Monday, January 28, 2013

Author Interview - Eric J. Gates, Suspense and Paranormal

Eric J. Gates
Suspense & Paranormal

       Who wants to go in first? Thank you for stopping by to meet Eric. It looks like we're all here and Eric will chat with us here in the FBI hallway so look like you're taking notes. By the way, he's giving away TEN e-copies of his book to the first ten who answer his question at the end. Good luck! Eric, thank you for inviting us here!

       Welcome to the mysterious Office 312 on the third floor of the FBI’s Washington HQ.

       Amy followed the elderly woman as she scooped up the box, turned and headed for the elevators. They rode in silence to the third floor. There they exited the cabin and turned right, walking some fifty yards before reaching the back corner of the building. The windows looking onto Ninth Street gave way to a solid wall painted light grey. A single, sturdy wooden door was set in the wall. Alongside its jamb, at a height perfectly matching the level of the older woman’s eyes, was a metal box with a keypad and a blue, silver dollar-sized lens set above. Amy’s companion moved her face close to the box. A faint blue light radiated from the lens, and an audible click came from the door.
       “We’ll get you registered on the retinal scanner in a while, my dear. For now, let’s have a cup of tea and get to know one another.”
       The woman pushed open the door and entered. Amy stood on the threshold for a few seconds, looking into the room. What she could see was totally not what she expected.

From "the CULL"

*Deanna, Eric and Louise watch from the hallway and quickly follow Amy and the woman, unbeknownst to them, through the door.* 
"Pssst Readers, hurry, you can enter, too."

Reader’s Haven: Hi Eric! Thank you for visiting with us this week. Tell us a bit about yourself  that our readers might not know.

Eric: I’ve traveled so much, airline crews knew me by sight, often addressing me by name as I boarded. Statistically that means I probably had more than my fair share of ‘near misses’ and the like on airline flights.
      I was scheduled to be on a plane that crashed with no survivors, back in the ‘80s; my meeting was canceled the previous evening. That doesn’t make me a ‘glass half full’ guy; rather a ‘full glass borrowed’ guy. It also makes me laugh at most things I come across, especially at myself. The traveling was a grind, but necessary for business.
      When I saw that George Clooney film ‘Up in the Air’ I found myself nodding throughout like some demonized bobble head figure; been there, done that, no T-shirt, plenty of grey hairs. The good side is you get to meet all kinds of people and experience life intensely. Great training for a writer.
I also hold 14 black belt degrees in distinct traditional martial arts, as well as several international self-defense ratings. These were all garnered over more than 40 years of training with some exceptional people and, although I have had to use my skills in situations away from the tatami, for me, a fight won is a fight avoided. I don’t look like the sort of person capable of defending himself, but you should never judge a book…

Reader’s Haven: What made you want to become a writer?

Eric: I’ve always written fiction. My Dad’s job meant moving around constantly which resulted in few long-time friends when I was young. I read a lot, still do, and decided that I’d have a go at writing the kind of books I liked to read. I ‘liberated’ a typewriter from my Dad’s office and wrote my first novel at 18, plus a couple of hundred short stories. Although life intervened, I carried on writing and reading about writing, honing my techniques. I guess I was born with a writing itch; now I have the time, I’m scratching it daily - what a horrible analogy.

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release without giving away any spoilers.

Eric: The seed for the new novel, ‘the CULL’, was planted in my subconscious many years ago when I read an uncompleted novel on author Stephen Leather’s website. It was a contemporary vampire tale, a break from his usual stuff, and it haunted me for a while. As I said, it was an incomplete piece and I even toyed with the idea of finishing it. I don’t consider myself a vampire fan – I’ve never watched Twilight or Vampire Diaries – yet the idea of writing a vampire book stuck. I was talking with my cousin via Internet about ideas for a new novel and just threw this out – she jumped on it, asking if her daughter, Katie, could be in it. Well, that was the birth of ‘the CULL’ in a nutshell.
      It’s a contemporary fast-paced, suspense thriller where two strong-willed female Federal Agents are tasked to track down and eliminate a serial-killer; the killer turns out to be far more than they’ve bargained for and they quickly become the hunted. If readers are looking for a completely new twist on the vampire theme, then this is the one for you. My vampires are based on hard scientific facts and are disconcerting, and scary for that very reason. They are real vampires!

Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

Eric: No. I use Eric J. Gates; you have to take full responsibility for your actions in life!
Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Eric: I’m drawn to flawed protagonists, and antagonists. No one is completely good or bad. I’m sure Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes nemesis, thought he was an OK sort of guy. In my previous novel, ‘Full Disclosure’, one of the main characters, a covert agent and government assassin, had both subtle psychopathic tendencies and a private agenda – it made for an interesting character, fun to write about. In ‘the CULL’ I partnered two females, different in backgrounds, age and experience, and they played well off each other. It was also fun to write the scenes where they worked together, and that’s what writing’s all about for me; if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it. It’s that fun element that gets you through the loneliness of the many hours spent novel writing.

