Welcome to Oliver Chase
Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m not from any one place in particular, and instead grew up on military bases throughout the country. Like all boys, we played good guys and bad, although usually I favored the good. Coaxing me into an afternoon of baseball or hiking the Southern California hills didn’t take much unless a book grabbed me first.
With my fourth novel scheduled for publication in the winter of 2016, I spend a lot of time on the family’s tiny farm along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. My job is farm hand, dung digger, and companion to the farmer, my lovely wife. We have family in north Florida, so I spend time there, too. The beaches are terrific and the fishing great, although my finny friends have little to fear from me.
I’ve got a corner of the old farm house that waits for me in the early mornings with all my forgotten and remembered friends and enemies, and my research. Every few months, I head out to bookstores and malls to sign my work, always with the intention of meeting new friends. Everyone has a story, and I love to listen. If we have the chance to meet one day, don’t be too surprised if you find your way into my pages.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.
I’ve written five novels for publication to date:
Marsh Island, mystery thriller 2013 AEC Stellar, Inc New Orleans
Blind Marsh, mystery thriller 2014 (second in series) AEC Stellar, Inc New Orleans
Levant Mirage, military/science thriller 2015 Pearl River Publishing
Joshua Tree, political thriller 2016 Pearl River Publishing (release date March 15, 2016) PRPG
Bequeathed, adventure thriller projected 2016 PRGP
Where do you find inspiration? I like to write what I know. Hence, many of my characters are investigators, cops, soldiers, pilots, divers, drivers and unwitting observers to human shortcomings. I avoid autobiographical insertions and instead choose to believe many of my extraordinary acquaintances, both good guys and bad, worthy of my pages. I’ve known and respected strong women and opinionated men, the two traits not necessarily ascribed to either sex who’ve found their way into my pages. I find watching aggentively, meeting, and testing people to an internal yet intriguing exercise. In my devious brain, they slip into a new set of virtues and sins. No one knows I do this, so please keep it between us.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? My current favorites are Scott and Angela McHale, the dynamic son and lovely daughter of California field workers. Winning election after election, the kingmaker proclaims the time is now and the sky is the limit. Cast in the image of John Kennedy’s bygone Camelot come hints of America’s first Latino presidency. Just when life seems its most promising, his beautiful senatorial aide goes missing. Rumors abound. Storm clouds darken the horizon. Three thousand miles away, an unwitting fisherman stumbles upon her pregnant corpse. Speculation and accusation become the media’s daily fare. At the height of the investigation, the senator plans a weekend retreat only to have his private airplane disappear into the night. Daily revelations drive delighted conjecture and reform public opinion until suddenly, the country’s electrical grid comes under hacker attack. Words of the senator’s warning prove prophetical as the nation plunges into a chaos that threatens a second, and far uglier American Civil War.
Have you ever thought about the secret you? The one that no one ever gets to see, not even the one person on earth we trust the most? Well, Scott thought that guy was under control. When he fought and climbed into the national limelight, he found fidelity and integrity often stand at odds with desires and dreams. Joshua Tree is more than a redemptive novel and begs to ask if history makes a person, or does an influential person make our history. Intriguing. I also note you address this concept in your later questions.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I don’t dislike Walter LoPresti as much as I fear him. For all the thousands of years of social evolvement, Walter is a man bypassed by humanity’s better traits. His heroes are dark villains and nasty legends, his brilliance unmatched, and his wanton desires legion. If at some time you were to fall within his crosshairs, don’t run, because as the saying goes, you’ll only die tired.
Are your characters based on real people? I like to think that all my characters have doppelgangers in real life. The only difference is one character is many people that I’ve known through the years. Therefore, no one character is reflected by a similar live person. My research sets the stage and renders my setting believable and possible. My memory and the interpretation of my own emotion drives the characters.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?Funny question, but no, I’ve never committed murder either literally or … literally. Some have not survived the story, but it wasn’t me that pulled the trigger. One of those dang protagonists killed him.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Research is the best part of filling out the reality in a novel; organization makes it worthwhile and believable. My studies are broken into two general camps. The first allows me to build a world, even if it happens to be in downtown Miami on Calle Ocho. I like real places with a real feel. If a book is cooking inside my brain, I like to go there. Most of the time, I’ve already been there because frankly, Google maps just won’t do it. The exception might be a back alley in Fairbanks, Alaska or Reykjavík Iceland. I’ve been in plenty of alleys and recall the smells and feel, so no, I won’t go camp out in New Orleans and pretend it’s cold.
