First of all, Steve, many thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, I really appreciate it!
Why thrillers? Are you stuck on the dark side or what? Seriously, why focus on human nature at its worst?
Thrillers are a great vehicle to explore a wide variety of topics in a fast-paced, entertaining, escapist sort of way. In the case of my Tara Shores series, which some describe as techno-thrillers, those topics include the bleeding edge of science and technology. I’ve always enjoyed all kinds of thrillers, suspense and action-adventure novels (and movies), but over the years my staples have been Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King. These days I also enjoy James Rollins, Warren Fahy, and Dan Brown. I like anything with a clever premise, lots of action, and good characterization that further propels the plot, with a story that pulls me into some world I haven’t experienced before. Thrillers inherently have something at stake that forces conflict between characters, so it’s interesting to see how people might react to circumstances that are (way) out of the ordinary.
What is your writing process?
I like to have a unique premise before I begin writing, with a basic plot that includes a beginning, middle, ending, with a couple of stepping stones between each. I keep a file of ideas in my computer that I add to regularly. Once I begin writing a first draft, I write every day until it is finished, usually late at night.
When do you write?
I work during the day at my regular job, so night is the best time for me; I also like it because it’s quiet and free of distractions. If I’m not actually writing a manuscript, I try to come up with potential new story ideas, concepts and hooks every night.
Tools of the trade?
MS Word on a Windows PC, wireless keyboard/mouse, large LCD monitor, cable Internet. Headphones with Internet radio playing everything from alternative rock to ambient or techno music. Also have a smartphone, not for actually writing, but it helps to keep tabs on my social networks and emails, and occasionally I hash out notes on it and send them to my email for transfer later to my main PC files. External hard drives, flash drives and Google for file backup—don’t forget to backup your work--it’s not a matter of if your machine will fail, but when! A file that only exists in one place is a file waiting to die.
Your two published Tara Shores novels have been set in and around the ocean. Will all of your stories involve the ocean? What can you tell us about the series?
At their heart, the Tara Shores novels are high concept, contemporary action-thrillers, each following a different high-stakes case of the titular FBI agent.
The series was designed to be set around the ocean, (capitalizing a bit on my background in marine science—my nod to ‘write what you know’, I guess) with each book exploring a different area of science and technology somehow involving the sea. With Wired Kingdom, it was wildlife tracking technology featuring a webcam attached to a whale broadcasting a murder at sea live on the Internet. In kiDNApped, it’s inserting messages of one’s own choosing into the genes of living organisms, when a geneticist is held against his will and is desperate to communicate.
Add to that the fact that one of the character traits of FBI Special Agent Tara Shores is that she has a fear of water, and you start to see how the series is shaped by the ocean (which, by the way, covers more than 70% of our planet’s surface, so there’s no shortage of plot inspirations there).
What’s next for the series?
A madman uses a floating energy production platform as an opportunity to
establish his own rogue nation. After the FBI receives an alarming call for help originating from the artificial island, Special Agent Tara Shores goes undercover as a reporter in the South Pacific.
The book explores the concepts of alternative energy and a little-known practice called “seasteading,” which involves, to paraphrase from Wikipedia: the creation of permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territories claimed by the governments of any standing nation.
Do you have any plans to write anything outside the Tara Shores series?
I have a short story appearing in an anthology called THE GAME to be released this August from Seven Realms Publishing. All of the stories in the anthology are based on the classic short story The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell, where a big game hunter is himself hunted for sport on an island. Here’s a link to it on the publisher’s website:
Do you have any promotions or contests going on right know you’d like to let people know about?
The 4th of July kiDNApped Summer Beach Read Giveaway is currently underway now in conjunction with Goodreads.com, the social network for books! All you have to do to enter is have a Goodreads account (free), and click Enter to Win here:
The winner will be announced on July 4th, and will receive one copy of kiDNApped, signed by the author. Contest open to residents of the U.S., U.K., Canada and New Zealand. Good luck and happy reading!
Rick Chesler holds a Bachelor of Science in marine biology and has had a life-long interest in the ocean and its creatures. When not at work as a research project manager, he can be found scuba diving or traveling to research his next thriller idea. Author of kiDNApped and Wired Kingdom, he currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, son and a cat.
Wired Kingdom book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEW-RCYk5Ow