Friday, August 24, 2012

Author Interview-Charles A. Cornell

I introduced Charles A. Cornell earlier this week and his five star thriller, Tiger Paw. Now, we have the opportunity to get to know the man behind the book!

Name: Charles A Cornell

Book: Tiger Paw

Genre: Thriller

  1. Tell us about yourself.  Where are you from and what do you do (besides writing)?
I’m what they call a ‘TransAtlantic’ - born in England, raised in Canada, now living in the Detroit area. I have a degree in Metallurgy from the UK and an MBA from Michigan. I’m nearing the end of a 35 year career in the automotive business. I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to travel extensively in Europe - where I lived on assignment for four years - as well as to Mexico, Japan and Australia. My career has given me many insights and helps me bring diverse perspectives to my writing.

  1. Tell us about your book.  What is it about?
In Tiger Paw, FBI profiler Scott Forrester hunts an assassin belonging to a demonic East Indian cult that is wreaking havoc on Wall Street, murdering corrupt CEOs at the center of a billionaire’s stock scam. Firmly in the assassin’s crosshairs, Scott Forrester is forced underground to stop the killing spree. But will he survive the deal he must make with the Devil to thwart the cult’s plans? 

I wanted to try something different in the thriller genre by combining the spiritual mysticism of a Hindu cult, the financial corruption of Wall Street and the world of political intrigue and covert ops.  Tiger Paw is more than a roller coaster ride… it’s a whole amusement park of mystery, psychological suspense and international intrigue. At the 50,000 foot level, it’s a story of greed, deception, and revenge. It contains an eternal narrative about people who have sold their souls in exchange for wealth and power. But at ground level, it’s also a very singular journey of one man’s struggle; a journey that places Scott Forrester inside the mirror of his soul and asks the question, in spite of all the odds stacked against him, does he have the psychological strength to defeat the greatest evil he has ever faced?

  1. Where did the inspiration come from? (e.g. fact/fiction, reading, personal interest/passion, a story someone told you, personal experience).
As a small investor and a card carrying member of the 99% club, I had many of the experiences I write about in Tiger Paw when it comes to Wall Street’s uneven playing field. As an author, inspiration always starts with a ‘what if’ question. So for Tiger Paw, it was… ‘What if Wall Street defrauded the wrong investors? People who could really fight back?’
In the end, Tiger Paw is a classic tale of good triumphing over evil. But for much of the book, it’s a story of evil people taking revenge on other evil people. And that concept really interested me! 

  1. Is there a little of yourself in any of your characters? If so, who?
The two main protagonists are brothers. Scott is an FBI agent and his brother, Jamie is a stock day trader and software programmer. He’s also a disabled Afghan war vet, paralysed from the waist down in an IED explosion. I think there’s a bit of me in both of these characters. Scott is very open-minded to the point of being unconventional. He probes beneath the surface of the evidence he finds. He’s a ‘possibility thinker’ which puts him at odds with his hard-driving, results-oriented boss at the FBI (and have I ever experienced that in my career!). Jamie is a carefree daredevil even after his unfortunate injury. When it comes to stock trading, he believes the deck is stacked against the small investor. I’ve had similar experiences in real life and empathize with his frustration and anger over Wall Street’s unethical and self-indulgent behaviour.

  1. What do you do to relax?
Write! Seriously… it’s great relaxation and an escape from the corporate world and daily routine. I’m not a full time author yet, so I love to do research and reading for my novels. I love beachcombing and snorkeling, and I go down to Fort Myers Florida at least twice a year to enjoy the sand and sun… and to write!

  1. What do you think is the greatest challenge about being an independent author?
There’s a stigma about self-published authors that says they are not as good at writing as the ‘published’ kind. Somehow, having an agent and a publisher conveys that old-fashioned ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’. There are so many examples of agents and publishers who initially overlooked immense talent like JK Rowling and Amanda Hocking. There are far too many agents who in my opinion are looking to latch onto trends rather than seek out new talent. When Dan Brown came out with the Da Vinci Code that was what everyone wanted you to write. Something else? Not interested. Then it was Harry Potter. Then the Twilight books. I understand it’s a business not a charity, and agents work on commission, so who can blame them for wanting to jump on the latest bandwagon? The problem is they can, and do, overlook good writers in the process.  However, on the other side of the argument, it’s equally true that the accessibility created by the ebook revolution is allowing work that is not well-crafted to get into ‘print’. So the greatest challenge for all indie authors is to build a reputation for quality while trying to attain commercial success through the arduous task of self-promotion.

