Today I’m welcoming T. C. Isbell to my series of author interviews. T. C. is the author of Southern Cross, the first in the Prelude to War series.
A: Southern Cross is a World War 2 historical thriller. German agents Elsa Gable and Chris Schulte grew up together in a Germany ravaged by the Great War. They became inseparable as they matured into more than friends, more than family. They had a bond no one could destroy, at least that’s what Chris believed until the night of December 2, 1938 when a telegram arrived that changed Chris’ life forever.
A: Icarus Plot, the second novel in my Prelude to War series, takes place in Panama in 1940. Clive Smith, an MI6 agent, tracks a German spy, Chris Schulte, through the first book in the series. Clive is certain that the threat has not been resolved in Havana at the end of Southern Cross. He follows a trail to Panama where he discovers foreign and American interests are attempting to disable the Panama Canal and effectively divide the world in half. I hope to finish Icarus Plot before Christmas 2012.
Q: What drew you to this time period?
A: I have been an avid fan of World War Two history ever since high school. When I retired I started an in depth research project into the time period preceding Germanyfs invasion of Poland. Before I knew it, I was writing a novel that weaved the story of Chris Schulte and my other characters into my historical research.
Q: I see that you’ve written short stories in the past, can you tell us about them?
A: Yes, I have written a number of short stories. Presently, two of them, “Mattie’s Shoes” and “Surf’s Up” are available for Amazon’s Kindle. In “Mattie’s Shoes” a sixty-nine year old widow confronts a closet full of old shoes and old memories. “Mattie’s Shoes” placed in the 79th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the Mainstream/Literary Short Story category. In the other story Billy Bonzer, an old surfer from Southern California, learns a lesson about working for big business and big government by participating in an inner tube race.
Q: Enough of your books tell us about yourself.
A: Ever since childhood, I have been intrigued by the arts–painting, music, and writing. Starting in high school, I wrote short stories and poetry. In the late sixties I joined the Navy. During the Vietnam era I wrote a number of poems that were published in the Berkeley Barb. I may publish them as a collection sometime, but for now they remain locked away. After my discharge, I returned to college and graduated with a BA in mechanical engineering. I worked for the Navy repairing nuclear power plants until I retired in 2005. My first challenge after retirement was to learn how to not write like an engineer. My second challenge was to learn everything I missed while staring out the window during my high school English classes.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
A: First: sit down and write – write everyday. Set aside a specific time each day. Maybe in the beginning it’s just thirty minutes or an hour, but do it religiously. Soon writing will become a habit. Don’t get bogged down with creating the perfect sentence. Nothing is ever perfect to a writer. Write what’s in your head and sort it out later. Second: read books in the genre you write in. The authors you read have spent a lot of time learning their craft and have things to teach you. Third: consider, but don’t be deterred by the opinions of others – follow your dreams.
We have now reached the time in our interview for the let’s-get-to-know-the-author-better, nearly-pointless, sort-of-silly, rapid-fire questions:
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, I drink vast mounts of strong, French Roast coffee while I work. I don’t smoke, so I have to do something that’s bad for me. To paraphrase Mark Twain, when you get really sick, you need a vice to throw overboard to stop your ship from sinking. I guess coffee is mine.
Ocean or mountain?
Mountains – I was in the Navy for six years and have seen enough of the world’s oceans.
Hiking or shopping?
I enjoy hiking and climbing. I have climbed most of the volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range, including Mt Rainier.
Violin or piano?
Piano, but really harpsichord. In the early seventies when I lived outside of San Francisco I owned a Baldwin electric harpsichord along with an assortment of guitars and other musical instruments.
Mystery or fantasy?
Mystery, but actually both. I like writing mysteries, but I am working on a science fiction novel.
Hester Prynne or Scarlett O’Hara?
Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne for all of the contradictions in her life. Her story becomes even more poignant, considering today’s political climate.
Love scene or death scene?
Death scene – I think a richer palette of emotions from love to hate can be drawn into a death scene.
Thank you, T.C.
Thanks, T.C. !