Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.
Caleb Pirtle III
Fiona : What motivates you to write, and how do you get started?
I write for one reason. I can’t keep a secret. I am totally obsessed with hanging around my characters and finding out what secrets they carry with them, what secrets are buried deep in their past. More often than not, those secrets are tangled together to form the basic plot of the story. I don’t care if my hero is tall, dark, and handsome or blonde, sexy, and beautiful. If they don’t have a secret worth keeping and worth stealing, they never show up in the novel. When I start writing, I have already gotten to know my characters and their secrets, so I simply write the first sentence and see where it takes me. I never know the ending until I write my last sentence. And I am a strong believer of Ernest Hemingway who says that a good ending is one that leaves readers feeling as if they know more than they do.
Fiona : What’s most rewarding about writing?
The chance to take a handful of stick-figure characters and turn them into living, breathing men and women who think, scheme, love, and sometimes even kill someone or die. When someone dies, I feel as if I have lost a member of the family. Characters may be worthless and notorious without any redeeming values, but I gave them life, and still it hurts when they breathe their last. And in noir thrillers or historical mysteries, more than a few breathe their last. My goal is telling a story not quite like it’s ever been told before. As the great Toni Morrison said, “Toni Morrison
said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”My ultimate reward is when someone buys the book and likes it well enough to leave a review.
Fiona : What is your favorite genre and why?
I love to write historical thrillers and historical mysteries. I live in the present, but I prefer the past. Maybe, it’s because I’m bored with the present. Life has its hardships still. Life has its conflicts still.But life is too easy for fiction.Need to go cross-country? Grab a plane.Car broke down in the middle of the desert? Call AAA roadside assistance. Scared on a lonely street in the middle of the night? Fish out a cell phone.Someone following you? Call 9-1-1.Where is the fear? Where is the panic?Where is the threat?’Where is the suspense? For me, it’s all buried somewhere in the dark and murky shadows of the past, which is why the novels in my Lincoln Ambrose series hav all been set during the early days of World War II, when villains wore the faces of evil, and we never forgot the way they looked or the travesties they committed, and we knew who our enemies were.
Fiona : Where do your character come from?
Lincoln Ambrose showed up the night I was watching a documentary on the History Channel about our government’s experiments with mind control during the 1930s. Subjects came from prisons, from insane asylums, from the military. Experiments were conducted with drugs, LSD, and electric shocks to the brain. I was sitting alone and heard a voice inside my mind. “That’s me,” it said. “They erased my memory and took my mind away.” “Why,” I wanted to know. “Without a memory,” the voice said, “a man has no fear. Without fear, he will try to doing anything, including the impossible, because he’s not afraid of the consequences. He doesn’t know the consequences.” Lincoln has now appeared in four novels.
The hero and heroine of my historical mystery series are based on the man and woman responsible for the East Texas oil boom in 1931. My home was Kilgore, the center of the boom, and I knew all about Dad Joiner and Daisy Bradford. He was old and crippled and broke, and he came to town promising to discover oil and make everyone rich. Most thought he was a fraud. Daisy was an aging widow who owned land. She gave Dad leases on her land because he might be a con man, but he was the only hope East Texas had. Dad and Daisy never had a romantic interlude, but Doc and Eudora have plenty in Back Side of a Blue Moon and Bad Side of a Wicked moon.
If someone really makes me mad, he will wind up in my next novel and usually shot to death by the fourth chapter. If I’m really angry, we bury him much earlier.
Fiona : Who is the author who inspires you and why?
I really have been influenced by three authors, and they inspire me for the same reason: James Lee Burke, Raymond Chandler, and John D. McDonald. You can throw Dashiell Hammett in the mix as well. Chandler and Hammett were regarded as hard-boiled detective pulp fiction writers. John D. and James Lee wrote mysteries, which were casually tossed aside by so-called critics. Yet these writers proved that, regardless of the genre, an author can write with lyrical prose that borders on literary fiction. They all mastered the beauty and impact, as well as cultural nuances of the language.
Fiona : What do you look for in other people’s books?
