Friday, 17 April 2015

Meet Our Featured Author Joe Collins.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a paramedic and volunteer firefighter. I have a BA in English and a BS in Computer Science which helped me formalize my skills in my two loves, computers and writing. My hobbies include competitive shooting in several different disciplines including long distance rifle and combat handgunning. I am also a SCUBA Rescue Diver and free diver and spend as much time as possible playing under water as I can despite crummy winters around where I live.

I’ve always wanted to be an author and only in the last several years have had the chance to be published. I pounded my head against the conventional publishing world without success for many years. I wrote and published my first novel, Kill Code several years ago after fifteen plus years trying to figure out the best way to pull it off. When it finally came to me, it only took a year to write and publish.

What are your books about?
Kill Code is about a piece of software that directs a group of assassins to kill those government officials who have violated their oath to the US Constitution. I was trying to answer the question of what the world would be like if those in government were held accountable for their actions.

My current books are about the group of assassins in Kill CodeThe Black Hand. Each specializes in a certain way of killing. How each got to the point where they could commit murder for hire are interesting stories and I’m having a blast writing about them.

What is your writing process?
My work schedule is such that I have eight days off in a row so I write during the day just like if I worked a conventional job except that I get to figure out what to do and when. And, I’ve gotten to the point where I can write reasonably quickly—The Black Hand: Sniper was written in 3-1/2 weeks. The other books in the series took longer to write given the extensive amount of research required. My goal is to publish six books in 2015 and so far, I’m reasonably on track to do that.

What inspires you to write?
My goal is to make a decent living as a writer and tell interesting stories about complex characters put into horrible circumstances. I’m often surprised at the stories turn out considering that my writing process consists of writing the first scene and then the last scene and fill in between them.

How do you choose titles for your books?
The Black Hand series is easy to figure out—just their specialties, Sniper, Poisoner, Arsonist to be followed by Bomber, Marksman and Saboteur.

The Kill Code series is based on various computer terminologies. The second book in the series, Abnormal End is an old mainframe computer term for a software crash. The third book, which is being written now is titled Ghost Net and is based on that there is more than one Internet with what you usually see only being part of a smaller, darker subset. 
Can you tell me more about the world you created in the Kill Code series?

Originally written to be a thriller in which two reasonably normal people are thrown into world changing events, it instead became more about the characters. With my libertarian political bent, I do feel that there are significant violations of our rights each day so I wondered what would happen if someone started murdering the government officials responsible. The bad news is that no matter how many die, life goes on. But, that doesn’t mean that my characters won’t be fighting for their lives.  

Tentatively, there will be three books in the Kill Code series. I’ve lived with the series for a long time and while there is a lot of material to be mined, I feel that it’s time to finish it. I’m not ruling out further stories in those worlds, but I have other projects planned.

Can you tell me more about the world you created in The Black Hand series?
It’s a rather conventional world except that there is an organization that recruits, trains and supports murder/mayhem for hire. I spend my time exploring how each of the characters transforms from being reasonably ordinary people to professional killers.

I love the research aspect of writing these books. Sniper was easy to write as I have been shooting rifles at long distances for almost all of my adult life. Every other book requires extensive research and working with experts in the field.

There will be six books in The Black Hand series and I hope to have that series wrapped up this year. I’m doing research on Bomber leaning on a retired EOD technician and I’m starting on thinking about Marksman which shouldn’t be that difficult as it involves shooting.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I love my job as a paramedic and being a volunteer firefighter. When someone calls for help it is generally the worst day of their life and any skills, experience and training I can bring to help them makes the low pay, crummy working conditions and lack of respect almost worth it. Otherwise, I read, shoot, and dive. It’s not a complex life but I do my best to make it as full as I possibly can.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently writing a book titled Machine Guns and Magic. It’s the story of my grandfather who was drafted from the Scottish coal mines to fight in WWI. He was a Lewis Machine Gunner and served in the Royal Irish Regiment. After the war, he became a professional magician in London. When he immigrated to the US after the death of his partner, he never practiced magic professionally again. I have read over a hundred books on the subject of WWI, Britain after the war and where he practiced magic. Included in my research were many hours of videos and asking strange questions on various forums. It is an extraordinarily difficult book to write as they wrote and spoke completely differently back then and my grandfather read the dictionary for fun so he had a heck of a vocabulary. It will be released on Armistice Day this year and I will be celebrating with a group of friends by shooting WWI rifles and handguns in remembrance of those brave souls that fought in The Great War. 

What are your future projects?

In the strange mix for later this year and next will be a SF military book, a soft romance or two and a hard SF book. Some urban fantasy might be mixed in. I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with half a dozen characters and I feel it’s time to get away from them. I haven’t had a great deal of sales with what I’m writing now so it’s time to try something else to see if I can write books that will sell decently well. As long as it pays and I think I can write it, I’ll try it. 


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