Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Steel Deal by James Blakley | Interview |Featured Author

At 55, big city sleuth Sonny Busco is sinking deep into debt and distrust when suddenly he's thrown a lifeline. The chief assistant to a prominent university professor offers $2500 for safe delivery of a confidential briefcase to Santa Fe, NM. Sonny accepts, thinking it's easy money. That is until he learns of the case's contents: an amazing alloy called sentient steel. Soon, Sonny risks life, liberty, and property to keep the revolutionary invention from falling into a wicked whirlwind of men and women in black, whose mission is to secure sentient steel for what appears to be the other side. But in a city full of smog and cynicism, things are rarely what they appear to be.

Enter to win a signed PRINT copy of The Steel Deal PLUS a $25 Amazon Giftcard. Sorry! US ONLY
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Giveaway ends March 3rd 11:59PM CDT.


My review has been published on Night Owl Reviews,
 and just posted on my blog HERE.


What do you think makes a good story?
Entertainment AND enlightenment. By enlightenment, I don't mean necessarily introducing some high-brow subject. Maybe it can be showing the reader a different point of view, a different locale, or even a new twist on an old idea. And entertainment values I like include character development, great dialog, and well-placed action, instead of action-driven plots (where characterization tends to take a backseat).  
Tell us about your current release.
It's called "The Steel Deal" and focuses on an older big city, small fry P.I. named Sonny Busco and his struggles to save his client's briefcase. A beautiful, but deadly, woman-in-black called 'Delilah' wants the briefcase's contents "sentient steel" out of the way and isn't above resorting to rough or foul play. So, can Sonny Busco save the day?
"The Steel Deal" is mostly an updated film noir type story, with lots of character development and subtext. Despite some added 60's spy flourishes, it's reminiscent of a Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler mystery. And visually, "The Steel Deal's" main characters better-fit hard-boiled stars like Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall--albeit a black or brown-skinned Bogie and Bacall, as one of the modernizations in my noir novel is racial and multicultural sensibility.
Who are your books published with?
Inkwater Press. They're a Portland, Oregon-based small press that packs the punch of a big Madison Avenue firm, with first-rate editing, advertising opportunities, art design, and administrative support. I am forever grateful to them for accepting "The Steel Deal" and helping to promote it and make it available on an amazingly wide scale.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
Certainly. First, I thank God for giving me writing talent; next, for giving me a wonderful family that includes two wonderful, hard-working parents who raised me and supported me when I was nothing; and for a talented brother and sister and now, an energetic nephew. Both of my parents realized our gifts early in life. As for mine (creative writing and art) they encouraged me to develop them by taking me to libraries, art galleries, etc... I am also lucky to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who helped guide me down the right paths. 
My many public grade school, junior high, and high school teachers were extremely helpful--especially those in the gifted and honors programs. They provided a valuable creative and critical thinking environment that helped give my writing meaning and depth. I also appreciate my college professor-advisor giving me the opportunity to write and edit journalism, which introduced me to a broader audience and won me my first significant writing awards.
And there are any numbers of friends and colleagues whom I've bounced story ideas off over the years, and learned from their responses.
What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?
Playing and watching sports. I religiously played baseball into my early 20's--even lettered in varsity baseball. Since then, I've switched to amateur fast-pitch softball. It's more stable, in terms of finding regular competition; and more challenging, as almost everything is shortened compared to baseball (from the dimensions of the field, innings, etc.).
Unlike movies, where you can pretty much predict how things will unfold, sports are less predictable. Like life, there are unforeseen situations that defy the odds and give underdogs the upper hand or award the unworthy, while shafting the superior player or deserving squad. Take football: Who could've predicted the perennial playoff pick Colts' fall from first to last without Peyton Manning; or the hapless Broncos' rise from worst to first with Tim Tebow (who won an NFL game though completing only 2 passes)? Or in boxing: Who thought Buster Douglas would knock out Mike Tyson?
Pro and amateur sports are thrilling to play, and often as nerve-racking to watch!

What was the scariest moment of your life?
Six years ago, I was driving alone from Kansas to Missouri for Christmas. It started out cold and cloudy, but bottomed out into a blizzard with "thundersnow." That's a rare event where thunder and lightning accompany a snow storm.
The main interstate was shutdown (due to a horrific, quarter-mile pileup caused by the weather). So, I took a back highway. And for about 70 miles, I crawled along mostly isolated, rolling prairie at 20 mph because the road wasn't cleared. I couldn't stop for fear that my car (which had over 140,000 miles) wouldn't restart. I mostly "felt" my way through, remembering how to navigate the terrain from clear conditions.  So what was normally an hour and a half trip took nearly 4 intense hours. But I survived. And arriving home safely early that night was my greatest Christmas gift!
Do you have a milestone birthday coming up? If so, how are you approaching it?
I recently turned 40. Raised as a fire-and-brimstone Baptist, I was taught that the end is always near. "Here today, gone today," was a popular saying of several local pastors.  And coupled with having grown up in the climax of the Cold War--where we still did "duck-and-cover" drills and learned where to "relocate" if a nuclear strike hit nearby missile sites-- I expected to die young.  A small part of me still does, with Jesus dying at 40- something as well as MLK, JFK, and RFK. But after several end-of-the world predictions fell through, I quit worrying about it. Instead, I just remembered a Bible verse that says something similar to: "A day to the Lord is 1,000 years...”  That's about 41 years an hour to make the most of!

What is the next big thing?
Finishing, and then shopping, a screenplay version of "The Steel Deal." The novel is quite cinematic, with its Bogart meets Bond blend of hard-boiled humor, intricate mystery, and vivid adventure. I also have several short stories that will take time to develop into novels. 
As for the bigger picture…life? The next big thing is just taking each day as it comes. Remembering all the while that I have at least 1,000 years every day I'm alive to make the most of.


James Blakley was educated at Missouri Western State College and Washburn University. While at MWSC, he was a local and national award-winning columnist and co-editor of "The Griffon-News".

Blakley worked 10 1/2 years as a page and as an Assistant Librarian for the River Bluffs Regional Libraries of St. Joseph, MO. He currently lives in Topeka, KS where he worked for The Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library before spending several years in clerical and customer support capacities for international computer companies such as EDS and HP. 
Find James Blakely online:

Goodreads  |  YouTube  |  Shelfari  |  Amazon 

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