Guy L. Pace, born in Great Falls, MT, grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He served in the US Navy, including combat operations in Vietnam in 1972.
He was a Navy journalist, and worked primarily in community newspapers as a reporter, photographer, editor and finally a managing editor. He changed careers in the mid-80's getting into computer support, training, networking and systems, and eventually information security. He retired in 2011 after more than twenty years working in higher education.
He lives with his wife, Connie, in Spokane, where he gets to spend time with children and grandchildren and ride his Harley-Davidson.
To celebrate the upcoming release of Carolina Dawn, book three in the Spirit Missions Series, Guy granted me an interview.
About Carolina Dawn
Can the Community survive?
Amy Grossman must decide about Paul Shannon's proposal. Guilt over Joe Banes' death still eats at her. Then there is Lucy--a competitor for Paul’s affection--to deal with. She also fills her days with gardening, handling power outages, and perimeter guard duty.
A stranger arrives with dire news turning Amy's life new directions. With its very survival on the line, the community must pull together one more time.
She knows God has a plan for her, but surely ending up zombie food couldn't be part of that plan.
You write Christian-based science fiction and action adventure novels. How did you choose this genre?
I think it found me. I’m not sure exactly where the story came from. Most of it, when I started Sudden Mission, came during the planning stages and it became a story I would have wanted to read as a teen.
One reviewer called the books spirit-filled and described some of the conflict as spiritual warfare. This was a new concept for me. I tried to keep things biblically sound without getting too preachy, and I think I succeeded there. I’m no biblical scholar, so I could be wrong.
In a way, I carved my own niche here, and that may or may not be a good thing. Mainstream Christian publishers don’t seem interested in this kind of thing. Check out a corporate Christian book store (LifeWay, for example) and see what they offer for teen fiction. Thomas Nelson, Multnomah, and other Christian publishers are there with Christian-based fairy-tale fantasy and adventure stories, sometimes with animal or cartoon main characters, and they all have the same quest structure. Somebody always has some special power, too. Very few, if any, have a real-world setting with regular teens as main characters who already are believers and don’t require conversion.
My characters are regular people, already believers, but they get themselves and their faith tested. So, in a way I limited my options regarding publishing. When Booktrope’s Vox Dei picked up Sudden Mission, I was floored. I’d been shopping that book around for a while looking for a publisher—even an agent—that would be interested in something different with no luck.
Tell us about your upcoming release Carolina Dawn.
Carolina Dawn ties up a number of loose ends from Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers. But, I changed perspective. I wrote it from the point of view of Amy Grossman rather than Paul Shannon. In this one, Amy gets swept up in fighting for the survival of her community—even the rest of humanity—and she is tested severely on several levels.
This book touches on the events of the first two books, and I try to expose the post-traumatic stress that impacts Amy, as well as how she is dealing with jealousy and loss of a life-long friend.
A couple of new characters are in Carolina Dawn, one is the focus of Amy’s jealousy. The other is the soldier who brings the very bad news to the community. And, then there is—well, I’m not giving that part away here.
I think a theme of Carolina Dawn is the roles of members of a Christian community. No one is perfect, and even the main character has flaws. But a willingness to follow Jesus Christ, commit to a community and make sacrifice for that community bring balance, forgiveness, and builds faith.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Maps. I love maps. All three books are set in places I’ve been through or lived in or around at some point. So, I have some knowledge of the settings. But, you cannot trust memory for details that may be important or that may have changed. So, I use street view maps and other online resources to get a look at a location, then fill out the scene.
Sudden Mission was a road trip, and I used satellite imagery and street view maps extensively to tour through the places the characters experienced.
Nasty Leftovers took place mostly in Washington, D.C. So, online resources for government buildings, with a little poetic license, made up the bulk of the research. I still used the street view maps and resources as I wrote to keep the scenes alive.
Carolina Dawn was much the same, with the exception that I spent a lot of time in and around North Carolina in the 1970’s, and more recently. I know it pretty well and drove down most of the roads mentioned at one time or another.
Nasty Leftovers and Carolina Dawn use military hardware extensively. Since I spent about ten years as an Army Reserve officer after my time in the Navy, much of this information was already in my head, but was dated. I had to research current weapons and equipment to make sure I was including weapons and vehicles appropriately. And, to be honest, I’m pretty good with explosives.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Well, all three books were done in first draft during a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). So, for first drafts, thirty days. There is the month or more ahead of that for preparation, outlining, character development, and research. Nasty Leftovers cooked in my head for about a year, then exploded onto my computer screen when I sat down to write.
Carolina Dawn took longer. It’s a more complex story and needed some hard thought. Not to mention I was trying to write from a female prospective. I had to do some research. So, I read a few YA romance novels to see how others did it.
