Meet author, Stefan Vucak. Stefan is an award-winning author of seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder which was a 2002 EPPIE finalist. His Shadow Gods Saga books have been highly acclaimed by critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award.
Stefan has leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and applied that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his books. Born in Croatia, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to writing, he is also an editor, a book reviewer, and an avid reader with a passion for travel.
Why did you decide to write a mystery/thriller?
Well, having written seven science fiction books in my Shadow Gods Saga, I decided to make a foray into contemporary fiction, hoping it might give me a better chance of getting connected with a traditional publisher. I’m still hoping. One thing led to another and Cry of Eagles was followed by All the Evils, which addresses some of the more unsavory doings by the Vatican’s secret service, The Entity. My latest political drama Strike for Honor should raise some eyebrows and I look forward to seeing it released soon. Refer to my website www.stefanvucak.com for a sample chapter.
What genre does your book fall into – cozy, mystery/thriller, suspense, police procedural, etc?
Cry of Eagles definitely falls into the political drama/thriller category, as do my other contemporary novels, with the exception of Towers of Darkness, which deals with rivalry in the academic world that leads to murder.
What prompted you to write this book or series?
Having been interested in Middle Eastern politics, and world geopolitics in general, for some time, seeing what is happening in Israel and the misery inflicted on the Palestinians, I saw a story in it. Cry of Eagles touches a possible raw nerve, looking as it does at some of the history behind the Israeli/Palestinian problem, unwillingness by American administrations to broker a settlement, Mossad prepared to do anything to further Israeli interests, how FBI operates, makes for what seems a unique treatment of the topic. I hope it is also an entertaining yarn.
Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?
In my writing, I have never separated the two. All my contemporary books have strong plots and compelling characters. At least I hope so. A good plot sets the framework for the story, but it is the characters that make it come alive.
What makes your book unique?
I am sure there are books out there that touch on Mossad clandestine doings, but I haven’t seen one with my slant. Given Israel’s paranoia about Iran’s nuclear program and the perceived threat it represents, I could see how easily someone could take matters into their hands and try to induce America to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
Before I start writing, I always prepare a detailed book outline: plot, characters, background research. I guess that is a reflection of my training as an IT professional. Once I have it all worked out, I feel confident the book will not stray from what I want to say. That does not mean I don’t let my characters take me along unexpected directions, they do, and I don’t mind. It adds flavor and zest to the writing.
How did you develop the names for your characters?
Well, the locales pretty much define the names. If a character is from a foreign country, I make sure I use an appropriate local name. With US characters, given its multicultural background, almost anything goes. I like to throw in an exotic name every now and then though, just for flavor.
Do your characters swear? Why or why not?
I don’t have my characters swearing, even when a particular situation might call for an odd expletive or two. I do give some of my characters colorful sayings they use regularly to emphasize a point, but I don’t believe using swear words. The type of books I write and the characters I use don’t require such language. Were I to write a crime story involving some low personalities, swearing could be appropriate.
How did you decide on the setting?
When I select a book idea I want to pursue among a swarm floating in my head, the settings emerge almost naturally. With Cry of Eagles, involving as it does Israel and Washington DC, I didn’t have to think about locales. I had to research, but that applies to everything I write.
Do you have a writing mentor?
In my distant past when I started writing, I submitted several short stories for review and comment, but I quickly found that apart from technical feedback, the responses usually dealt with matters of taste. With taste, you can never please anyone, so I decided to develop my own style and plug away. I have been influence by authors I have read, like all of us, but I never had a mentor as such.
What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
I am very much a morning person. I guess that’s the result of having to get up early most of my life to go to work and the habit never wore off. I have a study where I hole up and write. When I’m in the mood, I may have some music playing in the background. Most of the time I don’t. When the words flow and I can hardly keep up, I am so caught up in the creative process, I would hardly hear any music. When I finish a piece of writing, I transcribe it into the computer and do an initial first pass edit. I may then edit in detail some previous writing, and so the cycle goes.
What’s the first mystery you read?
Wow, that’s a hard one, and something I cannot answer honestly. There have been a number of books I’ve read since discovering the printed page. I guess The Count of Monte Cristo might be a candidate for one of the first mysteries I came across. On the other hand, a ‘mystery’ could be so many genres!
Having finished Strike for Honor, I decided to return to my sci-fi Shadow Gods Saga and write one more book about Terrllss-rr, his loved one Teena and his battle with the Celi-Kran. It might be my last in the series, but fates can be funny that way. I created a big universe and there is lots of room for more books. I have another contemporary novel in mind, but I need to worry it a bit before the plot coalesces.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I get an intense buzz with the creation process of writing, even though it is lonely, often frustrating and sometimes exasperating. I am driven to write and I want to share with others what I have to say. I cannot envisage a more satisfying way of life.