Friday, May 6, 2011

Author Interview: Austin Camacho, Russian Roulette

I have the pleasure of serving with Austin on the board of the Virginia Writers Club. I picked up one of his novels at the November meeting. The result is an interview with him about Russian Roulette.

1. I picked up Russian Roulette at a Virginia Writers Club meeting late last year. When I turned the book over, I saw "Hannibal's Back!" How many other Hannibal Jones books are there?
First, thank you for offering me this chance to talk about my work. There are five novels in the Hannibal Jones series. In the order I wrote the stories: The Troubleshooter, Blood and Bone, Collateral Damage, Damaged Goods and Russian Roulette.

2. How did you come up with his character? I know you live near the District, so the location makes sense. But Hannibal is rather unique. Is he part you? Part Alex Cross? All imagination?
Hannibal Jones started as an effort to grab the moralistic hard boiled detective of the 1940s and drag that character into the 21st century. I like a character with his own moral code and the character to stick to it. There’s no Alex Cross in Hannibal, but if you look close you’ll see echoes of Simon Templar, Sam Spade, Travis McGee and maybe John Shaft. People often tell me that they see me in the character, but I only see my son Adam who, like Hannibal, is mixed race.

3. Your story is timely, what with the mystery around the Algerian. What made you decide to use this type of character?
Have you read The Maltese Falcon? Mysterious foreigners are such fun characters to play with. And since Hannibal Jones is such an outsider himself - straddling that line between White and African American cultures – he is uniquely suited to deal with other outsiders.

4. I particularly liked your use of Roosevelt Island for the climactic scene. Why did you choose that place?
That’s an interesting observation, and thank you for asking. In this novel I tried to evoke the fatalistic feel of the classic Russian novels. I looked around the DC area for a location that was remote, bleak, emotionally cold and yet had a personality of its own. A place where you could feel lost just 20 yards from the marked trail. Roosevelt Island just had the right feel. Then when I did the research and found the Russian historical connection, it just had to be the site of the final showdown.

5. I had never heard of Intrigue Publishing. When I visited the web site, it appears to be a self-publishing company. Have you published other books through Intrigue?
Yes, Intrigue Publishing is my lovely wife Denise’s company and she has published only one other author.

6. Why did you choose to use a self-publishing company rather than a tradition publisher?
Originally I published through a Print On Demand company, because I lacked the patience to wait for a traditional publisher to realize I had a marketable product. I soon learned that I could do everything they did for me as well or better than they did, without handing someone else a pile of money. Subsequently I did place one of my novels with a small press but again, it turns out that I can do what needs to be done better and the finances work out a lot more in my favor.

7. I see Russian Roulette is available on Kindle. Are you satisfied with your sales through Kindle? Are you available for the Nook, too?
All of my books are available for all the popular ereaders. I know several writers who are doing much better than I in Kindle sales, but on the other hand I move a lot more books thru the Kindle than I ever thought I would so I guess I’m satisfied… for now.

8. Do you have any other Hannibal Jones books in the works? I'm interested in what happens to the romance with Cindy.
The next Hannibal Jones mystery is about half written, and the personal storyline comes to the foreground in that story. Cindy got little screen time in Russian Roulette but she will featured prominently in the next novel. However you’ll have to wait until next week to see that one, because first I’m pushing the next book in my adventure thriller series starring Morgan Stark and Felicity O’Brien.

9. What were the last three books you read? And why?
I’ve been fortunate to work myself into the position of writing book reviews for the American Independent Writers and the International Thriller Writers’ newsletter, The Big Thrill. So now people send me new mysteries and thrillers! Most recently I’ve had the opportunity to read Anna DeStefano’s psychic thriller Secret Legacy, a cool murder mystery called Killer Routine by my pal Alan Orloff, and Neil S. Plakcy’s latest Hawaiian police procedural, Mahu Blood. Great reads all!

10. Please feel free to add anything I might not have covered.
Is it too early for people to start looking for my next international thriller, The Piranha Assignment? Maybe they should read the first two books in the series, The Payback Assignment and The Orion Assignment first…

Thanks to Austin for his answers to my inteview questions. I know I'm going to look for more Hannibal Jones books. And the international thriller series sounds like a good set of reads, too.

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