#AuthorInterview with K.A. Bachus, author of Goat Rope
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with K.A. Bachus, author of Goat Rope.
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book.
BACHUS: I often describe myself as an old Cold Warrior. My grandparents were Lithuanian immigrants who fled Hitler and Stalin. I grew up in Chicago and began adult life during the last year of the Vietnam era by enlisting in the United States Air Force. Among a variety of jobs I held, the most relevant to my writing was early in my career when I typed aircrew intelligence briefings and ran a large classified library in a special operations unit. After I was commissioned, I served in England and Japan. In civilian life,I practiced criminal defense law in Texas before retiring and moving eventually to Maine, USA.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
BACHUS: Goat Rope is the tenth book in the Charlemagne Files series.
Christine Barton, a Vermont state trooper, witnesses a murder while walking her dog in a Montreal park on a bright summer morning in 1999. She is given refuge from the killer in a safe house full of spies and deadly operatives who could be allies but seem like enemies. She soon understands she is not free to leave.
Charlemagne, the premier freelance specialist team used by Western governments for black operations conducted without fingerprints, has been tasked with tracing and destroying a well-funded network of political assassins. They must sift reality from deception in a bewildering kaleidoscope of information and agendas and will use Christine to gain the advantage regardless of the cost to her.
With deep, mutual distrust, Christine and Charlemagne work together in the narrow space of their shared interests surrounded by the chaos of a true goat rope.
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or ...?
BACHUS: I write very early in the morning, on my second cup of coffee. I'm usually up by three and am writing by four. I have no process. The title of this book is Goat Rope not only because my characters are dealing with chaos, but the writing of it was equally bewildering. It's a goat rope of a plot and was a goat rope to write.
FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
BACHUS: I have a great many favorites, from Richardson's Clarissa to modern-day novels by English, Australian, and African writers and translations of works in other languages. I will name the best in my genre, which is espionage thrillers. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John LeCarré had the greatest influence on my writing, A plethora of difficult characters and a devious plot are not everybody's cup of tea, but I enjoy these elements in both my reading and writing. LeCarré adds a touch of humor and humanity in every description that lightens a grim story.
The other great influence in my work is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I derive my purpose as an author from Austen. I strive first to entertain, then to explore an idea or two, and finally, to record my culture and era. Pride and Prejudice does each of these. In a compelling story that is a joy to read, Austen explores human pride and prejudice while giving the reader an understanding of the language, lifestyle, and concerns of young women in Regency England.
FQ: Tell us a bit about the series. Do you know where the series will take the characters or are you working that out as you go along with each book? What has been the reader response to your series?
BACHUS: The Charlemagne Files is an entertaining series of espionage thrillers with a twist. Fast-paced and thought-provoking, the character-driven plots are suitable for most readers and could be termed prime-time thrillers. They contain violence and blood, but no gore, fear and stress, but not for the reader, varied world locations, but without heavy travelogue descriptions. Each book gives the reader intriguing puzzles, larger questions to ponder, and a dash of humor.
The series chronicles the lives of a team of deadly Cold War intelligence operatives over a span of three decades. The team, which calls itself Charlemagne, is the premier freelance specialist team used by Western governments for black operations conducted without fingerprints. The novels and short stories in the series examine the lives, and sometimes deaths, of the team members and the people around them during incidents of stress and uncertainty. They need not be read in sequence but do sometimes reference past events in the lives of the characters.
FQ: Do you see your series going longer than originally expected? More stories to write than originally planned?
BACHUS: I wrote the first novel, Trinity Icon, in 1989. I thought it was a one-off. I'm already pondering number 11.
fQ: Many authors say that it’s hard to say good-bye to the characters in a series? Do you think it will be difficult for you? Have they become part of your life?
BACHUS: Two of the original three members of the Charlemagne team died earlier in the series. Readers often tell me I have killed off their favorite. The main character of the series, Misha, is still alive, though in this book he takes a new risk. I created him when I was ten years old in the fifth grade. It was the most boring school year in my existence. I spent it daydreaming and creating stories.
FQ: Are any of the characters based on real people you know? If so, how closely does your character mimic the real person?
BACHUS: All of my characters have traits based on people I have met, but each develops individually as the words appear on my computer screen. The characters write themselves, and often, the plot. I go into a story with an idea and they show me how it happens in their world.
FQ: The “bad guy/gal” in your book - was he/she fun to create and how difficult was it to write those scenes where he/she plays a central role?
BACHUS: The bad guy in Goat Rope began as a generic villain and did not become something more until he encountered other characters. He will return, perhaps in a new series I am contemplating, which will be based on Christine Barton, the protagonist in this book.
FQ: Tell us about your favorite character and why that person is your favorite.
BACHUS: Misha. He is the founder of the series. He is a difficult hero, always irked by the necessities in his life and in one of the books is described as being in a constant state of irk.