A Conversation with Stefan Vucak, author of 'Cry of Eagles'


Stefan Vucak is an award-winning author of seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder which was a 2002 EPPIE finalist. His Shadow Gods Saga books have been highly acclaimed by critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award. Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and applied that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his books. Born in Croatia, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Stefan.  Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your book, Cry of Eagles?

As a kid, I liked doing things all other kids liked doing - until I discovered books. 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 effort, 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.

Q: How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?

Deciding on the title has never been much of a problem for me, and I always try to select something that will reflect the meaning and content of the book. With Cry of Eagles, having researched what Mossad is prepared to do to further Israel’s interests, even when that means abusing an ally, the title pretty much crystallized.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author.  What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

Marketing is an ongoing cross I am bearing. I am good at many things, and I like to think I am a fairly competent writer, but coping with today’s demands to market is something that is wearing me down. The social media outlets I use conform to what I am told everyone is doing, but I am not a marketing expert, even though publishers these days expect you to be one. It’s a grid.

Like most Ebook publishers, my publishers don’t really do much book marketing or promotion, although Solstice Publishing is excellent at providing its writers with advice. I use Twitter, Facebook, have my own website and blog and am a member of several writer groups. It is giving me visibility, but is not contributing much to my overall sale volumes. I will keep plugging away; there isn’t much choice.

Q: Open to a random page in your book.  Can you tell us what is happening?

Tom Meecham, FBI Special Agent, is sent to a blazing refinery in Galveston sabotaged by Mossad agents. Seeing the destruction, he marvels that anything is still standing. It is supposed to be a routine investigation as several workers were killed, but when he receives a call from Washington placing him in charge of a team to identify the saboteurs before the US can act, the FBI having uncovered Internet pages claiming Iran committed the act, Meecham is not sure he wants any part of it. The prospect of having to deal with inter-service politics, pressure from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, none of which enhances his cool. Having his girlfriend leave him hasn’t added to his day.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I have written two other books using characters from Cry of Eagles, and I am now working on the eight novel in my science fiction Shadow Gods series. After I finish that, I have an idea for another contemporary novel. We shall see...

Q: What is the one thing you learned about your book AFTER it was published?

I wanted it to sell better! But about the book itself, I guess I could have expanded some of the scenes, particularly the machinations in the Vatican.

Q: What is your most favorite time of the day or night to write?

I am a morning person, a result of having to get up early over the years to go to work. That discipline hasn’t left me and I still get up early. I am fresh and my mind is charged, ready to go - most of the time. I find I am most productive during the first half of the day. In the afternoon, I spend transcribing material from my notebook into the computer and doing initial editing. Although I don’t normally write in the evening, sometimes I do. It all depends on inspiration and what I am writing about at the time.

Q: What is usually better – the book or the movie?

So many factors go into that one! I cannot provide a hard rule, as it depends on the movie director how faithfully he represents a book. And sometimes, the movie is a much better rendition of the story, but not always. These days, with the emphasis on fast-paced action and special effects, not much time is devoted to the telling of the story itself, which can be disappointing, and the book is far more satisfying. Anyway, you cannot snuggle into bed with a movie...

Q:  You’re about to write your next book.  What did you learn from your previous book to help you write your next book?

I have found that writing is a craft where improvement is always something to be sought. As I continue to write, I like to think I am improving my skills, thereby hopefully giving my readers more enjoyment when they read what I have produced. Apart from perfecting the mechanical aspects of writing, there are always different ways to tell a story, but I try to stick with what works for me without experimenting or straying too far from that.

Q: Finally, what’s your best tip you can give to writers who want to be published?

If there is one thing I learned over the years as a writer, if anyone is contemplating taking this on seriously, he should be prepared to spend many lonely hours with a pencil and paper, and sitting behind a computer screen. There will be disappointments, frustration, angst ... and moments of sheer exhilaration and satisfaction when the words flow and the creative process produces something wonderful. Writing is a gift, but it can also be a curse. But once bitten with the urge to create, there is no cure.
  
Q: Thank you for your interview, Stefan.  Do you have any final words?

For me, life has been an accumulation of experiences and knowledge. I read widely across many genres, including non-fiction in many branches of the sciences. These helped me gather knowledge, which provides a store of information I can draw on in my writing. Looking back at my self over the years, I am a different person now, simply because of life’s experiences, and all of it has contributed in some way to being a writer.
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