Monday, April 07, 2014

Talking Books: A Conversation with Glenn Ogura, author of 'Startup'



Glenn Ogura earned a degree in electrical engineering from Queen’s University in Canada. He is currently the executive vice-president for a New Hampshire-based laser micromachining company. Glenn lives with his wife in California.  In addition to his love of writing and talking technology and the study of business ethics, he plays tennis. Startup is his first novel.

Visit his website at www.glennogura.com.



Welcome to The Writer's Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
When I started writing the business thriller Startup, I was working in California’s Silicon Valley. Everyday I would meet with people in Silicon Valley. You would see bizarre events unfold in front of you. You would see the pain on people’s faces. You would hear them talking on the phone to their families about how they lost their job. You would see a tenured employee being escorted out of the office, dismissed on a trumped charge that was not right. You witnessed meetings of CEOs treating employees as cattle. You listened to conversations in the elevator, after work in a bar about the eroding morals and ethics of people. People were facing moral dilemmas of keeping their job to support their families or to take the high road and quit.

There was a story to be told.

And once I started to research the book, I met lawyers who told stories of corrupt CEOs and what they did to their employees. And soon it became obvious that for every public story of a corrupt business practice, there were ten-fold more stories that were not disclosed—and my guess more horrific and shocking than anything I could write.

Startup is a blend of fact and fiction. Although the actual companies DisplayTechnik and Imagination are fictitious, many of the events in the book did happen.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
Since I lived this story, it was easy to write the first draft. When I wrote Startup, I wrote a storyline and a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. I knew exactly how the book would start and how it would end. In the course of writing the book, new ideas came to mind (sometimes too many!) and I had to revise the chapter outline repeatedly, often going back to previous chapters to edit them. Yet the beginning and ending of the book did not change and I believe such plotting, sometimes tedious at times, made the book easier to write because I knew where the book was going. And hopefully the reader will see a storyline that is clear and consistent. Every major character faces moral dilemmas and their personalities evolve. Without a detailed outline to guide you, it would be easy to get lost.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?


iUniverse is a self-publisher who is owned by the traditional publisher Penguin Random House. I was looking for a publisher who had the same editorial discipline and process as a traditional publishing house. For that to happen, you need good editors.  Most readers tell me the book is very well written and I know for every word published, I probably wrote five times as much. Who knows? Perhaps more.
Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Writing is a craft and you only get better through practice and hard work. The editorial gauntlet is tough but the process makes you a better storyteller. After the thrill of holding the first copy in your hands, then I’m pleasantly surprised by the small steps of success that follow: The first time you see your book on a bookseller’s shelf; standing behind a tiny desk at your first author’s signing; anybody asking you for an autographed copy; seeing your book cover and your picture in the local newspaper or discovering your book on the shelf of the San Francisco Public Library. I remember telling my wife that when I went to get a haircut at the local shop, the hair cutters recognized me. My wife said predictably, “Cut it out!” Now when we go to the grocery store, she often nudges me and asks if that shopper by the watermelons recognizes me. 

But the most pleasant surprise of all is reading short reviews from readers scattered all over the world. There is tremendous satisfaction when you read a review and you say to yourself, “The reader loved the book and completely got it.”  The hard work paid off.
What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am working on the next novel. I can’t give too much away but I would say that the major theme surrounds today’s healthcare system which is going through radical changes. I describe this book as “Robin Cook meets John Grisham meets Michael Crichton.”

What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I am a hardcore New England Patriots fan so I am always checking the Bleacher Report about news of the team. I follow the team all year long, not just during the season. My friends know to never call me on Monday if the Patriots lost. I am an awful poor loser. Come to think of it, I am also a poor winner. I can remember playing the board game Monopoly with my parents and aunt and uncle. If I landed on a property with hotels, say Park Place, and I couldn’t pay the rent, the small pieces of green and red plastic tokens would be tossed in the air, the dice thrown against the clock wall  and I’d stand up defiantly and shout, “I hate this game!” and storm out of the kitchen. I think I was nine years old. My wife tells me that although I have matured in many ways, sadly not in all ways.
Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
I believe that Startup is a unique, compelling business thriller set in California's Silicon Valley. It is almost a different sub-category of the thriller genre. It is not a legal thriller or a science thriller but sits in-between. I lived and witnessed the corporate back-stabbings and double-dealings where people's dreams are extinguished on a whim of morally-corrupt individuals. Having said that, the crazy antics make for an entertaining, page-turning fun read.

Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?

Thank you for the interview. For a new author like myself, the public exposure means the world to me.