Thursday, November 15, 2012

Author Interview #133: White Jade by Alex Lukeman

White Jade (The PROJECT)Our author interview today is with Alex Lukeman author of several books including White Jade (4.5 stars, 40 reviews). Before we get to the interview a brief book description: Former Recon Marine Nick Carter is a man with a dark history of emotional and physical scars. He works for the PROJECT, a covert counter-terrorism unit reporting to the President. Selena Connor is a beautiful, strong and skilled linguist. When her wealthy uncle is murdered by someone looking for an ancient book about the elixir of immortality, she’s thrown into Nick’s dangerous world. Nick is assigned to protect Selena and help her recover the missing text. It’s the beginning of a life and death adventure reaching from San Francisco to Beijing, from Washington to the hidden chambers of Tibet. Someone is determined to take over China and attack America–and Nick and Selena are right in the line of fire.

Author Interview with Alex Lukeman

What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?
The setting of White Jade embraces much of the world. All the books in the series are like this. All feature the Project HQ in Virginia and Nick Carter’s cabin in California, to a greater or lesser degree. White Jade goes to California Gold Rush country, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Beijing and Tibet before it’s done. The setting has to enhance the story, otherwise, why put it in? Plus I think readers want to visit places they may never see. I like books like that, so I write books that provide that escape to different lands. Each setting is there for a specific purpose to enhance the plot and move it along.
What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think he or she is trying to get across to the reader?
There are several few key themes in White Jade: a Washington environment fraught with turf wars, leaks and competing agendas; the potential threat posed to the US by China and by terrorism; the threat of nuclear war and a terrorist attack on America; the development of a relationship between the two main protagonists, Nick Carter and Selena Connor; the theme of strong women who are able to hold their own against very difficult odds. I try to show the way people change under severe challenge, deal with adversity and ultimately find depths of courage to draw upon. A key theme is how the members of the Project Team come to terms with the danger they face and how they deal with the inner conflict created by having to kill people.
Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
I make the characters as believable as I can. I am always learning and developing new ways to have them grow and respond. If they aren’t believable, the book fails. I can certainly relate to their feelings and challenges.
How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
The characters must evolve and change. Selena Connor, in the first book, is very skilled at many things, especially martial arts and ancient languages. She’s a world expert, an academic. She’s not used to people shooting at her or any of the things a Project team member has to do. She has to adapt, and it isn’t easy for her. Nick Carter is a former combat Recon Marine. He’s got PTSD, has nightmares about Afghanistan and his dead lover. He’s closed down. He has to open up, begin to let Selena in. It’s not easy for him either. The plot triggers the changes.
In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author’s world view?
Well, world view…I try not to get into the expression of my personal political opinions. But I believe we are in a deadly serious war with bad people (not just Muslims) who want to contain and destroy America. I believe those people should be stopped. So do my characters.
Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
The hardest scenes to write are sex scenes. Mine are specific but not pornographic. Some sex seems necessary. That’s just part of believable characters in relationship.
Was there a basis for your story? A previous experience? Something else?
For White Jade, I have an abiding interest in history and China. I’ve been to the Himalayas and the Far East. So that became a basis for the story.
What research did you have to perform to back up your story? Any research which really opened your eyes or gave you new respect for a topic or profession?
I did a great deal of research for the book. If I don’t have direct experience of something, I have to research it. For example, modern weapons. I am familiar with many kinds of weapons, old and new, but I don’t have an MP-5 or a box of grenades lying around to look at. So I research all that, new spying developments, military changes, stuff like that. Things have changed a lot since I was in the Marines.
What is your method for writing a book? A certain amount of hours every day? A certain routine? Are you character/story builder or an outliner or some other method?
I write five or six days a week, starting early in the morning. I review and lightly revise whatever I wrote the day before, which pulls me back into the story. I spend five or six hours, or until something says “that’s it!” I try to get a minimum of 1000 words per day. I have a very, very rough idea of the story, so the characters and plot develop as I write. I’ve never been able to keep to an outline. The characters write themselves.
How do you get past writers block or distractions like the internet?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. If I feel stuck, I will write a scene I know might fit somewhere. If I am very tired, I may give it up sooner rather than later, but there’s always something to write. I do my best to avoid distractions until I’m done writing for the day. Sometimes I’m not very good at that.
Favorite book from childhood.
My favorite book as a child…hard to say. Possibly Old Mister Crow or the Billy Whiskers series. Maybe Pinnocchio.
What’s on your desk? Can you see your desk? Describe what you see when you look around.
What’s on my desk…computer monitor, front and center; coffee cup; a receipt; odd papers with notes about the current WIP; glasses, a calculator, speakers; a mouse and mouse pad (wireless); and a Jade plant with other spiky little things growing in the pot. Also a brass jaguar munching on a small animal, a polished stone jaguar fetish, three ancient coins from China, a bronze dragon paperweight and a ring with amethyst.
Get your copy of White Jade on Amazon.
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