Virtual Book Tour: Greco's Game by @rubyrockfilms #interview - A Life Through Books

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Virtual Book Tour: Greco's Game by @rubyrockfilms #interview

Thriller / Suspense / Action / Romance
Date Published: November 1, 2017
Publisher: Regis Books

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Colonel Aleksandr Talanov – the “ice man” – is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can’t, and it’s an ugly consequence of his training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes.

Wracked with guilt and suspected of plotting her death, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him.

But in the seedy world of human trafficking ruled by the Russian mafia, Larisa made the mistake of stealing the ice man’s wallet. In it was Talanov’s sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin’s bullet had mistakenly killed his wife. Or was it a mistake?

The answer lies in Greco’s Game, a chess match played in 1619 that is famous for its queen sacrifice and checkmate in only eight moves. In an unusual alliance, Talanov and Larisa team up to begin unraveling the mystery of what Talanov’s old KGB chess instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is: who was the target?

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What is the hardest part of writing your books?
I don’t find concepts especially difficult. Nor is outlining a story, which I always do, so that I know my beginning and my end. That ending, which I write first, is like my north star. It keeps me on track so that I don’t wander too far off the beaten path. Nor is character development particularly hard, because I am writing a series with the same characters and I often find myself thinking like Talanov thinks. What I find hard is perfecting the subtleties that I think readers deserve in a good story, namely, those expressions and nuances we find in life, which comes from visiting a place or observing an expression and then trying to communicate it in words without making it sound forced. Nuances need to flow naturally as part of the narrative, and that is what often takes me the longest. I want it right because readers deserve to have it right.

What songs are most played on your Ipod?
None. I do not own an Ipod or an MP3 player. In truth, I do not listen to music very much. When I’m in the car or take walks or go for bike rides, I prefer the quiet of my own thoughts. That’s because I’m usually turning story scenes over in my mind. I liken it to a lapidary drum, where raw ingredients are dumped in and tumbled about, and eventually, a polished gemstone emerges. For me, figuring out the puzzle of a good scene take quiet moments of little or no distraction, and I’ve just gotten used to doing it the “sans music” way.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
No. I work on a story alone until it is done, then I edit it a few times, then read it out loud to myself, then hire a freelance editor to critique it for me and make suggestions. I’ve had unpleasant experiences with critique groups in the past. Some members took great pleasure knocking writers back for trivial, pedantic reasons. I found that more frustrating than useful.

What book are you reading now?
I recently finished a Vince Flynn novel. It was written by one of the take-over writers hired by his publisher after Vince’s untimely death. I read it to compare writing styles and overall story development with the books Vince himself wrote. I read most books 2-3 times. First for enjoyment, then for analysis. Which includes making myself finish books I sometimes do not like in order to identify what dynamics made me react a certain way. I like good writing that is seamless and effortless, and I like identifying those dynamics.

How did you start your writing career?
It began in grade school, which is where I developed my love of doing research and writing stories. I grew up in a family of storytellers and listened to my parents and grandparents telling yarns about their lives. That love of hearing (and telling) a good story stuck! Years later, I read about a guy who self-published a book on how to cook hamburger, and I thought, I can do that. So I wrote a cookbook on 101 ways to cook potatoes, which I self-published, took onto some morning TV shows, then got picked up by St. Martin’s Press in New York, who republished the book, then found myself touring the United States cooking potatoes for television audiences and their hosts, including Regis Philbin and Pat Boone. How I got from potatoes to spy novels is another story entirely, but that crazy potato cookbook
was my first big break.

My Talanov series began with November Echo. Every spy has a beginning and November Echo takes you back to when it all began for Talanov on the Costa del Sol, Spain. In Department Thirteen, we find Talanov retired from the KGB and living happily in Australia. Suddenly, killers break into his home and gun down everyone attending a party he is hosting. The reason is a deadly puzzle that forces him from Australia to Vanuatu to the snowy mountains of Switzerland, where the puzzle mysteriously evaporates, only to resurface in my upcoming new thriller, DRAGON HEAD, which occurs after a stop in Los Angeles for Greco’s Game, where Talanov teams up with two young women to bring down a human trafficking ring being run by his old colleagues in the KGB. I’m excited about Dragon Head, because we again meet Talanov’s old nemesis from November Echo, who is hell-bent on revenge. What I like about this story is that it continues to reveal Talanov’s character as someone who sticks up for the proverbial “little guy,” who in this case is an orphaned eleven year-old girl who is kidnapped from a shelter in San Francisco that is being run by an old friend of his. It’s a love story, although not a romantic one, but one of loyalty and the bond between old friends and new, who in this case involves the girl’s teenage brother and sister, who stow away on an airplane when Talanov flies to Hong Kong to rescue their sister, which of course is a trap that Talanov’s old nemesis has engineered. Dragon Head, like all of my thrillers, couches a love story in the midst of an action thriller. To me, action thrillers need more than action. They need heart and emotion, which comes from relationships being put at risk. And that’s exactly what I do here, just as I did in Greco’s Game.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

About the Author

James Houston Turner is the bestselling author of the Aleksandr Talanov thriller series, as well as numerous other books and articles. Talanov the fictional character was inspired by the actual KGB agent who once leaked word out of Moscow that James was on a KGB watch-list for his smuggling activities behind the old Iron Curtain. James Houston Turner’s debut thriller, Department Thirteen, was voted “Best Thriller” by USA Book News, after which it won gold medals in the Independent Publisher (“IPPY”) Book Awards and the Indie Book Awards. His novel, Greco’s Game, has just been optioned for film. A cancer survivor of more than twenty-five years, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Baker University and a master’s degree from the University of Houston (Clear Lake). After twenty years in Australia, he and his wife, Wendy, author of The Recipe Gal Cookbook, now live in Austin, Texas.

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1 comment:

  1. Human trafficking is a terrible subject, but I love to read books about those who fight it and I love to travel. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental