Thursday, January 3, 2019

Authors To Watch: Richard Hacker, Author of DieBack

Richard Hacker is a longtime resident of Austin, Texas who now writes and lives in Seattle.

His writing has been recognized by the Writer’s League of Texas and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In addition to his writing, he provides editing services to other writers and is the editor of an online science fiction and fantasy journal, Del Sol Review. His three published humorous crime novels ride the sometimes thin line between fact and fiction in Texas. DIE BACK, his first fantasy thriller novel, has been published by Del Sol Press.

When not writing he’s singing in a vocal jazz ensemble, cooking with a sous vide and a blow torch, or exploring the Pacific Northwest with his wife and his springer spaniel, Jazz.

Twitter Link: @Richard_Hacker

Facebook Link: 

In 272 AD Egypt, an enemy thwarts an attempt by League Inkers, Thomas Shaw and Nikki Babineaux, to obtain the Alchįmeia, a document holding alchemical secrets. Sensing his impending
death, Thomas secures Nikki’s promise to keep his son, Addison, from the League, an organization defending the time continuum. After his father’s death, Addison inherits a mysterious pen, accidentally inking himself into the consciousness of a man who dies on a muddy WWI battlefield in France. Hoping to make sense of his experience, he confides in Nikki, his best friend and unknown to Addison, an Inker. Keeping her promise to Thomas, she discounts Addison’s experience. 
Fixated on the pen, Addison inks into a B-17 bombardier in 1943. The pilot, whose consciousness has been taken over by someone calling himself Kairos, gloats over killing Addison’s father and boasts of plans to destroy the League. As Kairos attempts to wrest Addison’s consciousness, Nikki shocks Addison out of the Inking. She confesses her knowledge of  the League. When Kairos threatens to steal aviation technology, she she sends Addison and his partner, Jules, to an Army test of the Wright Flyer in 1908. Believing they have succeeded, they return to find the continuum shifted and Nikki knowing nothing about the League.
Inking back to his father’s mission in Alexandria, Addison and Jules hope to get his help in returning the time continuum to its original state. Instead, Addison’s father gives him the Alchįmeia to hide in a crypt at the Great Lighthouse on Phalos. On their return to the present a Kairos agent murders Jules, her consciousness Inked into the past. Addison follows the clues, Inking into Pizarro in 16th century Peru. He finds Jules in the child bride of the Inca emperor. His plan to find the technology and save Jules without destroying the Inca civilization is thwarted by a fleet of Inca airships. Captured, he is taken to Machu Picchu. With Jules help, they find the stolen schematics, but are confronted by Kairos. He stabs Addison, forcing Addison’s consciousness back to the present and traps Jules in the 16th Century. Addison returns to another altered world. Nikki no longer exists, the world is at war with the Inca, and Manhattan lay in ruins.
Addison Inks his father, learning the origins of the League. Thomas urges Addison to uncover their enemy with the help of his colleague, Maya. Putting suspicion on another inker,  Cameron, she insists he must be killing Inkers and acquiring Pens. In a final attempt to stop him, they entrap Cameron, only for Addison to discover Maya is Kairos, his enemy.  She kills Cameron, also wounding Addison.  He chases Maya, who intimates that she holds his mother’s, Rebecca’s, consciousness. Confused he delays, giving her time to scrawl a name with her pen before shooting her dead.

Inked away when Maya died, Kairos finds himself, not in his intended host, Hitler, but in a German infantry soldier POW in the Ardenne during the Battle of the Bulge, WWII. Hoping to repair the shift in the time continuum, Addison brings the League Pens together with the fate of the world and everyone he loves at stake. He awakens to a dissimilar world, but Jules and Nikki exist. And with life there is always hope.



We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?

Thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure to be with other lovers of books and reading and writing. I got my start writing fiction while in the third grade. I started writing short stories which I read to the class for show and tell. Why I did that, I’m not so sure. My squirrel skeleton in a shoebox had been a hit, but I think having the class respond to my stories got me hooked on writing.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

I’ve done it both ways. My crime novels, which are light, humorous stories along the lines of Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty, were almost stream of consciousness—at least for the first draft! Dieback is a more complex story combining speculative and historical fiction, as well as being a fantasy/thriller. With so many details and twists and turns I had to work from an outline which got adjusted as I wrote. I also have a meta-structure in mind, which I think most novelist do. Maybe all not identical, but some key pegs to hang the story on. At the highest level I’ll know what my inciting incident will be, the first major plot point, the major reversal, the second major plot point, the climax, and the denouement. Of course, there’s lots more detail within those primary points. Technically I tend to use Scrivener for my initial draft and then pull it into Word for editing and formatting.
I’ve made a point of not having too much structure around my writing. I know for some writers, they need to write from 7-11 pm Monday through Friday at the desk in the back room of the apartment while drinking tea, and with a piece of chocolate. And it works for them. For me, I want—and do—write anywhere, anytime. I do more writing in the afternoons, but sometimes I write in the mornings. I write on my sofa, a desk in a back room, a standing desk, various coffee shops, and airplanes. For myself, I just don’t want to create any barriers. I don’t want to think ‘I can’t write now because I’m not at my desk’.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Absolutely! Here’s a quick blurb about Dieback.
Six hundred years after a fifteenth century scryer gains the alchemical knowledge to create a dark future in his own image, Addison Shaw inherits a destiny: to fight this ancient war that threatens all he loves with extinction. Using an alchemical pen, he writes himself into past lives, leaving his body in the present. Upon completion of his mission, he must die in order to break the link and return home. While his enemy, Kairos, plays a three-dimensional chess game across the centuries, with each ‘Inking’, Addison’s world shifts further into chaos. From ancient Alexandria to modern Tokyo, Addison and his fellow Inker, Jules, fight a time war against Kairos. After Jules is murdered in the present and her consciousness trapped in an Inca princess five hundred years in the past, Addison, alone and close to defeat, realizes that the only way to save his world is to destroy it.
To save the future he must die in the past, and as often as possible.

How did you get the idea for the book?

This might sound odd, but it started with a fountain pen. I was holding a fountain pen one day and my mind wandered to the power of words. Human beings have been naming things since the beginnings of language. It’s how we find our place in the world and in some cases I think, gives us a sense of control. Or at least the illusion of control. So, what would happen if a character had a pen filled with alchemical ink that when he wrote the name and a date for someone living in the past, his consciousness would be transported into that person? What would he do with that astounding capability? And as with most technology, what if someone decided to use the alchemy to acquire power and control time itself? How would the protagonist fend off this attack on the time continuum and reality as he knows it? And then I put the fountain pen down, pulled at the laptop, and started writing.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

The protagonist, Addison Shaw, is a complicated guy. He has a deep guilt and sense of responsibility for the death of girl friend when he rolled their car on a mountain road in a snowstorm. He carries the scars of that night, emotionally and physically with a damaged knee requiring him to use a cane to walk. He went from school athlete to disabled loner. As the story progresses he will face even greater challenges and will have to find a way to heal himself enough to move forward. He’s also a bit of a smart ass, a little compulsive, more shy than he’d like you to think, and willing to act even when he’s terrified.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Keeping everything straight!
The story goes all over the world, past, present and future. Ancient Alexandria, Egypt; modern Tokyo; WWI France, sixteenth century England, an altered present Austin and Seattle; WWII Guadalcanal; and fifteenth century Peru to name a few. As the story unfolds the time continuum shifts, sometimes with subtle changes and sometimes with radical shifts in culture and technology. And my characters have to play on this multi-dimensional playboard. So, I had to be structured to the point of working from an outline and making notes to myself at the end of each writing session to keep me oriented.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve got a completed draft of the follow-on to Dieback—no title yet—and am hoping to publish in the Spring of 2019. I’m currently writing the third installment to the series as well, and that would hopefully come out either late 2019 or early 2020.  I also have a science fiction novel I’m probably going to self-publish just for fun. It’s called The Bifurcation of Dungsten Crease. There’s no publication date set yet for that one.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?

Be persistent. When you’re writing a novel, edit, edit, edit. When you’re looking for an agent, pitch, pitch, pitch. When you’re marketing your book, sell, sell, sell. And of course, the nature of the beast is you have to do all of those things at the same time!

Be open to critique. Early on, I think it’s difficult for authors to hear critique because it feels so personal. I’ve just poured my heart onto the page and you’re telling me my protagonist is one-dimensional? Don’t take critique personally. Take a step back from it and see what truth there is for you.

Continually hone your craft by going to conferences and workshops, working with other writers

Write, write, write. Write what you love to write Write what jazzes you. I think it leads to better writing and it’s a lot more fun.

Thanks so much for allowing me to spend some time with you. For fun, go check out the trailer for the book. And I’d love to hear from you. Visit my website, and drop me a line.

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