Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview With T. K. Topin, author of THE LANCASTER RULE

Please help me welcome T.K. Topin, author of THE LANCASTER RULE, now available as an e-book from Chapagne Books.
CC: How did you get into writing as a career? Do you write full time or still have a day job? (If so, at what?)

TK: I guess you can say I sort of fell into writing. It's been something I've always wanted to do, but like most people, I thought: "Yeah, right, that'll never happen." In 2008, I just got the right sort of motivation and decided, definitely, that I would write. So I did. And now look at me, a book published, two more completed, and two more cooking on the stove, so to speak. I'm not a full-time writer, though I'd like to be. I still have a day job that pays the bills (barely). I've been a graphic artist for too many years.

CC: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

TK: I hope it brings some excitement and a little adventure for readers. But basically, enjoyment. I always love those books that "take" you some place else, and you just can't put it down because you want to know what happens next.

CC: In what genres do you write?
TK: Well, as I've only published one book, it's safe to say that it's science fiction/fantasy. I do like this genre, as you can make things up along the way without worrying if it'll make sense. And it goes right up there with adventure and excitement. But, even though I've sort of chosen this genre, it's not hard-core sci-fi fantasy. More character-driven - no matter what century you're in, or which world you're in, people are basically still the same. I have two more stories I'd like to tell, but they are very contemporary, nothing sci-fi about them.

CC: Who are your favorite authors?

TK: I'd have to say, among my favourites, are Frank Herbert (Dune series), Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl series), Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus Trilogy), Diana Galbaldon (Outlander series), J.D. Robb (In Death series), Dean Koontz (especially the Odd Thomas series). And of course, who doesn't like J.K. Rowling. Most recently, I've discovered Steig Larsson of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo fame. I've just realized that I like serial books...mostly because you meet your favourite characters again. Maybe that's why I decided to write a trilogy.

CC:  Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

TK: Now that I know the meaning of those two writing styles, I'd have to say that I am a plotter. I follow a chronological order that starts at chapter 1 and goes steadily along until the last chapter. I write notes to keep track of things, or what should come next, but instead of writing those, I wait until I get to that point, then write it out. I like order.

CC:  Do you have a writing schedule?

TK: Not really. As I said, I have a day job (it helps that I work from home) and I juggle it around that. Most days, if it's quiet, I prefer to work during the morning hours after the first hit of coffee. This goes on until mid-afternoon. Although, lately, I've had to be content with the afternoon, where I can shut myself in the bedroom and snap open the laptop in peace and quiet. Morning are now dedicated to promoting the book online and keeping up with book-related things...like doing this interview, for instance.

CC:  Are you attending any conferences this year or scheduled as a speaker? Blog tours or other promotions?

TK: Living in Barbados has it's drawbacks where conferences are concerned. While I'd like to, it's a little hard to do. At the moment, I've been doing exchange blog interviews like this one, hopefully getting some exposure. I've done a few electronic ads, locally and internationally from blitz emails to Facebook ads.

CC: It's hard not to envy someone living the Barbados, but I would miss my local conferences, writer's groups, etc.. Any guilty pleasures or vices you’d care to share?

TK: Hmmm, if it's guilt, then one should keep their mouths shut, right? But in actual fact: No. I'm rather dull.

CC: Anyone who can writer THE LANCASTER RULE can't be dull. When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

TK: Sleep usually covers it all. But, generally speaking, anything from playing video games, watching movies or just "chilling" with friends.

CC:  What advice would you give to pre-published authors?

TK: Don't dispair! Keep at it. If you've gone to the effort of writing a book, then you've got something worth reading. But get someone to read it first. Don't trust your own opinions. Whatever comments or advice they give you on it, listen to them. Fix it if it needs fixing (it always does), work at it some more (re-read, re-read, re-read), and when you think it's ready (it never is), actively seek out the different avenues of getting it published. Another thing to remember is that now, there's so many different ways of getting published - so research it, educate yourself in matters of the literary world, brush up on your marketing skills, know your target group...and most importantly, grow some extra skin because when the first onslaught of rejections come in...

