10 Questions with Marc Cameron
1. Mr. Cameron, thank you for this opportunity and welcome again on my blog. Your fourth installment in the Jericho Quinn series came out on January 28. Tell us a bit more about this book.
Thanks for the opportunity, Ethan.
TIME OF ATTACK starts were STATE OF EMERGENCY ended, with Jericho Quinn in the crosshairs of a sniper. The aftermath of that attack sends him on a hunt for the person that hurt his family, taking him to Las Vegas, Washington DC and Japan. Old enemies, from earlier books, pop up, part of a greater plot to bring down the U.S. government with a deadly plague. If I’ve done it correctly, it should be another wild ride for Quinn and those around him.
2. How has Quinn grown over these years and throughout all these stories? What has he learned?
That’s a tough question. The character arc in a series is, it seems to me, a little different than it would be in a stand-alone novel. Of course Quinn learns and grows, but it’s a long process—much like real life. He still struggles at learning what it means to be a father while he does the job he was born to do. We see in this book that he’s much more comfortable doing things alone, rather than getting his friends involved—and he certainly realizes the folly in that before the book is over.
3. How much do you tell Quinn where the stories are heading and how to resolve them, and how much does he tell you what is going to happen?
I think I’m still in charge. I have a pretty good idea of Quinn’s personality and believe I know how he’d act in most any situation. My job is to throw him into the most unwinnable predicaments I can—and let him do his thing. The harder it is for him to get out of it, the better. I have this vision of him in the future, as a middle age guy interviewing a prospective date for his daughter—who is seven in this book. I’m pretty sure I know how he’s going to handle it. I have a daughter of my own.
4. What have you learned during the writing process of crafting these novels?
I learn something every day. Some people I’ve talked to are shoot-from-the-hip writers. I have to have a map of where I’m going pretty well figured out from the beginning. Still, I like to bob and weave and rarely stay completely true to my first outline. The thing I’ve come to grips with lately is to just relax and get words on paper. Tell as story as if I was sitting around the campfire rather that fussing over craft. I can work on that later during the rewrites.
5. What are your writing habits? What changes, if any, have you needed to make?
I’m finding that I’m busier now that I’m retired and writing full time than I was when I was working with the Marshals. I try to write everyday except Sunday, putting in six hours if I can stay sitting down that long. I have to really watch my research because I love learning and could easily get lost in the rabbit trails of the Internet following one thing to another.
One of the biggest truths I have learned, at least for me, but I suspect it holds true for others, is that it’s all too easy to get caught up doing things that feel like writing but don’t really add to our work in progress—emails, Facebook posts, Tweets, blogging. Many of those things are great in smaller doses—even needed—but they don’t help me get my novels written. I do my best writing when I have to report a word count to my wife at the end of the day. That way I put off the less important stuff so I can reach that count. Toward the end of any book, I really have to go somewhere where I can unplug and not worry about connectivity, cellphones, or anything but the book.
6. What do your fans think of the Jericho Quinn series? How do you connect with your fans?
It seems like the readership is growing. We hit the USA Today list last week with the first book in the series, NATIONAL SECURITY, so, hopefully, the base is growing and more people are finding out about the series. I’m getting a lot more emails from readers now, which is great. Writing is such a solitary endeavor that it’s nice to hear from people. I have a fairly active presence on Facebook and that’s a good way for Jericho Quinn fans to keep in touch with me, keep track of book signings, etc. I try to keep folks apprised of my latest adventures and research, things like that. We’ll be doing some more signings this coming year down in the lower 48, in conjunction with another big motorcycle ride.
7. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of the self-publishing? Did you ever consider self-publishing or might you consider it in the future?
The industry is changing right before our eyes. There are many great books out there that are self-published so there doesn’t seem to be the stigma of a ‘vanity’ press like their used to be. I will say that there are so many books being published now that it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Thousands are released every month when you count Smashwords, and other sites. It’s pretty daunting for any author just trying to get noticed. My books come out as mass-market paperbacks as well as e-books and audible. The mass markets seem to have a lower price point that a lot of self published print books—which often fall somewhere in price between a hard cover and a paperback. I’m not sure about sales, but it’s nice to be in a position with a little lower price for a paperback book.
I’d never say never about self-publishing, but I’m very happy with Kensington. My editor is great to work with and they’re doing a good job distributing the books.
8. What are your favorite pastimes?
My wife and I love to travel. I plan to do more. There are a lot of places I need to research…. Living in Alaska, I love doing things outside—winter, summer, on land or on the water, it doesn’t matter much. I used to do a fair amount of winter camping, but we haven’t had much of a winter this year. I cross country ski, hunt, fish, and canoe, scuba dive. I used to do a lot more martial arts, but I’m getting to where I don’t heal as quickly. I still work out most days and am training for a Tough Mudder run in Texas this spring. Not only is writing solitary, it’s sedentary and I have to do something to keep from needing a bigger chair. I love the ocean. My wife spent some time in the South Pacific this winter doing some research. We’re taking some sailing classes this summer so we can do some more sailing when we go back—which we are sure to do.
9. I know you love motorcycling. What has been your most memorable trip?
I rode the bike from Alaska to Texas last fall. It was an incredible trip with lots of time to think. I saw some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen and met some great people along the way. I driven that route in a car several times but there is something different about it when you’re in the wind, smelling the smells and feeling the temperature changes as you ride form mountain to valley to wheat field to prairie. I left the bike down there so I can do it in reverse this year, hopefully with my son.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
The next book is another Jericho Quinn Adventure. Without going into too much detail, I’ll tell you it goes a little further in answering some of the questions that plague Jericho. It will be different from all the other books, in that much of the action happens onboard a commercial aircraft. I’m lucky to have some good friends who are aircraft mechanics, commercial pilots, and Army EOD techs that have helped me with the research. That’s a pretty good hint as to the direction of the plot.