Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

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Location: United States

Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Interview with Stephen Parrish

Stephen Parrish has been an online friend for a couple of years now. The first time I clicked on his sometimes-humorous and always-insightful blog, I thought man, this guy can write!

I knew he had written some fiction, and I figured it was only a matter of time before he landed a publishing deal. When he did, I knew it was a book I would have to own.

May 1 is the official release date of The Tavernier Stones, but it is available now at many bookstores and through online retailers.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Stephen a few questions regarding his past, present, and future. I think you'll find his answers interesting.

I know you live in Germany, but I never heard the story of what brought you there.

The U.S. Army. Signing up was the second best thing I ever did, after becoming a dad.

Is there any chance you’ll ever move back to the States?

I'm homesick. But having so many exotic cultures within a short drive is a fantasy come true. Once when I had business near the Dutch border I decided to drive home by cutting through Holland, then Belgium, then Luxembourg, before crossing back into Germany. Four countries in one afternoon, just for the hell of it. Try doing that from Indianapolis. My favorite city, London, is one hour away by air, and I can get a round trip ticket for a hundred bucks. Come to think of it, maybe I'm not so homesick after all . . .

What are some of the difficulties living in Europe and trying to promote a book published in America? Will there be any sort of American book tour?

The Atlantic Ocean is an obvious impediment to book signings, but I think the practice is dated and on its way out. The internet is exponentially more efficient at reaching people. I'm also convinced that ebooks will soon be the norm, sooner than most people predict, and print rights will be treated as subsidiary, like audio rights are today. You can't autograph an ebook.

When it comes to book marketing in general, I'm highly suspicious of conventional wisdom, and especially of what appears to be a prevailing notion that writers need to promote balls-to-the-wall in every arena they can. Some arenas are efficient, some are inefficient, some horribly so.

Where did the title The Tavernier Stones come from?

My editor chose it. It's the fourth title the book has worn. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (tavern-YAY) was a seventeenth century Marco Polo who traveled frequently to the Orient and brought back many gemstones to the court of Louis XIV, including a large blue diamond that would later be recut into The Hope. My novel capitalizes on the legend of his final voyage, during which he mysteriously disappeared.

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Two of my passions are maps and gemstones. When it occured to me to marry the two, to conjure up a treasure map and make the treasure a cache of priceless jewels, I couldn't resist. Mind you, I tried to resist; my ambitions have always leaned toward literary fiction. I refused to touch the project for several years after conceiving it. But it kept nagging me.

I know you have a background in mathematics. When did you first become interested in writing fiction?

Literature is my first love. I've read omnivorously, particularly fiction, as far back as I can remember. When I say I would rather read a good novel than do anything else, and I mean anything, people think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. Math is another story, a parallel life I'm living.

What authors influenced you? Was there ever an author you considered a mentor?

Hemingway is probably tops. When he was good, no one was better. It can also be said that when he was bad, no one was worse. That suck-in-a-deep-breath moment near the end of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is, to my way of thinking, what we're all trying to achieve.

When I was very young I got swept away by Leon Uris. I still think Mila 18 is one of the best novels ever written. It was Leon, more than any other writer, and probably more than all of them combined, who inspired me to be a novelist.

You signed up for NaNoWriMo last year. What became of that? Would you recommend it?

I signed up two years in a row. I won't again. It's not for me.

Do you have any advice for newbies trying to break in? What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

I'm still a newbie myself. There's a lot of good advice out there, particularly about seeking and paying attention to criticism, and aspiring writers should listen to it. The one thing I would stress is: Don't Give Up. Lucky people aren't getting book deals, stubborn people are.

As for self publishing, well, you can do it if you want, but I won't buy it or read it.

I know you landed your publishing contract without an agent. Have you tried to get an agent since signing with Midnight Ink?

No, I'm exercising patience. Tavernier was represented unsuccessfully, and I ended up having to sell it myself. I learned that the expression "getting an agent" woefully lacks a critical adjective or two.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on now?

A juvenile delinquent is given a choice: remain in detention for the final six months of his sentence, or go to work on a vineyard.

Why should someone browsing in a bookstore buy The Tavernier Stones over the hundreds of other choices on the shelves? What makes your book stand out in the crowd?

It's got a shit-hot cover! All I ask is that people read chapter one. It's available in its entirety on the Amazon page by clicking the "search inside this book" option. If it doesn't make you want to read further, you have my gratitude for giving it a shot, and I hope we cross paths again.

Shit-hot indeed!

You can learn more about Stephen and his debut novel on his website.

Also, he is sponsoring a contest, based on the novel, where you can win a one-carat diamond here.

Thank you, Stephen, and best of luck with the book!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My First Blurb!!!!!

Nicolas Colt is a PI who cares about people.

And, his creator, Jude Hardin, makes us care about Nicolas Colt.

