An award-winning author, Stefan Vucak has written seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder, which went on to become a 2002 EPPIE finalist. Mr. Vucak’s “Shadow Gods Saga” books have been highly acclaimed by both readers and critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, has won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award.
Stefan Vucak leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and has used that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his novels. Born in Croatia, he now resides in Melbourne, Australia.
If you had to describe your book in two sentences, what would they be?
A Mossad black ops team sabotages a refinery complex in Galveston, plants evidence that incriminates Iran, confident that an enraged America will strike back in retaliation. But the Mossad team makes one small mistake, which the FBI exploits to uncover the plot before America vents its wrath on Iran and plunges the world into political and economic turmoil.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your current work?
“Remember that patch of sticky substance on the detonator casing? Well, I believe I found out what it was.”
“It’s adhesive residue from a sticky label.”
Tom frowned, completely thrown off the track. This was the big news? “You mean an ordinary office sticky label? You’ve lost me. What’s the significance?”
“Ordinarily, none,” Brian admitted with a small shrug. “But bear with me. I ran a sample through a mass spectrograph to identify the components. You see, most pressure-sensitive adhesives use a blend of rubbery elastomer and low molecular weight tackifier resin. The tackifier is used primarily to modify the viscoelastic characteristics of the adhesive. Commercially, these are mainly solvent and water-borne acrylic emulsions. You with me so far?”
Tom nodded. He’d been around forensic technicians long enough to understand most of the parlance. “I think so. These substances control the degree of stickiness?”
“Right. Simply put, they determine how well a label will adhere to a given surface, how long it will remain attached and how easy it is to remove. The adhesive is supposed to remain permanently tacky, but variations in material composition and manufacture processes mean that there is a degree of disparity across brands. Now, most PSAs involve a base polymer such as natural rubber that’s mixed with additives and tackifiers to produce the desired adhesion and peel value.”
“The effort required to remove the label?”
“Right again. You need to realize that PSA performance can be modified by environmental conditions, particularly temperature. Too hot or too cold and your sticky label won’t stick or will bind permanently. So, manufacturers have played around with emulsion acrylics to improve adhesion and peel properties. One material that’s being used is chitosan.”
Tom looked blank. “Come again? It’s been a while since I did chemistry, you know.”
Brian grinned. “Stick with me for a while longer,” he said and Tom rolled his eyes. “Chitosan is a relatively new development, traditionally used as a plant growth enhancer. The stuff is produced from chitin, the structural element in the exoskeleton of crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp and lobster. The material is also used in engineering water filtration applications. The latest such application is in medical bandages and homeostatic agents. But this is where things get interesting as far as we are concerned. Microencapsulated chitosan is now being used as an adhesive agent on sticky labels. The use is not widespread yet, but is gaining some exposure in Europe. Spectrographic analysis of our sample shows the presence of chitosan.” Peters sat back and beamed, waiting for Meecham to make the connection.
What are five important things that you take into consideration while writing your story?
I guess this is where my training in the IT industry comes through, the need for a disciplined approach to my work. In my writing, I follow the following basic rules:
• Jot down all the pointers/elements that will make up the book
• Thoroughly research all the story elements and develop the characters.
• Develop a detailed plot and outline.
• Start writing.
• Review, edit, rewrite, edit….
Oh, yes. When I’m done, I take a holiday!
Why should readers pick up your book?
Cry of Eagles touches a possible raw nerve, looking as it does at some of the history behind the Israeli/Palestinian problem, unwillingness by the American administration to broker a settlement, Mossad willing to do anything to further Israeli interests, how FBI operates, makes for what seems a unique treatment of the topic. Combining these factors into the mix, plus extensive research and not seeing anything like this on the market, it did not take me long to decide to write a book about it. I hope it is also an entertaining yarn.
What was the turning point when you realized you wanted to write and share your voice with the world?
As a kid, I liked doing things all other kids liked doing–until I discovered books, an illustrated copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas. After that, I was gone, lost in the universes those books opened up for me and dreaming of creating my own. I had a great time at school, even though English and its convoluted grammar rules did give me some trouble, but those rules gave me a grounding how to write. My first effort was pretty awful and I am glad it will never see the light of day. That thing went through two rewrites, but it still isn’t something I want to share. Call it my training wheels.
My first successful book, although not perfect, a science fiction work, was presentable and I tried for a long time to break into the traditional publishing market while holding down a demanding job in the IT industry, which kept me very busy. But writing has always been a passion and a drive, and I kept at it in my spare time. When ebook publishing took off, I at least got my books out to readers. I have been writing for more than ten years and still learning, but I like to think that my latest works are something I am proud to share. These days, I am no longer in the IT industry–thank God!–and I spend my time writing, reviewing and being a hard nosed editor.
What genres do you prefer to read? Which do you enjoy writing in?
Over the years, I have delved through many genres, from science fiction, techno-thrillers, naval historical warfare, many aspects of sciences, to the classics. All of them have provided me with knowledge and a background of information I am able to draw on in my own writing. I loved science fiction ever since I was a kid and have written seven novels in my “Shadow Gods Series”. It will remain a passion with me, but recently, I have delved into contemporary political drama, writing four books in that genre.
What five things would you have with you at all times if you had to be prepared to take a trip at the drop of a hat?
Apart from the obvious like passport, credit card, money and clothing, I could not travel without my writing pad. There are many lonely miles to any destination, time not to be wasted gazing out a window, especially if I am working on a project.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Shift through time would be something invaluable. The ability to roam through the past, see what the future has in store, have all my questions answered, that would be cool. It would also be neat seeing how my books are doing, and seeing books I haven’t written yet. A time paradox? Perhaps, but it would be interesting ability nonetheless.
What footprint do you want to leave behind in this world?
Hoping my books entertain, make people think, and my writing explores topics others have shied away from.