Thursday, September 6, 2012

Interview: Author Rick T. Hodges

Hello all.
Welcome to my Interview with Rick T. Hodges, author of The Omega Option: Rise of Draconis.
Also, there is only ONE DAY left on the Giveaway to get a copy of The Omega Option, click HERE to enter!

When a soulless, inhuman force descends upon Professor Li Jun Wong’s Antarctic expedition, search and rescue operations discover only his mutilated crew and a cryptic journal left behind. Confronted with the malevolent force, a covert government agency discovers a sub-oceanic base long abandoned by aquatic aliens in the northwest Pacific. Someone, or reactivating the alien base, threatening to collapse the earth’s magnetic field, exposing the planet to catastrophic solar effects.

Ex-Special Forces Commander, Joe Dalton, leads the interdiction force...unaware it will exhume old secrets long since buried with Professor Wong’s ill-fated expedition. Amidst the emerging threat, Dalton reassembles his former Special Operations team; finding each man imperiled among the most remote deathtraps on earth.

Joe then reunites with his former love interest, Sunjida Wong, heiress to her missing father’s International Institute of Oceanography. Aided by her scientific genius - and the secrets of an ancient alien sarcophagus in her possession - The Omega Team launches into desperate battle against parahuman a bold quest to save the human race from impending cosmic destruction.

Sounds interesting right? Here is a little about the author.
Rick T. Hodges is a former Special Forces Medical Sergeant with a Bachelor of Science degree. After retiring from the U.S. Army in September of 2003, he continued to perform on various Department of Defense & corporate contracts in Southwest Asia until January 2012. Having spent his life in austere locations amidst hostile environments, Hodges’ writing style reflects his worldwide, cross-cultural, and Special Operations combat experience. Currently, he resides in Oklahoma where he continues to write “The Omega Option” series.

What inspired you to begin writing?
I’d already spent nearly a half dozen years in Iraq, performing on various Special Operations contracts.   One of my supervisors honestly told me he thought I was a “genius” ...his description, not mine.  The nature of these jobs required an extensive amount of report writing and email traffic and such, and I think that’s where he assessed my talent for writing.  He kept telling me I should write a book.  I asked him, “what about?”  He said, “write about anything.  Write about life.”  I have to admit, that planted a seed of interest in me, but it was still almost a year later before I started.  By that time, I was so fed up with living that kind of life, and was so desperate to leave that environment, that I did sit down to write a work of fiction.

What person has been the most influential towards your writing?
That would have to be Kenneth Robeson, who wrote the Doc Savage novels.  I loved the earlier, more wild tales of Doc Savage.  I also read Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Ian Fleming, and of course...Stephen King.

What is your writing process like?
Sometimes I’m not really sure how it comes to me.  I may get glimpses of ideas, but they never fully develop until their ready.  It’s like the story builds up in my subconscious until it’s mostly “in there” somewhere, and then I get the task of organizing it onto the word document.  Kind of like giving birth to a mental concept.  I’m learning that I usually get two concepts flowing through per chapter, and it comes out one chapter at a time.  By two concepts, I mean that one chapter may involve two locations, or two evolving parts of the whole story.  And sometimes, I start a chapter expecting to go in one direction, but end up expanding into a whole new one.  I still arrive at the intended end result, just with a lot more happening than I expected.  Once I complete a chapter, either I’ll already have the idea of where to go from there...or I’ll draw a blank, and have to wait for the next inspiration before moving forward.
Some of my work just pours out of me when I am really enthused and decide to sit down and slam some hard booze.  Then I can just rat-tat-tat on that key board like machine gun fire.  Later, I continually reread and reword things until I believe it’s about as good as it’s going to get.

Which one of the characters you have created is your favorite? Why?
Tough call, but it would have to be Rick Savage.  I can relate to Joe Dalton, the Team Leader, having more in common with him in some ways.  But Savage is just my personal favorite.  He’s a really tough guy who struggles like so many of us when it comes to the finer social skills.  He’s also more of a land adventurer, which I feel most comfortable with.  So I can really dig in deep whenever I involve him in some chaotic situation.  I don’t see myself in any of these characters.  They’re a lot tougher and more noble than I am, but I do tend to spread certain attributes or physical characteristics of mine throughout the team.  For example, Rick has tattoos very similar to mine.   Jason Riley has my intense temperament...and so on.

What do you think makes a 5 star book?
Whenever the reader really enjoys it.  In the end, that’s who we should be writing our books for:  our readers.  

How much time went into research for this novel? What all did you research?
Wow.  In a way I guess you could say a lifetime went into the making of this first book.  My military background adds authenticity to the team’s Special Operations approach to things.  But as I stated, I’m more of a land based adventurer, so I had to research the submarine and scuba based portions.  I wanted to be specific on existing military aircraft, and communications systems, so...I did put some effort into looking up current specifics. 
This novel contains a lot of weird science.  So I dug into plasma physics, nanotechnology, ions, electro-biogenesis, sonoluminescence, electron microscopes, oceanography, and paranormal investigative equipment.
I did considerable research on various locations, such as Alaska, New Zealand, Algeria, Antarctica, etc...but I did take some artistic liberty with some of it.  The way I describe the Brooks Mountain Range of Alaska might be a bit more like northwestern Canada, but I made a solid effort to be accurate overall.

