Monday, October 1, 2018
Interview with author Michael Shusko
Evil Winds: Tradecraft Phase Two
1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
Not too unlike the main characters in my book who were inspired to act after witnessing atrocities committed in front of them, I draw inspiration from my experiences. They’re the basis for my writing. The things I’ve seen through my travels, the people I've met, the stories I've listened to others tell, the events I've witnessed — I’m moved by these interactions. I feel compelled to write about the world I live in and I want these stories to be heard, so I share them — albeit through the lens of their fictionalized retelling.
2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
Evil Winds explores the current plight of Darfurian refugees through the eyes of the displaced Darfurians themselves, as well as those who would both help and harm them. It shines a light on the humanitarian crisis currently occurring in the region in an effort to make that a greater part of the global political conversation.
Its target audience encompasses pensive readers who appreciate realism and want to know more about the world around them. My books are works of fiction, but the characters, emotions, struggles and scenes are plausible, realistic and identifiable to the reader. I hope to stir the reader’s emotions as well as stimulate his or her intellect through thought-provoking, realistic thrillers.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
I hope that when my readers put down Evil Winds, they do so with greater understanding of the bigger picture, which is that people are living their lives throughout the globe in much the same way, even if their circumstances are different. The experience of good and evil, of love and despair, is universal — and each person is trying to make it through their day in much the same way, trying to meet their basic needs and achieve their dreams of a better life.
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Develop a routine and schedule protected time to write every day. Keep true to your passion and never give up on your goals. Like many writers, I have had my fair share of rejection letters. I analyze the advice and criticism I receive and use it to improve my writing, but I never allow external feedback to derail my goals of bringing my finished story to the readers — and neither should other writers.
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I can be a bit old-school in my thinking about books and book publishing, and so I've been very surprised by the success the ebook versions of my Tradecraft thriller titles have seen. In the beginning of 2018, I ran a promo in which the first title in the series, Vector: Tradecraft Phase Zero, was free to download on Amazon for 5 days — and over 4K people downloaded the book. That was shocking to me. And I think it really means times have changed. People are reading ebooks more and more these days, and these digital version of print books certainly aren't going away anytime soon.
6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
I struggled to find an agent early in my writing career. It was at a time when my writing skills were not as developed as they could have been, but I learned greatly from the process and focused on improving my writing through workshops, conferences, and reading. When I finally found an agent, our goals were not aligned so I chose to self-publish. It’s been a long road, but I’ve been happy to maintain my own voice and style as my writing has matured.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
The topic is relevant and provoking, not only emotionally, but intellectually — and it's exciting. In the book, an eager young journalist and a disillusioned NGO doctor make it their mission to reveal the truth in Darfur regardless of personal or professional cost. The characters are sympathetic and the story itself both entertains and informs, while remaining realistic and relatable. People should pick Evil Winds as their read this month if they want to both be entertained and gain a deeper insight into a part of the world they may not know much about.
About Michael Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM: He is an author, medical doctor and decorated Marine and Naval officer who has worked on intelligence and medical missions across the globe. Fluent in Arabic, he holds a bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers University, Medical Degree from Wake Forest University, and Masters of Public Health from Harvard University. His Middle Eastern experience and language skills coupled with his background in special operations and intelligence keep him busy deploying around the world and he has been awarded the Bronze Star twice for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently lives in Japan with his wife and 18-year-old triplet sons. For more info, please see: http://www.michaelshusko.com/
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