Gilbert M. Stack is the author of the fifth story in the Pembroke Steel series, Riddle of the Deceiver. Mr. Stack, welcome to my blog. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself? How did you start your writing career?
Thanks for having me, Laurie, it’s a pleasure to be here. I always enjoy the opportunity to talk about books. As to how I got started, I’ve been writing since I was a small child, but I got more serious about my fiction while I was in graduate school. It’s very draining writing a dissertation and my fiction writing was a very pleasant escape from the academic work. It also gave me a reason to look in my mailbox for something other than bills. It was mostly rejection letters in those days, but that’s part of the game. After each rejection letter, I’d update my spreadsheet tracking my submissions and send the story out to the next publisher on the list. Strange as it sounds, it was an enjoyable process.
Did you get a lot of rejections?
Everyone gets a lot of rejections when they start out. That’s just part of the business. Overtime you start to get encouraging rejections—letters in which the editor writes a personal note to you telling you your latest story was almost what they were looking for. Then suddenly you have a contract in your hands and they’re not only telling you they want to put you in print but they are willing to pay cold hard cash for the privilege. It really is an exciting feeling—one I hope that all of the aspiring authors reading this get to feel one day.
You’ve been published in both print magazines and through online publishing houses. Which do you prefer?
They’re both great ways to reach an audience. The publishing venue for each of my works really depends on what kind of story I’ve written. One isn’t preferential to the other. It’s all about finding the right audience to match each story.
That makes sense. Your latest story, Riddle of the Deceiver, is part of an historical fiction series, Pembroke Steel. Why don’t you tell us a little about it?
Riddle of the Deceiver is about two men, Mitch Pembroke and Kit Moran, who can’t seem to keep themselves out of serious trouble. They are looking for a young school teacher who went missing from a small logging town in Maine in the mid 1920s and very quickly they discover that everything is not as it seems. For one thing, she’s not the only person to go missing. For another, there is a legendary creature who is supposed to prey on townspeople who stray into a nearby valley and Mitch and Kit keep getting the idea that the townspeople think this creature might be responsible for the disappearances. Of course, there are more mundane theories as well, but part of the fun in reading a Pembroke Steel story is that you never know if the threat will actually turn out to be paranormal or not.
Is it more difficult writing a series or a standalone story?
Both forms have their challenges. In a series the challenge is twofold: you have to keep your stories consistent with everything that has already happened and you have to make certain that the new book can stand completely on its own. In other words, it has to add to what has already happened, but it can’t depend on any of those things.
With a standalone story you have to make everything from scratch. To give an example, in my next Pembroke Steel story, Overboard, Mitch is going to go on a cruise with the woman (and her family) that his wealthy father is pushing him to marry. I’ve already written five stories with Mitch in it, so it wasn’t hard to figure how he would act in this situation. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. In a standalone, that isn’t the case. I have to craft every person and location from the ground up.
Which do you prefer writing?
Series get written about characters whom fate is not finished screwing over. Things happen to them in your head and keep happening until you sit down at the keyboard and type out their next story. My standalone characters are luckier. For whatever reason, they have earned a chance to rest—at least until I wake up at three in the morning with a sudden idea of something terrible that can happen to them…
Thanks for joining us. Do you have a website where we can find out more about your books?Sure, it’s gilberstack.com. I hope to meet you all there.
Riddle of the Deceiver
Gilbert M. Stack
When Mitch Pembroke and his bodyguard, Kit Moran, agree to help their housekeeper find her daughter, they get more than they bargained for. Miss Egan is not the only resident of her Maine logging town to have gone missing in recent weeks and her terrified neighbors are desperate for answers. Are the disappearances really tied up in an old Native American legend or is there a more sinister solution? Time is running out. Can Mitch and Kit find Miss Egan before they too end up victims of the Deceiver?
Gilbert M. Stack has been creating stories almost since he began speaking and publishing fiction and non-fiction since 2006. A professional historian, Gilbert delights in bringing the past to life in his fiction, depicting characters who are both true to their time and empathetic with modern sensibilities. His work has appeared in several issues of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and is also offered at Red Rose Publishing. He lives in New Jersey with his wonderful wife, Michelle, and their beloved son, Michael.