In today’s guest post, we have the great pleasure of welcoming author Stephen Douglass to Marcia’s Book Talk. Stephen, the author of THE KING TRILOGY mystery suspense books, answers questions which he is often asked by readers, such as how he came to write, the creative process, and many other incisive questions to which Stephen provides interesting, and fascinating responses. It’s time for me to now move into the background and let you find out more about Stephen…
The first thing I want to do is to thank Marcia for the opportunity to guest post on her wonderful “Book Talk” blog.
You’re welcome Stephen, my pleasure, it’s great to have you on the blog.
One of the most effective ways an author can introduce himself to readers is to answer their questions. Here are my answers to a number of them:
Q: How did you come to writing?
A: I escaped from the daily races and disappeared into obscurity at the tender age of forty-nine. Obscurity for my wife, Ann and me was a lovely cottage on the shore of Lake Rosseau, Ontario, Canada, with a view of islands, rocks and beautiful sunsets. The area, known as Muskoka, is a destination for business owners, financial engineers, movie stars, and overpaid hockey players, all anxious to get away from the stress of it all.
Shortly after our arrival, I accepted a dinner invitation from our newest closest neighbor, the owner of another lovely cottage on the shore of an adjacent bay. While sipping brandies with our host and hostess at the conclusion of a sumptuous meal, small talk dominated until our host smiled at me and said, “It’s rather unusual for someone so young to retire and build a cottage on Lake Rosseau. What did you do for a living, Steve?”
I risked boring him with the story of my crazy life in the Canadian oil business. The brandy encouraged me to give him the longer version.
His stunned expression spoke volumes. “Holy shit!” he exclaimed. “That’s an incredible story! Have you ever considered writing a book about it?”
I shook my head and replied, “I’ve never written anything longer than an essay in university.”
“That shouldn’t deter you,” he insisted. “Your story is a piece of international crime lore. It has to be told.”
The thought of writing an entire novel brought back vivid memories of writing that essay. It was akin to root canal. I thanked him and suggested politely, “Let’s change the subject and have another drink.”
As years went by, my neighbor’s suggestion stayed with me. It continued to pester and gnaw until I finally had written The Bridge To Caracas, entirely in long hand. “Why not tell the story?” I asked myself. “It’s arguably one of the most unique crime sagas ever.” I subsequently typed it, using four fingers on a now ancient Apple 2e.
Q: How did you come up with your stories?
A: Having spent my entire working life in the oil business, the stories were choices, not decisions.
Now that I had written The Bridge To Caracas, (Vol. 1), a story requiring essentially no research, (“My crazy life in the oil business” had eliminated that requirement), The Tainted Trust,(Vol. 2), was a challenge. Suddenly I was in unchartered territory. I had not lived the story, whatever that was to be. It was obvious that the novel had to deal with the continuing destruction of Jim Servito’s stolen fortune, but I wanted it to have heart and color. Sadly, the intensity of “crazy life in the oil business” had resulted in the loss of my first marriage and custody of my daughter. I had not seen my daughter since she was nine years of age, so I decided to incorporate a less than veiled attempt to reach out to her into the plot. To this date my reach has been unsuccessful, but I remain hopeful.
Completion of The Tainted Trust, (Vol. 2), made it necessary to complete the trifecta. “You need a trilogy and you must deal with the ultimate disposition of Servito’s inconvenient fortune,” I told myself. So I did just that. This volume is from the heart of an incurable romantic. Even better, my daughter is the lead character. Maybe this will work.
Q: You have created great characters. Which one is your favorite?
A: I have three favorite characters in The King Trilogy: two antagonists, (both male), and one protagonist, (female).
The first, Jim Servito, the unscrupulous criminal in The Bridge To Caracas.
The second, Louis Visconti, the larcenous money manager in The Tainted Trust.
The third, Kerri King, the heroic survivor in Kerri’s War.
Q: Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?
A: Jim Servito, (The Bridge To Caracas): Al Pacino.
Louis Visconti, (The Tainted Trust): Leonardo DiCaprio
Kerri King, (Kerri’s War): Jennifer Aniston, (or perhaps my daughter)
Q: Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?
A: The Bridge To Caracas, (Volume One of The King Trilogy), is faction. I am Mike King.
Q: Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?
A: Both plot and subplots of all three volumes were unplanned. They changed as quickly and capriciously as the weather. The common thread throughout the trilogy is the inconvenient fortune, the enormous fruits of Jim Servito’s crimes. My objective from beginning to end was to confront the principal characters with stressful situations, then to describe their thoughts and reactions. I discovered the best way to do this is to imagine myself in the same situation, then ask myself how I would respond. Having been in stressful situations throughout my working life, this process made writing fun for me, a long way from the “root canal” of writing that essay in university.
Q: What is your main reason for writing?
A: Writing was meant to be a hobby for me, and nothing more. Shame on me for ever treating it as something more, although there is a constant temptation so to do.
Q: I’ve read only one of the books so far. What is the idea behind the series?
A: The accumulation of a gigantic and illicit fortune and its catastrophic effect on the lives of everyone who touches it. The Bridge To Caracas, (Volume One), described the accumulation of the fortune and only the beginning of the catastrophic effects. The Tainted Trust and Kerri’s War, (Volumes Two and Three), take the reader through a litany of horrific developments, all leading to and beyond the final disposition of the inconvenient fortune.
Q: What do you do when you don’t write?
A: I have a summer home near Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and a winter home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, U.S.A. Both homes require a considerable amount of my attention. My wife, Ann, the love of my life, and our two cats, Abby and Samantha, also require, demand my attention. To satisfy bucket list items, we travel often. Finally, when I’m free from all of the above, I play horrifying golf.
Q: Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.
A: That’s a very difficult question. There are so many odd things about me I strain to pick one. I suppose one of the oddest is that having retired at age forty-nine, I get up in the morning with nothing to do, then return to bed at night with only half of it done.
One of the most mundane things about me is that I am an incurable romantic.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Daniel Silva
Q: What is your advice to new authors?
A: There is an inverse relationship between the level of expectation and the degree of satisfaction.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: The Boys in the Boat. (ebook).
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: The Prize, by Daniel Yergin.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: A politician asking me to trust him.
Q: What would you take to a lonely island?
A: A large box of matches. Rubbing sticks together takes a dreadful amount of time.
Q: How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?
A: Self-publishing a trilogy has truly been one of the most exciting things I have ever done. If I never sold a single book, all of the effort and expense would still be worth it.
If I manage to remind myself that writing for me was never meant to be anything more than a hobby, there are no lows. If I forget and allow my ego to rear its ugly head, my status as an unknown and obscure author becomes a low.
You can find me here:
*Stephen Douglass on FACEBOOK
*THE KING TRILOGY on FACEBOOK
*Stephen Douglass on LINKED IN
*Stephen Douglass on TWITTER
*Stephen Douglass GOOGLE
*Stephen Douglass on GOODREADS
-THE BRIDGE TO CARACAS
-THE TAINTED TRUST
– KERRI’S WAR
Stephen Douglass Bio
Steve spent the first half of his working career with the two largest oil companies in the world: Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell. The second half was with one of the smallest oil companies in the world: his own. Now retired, he spends his summers in Niagara Falls, Canada, and his winters in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
When he’s not reading, writing, or traveling, he’s playing bad golf.
He plans to continue writing until the day he dies, probably longer.