Dropped Pebbles is restarting the author interview feature after a long break, and today I am pleased to feature mystery/suspense/thriller author, Cliff Roberts.
Hello! Welcome to Dropped Pebbles. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
My name is Cliff Roberts and I am a writer. I have four novels on the market, all four of which have held the status of 1# bestseller at one time or another. The four books are titled, Reprisal! The Eagle Rises!, Reprisal! The Gauntlet, Fatal Mistake and Conch Republic. I have two books which will released shortly and they titled, Reprisal! The Sorrow and Is there something I should know?
The Reprisal book is third book in the series and whereas the first two books focused on taking the war on terror directly into the terrorists homes this third book focuses on a counter punch by the terrorist group known as the “Brotherhood of the sword.” You can expect to see out in late February, early March.
The second book due for release this spring is title, Is there something I should know? This is a non-fiction book dealing with the challenges of selling. I have over thirty years in sales and marketing and I am an award winning salesperson so I feel I have some unique insights into selling. I have structured the book so that it is an easy read filled with helpful hints that if practiced in a sales environment will help the salesperson help more people make the purchases they were hoping for, and thus increase their own income. This a basic primer that everyone who works for a living should be reading because we are all salespeople just at a different levels.
I live in eastern Tennessee with my wife Donna we have two dogs and just love mountain living. When I’m not writing I like to explore the mountains, do wood working, take photographs of the landscaping, go antiquing, read, watch movies and play with the grandchildren.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And are you interested in other forms of artistic expression?
I have wanted to write since I was in high school but after a few college courses in creative writing life took me in a different direction and I didn’t have an opportunity to concentrate on writing again until I was medically retired in 2005.
I am big into photography and wood working, when let myself stop writing for a while.
People often say that the life of a writer is a lonely one. How do you stay motivated/inspired? Do you have advice for writers going through a difficult time?
Life as a writer is lonely. But then is so the life of a sales rep and when you read books, which I do on a consistent basis. I have a sort of self-motivation within that I had to develop in my selling years as well as to overcome some of the challenges that life has provided me. I began writing with no less a goal than becoming a NY Times bestselling author. I’ve achieved bestseller status on Amazon but it’s not quite the same. The best advice for anyone who writes is to set goals for yourself and then follow what Ray Bradbury said and that was, “The only way to lose at writing is to quit. SO don’t quit.” If the first book you write doesn’t quite make the bestsellers list, write another and so on and so on until you do make the best seller list. Don’t quit!
Note to self: ‘Don’t Quit!’ Got it!
What draws you to your preferred genre? What can you never see yourself writing?
I’m a big fan of two genres in particular. Action/adventure and thriller/mystery/suspense. I am a big fan of both Tom Clancy and Elmore Leonard. I enjoy the tension that draws you through the book to the end and keeps you guessing as you read each new chapter. I like the twist and turns and the strategy it takes to plan out these types of books. In either genre, the picture you’re seeing at the moment may not be the true picture.
I cannot see myself ever writing a math or science manual. I’m just not that mathematically inclined. Anything else, hmmmm. Maybe.
What do you think makes a good story? What do you try to avoid doing at all costs in your own writing?
I like stories where the line between good and evil are a blurred. The antagonist and the protagonists may prove to be different people by the end the story. The thing I try very hard not to do in my own writing is over using words. Words like that, just, quite, quickly, quipped, and etc. when that happens it doesn’t matter how good the story actually is, the reader’s mind will wander and after they wandered for a few minutes you have usually lost them.
Would you mind telling us what you think your strengths and weaknesses are?
Okay I’m game. My strength is that I tell great story. All of my books, I have been told are real page turns. Books that once you start reading them, you won’t want to put them down. My biggest weakness is that I am not a very skillful writer. I write the book and then have to hand it over to an editor/proof reader. I am lousy at punctuation and only fair at grammar. But then most writers need editors so it’s not that bad.
Who/what are your biggest influences, and why?
As I said before I am a big fan of both Tom Clancy and Elmore Leonard. But my first real influence was H.G. Wells. H.G. is a very descriptive writer as well as a very insightful one. Tom Clancy and Elmore Leonard are similar. Clancy and Leonard I discovered once I was adult and H.G. Wells I read when I was in my early teens.
What makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular, or perhaps less popular than it could be?
I’m not so sure my genre is unique but the stories I tell are unique. It’s been said that there is nothing new in the world especially in the writing field. We merely take what is already written and paraphrase it to give it a new and exciting sound. That just may be true, but I like to think that the reader when they pick up my books will get something if not new, very different. I think that’s what’s makes them so popular. They are easy to read, yet complicated with a lot things you don’t see coming. Plus, I work very hard to create characters that we all can relate to.
