Q: Why did you decide to write a book?
A: I was inspired to write the first book in the series when I heard about the persecution of Christians in Iran about five years ago. Because I’ve always been an avid reader of mysteries and thrillers, I knew my first book would be in this genre. However, when I heard about the Iranian Christians, I began asking several questions, which eventually became the plotline of the book. I wondered what would happen if a veteran CIA intelligence operative in Tehran encountered a group of Iranian Christians and became a believer. How would his conversion affect his career? How would a man trained to lie and deceive others be able to follow the teachings of Christ in the real world?
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I was a freelance writer for over thirty years for various Christian news outlets. Most often, I wrote stories about what happened to adults who came to faith in Christ late in life, and how their conversion experience changed their lifestyle. I’ve always felt I’d write a book eventually, and since I love spy novels and I’m well-versed in the genre, I decided to make my first book about a CIA officer who came to faith in Christ. I’m driven by my desire to share the message of Christ in such an entertaining and engaging way it will encourage people to explore the gospel message and to be encouraged to grow in the Christian faith.
Q: How long did it take you to write this book?
A: It takes me a year to complete a book from the first word to last edit. I write about eight hours a day, editing as I go, and then doing several more edits when I write the last chapter.
Q: What do you use to write your books?
A: I write on a laptop while sitting in a very comfortable leather chair.
Q: What problems did you encounter?
A: I’ve never experienced writer’s block, and the only problems I’ve encountered is forgetting to get out of my chair and walk around. I get so caught up in the story, I forget to move.
Q: How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you’ve started?
A: I believe I’m more cognizant of my reader as I write. I’m writing a suspense story, and I know the ending, so I try to give my reader enough clues to help them figure out what’s going on without fully disclosing everything.
Q: Is there anything you wished you’d known when you started writing?
A: I wished I’d known how much I’d enjoy writing a book. If so, I would have started writing long before now.
Q: Do you structure your plots or just go with the flow?
A: I’m not a plotter; I’m more of a pantser. That is, even though I have an idea of where I want the book to take me, I don’t make an outline, except for writing down a paragraph or two. In other words, I “fly by the seat of my pants.” Mine are suspense novels, and I like to be kept in suspense. Creatively, I believe I’ve evolved by being able to envision my characters without the necessity of searching for images of potential characters on Google, something I did in my first book.
Q: Do you work on a set amount of words per day or does it change?
A: No, sometimes I write 1000 words a day and sometimes I write 10. I can’t imagine how some people can write 50,000 words in a month.
Q: Do you do a lot of research when writing a book?
A: I’m forever doing research since the books I write are taken right from today’s headlines. I interview people, search the internet and subscribe to dozens of articles, think tanks, etc.
Q: How would you describe your writing process?
A: Most mornings, I’m at my computer answering email and doing advertising for my books. I write in the late afternoon and evenings. After lunch, I run errands and do housework. I try to write at least six hours a day, and I’m usually up past midnight most evenings.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: I write for the sheer joy of creating something out of nothing. In writing fiction, I have the ability to make anything become a reality—at least on paper.
My desire to write stems from a lifelong love of reading. I’ve always been fascinated by an author’s ability to communicate with an unseen audience. As a teenager, I recognized I could do the same, and that’s when I began writing short stories. As a young adult, I was hired by a Christian publication to write stories of new believers and how they came to faith in Christ. When I decided to write my first novel, I realized I couldn’t write a secular, or even just a “clean” story, that it must be in the Christian fiction genre or not at all.
My main character, Titus Ray, is a CIA intelligence officer, who is brought to faith in Christ by a group of Iranian Christians. Having worked with new believers all my adult life, I decided to write about the difficulties faced by an adult who comes to faith in Christ later in life. I wanted to show if a man whose whole life is built on deception and violence can learn to live a life of faith while being pursued by an assassin and dealing with Jihadists terrorists, then anyone can do so.
Q: What draws you to this genre?
A: I’ve always been a big espionage fiction reader, and I thought it was best to write a book in the genre I knew best.
Q: How many books have you written?
A: I’ve written three books—all of them in the Titus Ray Thriller Series. I’m writing the fourth now, and I plan to write a fifth one to complete the series next year, to be published in 2018. Each book features CIA intelligence officer Titus Ray and begins with a number, a time and then a city. One Night in Tehran; Two Days in Caracas; Three Weeks in Washington; Four Months in Cuba, Five Years in ??
Q: Have you ever dedicated a book to someone?
A: All my books have the same dedication—to my dad. “To Ray Allan Pollock, for giving an eleven-year-old girl permission to read adult spy novels.”
Q: How do you market your books?
A: I market my books in dozens of ways. First, through social media. I’m on Facebook groups and have a Twitter account, and I post in FB groups at least once a day and on Twitter many times over a twenty-four hour period. Second, I do paid advertising, especially for special pricing promotions, on book promotional sites such as Ereader News Today, The Fussy Librarian, Digital Books Today, EBookBump, etc. Third, I have a mailing list and send out a newsletter about every six weeks. Fourth, I do blogs for my other author friends, plus hosts blogs for them at Potter’s Word Publishing, and I do my own blogging at His Glory My Joy. I also promote my print books through Book Signings at bookstores, which I do about six times a year.
Q: How do you deal with bad reviews?
A: I mostly ignore bad reviews—at least I never try to contact the reviewer and comment. However, I always try to learn from them, and I’ll always ask myself if the reader has a good point or has noticed something I need to address.
Q: How much time do you devote to marketing your books?
A: I probably spend about 3 hours a day either writing emails, answering emails, writing a newsletter, posting on social media or setting up book promotions.
Q: How do you get your book reviews/reviewed?
A: I have a paragraph at the back of all my books which asked for the reader to review the book with some stars and a line or two of how they felt about the book. I also asked anyone who writes me about the book to do a review, plus include the link to do it. Then, I’ll always ask readers at book signings to do a review. I really push the idea of doing a review, but I emphasize it doesn’t have to be more than a sentence or two—nothing elaborate.
Q: Do you do all your own proofreading and editing?
A: I was a proofreader myself for many years, so I am constantly proofing. However, I do get editing help. I also encourage my beta readers to let me know about any errors, typos, etc.
Q: How and where are you publishing this book?
A: My books are published exclusively through Amazon—all three editions—Print, Kindle and Audio Book.
Q: What are the main benefits of being an independent author?
A: I have total control over deadlines, content and marketing—I also reap all the profits.
Q: What are you reading at the moment? Which book do you have by your bed?
A: I am always reading some kind of non-fiction devotional or theology book and a fiction book. The two usually quite diverse. Right now, I’m reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer. This is probably the fifth time I’ve read this book. It’s a classic. I’m also reading The Burning Room by Michael Connelly. I have on my list to read Daniel Silva’s The Black Widow.
Q: What is your favourite quote from a book?
A: I love the quote from Mason Cooley, “Reading gives us someplace to do when we have to stay where we are”. My mother, who was confined to a wheelchair during the last years of her life, loved this quote. Therefore, I learned to love it as well.
Q: When you read do you prefer a book or a Kindle/tablet?
A: I switch between the Kindle and a physical book all the time. I do both equally and enjoy both equally.
Q: What’s coming next?
A: My next book is Four Months in Cuba, and, although I just released Book III, I’m already up to Chapter 2 in the fourth book. It’s hard not to write when there’s a story to be told.