Today I’m interviewing H. Schussman, author of El Tiburon, an action/thriller due to release on Dec. 31, 2015 and available for pre-order NOW! I’m not wasting time with my words, let’s get to hers.
The first thing I would like to do is ask, why the CIA and an action thriller?
Gee, that’s a hard question. I don’t know why I picked the CIA. It was a toss-up between them and the FBI. I’m glad I chose them though because the CIA has so many covert sub-groups. As for being an action thriller… well, that’s just how Sean and Sport are. Never a dull moment with those two. (I do have a book on the back burner, which is more of a family generational saga, so I have other genres.) I seem to be attracted to the intense fast-paced genre. I write like I’m creating a movie script.
In my review of El Tiburon, I talk about your creation of legitimate women roles, was there a conscious effort to make certain these woman remained women and not men with women’s names?
It wasn’t a conscious effort, no. Until you pointed it out, I hadn’t realized I was unique that way. I was raised in a police family. When I was in my teens I wanted to be a California Highway Patrolman like my father. I still remember my father telling me that men and women are heroes in different ways, but equally heroic. I guess I let my heroines be women, because they are.
You do hands on research. What does your husband think of a woman that knows how to handle guns and goes into crazy parts of the world?
As I answer this, my husband is at the shooting range. He asked me if I wanted go, but I need to stay focused on this book release. I learned to shoot when I was five, and have always enjoyed researching firearms. I will go down to the range, and get brochures and handle guns to make sure I have a good feel for them. As for the traveling, he’s the ring-leader there. You’d be amazed at the crazy places he’s dragged me to. Both times we went to Guatemala, we stayed with local families in their homes for a month each time. We wandered the streets aimlessly looking for wine bars and new friends.
I’ve read that you and Sport McGee would be great buddies, what life experiences of your adulthood are found in Sport’s creation?
I suppose the fact that I work in a hospital as a physical therapist would put me in contact with the ‘Dr. McGees’ of the world. Maybe that’s why I de-glamorize her… make her more human.
I’m not quite as feisty as she is, but I’m not exactly a softy either. Like her, I like to work out and stay fit. As I stated earlier, I was a bit of a rough and tumble teen. My brother and I would physically fight fairly often while growing up, which endowed me with quick reflexes and a mean kidney punch. Her fight scenes are not far from my personal experiences.
On the intellectual level, I guess my mother and my mother-in-law both influenced my view of womanhood. They were both very intelligent and interested in politics and business. All in all, I think Sport would be fun to hang around with. I love her compassion and humor.
From what I can tell, you’re a seat-of-pants writer. You have a basic idea of what you want but the characters take over at some point. Can you give an example of a corner the characters wrote you into that you escaped?
Too many to count! I’m the ultimate scene critic. I can’t tell you how many times I just threw up my hands and said, “Come on you guys! Just kill the dude!” So then, I have to back up and justify why they didn’t kill off so-and-so while they had the chance. Or I just kill ‘em off myself and make Sport and Sean figure out what to do from there.
Who would you say is the one most influential person from your childhood that has an impact on your writing today? In that question, I mean as in your character development and interest, not so much writing style.
From my childhood, I’d have to say my father, Leo Schussman. He was my hero, but he’s really not any of my characters, oddly enough. I think he had a keen eye for crime. My Mom impacted my insight into character. She was incredibly creative and constantly made up stories. We called her, “Little Miss Adjective.” She would ask us to make up a story about some stranger at a diner to keep us entertained.
I mentioned in my review about the relationships in El Tiburon, are those aspects you were hoping for or side effects of the story itself?
They were natural side effects and often surprised me.
You mention the Guajeros* in El Tiburon, and in fact, they are a central part of it, are there things you are doing now, or ways you know of for people to help them? Also, tell our readers a little about them.
We have a church family in Guatemala City. I choose not to tell you who they are, as it could place them in danger with their government. The people group living inside the Guatemala City garbage dump are called Guajeros, or nicknamed the Cockroaches. Most third world countries have their ‘Guajeros’. This dump has over 11,000 people living there, inside the dump. 6,000 of those are children. At one point many years ago, a magazine article was written about them and their horrible living conditions. The humanitarian groups decried the situation, and the Guatemalan Government shut down all visitation from churches and relief organizations. They also built a wall between the garbage-homes and the garbage, so they could say the people didn’t live in the dump. Now outsiders need permission and an escort to go there.
The ways to help them are limited because of government suppression. One organization helping the Guajeros is http://www.safepassage.org/, A website describing the scenery is http://www.vice.com/read/the-basurero-is-burning-life-at-the-gates-of-hell-in-guatemala-city.
In this book, I allow them to come forth as strong characters, not pathetic wimps. I wanted to let the characteristics of ethics, honesty, and anger come forth in a real way. My desire isn’t to change them, but to allow ourselves to be changed by them.
How did you go from e-author to Vinspire Publishing author?
Smashwords is a great platform for getting your name out there. I made the decision to let my first novel, Counterpart (Sean and Sport’s debut), be a financial wash. I felt that having my book read was more important for a long-term career in writing. For that reason, I made it free for several years. I’ve had over 700 downloads, and 42 reviews at Barnes & Noble. I used that success to sell El Tiburon. I shopped around for a publishing company and loved Vinspire’s slogan; ‘Your Travel Guide To Adventure’. I researched the company and felt they would be a good match. I put a few of my reviews with my query and they accepted me. They are using my book to launch a new genre—Ethnic Romance.
I read where you used Operation eBook Drop** for promotion; can you tell us about how that worked for you with book promotion and audience reach?
Operation eBook Drop was proposed by Smashwords to its authors. I liked it because it helped our active duty military. They get books for free from any author who signs up for it. At that time, my book was a couple of bucks. I think it helped with sales. My books have a pretty strong military angle. There is no way for me to know who buys my book, but my blog ( dashingboldadventure.blogspot.com ) had a huge increase in foreign country page views. To this day, it will occasionally have more views outside of the US than inside. I have a strong readership in Russia and the Middle East.
You’ve written two books with these characters, the first being Counterpart, what are you working on now?
Pirates! Sean and Sport take a lesser role to Craig and a new character, Dan. Pirates is about modern day pirating starting off the west coast of Costa Rica and traveling to Italy. Right now, they are misbehaving and I can’t figure out what they’re doing. I may have to take over and rein them in for a tighter read. It looks as though this one is going to be my first non-conspiracy theory book… just good old-fashioned organized crime. But who knows?
One of the things I found surprising about El Tiburon was the story was different to me than what the book cover gave me the impression of. I ended up with a well paced thriller, squarely focused on the mission and not a man-saves-woman-and-then-sex or that chauvinistic vein of thriller.~Ronovan
Ms. Schussman is asking everyone possible to pre-order the book before the release date of December 31. All those orders will show up for that date and help make her book do great on the best seller’s list. (That’s what we all wish readers would do. It’s nice to have the best seller label to attach to a book.)
Connect with H. Schussman:
**According to Smashwords, Operation eBook Drop has ended, although you may find articles out there which say to the contrary and do similar things.
About the Reviewer
Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in Valentine’s Day of 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world led to the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.
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