Monday, September 9, 2013

(Interview) Bob Mayer Up Close

The Carnage Report was lucky enough to catch up with Bob Mayer, author of 50 titles and owner of Cool Gus Publishing and below was the result. Enjoy!!!

What got you into writing in the first place?

I read a lot.  Growing up in the Bronx, I was reading all the time.  When I got off active duty into the reserves and moved to South Korea to study martial arts, I finally had some time on my hand.  I didn’t plan on getting published, I just wanted to write a story.  So I wrote my first one based on a mission my A-Team had done, and things when from there.

Do you have any influences over your writing?

Everyone I’ve read.  There are some authors who I devour such as Kate Atkinson, Larry McMurtry, Dennis Lehane and others. Actually, watching television with my wife is a great way to study story and character. As Breaking Bad goes into its last episodes, we just rewatched all the previous seasons. After 25 years of writing, my process is evolving and I really like the way they did Breaking Bad.  I highly recommend it to experienced writers. 

What would you attribute your creative talent to, nature or nurture?

Learning.  Always learning.  Always willing to try different things.  Every author I know who thinks they have it made—it’s over.

For you, what makes a story worth writing?

I focus on theme a lot more now.  I think some of the topics I write about are important.  My latest book, Nightstalkers: The Book of Truths, is about the threat of nuclear weapons.  While it’s fiction, I include a lot of fact in it.  I also explore honor vs. loyalty.  Would you have rather have an honourable friend or a loyal one?

I’ve resurrected my original protagonist, Dave Riley, and he’s joined another of my characters, Horace Chase, in Chasing the Lost. I think exploring male-female relationships in that book, and how loyalty can be manipulated is intriguing and should get readers thinking. That’s the bottom line—get the reader thinking and feeling and even questioning things they took for granted.

Many of your books are in the action/thriller genre, what do you think the action/thriller genre has over other genres?

Well, it doesn’t sell as well as romance.  I was recently the #1 seller on Kindle in Men’s Adventure and there were at least 100 romance/erotica books ahead of me. The interesting thing for me is how few writers of thrillers have any military background.  I sometimes think they have a romanticized and na├»ve notion of what it’s really like. Then again, what it’s really like, is 99% boredom and 1% terror and no one wants to read 99% boredom.

What sparked your interest in the military?

My father served in the Navy in World War II.  West Point represented a challenge and also, honestly, a way for me to go to college. Given the large popularity of the military and the citizens who choose to serve in the US, was there a sense in your gut that writing about the organization would be lucrative?

The military wasn’t popular when I went into it during the post-Vietnam days.  And the 90s weren’t very pro-military.  I don’t pick what I write about based on whether it’s popular.  I write what I want to. Sadly, less than one percent of our population has served in the military.

Given your extensive experience in the military and how it has seeped into your writing, can we expect a title chronicling your experience in the organization?

My Green Beret series shows what it’s like in Special Forces.  Almost all my books feature a former Spec Ops protagonist. Psychic Warrior , while science fiction, is based on a real program we did in 10th Special Forces called Trojan Warrior.  It was cutting edge at the time and in my book I just took it a step further. Of late, you have been making a switch from military themed thrillers to science fiction, is this influenced by both genres largely driven by the use and consequences of technology?

I started in military thrillers and have always written them.  Science fiction is something I also write, although they tend to be military related. For example, the pitch for Nightstalkers is: The Unit meets Warehouse 13.  So I tend to merge the two.

How much do you research before you write?

I’ve gotten back to reading books for research over searching on the internet. There’s much more detail in books. A lot is also simply based on experience.But one of my mottoes is:  people think they know a lot more than they really know.  Reality and facts can surprise people.  My books are a lot more factual than people know. 

For someone who is invested as much in the business side of marketing and distribution books as well as writing them, what do you think of the state of the industry at the moment?

People say it’s the Wild West.  I say it’s the best time ever for writers.  The playing field is level.  It’s also very crowded. Distribution is no longer a chokepoint.  With eBooks we all have access to distribution. The issue now is discoverability.

Many critics have poo-pooed the self-publishing revolution for lack of true quality in self-published releases, do you think this criticism is well founded?

Who cares what critics say? How many readers actually listen to them?  Yes, the vast majority is bad.  But NY Publishing gave Snookie a book deal. Remember, it’s not the critic who counts.  It’s the one fighting in the trenches.

There has been much talk about the effect Amazon is having on the publishing industry, what’s your position?

I enjoy working with Amazon. They didn’t exist in 1994 and publishing had plenty of time to prepare for the digital world. Especially after seeing what happened to music at the turn of the century.  But they didn’t.

Amazon is innovative and tries new things. In my dealings with them, they’ve always been honest and up front; which isn’t something I can say about my dealings with traditional publishing.  NY got complacent and is paying the price now.

Too many people are wasting time complaining and whining about Amazon instead of looking to their own business model and seeing if it works.  I can’t change what Amazon does, but I can change what I do to take advantage of the realities of current and future publishing.

Having gained success in a field where it’s hardest than most to come by, what advice would you give to someone trying to make their way in this industry?

Despite the speed of the internet, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Too many people want instant gratification.  It takes at least three books before you should even spend much energy in marketing or checking sales.  Focus on the long haul.  Most of your competition is simply going to quit.

Final question, do you have any projects lined up or in the works?

I’m finishing The Kennedy Endeavour, the second book in my Presidential series to follow my #2 national bestseller, The Jefferson Allegiance. Then a very high concept opening novel to a new science fiction series Burners. My focus now is on writing and I plan on having six new titles come out in the next year.

Nothing but good times ahead.

Connect with Ben on Twitter @Bob_mayer and you can purchase of Ben's great 50 titles on Amazon here

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