Robin Ray will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Author Interview: Robin Ray
1. Woohoo! You are a published author. Describe a strong character trait you possess, good or bad, and how it helped you become a published author. Some of the stories I’ve written in the past were highly technical in nature. That meant I had to dedicate myself to learning as much about a particular subject as I can. For instance, my screenplay “Diamondback” interweaved three stories whose plot lines caused characters to meet momentarily. One of the threads dealt with the governor of NY who was taking kickbacks from a construction company. That meant I had to read up on business law, the NY judicial system, the role of the governor’s office, etc. For my novella “Stranded In Paradise” which dealt with the captain of a cruise ship, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, I had to immerse myself with reading about how cruise ships are designed (especially those from 1960), as well as studying the nature of hurricanes and learning as much as I could about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Because she was out of the public eye for much of her life, information about her was scarce and that caused a delay in finishing my book. I consider these traits as being good. The bad part of it is, because it requires so much research, I purposefully shun people and practically isolate for the duration of the writing which could take months.
2. Sometimes an author begins writing a story before they are aware of its genre. Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you? I’d say the answer to that is both. If I was writing for, say, a horror magazine, obviously I would’ve chosen the genre of horror. Similarly, when I was writing the novellas “Stranded In Paradise,” “”Tears Of A Clown,” and “Strung Out,” I knew going into them they would be historical fiction, horror, and general fiction. I was surprised when my first novel, “Commoner the Vagabond,” was listed under “Special Needs > Disabilities” on Amazon. I’m glad it was but that wasn’t my intention.
3. The plot thickens, or does it? Which one are you, a pantser or a plotter? Definitely a plotter. My novella “Crystal Mine,” for instance, could never have been written in a “seat of my pants” style. There were just too many details and things I had to know about, such as quartz mining and the Mayan legend of the Camazotz. Not only that, I actually had to draw the plan of the subterranean mines to make sure the characters progressed in a logical way through the underbelly of a collapsed mining system. Anyway, I learned years ago that books were written backwards, especially mysteries, so plotting is essential in that sense.
4. Fear 101: As writers it is our duty to make our characters face their fears. Have you ever included one of your own fears in a storyline? Yes. One of my fears is that the people who claim they love me turn out to betray me in the end. That idea was essentially what the gothic fairy tale “Lamp Black” was all about. I have many fears. Fear of losing control of my car while driving. Fear of going to bed with the stove on. Fear that North Korea will send an ICBM to Seattle (we are in their sights I’ve read). Fear of drowning. The fear of drowning bit was incorporated in “Stranded In Paradise.”
5. Fear 102: Yes, deadlines are terrifying. Have you conquered the juggling act between writing and the rest of your life? What do you do when it feels like the balls are dropping all around you? Conquered the juggling act? Nope. Not by a mile. I get interrupted by people seeking my attention sometimes, and the distraction drives me bonkers. I keep planning to run to the wilderness like Chris McCandless and write there, but I don’t know how long I’d last. Writing, in and of itself, is rewarding and fun, but it doesn’t end there when you’re trying to get your story out. That’s when the hard work begins, ie., the blogging, the marketing, the social media, the design and presentation of your material, the rejections, the book tours, etc. Those bits can be overwhelming. No wonder Stephen King and Ernest Hemingway drank like a fish when they wrote! I, myself, don’t drink and drug anymore, so I’d like to think I’ve conquered those demons, but you never know. One just never knows. I just go for walks to de-stress, maybe listen to some tunes in my earbuds while doing it. That seems to relax me.
6. Switch positions with one of your main characters in a scene. What is the outcome, disaster or divine intervention? Okay, let’s see. I’ll pick 18 year old Young Franklin Dearn from my last novella, “Crystal Mine.” For two days he stayed in a collapsed cave system with a few other miners while a giant, rabid bat was on the prowl. He saw things that any self-respecting psychiatrist would claim should make him develop PTSD. I think if I was in his shoes my outcome would’ve been divine intervention. Unwilling to give up, he fought and struggled as best as he could. I think I’d do the same.
7. Where is your favorite place to write? Add that one comfort food that you can’t do without. When I lived in my car I did most of my writing in several public libraries around town. They weren’t always ideal, but it’s not like I had a choice. Noisy people and screaming kids made it difficult times, so I wore headphones with nothing playing as music, especially if it had lyrics, can be distracting. Now, I stay in transitional housing. I write in my own room. Manly, though, I write at night so people won’t disturb me. I snack on vegetable burritos whenever I can, and vegetable egg rolls.
