Monday, April 29, 2013

Randy Rohn: Hang On Sloopy

I just learned that one of my Dreamspell colleagues passed away today. I am reposting an interview I did with Randy back in 2011. Randy, you will be missed by all of us at L&L Dreamspell. 
Rest in peace, my friend.

 My guest today is Randy Rohn, author of HANG ON SLOOPY.

Thanks for dropping by the blog, Randy.

Thanks for having me. I was over at facebook and thought I’d drive over and visit you. Wow. It was quite a trip. I had to travel through MySpace and that was some desolate territory. Bumpy road. Nothing going on.Nobody around. Google+ is a gated community. They wouldn't let me drive through so I had to take a detour and went through an industrial park called Linked In.
By the way, these cookies you just served are delicious! Mind if I have another?

LOL! Be my guest. They're sugar-free, and I think you've had enough sugar this morning.
Randy, let’s talk about your books.

Book, singular. I’ve only got one out. It’s called Hang on Sloopy. I’ve been in many short story anthologies including, I’m proud to say, “The Best American Mystery Stories, 2009” which was quite an honor.

It certainly is! Congratulations! Tell me about Hang On Sloopy.

It’s a horror/suspense/humor novel. It has as a Hannibal Lechtor-type character who’s really quite chilling. But the horror is leavened with a good dollop of humor.

Thank goodness. I like for my horror to have humor;-}Where did you come up with the title?

The hero in the book is a big fan of 60s garage rock. He owns four jukeboxes filled with 45s of that glorious three-chord music. He rekindles a romance with an old high school flame. Her name is Susan LouisePetrie, but his pet nickname for her is Sloopy. Of course Sloopy is based on that great song by the McCoys. The book is about a race against time as the Hannibal Lechtor character is determined to do Sloopy harm. Adding to the mayhem is a crooked police chief who has the hots for Sloopy, a not-so-bright convenience store robber, a genius computer hacker and a group of farmers who get together to drink Bourbon and smoke belladonna on a Saturday night.

Seems like some odd characters, Randy. I love odd-balls!

Interestingly enough, some of the oddest are based on people or groups of people I've met in real life. I've spent much of my life living in smaller midwest towns. And these towns were not Mayberry. The people aren't quite as conservative or as homogenized as one would think.

I know what you mean. I'm a small town girl myself and I find plenty of character traits to use in my mysteries.

Hopefully, readers will find my book fun and suspenseful. A great end-of-the-summer read.

Sounds great to me. Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

Yes. It’s available in all formats. I would buy two copies, because you never know when you're going to forget and leave a copy at work or on the bus. Plus, I've heard rumors that S &P considers Hang on Sloopy a great investment, triple A. And, you know, those S &P guys are tough cookies. They just demoted the United States to double A-plus. If you buy a dozen or so copies, you can store them in your safety-deposit box or under the mattress or wherever and in ten years they'll be worth something. So, Hang on Sloopy is not only great entertainment, but a hedge against inflation.

Speaking of cookies, you can't have any more! And stop drinking caffeine!

Seriously, Randy, we all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I’m sort of stumbling my way through that. I have a lot of book signings lined up with a half dozen libraries, and several bookstores---remember them? I also sent press releases out to newspapers and magazines. I’m going to try and get on some radio. And I’m going to keep on reading things like your blog to see what other authors do and see if it works for me.

Thanks for reading the blog. I hope it helps you and others. Don't forget to check out Blog Talk Radio, where many authors interview other authors and industry experts. But don't have caffeine and sugar before you go on the air;-o You can Google it or find some on Facebook and, another great site.
Randy, where can folks learn more about your books and events?

I have an author’s page on Amazon. I’m going to have a website, but right now it’s under construction and the crew seems to be taking a long lunch hour. Hopefully, they’ll get back to it soon and it’ll be up in the not-too-distant future.

Can you tell us about current or future projects?

Yes, I’m working on a sequel to Hang on Sloopy with the same protagonist. My plan is for Hang on Sloopy to be the start of a series. Right now the working title for the new book is I Fought the Law.

Thanks for stopping by to chat, Randy. You're a trip;-)

Thanks for having me. You have a very nice blog here. I love what you’ve done with the place. Mind if I grab another cookie before I go?
Since you're leaving, it's okay. LOL.
Oh, and would you validate my parking?

James Martin's Warsaw Conspiracy

James Conroyd Martin is a novelist and longtime teacher of English and Creative Writing in the Chicago area. Some years ago he spent time in Los Angeles studying screenwriting, but the diary of a friend’s ancestor led to his writing PUSH NOT THE RIVER and his return to the Midwest.

Welcome to the blog, James.
How many books have you written? 

THE WARSAW CONSPIRACY is my third novel. All three are historicals set in Poland.

Please give us a short synopsis of it.
The Warsaw Conspiracy unfolds as a family saga set against the November Rising (1830-1831), partitioned Poland’s daring challenge to the Russian Empire. Brilliantly iIlustrating the psyche of a people determined to reclaim independence in the face of monumental odds, the story portrays two brothers and their fates in love and war.  Michał is a seasoned veteran soldier, cautious of the evolving conspiracy;  Józef, his much younger brother and impassioned cadet, finds himself caught up in the vortex of a daring plot to abduct the Grand Duke of Russia. With Siberia or emigration to France looming as heart-rending contingencies, matriarchs Anna and Zofia stay steadfast in their resolve to steer the clan through ever-muddying waters.

Do your characters take on a life of their own?

Absolutely!  No matter how I may wish to outline the full book, it just doesn’t work out.  The main characters will speak to me as the plot is unfolding.  They inform me what it is they want to do.

Which is your favorite?

The most interesting ones are cousins Anna and Zofia, who are about as alike as Scarlett and Melanie.  By the way, PUSH NOT THE RIVER had been likened to a Gone with the Wind set in Poland. Then again, Anna’s two sons Michał and  Józef and their love, despite their differences, provide compelling interest.  

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

Getting published was a long and circuitous route taking me through three agents, a failed publishing company, self-publication, and then success with St. Martin’s Press and bestseller status in Poland with translations of the first two books.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration?

I did travel to Poland prior to publishing the first, and it was exhilarating to find myself in the same places of which the diarist had written.  Anna and Zofia were eyewitnesses to the massacre of 12,000 citizens who were trying to cross a bridge from the suburb of Praga over the Vistula River and to the safety of Warsaw’s walls. To stand in that very location so many years later was chilling.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far?

I’ve learned how writing can affect people in dramatic ways. My fans are passionate. It’s humbling. actually. For example, coming across a young couple who had named their young son after a baby born in Push Not the River astonished me.

What advice can you give new writers?

My advice is to first wait until you’ve honed your skills;  don’t rush to the publication stage.  Second, read as much as you can in your chosen genre.  Last, persist, persist, persist. 

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

 I’m well into the first draft of my fourth novel, also set in Poland but going back to the 1683 Battle of Vienna, more than a century before the setting of my first book.  It was there that King Jan Sobieski and an international force saved Christian Europe from the Turkish invasion which occurred, incidentally, on September 11.  The Boy Who Wanted Wings follows a young boy who wishes to become a Polish Hussar, a lancer who rode into battle with a device of eagles’ feathers at his back, thus frightening the enemy and their horses alike. His chance of becoming one—and winning the love of a noble’s daughter—is complicated by his peasant status.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website, currently under construction, is I have both a friends’ site and a fansite on Facebook and the invitations to both are open.

Are your books available in print and e-book formats?  

All three books are available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. 

Amazon purchase site: 

James, it has been nice to learn more about you. Happy sales!