The second research I try to minimize is using Bing or Google while I’m getting the first draft down. Afterwards, maybe, but stopping to plan out the size of a doomsday asteroid breaks my concentration and may end me up with start-stop disjointed writing. That usually turns into an additional draft, etc.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Absolutely. Theme is equally as important as creating a world, characters, and plot. A theme is my shot at influencing and affecting my reader’s outlook. I’m not egotistical enough to believe I’m always right, but I do have an opinion, and I like to share it. The theme in a novel is more than an opinion and often borders on strong belief. Harry Potter had a theme, and if you missed it, you missed out on Ms. Rowling’s message, muggle.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) In the historical context, great and strong personalities, possessing charisma, leadership, and other virtues are often consigned to local, less memorable events. This might be the respected dogcatcher, who with his superior wit and feel for animals saves a village from rampaging wolves. Because, the wolves are local, the dogcatcher never rises to the epic proportions of say, an Adolf Hitler. Here’s another character of wit and feel who stepped into history books largely because of the Weimar Republics’ abject failure in the 1920s. Could someone else have done what Hitler did? So goes the argument. My position? Historical circumstance allows the famous and infamous to be known, not the other way around. (Here comes all the philosophical opposites about to argue the other side of this well-worn coin. Go for it!)
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Currently I only do print (Ingram Spark, Lulu, and CreateSpace-Amazon), and Ebooks (Smashwords, Kindle, Lulu, and PDF all via my website http://oliverchase.net). At this time, we’re considering an audio version of Levant Mirage. Joshua Tree will follow if LM is a commercial success. I love, trust, and believe in my work, but this stuff is really expensive. I haven’t done any hard covers or large print because I agree with setting financial priorities. Pearl River Publishing is a small, boutique publisher representing a limited number of authors with the stated goal of launching only a single writer at time. This enable that person’s full and unfettered use of all company resources. I had my shot, and now its Greg Lamb’s turn. He’s another terrific writer that PRPG will soon launch.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? That’s best answered by revealing my process:
1) I write a first draft…and a third draft, and each in between.
2) I then self edit in accordance with the Browne and King Self Editing manual.
3) The book then resides in a drawer (or desktop folder) for at least sixty days.
4) I again read, and edit, and fault search-not error search-in accordance with the Canadian fiction self editing guide. I’m not a Canadian, but it’s a heck of a good guide.
5) I then grab coffee, schedule a day without interruption and read for “continuity, cleverness, and consistency.” Red ink marks only.
6) I grind the novel into an MS find and correct using my own unpublished guide.
6) My novel is then ready for an editor. I hire one and send it off.
7) Following two drafts reviews, I read a last time (and boy am I sick of re-reading), and then…
8) I then send to my beta reader and give them a couple months.
9) And then, you guessed it. I re-read, correct and send off for one last edit, but not by me. By another’s set of eyes.
10) Then, I release the book to the world. Watch out.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Absolutely. Today’s market has amazing self-pub authors (SPA). Some of the work I read, especially local colour literature easily reaches and exceed work I’ve read by traditionally published authors (TPA). For discussion purposes, a TPA is a product of one of the top houses or their off-shoot imprints. I’m somewhat a product of both and have my roots as a SPA, so when I say there’s a lot of less-than-professional work out there, I’m being critical of myself as well as others. We tend to rush our work to market, thinking readers will treat us like our mothers. Doesn’t work that way. A single mistake may put off a reader, and they’ll proceed no further. How many “free” novels have been offered? There’s no free novels in publishing! Those things drip in blood for god’s sake. Give them free to your parents, but sell them to a reader. How can they respect us, if we cheapen our work and ask for nothing except a promise in the future?
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. All the time. Too often I’m forced to quit early due to overwhelming errors. Often enough, I’m engrossed and lose sleep with great stories.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? If you mean, me commenting on my reviewers, some things must be done in private. I’ve been slammed before. If you haven’t, you will, because it’s only a matter of time. Keep your opinion of the reviewer to yourself.
One of the greatest compliments ever paid to me was a reviewer who took another reviewer to task. I stayed above the fray and didn’t comment publically. Nor did I cry in my beer. There’s no crying in writing…did I already use that one? Life’s too short to take on a knucklehead, even if they deserve it. I’ve read enough to know a good novelist will just use a denigrating reviewer’s portrait in some future work. I can’t wait to read it.
Reviews are huge and wildly important…to future readers. I like reviewers face to face. In a recent presentation to a library writer’s group, an audience member took me to task and pointed out a grammatical error. I appreciated that effort, because obviously she read the book. Afterwards, I scribbled a note to myself and added her critique to my self-edit checklist.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Not as much as some. Generally, I know the authors, like the authors, understand that not everyone will be on their game every time. I also know that what I like, may not be liked by someone else.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? It’s okay, and done often. Honest reviewers are key. Writing is like any other game in life. Integrity means we all get our fair shot. Cheating is for cheaters, and they can play their own game without me.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?
1) Read as often as you can. Always carry a book in some form with you and hope someone will strike up a conversation. If they do, cover up the title of the book, and have fun telling them about your book. Oops…integrity right?
2) Set a schedule and write. Get up early or stay up late, but write every day. Make it a habit.
3) Keep your life in balance. Treat writing, family, obligations, duties, and responsibilities with equal importance. Keep any one, from dominating the other as you set priorities.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Eric Larsen’s Dead Wake. Absolutely chilling and suspenseful non-fiction.
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Here’s a trailer you might enjoy:
Levant Mirage 2015