This time i am talking to the very talented author Luke Romyn who is an Australian author of thriller novels both in print and ebook, and currently has two published. The first is called The Dark Path and the second is Blacklisted.
Books & Writing: What got you interested in writing?
Luke Romyn: I’ve always loved the escapism of stories, the ability to withdraw into imagination and create anything you like through the simple clicking of a few keys. To be able to create an entire universe is amazing, with each character relying on your whims to survive whatever problems arise.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Luke Romyn: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and probably longer than even that. The first story I got real recognition for was when I was 13 and wrote a short story called Vesuvius! 79AD!!! detailing a group of victims from the volcanic eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD which decimated surrounding villages and caught people where they stood, encasing them in lava and effectively freezing them in time. My story explored the idea of a group of these frozen figures being brought to America and somehow woke up, escaping from their casings and forced to face the world 2000 years after everything they knew was long gone.
The story brought me recognition on a state level in Australia, and taught me the importance of research in making any fictional tale believable.
Books & Writing: How many short stories have you written because I understand you’ve written a few before you got into writing novels?
Luke Romyn: I’ve written quite a few, most of which are now available on my blog. I use my shorts as an opportunity to try new things I have learned, or as a way of practicing a different kind of style or perspective. All writing is a form of expression, whether long or short, and none should ever be taken for granted.
Books & Writing: What attracts you in fiction?
Luke Romyn: There are no constraints when using fiction. Reality holds me back far too much for my liking, and I firmly believe that if I want to turn left instead of right I should be allowed to.
I am a firm believer that, in many ways, a book guides the author, and many times I’ve been determined to lead my story one way but it keeps pulling me another, dragging me from the path I had planned. I’ve tried to write the way others do, but it never works out well, and I instead prefer to let instinct guide me to the end, and if the clouds end up being green then it’s for a reason, and so long as the story doesn’t suffer as a result I’m happy.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us something about your latest published book Blacklisted?
Luke Romyn: Blacklisted is an action-packed thriller based on the idea of using criminals to fight terrorists – a kind of fire against fire scenario.
Mike Swanson is a very disturbed young man, from tormented childhood to vigilantism, until he is caught and faces the death penalty. Without warning, he is broken out of a police station and escorted to a strange base in the desert, where he is trained and tested for his ability to survive all kind of assaults. Finally it is revealed that his final goal will be the defeat of a madman who plans to send the world into anarchy.
Books & Writing: Is the main character Mike Swanson based on someone particular?
Luke Romyn: Every main character I’ve ever used has aspects of myself within them. For Mike, I dragged out more of myself than ever before, incorporating my own past as a nightclub bouncer into his character and a lot of the training I actually went through in order to survive in that world. The character of Chewie is a man I once worked with who took me under his wing when I was only 18, and taught me lessons not only in bouncing, but also in life.
Books & Writing: What is the new book that’s coming out this year “Beyond Hades” about?
Luke Romyn: Beyond Hades is one hell of a ride – almost literally. In its inexhaustible quest for power, the US Government opens a rift gate into another world, inadvertently releasing beasts from Greek mythology into our realm, creatures which are almost impossible to kill and are drawn inexorably to one man: the man who can close the gate and seal them once more in a world beyond Hades.
It will be my largest novel so far – both in length and scope – as I incorporate three worlds into one story, and use a character so far away from heroism as I could have imagined.
Books & Writing: I understand this book is more about mythology, how did you come up with that?
Luke Romyn: As with every book I write it began with the question: what if?
What if mythology wasn’t myth? What if the stories of old were based upon actual events and not just the imaginings of incredible minds? Then we would be faced with beasts beyond horror, terrifying creatures our world of technology is hardly prepared to battle. What could we do?
And thus Beyond Hades was born.
Books & Writing: Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Luke Romyn: I haven’t had a chance to do any writing for a while because of the release of Blacklisted and re-release of The Dark Path, but after Beyond Hades I have three more books lined up ready for editing and release. It’s an extremely slow process, but I’m doing everything possible to get my books out to my readers. So Beyond Hades will hopefully be out around March and then I will begin working immediately on releasing its sequel.
Books & Writing: Where do you see yourself in another two years?
Luke Romyn: I don’t work that way, I worry about now, not the future, not the past. My now dictates that I need to get my writing out to the world; my now tells me that is the most important thing. If I spent my time worrying about two years away, I’d miss what it takes to get there, and end up nothing but a dreamer.
If pressed, however, I would like nothing more than to be writing full-time. I’ve had a taste of it once already and I want more. Money is a tool to get me where I need to go, nothing more, and it is far from my end goal. I want people to be uplifted by my stories, to have a tinge of hope brought into their lives as books once did for me.
Books & Writing: What’s the last book you read?
