Welcome Chuck Waldron, author of Lion’s Head Deception, a dystopian story about an investigative blogger who uncovers more than he ever imagines…and has no idea what to do with his discovery.
“I grew up,” Chuck says, “listening to my grandfather, an Ozark Mountain story teller, spinning tales of the caves on his farm, describing them as hiding places once used by the Jesse & Frank James’ gang. It didn’t matter if the stories were true or not. Those legends set fire to my imagination, creating images that emerged slowly over the years, finally igniting as my short stories and novels.”
Now, 30-plus short stories and three novels later, ideas keep coming, with more novels under development each one with its own unique voice and tale to tell, yet, at their heart his stories tell about the human condition – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Chuck’s literary roots were planted in the American Midwest and thrived when transplanted to the rich, cultural soil of Ontario. He and his wife, Suzanne, are now warmed by the sun on Florida’s Treasure Coast.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Lion’s Head Deception. When did you start writing and what got you into writing a mystery/thriller?
I think I’ve been writing stories in my head for as long as I can remember. That turned into true creative writing with my first class on writing short stories. That class was in 1989 and my very first short story was later turned into my first novel, Tears in the Dust. I have always been interested in exploring a storyline where there are tensions that exist between good and bad. That seemed a natural lead-in to writing mysteries and thrillers. My protagonist is never larger than life. I like to capture the idea of how ordinary people might react to extraordinary events.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
I have to honor the memory of Henrietta Blake, my first teacher. Her grounding in the basics of writing a short story has proved invaluable. Brian Henry, Canadian literary blogger and teacher has played a part. I was also nudged along by Masha Hamilton, author of the thriller, 31 Hours.
Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
Of course. Who hasn’t? I would like to say that the words have always flowed like cool water from a clear, deep well. Having slept through much of my high school English classes — however — I have to admit to being grammatically challenged. That will always be a struggle for me, figuring out where those darned commas do and don’t go.
The biggest struggle is trying to herd my characters; sometimes it’s a lot like herding cats. They seem to have a mind of their own and my challenge is to get their ideas crafted in a well-told story.
What was your inspiration for Lion’s Head Deception?
The government and police response to the 2010 G-20 economic conference was my initial inspiration. The Conservative Federal Government wanted to showcase Canada and Toronto. It was the fourth meeting of the G-20 heads of government. According to some estimates more than 10,000 uniformed police officers, Canadian military forces and security guards were deployed. It was the largest and most expensive security operation in Canadian history. A security perimeter was established and residents living inside that zone were required to have government issued registration cards and be able to produce two pieces of photo identification. Thirty eight checkpoints controlled entry into the security zone.
They installed closed circuit television security cameras and used long range acoustic devices. In spite of the precautions there was extensive rioting. Many innocent men, women and children who were peacefully participating were drawn into the storm. When the rioting began uniformed police officer wore tape over their badges to prevent identification.
Was that response justified? What about the data collected on thousands of peaceful protesters?
This seemed to play into the larger post 9/11 discussion on balancing privacy and personal freedoms with the perceived need for greater security.
I began to see a story in that news, but the story isn’t just about Toronto. I made up a fictional city, believing it allowed for a scenario, a story canvas, about something that might happen anywhere (in fiction…that is).
What do you tell your muse when she refuses to collaborate?
When my muse refuses to collaborate I take her for a long walk. She usually convinces me that she is right, and I need to get back to my keyboard. I refer to her as “she who must be obeyed.” Any lack of product on my part is usually my fault. Sometimes it’s too easy to catch a favorite TV show, go out for dinner, or take long naps.
I have a sign on my wall with 25 excuses for not writing. There are days when I use them all and little writing gets accomplished. But when the story takes over I am immersed and quite disciplined. I have learned to trust that when I’m not actually writing I am thinking about my story.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to write. Can you relate to this?
My anxiety isn’t a problem when I sit down to write. The vague anxiety usually comes to me in those thoughts I have between sleep and waking up. I sometimes find myself tossing and turning in bed as I try to tease a story.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
I’m pretty disciplined, but when I’m searching for words I can become distracted. For some reason I find my thoughts get sorted out when I am taking a long walk. Then there are the 25 excuses for not writing I mentioned above.
How do you celebrate the completion of a novel?
There are three distinct completions for me. The first is when I hit the enter key on the first draft. That calls for a glass of wine. The second phase is completing the “sweaty stuff,” the rewriting. That celebration calls for dinner and wine. When it’s finally approved and in print I celebrate by combining all of the above and adding a glass of serious champagne.
How do you define success?
When a reader tells me they enjoyed the story. Everything else is the cake and that is the icing.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
I thought about that a long time and finally decided it was the chance to make stuff up. Along the way it has been a joy to meet some interesting characters that have populated my stories. I long ago gave up trying to figure out where they came from.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about and your work?
Readers can check up on me here. I hope they like what they find when they get there.
Where is your book available?
Lion’s Head Deception is in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats. It’s available online at Booklocker, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and for my Canadian readers at Chapter/Indigo.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
How honored I am when someone decides to spend their valuable time reading one (or all) of my novels. It is my fervent hope that the time wasn’t wasted. If you like Lion’s Head Deception you are invited to visit my website to see if you might be interested in my others.