Today I welcome author Eric J. Gates to my blog. His latest thriller, Outsourced, was released in the fall of 2014.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an ex-Consultant who was specialized in Information Technology Security and I used to travel extensively internationally to undertake secret and confidential assignments for my clients. Now I can write about some of the events that I’ve been involved with in my thriller novels – What? You thought they were fiction?
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think there was a specific moment when I started to think about myself as a writer. By age eighteen (that was the week after the dinosaurs died out) I had already written a full-length spy novel and over 200 short stories. My profession involved a huge amount of ‘wait’ time in airports and hotels worldwide, and this was a great opportunity to write too. Most of what I did during that time in terms of fiction, I consider ‘polishing my craft’. I did have a large number of non-fiction articles published in several languages though. Perhaps, with the completion of my ‘2012’ novel back in 2006, I could be officially called a writer then. The seven books that followed (at the time of writing) seem like a confirmation of my sins.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
My real life has practically been a thriller novel, so there is a huge amount I can draw from in terms of experiences. Occasionally I do allow a trait of mine to escape on the page in the form of a character’s way of doing things, but I have not modeled any specific person in my novels completely on myself. I do have an extensive training in over twenty combat (i.e. not competition-oriented) martial arts too and of course all the fight scenes in my books are based on real techniques, as is much of the computer-stuff I use in the thrillers. Scary, isn’t it? No, I’m not Jason Bourne!
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
At the time of this interview, I am working on Book four in ‘the CULL’ series. It will be called ‘the CULL – Blood Demon’ and will see a major rift between the two protagonists of the previous books. Katie Lindon is confronted with undeniable evidence her colleague, Amy Bree, murdered one of their team members from Book three. Katie tries to clear up the matter, but is having doubts whether she can trust Amy. Meanwhile she herself becomes the target of someone’s deadly agenda in Rome and Amy, back in Washington, is tasked with investigating who is killing people in the Witness Protection program. Bullets, intrigue and mayhem galore as in the previous three books in the series… oh, and vampires too!
What kind of research did you do for your last book, Outsourced?
Outsourced was a challenging novel to write. You might be mistaken for thinking that as an author of thriller novels, writing about a fictional Thriller Writer would be an easy proposition. Okay, maybe that bit was a breeze, but then I had to complicate matters by adding an ancient Tibetan myth and Quantum Mechanics into the mix. Don’t worry if you are not scientifically-minded; the techy parts are simply explained and don’t get in the way of a great fast-paced romp in New York. I did have to deeply research both the Tibetan angle, and received a huge amount of support from the Dalai Lama’s people, and the physics. But it did have a positive side: if they run out of particle physicists on the Large Hadron Collider, I’m available.
Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?
One of the ‘blackest’ moments is when the professional assassin breaks into Phil Beasley’s (the writer) apartment. There we have this stone killer searching the empty apartment (after killing two people to get there) when Beasley turns up. As I was writing this scene, I kept asking myself how I could ramp up the tension even more, so I had the hard-nosed, covert government agent, Bridget Mason, arrive there at the same moment, knowing the killer was present. Chaos ensues! Shots are fired. You’ll be biting your nails with this one.
Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
I wanted the tale to have a particular ending yet I decided that everyone was going to double-cross everyone else shortly before this. It’s curious how none of the amazing reviews I am receiving for this novel have yet picked up on the way I incorporated a reference to the cat in the box controversy (you need to read the novel to understand this) in the twists that develop near the end of the book. Was it in the box at the cafeteria, or not? Intrigued? Good, go read the novel! When I decided to play with that little moment, the ending took a slight tangent from what I had originally thought, yet, as my way of writing gives freedom to do things like this, the novel is all the better for it.
If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
Well, I’m not going to choose the thriller writer from Outsourced – too many bad things happen to him! Maybe, if a gender-jump is allowed, I could be Katie Lindon from ‘the CULL’ series – she’s an ex-NSA special operator with outstanding computer skills – sounds more like something I could do.
If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?
As I’m slowly revealing in my thrillers, the world where they take place is the same, present day, place and time. There are subtle crossovers in the novels, if you look for them, although I was a little more blatant about one of these in Outsourced, it wasn’t the only one in the book. It’s the world we live in today, just with a ‘touch of strange’.
Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?
As someone born in the UK, I have discovered I am genetically unable to write unless a constant supply of strong Tea is at hand. A few donuts help too.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
I would love to meet again the late John Gardner. I had the privilege of meeting him and corresponding with him when I was starting out on the writing road and his advice was so clear and useful, I still follow his guidelines today. I’d love to be able to thank him personally for the writer I have become; he had a lot to do with how I developed my own style of thrillers over the years. The other person is Charles Dickens. He’s someone whose combination of great tales with deep social comment has always impressed me.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
Well, I’ve already mentioned the martial arts, so that’s not completely surprising. How about I love to cook? I lived in hotels my parents managed when I was a young lad and used to haunt the kitchens and have kept up my interest in cooking. I’ve never been formally trained as a chef but my Boeuf en Croute with Marsala Sauce has garnered a serious reputation, even though I say so myself! And as a bonus fact I’ll mention I’ve collected over 28,000 recipes from places I’ve visited too. Is a cookbook in the future? Maybe another thriller with a chef as protagonist? Provisional title – Killer Cookies! Time will tell.
Outsourced features a New York-based writer of thriller novels who receives a mysterious package from a fan. That fan turns out to be a professional killer. That’s just the start of the writer’s problems; problems that escalate way beyond anything he could have imagined on the pages of his novels, as death and destruction follow rapidly.
Just when matter cannot get any worse for the novelist, he learns a high-tech Intelligence agency has been tasked with obtaining the contents of the package too, and they will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. They have their own global agenda. The agent assigned to the task is out of her depth working on US soil and her methods are unsuited to a civilian environment. As pressure mounts for her to achieve results, she becomes more and more radical in her approach.
And, if that’s not enough… the sender wants it back, and his methods are even more direct and violent! He believes the contents of the package were used to try to kill him and his aim is to recover them and exact his revenge on the writer.
About the Author
Eric J. Gates has had a curious life filled with the stuff of thriller novels. Writing Operating Systems for Supercomputers, cracking cryptographic codes under extreme pressure using only paper and pen and teaching cyber warfare to spies are just a few of the moments he’s willing to recall. He is an ex-International Consultant who has travelled extensively worldwide, speaks several languages, and has had articles and papers published in technical magazines in six different countries, as well as radio and TV spots. His specialty, Information Technology Security, has brought him into contact with the Military and Intelligence communities on numerous occasions.
He is also an expert martial artist, holding 14 black belt degrees in distinct disciplines. He has taught his skills to Police and Military personnel, as well as to the public.
He now writes thriller novels, drawing on his experiences with the confidential and secret worlds that surround us.
You can purchase Outsourced on Amazon.