10 Questions with Stephen D. Cork
My guest today is Mr. Stephen D. Cork, author of SIR, I CAN EXPLAIN, an intriguing thriller. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview.
1. Mr. Cork, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your thriller SIR, I CAN EXPLAIN, came out on July 1. Tell us a bit more about this book.
This book is about human trafficking. It exposes the most sordid aspects of this criminal activity, revealing how lives are destroyed, and how human beings are degraded past our wildest imaginings. The book helps highlight the depraved thugs who, without conscience, run the international organizations managing these type operations. It also brings to light the fact that human trafficking is happening in plain sight, at our very doorstep; Illegal immigrants being forced into garment manufacturing in New York, clerking at 7-eleven stores in Virginia, and picking crops in Florida.
2. Who is Major Jennifer O’Shane and where did the inspiration for her character come from?
My inspiration comes primarily from writers like Tom Clancy, WEB Griffin, and Lee Childs who have incredible stories with a cast of characters that carry on through several books. They are missing one element that I felt would garner a major audience: A central female action figure. And, Jenny O’Shane was born.
3. What kind of research did you do for SIR, I CAN EXPLAIN? How much of what your write in this novel is real and how much is fiction?
In view of the military backdrop of my stories, and my own military career that involved exposure to a wide range of other cultures, much of what I write about in Sir, I Can Explain comes from personal experiences. On the other hand, I had a lot of research to do to knowledgeably discuss ships, submarines, and High Altitude parachute jumping (HALO). Additionally, I frequently refer to real places and operating military systems that I researched to be sure were correctly referred to in the right context. For instance, the USS Charlotte is a real submarine that is really converted to carry the Advanced SEAL Delivery Vehicle.
4. Why do you write? Why thrillers?
I’ve had a passion for writing since high school, and a wild imagination forever. My last assignment on active military duty saw me writing tactics, techniques and procedures for joint warfighting. I found I was pretty good at it. Senior military leaders frequently commented on the high caliber of the work produced by the writing team I directed. I decided around then that I was going to begin to write fiction. That eventually blossomed into actually producing a couple of books, and out popped Sir, I Can Explain.
Thrillers seemed to come naturally. I like books that have lots of action, excitement and adventure with some surprises twisted throughout. I figured that if that was what I enjoyed, then I would do a better job in the genre as I wrote my novels.
5. A word of advice for new writers?
If writing is what you enjoy, then never give up. There’s a lot to learn, but if you apply yourself, it can happen.
6. What have you learned during the writing process for crafting a novel?
Never give up. There are a lot of ‘no’s’ out there. But, few barriers are resistant to someone who keeps on trying to find a way to get it done. And, there’s more than one way to get published. Try every avenue. Keep on looking until you find the one that works for you and then push as hard as you can.
7. What are your writing habits? How long does it take you to research and write a novel?
I like to outline my project into chapters. Then I begin to flesh out the outline with broader explanations, scenes and narrative. Normally, those areas that need research become pretty obvious as the expansion of the main theme and plot mature. That’s usually the hard work. However, it’s worth it because nothing is more embarrassing than a reader coming back and telling you of a serious mistake. An example is the Uzi machine pistol. I had no idea that there are multiple versions, magazines, and safeties on the gun. I wrote a lot about that pistol and found myself having to go back to make corrections because I missed some key points. Thankfully, a friend told me and I did some serious internet searches before I published anything. Sounds a little ridiculous, but when you’re in the throes on writing, it sometimes isn’t as obvious as it sounds. I had a famous local author at a writing seminar I attended advise me of three critical elements in writing: research, research and research. He claimed he spent at least a quarter of his writing day doing research. I would offer that that would be a minimum for me. Trust me, I’m sure I missed something in Sir, I Can Explain, but it’s not for want of trying.
8. How do you interact with your fans? What is their input about your novel?
My fans usually will approach me in bookstores or meetings, or at luncheons. Or through email. I’ll always listen to their advice. I love to hear different ideas. That doesn’t mean I’ll use it, but I try to give them my attention and nod sagely. I can think of one who recommended I put something into Sir, I Can Explain about HALO parachute jumping. He happened to be a retired Special Forces operator with vast experience. Well, guess what happened? Sir, I Can Explain has a very real segment on HALO that I asked him to help write. It’s very factual as you might imagine, and it fit perfectly into what I wanted to do in the story. However, several other readers suggested I put Jenny into more sex scenes. That’s not going to happen. I barely got what’s in the book in the book…my wife is my prime, first editor.
9. What are your favorite pastimes?
My all-time favorite is reading. Nothing like stretching out on my lounger and reading a good story. I also enjoy my dogs in agility training. Sports are my other favorite. Time has removed some of them, but I still jog, kayak, play golf (badly), and enjoy the sunsets on Siesta Key beach.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
The next book will be titled: This is a Goat Rope, Sir. I’m going to take Jenny O’Shane to Afghanistan where she’ll command a sizable Military Police unit. She’ll get a secret mission to recover a large cache of gold and ancient artifacts that Saddam Hussein hid in the mountains between Iran and Iraq. A little Indiana Jones orientation. There may be a map of the location of a giant undiscovered oil field involved, but that’s still evolving in my head. There’s some serious research that needs done yet, so this is all still cooking.