By Basil Sands
Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to Steve P. Vincent, the author of the new action-packed tale of international intrigue ripped right from the headlines, THE FOUNDATION. Or as he is known in Big Time Wrestling “The Thrilluh from Down Unduh”!
Okay, he doesn’t actually have a Big Time Wrestling name, at least not that I know of. But if he did it would be something like that. He does have degrees in political science and history, though. His honors thesis was on the topic of global terrorism and he has travelled extensively throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia.
Steve lives with his wife in a pokey apartment in Melbourne, Australia, where he’s forced to write on the couch in front of an obnoxiously large television. When he’s not writing, Steve keeps food and flat whites* on the table working for The Man. He enjoys beer, whiskey, sports and dreaming up elaborate conspiracy theories to write about.
Steve, tell us about THE FOUNDATION.
THE FOUNDATION is a punch you in the mouth political thriller full of intrigue, suspense and action against a backdrop that’s all too plausible. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope readers are enjoying it as well.
It’s about the concentration of power in the hands of powerful organizations such as big business, the media, and think tanks, and what might happen when these powerful groups manipulate global events to seize power. One guy, Jack Emery, is dragged into a power struggle when one such group, The Foundation for a New America, blows up half of Shanghai, starts a war between the U.S. and China, and tries to use the chaos to take over.
What was your inspiration to write this first novel?
The first germ of the idea came about through a chat over beers with someone. We were talking about the power and size of the modern media, which led to hypotheticals about what would happen if the largest media organization in the world had its resources and influence subverted to some evil end. With a bit more kicking around, I had to figure out who would do the subverting. Not long after, The Foundation and Michelle Dominique were born.
For someone who does not live in America THE FOUNDATION has a lot deep insight into how the U.S. political machine seems to work. How did you do the kind of research necessary to portray such inner workings?
I have a deep interest in U.S. politics and also studied it at university. Beyond that, just a whole lot of Web searching and an editor with a sharp eye for anything I might have messed up. Rigorous research and as much authenticity as possible is vital for a book like this. Without it, there is a risk the reader gets pulled right out of the story. It never felt overwhelming, so of course I had to bite off more than I could chew for the sequel, which has a far deeper dive into the giant ocean called the U.S. political system.
Michelle Dominique is one seriously driven lady. Was the character based on a real person?
I’d like to say my wife, just for laughs, but she’d kill me and it wouldn’t be true. No, Michelle is from the recesses of my mind, which is a good thing because she’s a fairly scary woman. I’m really happy with how she turned out. She’s a fun character to write. I don’t like cardboard cutout “goodies or baddies” that you often find in the genre, and I’d like to think I’ve created a complex, nasty antagonist who has strong motivations and is fun to read.
Likewise with Jack Emery, in his case a pretty sorry case but strong when the chips are down. What’s the story behind the creation of Jack?
If Michelle is too nasty to be based on anyone real, then Jack is too mistreated. Honestly, he’s beaten and blown up enough that anyone he was based on would never speak to me again. Or they’d call the cops. Jack is a tough dude, though. He keeps getting up despite the punishment. It’s more fun to write, and read, a character that has setbacks and problems than the all-conquering hero with quarterback good looks and a white smile.
With a day job and a family going on as well, what is your writing process? When and where do you put your stories together, and how long did it take you to complete THE FOUNDATION?
It’s a challenge. Each extra hour at work, or at a social gathering, or sleeping is one less hour for writing. And I really like sleep. I try to make a bit of progress on a story every day, somewhere between 500-1000 words, then more on weekends. I’m also a convert to the “10k Day”—eight hours of writing in one day, with minor breaks and no distractions, where you punch out 10,000 words. It’s hard, but it can work for busy writers.
THE FOUNDATION took me about two and a half years to write, but I didn’t have my foot right down on the gas and took the time to get it right. I’ve signed up for two more books and a novella in the Jack Emery series, with much shorter deadlines. I’m plotting the story out more than I usually do, and it’s going well so far. The difference now is my publisher will start to work on a solid draft, rather than having to get it perfectly polished before submitting it.
Luckily the “family” bit is just my wife and a goldfish so far. The former is fairly self-sufficient, and the latter isn’t very demanding.
Are there more novels in the works?
Yep. State of Emergency is the sequel to THE FOUNDATION. It’s going really well and it should be with readers in June 2015. There’s also a prequel novella to the whole series that’ll come out around the same time, and a third full-sized Jack Emery novel a bit after that. Beyond that, like most writers, I have a million ideas, some of which I might end up using. One in particular I’m super excited about, but that’s a story for another day (or year).
And finally, the question by which our readers will define you to future generations. You are visiting a friend in the bush when a giant kangaroo named Berthold hops up to the side of your vehicle and motions for you to roll down the window. You do and he says, “G’day, got any Vegemite? I could really go for some Vegemite.”
You answer him then Berthold points to a large flying saucer hovering just above your vehicle. A pair of big-eyed aliens smile down at you from a porthole on the side and Berthold says, “They are looking for volunteers to go back with them. Shall I tell them you’re going?”
What do you do about his first request? And, how do you answer his second question?
Steve jerked the steering wheel hard to the left. The car responded instantly, swerving sharply to avoid the king brown snake coiled in the middle of the dirt track. Exhaling slowly and checking his mirrors, he was impressed by the amount of dust kicked up by his driving.
“Crikey!” He raised his sunglasses and squinted as he looked in the mirror again. He rubbed his eyes, then looked again. A kangaroo was approaching the side of the vehicle. It was gaining on the car quickly. Steve eased the car to a stop and wound down the window as the roo bounded up alongside.
The kangaroo held up a butter knife. “G’day, got any Vegemite? I could really go for some Vegemite.”
“Call that a knife?” Steve laughed, as he reached over into the glove compartment until he found what he was looking for. He held up the blade. “This is a knife.”
“Impressive.” The roo was taken aback. “I’m Berthold.”
“Struth!” Steve put the knife down, reached into the back seat and found his vegemite. “I’ve heard of you! I’d be happy to share my delicious, black yeast extract with you. Here you go!”
“Cheers!” Berthold took the proffered breakfast spread, but was distracted by something in the sky. “Hey, there’s some martians up there. They’re looking for some volunteers to go back with them. What should I tell them?”
Steve shook his head and gave a wicked smile. “Tell Admiral Ver’kol’chuck that the mission is not yet complete.”
*In case you didn’t know: A flat white is a coffee beverage developed in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. It is prepared by pouring microfoam (steamed milk with small, fine bubbles and a glossy or velvety consistency) over a double shot of espresso (sometimes ristretto espresso). It is somewhat similar to cappuccino or latte although smaller in volume, therefore having a higher proportion of coffee to milk (closer to a cortado), and milk that is more velvety in consistency – allowing the espresso to dominate the flavor, while being supported by the milk. (Wikipedia)
Steve P. Vincent lives with his wife in a pokey apartment in Melbourne, Australia, where he’s forced to write on the couch in front of an obnoxiously large television. When he’s not writing, Steve keeps food and flat whites on the table working for the man. He enjoys beer, whisky, sports and dreaming up ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to write about. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and History. His honours thesis was on the topic of global terrorism. He has travelled extensively through Europe, the United States and Asia.
He lives in Anchorage Alaska with his wife and teen sons.