  1. What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?
Don’t give up. Hone your craft. Learn continuously and improve. The Olympic Games are fresh in everyone’s mind and there are so many examples of this in athletics. Even gold medal sprinter Usain Bolt came second in his country’s pre-Olympic trials and there were so many other examples of perseverance and dedication over a long period of time to achieve a dream. The technology is now available to instantaneously reach out to an international audience. It’s like no other opportunity that has ever come before it. Use it wisely and you will succeed.

  1. What do you enjoy most/least about writing?
I visualize everything. I see the ‘movie playing in my head’. It just takes so darn long to get it down ‘on paper’ and get it right - to transcribe the feeling and emotion, to really get the prose to the point where someone else can taste what you’re eating. I call it the ‘agony of words’ – obsessing over a page, a paragraph, a sentence, an adjective. Often for hours. But when you finally develop something that you believe will resonate, then that is the best and most enjoyable feeling of all.

  1. Do other authors inspire your writing? If so, how?
This is a very hard question. I don’t read as much fiction as I think I should and I know that others do. The reason is that I don’t want to inadvertently copy another thriller writer’s style or storylines. Therefore when I read works of fiction, I rarely finish the whole novel. I want to get an understanding of how other writers have generated pace, characterization and setting; and of course how they created the initial hook. For inspiration I often draw from the classics. I have a sense of the macabre and enjoy Edgar Allan Poe. I have a decent wit and adore Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I’m also a big fan of the satire of Bill Bryson.

  1. What is your favorite book? Why?
George Orwell’s ‘1984’. It’s a dystopian novel but it’s also a psychological thriller. I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War and read this when I was about 13 years old. It had a profound effect on me. Orwell set a very high standard for writers in regards to framing the ‘big picture’. He wove the political and societal forces acting on the protagonist into a narrative that was both sweeping and grand in a nightmarish way, and intimate and personal at the same time. I’ve tried to do some of that in ‘Tiger Paw’, although it’s up to my readers to judge how successful I’ve been.

  1. Anything specific you want the readers to know about you and/or your book?
Tiger Paw took seven years to write from its initial conception to publication. It took me two years to write the manuscript followed by a year of queries to agents. An agent in New York read it, liked it a lot and then told me that he was switching from thrillers to children’s books and wished me luck. He thought I would have no problem getting an agent. But I did. Discouraged, Tiger Paw sat in my ‘bottom drawer’ for about three years. For two of those years, I stopped writing all together. When the Occupy Wall Street movement started making headlines I knew I had the right story to tell! I revised the first chapter to add OWS because it was unknown in 2005 when Tiger Paw was written.

Tiger Paw is nominated for two Best Thriller awards (from the Kindle Book Reviews & from the Royal Palm Literary Awards). 


I’m writing the sequel to Tiger Paw. It’s called Lucifer’s Key. Scott Forrester returns to face his adversary again, the satanic cult called the Temple of Dvaipa. In Lucifer’s Key, Scott investigates the murder of an American virus researcher on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. He’s kidnapped by a voodoo cult and must uncover the deadly secret of Lucifer’s Key in a race against time to rescue his love interest from the clutches of the Temple and thwart their plan to unleash a new terror on the world. It has several shocking revelations. They involve the three prophecies of Obeah sorceress Tantie Neptune – a destiny that Scott Forrester cannot escape. The first two prophecies play out in Lucifer’s Key but the third prophecy leads directly to the third book in the series, Black Venom whose tagline is… will this be the end of the Temple of Dvaipa? Or will it be the end of the world as we know it?

Just for fun:
  1. Plotter or pantser?
Mainly a plotter. It’s so important to have a strong arc when writing a mystery or thriller. The genre requires the timely placement of clues and careful build up of suspense. However, I find when it comes to writing dialogue, I do a lot of ‘improv’. I let the emotions of my characters flow onto the page in almost a free expression mode and then edit it later.
  1. Summer or winter?
Beachcombing in a Michigan winter? No thanks! I prefer to migrate south. Definitely, summer. Year round summer would be ideal.
  1. Beach or mountains?
  1. Morning person or night owl?
Night owl.
  1. Chocolate or vanilla?
For everything in general, it’s chocolate. But when it comes to ice cream, it’s vanilla.
  1. Favorite food?
Is wine a food?
  1. Favorite TV show?
Bachelor/Bachelorette… very interesting characters! Better than fiction! I take notes.

Please include whatever links you want:

My website & blog:
Link to the video trailer of Tiger Paw:
Author’s page on GoodReads:
My Facebook page:
Tiger Paw on Amazon:

Watch the Tiger Paw trailer now!

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