Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Interview with R.J. Merle, SAVAGE WINDS

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Savage Winds (Children of the Elements, A Secret City Science Fiction Adventure Series, Book 1)

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.


The Children of the Elements are brought together and tested as weapons of mass destruction. Their struggle to free themselves and survive in the hostile East Tennessee Mountains creates massive chaos and threatens to bring about an apocalypse.

When nature, put into the hands of children that rule wind, earth, fire, water, and the void, refuses to be controlled, can mankind endure?

Five full novels, one huge story.

Savage Winds (Book 1)
Dire Rumblings (Book 2)
Raging Inferno (Book 3
Unrelenting Tide (Book 4)
Merciless Void (Book 5)

Do you have a favorite character?
Stedford Thackett, an eighteen-year-old techno-geek, is clumsy, socially awkward, and an unwitting advocate to free the children from their kidnappers. Harboring a love for burgers, pizza, and crunchy cheese snacks, he tries to save his brother and the children while struggling to survive. 

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Scientist Nora Hicks, an unwilling subject and accomplice to the Top Secret Project, started out as a minor character. Initially, I intended to feature only Stedford’s and the child of the particular element spotlighted by the book points of view, but Nora insisted on taking a leading role.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did initially pursue a traditional route and even received some top-agent interest, but chose to form Towering Pines Publishing and branch out on my own.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
The year that I finished my first novel; however, I chose another path.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
Towering Pines Publishing is my answer to branching into publishing.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
In the future, I would consider targeting a particular trilogy to traditional publishing and branching into the hybrid world of publishing, depending on the wording of the potential contract, to improve discoverability.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
I couldn’t fathom signing my rights away for a lifetime plus 70 years and getting paid pennies on the dollar when I could build self-supporting career by focusing on long-term goals.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Direct feedback and several choices led to a depiction of the elements on each cover, such as a tornado for Savage Winds.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I have been involved in critique groups in the past, but I much more appreciate one-on-one feedback of a writing coach or mentor, which has improved my writing skills and technique greatly.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
For the music I listen to, I tend to prefer the sounds of rainstorms and ocean waves. I write in 15-minute increments with stretch breaks in between.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I tend to jot down major plot points and jot down what might happen in the next scene. All plotting and planning is fluid; therefore, I adjust as I go along.

What’s next for you?
Currently, I have two YA books in progress with releases scheduled for this spring.

One is the first in an Elven Quest Trilogy featuring teens that go from a teen outdoor survival boot camp to a realm with elves, trolls, and dragons.

The other features teens auditioning for lead roles in a ghost-busting TV reality show and their haunting adventures.

Savage Winds and the rest of the Children of the Elements series is available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor, txtr, Overdrive, Flipkart, Oyster, Scribd, etc.

Buy Links:

NOTE: Savage Winds has been discounted to $.99 for the tour.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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.


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