Paperback Writer is pleased to announce our author for today Ben Furman, Furman is author of the young adult fantasy adventure, Sam’s Quest for the Crimson Crystal (Black Hawk Press). Leave a comment while the author is on his virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion and you might just be a winner. Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops.
About The Author:
Ben, a former FBI counterterrorism chief, has drawn on this experience to write about high-tech terrorism, chemical, biological, and nuclear threats, and transnational criminal cartels. During his career he investigated kidnappings, extortions, bank robberies, led SWAT teams and was the FBI counterterrorism chief assigned to address threats against the United States by terrorists of all stripes.
He also writes fantasy adventure novels with positive messages for the young adult, juvenile market.
He is the Rexus CEO, a corporation that conducts international corporate investigations involving industrial espionage, internal theft, business due diligence and background screening.
You can visit his website at www.blackhawkpress.com.
About the Book:
Samantha Mae Costas “Sam” is nobody’s idea of a hero. She is constantly teased about her thick glasses, her small size, and her asthma attacks are embarrassing and difficult to control. When Sam is forced to spend the summer on her grandpa’s farm she thinks things can’t get much worse.
Deep in the caverns below the farm, Prince Buznor, a young Awok, is on a life-and-death mission to save his world. He has to find Sam and prove to her that only she can find and control the Crimson Crystal… the one weapon that can defeat the evil threatening his people.
To reach the Crimson Crystal Sam must journey through the hostile Land of Geffen, face hordes of catacomb dwarfs, vicious vampire bats and deadly monsters. Can Sam overcome her fears, her doubts, and find the Crimson Crystal in time to save the Awokian world?
Welcome to Paperback Writer
Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
Sure. Initially it was scribbled in an effort to impress a girl. Didn’t work, though! Here’s the back story.
On the first day of my fifth grade history class a cute girl with long red hair and green eyes entered the room and sat a couple of rows away from me. Samantha instantly became my favorite girl’s name. I wracked my brain trying to come up with something to impress her. Johnny, who was sitting directly behind Samantha, refused to switch places with me. Our history teacher’s cataracts had restricted her field of fire to the first row seats, which would have given me adequate cover, but no sale.
I could draw and spin a pretty good tale. A fantasy adventure story-boarded with drawings of the characters – that was the ticket! As the project gained speed I heard the whispers. Samantha had asthma! Asthma? Was it contagious? I looked it up. No! I added an aspirator to the drawing that Samantha used to spray in the eyes of the villain, thus defeating him and saving Innerworld! I slipped the finished story on her desk and held my breath as she read it, shoved it inside her desk, and turned around to smile at Johnny, who had just pulled her hair. She never acknowledged me, and feeling like a complete dunce I retrieved the story the next recess. Thankfully, at the end of the school year Samantha moved away, ending my gnawing embarrassment.
Time zipped past and two daughters and two granddaughters later I decided to write a trilogy detailing Samantha’s adventures. My mother had kept every scrap of paper generated by her kids and she had packed away the story and the drawings in one of her empty shoe boxes. The original story with the positive message was still viable, and the core characters, Sam, Buzz and Patch, made their way into the book.
Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
I outline. I need a roadmap to guide me along, but there’s plenty of room inside it to freely maneuver. But I find that I can get too wacky if I don’t stay within the boundaries of the outline, and the story doesn’t play out correctly.
Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
Yes. In fact I write the ending, which normally includes the “hook” of the story, before starting the first chapter. This helps me stay focused as I journey from chapter to chapter toward the conclusion.
Do you have a process for developing your characters?
I begin by considering them real with a complete history, whether or not they are human or non-human. Then I do very detailed bios of the main characters, including some that are secondary. I put them into a location or situation in the story to let them bounce around, which further shapes their personalities and interpersonal relationships. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but I know the characters histories and how they fit before I start to write. That makes it “more funner” as my daughter used to say.
It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
Not on purpose, especially in the young adult fantasy series. I do pop up now and then in my counter-terrorism thrillers. But sure, some of who I am seeps into the characters. They display traits that we recognize and all have experienced. Prince Buznor, who accompanies Samantha on her quests, resonates with me. He has a tendency to short fuse situations rather than consider the possible adverse ramifications. At his age I did the same, and I think we would have been best buddies.
What is your most favorite part about this book?
The point at which Sam overcomes the doubts and fears that have plagued her throughout her life. This happens when she successfully fends off the attack of the catacomb dwarfs and grows into the Seeker, the one that’s foretold in Awokian legend. Afterward she moves toward the final confrontation with her evil protagonist, not with cockiness, but confident that she has a chance to prevail.
When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
I had a great New York literary agent, who pushed my stuff like crazy. But just when I was starting to get some traction with the mainstream publishers, he had a heart attack and died. Rather than start all over again – finding an agent was tough initially and finding a new one even tougher – I picked up the threads and had a go of it on my own.
What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
The buyers for the major bricks & mortars were gun shy because I didn’t have an agent or a publisher, but they did like the stories. They bought enough during the initial orders to help me defray the costs of editing and printing, and encouraged me to find a publisher. A number of publishers’ doors were slammed; there’s still interest from Simon & Schuster in converting the story to a graphic novel, and I was able to easily “gen up” a lot of interest from backroom, two steps ahead of the marshal outfits. I looked around to see if there were any decent small houses that I could buy, and then concluded I’d be better off forming my own company. That’s what I did. Now I’m touting my material, but soon I’m bringing onboard some very talented writers that have great stories to tell.
What has been the best part about being published?
Legitimacy. The publishing business still functions, mostly, using its 1916 business model. Its credo holds that thou are the illegitimate offspring of a back alley $40 hoe (not the farm implement) if you try to invade their territory without an agent, or shudder, are self-published. Now as a member of the “club” I find myself embracing these same snobbish tendencies. I’m joking – no calls, please!
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
The message: One doesn’t have to be perfect to succeed. After all, even Superman has a weakness. Sam proves the point. Despite debilitating asthma, small size and youth (11 years), she overcomes what initially appear to be insurmountable obstacles. She keeps churning, doesn’t give up, vanquishes her evil protagonist and saves the day.
I received a letter from Catherine, 10 years old, who made all the late hours and effort to write the book worth it. She said, “…Samantha didn’t let her asthma get her down. I won’t let my diabetes get me down either.” Says it all.
Do you have plans to write another book?
Yes. Sam’s Quest is a trilogy. The second, Sam’s Quest: The Royal Trident, Book 2 is finished and will be released soon. The third, Sam’s Quest: The Catacomb of Evil has been outlined (yes, the dreaded outline and character development) and set aside as I work to complete Chimera, a counter-terrorism thriller. The Devil’s Darning Needle, my first counter-terrorism book is on the shelves.
Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
It’s been work, but good work. I’ve been able to share the back-and-forth with kindred souls, those who share my passion for reading and writing. I look forward to visiting again when the second Sam’s Quest book is released.
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
It’s available in all the book stores, Amazon.com and Borders.com. The book is also available as an audio book and as a downloadable book. You can hear excerpts by visiting my website, and download for free “Hail Samantha,” sung by Telegu the Red Dragon.
Do you have a website for readers to go to?
Thank you, Ben for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.
SAM’S QUEST FOR THE CRIMSON CRYSTAL VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on September 2, ’08 and end on September 26, ’08. You can visit the Ben’s tour stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in September.