Thursday, August 18, 2016

Interview with S.L. Shelton, Best Selling Author

What readers have to say about S.L. Shelton's   
Scott Wolfe spy thriller series 
and his new crime thriller, Hedged

"Imbued with rich detail and realistic, high-powered adventure, this action-packed, cleverly-devised plot whisks the reader along for a non-stop ride. For both fast-paced adventure and suspenseful intrigue, I would highly recommend" ~Donna Cummins, author of Rain of Terror and A Reason to Kill (Waking Wolfe)
"Part spy novel, part political intrigue, part techno-thriller this fast paced book will keep you hooked. S.L. Shelton does a wonderful job creating characters you love & those you love to hate. They are back in this book, but are they all what they seem? Something is going on and the suspense is building, I can't wait for the final installment! Write faster S.L. Shelton!!" (Predator's Game)
"Keep it coming, good dialogue, great action, string realistic fight and action sequences, logical, smart, intriguing leads, just the recipe I need to keep me coming back for more." (Unexpected Gaines)
"The exploits of antihero Chase Grant propel a narrative that begins with family history and moves quickly through corporate intrigue and cartel-related scheming. I like that technical specifics, radio traffic, and police procedural jargon are stripped away and the story stays at a personal level with the participants in each chapter - in all its realistic, unsavory flavors - yet never forgetting that family comes first." (Hedged)
"Scott Wolfe is back again and better (and badder) than before...unlike other series, the story didn't go downhill after the first book. It was fresh and exciting and very intriguing." ~ Living Through Books, Book Blog Reviews. (Danger Close)
"S.L. Shelton knows how to keep a reader engaged. He has an amazing ability to move through his story dropping enticing tidbits (and bombshells) throughout. There are so many things happening and there's always something important being uncovered. He’s got the talent of intrigue perfected. This is incredibly frustrating for a reader…but in the most wonderful and delicious way." (Wolfe Trap)
"Like the first four in the series, this was spell-binding-filled with suspense, nail-biting action, thrills and of course, lots of Scott Wolfe wizardry. I can't wait to see where Shelton takes his protagonist next." (Harbinger)

S.L. Shelton is a passionate, fact spouting former techie and soldier who is constantly at odds with his need to kick the legs out from under those who abuse their power (Political, Economic or Super). He lives on a tiny little farm on the banks of a tiny little river in the northwestern part of Virginia, where his semi-secret identity is somewhat protected on three sides. Despite deep misgivings about writing on subjects close to his own life, he has penned a series of books about a similarly broken, similarly gifted young man who similarly doesn't have a clue when to stop and re-evaluate life decisions. Before building his career in the computer field for nearly two decades as a developer, designer, trainer, and a CEO, he had the honor of serving in the US Armed Forces in several roles, most involving explosives of some sort. After selling his successful micro empire in 2011, Shelton retired to his study which he hasn't left since. On most days he writes, but when left alone and to his own devices, breaks his troll like existence long enough to sneak into the sunlight and fire a weapon or two, snap a few pictures or pick some vegetables from his wife's prized organic garden beds. Though his climbing days are behind him due to injuries (several to the head), he was an avid rock climber, having climbed for decades since his teen years. His three children are grown and living very adventurous lives of their own.

 Author Interview

1. The first question in this interview is nearly identical to the first one for the last interview you did for me … but when you read it you’ll see why.
Splinter Self is the seventh book in your Scott Wolfe Series. Without any spoilers, can you give readers an overview of the story so far?

Thanks for pointing out this is the same question you asked prior to Predator's Game. My response then was being affected by something I didn't understand at the time. I am of course aware now what the "downward spiral" was all about. It's clear my wife's illness (now identified as cancer) affected me and the writing of the series without realizing it. The rest of the answer would remain the same, so with your indulgence, I'll just answer with last year's answer.  "Scott Wolfe starts the series as a seemingly normal twenty-something. There are hints he is different, but those hints don't start forming a cohesive image until midway through the series. Then it becomes clear he's very different. His personality is one that won't let things go, even if those things are a danger to him. That allows the CIA to pull him in, entangling him in a conspiracy he helps uncover. Each novel builds on the last, showing more of the real Scott and hinting at his potential. In the 4th novel, there is a major setback for Scott that begins a slow degrading of his talents, leaving him more and more with only what he has learned through the CIA. It's a tense situation and frankly, it has been hard to write."

2. Is this really going to be the last book in this series?

Regardless of the outcome in Splinter Self, this will be the end of the Scott Wolfe Series. Whether it's the end of Scott Wolfe or not, I don't know...I won't know until after I've written the last scene. If Scott lives, there may be some future iteration to the story (though it won't be the Scott Wolfe Series). If he dies, well, I just don't know. It's out of my control at this point. The events and characters of the series are in control of the telling of this story now. I'm just doing my best to translate it into a readable, entertaining format.

