Tomorrow we’ll be reviewing novice author Herbert Cooke Jr’s Rainfall and Bullets, the story of crime, revenge and bullets, lots and lots of bullets.
Ahead of the review, we were lucky to get an Author Q & A to Cooke. Check out Cooke’s influences, reading and what it’s like to be a first-time published author.
1- Describe what it’s like being a novice author? Does it feel surreal, exciting, intimidating?
For me, it’s definitely exciting, but it’s also humbling. I recognize that I have a long way to go in terms of my writing/literary goals and dreams. I have so much to do in terms of self-promotion and marketing. Also I’m constantly on pins-and-needles when it comes to reader feedback. Granted, I do know that with reading, writing, movies, music, etc it’s all subjective. In regards to Rainfall and Bullets, folks may like it, may not like it, say “that was a great book!” or will not be fulfilled when they reach “The End”…that type of thing. I’m not saying this because I lack confidence, I’m just a realist.
I’ll admit it and say that although I know that I will get positive and negative feedback, I’m a tad sensitive when it comes to the negative feedback. Constructive criticism is always great, as I am trying to get better at the craft. In fact, as I look back at Rainfall and Bullets, I’ve seen some conceptual things that I could have done better, stronger voice, prose, etc. At the same time, though, I’m my own worst critic. Being a novice, I’m especially appreciative of readers and I hope to get to know them and at some point have the pleasure of communicating directly with them!
2- What kind of research did you put into Rainfall and Bullets?
Well, I wouldn’t say “research” in this case. From January through June of 2006, I was still active duty Air Force, a Technical Sergeant deployed in support of a humanitarian mission to La Ceiba, Honduras, where Rainfall and Bullets is set. I was actually housed on Hector Moncada Air Base, right there in La Ceiba…the same base and landmarks on the installation that I mention in the book. Around January 16th or so I was one of the first three people on the ground and part of the build up. Incidentally, there were about 2,000 personnel by 1 February. My part in the mission was as the lead Logistics Plans representative for tons of equipment and personnel from different branches of the military, as it was a joint mission. We also worked closely with the Honduran Air Force personnel.
Because I speak Spanish fluently, I had the added privilege of serving as a translator on behalf of other military personnel from different functions. So I got the chance to travel way outside of La Ceiba to cities such as San Pedro Sula. As in most Central and South American countries, taxi driving, which is Armando’s profession in Rainfall and Bullets, is a common occupation. Other places that were not highlighted in the book that I had the chance to pass through included the seaport Puerto Cortes, which is where I coordinated incoming shipments with the Hondurans, El Progreso, and several other small towns. Honduras was awesome! Back to being a novice author, if I could write Rainfall and Bullets all over again, I’d give the reader a bit of a better “feel” for the country, something I realized after I had written the book and gone back and read it after it was published. Guess what; this is also some constructive criticism that I had received from one of my close friends!
3- Who are your creative influences? Are they confined to other writers, or do you find your writing sparked by film, music, etc?
I have an uncle who used to write poetry, so I’d have to say he was my first creative influence. I had come across some of his poems when I was around 10 or 11. I used to wonder how he’d come up with the stuff. So I started writing little stories for fun. I wasn’t really into reading books until I read The Dragons of Autumn Twilight, a fantasy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I was 13 or 14 at the time. Why that book? I had seen other kids in school carrying it around. So I bought it with my cutting-grass-on-the-weekends money, read it, and was hooked not only on the Dragonlance Chronicles series, but fantasy novels in general. I didn’t gravitate towards thrillers until years later. During summer vacation, I’d easily go through a 300-page book in about 2 days. So Weis and Hickman were my next influences. At that time I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but it all seemed so overwhelming…basically I did not know how to go about the process.
So years…and I mean years…went by where I stopped writing and even reading, I’d have to say from 1990 through 2005. Heck it wasn’t until about mid 2006 when I got that “bug” to start reading again, then writing followed. I have always been intrigued by creative people, no matter the art form. As far as writing, I’d have to say…Stephen King…doesn’t everybody say that! George Pelecanos…I really enjoy his work and I can really relate to his work because his books take place around the area in which he lives, which is the same area I live in…Patrick Quinlan, I love his cynical characters and the voice in his writing, Ted Dekker…simply prolific.
As far as music, my tastes are extremely diverse…yet, for me, it has GOT to be different for me to consider it creative. And when I say “music,” I focus more on lyrics than anything else because there are words involved, and there has to be feeling behind those words, which is ultimately in the hands of the person singing them, right? My tastes are diverse when it comes to movies, too! I love all kinds of movies but dramas are what give me that drive to write. Again, words and meaning, and the actors that deliver them. In fact, I may have a drama playing as my background noise while I’m writing…but when I start getting distracted, I’ll turn it off!
4- What is your next project and are you working on it yet?
I have finished a project that I’m pitching called Deacon Ash. It’s a supernatural thriller about an alcoholic named Seth Jennings who is imprisoned in an old Victorian house that was bequeathed to him. His captors? A long-dead deacon whose body is inhabited by a Demon and his hellhound, Chaos. Seth has three days to find the key to his freedom. The days belong to Seth, the nights belong to Deacon Ash and Chaos. Deacon Ash and Chaos do not make it easy for Seth as they have twisted rules in place. To make matters worse, each night that Ash and Chaos visit him they torment him for his failure. Ultimately his soul is on the line. I am currently working on Reckless Abandon, a story about Vincent Zaragoza, a former Latin Saint gang-banger who returns to his roots to find out who murdered the man who changed his life. As he delves back deeper into the streets to find answers, he discovers that maybe he hadn’t changed after all.
5- What are you reading now?
Thought I’d try my hand at Harlan Coben. I had never read any of his books before. A friend of mine, Elaine, one of my biggest supporters and someone who really believes in me, bought me Promise Me. I recently finished that book and I’m now in the first few pages of another Harlan Coben book, Hold Tight…loving it already!