Thought I’d switch it up. Was intending on interviewing only sci-fi fantasy authors, but instead (insert pointless reasons). It’s my blog, and I do what I want to, dooo what I want to, you would do it too if it happened toooo yoooouuuu.
Ok, enough nonsense. At attention, folks, because we have a bona fide marine in the house, and he’s brought his guns along, making the crew nervous (my cat). Wayne Stinnett is the author of the bestselling action & adventure Jesse McDermitt series, and he’s about to undertake the toughest assignment given to man—answering my stupid questions.
Thanks for being here, Wayne. Have a seat on the, uh, vinyl cushion there. Sorry for the rips and stains. I promise I don’t have bed bugs. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, how commanding is your presence when you walk into a room? Do you make people nervous with a thousand yard stare?
Thanks, Sever. Though I write action/adventure for a living, I’m a long time sci-fi fan. Was really saddened to hear about Leonard Nimoy yesterday. Know how you can tell which one in the Enterprise landing party is gonna get killed? It’s the guy in the red shirt. First off it’s Marine, not marine. One is a title, that once earned can never be taken away. The other is anything in sea water, which a lot of times can be Marines. I’m not a very big guy, so my physical presence is often ignored. If I need to get their attention, though, I have my ways.
If I were to trespass onto your property, how quickly would I get gunned down? Describe the encounter.
The perimeter is booby trapped, you won’t get on the property. If, however, you manage to slip past the claymores, punji pits and bouncing Bettys, you’d be silently greeted by a 110 pound wolf/chow hybrid. My scope is zeroed at two hundred meters and the bang stick under it is accurate to eight hundred. Trust me, there’s nothing here worth the effort.
*Takes careful notes.* All right, cancelling operation free-the-chicken-coop. You hunt rabbit and deer. Explain yourself to the tree-huggers in the crowd.
Rabbits are a waste of ammo, not enough meat and ammo is expensive. Imagine the deer population if there weren’t any hunters. They’d thrive and reproduce like crazy right? Until they reach the tipping point, when the food supply can’t support the population. Then only the strongest would survive, while the weaker ones die a slow death of starvation. Not very pretty. Hunters are our first line of conservationists. We have bag limits which are governed by current population and strictly enforced. Now, if I really want to piss off the tree-huggers, I’ll show up at their rallies in my gas guzzling pickup with a 460 cubic inch engine that gets 9 miles per gallon. Hey, if their Prius breaks down, I can put it in the bed. I’d just have to put the deer carcass in their trunk though.
Ever surreptitiously slip your kill into them pesky vegetarian dinners?
That would necessitate my dining with them. I’ve met one or two, pasty skinned, weak vegetarians, smelling of patchouli. No room at my table.
What’s your favorite weapon? Is it under your pillow?
Hmmm, that’s difficult to answer. Each has its own place. For long range shooting, I like the Remington 700, it’s a real nail driver. Under my shirt is a Sig Sauer P226 semi-auto for personal protection. For home protection, you can’t do better than a pump action shotgun. The sound of a shell being chambered will usually clear the house of home invaders. When the zombie apocalypse (that’s what I call a government takeover) happens, my AR15 with multiple 30 round magazines will always be close by. By far, the most deadly weapon in my arsenal rests on TOP of my pillow.
Let’s get serious for a moment. What are you proud of?
All kidding aside? Okay. Gotcha. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I’m proud of a lot of things, but my family ranks at the very top. My wife and I have four great kids and four of the cutest grand-kids. Without their support, I never would have published my first book, let alone six. I’m also very proud of having served in the greatest military the world has ever known. The camaraderie shared between warriors isn’t akin to anything else. When a man says, “I got your back” it really means something. He’s saying he’ll lay down his life if need be.
Is there anything in life you’d like to do over again?
Everyone has regrets. I often catch myself wishing I’d stayed in the Corps for a full thirty year ride. But if I had, odds are I wouldn’t have my kids today. One thing for certain, if I could change just one thing, I’d go back to ’88 and tell the younger me, “Don’t you dare quit writing!” It took me twenty-five years to try again and now I’m living what I call a dream. For 13 years, I was gone most of the time, hauling freight all over the country and talking to my family over the phone. Now, I can kneel by my daughter’s bed and pray with her, take her to school and pick her up every day, and sleep in my own bed with my wife.
How would you describe the Jesse McDermitt series to a new reader in the genre?
I wish they’d break up action/adventure into two separate genres. The complaint I most often receive comes from action junkies, saying that my books don’t have enough action. I call my books Caribbean Adventure sea stories. True, there’s not cover to cover action. What I try to convey to the reader is the essence of living, working, laughing and loving in what most would call paradise, the Florida Keys. My books are full of every day stuff that folks in the Keys both suffer and enjoy. Plenty of water, a few laughs and some romance, but mostly it’s the Conch spirit I try to convey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Conch. That’s a birthright that only those born in Monroe County, Florida can claim. I’m a waterman and have lived and worked in the Keys, as well as Mexico, the Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles. I’ve earned a living from the sea. I spent a year in Jamaica one weekend, but that’s a whole different story.