3. How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

I've always been in love with spy stories and movies. I grew up on James Bond. I've also always been a huge SciFi reader (Herbert, Anderson, Clarke, Bradbury, McCaffrey, etc.) so adding a SciFi component, particularly one that is in the realm of possibility, only adds another layer of drama to the story.

4. Out of all the books you’ve written, can you list your three favorite characters? Include the reasons why, (but only if you can do it without spoilers.)

Nick Horiatis - Old school badass. Not as dense as he seems but quick to solve problems with brute force. I put a lot of myself into Nick so I know how he feels most of the time.

John Temple - Of all my characters, I feel I'm most like John, so I'm able to climb into his head better than a lot of the rest. He is sly, has experience beyond most characters in the story, and is an expert at playing others with a smile on his face. He is usually five or six steps ahead of everyone else and is willing to let others use their gifts to solve problems rather than micro managing (usually). He also swallowed more regret and disappointment than the others, but pushes past his cynicism to get the job done.

Kathrin (Gretel) - She has been easy to write and easy to love. She is patterned after my own wonderful Gretel, my wife Diane. It's been harder writing her in Splinter Self because of what's going on with my wife in the real world. Aside from delays for medical reasons, I'd say writing has been slowed most due to those emotional walls. But she is by far my favorite character.

5. You just released Hedged, your first crime thriller. Was the transition from espionage to crime difficult?

Yes, Hedged was my first published crime novel (though not the only one I've written...I have other unpublished works). It wasn't difficult. In fact, in many ways it was easier. I didn't have to dig as deeply into multiple disciplines of trade for personality influences. Military, Intelligence and Tech are all very different in the way they shape attitudes and responses, so I have to go fairly deep into motivation and mindset to write espionage. In crime (at least in the case of Hedged) on the other hand,  I get to focus more on personal life influences rather than institutional influences,  making this story a bit more emotional in the character development. That's probably why it flowed so quickly as I was writing...I didn't have to change "jobs" as I took on each character's personality--just a different personality.

6. Was it difficult after spending so much time writing an idealistic, ethics driven character like Scott Wolfe, moving to a more unstable, passion driven bad-boy like Chase Grant?

Not at all. All characters live within me...or rather, I'm able to channel any character. Once I have a conversation with a character in my head, I know who that person is and how they will react to other characters/events. Chase was easy to write because he has a simple, emotion driven philosophy to life, tainted by his own past emotional trauma. He is a product of his past, and I might add, a slave to it, being unable to recognize why it's dysfunctional.

7. Why do you write?

I know this is a popular meme caption, but it's truly to give the voices in my head something to do other than haunt me. I need to have my thoughts take form, and writing does that.

8. What do you think most characterizes your writing?

Periods of wandering with a blank look on my face, followed by an explosive attack on the keyboard. Sometimes I will go days or even weeks without writing, attempting to solidify the story in my head. When it clicks (usually only a single missing key twist) I can spend days typing the result, sometimes only stopping for naps and smoke breaks.

9. Where did your love of books and storytelling come from?

I'd like to say I was born a story teller, but the truth is I was born to lecture. Making the story interesting is what I had to do to make people sit and listen. I'm also quite entertaining when giving a lecture. :)

10. What do you like to read in your free time?

I read a lot of indie authors. J.C. Wing comes to mind. Mike Robbins is another. I feel a debt to other indies since I have achieved bestseller success from an indie launch pad. I still love my old fall backs, and find myself rereading many of the great novels I read in my late teens and early twenties. I've read the Dune series more than six times...never gets old.

11. What literary character is most like you?

I hate to sound cliché, but Lestat is most like me.  A god damned diva with incredible skills he can't claim credit for. He walks through the lives of others like a tornado, looking back over his shoulder and asking "oh! did I put your trailer in the lake? so sorry. Here, let me make it up to you by forcing you to live through one of my adventures."

12. What secret talents do you have?

I am a damned encyclopedia of random trivia and science flotsam. And I have no control over when they pop up...they just do. Oh...also, invisibility. I can make myself invisible (sniper school was awesome).

13. What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has?

Is it true authors die if we don't write reviews of their books?
Yes. It is true. It's a mish mash of phenomena including quantum entanglement, super gravity/string theory, pixie dust wish magic and gypsy curses. An author will curl up in the fetal position and die a cold, lonely, agonizing death if a reader finishes the author's book and doesn't post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads within twenty-four hours. I'm kidding of's cumulative. It takes ten or twenty times before he or she actually dies. They just get real sick until the end.