Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday's Guest - Richard Burns - Talking about Heroes, Heroines and Villains #MFRWauthor

1. Do you write a single genre or do your fingers flow over the keys creating tales in many forms?  Does your reading choices reflect your writing choices? Are there genres you wouldn’t attempt?

Actually, I’m just now starting to expand my horizons, or genres.  My initial jump down the rabbit hole was into the Erotic Romance genre.  That resulted in my first short story, “Sweet Chocolate’s First Taste,” which appeared in Zane’s anthology, “Chocolate Flava 3.”
While I was deployed to Afghanistan on my 2d tour of duty with the Combined Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A), I wrote a weekly journal to family & friends, which became a fictionalized account of my weekly happenings.  It had to be fictionalized because everything I did was pretty classified.  When  I returned to the states, everybody raved about it.  They all said I had to send it to a publisher, so I did.
This became my Espionage Thriller, “Say Goodnight.” 
Then, on a bet, I thought I’d try my hand at a Horror story, having long been enthralled by Washington Irving’s “the Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” it seemed like a good choice for a current, more recent update of the story line.  Hence, my most recent novella, “Into Darkness Eternal,” launched on September 2.  Although I had my drafted before the Fox TV series, “Sleepy Hollow," mine launched after the series aired.
With that said, however, my story stayed true to the original tale, while the TV series wanders astray almost immediately.  I’ve been told my many people that mine is a very exciting, thrilling tale.
I so liked my characters, Mike Juppe & Maggie Castro that I decided to make a trilogy of the tale, continuing on that Paranormal/Horror Suspense theme.  Like I said, the 1st launched on September 2d and the 2d should be out within a month, and hopefully the 3rd right around Halloween.

2. Heroes, Heroines, Villains. Which are your favorite to write? Does one of these come easy and why?
So far, my heroes & heroines have all been real people that I’ve given a name change.  Most of my villains are to, perhaps morphed a couple into one.  I really have no preference or difficulty in writing either character.  My stuff is actually pretty erotic too, since sex and relationships are such a part of our daily lives, I try to expand on the relationships, a lot! 
Now when I say that, yes,  my stories have their fair share of sex, and it’s pretty steamy.  But sex without romance, is really just that, sex, a simple biological function.  It’s the romance that adds the intensity, the blistering heat, and I want my heroes and heroines, if nothing, to be intense!  Now, I’m not going to waste all that time and effort crafting a nice erotic love scene for a villain, so from that perspective, I suppose it’s more fun to write the hero & heroine Point Of View (POV).

3. Heroes. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or plain imagination create the man you want every reader to love? Do they come before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?

Typically, they are people that I admire and respect with some decent measure, if I am going to use them in a story.  And I meet these people all of the time!  Come to think of it, sometimes, I don’t even meet them. 
For example, in my book, “Say Goodnight,” everybody I wrote about in that book, was a real person who served with me in Afghanistan.  Now, I did take the liberties of taking people from my first tour (2003), and inserting them into my second tour, but they are all people I admire and respect.  The only character I made up, was my director, Brigadier Ferguson, and because he is the product of my imagination, I kept his part to a minimum.

4. Heroines. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or imagination create the woman you want the reader to root for? Do they appear before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?

Once, I’m stuck taking the bus to work for a couple of weeks.  I’m standing at the bus stop, a very pretty Hispanic woman walks up and is waiting with me for the bus.  A song is playing on a car radio parked on the street and the volume is pretty loud, so we can easily hear the radio as a Macy Gray song fills the air.
Soon, we are both tapping our feet, slightly bobbing our heads, slightly swaying to the music.  We are certainly friends, nor even acquaintances, and we are certainly not dancing.  But we are sharing in the music of the moment.
As a former Chicago Police Officer, I can see a thousand ways that I can take that moment and craft a story out of it.  I could make the man a Detective who’s car is in the garage, I could make her a body at his next crime scene.  Or, more interesting, I could make her the suspect at the next crime scene!
But the personality that I would give her would have to be that of somebody I know, just so that I could craft a dialog, plan her reactions to given situations.  I could make up an individual, but I don’t think those characters are as stimulating.

