RICK SOPER: I STARTED WRITING BECAUSE I WAS FRUSTRATED WITH CERTAIN “POPULAR” AUTHORS
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Rick Soper is kind of guest that every interviewer would like to have. He loves to answer deeply to all kind of questions. The author of The Rock Series was a TV producer, who turned to a financial adviser. To write is kind of hobby for him, but with so many published books, he is developing as one of the quality members of the indie authors industry.
– Hi Rick, what is your book the Stage about?
– The Stage is the third book in my Rock Series of novels. There are multiple story lines in the Rock Series and the Stage is where everything comes together. The band formed in The Rock Star is playing the concert that will be hacked across the world. The Russians are working to make sure the concert goes off without a hitch. Gabriel is striking back against the secret group.
FBI Agents Stevens and Harris are working with local Sheriff Ken Dalton to make sense of the murders, kidnappings, and shootings that have been destroying the calm of vacation destination Monterey, California. While behind the scenes strings are being pulled that will bring it all to a shocking conclusion.
– How did you decide to write the Rock Series?
– The Rock Series started as a single book called The Cycle. I decided to start writing and finished The Cycle within six weeks. Then spent the next six years re-writing it. At that point I was writing in a vacuum without consulting other writers or websites because that’s how I thought it was done. You write it and then look to publish it. So in my vacuum I just kept starting over and trying to write it again from beginning to end without proper direction. I was frustrated and needed to change, so I started outlining the story to see where it was going wrong. That was an epiphany moment and I realized after outlining the whole story that it was way too long to be contained in one novel, so The Cycle morphed into the three novels that make up The Rock Series.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Time. I have a day job that requires my constant attention, so writing has to happen in the middle of the night and on the weekends, if I can do it at all. There were times when I never thought I’d finish anything. But then I started outlining my books in advance and that really helped me move forward. With the outline you have a clear picture of what you’ve finished, what you have left, and you have a clear sense of forward progression. When you shift the goal from finishing the book to finishing the next chapter then you get those smaller victories that make you feel like you’re getting somewhere and that really helps.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– FBI Agent Jon Stevens is the only character that appears in all five of my books. Stevens is a complex character. On the surface he’s a brilliant investigator that is able to see the patterns and connections that others miss, but underneath that he’s deeply disturbed, especially at the start of The Rock Star. My books start before and after The Rock Star. The Bainbridge Killings and The King are prequel novels to the Rock Star that show Stevens at his best before he was nearly killed in The Stoner investigation. As the Rock Star starts Stevens is just going back into the field after recovering from his skull being crushed in as he was going to make an arrest in The Stoner case. Stevens is deeply damaged. He’s hiding just how bad off he is because he needs to get back to work so he can have something else to concentrate on besides the bizarre thoughts that are infecting his brain. As he moves through the Rock Series he is constantly questioning himself, not knowing if the case is the hardest he’s ever been involved with, or if he’s lost that part of himself that gave him the ability to see the patterns.
Physically Stevens is close to some people I know, but mentally he’s his own monster.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– Different books took different times. The Rock Star took me seven years to muddle through and get done. The Bainbridge Killings, which is a much shorter novella, only took two months. The Singer took six months or so. The King, which again is a novella, took three months. The Stage, which is the longest novel, took a year. The Rock Star was the hurdle, but once I got over the hurdle is became a lot easier. With the Rock Star I finished it, sent out 40+ inquiry letters to agents, waited for responses, and then when the response was negative, was introduced to the concept of self-publishing. Then there was the process of finding an editor, getting artwork done for the cover, and finally getting it formatted to upload. But on Bainbridge I already had the editor, a source for cover art, and someone to do the formatting, so the process was in place and there was far less fumbling and stumbling.
– Tell us more about your most popular book The Bainbridge Killing?
– Before I ever started writing I was always doing a lot of reading and I noticed a trend with popular authors that they would do a longer novels and then they would a novella in between as a spacer which they would put out at a discount price. Which I saw basically as an advertisement for the longer novel, but as I was writing The Bainbridge Killings I realized it was really a mental break from the more complex longer novels. Bainbridge was actually fun to write because at the time I hadn’t actually gone to the island, I’d just spent a lot of time looking at real-estate ads hoping to move there someday, so I took my favorite houses on the island from the ads and made them locations in the book. Bainbridge is a prequel to The Rock Star and I wanted to show Stevens in his prime before The Stoner case injury. The Rock Star has multiple story lines, multiple characters, with a lot of action, but for Bainbridge I stripped all that away and simplified it down to just Stevens working by himself, undercover, to solve a mystery. I didn’t overthink Bainbridge like I did The Rock Star, I just wrote a fun little story. And that story has been my best selling book. I think readers not only appreciate the straight ahead story line, but the mystery, and my descriptions of Bainbridge. I really wanted to move there when I wrote it and I think that desire pushed me into very romantic, exotic, and enchanting descriptions of the island which struck a cord with readers.
– Share some information for your novella The King?
– Like Bainbridge before it The King is a novella prequel to The Rock Star set to show FBI Agent Jon Stevens in his prime, but really Stevens almost takes a back seat to the tragedy of the lovers in the story. The King is different from Bainbridge in that there are multiple viewpoints, and it’s very different from The Rock Series books because it moves back and forward in time. In the present Stevens is racing to save a billionaire from a kidnapper. In the past you see the story of the people involved. I move it back and forth so you can see the desperation of the investigation while understanding how it got to that point. To me knowing the characters involved gives the story more punch as you experience the unfolding events, but that non-linear way telling the story has had far less resonance with readers than Bainbridge.
– Who are you?
