working on right now?
Good question. I need to think about that… I’ve got the 6 book YA series proposal under way. I recently finished a proposal for a 3 book series called SecondWorld that will be absolutely amazing if I get the green light. My agent is shopping two humor books I wrote under pennames. I’ve got book 4 of the Chess Team worked out and ready to be written, but am waiting to hear if the publisher wants a book 4. Actually, I know what book 5 will be too. SO, a lot is up in the air. I’m not sure what will be the next deal, but I’ll be writing at least two full novels by 2011, whether I’ve sold them or not.
7) Describe a typical day in the life of Jeremy Robinson.
Wake up at 6:30. Hang out with the fam until 9. Work on marketing from 9 – 12. Lunch and Stephen Colbert until 12:30. Write from 12:30 – 5. If I have cover design work I do that at night.
8 ) Tell us about your first “big press” novel, PULSE. What is it about? Where did the idea come from?
PULSE is about a team of Delta operatives known as the Chess Team—King, Queen, Knight, Bishop and Rook—tasked with combating terrorism. In PULSE, that terrorism turns out to be a genetics company working on human regeneration (ultimately immortality) and selling it to the highest bidder. The result is a lot of science, mythology and bloody shootouts with animals, people and creatures that can’t be killed.
The idea for the Chess Team is actually hard to peg. My editor at Thomas Dunne had read ANTARKTOS RISING and loved it, but said they wanted something without the God angle. So I started working out the Chess Team. It sort of all just came to me. The idea for PUSLE specifically (regeneration and the Hydra) came from my very first screenplay written in 1995 while traveling the East coast for four months.
9) Is INSTINCT a sequel to PULSE?
INSTINCT is the sequel to PULSE. It’s all very separate from PULSE, though, until the very end. Then the storylines mesh a little bit and lead us into book 3 which combines elements from both PULSE and INSTINCT.
10) To celebrate the mass market paperback release of PULSE, you are giving away free signed books. Tell us how we can get one. Or two. Or eight.
Here’s the deal. To get a copy of PULSE, or INSTINCT, or BENEATH, visit this page on my site: http://www.jeremyrobinsononline.com/thrillevangelist.html. Here you’ll find out all the details. In essence you must become a Thrillevangelist spreading the good word about my books. Put up listmania lists on Amazon. Tweet about the books. Blog about them. And you will be rewarded. You can aim for one book in particular or go for them all!
11) Personally, I can’t wait for INSTINCT to be released. For some of the folks out there who might not have read any of your books in the past, how about telling us a little about it? What can we look forward to in INSTINCT?
INSTINCT is a pull-no-punches book. I’m pretty certain the Chess Team gets brutalized worse than any other fictional team being published right now. The scars they have at the end of this book will never fade. Those who have read it say it’s my best book to date, and I agree.
The story takes the team to the jungles of Vietnam where they sure for a cure to a weaponized plague that was first used to assassinate the president of the United States. They face danger on all sides—the plague, Neo Khmer Rogue, Vietnamese Special Forces (the Death Volunteers) and an ancient evil that holds the key to saving the world, put won’t let them leave the jungle alive.
12) What is next on the horizon for Jeremy Robinson? More Chess Team novels? YA projects? The ANTARKTOS RISING animated feature? C’mon, fill us in!
I think I’ve hit on this already, but here’s a breakdown.
• CHESS TEAM – Books 4 and 5 are planned, but not contracted yet.
• SECONDWORLD – Proposal is written and with my publisher, who is very excited about it, but I have yet to see an offer.
• SOLOMON: THE DESCENT (book 1 of the 6 part series) – Sample is complete. Summaries for all 6 books needs to be edited. Then its off to my agent.
• Two humor books, THE ZOMBIE’S WAY by Ike Onsoomyu and THE NINJA’S PATH by Kutyuso Deep (sound out the author names) are being shopped around.
That’s about it! What’s that, thirteen books in the works? The publishers will decide
what actually comes out next, though.
13) Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who wants to write books for a living, based on your own experiences getting where you are today?
I have a two part answer. First, be absolutely dedicated to the cause. I spent nearly 13 years in near poverty (I made 16k per year for a few years!) because I spent ALL my time working on writing, and then marketing. I gave up a lot of the comforts I could have had and focused on the long term goal of being a published author. Without this obsessive commitment, you’re far less likely to succeed. Of course, it helps a lot that I have an supportive wife. Without her, I’d have been dedicated, and homeless.
Second, don’t “write what you know.” That’s standard advice for authors, but I think its wrong. The logic says, if you’re a lawyer, write courtroom dramas. Chances are, if you’re a lawyer trying to become an author, the courtroom experience is boring you. For that reason, I say, write what you love! Your excitement will come through in your writing and if something interests you enough, you’ll do the research and will “know” it because you love it, not because it was your previous job. Because of my research for KRONOS I’m now considered an expert on the topic of the New England Sea Serpent and have been interviewed as such several times. So write what you love. You’ll be a better writer for it.
That last part sounds like very good advice to me. Write what you love. Beautiful! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this, jeremy. It was a pleasure.
Jeremy’s novel, PULSE, is now available in mass market paperback from Thomas Dunne books. It’s definitely worth the $7.99 price of admission.
That’s about all for now, folks. Be sure to check back in a few days for more news and another contest for the very last Advance Copy of 33 A.D. I will give away.