The Reprisal series combines and political thriller with an action adventure. A computer billionaire recruits and funds an emotionally devastated newly retired Chairman of the Joint chiefs to create a corporate security team that will not longer wait for terrorists to attack the United States, they will go out and pre-empt the terrorists and kill them in their own homes or their safe havens. While on the home front they take on the sitting president who is ignoring the constitution and is using executive orders to rule the country as if he were a dictator. Now before you jump up and start claiming that I have done nothing but use Obama as the Presidential example to write the books, I wrote the book in 2005 long before Obama was in office, it just worked out that he is just like that.
Fatal Mistake is about a man whose wife is cheating on him and he decides instead of going through a divorce and losing everything, it’s cheaper to bury her in the back yard garden. Everything is planned perfectly but before he can kill his soon to be ex-wife everything starts to unravel. Before he knows what has hit him, the murderous husband is burying a stranger and his sister in law, as far he knows, has gone for the police. Now it is a race against time to bury the past and avoid making the fatal mistake. If he can avoid getting caught he can live a long and wonderful life. But life or fate keeps placing challenges in his path one after another involving the sister in law, the police, a mob boss, a private investigator and team of hit men sent to kill him. Fatal Mistake clearly shows that everybody makes mistakes and it only take one mistake to get caught.
That sounds like a real-page turner!
Conch Republic is about a middle aged, medically retired man who as a hobby happens to write books to fill his time. He also happens to keep finding himself in situations where he has to solve a crime to either keep from going to prison or to keep from being killed. The main character is Nate Nevwas. He’s nice enough and if he’s your friend, he’ll standby you no matter what. His fatal flaws are that he has an acid tongue and only knows how to speak sarcasm. He’s quick to come to the rescue of damsels in distress which is the main reason he’s always under suspicion for one crime or another and he just can’t keep his nose out of other people’s business. He suffers from terminal curiosity.
‘Terminal curiosity’, I like that
While attempting to help a damsel in distress Nate stumbles into a gang planning to steal a sunken treasure before the person who discovered it, can excavate it themselves from the ocean floor. The adventure takes Nate and his friend Mason, a retired NFL super star who after football chose to become a sheriff’s deputy in his hometown of Marathon, Florida. Together Nate and Mason find themselves battling hired killers, pirates and the mob who are all seeking to lay claim to treasure. The story takes the duo from Key West to the Everglades to the high seas and back again leaving a trail of bodies like bread crumbs behind them.
Wow, another potential page-turner!
Can you tell us about your other books or projects you are working on?
Currently, I have two books about to be released. The first one will be a book on selling. It’s titled Is there something I should know? It’s non-fiction and it will help anyone to understand the sales process better thus making them a better sales person. The main focus is on how stop being that annoying pest that most people don’t trust to becoming the salesperson who is a trusted friend in the sale process.
One of the most important things for everyone to remember is that we are all salespeople. I am hoping for a mid –February 2014 release.
The second book, as mentioned is “Reprisal! The Eagle’s Sorrow”. It is the third book in the Reprisal! Series. The book takes place across the globe as usual but it focuses on Europe and the coming attack on Hamburg, Germany. Again the attack is led by Yousef Al-Sintani the cell leading for the attacks on Houston and San Antonio. I don’t dare tell you anymore because I don’t want to ruin the story for any of my fans. I am hoping to release it by April 1, 2014.
For those of us trying to figure out the marketing aspect, what tips can you share? How did you come to establish your support team?
This is a good question. Not every book can be sold the same way but every book needs something in common with every other book. They all need be exposed to the public. I have a somewhat complicated marketing plan where I personally spend a large amount of time posting to Facebook and Google. I have also signed with Nick Wale at Novel Ideas in order to get a pro’s touch for the ads I run, blog content, website content, SEO, keywords, and a host of other advertising challenges. So I recommend hiring professional help. There is just too much for the author to handle and still be able to write. I for one don’t want to spend time working the internet with blurbs, I want to write.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
I don’t really view any part of writing as difficult. It comes quiet easy to me. The biggest challenge as an author is getting noticed in the sea of authors and their books that flood the reading public yearly. Without gaining that exposure that will set me apart from the other author’s out there, it’s a near thankless job. Until the readers start reading your book, are you really an author? It took me seven years to finally gain a following that is growing. My first four novels have all managed to become #1 bestsellers on Kindle. With that recognition the sales have taken off and I building hopefully a steady and faithful fan base that help with my other books I plan to release in the future.
What is the best piece of (writing) advice anyone ever gave you?
I haven’t received any direct advice from another author so I’ve taken the comments made by major authors and tried to follow them. Like Tom Clancy’s statement, “The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.” —Tom Clancy
That’s a great quote! So true!
“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”–Ray Bradbury
“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” —Elmore Leonard
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your preferred genre?
Read, read and read some more. DO your research because fiction has to not only make sense, but also be as realistic as possible!
How can readers get into contact with you?
Readers can reach me at:
Website— authorcliffroberts.wordpress.com –
Thank you, Cliff Roberts, for joining us today. Your books sound intriguing and I’m sure you’be teased us enough with them that a bunch of us will be looking them up! Readers, please show Mr. Roberts your appreciation by leaving him a message below and by contacting him via one of the links provided.
Thank you all and have a great week!