After the first draft, I let things cool down for a while—a month or two. Then I go back through two or three times. When I think it looks pretty good, I have my wife give it a read. She was a proofreader at a newspaper we worked at a long time ago. After that, I start shopping for an editor and proofreader.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Well, is there really an old abandoned schoolhouse (the goal in Sudden Mission) down Sherman Road outside of Choteau, Montana? I’ve been down that road. I actually visited there this last September and took a few pictures. Not gonna tell ya. You’ll have to go there yourself.
As for the government buildings in Nasty Leftovers, I took some poetic license with some things. Some things not. I’ve been in some of those buildings and some I used floor plans available online to describe what the characters see and do. If you get a chance to take the underground from the Capitol Building to the Senate Office Building, you’ll see I got that pretty solid.
As for Carolina Dawn, there are a couple of surprises. Nothing hidden, really.
I do use some odd “pop culture” references once in a while in all the books. They may be a bit dated, though. I wouldn’t call them secrets.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
There were times, even in Carolina Dawn, when I had doubts about my ability to bring the story to a conclusion. In other works, that particular Kryptonite killed them. I’d get started, think I had a decent plot and story, and convince myself it was no good about half way through.
We get these mind worms from our environment or our social network, and they can be devastating to a writer or any artist. They are one of the most difficult things to overcome. We need to put self-doubt in a lead-lined box and bury it.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Ernest Hemingway, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury.
Papa’s The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and short stories like, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, were influential and instructive. Asimov’s fiction (especially the Foundation Series and the robot novels), science articles, and biography filled my reading list as I grew up. R. A. H. was one of my favorite authors later, with Starship Troopers, Podkayne of Mars, Double Star, Stranger in a Strange Land, and many short stories. Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes are my favorites.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
As with almost every writer I know, getting started is the most difficult. This is one of the reasons I used NaNoWriMo to write my books. I have a start date and a deadline. As an old journalist, that deadline is the primary motivator for me. I set it, I push myself to meet it. What that does is frees me up to just write. It’s amazing how much that helps the “getting started” part.
What is your favorite childhood book?
When I was about eight, my mother read Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett to me at night. By fourth grade I’d read Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and The Pauper, and a number of others. As I grew older, I read the Horatio Hornblower Series, Seven Years Before the Mast, C. S. Forester. I don’t think I read them all. I loved Robin Hood.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t give up. Don’t let others discourage you. I didn’t get a lot of support or encouragement for my writing efforts from people close to me when I was young. Still, I pursued my desire to write. It did take a long time to get to this, though. I spent almost 20 years in journalism working in small newspapers. Even when I changed careers in the ‘80s, I continued to write technical documents and user documents for computer and network systems. It was when I retired from my tech career that I was free to finally write something I wanted to write. It might not happen tomorrow. If you don’t give up it will happen.
Was there anything in Carolina Dawn that wound up getting edited out of the final draft?
I can’t think of anything specific. During the writing process, some things were re-written and other ideas just left out. A few names were changed in the first edits. These things all contributed to the final story, so I think they were good. In the first two books, there were chunks of the story that didn’t really propel things along and were edited out. I thank my editor for pushing those changes then, because both books became stronger as a result.
Since Carolina Dawn is the third book, I think I was better prepared and things were well set for the story when I started. I kept it flowing without adding things that didn’t move the story along. The more you write, the more effective you become. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
This is hard to pick. My mentor in the Navy was Senior Chief Raymond P. Lucasey. I knew basic news writing when I transferred to his office in 1973, but he worked with me on being better. He taught me about active voice and not backing into sentences. His criticisms were hard, but always tempered with positive words and ideas. The fact that I still remember his name and rank after more than forty-five years speaks to the impact he had on me.
The toughest criticism was the review of New Kid (published in Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine. Karl Johanson accepted the story in 2014, and it was published in 2015. A reviewer went through the magazine and reviewed everything. New Kid did not get a good review. It was harsh. But, others liked the story and liked the treatment of bullying.
My wife, who was not really a reader, loved my stories and books. Of course, she’s prejudiced but she’s seen my work for thirty or more years.
But the best compliments are from reviewers on Amazon. The five-star reviews for both Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers come from other authors and people I respect. They are great.
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About BugBear Books
Guy L. Pace was first signed to a publisher that produced Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers (Vox Dei, an imprint of Booktrope). Unfortunately, the publisher closed its doors, leaving a number of authors in the lurch. This author decided to re-launch Sudden Mission, Nasty Leftovers, and now, Carolina Dawn, under his own imprint, BugBear Books. The concept is to publish just this author’s books but maintain the standards of quality readers came to expect with the first two novels.
BugBear Books presents Christian themes in teen and young adult fiction, mixed with action, adventure, and excitement, using characters reflective of real people dealing with hard realities.
Guy L. Pace
2203 E 51st Ln. Spokane, WA 99223