A corporate thriller, titled The War Merchants. A romantic love story set against international intrigue, Cassidy Jevon, a corporate public relations practitioner and business reporter Michael Kranz become stumble upon a sinister global business organization that manipulates governments and events to cause and control small wars around the globe. Because after all, war is good for business.
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m from Southern New Jersey outside Philadelphia. I spent 20+ years in public relations and corporate communications, and for the last seven years have been teaching public relations fulltime as an Assistant Professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. My writing past includes being a freelance business reporter, and a NYC-produced playwright.
What inspired you to write this book?
At first, it was to challenge myself creatively. I’ve written in various genres, but had never tackled a novel before and wanted to see if I could do it. The basis for the idea was one I’d had for years, but it seemed to become more relevant in the last decade or so, and especially during Gulf War I and the invasion of Iraq. The more I got into it, the more I thought I had a basis for a full length novel.
How did you publish this book?
I spent about 1 ½ years pitching agents. I had some nibbles, some people who read the first thee chapters and some who even read the entire manuscript. But no takers. Through networking with other published authors, I was referred to one of their agents. He read the manuscript, but decided it wasn’t for him. He did recommend me sending it to a publisher in NYC (and he gave me the contact there) who also read the manuscript, but passed on it. However, with my permission, they passed it onto another publisher who liked it and sent me a contract. And hence, it’s now published by Strategic Book Publishing, a division of Ingram. I guess you could say I got lucky, but I also believe in perseverance and trusting in the quality of my own work.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Because I can’t do math! Seriously, I was exposed to stories at a very young age and became a voracious reader. I guess you could say I owe it all to Winnie the Pooh and Babar the Elephant. I was also fortunate throughout elementary school, junior high school, high school and college to be encouraged by writing teachers to keep writing. I’ll always be grateful to a particular high school English teacher who told me “You’ve got the talent. Now just keep working on it and never ever stop writing.”
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Staying with it. Writers are notoriously lazy; we’ll do anything to avoid sitting down and writing. But if you believe in your story and your ability to tell it, then do it. Don’t listen to the naysayers in your head or anywhere else. Make the time to write. Writers write because they have to, not because they want to. When you face tough going, just think of how good it feels when the juices are flowing and you’re producing page after page. Try and write something every day, even if it’s just one page. Don’t worry about how good or bad it is initially, just get it out of your head and onto the computer screen.
How do you do research for your books?
The vast majority of the research I did for this book came through reading and watching news accounts. I did some historical research, but mostly it was contemporary reports from the news media. And some of what I found out was stranger, and more surprising because it’s true, than anything I could have come up.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
For one thing, I learned I can do it. So writing the next one should be a little easier. The writing is the “easier” and most fun part. You are birthing something no one has ever seen before. That’s exciting. Getting published is hard. You’ll get rejected a lot – just stick with it.
What are you reading now?
Lots of stuff. If I’m not in the middle of a newspaper, a magazine and a book all at the same time, I’m miserable!
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I have eclectic tastes. For novels/thrillers I loved the late Robert Ludlum. I’m also big fan of Nelson DeMille since he writes so well. For that same reason, I love reading David McCullough’s historical profiles.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
It’s in the thinking stage. I’m considering doing a sequel to The War Merchants. I’m planning on starting the first draft this summer.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
For both – stay persistent. For writers, it’s never as good as you want it to be, but it may be better than you think. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on early drafts and believe in your own work. And re-write, re-write, re-write. Once you’ve got the basic story down, keep polishing it until you’re satisfied it’s ready to be read by someone else. As to publishing, just keep at it. Keep sending those queries out. And if you go the self-publishing route, remember you have to do all the marketing yourself. That’s true even if you land a publisher. The promotion part is up to the author these days.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I have a website (www.thewarmerchants.com), I keep news about the book, signings, readings, appearances, etc., updated through LinkedIn, Plaxo and on my Facebook fan page. I’m also a member of some local professional trade organizations in my field. I had one very successful signing at the end of last year with one of those organizations and am trying to set up more. I’ve had a few successful book signings at local Barnes & Noble stores and will be setting up others, as well as participating in a couple of book festivals. Plus, I’ve spread the word about my book at my workplace, and everyone I know. I’ve done and have lined-up some media interviews and podcasts, as well as pitching it to local mainstream media. In addition, I’ve had some readers write reader reviews on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, so hopefully that’ll help too. Finally, I’m working with my publisher to see what they can help with too. Through them, it was featured at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany last fall and at the NY Book Expo in May. It’s a process, but you have to be persistent.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
They can visit my website: www.thewarmerchants.com. It’s also available through <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1606938649?ie=UTF8&tag=theidealady&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1606938649″>Amazon</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theidealady&l=as2&o=1&a=1606938649″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” /> and BarnesandNoble.com.