Reader’s Haven: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Eric: I don’t keep set hours; I often work very late, finishing maybe at 2 or 3 in the morning. As I’m writing a tale, I’m also researching the next, finding ideas for the one after that, blogging occasionally, Tweeting for about thirty non-contiguous minutes a day and a bunch of other stuff. When I have the bit between the teeth I usually write between 2,000 and 3,000 words per day; drinks go cold, meals get missed, I’m just living the novel. Even if I take a break and go for a walk, I’m working on some aspect of the book in my head. Occasionally I connect with the rest of humanity though.

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Eric: The tales, so far, have been stand-alone, although the last three, including ‘the CULL’ share a similar theme; someone or something running towards a predefined destiny about which they are unaware. I’ve received many emails via my web asking me to write a sequel, or a series, featuring the characters in ‘the CULL’, and I will probably write a second novel about them this summer. It’s curious that the people who have been writing to me are not your typical YA vampire fans; the last email was from a Major in the Armed Forces for example. I seem to have struck a note with my original take on the vampire myth.

Reader’s Haven: You mentioned the vampires in ‘the CULL’ were different. Why did you create something new rather than following the common vampire meme?

Eric: Like most people, I assumed that vampires originated with Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, based in turn on Vlad Tepes the Impaler, a Transylvanian warlord. However when I started researching into the vampire myths and legends that abound worldwide, I discovered that the subject was much older. There were common themes and these had nothing to do with fangs or morphing into bats. It made me ask the question ‘what if the vampire was a real creature?’ Of course that meant that a rational explanation needed to be found for their existence. I believe that much of the original essence that perhaps Stoker, Polidori, and even Lord Byron included in their seminal vampire tales has been lost over the years. By making vampires more real, I went back to the sheer horror their existence, and needs, stir up in our subconscious. These vampires are real, and the stuff of nightmares!

Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Eric: It has varied considerably. ‘2012’ took three years to research, then another three of writing and editing before it saw the light. ‘Full Disclosure’ took about a year from initial research to publication and ‘the CULL’ less than eight months, of which half was full-time research into genetics and vampire legends. ‘Leaving Shadows’, the next one, is easier, in a sense, as it’s closer to the world I lived in professionally and required far less research. The sequel to ‘the CULL’ will be quick, though, as I have almost all I need, including a storyline, to start writing.
Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?

Eric: Yes! I have a ‘Writer at work. Disturb at your peril’ sign on my door. If I get interrupted I turn into a big green monster and spew fire, and growl at everyone.

Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?

Eric: I like to use my character names as a way of saying thank you for the help I receive from certain people in the production of my novels. This could be proofreading, editing or researching or whatever. I also run a competition on my web where readers can win a character named after them in future novels; several have already appeared in the existing books. In both cases I always seek their written permission and usually only use their name. The case of Katie in ‘the CULL’ is an exception; her mother asked for this to be done and it became a Birthday surprise for her. As I said, I only use the name and in Katie’s case she appeared as a 62 year old woman, where in reality she is much, much younger than that – could this be why she’s not speaking to me at the moment?

Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Eric: Yes, I do use this trick. I decide upon the characters, classify them into Primary, Secondary and Tertiary, according to their importance in the tale, then develop mini-bios for all in the first two categories. Lastly I go searching for an image that ‘fits’ with my mental image of how this character would look, as a sort of ‘aide memoire’. As an example, I’ll use Katie Lindon from ‘the CULL’ again. Here I used as an image guide a young Fionnulla Flanagan, the Irish actress. Although she bears no resemblance to the real Katie, her aspect clicked with the character’s backstory. I develop character pages for each and add the photo at the top, so that when I’m writing I can pull up the bio on the screen and check on any details I’ve invented for the character in question.

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

Eric: This varies. Sometimes it’s just a place I know, sometimes it’s somewhere that has some significance to the storyline. I have no hard and fast rule. The place has to add something to the tale though; the choice is not arbitrary.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Eric: I’m currently working on ‘Leaving Shadows’, a spy thriller which starts with the kidnapping of the head of British Intelligence. As with all my books, however, there’s a major twist and nothing is quite as it seems. Next up will probably be the sequel, or next in a series, to ‘the CULL’ although I do not have a title for that one yet – if your readers have any suggestions, they can write to me via my web. After that I will be starting a new thriller entitled ‘Outsourced’ – it’s one I’ve had on the back-burner for a while, and I’m keeping the subject very secret – I’ll just say that it’s my destiny to write this one.

Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

Eric: I have a website and blog as well as @eThrillerWriter on Twitter. On my web there are links for all of my books which will take you directly to Amazon, etc. I also have extracts, competitions, and the Inside Secrets, which I call ‘Winks’, for each of my novels. If you are a writer, you’ll also find Tips and Tricks that may prove useful for you. I’m also on Goodreads, Tumblr, Google+ and Facebook (Fan pages for each of my novels).

Contest giveaway: I will give 10 copies of ‘the CULL’ in e-book format (.mobi, e-pub). The first 10 commenters to answer“What happens to Ralph?” will win a copy.

The answer is easily found in the extract on my web site and elsewhere. Leave your email address so I can easily contact you for your format choice and good luck!
the CULL

      Amy Bree’s reckless actions result in death and her dismissal from the FBI.

      A visit from a mysterious priest propels her back into the fray, as she is partnered with an ex-spy, with fearsome computer skills, and tasked to hunt down and eliminate the serial killer known as the Blood Sucker.

      Their quarry is not what they expect: old, very old, and needs blood to survive.

      The body count rises...and the hunters become the hunted!


      Amy rocked back on her heels, swiveling her gaze to the left. Only light grey walls and similar-toned office furniture; the design brainchild of some low-echelon bureaucrat who thought this stark environment would be conducive to solving the FBI’s caseload. Before her, albeit set in an identical grey-painted wall, was an over-large, wooden door. Its deep red color clamored for attention, yelling its specialness to the Four Winds.
      Now the elderly woman had entered and moved off to the right, Amy could see inside. The view was strange, to say the least. Staring back at her from a seamless floor-to-ceiling mirrored wall, her own image reflected her puzzlement.
      She took a step inside. The outside wall seemed unusually thick and inside the passageway only allowed movement to the right. She could see it ended after about fifteen feet; a two-foot gap on the left beckoned. She tentatively walked down the passageway. Amy found herself blinking rapidly; her stomach felt queasy. Her reflection in the abutting wall at the end of the short passageway did not look right. Behind her, the large redwood door hissed closed. She forced herself to reach the gap, and stepped through.

      Immediately to her right, a large leather couch paralleled the inner wall. She flopped down on it, forcing herself to take deep breaths.
      “I’m sorry about that, dearie, but you’ll get used to it. After a couple of days you’ll hardly notice it.”
      “Smoke and mirrors, my dear. This office is rather special. The mirrors slightly distort your image, and none of the walls or the floor are completely straight; they’re meant to disorient you. That wall is also one-way glass so we can see what’s coming, and with a quick keystroke, I can trap them in there and gas them.” Amy’s gaze flicked up to the older woman’s face, to be met only by a broad smile and twinkling eyes. She wasn’t sure if the grey-haired woman was joking or not. The woman approached Amy and held out her hand. “Let me show you around.”
      Amy let herself be aided from the couch. She gazed around the room. It was rectangular, with two large windows on the back wall. Set between them was a large metal filing cabinet, painted bright blue with a prominent combination lock centered on the top drawer. Off to the right, sharing a wall with the couch, an oblong table held a coffeemaker and water kettle as well as all the necessary bits and pieces for continual liquid refreshment. Below the table sat a small refrigerator, more at home in a five-star hotel than in this strange room. Next along the wall, another door, wooden, red like its counterpart, but more subdued. It was closed.
      “That’s your office. This is mine.” The woman walked over to a large L-shaped desk that dominated the other wall, its top festooned with large computer screens and a couple of keyboards. Just behind the desk, two large metal racks held an assortment of electronics and blinking red and green lights.

About the Author

      Eric J. Gates is an ex-International Management Consultant who has travelled extensively worldwide, speak several languages, and has had articles and papers published in technical magazines in six different countries as well as radio and TV spots.
      His specialty, Information Technology Security and Cyberwarfare, has brought him into contact with the Intelligence community on several occasions. 
      He is also an expert martial-artist, holding 14 black belt degrees in distinct disciplines, as well as several International ratings in Self Defense. He has taught his skills to members of various Police, Military and Special Forces units, as well as Private Security firms, Bodyguards and members of the public.
      He started writing as a teenager, and in his own words, "has never stopped since".
      He is the author of several thriller novels, details of which can be found on this web, and collaborates with other authors and Writer Networks.

You'll find some devilish puzzles set by him at


Watch the 'the CULL' Book Trailer

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Eric! Thank you again for visiting with us this week. We'll leave the comments open all weekend to give Readers a chance to enter the giveaway.
    Good luck everyone! ~Louise