CC:  Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

TK: Hmm, no. Kidding... Well, there's not much to tell. My life is extremely sedate compared to the books I've written. I live in Barbados with my husband, was born and raised here, my parents were of Japanese descent (yeah, I know, and they lived here of all places!). I've two geriatric dogs and one part-human cat (think Hell Boy as a kid). That's about it, really.

CC: Yeah, I've a cat like that, too. His name is Sebastian and he thinks he's human.  Sometimes we're not sure he's not a little part human. Tell us about your latest release.

TK: My latest and first release is called THE LANCASTER RULE. It's also the first of three. I've just completed the third and going through self-edits.

Basically, it's about a young woman who finds herself 300 years in the future after she steps into a stasis pod. She awakes to this future and has to deal with all the frightening aspects she encounters. It's a very different world now. She learns to survive, finds love, finds herself, realizes that she was destined to be in this new future.

CC: Can you give us a blurb of THE LANCASTER RULE?

TK: Sure. Blurb:

The world loathes Josie Bettencourt's kind – pod-survivors from the past. When death is certain, an ex-military and friend to the pod-hunters, saves her life. Unfortunately, she is soon arrested and taken straight to the Citadel, the heart of the Lancaster regime where they have ruled tyrannically for over fifty years. Now, young John is in power, hoping to make a change, to erase the wars, famines and unimaginable terror. When Josie meets the frighteningly powerful John Lancaster, she has to ask, is he really the so-called tyrants' spawn? She soon discovers who the true tyrants are by unraveling a deadly plot to take over the world. And she realizes that her life and this new future are indelibly linked to the one she left behind.

THE LANCASTER RULE, the first of a three-part saga, takes you on an exciting rollercoaster ride, 300 years into the future!

CC: Do you have an excerpt you can share?

TK: A PG Excerpt:

“How long are you planning on letting her sit there and wait?”

“As long as I feel like,” World President John Lancaster replied tersely. His lips compressed, and he glared intently at Josie’s slight figure slumped against the wall. She was staring vacantly before her. He had his hands clasped behind his back. The sight of her disturbed him. He could not understand why. He stood this way for nearly ten minutes. Simon had argued against his involvement, but he insisted. He was, after all, still in charge of all military and police matters, and he had been, after all, once the head of counter-terrorism.

Simon moved slightly into John’s line of sight. He cocked a red brow in his usual nonchalant way; a mixture of annoyed bother and mischief touched his face briefly as he looked to his long-time friend. Then, he sighed, audibly. He didn’t have to speak. They had known each other long enough, had been through enough that words, sometimes, were not necessary.

“Stop that,” replied John in a low voice after a moment, frowning in displeasure. Finally he turned to look at Simon. “Fine, I’m going.”

When the glass door slid open and John Lancaster stepped in, Josie jerked with shock. The last person she expected to see was the president of the United Europe and Americas himself, and without conscious reason, she scrambled to her feet and backed up against the wall. The ledge she was sitting on knocked the backs of her knees so she flopped ungracefully back down again. With a hoarse yelp, she straightened and regained her footing.

Lancaster gave her a quizzical look and raised a brow. Yes, he thought, she really does not look like your typical terrorist.

Seeing the actual John Lancaster in person was quite different from looking at the televised images she remembered, where he projected a razor-sharp persona: clean and electronically enhanced, a smooth but pasty skin that set off his dark-haired, brooding nature. In real life, however, Lancaster was merely pale with the mottled shadows of evening stubble along his strong jaw line, which he held tightly as if gritting his teeth, clamping them down in case they snapped her up whole.

