Interview with Richard Hacker, Author of ‘Chain Reaction’
After living many years in Austin, Texas where he worked as a leadership coach, public speaker, and management trainer, Richard Hacker moved with his high school sweetheart to Seattle in 2009. With the focus shifted to his writing, his first novel, Toxic Relationship, was a 2011 Writer’s League of Texas (WLT) finalist, where in addition, Shaper Emergence won best novel in the Science Fiction category. In 2012, Champagne Books published Toxic Relationship followed by two more Nick Sibelius crime novels, Dirty Water (2013) and Chain Reaction (2014). He is currently working on fantasy thriller entitled The Five Pens of Johann. Richard is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. When not writing, Richard likes to take walks with his writing partner, a Springer Spaniel named Jazz, who helps with proofreading and ball fetching.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Chain Reaction. When did you start writing and what got you into the crime genre?
Thanks. I think I became interested in story telling and writing when I hit the third grade. Other kids would bring a butterfly or a souvenir from Disneyland for show and tell. I’d bring a short story to read to the class. Okay, I also brought a squirrel skeleton (don’t ask), but most of the time I’d bring a story.
I’ve been a fan of a niche in the crime genre which instills some humanity and humor into the characters, even the criminals. Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty), Carl Hiaasen (Skin Tight) and going back a bit further, Donald Westlake (God Save the Mark, The Hot Rock) tell stories with quirky characters who, even if filled with larceny, have some likable human qualities. I’ve approached Nick Sibelius’ world in a similar way. While some characters are truly evil, many of the criminals are well-intentioned people making bad choices. Besides, what other genre would let me create characters such as a cycling fanatic eco-terrorist, a failed dentist toxic waste dumper, or a wealthy healthcare mogul hellbent on creating the sovereign nation of Texas?
Texas provides a rich environment for the Nick Sibelius series. Chain Reaction builds on two ideas. First, Governor Rick Perry called for Texas to secede from the United States. Really. And you don’t have to look far to find a conservative politician suggesting the state would be better off by itself. The second idea is the increasing development of drone technology which is already in use on the border of Texas. Add a fictitious wealthy healthcare executive willing to put his money and influence toward an independent nation of Texas and the story almost writes itself.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
I work on manuscripts five days a week for four to six hours. The work consists of writing, revising, researching, revising, sketching characters and settings, revising — did I mention revising? Typically I start with a story idea and begin to sketch out some characters, settings and write a few scenes. I’m essentially writing my way into the story. I used to be rather organic about it—i.e., doing whatever came to mind. Now I’m much more methodical. I develop a detailed outline of story by act and plot point. Then I write the scenes, adjusting the outline as the story develops.
How do you define success?
Before I had anything published, I defined success as creating my art to the best of my ability. Many great artists in various mediums never met commercial success, and many more fell into obscurity. If you walk into an art museum, you will see a collection of great work created predominantly by men. I can’t help but think of the women who either never had a chance to create their art or whose art has been hidden from the public. But the creation itself and the sharing, even if it’s with only one other person, is success on a creative level. Beyond creative success, many writers, and I include myself, think getting published is success. Until you’re published. Then what? Personally, my goal hasn’t changed since the third grade. I am successful when people read and enjoy my stories.
In terms of the business and my strategy as an author, I do have what the business community calls a BHAG — a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. The BHAG I put in front of myself is to write best sellers that get turned into blockbuster movies requiring me to give speeches at the Oscars.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
Getting lost in a story, being surprised by my characters, researching odd things like body decomposition, explosives, the characteristics of fox urine, drone technology, expensive shot guns, radio controlled airplanes, how to drill a hole in the door of a Ferrari…I could go on. I have a feeling there’s someone in Homeland Security assigned to monitor my google searches.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
My website is www.richardhacker.com and the blog can be found there as well. Please come by, leave a comment. You can also find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RWHacker and GoodReads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6557734.Richard_Hacker
Where is your book available?
Chain Reaction is available as an ebook at your favorite digital retailer including Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
Here’s what comes immediately to mind. Never stop learning, seek out honest critical feedback, be courageous, and most importantly, be persistent. Never give up.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=B00IQZ7HES]