Meet Carl Rackman

This week I’m introducing mystery thriller writer Carl Rackman. He’s the author of Irex and Voyager, both of which can be found on Amazon. If you’re a fan of Clive Cussler or Robert B. Parker, you’re sure to love these as well.


1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.

I’m Carl, which is a pen name (Carl is actually my brother’s name!) I’d rather be known as Carl Rackman to the outside world. I’m British and live in Southern England. I used to be an airline pilot and flew professionally for 15 years – I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica! I had to stop flying two years ago when a mystery virus damaged a nerve in my inner ear. I began to lose my balance and become disorientated. For almost two years it kept recurring; for long periods I was housebound, couldn’t drive, couldn’t socialise or even speak on the phone for more than about 20 minutes. It was a genuinely crushing personal experience. But from that low I began to write, and have since realised I have a great passion for creative writing and have almost finished my third novel in a year.

You As A Reader:

2. When did you first fall in love with books?

I’ve always loved reading. I learned to read very early as a young child, so I’m told, and used to devour any story. My Mum would read bedtime stories most nights (if she wasn’t working) and as I got older I read some of the classic British children’s fare: Roald Dahl’s stories, Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle books, Norman Hunter’s Professor Branestawn. 

Who doesn’t love Roald Dahl and Doctor Dolittle?

3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?

My absolute favourite books as a child were Willard Price’s Adventure series, about two American teenage brothers whose dad ran an animal centre for exotic animals. They went around the world capturing rare and amazing animals for the world’s zoos, while having some hair-raising and quite brutal adventures along the way. It was so un-PC by today’s standards but they were my Harry Potter!

4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?

The book that changed me the most has to be (cliché alert!) the New Testament of the Bible. It’s funny how people don’t regard religion as anything much when they have control and mastery of their lives, the way I did for decades. Then the world flips you upside down, everything you knew changes, and you have to make a radical reassessment of your entire self and your values. It literally changed everything about my life: the way I see the world, the things I care about, and the way I choose to express myself in relationships.

The “normal” book that changed me was Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast Of Champions. It was the first book I’d read to make me realise that the message of a book didn’t have to have anything to do with the story. To my 15-yo self, it was the most amazing, original and worldview-changing thing I’d ever seen. I had a similar feeling reading JD Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye as a college student, and again when I read Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.

5. Last book you read and current favorite?

Last book I read was Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a wonderfully-written, imaginative urban fantasy set in London, which was my home for years. It wasn’t all good, but I loved the writing. My reigning favourite book is Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I could feel almost every fibre of the main character Rabo Karabekian.

6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Honestly, I’m not big on heroes or idols or whatever. In the end, they’re just people like everyone else, and would be as uncomfortable meeting me as I would be meeting them! But yeah, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 🙂

Great thought to remember! Even Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was once an amateur.

You As A Writer:

7. When did you first know you were a writer?

When I recovered from my illness and realised I would rather write than fly planes.

8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?

I used to write creative stories for homework in primary school. One was about a nightmare and it got submitted to a national competition. I obviously didn’t win or I would have heard something. But it was framed outside the headteacher’s office for the rest of the year!

That’s still great encouragement for a youngster!

9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?

The most difficult part of my writing journey has been other people. Their sympathetic but glassy-eyed lack of understanding has caused me more self-doubt and angst than anything to do with actual writing. 

The best part of my writing journey has been other people. Their support, love and incredulity on reading the finished product (“I can’t believe you wrote this!”) has brought me more pleasure and self-worth than anything to do with actual writing.

10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?

My father-in-law said to me, “You should write. I think you’ve got a book inside you.” He was right.

As a self-published author, the best piece of advice I received was “Get an editor. You can’t do it on your own. Unless you want to do it badly.” They were right too.

It must have worked because your writing is impressive.

11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.

My 75% finished work in progress is called “Jonah”, a claustrophobic mystery/thriller set on a WW2 destroyer in the Pacific. The main character is a young sailor who was the sole survivor of a deadly kamikaze attack. Not only that, he was completely unscathed even though everyone else around him was killed. He already has a reputation for being lucky, but now he is ostracised and bullied by others afraid of the circumstances of his escape. The crippled ship must sail alone back to the West Coast, but on the way home the crew are beset by visions and hallucinations, especially of a sea monster that threatens to pick them off one by one. Our ‘lucky’ MC is the only one unaffected, and he begins to incur the animosity of the others as they suspect him as the cause of their misfortune.

Fun Stuff About You:

12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?

I build scale models of aircraft and ships. I build to a very high standard and have won several awards for my work, and made some good money from building commissions and selling my finished models. Like writing, it’s a great blend of research, creativity and skill. Unlike writing, I’ve actually made some money from it!

For you readers, I’ve seen pics and he’s talented. Really talented.

13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?

Espionage. I’ve always wanted to be an intelligence agent. I’ve made several applications to the security services in my life, though that would be telling.

14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?

French Polynesia (Tahiti, Bora Bora). I never got to “do” the Pacific when I was a pilot, and it’s one of the only appealing places left on Earth for me.

Final Thoughts:

15. How can people connect with you?

I’m always on Twitter. @CarlRackman please feel free to connect. I also have a website and blog at rackmanbooks.com and a lame Facebook page (because Facebook IS lame) but I prefer to interact on Twitter.

16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Thanks very much for asking me to take part. It’s been emotional.

