Monday, August 8, 2016

Guest Blogger: Raymond Chilensky

Amazon's Author Central Page:

                                 Blood and Treasure (F.I.R.E. Team Alpha Book 2) by [Chilensky, Ray]

Please tell us about your latest book. -
Blood and Treasure: F.I.R.E Team Alpha Book Two was released by Solstice Publishing on July 15th. While the first book in the series concentrated on direct military action, book two is more of a spy story and political thriller. There’s plenty of action as well, though. Readers also get to meet F.I.R.E. Team Bravo.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m about 40,000 words into ‘Seventh’: an urban fantasy novel centering on a family of demon hunters that have been blessed directly by the Archangel Uriel. My protagonist, Cadell Selkirk is the seventh son of that family; which makes his special even by the standards of a family who fights demons. It also makes him a prime target for the demons. Seventh is intended to be the first of the ‘Blessed Warrior Series’. Of course I intend to give Solstice first crack at it when the manuscript is finished.

How do we find out about you and your books? Both Team Alpha books are available on Amazon. I have a F.I.R.E. Team Alpha Facebook page, and my author’s Facebook page will have news about what I’m doing as an author generally, including my short stories and upcoming projects.

You can also see some artwork related to my books here.

Why did you decide to write science fiction/fantasy novels?
Well, frankly, I’m nerd. I was the kid who liked reading a good science fiction novel, re-reading a stack of old comic books, or watching an episode of the original Star Trek series for hundredth time instead of playing with the neighborhood kids. As an author the science fiction genre gives me a kind of mental ‘cushion’ for my readers. I can deal with topics that might otherwise be too uncomfortable if dealt with in a contemporary context. Good science fiction either serves as a warning about how bad things can get in the future or sets a goal for humanity to aspire to. Seventh is my first foray into urban fantasy. That genre provides the same kind of detachment when dealing with issues that may be hard to digest in other contexts but does so in a way that’s more relatable to some readers.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing? The characters of Team Alpha are dear to me, but I’m finding that writing the Selkirk brothers in ‘Seventh’ refreshing. I’m the youngest of four brothers and I’m very close with all of my siblings. We don’t hunt demons of course, but I can draw more from my own day to day experience when writing Seventh. Team Alpha is drawn more from my education in history and political science. The Selkirks are more relatable on an emotional level.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I’ve always liked telling stories. I started writing stories based on role playing game campaigns for my nerd-friends back in high school, but those stories never were seen by anyone accept that small group. At the age of 39 I started at Kent State University and received quite a few compliments about my writing from professors relating to research papers I wrote for my classes. Kent State offered a writing minor so I added that to my class schedule. Shortly after that, I won a local historical fiction writing contest and decided that I might not be too bad at stringing words together. I decided to sit down and actually write the novel that had been bouncing around in my skull for over ten years. That was The Fate of Nations: F.I.R.E. team Alpha Book One.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
I try to write at least 1000 words a day, six days a week. So if I stick with that regimen, I can finish a book in three to four months.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I do most of my writing in the wee-hours of the morning when everyone else is asleep. I live with a bunch of non-writers who just don’t understand.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?
Research first. I try to get a feel for where the book is set, and then look at specific details that might affect the story, like different cultural traditions of the characters involved for instance. After that, 1000 words a day working from about 12 AM to 3am six days a week.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I read a lot of history and practice martial arts, I also draw and paint, but that usually ends up being illustrations characters from my books.

What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
There’s the hope of actually making a living from writing. But I also try to make my work thought-provoking. I work a lot of historical precedents into my stories because I perceive a dangerous level of ignorance about history in the United States. There is a certain apathy, a kind of intellectual laziness, about current world events; especially those that don’t make it into headlines or TV news. I hope that someone will read my fiction and be inspired to ask a few questions and go out and find the answers.

Where do your ideas come from?
History is my main inspiration; not just the ‘accepted’ historical narrative, but alternate interpretations as well.

Do you feel humor is important in science fiction and why?
Humor is important in any genre, even if it’s dark humor. I think there’s an unfortunate lack of humor in modern science fiction, particularly in films. My subject matter is pretty dark, so I try to give my readers a chuckle every so often. I’ve seen some science fiction that downright depressing. Who wants to spend money on a book that makes them crave an anti-

What kind of research do you do?
Most of my research has to do with location the story is set in and technical details that might affect my story. I want enough details that the readers can immerse themselves in the story without getting bogged down in them. For Seventh I did a lot of research on the Cabala and the apocryphal books of the Bible because I wanted to make the magic in the book somewhat believable, less whimsical, and grounded in a set of rules.

Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
Seventh, an urban fantasy is a new genre for me. I will probably get around to doing a strait space opera as opposed to Team Alpha, which is an Earth based military/dystopian sci-fi. Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.) I’ve studied history and political science. My hobbies are martial arts, reading, shooting, and art. And I enjoy writing; so it’s as much a hobby as it is work. I also collect edged weapons and hope to start forging my own edged weapons in a garage workshop soon.

I have three brothers and we stick together; always have, always will. Do you have a favorite author? The great Robert Heinlein: hallowed be his name.
Who are some of your other favorite authors to read? Phillip K. Dick, Orson Scott Card, Alistair Maclean, David Morel and Robert Ludlum are some of my favorites. I’ve also become pretty fond of Dalton Fury, Cassandra Clare, Yasmine Galenorn and Laurell K. Hamilton. Where do you see yourself in five years? Making gazzilions of dollars as a superstar author and arguing with HBO over how they’ve screwed up my book in the TV adaptation. Or thanking the Great Maker I’m
still alive and making some decent pocket money from my writing. The Fates will decide. How many books have you written, how many have been published? Two; both published. Number three in progress with high hopes of being published. What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun? I haven’t really run into a book being hard to write, just parts of a book that were harder than others. I’m having a lot of fun writing the interaction among the brothers in Seventh.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
The characters; the story idea may come into mind first, but the characters get the most of my attention because they tend to be what makes the story develop. My first step in the creative process is to draw all of the characters; it makes them ‘real’ to me. The setting just adds spice to the whole product.

 What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
That moment when, after the arduous process of editing and revision, my editor says the book ready to be published. That’s the time for a personal pep-rally.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
I think I’m ways writing. I’m just not always typing.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Sit down and write the damn book. Don’t find reason not to write, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t write a book, or that you won’t find a publisher. Don’t listen when they tell that you’re wasting your time. If you have a story that you think needs telling, tell it. Worry about the publishing process once you have something to publish. Remember that just finishing a manuscript is a great accomplishment.

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