Tag Archives: world war II

Author Interview: Marty Steere

It is always a pleasure to offer authors in my local Los Angeles area. Marty Steele has written a lovely historical fiction. He shares more about his writing process and his new novel here on No Wasted Ink.

Marty Steere - AuthorI’m Marty Steere, a lifelong book junkie who spent many years convinced that he would ultimately be a novelist – but who was unwilling or, let’s face it, afraid, to take the plunge. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I wasted those years. I became a lawyer, grew to like it, and have had, for longer than I’m prepared to admit right now, a very busy and gratifying practice. But, in the back of my mind, I did always believe that one day I would sit down and write that novel I knew was in me.

When and why did you begin writing?

The economy took a hit in late 2008/early 2009. (You probably read about it; it was in all the papers!) My practice in the months after that was not – how do I put it – nearly as robust as it had been in the overheated years leading up to the collapse. I found myself with rare evenings and weekends free. Now that was a bit of a sea change. So, I filled the time with the logical thing. I became spectacular at a couple of home video games. I mean really good. (I don’t want to brag or anything, but you know….) Anyway, it was late one night, after I’d advanced to a seemingly impossible new level, that I asked myself a poignant question: What the heck am I doing? That was when I came to the rueful (and somewhat daunting) conclusion that it was now or never.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Believe it or not, it was after I wrote my first chapter. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. I think I held my breath for the week it took me to write it. When I’d finally finished it, printed it, given it to my wife to read and received her – God bless her – accolades, I thought, I’m there. What a boob I was. That first chapter never made it into my book. But, in fairness, it was the breaking of the seal. In the span of a few months, I slid into a comfortable rhythm, and, after that, the writing came to me in a much more natural fashion. Now, with two novels under my belt, I do honestly think of myself as a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Defiant Heart is the story of a young couple who, in a small Midwestern town on the eve of World War II, fall in love, are torn apart and must fight to be reunited.

What inspired you to write this book?

It’s a story I would want to read, filled with characters I would want to read about. In a way, you might say, I was entertaining myself while writing it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know that I do, but, then again, would I recognize it if I did? I try not to bog down the prose. I’m more interested in telling the story than dangling fancy descriptions in front of my reader. I want people turning pages, and I try to foster that by moving the story along.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I didn’t. For the life of me, I couldn’t. I wrote the whole book just assuming the title would come to me at some point. And then I was finished, and I still didn’t have it. I’d written well over 100,000 words, and I couldn’t come up with the last two or three. I tried out a few ideas with those who’d read the book – ran them up the flagpole if you will. Nobody saluted. (In retrospect, some of them were really awful.) A mild panic was beginning to set in. I was getting ready to submit to agents, and I obviously couldn’t do it without a title. I’d been working with an editor, Hillel Black. He was in New York, and I was in L.A., so I couldn’t actually see it, but I could pretty much feel the eye rolls when I gave him the last couple of ideas. Finally, he sent me a cryptic email that said “I had in mind something like DEFIANT HEART, A LOVE STORY. Idea grows out of Mary’s and Jon’s defiance of convention in their love for each other. Think this has more zing.” And he was right.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover for Defiant Heart, as with the cover for my first novel, Sea of Crises, was designed by my good friend, Ben Lizardi – a very talented man who, among other things, is a fabulous graphic artist. I explained to Ben my idea of featuring the image of the biplane flying over fields with clouds in the background. Ben did a mock-up using stock photos, then suggested that, because the novel takes place in the 1940s, we might consider commissioning an illustration from a local artist, Ed Lum, who has done a lot of work that evokes the ’40s and ’50s. Ed and I spoke, and I explained how I wanted to create this nostalgic feel. Using Ben’s mock-up as a rough guide, Ed drew the illustration featured on the cover, adding the figure of the young man. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I alluded to it above. I don’t know how profound it is, but my advice would be this: Write what you’d like to read. You’re going to be living with the story for a while. Make it be one you’d enjoy having someone else tell you. If you’re anything like me, you won’t know the whole thing starting out. So it’ll be a journey of discovery. Might as well enjoy it.

Defiant Heart Book CoverMarty Steere
Los Angeles, CA

Defiant Heart
Penfield Publications

Cover illustration by Ed Lum; cover design by Ben Lizardi


Author Interview – Greg Stacey

Sometimes in life we all need a little adventure to get our blood moving. When that moment comes, I like to turn to a good action, adventure thriller. I met Greg Stacey online, as I do many of the authors that I interview here on No Wasted Ink, and I found his history and background to be well grounded for a thriller writer. I hope you’ll enjoy his interview!