What type of person is NOT going to enjoy your books? How do you stop them from reading? With a cattle prod?
The aforementioned action junkies, primarily. There’s a very laid back, island lifestyle in what I write, but in the end there will be guns and explosions. Oh, and in the case of the last two books, an exotically beautiful and hypersexual woman. Sorry, had to throw that in there. I’ve had romance fans read my books and like them. Same with mystery and thriller fans. One salty old retired Marine Sergeant Major wrote to me and said he finished Fallen Palm while sitting in a tree stand with a high powered rifle across his lap, but had to climb down because his eyes were sweating too much to see down the shooting lane. Marines don’t cry, our eyeballs sweat. Greatest compliment I ever had, right there.
Why did you start writing? Was it a dare?
Actually, it was boredom. In the late eighties I was working as an estimator for a construction company. I wrote a few computer programs to speed up the process and wound up with more time than work. Since I was salaried, I was required to stay the whole day, so I started making up stories and typing them up on the company computer, storing them on a floppy disk. I thought they were great, but judging from the 47 rejection letters from publishers and agents, I was in the minority. A few years ago, my wife found a hand written part of a manuscript and told me it was good. She encouraged me to take up that long dormant dream of being a writer and try again. So I dug out the floppies and searched the internet for an antique computer I could bring the stories up on. With her encouragement I started writing again. She’s been a wealth of inspiration and motivation. And quite a few ideas, as well.
You’ve been around the publishing block. Give us blundering noobs the top four mistakes new authors make.
Not everyone is going to like your work, you’re going to get some one stars. Accept it before you hit that publish button.
Your first book’s not going to be a million seller. Sure it’s happened, but the odds are so astronomical as to be zero. Don’t dwell on it, keep writing.
Don’t waste time, money and energy trying to get people to read that first book. Your friends and family will, but the reading public want more. See #2.
Creative minds don’t like numbers. They’re restricting. Learn how. Once you have a couple or three books published you’re going to have to market them. No way around it. Learn how to advertise and market your work, start a mailing list before the first one’s published. That’s the single best marketing tool you’ll have.
What do you think the next year in publishing will look like?
If I knew the answer to that one, it’s a sure bet that I wouldn’t share it. I really think more and more traditionally published authors will regain the rights to their books and self-publish. They’ll still be able to charge more, being household names, but they’ll keep a lot more themselves.
Name one publishing argument you’re sick of hearing.
Self-published books lack quality. I’m so sick of hearing that I could punch a wall. Sure, since anyone can upload their stuff and publish it, there are quite a lot of low quality works out there. It doesn’t mean that every indie’s books are crap. There are a lot of very fine writers who look at traditional publishing and then look at doing it themselves and they see that they can make just as much per book as the big guys, but keep the price so much lower for their readers. There’s a lot of traditionally published work out there that isn’t worth a crap too.
Punchable face. Name one. Explanation optional.
Michael Koslowski. I mean, have you seen this guys face? And the venomous spew that comes out of it? At first I was angry over some of the things he said. Sure I read his blog, so do you, I bet. But, you know what? That blog is his only claim to fame. I looked on Amazon for his work and he has written a few books. I think his highest ranked book is in the 200,000 range. He’s nothing more than a hack who couldn’t cut it as a traditional author and rather than get off his butt and do it himself, he ridicules those that do. Loser!
One of my favorite south Florida writers is about to release his 22nd novel in a very successful traditionally published series and not long ago he released his first book in a spinoff series. It’s a great story and he’s now followed it up with two more equally awesome books. I want to do that. My dad always told me, “Look at what successful people do and do that.” So, in writing my last book, I set the stage for one of four characters to be the main character in a new series. I finally decided on which one last week. While I’m writing the 7th book in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series, I’m slowly developing the first book in the Charity Styles series. Charity is a minor character in four of my six books and in this new series she will become a covert assassin, responsible only to her own moral convictions and controlled (somewhat) by a very highly placed American government official. I’ve actually finished the first chapter. While I’m putting all my efforts into the new McDermitt book, as you well know, you can get burnt out pretty easy. So, I switch over and write a couple hundred words to the other book, in essence writing two at the same time. I figure that by the time “Fallen Honor” comes out in June, I’ll be more than halfway through “Merciless Charity”. How’s that for a juxtapositional title? I hope to finish Merciless Charity in July. Then I’ll be taking a couple of months off to move and start building a new house near the ocean. The old man is returning to the sea.