T. C. Isbell, Author of “Southern Cross”

Welcome, T.C. What is your book about?

Southern Cross is a World War 2 historical thriller. A murderer is loose on a steamship with over five-hundred unsuspecting passengers. Authorities have limited resources and time to stop the next murder.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I have been an avid fan of World War Two history ever since I high school. After I retired I started an in depth research project into the time period preceding Germany’s invasion of Poland. Before I knew it I was writing a novel that weaved the story of Chris Schulte into my historical research.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Truthfully, I am all of my characters. I grew up as an only child of a working mother; so I spent a lot of time making up characters and living with them in my head. Some of my characters have lived in my head for a very long time.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I spent a great deal of time researching my book. I used period magazines like Post, Life, and National Geographic. Some research was accomplished using old books and the Internet. However, information on the Internet has to be approached with a grain of salt.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

No, not really. My main goal is to entertain the reader, to welcome the reader into my fictional world, and have them care about my characters.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I’m a retired engineer. My first challenge was to learn how to not write like an engineer. My second challenge was to learn everything I missed while staring out the window during my high school English classes.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Even though I’m retired, I approach writing like a job. I believe that following an established schedule is the key to finishing a project. I start writing at seven in the morning, right after my wife leaves for work, and work pretty much through the day. I take short breaks, but other than that I’m either researching or writing. I try to add at least one thousand words a day to my manuscript. Some days the juices flow and I put down two thousand words. There are days where I write the same sentence over and over. I stop writing before my wife comes home from work.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Coffee, I drink vast mounts of coffee while I work.

What are you working on right now?

ICARUS PLOT, the second novel in my Prelude to War series, takes place in Panama in 1940. Foreign and American interests are attempting to disable the Panama Canal and effectively divide the world in half. I hope to finish ICARUS PLOT before Christmas 2012.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

For me, knowing when it is time to stop rewriting and call the book “finished.” I think writers always think there must be a better way to say something. Given the time, I would still be revising my first book.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

When I have an idea for a book, I write a synopsis and expand it later.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

That’s an interesting question. Being a Gemini, I am always working on multiple projects. Presently I have three books in the works. Icarus Plot is a sequel to my first book, Southern Cross. Of the two other books, one takes place in Seattle in the 1950’s and 1970’s. The last book is what I call “Historical Sci-fi.”

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

That’s easy – Psycho by Robert Bloch.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

Mike Lawson. If it doesn’t advance the plot, take it out.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

First: sit down and write — write everyday. Set aside a specific time each day. Maybe in the beginning it’s just thirty minutes or an hour, but do it religiously. Soon writing will become a habit. Don’t get bogged down with creating the perfect sentence. Nothing is ever perfect to a writer. Write what’s in your head and sort it out later. Second: read books in the genre you want to write in. The authors you read have spent a lot of time learning their craft and have things to teach you. Third: consider, but don’t be deterred by the opinions of others — follow your dreams.

Where can we find out more about your books?

Southern Cross is available at Amazon as a paperback in the United States and an eBook for Kindle in the United States, the UK, Germany, Italy, and France. It is also available at Barnes & Noble and Google eBooks in ePub format.

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Cross-ebook/dp/B005P8CE0G/

Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/southern-cross-t-c-isbell/1106016633?ean=2940013267251

Google eBooks – http://books.google.com/books?id=BitzvGsuzEUC

My website is: http://www.mysteryalley.com

My Southern Cross Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Southern-Cross/200537310015628

3 Responses to “T. C. Isbell, Author of “Southern Cross””

  1. mary e. clark Says:

    Nice interview…seems that there is “life” at the end of work. This young man, now has set his goal to looking behind; while moving beyond. Those of us history buffs do check these things out and his facts mixed with a good mystery are “spot on”; as the young say. If the next novel is as fast moving; then this should set him up with a good following from the mystery fans trying to figure out what will be on the last pages. By the way, do not start by looking at the last page.

  2. Does One Have to be a Coffee Drinker to be a Writer? « Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] From an interview with: T. C. Isbell, Author of “Southern Cross” […]

  3. Joan P Lane Says:

    Spotted the post for this interview right after I’d read Tom’s 7-line snippet from his book, so thought I’d like to find out more about him. Was interesting what you said about having created characters in your head since childhood, Tom. It was just yesterday I was telling a friend that, for me, writing fiction is very much like playing dolly house was, except my childhood fantasies didn’t include sniper rifles and that kind of thing (-:


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