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.
Thank you for this interview, Stefan. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
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 book, 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.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
‘Cry of Eagles’ is about a Mossad conspiracy to drag America into a war. Iran’s nuclear capability represents a clear national threat to Israel. Although concerned, the United States and Europe are reluctant to increase sanctions. Frustrated that nothing is being done, Mossad decides to force the United States into action. A black ops team sabotages a refinery complex in Galveston and plants evidence that incriminates Iran, confident that an enraged America will retaliate. Congress and the public urge the U.S. president to bomb Iran, but the administration lacks direct evidence. With carriers positioned in the Gulf ready to strike, the world waits to see if the Middle East will explode into open conflict. With tension mounting, the FBI uncovers a shocking truth. It wasn’t Iran at all, but Israel! A government falls and America forces Israel to confront the Palestinian problem.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
Well, having written seven science fiction books in my Shadow Gods Series, I decided to make a foray into contemporary fiction, hoping it might give me a better chance of getting with a traditional publisher. I’m still hoping. Having followed the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with intense interest, and America unable to broker a settlement, I saw an opportunity to write about the less savory side of Mossad and what they were prepared to do to further Israel’s interests, even to the extent of dragging an ally into a war.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
Background research gave me a few headaches as I wanted to be absolutely certain about my facts. It was also a hell of a lot of fun, and along the way, I accumulated a thick folder of material. Not all of it was used, but it provided a tapestry, a background of information against which the novel was written, giving the reader a sense of comfort knowing that he is in an environment where I as the author will not let him down. It was also sobering finding out some of the more murkier things about Mossad and Israeli politics.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I am with two Ebook publishers. Double Dragon Publishing is handling my science fiction books and Solstice Publishing has released my contemporary novels. I am still trying to break into the traditional publishing market, but self-publishing has never tempted me. perhaps because I equated this outlet with vanity publishers. However, I am looking at this as an option now. The material I reviewed from self-published authors is mostly pretty awful, not that all ebooks shine either, although I am certain many fine books are self-published. But at least having your book released by an ebook publishers means it has gone through a selection process and was edited - most of the time.
Was it the right choice for you?
In absence of being published by a traditional publisher, going the Ebook way was definitely the right thing to do. Paying a vanity publisher to print my books may have been gratifying, but in my view it’s a waste of money. A writer should have a degree of discipline and professionalism when approaching his writing. Self-publishing a manuscript once its done, with all the grammar, spelling and plot flaws, only contributes to the bad reputation of the industry.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
That’s 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 my books 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 grind.
How is that going for you?
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 sales volume. I will keep plugging away; there isn’t much choice.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Lowering the price of my books on the publisher’s website and outlets like Amazon and Barns & Noble has helped boost my sales. Doing regular Tweets may have helped, but it is difficult to quantify.
Do you have another job besides writing?
Having retired from the IT industry, I am devoting all my efforts to writing. However, when I need a distraction, I review books and I am also an editor for Solstice Publishing. That provides a diversion and allows my mind to churn away in the background sorting out the details about what I am writing. Sometimes it works.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
I guess this is where my training in the IT industry comes through. What I would recommend to any author before he puts pen to paper or starts pounding away on that keyboard, is to thoroughly plan the book, research it to death, develop the characters and have a detailed outline which provides a skeletal framework on which the author can hang the meat of the story.
What’s next for you?
Having finished a contemporary novel, due out next year, I decided to return to my Shadow Gods Series and write one last book about Terrllss-rr, his loved one Teena and his battle against the Celi-Kran. At least I think it will be the last book. Fates can be funny that way...
Thank you for this interview, Stefan. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?