What kind of research did you most enjoy?
The paranormal.  Ever since I was a kid, such things fascinated me.  The Sasquatch, UFOs, alien abduction, and even supernatural events.  I weave these things into the story in a way that it bends reality, while fictionalizing some events that actually have been reported and documented.

How would you like to impact people with your writing?
Well for one thing, I want to inspire them.  I want that young man to close the cover, and say “I want to be like that!”  I want him to jump up and go take Karate lessons, or scuba diving.  Join the Army or become a paramedic or something.  I know that sounds a bit silly, but that’s what happened to me as a kid.  I was exposed to the heroic ideal of what it meant to be a Green Beret, and so I became one. 
The same goes for a girl reader, but in a different light.  Enough of the super bitch concept already.  Let a girl be inspired to become a world class scientist like my co-main female character, Sunjida Wong.
And of course, I want to entertain the readers so much that they follow the series.  I want them to be profoundly impressed so that they recommend the books to everyone they know.  There are many people out there who are hungry for descriptive reading with a little more substance to it.

What feelings/thoughts are you hoping to invoke in the reader?
I want them to realize the world is not like people think.  I truly believe the evidence indicates there are powerful, terrifying things in our skies and hidden in ocean depths mankind has yet to explore.  And probably by the time we do, they will move on to somewhere else.  I spent enough time in Special Forces to know that governments are not honest with their citizens.  Not in the least.  And out there among our own citizenry, there are people who do experience truly horrendous things.  Things that terrify and alter their entire lives.  And they can’t turn to anyone for help, because of the current policy of ridicule.  Some even go insane or commit suicide.  It’s truly sad.
People ask me, “You really believe in this stuff?!”  My reply is that for me, belief is not an option.  I have experienced certain things that I know were not my imagination.  I will probably include some of those events (in fictionalized form) in my third book of the series.

Describe your novel in 3 words.
It’s a cross genre of paramilitary adventure and science fiction set in the present day, with one hell of a dose of high strangeness throughout.

Is there a message you are trying to convey through your writing?
Maybe a couple.  As stated, the first message would be, “The world is not like you think, and that should scare the hell out of you.  Open your eyes and your mind.  Ignoring it does not guarantee it won’t reach out and destroy your happy little state of ignorant bliss.”
The second message is:  “You know, there is still this thing on the earth.  There aren’t very many of them left, but if you look real hard, you can still find a few.  They’re called men.  And no, we’re not so weak and stupid that we need some wise and powerful woman to come along and wipe our mouths and change our diapers, and kick the bad guy’s ass for us.  Women certainly have great value, and can accomplish great and wonderful things.  Women contribute in a powerful way in my novels.  But I’m quite thoroughly fed up with all the man bashing in our current culture.

How much did your military background in Special Forces assist you in writing this book?
Immensely.  Considering my team is comprised of various SPEC OPS types, I know the tactics, the terminology, the slang, the military culture, and so on.  I know the way soldiers talk, the way they think, what goes through their mind...and I know the weapon systems.  I received extensive medical training, so that helps too.  It just gives the novel and the team a very authentic feel. 

I’m just going to ask. Some of the supernatural stuff in your book seems so realistic. Is it? Or would you have to kill me if you told me?
Heh.  No, I wouldn’t have to kill anyone I told, but believe me, some researchers have died for getting too close to the truth.  That’s not some silly conspiracy theory, but most people in general just can’t handle the truth of that.  So they cope with it through ridiculing those who suffer with experiencing these things.  I have seriously studied (and experienced) paranormal / supernatural events.  The difference is, the supernatural involves the spirit world. What we consider paranormal is more of a “solid” thing such as aliens, or animal cryptids.   And with some phenomena, the one crosses over into the other, such as psychics or skinwalkers of American Indian lore. 

What was more difficult to write: Action or dialogue?
Definitely action.  You have to keep action flowing.  It can be tough balancing the action without being too descriptive, yet keep the reader aware of what exactly is happening.  Action has to be dynamic and powerful.  But being too vague, or too descriptive can detract from the flow.  Have to find just the right mix.  That was far more difficult for me in book one, which is why I’ve continued to refine and polish it for about three years now.  My test readers keep telling me book two is even better.

What is the most rewarding thing about completing a novel? 
Realizing that I actually can do this.  Like, “Wow.  I actually wrote a book.  And it’s a good, solid piece of work, and people like it.” 
In the not so distant future, the most rewarding thing will be having a fan base, and an income enhancement.  I intend to stick around at this until it IS my new career.

What is your next project?
I’m already writing The Omega Option II:  Return of the Naga.  It completes the first adventure, but takes the team to Vietnam, and into subterranean caverns inhabited by the reptilian race known as the Naga.  These creatures are a part of Cambodian lore, and they believe the Naga still exist somewhere beneath the ocean.  This book has a much deeper horror to it. 
My third book will take the Omega Team to the middle east.  I love changing up the locations and cultures, while giving the reader the feel of being there with them, as a world traveler.

If you would like to contact Rick T. Hodges, here is his information:

And you can purchase The Omega Option: Rise of Draconis for Kindle at Amazon, HERE!
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