Luke Romyn: I just finished book 3 of Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series. While his writing is completely different to mine, I absolutely love the way his mind works and his ability to draw on many small things and gradually bring them together, adding tension and suspense along the way.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Luke Romyn: Write every day, or at least every opportunity you get. Like exercising your body, exercising your mind takes a routine and regular use makes it stronger. If you only write once a month, your writing will reflect it.
And be sure to step outside your comfort zone. I used to write a short story each night, asking my wife beforehand to choose a genre for me to try. Of course, I was not very good at some of them, but it made my mind work on my weaknesses in a way that sticking to my regular trains of thought would never have allowed.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Luke Romyn: Links to buy my books are available through my website at http://www.lukeromyn.com . People can find some of my other writing, including many of my short stories, on my blog: http://www.lukeromyn.com/blog .
Or buy his books from Amazon!
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?
Luke Romyn: I’m extremely active on social networks, mainly Twitter where I have over 160,000 followers and Facebook where I have around 5000 ‘friends’.
My Twitter account is @LukeRomyn and Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/luke.romyn . Feel free to friend or add me on either of these and be sure to say hi.
Books & Writing: Thanks Luke for taking the time to answer the questions!
Below is a big excerpt from his book Blacklisted!
Two cops slammed Mike roughly onto a chair, snapping him back to the present.
“Undo his cuffs,” ordered the man across the desk.
The cops hesitantly released his handcuffs, their postures defensive, obviously expecting him to attack at any moment. Maybe they figured he was crazy, a madman who would try to chew off their faces. From the looks of it they’d have no hesitation in shooting him if he even blinked suspiciously.
Mike wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction. He stared coldly at the detective badge adorning the chest of the guy sitting opposite him. The two uniformed cops backed slowly out of the interrogation room. He forgot them before they were even gone.
Mike had known what he’d been doing would eventually catch up with him, and he’d vowed to stop a hundred times. But every time he switched on the TV, he saw another criminal freed on some sort of technicality.
The system no longer worked, and something deep inside forced Mike to continue dispensing justice. The compulsion for revenge, to act when the law failed, was just too strong.
Mike scrubbed at his knuckles for the hundredth time.
Damn this! He didn’t want to be here! Yet he felt a huge, driving need to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. Forged during his years as a bouncer, an instinct to punish those who killed, who raped, who stole…who might murder a boy’s father, leaving him alone in a world saturated with hatred. The only way he knew to remove such a taint was to kill them.
What else could he do? Become a cop? Another uniformed bureaucrat with more paperwork than power? He was eliminating problems, not just brushing them under the rug. Surely that was the answer, wasn’t it?
At least he could afford a good lawyer; that might count for something. There was always a chance the police hadn’t done their job thoroughly enough – just like all those times before, leaving him to clean up the mess.
Anger rose up inside Mike, warming him from within and pushing away his depression. Cops cared more about strutting around, talking down to people and shining their own egos than they did about doing their damn job. If they’d found the evidence they were supposed to, they might stand a chance of catching these criminals and putting them away for good. He wouldn’t have had to resort to his methods; there would have been no need.
“Michael T. Swanson.” The detective leafed through a thick file. Mike sat silently, trying to appear bored while still glimpsing photos of some of his victims. The paperwork in between the images was meaningless at this point; they knew who he’d killed. “Seems you’ve been a very busy man. How do you find the time to go around playing vigilante when you’ve got that fancy club of yours to run? I guess everyone needs a hobby, right?”
Mike stared at him blankly.
“I suppose you’ll be able to use your jail sentence to your benefit. You can get even bigger if all you have to do each day is eat and lift weights. Until they kill you, of course.”
The detective stared at him coldly. “It annoys the hell out of me that a piece of shit like you could get three meals a day paid for by taxed citizens like myself, just to have them kill you anyway. Your way seems much simpler and far more economically viable. You mind telling us where your guns are, so we don’t even have to pay for a bullet? No? Ah well, at least they won’t have trouble finding a vein in those massive arms to stick the needle into for the lethal injection.”
Mike ignored him. He’d ask for gas anyway, he hated needles.
The cop slammed his palm down on the desk. “Why are you looking so smug, you asshole? They’re going to kill you. If you confess now, maybe they’ll go easy and just give you life. With parole, you might even be out in fifteen. You’ll barely be forty years old, plenty of time to live out the rest of your life. Death is final, Mike, make no mistake about it. There ain’t no coming back.”
Mike yawned. This guy was so full of shit; they’d never let him go after the things he’d done.
The detective swore, pacing away, and then returning, leaning heavily on the desk. “Now, I know you’ve got that fancy lawyer and all, but he isn’t gonna save you from this.” He grinned maliciously. “We found your DNA at three crime scenes, and we’re building a case that’s gonna be rock solid.”
That got Mike’s attention. It was possible they might have found something at one of the scenes, but how –?
“How did you get my DNA?” asked Mike, unable to help himself. He hadn’t done anything since arriving at the station – and he certainly hadn’t agreed to a DNA swab.
The detective grinned. “It’s amazing what technology can get for you these days, Mike. Remember your old drug tests back when you were boxing? Did you know they recorded your DNA when they screened you for drugs? They label it as something completely different to keep the whining ninnies ignorant, but when we found a hair on the body of that pedophile you killed – um, what’s his name?”
Mike’s expression was like stone. “It’s your story, you tell me.”
“Anyway, once we got that hair and ran it through the system, your name popped up. Along with similar evidence at two more scenes, it was enough to get us a warrant, and with all the crap we found at your house we’re gonna bury you. We’ll substitute the DNA from your toothbrush for the blood test results and say we got it out of your trash. It’s completely underhanded, but if it helps keep a psycho like you off the street, it’s worth it.”
Mike shook his head, grimacing. These dickheads were almost as bad as the ones he’d been killing.
The door to the interrogation room suddenly slammed open, and four black-clad soldiers, their features hidden behind combat masks, strode in, followed by a man wearing a crisp Armani suit. Mike glanced at the detective, but he seemed just as stunned as Mike.
“Who the hell are you?”
The man in the suit ignored the detective, looking Mike up and down before nodding slightly and indicating to the soldiers. All four moved to where Mike sat and lifted him to his feet. A set of manacles was produced by one, and they secured Mike’s hands and ankles.
The detective made to grab the man in the suit, but in a move of amazing alacrity the suit spun away from him, sweeping the detective’s hands aside in the process. His right hand shot forward, grabbing the detective by the throat. His left arm wrapped around and trapped the cop’s right arm under his pit. Clamping his index finger and thumb around the cop’s windpipe, he pushed up and closed the carotid arteries. The cop offered a weak cough, his eyes rolling back into his head. He spasmed momentarily, and then collapsed to the floor.
The man in the suit gently smoothed the ruffles from his jacket, standing completely at ease. A few inches shorter than Mike and a good deal lighter, the stranger returned his stare evenly, and Mike felt a chill growing deep within. This was not someone to be trifled with.
Around thirty-five years of age, the strange man had a fair complexion and sandy-colored hair, parted evenly to the left and lightly oiled. It gave the impression of someone scholarly, but even without the display Mike had just witnessed, he would never have taken this man lightly. Behind those brown eyes flecked with black, laid a deep intelligence, bordering on what seemed like insanity…or fanaticism.
“Who are you?” Mike’s voice quavered slightly. He’d been so certain of things after getting caught by the police; he was caught and they were going to kill him for his crimes. Simple. And in that simplicity had resided a relief: it was all finally over. But this, getting busted out of jail by a bunch of guys who beat up cops and dressed like commandos, this was something he was totally unprepared for, and dread began rising within him. It was a strange sensation, coming so soon after being convinced he was going to die. He stared at the man in charge, waiting for some kind of explanation, but none came. The man pointedly ignored Mike and motioned for the soldiers to take him out of the room.
As they marched through the police station, other soldiers fell in behind them. Cops were lying all over the place, some with tranquilizer darts sticking out of them.
What the hell was going on?
Mike’s heart began to race. His palms, for once free of blood, grew clammy with sweat.
The soldiers wore no markings of rank or country and moved through the place with a coordinated efficiency which impressed the former bouncer. Impressed him as well as unnerved him; something on this scale was almost beyond belief. They slid through rooms with a precision which spoke of years of training, their black boots barely making a sound as they glided swiftly from place to place, completely securing the station. No emotion emanated from the eyes within the combat masks, and Mike felt his trepidation mount once more.
These guys were definitely not amateurs.
Exiting from the rear of the station, into a parking lot, Mike saw several unmarked, military-looking Humvees, painted uniformly black with dark-tinted windows. Bustled into the back seat of one, two soldiers sat, one on either side of him, pinning him in. Both had their Beretta M9s drawn and held them ready on their laps. The safety mechanisms were clicked off, the little red dot staring up at him like a promise of blood if he decided to resist.
The front passenger door opened, and the man in the suit entered the vehicle. Flipping open his phone, Mike heard him say, “Implement sweep and cleanup of the entire station. Use G-67 formula on all subjects and create a cover story of a gas leak resulting in temporary amnesia, accompanied by loss of consciousness. That is all.”
As the vehicle moved away from the police station, Mike couldn’t help but wonder yet again who these men were and what agenda they had.
Mike’s bladder felt uncomfortably full, yet his mouth seemed completely dry. He shouldn’t feel like this; he was the killer, the one to be feared, but his heart raced in terror. Not at the thought of death, merely panic at the unknown. Why the hell was this happening?