As the new year begins, I thought I'd re-start my author interviews with Austin Comacho. he's written several mysteries published with Echelon Press. So, I hopped in my transporter, picked him up outside his house, but before I could enter a destination, he shoved me aside and punched in his own choice. A few seconds later we were deposited on an unknown deserted beach somewhere in the Pacific. By the time I regained my wits, he was already relaxed in a chair staring out at the water.
So…here I am.
Drink in my hand.
Toes in the sand.
Girls with a fan.
Keeping it cool while the weather is hot,
‘Cause I got what it takes, and it takes what I got. (with apologies to Heavy D)
Now, what did you want to ask me?
Who is Austin Camacho and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
Some people think he’s a media relations specialist for the Defense Department, but inside he’s a philosopher and a teller of morality tales thinly disguised as mysteries or adventure stories. He’s also a husband and father, a flirt and a loudmouth, with a big heart and an even bigger ego. And he’s a hard-working marketing fool who wants every adult alive to read his novels.
Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that I am a TV addict who watches (or tries to) every crime drama on the tube, most of the sci-fi stuff and a lot of the other action stuff. And even though I consider myself a great novelist I can’t even imagine how those guys crank out great stories for Criminal Minds and NCIS every week.
What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming the ruler of a small European country?
Why do I write? Why do flies fly? Why do bees be? Why does smoke stack? I write because if I didn’t I’d die. I’ve been a reader of mystery and adventure since I was tiny, so I write what I love to read. And unlike ruling a small country, as a writer my only responsibility is to be true to myself.
Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I HAVE dined with most of my favorites: Dennis Lehane, Jeffrey Deaver, David Morrell, Walter Mosley, Lee Child… so the people I’d really enjoy sharing dinner with are the ones the Lord has taken out of reach: Ray Chandler, Dash Hammett, Chester Himes, Ross MacDonald, and John D. McDonald.
If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
First because I craft stories that have surprises around every corner. But more importantly, because my books are filled with characters you can get to know and really care about. They are so real you might start to talk to them. Which would be better than, say, talking to a volley ball named Wilson.
Share the Camacho process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
Ideas mostly come from news reports or stories I hear of someone’s life. Then I play this what-if game: how can I explain this outcome with a series of events totally different from what this reporter or person thinks happened? It always starts with a problem, right? The characters appear as the right people to solve it (or cause) it and then grow and deepen out of those traits.
I outline in detail, so I know the events that happen in each scene before I being to write. Once I’m writing I don’t do research until I need the info (My hero just found the body and it’s been there for a week. What would it smell like and how stiff would it be? Better look it up…) I start with Google but often have to resort to asking someone. Dive charts online don’t really explain how long you’d have to take coming up from 500 feet to not get the bends, but one dive master found it to be an interesting exercise.
I write in odd pieces of time, like during my lunch hour or in the morning before my wife wakes up. I write to the end without looking back, then go back to the beginning and completely rewrite, usually 3 times, editing as I go.
“I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Outline your 3 favorite books, paying attention to the order of events and where the words touched you emotionally. Now change all the characters and write one of them. The characters are different people so they’ll do different things at different times and you’ll end up with a new and unique story. This may not be perfect, but it’s a great way to learn how to write a mystery in terms of where to hide the clues, pacing, etc.
I saw an amusing t-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Inaction is the enemy. I believe that all problems can be solved by doing something. Even doing the wrong thing will eventually lead you to the right thing. If you wait until you have the training, the skill, the resources, enough money, enough time, or worst of all, wait for inspiration or a sign that the time is right, you will never accomplish anything. So my philosophy is simple. Don’t know where to begin?
Start where you are.
Don’t have the resources?
Use what you’ve got.
Not sure you can do what’s needed?
Do what you can.
That’s it. Those three little sentences can make anyone a winner.
Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
There is ALWAYS a book in the works. I’m about a third of the way thru the next Hannibal Jones mystery and a new Stark & O’Brien adventure will hit shelves in the fall of 2011. I want to spend some time pumping up my thriller series to see if it can be as strong as the mysteries.
The easiest way to learn more about me and my work is to check my web site - www.ascamacho.com – and please friend me on Facebook. There are lots of other ways – Gather, Crimespace, Myspace, Bebo… my best answer is: Google me.