TAEM- Over the years The Arts and Entertainment Magazine has had the pleasure of introducing authors from all over the world to our readership. One hot bed of literary talent is our own next door neighbor, Canada. Recently we were introduced to an extraordinarily talented writer, Xander Richards.
Xander, we understand that you were living in Europe before you moved to Canada. Please tell our readers about this aspect of your life.
XR- Yeah, one morning I opened the curtains and Canada was outside! Before that I lived a very humdrum, ordinary life which was totally unremarkable. I did some video, graphic design, a lot of driving jobs… heck I cleaned cars, sold disco gear, fixed computers and delivered pizzas. The countryside was nice though. Canada, for me, has been a spectacularly good move.
TAEM- What fascinated you to choose writing as a career ?
XR- I didn’t choose it; it chose me. Seriously though, I had this story idea that wouldn’t go away for two decades. So I decided to write it and then I guess I wanted to explore where it could go, you know; push the door to see if it opens. I could never have imagined how positive the reactions have been – that’s amazing. So that was the launching point and now I’m forging a career out of it by accident rather than design I guess!
TAEM- Many of our readership consists of students from universities around the world. Please tell us about any educational preparation that you undertook to create your writing style.
XR- Someone once said ‘to be a music maker, you have to be a music listener’. Now, whilst I can’t claim to be either terribly well educated or to have an Einstein-level intellect, I’d say that the very same axiom would be true about writing. If you’re not a reader, it would be very unlikely for you to become a good writer. Thankfully, I’ve always loved having my nose in a book and it’s served me really well for writing one. Beyond that, I spent time studying up on sentence construction, grammar, punctuation – all the meat and potatoes stuff. Judging by what I read online, the English language itself is changing faster than ever these days and I think it’s in danger of losing a lot of its beauty. I’d like to see that trend reversed, so I’m trying to do my bit.
TAEM- What writers have been your greatest influence in your early writing development ?
XR- Clancy, Cussler, Fleming, MacLean and so on – all the espionage guys, but it would be unfair not to mention folks like Arthur C. Clarke, C.S. Lewis and Niven and Pournelle. Actually I feel like I owe Jk Rowling a big debt of gratitude because her rags-to-riches story with Potter really inspired me to get writing. I’m very inspired by filmmakers too – Cameron being the prime example.
TAEM- On a personal note, who is your greatest supporter ?
XR- My greatest supporter is without doubt my wife Mindy. She’s been amazingly cool in giving me her dispensation to pursue this dream. I could not ask for a more loving and well-matched life partner.
XR- Thank you! It’s a nuclear hijack scenario; an action movie in a book. It’s kinda like a James Bond story, but in my world you get three agents for the price of one – and no invisible cars. COAST stands for Covert Operations And Surveillance Team, and these are the boys that are given the job of retrieving the stolen warheads before someone enters a major city toting a nuke. In our world the nuclear threat has never gone away. There are certain well-funded groups and rogue states who could potentially deploy nuclear weapons. The novel explores this possibility but sets the stage for further stories with the same crew. COAST operatives do stuff that both civil intelligence agencies and military forces do, which makes for an interesting mix.
TAEM- The story is an excellent example of the Thriller genre. Was the story based on real events, and if so what were they ?
XR- Thank you. I’m treading a very fine line here, because I don’t want to get any old mates into trouble with their COs. The events in the book may bear some similarities to certain highly classified special forces operations, but I’m afraid I can’t be more specific than that.
TAEM- Do the protagonists in the story represent anyone you know with similar experiences ?
XR- Again I’ve got to be careful. The answer is yes, they do, but I can’t get into specifics. I’ve already provoked some interesting reactions from certain quarters. One guy actually showed up at a book signing and threatened to punch my lights out. That was a tense moment.
TAEM- Who have you dedicated this story to, and what importance does it hold for you ?
XR- I felt that an appropriate dedication would be to soldiers, airmen, sailors, peace officers, special agents and anyone else who puts themselves in the line of fire for us mere mortals. I have nothing but respect for those folks and whenever I meet one I make a point of thanking them for their service, which is the very least I can do. I further dedicated the book to the memory of my dad Rex, who was one of them.
TAEM- Please tell our readers about some of the recognitions and revues that Coast: An Act of Burial has received.
XR- The comment reviewers and readers make all the time is that it’s like watching a movie, or it should be a movie, or when is the movie coming out, or it’s like a movie playing in their head. Now, I take that as a huge compliment because that’s how the idea came to me. But some of the other comments have been very kind too. People really like the characters, despite their obvious flaws. One young reader told me she was in love with McKinley, which made me grin! But I guess the big news recently has been the CBC Bookies Awards, in which ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’ won the award for the book you couldn’t put down. That’s a tremendous honor and a humbling privilege and, again, a comment that I frequently hear from readers.
TAEM- Where can our readers find this book, and who is the publisher?
XR- I’m published through CreateSpace, who are an absolutely brilliant bunch of people and they’ve been so helpful. The best place to buy the book is my online store at http://bit.ly/spythriller, but there’s a whole list of different outlets and options on my website, http://spynovels.org, for both printed and ebook versions.
XR- I’ve got my head stuck into the first COAST sequel right now and I’m having a ton of fun playing in that world again. I also have to turn round an instructional book this year and I’ve always had a hankering to do a sci-fi story, even though the development of real-world technology has exponentiated so far these days that traditional sci-fi is pretty much dead in the water. The COAST sequel is really eating up a lot of my brain run-time though. It’s got a much wider geographical arc and is somewhat creepier than the first.
TAEM- In reading your book I have found a high potential of it being made into a film. Are there any prospects on the horizon to having a film being created from it ?
XR- I’ve been approached by two movie producers, and my awesome publicist Rachel has made the introductions with a company whose sole aim is to get books made into movies – they write the treatments, queries and stuff for you. It’s early days yet, of course, but seeing ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’ on the big screen would be my greatest dream realized. Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone like Peter Jackson made it? Holy cow man, I’d do aerobatics!
TAEM- Xander, you are a truly gifted writer, and I want to thank you for the time that you spent on your interview with our publication. We wish you the sincerest luck in all that you do, and hope to hear more about you in the future.
Thank you so much for both your generous comments and the interview! You’ve got an awesome website and it’s been a blast. Contra omnes dissident!