He had a neat, somewhat heart-shaped face with a strong brow line, made more so by the thick black eyebrows, which seemed to convey his varying thoughts by the tiny movements they made. At the moment they were knitted together, furrowing the spot between them in a tight line. His nose was short, straight and sharp, slightly upturned, almost childlike were it not for the strong rise of cheekbones and sunken cheeks that seemed to draw your eyes straight to his expressive mouth. He held his lips tightly clamped, and when he spoke, they moved almost reluctantly. When they were relaxed, on the brief moments they unclenched, they were full on a small, neat mouth and as delicate as a Renoir portrait.

But it was his eyes that frightened Josie. Wide and large, dark and sunk deep into his face, they glowered silently at her, watching her every move and expression with a belligerent rudeness of someone used to getting their own way. It was as if he could actually feel, hear, and taste with his eyes, like a snake does with its tongue. Even more frightening was the way he held his head, slightly bowed, keeping his thoughts to himself, still as a watching predator with just his eyes orbiting around.

His hair was clipped short; it was brownish-black, glossy, and formed a small widow’s peak at his forehead. Standing at least six-foot-two, slightly slender but noticeably muscular along shoulders and chest, he moved in a lithe, fluid way that only sharpened his predatory look. If he had started growling low like a panther, Josie would not have been surprised. But even his movements seemed to be held in check, tightly reined in, as if containing some maniacal, elemental force.

Suppressing the urge to shudder, Josie composed herself and stood before him, her arms clasped around her to cover an imaginary nakedness. They regarded each other in silence for a moment, each sizing the other up. Finally, in a graceful move, Lancaster turned his head to one side, eyes downcast, face relaxed except for the ever-present knot at his brow.

“Josephine Bettencourt.” He spoke it softly, his voice low and slightly deep, a strange mix of accents, British being the most pronounced. The tone and pitch suggested he did not need to speak with emotion to get what he wanted. He merely spoke her name, and it sent chills running down her spine; the power and intensity he held was obvious enough.

A small, tight smile tweaked one corner of his mouth; a near invisible line appeared next to it. He turned to face her again, one brow raised.

“I’ve never met a ghost before.” He watched her closely now. “Let alone someone who doesn’t exist.”

CC: Great excerpt. I remember that scene in the book. Where can readers find your books?

TK: You can click to the publisher's site at Champagne Books (www.champagnebooks.com), click the "ebook" button.

CC: How can readers learn more about you?

TK: I've a website www.tktoppin.com, it's not fully-functional, but I'm there. You can follow my blog page: www.thelancasterrule.blogspot.com, follow my Facebook page: The Lancaster Rule (or Written by T.K. Toppin), or even follow me on Twitter: TKToppin.

And one last thing, thanks so much for having me. Any opportunity I have to talk about my book is great. And to those interested, I'm interviewing my hostess today over at my blog page, so see you there.


CC: Thanks, T.K., for stopping by for an interview today. Thanks also for mentioning that I'm on your blog today at http://www.thelancasterrule.blogspot.com/ discussing writing and my June release OUT OF THE BLUE from The Wild Rose Press.

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4 comments:

Allison Knight said...

Oh, T.K. I love Barbados. We visited years ago, and I used Barbados in one of my books. What a beautiful place to live. And, have you read any of Jayne Castle's romance fantasies set in her world of Harmony?

Allison Knight

TKToppin said...

Thank you Allison. Ha ha, my next book, there's a lot of Barbados in it, but I'm going to have to be very careful how I write it (don't want to offend anyone. And pretty much everyone knows each other here, more or less, or are related in some fashion). I've never read Jayne Castle's, but it does sound intriguing. Might have to have a read.
Glad you enjoyed your stay here, and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

linda_rettstatt said...

Great interview. Your book sounds fascinating. I don't read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy, but I may have to read this one.

Linda

TKToppin said...

Thanks Linda. It's not a complete sci-fi, more future fiction and a bit of 'fantasy', but I think, a lot more has to do with people. Hope you get a chance to read it. :)

Thanks also to Caroline for having me, it was fun doing the exchange. Wish you all the best in all your writing adventures!!