8. Writing inspirations? I like the writings of Stephen King. He’s not one to wander around a story too much. Being that I have PTSD, I like writers to get on with the action and not waste time delving into unnecessary narratives. When I was younger I liked reading Judy Blume. Back then, I also liked “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair and Ivan Denisovich’s “Fathers and Sons.” The fairy tales of The Brothers Grimm are a big inspiration in my writing and I still read them even to this day.
9. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them? Well, these days, because I’m writing horror (my next book is called “Obey The Darkness: Horror Stories), I’d say I’d like to have a nice heart to heart with Stephen King. My one burning question to ask would be this – “Mr. King, forty-seven films have been made of your stories, and by that account, that makes you the most successful of living writers in the world today. Can you introduce one of my stories to your film producers so I can get rich and retire in style? Thank you very much.”
10. I’ve gone mad – why don’t you come with me? Some people just don’t understand us writers. Name a quirky, writer-thing you do that friends wish you didn’t. Isolate. They hate it. Where I used to hang out with them, I don’t anymore. Wanna watch a movie tonight and eat some popcorn? Uh, sorry, some other time. How about listen to some music? Uh, maybe next week or something.
Murder In Rock & Roll Heaven
by Robin Ray
No one ever “re-dies” in Heaven; unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to singer Amy Winehouse. Her death, an unprecedented event in Heaven’s history, has thrown a once docile world into unfortunate chaos. Because of the new uneasy alliance between angels and citizens, a freshly-arrived detective in the rock & roll town has been tasked with investigating the prime suspects, the members of the 27 Club – Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. To make matters worse, a powerful angel from one of the upper levels of Heaven will soon arrive to make her ten-year inspection, a task that fills the other angels with dread since she has the power to banish anyone of them to the underworld. So, with time running out, the PI and his newly acquired sidekick, both aided by rock legends such as Eddie Cochran, Mama Cass, Kurt Cobain, Karen Carpenter and others, must quickly uncover the mystery that threatens not only to close Heaven’s doors forever, but promises to send a ripple effect through the entire universe that can rip it apart.
Plants of varying shapes and sizes sprouted everywhere, some just knee high, some as tall as mango trees. Rows of narrow pipes across the ceiling misted the foliage every minute. A few customers were sampling some of the edible flowers while others were reading manuals or informational tags about the unusual plants. Towards the back, the good PI spotted an employee who was busy pulling off the dead leaves from several botanical specimens. The clerk, he noticed, was very colorful with her psychedelic bamboo slippers, purplish pants, flowery blue and white tunic, rows of bangles on each wrist, several beaded chains around her neck, and a pink strip of cloth enmeshed in her long brown hair. As Gregory neared her, he could hear her humming along to the music playing over the virtual speakers high up in the corners of the center.
“Excuse me,” he introduced himself, “I was told Janis Joplin works back here.”
The employee turned and glanced at him. “You found her, babe.”
“Hi, Janis,” the PI introduced himself. “I’m Gregory Angelicus. And…”
“Oh, Lord,” she moaned, flinging the twigs in her hand down. “Another angel. What’d I do now?”
“Oh, no,” he stated quickly, “I’m not an angel. I just wanted to ask you a few questions.”
“About what?” she asked, eyeing the intruder with suspicion through her circular yellow sunglasses.
Gregory looked around momentarily. “Is there some place we can talk?”
“Sure,” she answered, crossing her arms. “You’re standing in it.”
Robin Ray emigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad & Tobago at the ripe old age of 12. Already steeped in the rich culture and mysteries of his native land, it would only be a matter of time before he, too, became a musician and storyteller. After a short stint at Iowa State University, he became a nurse for practical purposes but never abandoned his musical and literary aspirations. Eventually, he did play guitar in several bands, committing himself to localized tours and album releases. Leaving the music world behind, he delved headfirst back into his second love – writing. To date, he has authored six screenplays, two novels, seven novellas, around fifty short stories and many poems. Thus far, he’s published six books – five fiction and one non-fiction, all available in paperback and e-book formats. His latest novel, Murder In Rock & Roll Heaven, can be purchased from the following Amazon link.
The book is on sale for only $0.99.