Thank you for sharing. You certainly have a unique story. I’m still enjoying Irex and can’t wait to read more of your books.

If you’d like to buy Carl’s books, you can find them here:

Irex

Voyager

Meet J.M. Sullivan

For my first author interview, I’d like to introduce debut author J.M. Sullivan.

J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.

1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.

Hi everyone! My name is J.M. Sullivan and I am an author, teacher, and mommy. I’ve got a few projects going on right now, but what I’m MOST excited about is my author’s debut with my book ALICE: THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES, releasing this May 16!

Alice is a YA Dark Fantasy retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland with an undead twist, and it follows the story of sixteen-year-old Alice Carroll as she leaves the safety of the Sector to find an antidote to save her sister from becoming one of the momerath. Along the way, she enlists the help of the charming but flighty Chess, his friend Bug, and even the Red Queen. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, Wonderland, or zombies, it might be the book for you!

You As A Reader:

2. When did you first fall in love with books?

I’ve loved books my whole life. I couldn’t even tell you when I first fell in love because they’ve always been such a big part of who I am. So I guess, even though I can’t remember it, I’d have to say when my mom used to read them to me as a baby. She set a great foundation!

3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It’s the first book that I chose in a bookstore and I absolutely loved it. I must have read it at least a dozen times growing up and even now if I’m not sure what I want to read, I’ll pick it up and revisit Ella of Frell. Such a wonderful story!

That’s one of my favorites, too!

4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?

I’m going to have to say Ella Enchanted again. Not only was it the first book I picked, it was also my first retelling! It introduced me to a whole new world of stories and began my love for the genre, which has gotten me where I am today!

5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?

Right now I’m reading two different books: Angelfall by Susan Ee (Kindle) and Plague by Michael Grant (paperback), and I have to say, I’m enjoying both of them. My current FAVORITE? Well, that’s a little harder, but I’d have to go Age of X series by Richelle Mead. Her worldbuilding and storyline is FANTASTIC, I’m just sad I’m stuck waiting for the next installment!

6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

I would love to meet Richelle Mead. She is so versatile and I love all of her work. I would love to have a chance to talk with her about her process and inspiration, because she is definitely one of mine!

You As A Writer: 

7. When did you first know you were a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I never really knew it was something that could be a reality for me until I finished my draft for ALICE. I’ve written several short stories and started a couple of other novels, but they never really panned out (although I still have them shelved for later). It wasn’t until I actually got that first manuscript drafted that I knew this was something I really could do. I’m so incredibly grateful.

8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?  If so, what was it about?

Oh gosh no. But I’m sure it was terrible. In fact the earliest thing I can remember writing is a ‘song’ that was totally awful, which is kind of funny because my daughter has recently started singing and making up her own little songs and I just love it. Although hers are actually pretty good. Much better than mine were, I’m sure!

9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey?  The best part?

Finding confidence in myself was probably the hardest hurdle to overcome. Once I stopped letting my doubt get in the way and actually pushed to complete my manuscript, it’s been amazing where my journey has gone. Which, I would say is the best part. Seeing all the doors that have been opened and all the opportunities I now have from doing what I love is absolutely incredible.

10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?

Have faith in your work! No one is going to be a bigger advocate for your work than you are. Even when it’s hard, push through. Someone out there needs your words, don’t let doubt keep them away.

11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.

I’m currently working on a new retelling project, a SciFi version of Peter Pan. It’s been drafted and is with beta readers now, I’m hoping to be able to wrap everything so it can be published in 2018. Of course, I’ve also got the sequel to Alice keeping me busy, and if I can pull everything together hopefully that will be finished soon too!

I can’t wait to read them both!

Fun Stuff About You:

12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?

When I’m not writing, you’re most likely to find me spending time with my family! I’m so busy most of the time that when I’m not doing one of the bajillion things I have to do every day I really just enjoy sitting back and spending time at home. I love singing and dancing with my kids, attempting to bake, and watching movies with my husband. I also like to run or do yoga if I can ever find the time to sneak away (even though I’m terrible at both!)

13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?

Being a mom! I love my kids and my family but I’m pretty much convinced I’m doing it wrong approximately 99% of the time. Gaining ‘expert status’ in mommyhood would lower that number to at least 90% 😉

I’m pretty sure every mom thinks they’re getting it wrong, so you’re in good company.

14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world.  Where would you go?

Oh man. Definitely somewhere with a beach and beautiful water. Probably the Maldives. I mean, HAVE YOU SEEN THE PICTURES? That is definitely the kind of vacation I could get behind!

Final Thoughts:

15. How can people connect with you?

Find me on Social Media! I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram @_JM_Sullivan, but I also have a blog (jmsullivanauthor.wordpress.com) where I talk reading, writing, and mommyhood. I even have a side series I’ve started called Days After I Died that I’ve posted there as well. Whichever method you prefer, come say hi! I’d love to connect!

16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Well, if you have a Twitter, make sure you check out #AuthorConfession! It’s a monthly game where writers answer questions about their work, their process, or just themselves. It’s a ton of fun and we’d love to have you! Or, if you’d rather, you can find Author Confession on YouTube! Either way you’ll get to connect with great writers and learn all about their work! I hope to see you there!

Thanks for taking the time to share! I look forward to reading Alice and seeing where your writing journey takes you.

If you’d like to purchase J.M. Sullivan’s book, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles, you can pre-order it here:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo