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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Interview with author BC Tweedt


Greyson Gray: Rubicon


1.      What inspired you to write your book?
As a veteran youth worker, former middle-school teacher, and husband of a youth director, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by off-the-wall characters whom continually inspire my novels. It was my first-year as a sports camp counselor that I realized that I was in a literary gold mine. The kids who were put under my care were wacky, daring, witty, and ridiculous. I began writing the greatest hits with each weekly batch of new kids.

Soon, the camp setting inspired the plot. The kids were learning new sporting skills every day, with majors and minors in every sport from rugby to skeet shooting. I thought, what if these goofy kids used all their newfound skills to defeat bad guys? When I placed today’s bad guys (terrorists) in the camp’s abandoned observatory and pushed the characters towards them, the first book wrote itself. Then, when I heard secessionist threats in the news after Obamacare’s passage, I knew I had a unique direction for the series to take: the kids would dare to stand up to terrorists who wanted a new civil war.

2.       What is it about?
Greyson Gray: Rubicon, the fourth and most intense installment of the series, follows Greyson through an America on the edge of civil war. With the country suffering from the fallout of a crippling new law, neighborhoods are divided, nationwide protests grow, and threats of secession from the terrorist group Pluribus increase. To make matters worse, Pluribus and its “Wolf teams” are working on a bold, crippling attack they hope will send the country over the brink.

When the paramilitary group Rubicon calls Greyson to mission, he must wield new ammunition and work with friends across the country—both old and new—to face the threat. In a frenzy of explosions, deadly drones, and dazzling cutting-edge technology, Greyson must fight the terrorists on urban streets, atop snow-covered mountains, and in towering skyscrapers, culminating in a journey that challenges Greyson to his core. 

3.      What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
While the book is primarily a fun adventure with intense action and witty humor, it is also real and relevant, addressing serious questions from a youth’s perspective. My hope is that it inspires kids to ask serious questions about the course our society is taking. Though the book includes bad people on both sides of the political spectrum, it illustrates that there are clear dangers to an increasingly large and invasive government. In the same way, it shows that violence is rarely the right answer. At this point in the series, I want kids to ponder the purpose, scope, and size of our government.

Another hope I have is that readers will be inspired by young Greyson’s courage and integrity. From the beginning he dares to do what is right, no matter the costs. He not only fights bad guys, he fights to find the truth and to find what’s good. The youngest generation needs this attitude more and more. When truth and goodness is so hard to find, they need to be motivated to fight to find it. Merely “googling” the answer is not enough for the toughest questions. Also, when Greyson knows something bad is going down, he uses whatever he can to try to stop them. He doesn’t care that he is a kid. He doesn’t rely on adults to stop the bad guys. He merely fights for what he believes is good and accepts the consequences later. How many of today’s kids would sacrifice something for a cause greater than themselves? How many are so devoted and dedicated to do so? My hope is that many will see Greyson do so at age twelve and follow suit.

4.      What advice do you have for writers?
Let real life inspire you more than books and television. You want a unique voice with fresh content, so find unique places and people and spend time with both. Of course, don’t give up reading and watching, but understand that everything you take in may become ingredients for the next book. Do you want the recipe to use natural and organic ingredients, or processed and packaged ones?  

Also, if you want to have a lucrative career in self-publishing, be prepared to spend a lot of money in marketing. While there’s a very small chance you’ll make it big just by posting serials or by making social media accounts, there’s a slightly bigger chance if you hire an editor, a cover professional, a publicist, a website designer, and a weekly masseuse (or therapist). The influx of self-published authors is a double-edged sword. Your voice is ever smaller, and the pool of people seeking your money is ever bigger. Start saving your money as you write your first best-seller.

5.      Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I’m eager to see enhanced e-books improve—especially the ones that can synchronize music with the reader’s reading pace. I’ve dreamed of this possibility because I recognize the impact that music has on the story-telling experience. Movie soundtracks are integral in creating an enhanced emotional experience, and it is a tool that has long been denied to books. Though audiobooks often utilize music, I look forward to seeing more creative and quality uses of soundtracks integrated with the reading experience.

This may be a decade or more away, but I could see the print industry beginning to adopt some technology as well. Publishers know that print is not going away; too many readers love the feel of actual books (myself included). So why not make the best of both worlds? What if you can plug earbuds into a print book to hear its paced soundtrack or its audio version? What if the book kept track of your pace like a reading Fitbit? What if you could immediately review the book via fingerprint scan on the back cover? As technology begins to integrate with our bodies, it should also meet our books.

6.      What challenges did you have in writing your book?
Rubicon was the most difficult book to write so far, both technically and physically. First, I had to attempt new things as an author. I knew I wanted a year to pass between the time the kids arrived at their new camp and the time Greyson departed. How do I choose what was important enough during that year to expound on after the lapse? How many flashbacks are acceptable? Will it feel like we are starting a whole new exposition phase after the lapse? Another technical issue was the length. At over 450 pages, it’s a big book (but not nearly as big as Harry Potter’s 636-page fourth book), and it’s expensive to print on CreateSpace ($16 is the cheapest I can charge – boo!).

Physically, this book took me nearly two years to write. I blame my 8-month-old son and the preceding pregnancy. Place this alongside a shifting day-job situation, 450 pages to edit, and attempts at marketing the first three books, and you have an author trying to stay afloat as he types.

7.      If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
No other series on the market has gritty action that Publishers Weekly calls “high-octane” mixed with humor ForeWord Clarion declares “genuinely funny.” Even if they do, it won’t be set in a present-day America with real, relevant issues like drone-warfare, tolerance, religion, terrorism, and more. This isn’t a typical dystopian. It has fun, sarcastic characters who can certainly be light-hearted, but then it sets a spark to the world that sends it spiraling toward a civil war. What happens to these light-hearted, normal pre-teens when their world grows more dangerous? It’s a slow-burn toward dystopia that is more frightening—because it’s happening today. And it’s more fun, because the characters are still kids on the inside. Overall, it refreshes a genre that is going stale.

Also, boy-heroes are harder to find in today’s market. Greyson is fun to root for. Like Indiana Jones, he has signature gear (a fanny pack and red hat), a signature weapon (a slingshot with different ammo), and great sidekicks (including a German Shepherd). Like James Bond, he gets to play with high-tech accessories—such as a personal drone. And, like many heroes, he is daring—willing to risk it all to do what is right.

So if readers are ready for a pre-dystopian adventure with a boy-hero who inspires kids to do what is right and good, no matter the costs, this is the book they should buy. They will not only be on the edge of their seat, they’ll be laughing, crying, and rooting for the hero inside themselves.

Plus, it’s only $4.99 on Amazon.

B.C. Tweedt lives in North Liberty, Iowa, with his wife, Julie, and their son, Maverick. When he’s not working on his next book, Tweedt volunteers at his church's youth group as a mentor of young boys, several of whom served as the inspiration for characters in The Greyson Gray SeriesRubicon is the fourth novel in the series, preceded by Deadfall, Fair Game, and Camp Legend. Tweedt plans to continue expanding the series, following Greyson as he grows up in an increasingly divided and threatening world, and is currently working on the fifth Greyson Gray novel.

For more information, connect with Tweedt on his website, or through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, LibraryThing or LinkedIn.

Greyson Gray: Rubicon is now available exclusively on Amazon. It will be available online at Barnes & Noble and iBookstore in November 2016.

To learn more on how to promote books, read my greatest blog posts from the past five years and 2,000 posts:

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.

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