Thursday, July 28, 2016
Interview with William Alan Webb and Spotlight on Military Sci-Fi STANDING THE FINAL WATCH
Today on the blog, I’m honored to host the awesome William Alan Webb with an interview about his upcoming release, a military sci-fi, STANDING THE FINAL WATCH (The Last Brigade Book 1). It’s due out August 17th from Dingbat Publishing, it sounds epic, and I can’t wait to read this one!
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m the world’s oldest teenager. My mind tells me I’m still a 17 year old kid, with everything that goes along with that age. My physical self sometimes disagrees with that chronological state of mind, especially after a long day in the hot sun maintaining four acres just east of Memphis, TN. The good news is that I discover muscles I didn’t know I had, the bad news is that’s because they hurt.
I’m from West Tennessee and remember when most of the Memphis area was glorious wilderness. I’ve seen huge tracts of dense old growth forest leveled so we can have another drive-through doughnut shop, and it makes me sad, even though I’m an inveterate capitalist. I’m feeling pretty protective of the natural world today, so forgive me if I sound preachy.
2. What is your upcoming debut, STANDING THE FINAL WATCH about, and what inspired you to write it?
STFW is my ode to epic thrillers and science fiction. I call it a rocket ride without seat belts. In terms of prose, my biggest influences are writers like John Ringo (especially the raunchy but over-the-top action of his Kildar series, and the non-stop shoot-em-up of his Posleen books), Robert Heinlein, Douglas Niles’ two Fox books (awesome alternate reality WW2 novels!), Clive Cussler, Roger Zelazny, Mark Greaney, Joshua Hood…the list is long, because I borrow (steal) a little bit from every writer I like. And if there is the slightest sense of the Avengers or X-Men in the narrative, I can’t deny growing up devouring comics.
This book is fun to read, I want to make that clear, because the topic of the book seems grim. The world as we know it comes to an end in a slow and agonizing fashion. First something terrible happens, then things unravel and enemies attack…and what makes it more frightening is that our government anticipates much of this could happen in the real world. So when you’ve got something scary to worry about, what should you do? Have fun with it!
If you read the prologue you’ll figure out real quick that my villains are truly evil. It’s a gruesome beginning because I wanted the sensation of what it might be like to get caught up in a terrorist attack. Judging by the early reviews, I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. What I think makes my villains worse is they have a Hitler complex: they believe what they are doing is right for humanity.
The book is dominated by Nick Angriff. If you like larger-than-life heroes in the mold of Jack Reacher or the real George Patton, you’ll love Angriff. He’s got plenty of flaws, but at the end of the day is true to his motto: loyalty, honor, sacrifice. He’s the kind of guy you want for a friend, or neighbor, because you can always count on him to help, no matter the situation.
As to inspiration… if you mean what inspired me to write it at the moment I wrote it read any news report or newspaper. Events in the world inspired me. Much of this book was written nearly two years ago, yet you would think it’s ripped from the headlines today. Sometimes I hate being right and I hope I’m wrong about a lot of the prophecies I make in the book.
But I don’t want to leave the impression it’s morbid. This is an action packed thriller I wrote for people to enjoy reading, to stay up late reading and tell their friends the next day “I’m exhausted, but I couldn’t put it down. You’ve got to read this book,” or recommend to their friends for a beach read.
3. Would you like to share an excerpt from the novel?
Sure. I love this part. I remember the day I wrote it, researching convection and trying to see through the eyes of the falcon…
The broken ground of the Sonoran desert soaked up the heat of the midday sun. As the desert floor warmed it began to heat the air close to the surface, which then caused that air to expand and grow lighter. The lighter air rose in bubbles of warmth called atmospheric convection, but better known as thermals, rising higher until the temperatures of the air surrounding the bubbles became cooler, causing them to sink again and create updrafts. On that blazing hot day the cooling effect did not occur until the warm air was high into the atmosphere.
Wheeling on those thermals, a Prairie Falcon sensed the subtle changes in air temperatures and stayed in the updrafts, using the energy of the warm air to provide the lift under its great wings and keeping it where it could see for miles in every direction. An efficient killer, it could detect the tiniest prey on the desert floor from hundreds of feet in the air. Rattlesnakes, lizards, mice, whatever small prey it could find, it could eat. Once spotted, the bird would fold its broad wings inward and contract its wide tail, before diving to snatch its meal in sharp, hooked talons. On that clear day, however, no prey roamed the desert, because the giant animals that walked upright had come back to dig in the ground. The raptor had no concept of what they might be doing, nor did it care, it only wanted food and they were not its prey, so after a fruitless search it banked off south in search of better hunting.
