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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Interview with Peter G. Pollak

House Divided

About the Book:
In House Divided, Peter G. Pollak’s 88,000-word thriller, Leonard and Alison Robbins disagree how big a mistake their college student daughter is making by joining the radical Students for Palestinian Justice (SPJ). Alison believes Courtney needs to be allowed to make her own decisions, but retired CIA agent Leonard Robbins, who heads up a counterterrorism task force, fears she’s being used. Neither, however, foresee the real danger. Anti-Israeli terrorists are recruiting SPJ members to bomb Jewish organizations. Can Robbins’ task force find and stop the terrorists before they claim more innocent victims? Will Courtney Robbins figure out the truth about SPJ before it’s too late? House Divided is the story of a war no family should have to fight.

About the Author:

I'm passionate about writing stories. I can't not work on them to make them the kind of book I'd want to read myself. I drove myself to finish my latest--House Divided--because I believe it's a story that needs to be told. Let me know if you agree.

When I stopped working 9 to 5, I made a commitment to finish at least one of several ideas I had for novels -- some of which I had started in the last century. Getting positive feedback from readers of my first finished novel, The Expendable Man, I decided to keep writing. I'm hard at work on yet another story having finished five novels in 5 years.

What did I do before I "retired"? I was a journalist, educator and entrepreneur as well as Little League coach, civil rights & anti-Vietnam activist and yoga practitioner. All those things plus reading, reading & more reading gave me the courage to do what I'd wanted to do since I was a teenager.

Welcome to my blog Peter.  Please take a few minutes to answer a some questions about your latest book for my readers.
Q: Tell us about your latest work?
A:  House Divided is my fifth thriller. I wrote it because I'm interested in how families deal with serious issues about which they disagree. In this case, I escalated the danger involved by introducing an element of domestic terrorism.
Q: What draws you to your genre?
A:  Thrillers give me a chance to explore how crises impact people's lives. Two of my first four books involve police detectives––one a rookie, the other a man recently retired––confronted by unusual cases. Two feature businessmen who face life-threatening circumstances. In House Divided, a family is divided over the boycott Israel movement that is spreading on American college campuses. Introducing terrorism raises the stakes. All five stories give me a chance to show people rising above their circumstances when the stakes are high.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: When I decided on a story I want to spend a year working on, I've already written several pages exploring the main conflict. At that point I do begin an outline process by which I plot as far ahead in the story as I can, knowing I'm likely to have to revise and expand later on. I use the outline to keep moving forward, but am willing to stop and revise if I write myself into a corner or see a better path. One key element to my plotting is that I have a vision of the ending before I start. When writing mysteries or thrillers I think it essential to know where you are going in order to avoid wasted time and effort.
Q: What kind of research was involved?
A: I believe location an important part of a good thriller or mystery and so I research my locations thoroughly in person if possible or extensively online if I can't go there in person. I also research aspects of my stories where I lack personal experience using online sources and my local library. For example, in the story I'm working on now I had to learn something about modern car accident investigation procedures. I found a college where people are trained to do accident reconstruction and borrowed some of their terminology and procedures to make my story more believable than if I had just made it up.
Q: How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A: I was in the audience at the Tucson Festival of Books a couple of years ago when someone asked that question of Diana Gabaldon. Some of me is in all of my characters, she said. That's my answer as well.
Q: How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A: Writers who want to have a successful career need to treat their writing time like they would a paid job where they have to show up or be fired. That said it is important to take a long view of relationships. So when your grandchildren visit as mine did this past two weeks, I don't expect to get as much done as normally.
Q: Have their been any authors in particular who inspired your writing?
A: Hundreds, starting with Thomas Wolfe whose novel Look Homeward, Angel inspired me when I was a teenager. Writers need to be voracious eclectice readers. I'll read almost any genre if I think the book has value.
Q: Is there a story you want to tell about your work?
A:  No
Substitute question: Why do you write?
A:  The simple answer is that what makes me happy is when someone tells me they like what I've written. I write to entertain, but also with a point of view, which is that each of us has a little hero inside of us. Sometimes it's necessary for circumstances to bring that hero out into the open.
Q: What other projects are you currently working on?
A: I'm half way through my sixth thriller which addresses the following 'what if' statement: What if the son of the president-elect knows his father is an agent of a foreign power?  After I finish that I'm going back to work on an epic fantasy I started many years ago and had to put aside to regain perspective and also to work on two thrillers I knew would be successful.
Q: Which marketing strategies are the most effective?
A: I have built a base of readers from family and friends, many of whom have purchased and read all of my novels. I also rely on a number of independently owned bookstores in communities where I am fairly well-known. Book signings have not always yielded big sales, but they help the stores and every new customer counts. I can't say I've solved the problem of gaining readers through online marketing. I would rather spend time writing than responding to other people's tweets. That said, earning reviews from people who have a following is important because it's as much about establishing relationships as making sales.
Q:  What would be the top things you would tell aspiring authors?
A: 1) Don't think everything you do has to be perfect. Put it out there (with beta readers to start) and see what happens.
2) That said, your first draft is never good enough. Revise until you think your draft is ready, then get feedback, then revise again.
3) Use a professional editor. You may have to pay for editing, but asking the public to read an un-edited manuscript is like serving a half-baked cake.
4) Join a writers group.
5) If you are convinced you want to become a writer, take it seriously. Tell people that's what you do; establish a place to write where you're free from distractions; write every day if possible; and take other people's feedback seriously.
Thank you for such an interesting interview Peter.  I look forward to reading and reviewing House Divided. 
Learn more about me and my books @

Available at:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace

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