Colt is tough, smart and persistent, characteristics he shares with most other private eyes in crime fiction.

But he’s a believable character as well - and that’s something many writers seem to have trouble bringing off.

Not Hardin.

Pocket-47 is a thoroughly engaging, nonstop slay ride.

Read it.

--Leighton Gage, author of Dying Gasp: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Making Ezra Frech's Dream Come True

If this doesn't get you, nothing will.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Countdown to Publication: 381 Days

I thought it might be interesting to document my journey toward print. After all, having your first novel published is a once-in-a-lifetime event. I hope to publish many more, but there will only be one debut. So...

In a previous post, my friend Jon VanZile said he liked my title, Pocket-47. I’ve actually gotten quite a few compliments on it, and it came to me in sort of a crazy way. I work at a hospital as an RN, and we use a computerized medication dispenser with many drawers and cabinets filled with hundreds of drugs we might need during a shift. One night a couple of years ago, I logged in and selected a medication for a patient. The computer promptly directed me to a cabinet with groups of segmented plastic trays on shelves, the segments referred to as pockets.

The medication I wanted was in Pocket-47.

It wasn’t an uncommon med. I’d probably been to that location dozens of times, but for some reason that time the combination of the word Pocket and the number 47 struck me as a nice title for a book.

By the way, in the context of the novel, Pocket-47 has a completely different meaning.

Why 47? I don’t know, but there’s an entire society dedicated to that number. They say that it “appears to be the quintessential random number of the universe.”

Works for me.

And you can bet I will let them know when the book is soon to be released. Heck, I might even join.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Guest Blogger Mark Terry

Is this a great looking cover, or what? I know Mark's excited about it, and I am, too, because the same artist is going to do the cover for my book!

I first "met" Mark Terry a few years ago on Joe Konrath's Blog. He has always struck me as a no-nonsense kind of guy, and very knowledgeable about contemporary genre fiction. His latest novel, the third in the Derek Stillwater series, came out this month and I'm reading it now. I'll give it a full review when I finish, but for now let me just say that the opening rocks.

Mark has been kind enough to stop by for a few words of wisdom today, so let's all give him a warm welcome. Take it away, Mark.

Launched Roller Coaster

Old fogey that I am, I remember when the only roller coasters around were ones where your car had to be hauled to the top of the hill via a chain before you could get that wild ride. From a physics point of view, the long haul up the hill stores the energy that is used for the rest of the ride.

Over the last 10 years or so something called a “launched roller coaster” or sometimes a “catapult coaster” has come into vogue. Off the top of my head, the one I’ve ridden on most recently was the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney World. Basically, instead of the click-click-click ride up to the top of the hill, anticipation building, a hydraulic pump (or other varieties of propulsion systems) launch you from about 0 miles per hour to about 80 mph in about a second. Whiplash alert!

No, this isn’t all about roller coasters.

It’s about novels. You’ve got two choices (at least) when starting a novel. You can do a slow build or you can launch the reader. Typically, a “launch the reader” approach utilizes in media res, which is a Latin phrase that means “into the middle of affairs.” That is to say, you start your novel right in the middle of action and explain it all later.

I’m an advocate of in media res, but that’s largely because I’m writing very fast-paced thriller novels. I set the tone and pace by giving a reader a sense of speed and adrenaline right from the beginning (and try not to let up for the rest of the book). (I’m probably also impatient). My latest novel, THE FALLEN, starts with a sniper on a hillside watching a security checkpoint for the G8 Summit. Within a couple pages he’s dead and so are a bunch of other people. I launched, baby.

Although it works for me and the types of books I write, it’s not the only way, or even necessarily the best way. There’s a lot to be said for seducing the reader into the story. A little romance, a little flowers, maybe dinner, candlelight…. I think this works best for many different types of books, including straight mysteries, romance, and many books aimed at kids. Just don’t wait too long to get things moving or your agent, editor, and readers may give up, not a good thing.

For instance, in the Harry Potter novels, although as a reader it sometimes drove me crazy, the novels almost always started out with Harry living with his aunt and uncle in the Muggle world. The fun started when he finally got to Hogwarts. But JK Rowling was establishing the difference between the Muggle world and Hogwarts, she was showing the reader how different Harry’s life was between the two extremes. And that’s important, particularly in novels where a character is moving to a very different environment.

Now, I’m reading Jude’s novel in manuscript, POCKET-47, and like many PI novels, it starts out with some seduction: introducing the character, the setting, a client shows up, the case is presented, then we move on. Robert B. Parker wrote about 50 bestselling novels using the same approach. It works fine. And Jude’s book (and no, I don’t know yet what the title refers to) appears very character-driven, and an engaging character he is, too, rather than plot-driven. The seduction works well as complications build (insert sex metaphor of your choice here).

Can you give examples of each one?