That’s about six hours of writing! I must have re-written that fifty times before I was satisfied.
4. Where is your favorite place to write?
In my frighteningly cluttered office, leaning back in my overstuffed chair, with the wireless keyboard in my lap. I cannot write on a laptop…nope, can’t do it. Unless, of course, I plug in the wireless keyboard, then I’m good. And I always have my youtube playlist cranked in the background, up to 411 videos right now, most of them Status Quo (although I’m listening to Slade as I write this.)
I have to have fast access to research materials to write. My personal library is about 5000 books and I’m really good at ferreting information from the internet, and have a good sense of what’s reliable and what’s not. It sounds romantic to think about writing on a beach, under an umbrella with a blue or pink drink at your elbow, but for me that wouldn’t work. The writing part, that is. The beach, the drinks, those would work just fine.
5. You’ll be published by Dingbat Publishing, correct? Tell us a little about your experience with them and what made you choose to go with Dingbat Publishing for STAND THE FINAL WATCH?
Yes, Dingbat Publishing is my publisher, that’s correct. Another fine publisher also offered me a contract, and it was a very hard decision as to which company to choose. In the end it was a matter of business, but the other publisher remains a friend and I would yet like to work with them on something.
As to my experience, you ask me this as I just finished a rewrite and my editor has promised the final edits will make me bleed. LOL. Like most writers, I hate seeing even one of my words disappear.
For me, Dingbat was a terrific choice. I know that’s what I’m supposed to say, what debut writer is going to say ‘yeah, they bought my book, but they really suck?’ For me, however, it’s the God’s honest truth. It’s run by this fabulous lady who has written a lot of books herself. What’s even better, she wrote the book for writers on ballistics. Literally, it’s titled Ballistic Basics, A Writer’s Primer On Firearms And the Forensics That Track Them.
I work hard to get the research correct in my writing, but what a backup when it comes to guns and weapons! I’m also thrilled with the cover their creative team came up with, it’s great.
And let me throw this out there, too: a lot of writers on twitter want input on some of the smaller presses they might be discussing deals with. If Dingbat ever offers you a deal, snap it up. They are great to work with.
6. If you could choose to live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Somewhere in the Caribbean. Maybe Ocho Rios or Negril, Jamaica. 88 degrees every day is perfect weather for me. But if I stayed in the US, then Florida. Beaches and warmth are why.
7. What or who has most influenced your writing?
I have so many literary influences it’s hard to pick one or two. I’ll say this, the first writer who inspired me to try and write was Robert E. Howard. The Conan stories written by him are masterpieces of fantasy. Thomas Lyon Russell’s brilliantly imaginative Riding With The Magi showed what you can do with a book, and Tom was my creative writing mentor at the University of Memphis. Roger Zelazny has a style I wish I could emulate. Robert Heinlein showed me the way, and of course Tolkien was almost my religion for a decade or two. It was John Ringo who inspired me to try my hand at military SF, both with his over-the-top Ghost series, my character Green Ghost is an homage, and with his Posleen series. Lastly, Douglas Niles’ brilliant two ‘Fox’ books, Fox On The Rhine and Fox At The Front gave a structure I could follow. Lastly, I would say Cornelius Ryan’s ensemble method of constructing a book is a terrific pattern for story-telling.
8. Tell us about what your next project will be.
Wow, which one?
The sequel to Standing The Final Watch is written and in its third edit. It’s titled Standing In The Storm. Book three, tentatively called Standing At The End, is at about 20K words with plots point mapped out. A prequel, Not Enough Bullets, is about a third done and I entered the first 50 pages in a contest, so we’ll see how that goes.
I still plan to finish the World War Two book I’ve been working on for ten years now. It’s about 100k words long now, called Bloody Roads West: Army Group South and the German defense of Austria, 1945. You can read a short treatment of it on my website.
In my spare time I plan to rewrite a couple of old fantasy pieces, my first novel, The Queen of Death and Darkness, and a novella, A Night At The Quay.
That should get me through 2017 anyway.
Thanks so much, William, for a fantastic interview! It was a blast having you on the blog today! So, people, go pre-order your copy of STANDING THE FINAL WATCH :).