I naturally gravitate toward thriller and mysteries because that’s what I write. But in any genre I read, I want two things: heart and emotion. I want to read a story that makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me fall in love, or scares the hell out of me.
Fiona : What are you writing now?
I am finishing up a new experimental project for me. I am convinced, from all I read, that readers have short attention spans. They want books that can be read in one or two sittings. For most, the era of epics is over or at least suspended for a while. So I have written three noir thriller novellas. I released the first two as eBooks, Lovely Night to Die and Rainy Night to Die, and I am packaging all three together as an eBook and trade paperback book under the title Lonely Night to Die. I am also working on a nonfiction book about the human interest stories behind the Texas oil booms and plan to write book three in Doc and Eudora series about the East Texas oil patch.
Fiona : What kind of book would you like to be known for?
The genre would obviously be historical, and I’m partial to stories about families fighting their way through the hardships of the Great Depression, as well as the personal battles of those who fought one-man wars to gather intelligence just prior to and during World War II. However, in reality, I would like to be known as a writer who wrote with heart to touch someone else’s emotions. I want a reader whose nerves are as frayed as mine when they finish the last page of a book.
Fiona : What has writing taught you about yourself?
I learned early on that a writer should never try to tell the story or force characters to do something they don’t want to do. When I write, I don’t know the story and I don’t know the ending. I’ve become quite content to create interesting characters and turn the stories over to them. I simply follow along and write down where they go, what they do, and what they say. If I try to take over, my characters go on strike. In Bad Side of a Wicked Moon, for example, I had two murders in the first few chapters. It wasn’t until I reached page 256 when I found out the identity of the killer and what his motives had been. I was shocked. I hope everyone else was.
Fiona : How has your life experiences influenced your writing?
I have written all of my life from newspapers to magazines to films, to books, both fiction and nonfiction. I spent most of that time talking to strangers. At the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I worked the police beat and was out night and day on wrecks, shootings, homicides, suicides, and deadly fires. I talked with all kinds of people when they were at their worst and emotionally spent. I’ve sat in jail cells with prisoners, singing with them, praying with them, reading the Bible with them, and hearing how they turned out the way they did. I knew they were lying to me, but the stories were awfully good. If I write about a shooting, I can still smell the scent of gunpowder, and often I can still feel the moist spot on my shoulder where someone has cried because someone they loved lay dead. Those emotions always linger on the edge of a scene I’m writing.
Fiona : What encouraging advice can you give new writers?
Don’t worry about the length of a book. Just write pages, chapters, and scenes. Just write short stories. Each chapter is a short story. Each scene is a short story. Each chapter and scene has time, place, characters, descriptions, emotion, dialogue, and some kind of conflict. As James Lee Burke says, “I sit down each day and write two scenes. They may be long. They may be short. But I write two scenes. And by the time I finish them, I know which two scenes I have to write tomorrow.” All novels are scenes and short stories piled up on top of each other. And when you come to the end, your characters will let you know. Put a final period, and it’s time to start editing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Secrets of the Dead: https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Dead-Ambrose-Lincoln-Book-ebook/dp/B01N1TN0ZL/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1PS4624J5USRM&keywords=secrets+of+the+dead+caleb+pirtle&qid=1560799030&s=digital-text&sprefix=secrets+of+the+dead%2Cstripbooks%2C147&sr=1-1
Back Side of a Blue Moon: https://www.amazon.com/Back-Side-Blue-Moon-Boom-ebook/dp/B071XN6FY6/ref=sr_1_1?crid=14533OUE0RRKC&keywords=back+side+of+a+blue+moon&qid=1560799100&s=digital-text&sprefix=back+side+of+a+blue+moon%2Cdigital-text%2C144&sr=1-1
The Man Who Talks to Strangers: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Talks-Strangers-Memoir-ebook/dp/B074RDPXY2/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36LX6PREK1FBX&keywords=the+man+who+talks+to+strangers&qid=1560799149&s=digital-text&sprefix=the+man+who+talks+to+%2Cdigital-text%2C143&sr=1-1
Amazon Authors Page USA https://www.amazon.com/Caleb-Pirtle-III/e/B007HB4YNO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1