by R.J. Merle
A dangerous conspiracy unfolds…
In Author R.J. Merle’s whirlwind start of the Children of the Elements series, a clumsy teenage techno-geek struggles to protect kidnapped children from a covert government organization responsible for creating their abilities to control the five elements.
A mighty wind…
Eighteen-year-old Stedford Thackett’s conspiracy theorist brother ensnares him in a real life children-as-weapons plot, while a determined scientist grooms happy-go-lucky five-year-old Darcie Lynn Carpenter to use the wind as a deadly weapon.
Out of control…
Despite the firm hand of Scientist Nora Hicks, Stedford struggles to rescue the kids and escape, even as Darcie Lynn fights to gain control of the surging power of the savage winds.
Savage Winds is currently FREE!
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Dead men don’t tell tales, yet the late project head’s records held revelations kept from Scientist Nora Hicks for far too long.
In an office deep inside an East Tennessee mountain, Nora snapped a black leather-bound book closed.
Except for the carved stone ceiling, the office mimicked a non-descript working office in Anywhere, USA. Bulky military-issue metal and wood furniture stood as a harsh legacy to the covert Secret City project and to the starkness of her life.
Sitting at the borrowed hulk of a desk in a dank underground office, she asked, “Why was this kept from me?”
Across the desk in a guest chair, General Gardner, with thin hair sprouts sprayed into place, said, “Ever since Oak Ridge existed but did not even appear on a map, the city continues to hold and foster more than its share of secrets. As a trusted senior scientist and manager of the project, Dickenson claimed you and your son were the only ones involved.”
“How long have you known there were more of us?” Her grip on the desk’s metal edge forced her gloved hands to stop shaking. The usual underground chill pressed into the heat of her temples and an off-putting tartness oozed over her tongue.
Were Scientist Daniel Dickenson not already dead, she would kill him with her bare hands.
–from Savage Winds
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing R.J. Merle author of Savage Winds.
Hi R.J. and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Author R.J. Merle stepped out of the realm of Top-Secret documents (shh, don’t tell…) to write sci-fi and paranormal fiction. R.J. survived and escaped both the entertainment field and the government-contracting environment, craves the Walking Dead, and entertains what-if tidbits about “supposed” technological and biological advances. No stranger to the goings on in the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, R.J. Merle blends a down-home flavor with a former in-the-know—hypothetically, of course—technical background to craft the twists and intrigue of Secret City Adventures.
What were you like at school?
Bookish. I couldn’t read enough or get my hands on enough to read. Favorite teacher: the school librarian.
Were you good at English?
My favorite subjects were English and Literature. Reading rescued me from at least some teen angst.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
My goal it to keep on writing and then write some more.
Which writers inspire you?
Prolific writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rush, and J.A. Konrath inspire me.
Give us an insight into your main character, Stedford Thackett. What does he do that is so special?
Each child and their individual element is featured in one of the books, but the main crossover character throughout the series is Stedford Thackett. Stedford is a techno-geek, clumsy, and despite getting wrapped up in a real-life conspiracy theory playing out in the East Tennessee Mountains, he keeps on trying to do what’s best. Of course, his choices don’t always work out, but that doesn’t stop him from focusing on making things right.
What are you working on currently?
Two books actually.
Legend Marsh is Book 1 of the Elven Quest Trilogy, which is about teens at an outdoor survivalist boot camp ending up in another realm with elves, trolls, and dragons.
The other is the first book in a series featuring psychically gifted teens that are auditioning for the lead roles in a ghost-busting TV reality show and their haunting adventures.
Which actors would you like to see playing the lead characters from Savage Wind?
Teen Wolf and Maze Runner’s Dylan O’Brien would make an awesome Stedford, while Julianne Moore would be great as Scientist Nora Hicks and a young Dakota Fanning would truly bring five-year-old Darcie Lynn Carpenter, the child featured in Savage Winds, the first book in the Children of the Elements Series, to life on the big screen.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
When not writing, even though my day jobs for the most part included excessive overtime, the stories demanded to be told, and I had to write them.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
The biggest thing I’ve learned about writing prolifically and productively is that even at 15 minutes a day, I can finish a book in a year. Each 15-minute increment creates more words and moves the book forward. So, I start each day by blocking the internet, setting a timer for 15 minutes, and then write in short stints throughout the day.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere. And, yes, even Hallmark commercials. Ideas are always there, it’s that there doesn’t seem enough time to bring all those story ideas into reality that’s a challenge.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I jot down major plot points, then a quick bulleted list for what action might happen in the current scene, then I write. The outline is fluid, and is frequently adjusted as I write.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Managing distractions and moving from of mindset of “finding” time to write to a “claiming” time to write approach.
Do you read much and who are your favorite authors?
When I’m drafting, I tend not to read because the cadences and style might leek over into the current manuscript. When I do read, I enjoy Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Hugh Howey, and Jodi Picoult for example.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Either eBooks or paper and hardbacks. Any format is great, as long I am able to read.
What are you currently reading?
Right now, I am reading Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series.
Tell us about the cover.
Deciding on the direction of YA covers is a challenge. If too cartoonish, they tend to look more middle grade or child-oriented and too gory tends toward being perceived as adult horror.
Who designed your book cover?
Towering Pines Publishing contracts cover designers, proofers, and editors.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your book?
In my opinion, unless a trailer is a high-end one, such as a video and a well acted one at that, there are many other ways to increase book discoverability that are much more effective, such as Goddess Fish Promotions.
Do you think that giving books away free works?
Giveaways tend to lead to an increase in notification list signups and possibly later sales.
How do you relax?
Reading and watching movies, but then my writer’s mind kicks in and I start dissecting plots and puzzling over the plausibility of character choices.
What is your favorite quote?
“This is how we survive: We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead.” – Rick on The Walking Dead.
What is your favorite movie?
My favorite TV series is definitely The Walking Dead. As far as movies, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hunger Games, and the Divergent series.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Also, the series is available on all major bookseller sites, such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.
Any final words?
A Word-o-Gram for the Children of the Elements Series would include descriptions such as Psychic Powers, Telekinesis, Apocalypse, Electro-Magnetic Pulse, Zombies, and Mutants.
I very much appreciate visiting your blog! Thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Author R.J. Merle stepped out of the realm of Top-Secret documents (shh, don’t tell…) to write sci-fi and paranormal fiction.
R.J. survived and escaped both the entertainment field and the government-contracting environment, craves the Walking Dead, and entertains what-if tidbits about “supposed” technological and biological advances.
No stranger to the goings on in the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, R.J. Merle blends a down-home flavor with a former in-the-know—hypothetically, of course—technical background to craft the twists and intrigue of Secret City Adventures.
R.J. will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.