“Hurray for free Kindles!” you say, but who the hell is Jeremy Robinson? Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the author of eleven mixed genre novels, published in ten languages, including the popular fantasy YA series, THE LAST HUNTER, and the fast-paced Jack Sigler series (also known as Chess Team—not nearly as nerdy as it sounds), PULSE, INSTINCT and THRESHOLD from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. I’m the co-author of an expanding series of novellas deemed the Chesspocalypse, which take place in the Chess Team universe. If that doesn’t wet your whistle, I’m also known as Jeremy Bishop, the #1 Amazon.com horror author of THE SENTINEL and the controversial novel, TORMENT. For more about me, or my books, visit http://www.jeremyrobinsononline.com/.
I have watched for years as my fellow authors held online events called blog tours. Some would visit ten blogs. Others, as many as ninety. And every day they would bring something different, waxing eloquent about a multitude of topics. When I finally decided to have a blog tour of my own, and settled on doing each and every weekday in October, my first thought was, “This will be cool,” which was immediately followed up by, “Holy crap, I can’t think of something interesting to say twenty times in one month!” I can barely think of something worthwhile for my own blog just once a month. The solution is what follows; each blog participating in the tour could ask me ANY three questions. That means, if the subject matter bores you, I’m not to blame! Huzzah!
But fear not. There are other rewards for sloughing through the questions and answers. I’ll be giving away two Kindles to two randomly selected readers who sign up for my newsletter. Details on the giveaway can be found below. On to the Q&A!
You stated you use science in your books that “kill[s] people, from a military perspective, it’s scientific research gone horribly right. It just happens to be in the wrong hands, or out of control.” Yet characters and action are more important to you than the science. So, how do you combine these elements to make your books great reads?
The first thing I do is to make sure that the science is inserted organically, most often through dialogue and less often through a character’s thought process. But you’ll never find me spending pages on a scientific explanation. I find such things boring and when I read books that have pages of science, I skip ahead. That the science is given organically also means that it’s delivered in conversational language that the average reader can understand. Basically, if I don’t think a reader will understand what’s being said (usually because I didn’t understand it the first time through), then the character who is receiving the information won’t understand it and ask for clarification. Cool science is a great way to launch a story or create a monster, but it can’t carry the story. The characters, and the situation they’re in, are more important, so they get more attention from me. I know that bugs the hard science readers out there, but, well, hard science is boring. Let me rephrase that. Hard science is boring in the middle of a fast-paced thriller. It’s like hitting a brick wall in the middle of a race. So the science has to come from the characters, in dialogue, in thought, but never from me in the form of a lecture.
Although you balance action, tension, and character development, you build your characters over time rather than in the first few chapters of the book to keep “things tense and the pages turning.” How do you then develop your characters through action?
My first real experience with writing was screenplays. And in screenplays there is no inner monologue. Not thoughts revealed. And dialogue is secondary to action. What a character does reveals more about a character that what he or she says, or even thinks. The saying “actions speak louder than words,” is really true, in stories and in real life. Happily, this mode of character development fits fast-paced thrillers perfectly.
Take the character of Bishop from my Chess Team novels. His character is the epitome of “actions speak louder than words,” because he rarely has a lot to say, and when he does, people listen. Despite this lack of dialogue from the character, he is many readers’ favorite member of the team. Because his actions speak to his character. In my novel PULSE, there is a cabin engulfed in flames. Children can be heard inside. While a team’s leader tries to think of a way to solve the problem, Bishop acts. He charges into the flames, which reveals a lot more about his character than if I had him expound about the different reasons he should or shouldn’t enter the fire. He just goes for it. And readers love him for it.
Tell us about some of your favorite moments in your books, the ones that got a reaction out of you while you were writing them.
The moments that usually get reactions from me are the ones that I don’t see coming. I have, on occasion, suddenly killed a character. I had no intention of doing so, but for some reason, it just happens. I don’t want to give character names in case there are readers who haven’t read that book, but there’s a scene in ANTARKTOS RISING where this happens, and when I did it, I gasped. Nearly every fan letter I get about that book mentions how surprising that scene is. I think allowing for surprises like this is effective because when I’m planning to kill a character, I might foreshadow it, or write them differently, especially if it’s a likable character—I might instinctively distance myself from them. But when I kill a character that I had no intention of killing, that’s always a big surprise. The hints that might normally creep in aren’t there, so the reader is totally off guard when it happens.
Other favorite moments are less violent and more about characters that are able to rise above baser responses to someone that has hurt them. In the first book of THE LAST HUNTER, the main character, Solomon, is kidnapped, beaten, broken and changed/brainwashed to the point where he forgets his past and becomes a savage hunter. The man who broke him, Ninnis, becomes his mentor. Later in the story, Solomon’s true self returns and he has the chance to kill the man who did all this to him. But he doesn’t, instead, he forgives Ninnis. The dynamic between the two continues as the series moves into the third book, but that moment of forgiveness, of rising above how most of us would respond to Ninnis’s crimes, I find moving. He’s got a better heart than me.
Hope that was as good for you as it was for me. Now how about that kindle giveaway?
Here’s the deal: to be entered to win one of two free kindles all you have to do is visit my website—www.jeremyrobinsononline.com—and sign up for the newsletter. That’s it. The first kindle will go to a randomly chosen newsletter signup on October 31. For the second kindle, there’s a catch. The second giveaway will only be triggered if one of my kindle books hits the Amazon.com bestseller list (top 100). So pick up some books (most are just $2.99 a pop) and spread the word! If one of the books squeaks up to #100 for just a single hour, the second kindle will be given away to another randomly chosen newsletter sign up on October 31.
*When you sign up for the newsletter, be sure to include the name of the blog that referred you in the field provided. I’ll be giving away two $50 Amazon.com gift certificates to the blog that refers the most sign-ups and another to the blog who referred the first kindle winner.
** I will announce winners via Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and newsletter (which you will be signed up for!) but I’ll also e-mail the winners directly—I’ll need to know where to ship those kindles!
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Hope you enjoyed the Q&A, and good luck with the kindle giveaway!
— Jeremy Robinson