5. Villains or villainesses or an antagonist, since they don’t always have to be the bad guy or girl. They can be a person opposed to the hero’s or heroine’s obtaining their goal. How do you choose one? How do you make them human?

In the case of “Say Goodnight,” all I had to do was affix some names to the enemy, Al Qaeda.  Pretty easy, really.
In the instance of my latest, “Into Darkness Eternal,” that was already done for me by Washington Irving, that villain being the Headless Horseman.  Now here, all I had to do was stay true to the original tale, and of course, history.  Which is why you will see on the book cover, contrary to the TV Series, “Sleepy Hollow,” the horseman’s uniform is green, since he was a Hessian cavalryman in the original story, not a British red coat as in the TV show.
My headless horseman is a demonic, spectral killing machine with no human value or content.  I also made his horse a sort of demonic-spectral-villain support mechanism.  I certainly wanted neither villain, nor horse to be sympathetic to the reader.  I wanted the readers to stand and cheer when the good guys got in a hit.

6. What is your latest release? Who is the hero, heroine and or the villain?

As I said above, my latest is “Into Darkness Eternal,” which is a 21st Century addendum to “the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”  My villain; THE Headless Horseman and my hero and heroine are consistent throughout the trilogy.
Now in the sequel to that story, “Into Darkness Again,” I’ve placed my hero & heroine, Mike & Maggie, into 1780 Tarrytown, New York.  Since Tarrytown is right across the Hudson River from West Point, I thought my characters should be better, made of studier stuff than the typical college couple, who do little more than run through the woods screaming, only to die groveling at the feet of some monster, like in all of the current slasher films.
I decided to make my characters tough, make them a clever pair, of a Combat Veterans, one from Iraq and one from Afghanistan, who were selected from the ranks of the Army to attend West Point.  Then for the sequel, I decided to bring into the story, General Benedict Arnold’s plans to surrender West Point to the British Army during the Revolution.  So, this story became a Paranormal Spy Thriller of the time.  It’s really very exciting, with riveting suspense, if I do say so myself.
I’m told by an objective person that it is a real page turner!  I was meticulous in my timeline and research on this story, so I am pretty sure it is riveting.  However, the villain, Benedict Arnold, actually plays an extremely small part in this story, essentially because the history is already written and I didn’t want to deviate from it too much.
The 3rd installment of the trilogy, “Into Darkness Once More,” was a horse of another color.  In this story, we revert back to a headless horseman (Yes!  That’s right, there is another headless horseman legend in the US), not from the revolution, but from the American Civil War and takes place in West Virginia.  And as we all know, not every story can have a happy ending.  Furthermore, the story takes a couple of drastic turns.  No more to be said on the subject now.

7. What are you working on now?

Right now, since I now find myself back in Afghanistan, it might be a good time to get started on a sequel to “Say Goodnight.”  The Sequel would have to pick up and go through the “Arab Spring,” just to bring me up to today, then bring me back here.
Naturally, I would draft my storyline to fit the day’s current events and happenings.  That’s what’s great about these types of novels, they write themselves!  All I have to do, is insert my characters into the real-life action and excitement, tweak the actual events and what happened, create a romance to add some sexual tension, etc etc.  It’s too easy.  Once I get started, the book practically writes itself!  All I need to do is find time to put it on paper.
And for any aspiring writers out there, that IS the toughest part!  Writers, write.  I’d like to get at least a minimum of two hours, just to get warmed up and allow the story to start flowing.  But that is going to be much harder than you probably think.  If you have kids, or a PAYING Job…  A friend or two, a family member in need…  You get the idea.

8. How can people find you?

Facebook:  I have my own Author’s facebook page, however I also have FB pages for each of my novels/novellas, and they are:

1)       Sweet Chocolate’s First Taste
2)       Say Goodnight
3)       Into Darkness Eterna

4)       Into Darkness Again

5)       Into Darkness Once More

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