Author Greg StaceyI was brought up in Wiltshire, England and have lived there for most of my life. I am very happily married and have three great kids. For most of my adult life, I worked as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist in the National Health Service. I am a keen guitarist and have played in a number of blues and rock bands over the years, performing material written by myself and in collaboration with a long term friend and fellow musician. I have always enjoyed a good read and have very eclectic tastes, from classical to modern, fact to fiction. Currently I am writing full time, as I retired from the NHS last year.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I was in my teens, I wrote short stories and essays, several of which won prizes, so my writing aspirations go back a long way. As my professional career developed and family life became hectic, my writing took a back seat, but I continued to write articles, short stories for family and friends and develop ideas for future projects.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A difficult one to answer, but I guess when I was quite young, maybe early twenties, but other things took over. At the beginning of 2012, I really thought it was time to put pen to paper so to speak, and fulfil the ambition. I now consider it my primary occupation.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Agnatum is an action, adventure thriller, set in the present day, but originating in World War Two, with the development of a ‘superweapon’ in the German Wunderwaffe programme, when Germany became increasingly frantic to devise new, powerful, and sometimes bizarre weapons that could turn the tide of the war in its favour. Germany’s desperation to create and develop new technologies pushed 1940’s science to the limit.

The Agnatum is the story of the development of such a weapon. Unable to complete their work before the conflict ends and the war is lost, a powerful group of Germans, the Agnatum, who planned a counter regime to the Nazi dictatorship in the final stages of the war, leave a legacy to their descendants to continue their work, in order to restore Germany’s former glory and supremacy. The eventual successful development of the superweapon ultimately threatens world stability by potentially forcing governments to capitulate to the demands of the merciless and cruel underground group.

The menace and danger that the Agnatum’s superweapon poses has to be countered. An international intelligence organisation, Strategic Intelligence and Defence ©, SIAD for short, is charged with the task, under the leadership of the charismatic central character, Nathan Stone. Stone, aided by a trusted and dependable colleague, Spencer White, and a former lover, Dr Georgie Manston, heads up an experienced team of skilled professionals to track down those behind the plot and thwart their ambitions, taking them across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

What inspired you to write this book? Do you have a specific writing style?

I had been trying to write a science fiction novel for several years, but for whatever reason it never came to life on paper, so I started afresh. The Agnatum came out of a conversation I was having with my son after watching a television programme about the weapons Germany worked on towards the end of WW2. I think he said something like ‘what would have happened if they had got them to work?’ – That was enough to spark an idea that then became the story of the Agnatum.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The original title was very different. Once I was about a third of the way through and the plot began to evolve, I needed a name for the organisation developing the superweapon. They were Germans, but not Nazis, so they had to be some sort of offshoot from the established Nazi regime in World War 2. I looked up various translations for offshoot and eventually came up with the Latin – Agnatum – and it sounded pretty cool.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Again, a difficult question – I suppose I wanted people to think in a ‘what if?’ way. What if they had completed the weapon during the war? What if they had succeeded in the present day? If there is a message or a warning, it’s from the past, but unfortunately it’s a message that we either haven’t received yet or taken heed of – not to allow prejudices, fears and greed to influence our decisions or the paths we take.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

In all honesty, I would have to say no. this is a pure adventure thriller, designed to take one out of oneself on a fictitious journey – pure escapism – apart from perhaps the message above!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Graham Greene, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Shakespeare, Bob Dylan, Ernest Hemingway, Kathy Reichs, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming – the list could go on forever. I like reading – pretty much everything, although, as you can probably tell, I am very partial to adventure tales. What do I find in them that’s inspiring? Wit, intelligence, integrity, honesty, humour and a determination to tell a good story.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

If talking about the action adventure genre, I would have to say Clive Cussler. Cussler is always a great read and has an ability to keep coming up with good adventure books, even if they are themed. He may not be Shakespeare, but he is, in my humble opinion, an excellent storyteller.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I have to take the credit for the cover. Besides writing, I am a very keen amateur photographer. The cover is a composite, created using photographic software and themed around the story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I am not sure that I would want to give another writer advice at this stage in my writing career, but what I would say is that if you have a story to tell, or passion for writing, then go for it. There is nothing to lose in trying. Writing is a skill that has to be mastered. I feel I am still at the beginning of that road and have a lot to learn, but it is immensely rewarding personally and well worth the blood, sweat and tears in trying to produce something you can be proud of yourself and that others will hopefully enjoy.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Only that I sincerely hope you enjoy The Agnatum, for what it is, a story. There may be messages within it, for others better than me to identify perhaps, but what I wanted to produce was a good old fashioned adventure tale that someone can’t put down until they have read the last page.

Book Cover The AgnatumGreg Stacey
Wiltshire, England.

I enjoy writing action, adventure thrillers. I am an admirer of Ian Fleming’s books – descriptive, but without being overly so, leaving something to the reader’s imagination. I love a good story, in perhaps a more old fashioned way, not too high tec, so that everything remains believable, or nearly so.

The Agnatum – available on Kindle
Cover Art: Greg Stacey