– First and foremost I’m a reader. I started with comic books, moved to Stephen King, and have been reading ever since. I have a degree from Fresno State in English Literature. I’ve done television production for over 25 years. I work full times as a Financial Advisor. I like music, movies, and good TV. I’m a big football fan, but don’t watch many other sports. I go to the gym a lot and enjoy working out. I like finding new and interesting restaurants and I enjoy cooking. I started writing because I was frustrated with certain “popular” authors that I was reading. The novels were transparent, poorly written, and you could pretty much guess how it was going to end in the first few pages. Those novels were so bad that I couldn’t help but think, “I can do better than that”. I write novels that I would enjoy reading and hope those novels will be equally entertaining to other readers.
– What are your writing habits?
– Random. As a Financial Advisor I can’t turn off the phone, so I need to respond to my clients when they call, or something happens in the market that I need to call them about. So it’s hard to have a set writing schedule. But what I basically do now is to create my concept for a story, then I hash out my outline, going back and forth making sure it all makes sense. Then I start writing the chapters laid out in the outline. It takes a little while to get my feet set into a new story, because I need to establish the groove I’ll be writing in, but once I do I start finding the time to write. The further along I get in the story the more momentum picks up as I get excited to reach the end.
– Are you satisfied with the sales of your book and do you plan on doing another one?
– No and yes. No I’m no where near satisfied with my sales. And yes I have a number of books planned. I’ve discussed this with other authors and I think we all come to the same conclusion when it comes to books sales. The best thing you can do for more sales is to have more books. I know as a reader when I find a new author I’m more excited about getting in to them if they have a lot of books for me to read. It only makes sense as a writer to not get completely obsessed with sales until actually have a larger number of books for readers to find. So my goal is to continue to write and hope that the sales will follow.
– What are doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I’m trying a number of things. I’m on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ve run ads through BookBub, Twitter, Google, and Goodreads. I try and do interviews like this one whenever possible. I’m networking with other authors to discover new ways to promote my books. And I’m continuing to write so I can use each new book as an event to promote all my other books.
– They are saying that TV is a kind of magic. You worked there for a lot of years. What is your explanation of the addiction to the little screen production by all the people who were involved in it?
– Boy that’s an interesting question. I grew up watching TV, so to actually see my name on a production, or a commercial I produced on TV is fun experience. TV is a medium through which to tell a story. If Shakespeare were around today he’d probably be creating series TV from HBO, FX networks, or BBC. At the time he was called populist, so it only stands to reason that he would go where he could reach the largest audience today. The production process for TV is great to be a part of because you are not only thinking about the story you are going to tell but also how it’s going to look, sound, the logistics of camera movement, and how it’s going to be edited together. There is lighting to worry about, backgrounds to consider, location noise to deal with, so you have to be creative in considering all the factors involved. Most people see the ease of the way the finished product looks, but the process of getting to that point is chaotic, problematic, and always pressure filled. Live TV especially adrenaline filled. I used to direct high school football games and it’s hard to describe the craziness of trying to capture moments that will never happen again. With live TV you have one chance of getting the shots and that’s not easy to do. I managed a small cable channel and was producing 16 local shows when I finally got burnt out with working 12-14 hour days. I will still do a commercial here and there, but I’m much happier writing now. Though TV is always in the back of my head when I write because I’m thinking in terms of cameras looking at a scene. To me different character viewpoints are like TV cameras looking at a scene from completely different angles to give the reader a more complete picture of the story.
– How you ended working as something so different – a financial advisor?
– In life it’s not always what you know it’s who you know. After I got out of full time TV production I ran a political campaign through to a victory, but didn’t have a job afterwords. So I went back to people I used to work with in TV and asked what they would suggest and one of my TV hosts said I should be a financial advisor. I said, “That’s crazy I have a degree in English Lit and experience in TV”, he shook his head and said, “The job isn’t about knowing numbers, its about listening to customers and being able to talk to them”. And to a certain extent that’s true. You still need to understand numbers, but those numbers are always dependent on the stories that affect them. War, drought, the economy, social trends, and electronic innovation are all stories that will effect the overall market, so you need to understand what’s happening in the world, and you need to be able to communicate that to customers.
– As a fan of Marvel comics, what do you think about all the movies being made from the comics?
– I think it’s awesome! The original attempts at bringing the comics to TV, film, and animated series that I watched growing up were bad. Stan Lee had dreamed up things that were just way too far ahead of special effects to be able to make it to the big screen. We are just now at the point where we can see his original visions realized on to the screen at it’s great. I thought he Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and all the guys at Marvel were geniuses when I was a kid, but also thought I was alone and kind of considered geeky for thinking that. Seeing these new incredibly well made and extremely popular versions of the stories I grew up on is vindication for the geeky kid I was and leaves me smiling with the thought that I was there reading those comic books long before everyone else joined the party.
– If you could ask yourself one question what would it be?
– When you look back at writing your books what would you have done differently?
I would have made more writer friends! I initially wrote in my own little vacuum and then went out to the world to find answers. If I’d found other writers up front, asked questions, did a little more research on the whole process I think I could have cut off years in the process of finishing my first book. I would have made a lot less mistakes in the production process. I would have promoted the books in a very different way. I just moved up from California to Washington and there is a vibrant community of writers here. I’m able to meet with other writers, hold workshops, be part of critique groups, and it’s opening my eyes to so many things I could have done better. Being part of a community of writers spurs you forward to write more, it helps you clarify the ideas in your head, it helps you polish your story, and it just makes you a better writer. I’m excited about moving forward within a community where I have the ability to ask question, get answers, and produce a better product. So if I had it to do all over again the first thing I would do would be to find other writers and just talk to them about how they make it work.
Find out more about Rick at his Twitter
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