Gate of Tears is a topical techno-thriller set in the Red Sea region, with action in the Yemen and Djibouti; there is also political, espionage and financial/gold trading action in London and conflict with China. Emerging technology and Chinese powerplay completes the overall context. The action spans the period from the war in Serbia through to 2017, with extrapolation of the growth of worldwide Chinese economic and naval power and its consequences for the West.
Charles Tobin, an Australian gold mining entrepreneur is followed through his formative years as he abandons his family in Australian and becomes a gold miner in Alaska. He develops biogenetic technology for extracting gold from seawater.
Maruška Pavkovic is a psychopathic female terrorist damaged by her childhood in Serbia who comes into conflict with a British single handed sailor in Djibouti, where conditions are ideal for Charles Tobin’s gold extraction.
Tell us something about yourself.
My original background was in science and oceanography. Then I became a chef, then a milkman. I built my own computer in 1979 (from a kit I should say), and wrote some software for my milk business. That led into IT and I specialised in software development and manufacturing systems.
A spell of almost six years with a large international consultancy led me to working in the Middle East, Kazahkstan, Scandinavia and the US. I also spent a couple of years in Russia just as Yeltsin came into power.
I started writing in 2004.
What inspired you to write this book?
An old interest in gold from sea water, and a way of making a living whilst living on my boat (which I do at least six months of the year). I’d written a lot when I was a marketing manager (including press articles), and economy of words was important, without dilution of the message.
How did you choose the title?
It chose itself, out of the geography of my book – I still believe that extracting gold from sea water might be economic one day!
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The usual ones of finding an agent and publisher. I’m a largely self-reliant person, and if there’s an obstacle I’ll try to find a way around it, and do things myself. The new publishing technology has helped me do that.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve always been an avid reader – got that from my mother – and devoured all the classic thriller writers in my teens. As I said above, I enjoy crafting a piece of writing to minimise the use of words, but still retain effect. I see myself as more of a story-teller than an ‘artist’.
Patience too, I learned that. Put the main character in an impossible situation and then spend 3 weeks working out a way forward! I walk and take a notebook with me when I’m stuck like that, but I also move to writing another part of the book. I write ‘threads’ and then weave them together during the final editing.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I need peace and solitude, and try to write and average of 1,500 words a day when I’m in ‘writing mode’ – I’m not terribly good at multi-tasking. At the moment I have two books underway, and write on one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
People I have known, but some just appear from the ether. For foreign names I research the most popular – that’s easy on the web.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
A great deal. I learned that I CAN write, can tell a story, and understand the process.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Great question. I think I would engage a professional editor earlier in the process, so as to refine the MS before I sought an agent.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Thrillers of any description, though I’m not wild about dungeons and dragons. Techo is my real preference, but I love sci-fi too. Clancy, Craig Thomas (he’s Welsh too). Recently I got into James Lee Burke and Lee Child too, and I’ve read nearly all their output.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m working on two. ‘Sicilian Channel’ is a follow up to ‘Gate of Tears’. I fell into another project this summer when I was introduced to a man with a difficult childhood – and I do mean difficult! He was committed to an adult mental ward when he was nine years old, and recovered to become a successful engineer. So, ‘Susan’s Brother’ is his story. Non-fiction, and a wholly different scenario, with subject interviews and painful memories to uncover and for me to write about.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t dither. Sit down and write. Start marketing as soon as you can. Write a ‘blurb’ about your book, even if you haven’t written it – the process will help you get started.
Get a good cover – don’t skimp. Launch on Kindle, but before you do, research the Kindle marketing world and learn how to maximise your chances of success.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Someone who reads the authors I read.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
I can also be found easily on facebook and twitter.