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Meet Xander Richards author of COAST: An Act Of Burial
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on April 22, 2013
 



Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Xander Richards Author of COAST: An Act of Burial


                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Today, Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Xander Richards author of COAST: An Act Of Burial. Xander lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife Mindy. They have four adult children and four grandchildren.

Good day Xander and thanks for participating in our interview

Xander:

Thank you so much Norm, I’m very grateful for this opportunity. Book Pleasures is a brilliant website!

Norm:

How did you get started in writing?

Xander:

I wrote stories when I was a kiddie and really enjoyed it, and later I got into writing technical articles for magazines and online - mostly stuff about music and audio gear. But I had the idea for C:AAOB in 1987 and it was always in the background, you know, and I kept on typing out pieces of it. When I reached my mid forties, I figured it was time to either do it or forget it. The idea was sound; I just need to stick my nose to the grindstone and write the thing. Well, then along comes Jo Rowling with the Harry Potter phenomenon and I thought well, if she can, why not me? So I started to get all the various bits I’d written over twenty years and mould them together. It can be a challenge getting a document from Wordstar (does anyone else even remember that?) into a modern word processor format!

Norm:

Could you tell our readers something about COAST: An Act Of Burial.

Xander:

It’s an action movie in a book, like a James Bond film except you get three secret agents for the price of one. It’s essentially a nuclear hijack scenario and the first of a planned tetralogy, or quadrilogy if you prefer. Just last week C:AAOB got the CBC Bookies Award for ‘The Canadian Book You Couldn’t Put Down’ and I’m absolutely blown away by that! It’s a tremendous privilege to have been nominated alongside books of such outstanding caliber, but I never thought it would actually win.

Norm:

What does your title COAST: An Act Of Burial represent?

Xander

The fictional black-ops unit in the novel is called Covert Operations And Surveillance Team, so that’s the first bit. As to the second, it’d be somewhat indiscreet to give it away. Spoilage, they call it these days, right? However, it’ll make sense when one reads the book. The word ‘burial’ can be interpreted several ways.

Norm:

What inspired you to write the book and did you follow a set plan?

Xander:

With C:AAOB the inspiration came whilst on holiday in Wales, at one of the locations featured in the book. One of us said “can you imagine the helicopters thundering down this valley”, and the whole idea came in a flash. My writing, however, is very random when I’m in the research and thinking phase. I’d written scores of snippets over the years as I felt inspired and I had some idea of how it all wove together. Now, with the sequel I’m taking a different course. I got all the ideas, cut them into strips—like Bowie’s famous songwriting methodology—and laid them out on the kitchen floor. Then I shut the window and laid them all out again! So I made a column nine feet long, stuck it together and scanned it all then wrote the plot synopsis. Now I’m bunging it all together in order and having a lot of fun.

Norm:

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?

Xander:

Blasted chapter sixteen kept me frustrated for weeks! My editor, Jeff Martel, put me wise to a few rules associated with building good plotlines and, once I understood them, chapter sixteen became a massive roadblock thanks to a horrible non-sequitur which was just sitting there laughing at me. I got really wound up over it and asked Jeff’s advice again. He said “just puke it out onto the paper, you can clean up the mess later” and that was absolutely brilliant. But for a long time I really didn’t know how I was going to get round that. Thankfully the solution which eventually presented itself was elegantly simple and just works. I like that.

Norm:

Where did you get your information or ideas for your book?

Xander:

I’ve had a little forces experience so there are people on whom I can call. For example, a friend of mine is a combat medic and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He really helps me out with weaponry and medical details. But also I sent a lot of emails out to online sources looking for information. Real-world accuracy is quite important to me and these days we have such awesome resources just a mouse-click away. The ideas, though, just come to me – I’m sure other writers will say the same thing. There’s this bolt of lightning which slams out of the universe into one’s brain. But another good bit of advice I received is “there’s no substitute for thinking”. If I let the ideas simmer in my head for a bit, an answer or some fresh goodies will bubble to the surface.

Norm:

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

Xander:

I’m absolutely sure I’m not the first person to have said this but I wish I’d known what an uphill struggle it would be promoting the thing (and that’s why I’m so grateful for this interview). I think a lot of authors imagine their book is just going to sell, and I fell into that trap. There was a very steep learning curve and a few well-deserved kicks in the shins, but I’m thankful that it’s going well. I just wish someone had told me this beforehand. Now, however, I’ve hooked into the extraordinarily vibrant literary scene in Saskatchewan and I’ve got to say they’re a wonderfully welcoming and supportive bunch of people. Seriously, I couldn’t have moved to a better place in that regard.

Norm:

What do you see as the influences on your writing?

Xander:

All the classic espionage-adventure authors; Fleming, MacLean, Cussler, Clancy and so on. But my reading tastes are quite wide and I love to take in some sci-fi as well, so influences also abound from Niven and Pournelle, Clarke and Asimov - some of those guys turned out stunning work. And it would be very remiss of me not to mention the amazing C.S. Lewis whose work was a big early factor. But I’m influenced a lot by movies too, and Cameron has this awesome way of making the military look badass and fun at the same time, which is something I’ve tried to learn from. A good action adventure that you can really immerse yourself in is a wonderful thing, so that’s what I’ve tried to write.

Norm:

Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)

Xander:

Well as you know the first COAST sequel is coming along. I’m really enjoying playing in that world again. It’s a bit creepier but there are some fun moments to balance that out, and it’s a bit of a ‘road movie’ – there’s a lot of travel involved. I’m also trying to write an instructional manual for an online course, something completely different, and getting absolutely flat nowhere with it right now haha.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and COAST: An Act Of Burial?

Xander

Spynovels.org gets you to the website which I try to keep relatively well updated and from where I hope to be launching a discussion forum soon. But you can find reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and the usual places, and the reviewers have been much kinder to me than I feel I deserve. Somewhere there’s a video of me being interviewed on Shaw Cable’s ‘Lit Happens’ show, maybe try Youtube. I was as nervous as hell but it’s kinda fun. Wes Funk, who hosts the show, also won a Bookies Award this year which makes three of us in the same town, as Yann Martel’s amazing ‘Life Of Pi’ got the award for best movie adaptation.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Xander:

Well a lot of people ask about the Saddam Hussein connection and I’m surprised when someone doesn’t. But, to put it briefly, Jonathon Earl Bowser, whose awesome painting graces the cover, had several examples of his work stolen for Saddam Hussein’s novel ‘Zabibah and the King’. Sadly Jon was unable to pursue legal recompense, and Saddam’s gone the way of the dodo now, but it’s a cute little anecdote and kinda fun. I share a cover artist with a notorious dictator – how bizarre!

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Xander

Thank YOU Norm, I really appreciate you taking the time out to interrogate me (haha) for Book Pleasures and I’ll end with the COAST Latin motto, which is “Contra Omnes Dissident!”


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