Sunday, June 10, 2012

Do you have a question for Craig?

OMAR: A Novel

This is the 5th installment of The Masquerade Crew’s Novel Bits selection for June—OMAR: A Novel by Craig O. Thompson—a cross-genre suspense/thriller blended with a twist of historical fiction. OMAR is first in the Cary Parker Thriller Series… often mentioned by reviewers as enjoyable for readers of the above genres, but especially enticing for fans of Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler, Jack Higgins, and Wilbur Smith.

With the recent Centennial, for the sinking of the RMS Titanic, OMAR: A Novel might be the timeliest book you ever download to your favorite reading device. I'm certain you won't be disappointed in OMAR: A Novel. This is a currently-being-adapted-to-a-screenplay story that will take you on a wild and historical ride. Stay with it... and I promise that it will stay with you.

Interview with the Author

1. From where do you get your ideas?

The idea for my suspense thriller, OMAR: A Novel, came from a very brief mention of an iconic item lost aboard the Titanic—while watching a television documentary about the ship. I was actually working on a Sci-Fi fantasy/thriller, at the time, and decided to postpone that book in favor of OMAR (the thought being that OMAR’s plot would be more timely and topical for the period).

Many of my ideas, however, are inspired from dreams, general news items and politics. Often they come from stories that have a very interesting twist to something that might be futuristic in nature. As a result of all the notes I have on file, for story ideas, I’m looking for a way to stretch time to 48 hours in a day, in order to bring them all to life… somewhere in between all my other real-world responsibilities.

2. What do you believe makes good writing?

I believe a good writer must be willing to sacrifice much for the outcome for which s/he strives. It can often be a very isolated and occasionally insulated vocation or avocation, as the art is demanding of one's time and energy (both physical and mental).

There are former professors, of mine, who might "turn over in their graves" if they knew I had written anything of substance. However, after being selected as the first 18-year old to serve overseas in the U.S. Peace Corps, I tended to mature a little more quickly than I had in high school (and in my first year of college).

That experience turned me on to what was truly going on in the outside world. I gained an entirely new perspective about how others felt about Americans (as opposed to the typical USA! USA! USA! attitude that many Americans mistakenly flout throughout the world). If you’ve never had the opportunity, please read The Ugly American when you have a chance. You will gain a truer picture of what really happens "out there". Though written over 50 years ago, The Ugly American is still accurate in many of its depictions, today.

One element I rely upon: I discovered while in my writing mode that, if I had written a passage or chapter I hoped would evoke tears or laughter from readers—and it evoked those emotions from me, as the author, I was probably heading in the right direction. That has happened to me, many times. And that's what has kept me writing!

3. How do you conduct your research?

I actually thrive on doing thorough research about subjects that interest me, where I previously detested doing it for college projects "assigned" by a professor—where I had little if any interest in the assigned subject. Of course, I discovered, over the years, that had I been more involved in those subjects, I would have learned so much more.

For OMAR, I spent over five years researching terrorism and related subjects, along with unrelated subjects including oceanography, deep-sea diving, treasure hunts, mini-subs, the Titanic, and so forth. I wanted to be "spot-on" with readers who know when an author is faking it, or not. That’s a very important factor from a reader's perspective, especially with the "techno-thriller" genre. Locations and special sites, found in the book, had to be real or, at the least, realistic.

That aspect was actually more fun. It gave me the opportunity to travel to other parts of the world to perform more specific research, and meet with people who were a part of the true story. Two wonderful opportunities arose: At the British Museum, my wife and I were invited to view and hold (with gloves on) the only existing copy of the world-famous illuminated book, "The Great Omar”—that went down with the Titanic. We also held Charles Dickens' personal snuffbox and flask, while in London.

A very important part of writing is to have experiences that can help you bring out "true-to-life" events, plot lines, and subtext with the narrative. That does not, however, mean you must take drugs—for example—to write about the experience. One can interview those who have had such experiences and still come away with great material.

The key is to know when to stop researching, and when to stop writing! That was my challenge with OMAR. I finally stopped at well over nine hundred pages. My personal editor (who edited many best-selling books, including James Clavell's extremely well-crafted Shogun) helped me cut over 300 pages—a process likened to "killing your own children."

Finally, there are many things I may not necessarily express as well, in conversation. Yet, in writing, I feel quite free to more clearly convey my thoughts to others (and hope they enjoy reading them). It took me some time to get over certain insecurities about my ability, or lack thereof, to write a novel. But when pre-publication letters and reviews began to come in from well-known "personages" who enjoyed the book, I began to overcome those insecurities.

Do you have a question for Craig? He'd be happy to answer whatever his fans or our fans want to ask. Another set of questions and answers will be posted next Sunday. Stay tuned.

If you'd like to ask a question, simply leave a comment on this post.

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