Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting to Know the Brigadier General Author--A J Tata

Author of the Threat Series is With BRH this month...Let's find out a little about his background! Where are you from?


I was born in Norfolk, Virginia, but actually raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which I call home.

When did you start writing?

I have written ever since I can remember. I still have spiral bound notebooks with handwritten character development and book outlines from the time I was a cadet at West Point. I put my first manuscript together in the mid-nineties titled, The Last Gamble, about a West Point Heisman trophy running back who gets caught in a mob point shaving scheme.

Hmmm, looks like West Point inspired you to get serious! When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Ever since I can remember. The idea of being a novelist has been a life long goal. I can remember telling my father in response to the traditional, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question that I wanted to write books. I was 12 and he said, as only the son of Italian immigrants could, “You’ve got to put food on the table.” Which gave way to West Point instead of a liberal arts college. Now I’ve got all this great life experience which I can weave into the stories. It has worked out perfectly.

Your first book was planned as a series? What happens next?

Rogue Threat is out in stores now. It is the sequel to Sudden Threat. Matt Garrett continues apace. Hidden Threat is with the publisher, as is Dark Threat, books 3 and 4. I’m currently working on Certain Threat, book 5. No shortage of material.

Wow, I'm already looking forward to reading your future books...You say, no shortage of material, but share a little more about where your ideas and subjects come from?

I’ve always had a pretty vivid imagination and it isn’t too hard for me to look at something rather ordinary and think, “Actually you could do this and it would make a good story.” Of course an author brings to the story his own filters and lens. I always ask myself a question at the start of every book. For example with Sudden Threat the question was, “Why didn’t anyone try to stop the run up to the Iraq war?” With Rogue Threat the question was, “Whatever happened to those nasty weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?”

But, of course, your military experience would lend support to your asking those questions! Did writing come natural to you or is it something that you had/have to work on?

Both. The process has always been natural. The mechanics I had to study. Learning about character development and narrative drive were the two key building blocks for me. I read books, studied screenplay development and developed my own style of writing. I think I have a unique voice in the thriller genre because of my experience and my writing style.

Do you see your future writing coming from your life or from other people?

My writing comes from everything around me. I can go on a vacation somewhere and say, “This is the location for my next book.” And begin to truly get into the culture, topography, etc.

Did you go to school for writing?

No, but did a lot of self study.

Did you ever think you would have a successful series?

I always believed it, yes. I don’t think you can succeed in this business not having absolute faith in what you are doing.

Well, I agree with faith, but I also think you have to have some natural ability to write--I guess I've seen too many examples of some who might have had faith, but did not do the necessary self-study.  Sooo, who were the people or person that inspired you to write?

I read a lot of Stephen King as a kid. I also liked Thomas Wolfe and Ken Kesey. Today I read Brad Thor, John Lescroart, Michael Connelly, among others.

I think I'm one of the few who seldom read King, really prefer Dean Koontz's for his form of horror, although he himself doesn't think of himself as a horror writer.  Michael Connelly has a special kind of talent that is worthy of anybody's study who wants to write fiction, in my opinion. You have three books in various stages of completion, but how many different drafts of a manuscript do you go through before you publish?

Too many to count. I don’t do a detailed outline, so I’m shaping wood continuously. I’ll get part of the way through, go back and restart or add. I know where I want to go and sometimes I write forward chapters first. It’s never fully chronological. Once I think I’m done, I ice it for a week or so and then come back to it.

What has been your favorite story/subject that you have written about and why?

That’s a tough question because I like certain aspects of every book. In Rogue Threat, for example, the introduction of Peyton O’Hara, the Irish-American tough girl is an exciting addition to the Threat Series. In Hidden Threat, we get to know Zachary’s daughter, Amanda, in a suspense-filled journey.

It appears you are somewhat character driven...I think in reading I am also. If I don't like the characters, I tend not to get into the story as much. With as much writing as you are undoubtedly doing now, what kind of environment do you prefer when you’re writing?

Easy. The beach on Vieques Island at Tradewinds Restaurant and Guest House, conveniently owned and operated by my wonderful in-laws.

Wow...how cool! That sounds wonderful and you even give your wife a chance to visit with her parents! Tell me, What tips do you have for aspiring writers?

Write.

Ahhh, the practice makes perfect...except for somebody like me who hasn't the creativity for fiction writing! What is your favorite part and least favorite part about being a writer?

I’m not a big fan of the editing process, but thankfully I’ve got a great editor in Shane Thomson, who makes it fun, actually.

Where do you see yourself and your writing in 10 years?

Tenth book coming out as a NY Times #1 bestseller. Just Threat? Famous Threat? Ghost Threat?

Fantastic! I love confidence in your own work. I wish you success in that goal! But, what do you do when you get stuck in writing?

If I’m feeling creative, I write. If I’m feeling less creative, I outline. But I’m always doing something relative to the story.

How do you become knowledgeable about the topic you want to write about?

Massive amounts of research, interviews, personal visits to the location. I try to make it as authentic as possible.

Have you ever wanted to quit? What did you do when that thought struck you?

Never occurred to me.

With that answer, I'm now also confident that you'll reach your goal! Tell us what are you working on now?

Certain Threat.

Does your story/subject change direction after you have begun writing it?

Frequently. It is a lot like I imagine acting may be. Once I have a character on the page, he/she takes me where they want to go in the scene. The dialogue is theirs, the action is theirs, I’m simply recording.

It always excites me when an author responds with something like your answer. For those of us who read about those characters, we love them, but just can't imagine how you reach a point where the character takes over!

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date?

Finishing four novels and having two of them published. Sudden Threat spent a great deal of time on the Amazon Top 100 best sellers list and Rogue Threat appears to be off to a good start as well.

Congratulations on the Top 100 List ranking! Readers, following is A. J. Tata's fantastic web site location (you can click the article title to get there right now!).

www.ajtata.com

Do you see yourself continuing to write?

I can’t stop myself.

Nothing to say after that response! Thanks so much for sharing with us today Tony! Talk to you soon!