Tuesday 12 March 2013

Author Interview & Book Spotlight: Emerson Freedman

About the Author:

Emerson Freedman is an author, poet, and blogger who currently earns a living making sure computers don’t make too much of a mess when they fall over, which is a lot harder than it sounds. He is currently living in a cozy flat (apartment) in a pretty little suburb of London with his daughter, fiancé, two dogs, two cats, five fish, a half dozen spiders, and a rampant imagination. He is hoping you enjoy reading this book enough to give the next one a go when it comes out.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I let the story flow. The ideas are organic, yet flow into a structure when I think about them, concentrate on them, and try to build them up. I usually am quite structured when I come up with an idea, writing down thoughts, the storyline, maybe some character sketches, and even possibly primary plotlines and love interests or conflicts if they fit the idea.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

Yes, the characters always take over the story. It’s not even about ‘want,’ as although we authors might ‘create’ the characters, once created they do their own thing. There’s nothing more jarring when reading a book, watching a play, or enjoying a film, to have a character suddenly change character. That’s akin to you or me suddenly growing an extra arm or leg, and is usually where a story will fall over and throw us out, making us feel a bit unnerved and possibly irritated. I try to avoid that and quite often have to change my idea of what the story is, to fit with the characters and the situations that have arisen from the birth of the story. The moment the characters have flesh and bone, and personality, I lose some control over the story, and a lot of control over them, but that is fine with me – the enjoyment I get from writing is as much the experience of watching the characters come to life as the actual structured story telling or even ‘getting to the end.’

What is your favourite food?

Pizza, lasagne, anything Italian and heavy, fatty…generally bad for me and my waist-line.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I used to be a night owl, but since my daughter was born I’ve had to become more of a ‘top and bottom’ type of person – I can stay up late and wake up early…although not often or for long. So usually I am stuck with the early mornings, because that is when the day starts. If I get up even a bit late I feel the stress all day long, like I’m being chased by a bad dream.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

Far east Asia, China, and India again. I love the different cultures, personalities, people, and worlds that are out there, only a short (or even slightly longer) hop, skip, and jump away.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Maybe, but I guess it depends on your perspective. I live near London, so although it features in my debut novel, Killer App, it is not ‘distant.’ So I guess it’s all relative. In the new novel I am working on at the moment, the US and mainland Europe feature, but again these are places I am familiar with, being an American living in London, and having travelled extensively through Europe over the past twenty-odd years.

Do you listen to music while writing?

Nope. Can’t stand having interruptions or noise; I prefer perfect silence. Although I usually get my ‘regular’ writing fix on my commute to work on the train. Strange that I can tune out all of the background noise on the train, but the slightest interruption at home will have the grumpy poppa bear growling with frustration because I cannot concentrate. And don’t get me started on having the TV on while I’m trying to write! I’m like a little kid, zombie-eyed whenever the boob-tube comes on. Total brain-death for me. However, when I write a good action scene I get a pounding soundtrack in my head, which only I can hear. It eggs me on, polishes the words, and means that I know I am writing something catchy, interesting, engaging. That’s what makes me happy.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

My latest release is a story of layers, looking at the reality we all take for granted, and imagining the complexity when we start to peel away at our assumptions. Into that cauldron I’ve thrown a handful of interesting characters of various ages, all intent on their own world-view, and sure of themselves as whole and hearty human beings. A dash of action, a pinch of romance, a drop of violence, a hint of menace, mix it all up in the melting pot that is London, and kapow! Killer App, the novel you can’t put down.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

It’s a long road from idea to publication-ready, and an even longer road from self-published to well-known. I’ve done the first bit, and am working on the second. I’ll let you know what I’ve learned when I’ve managed to become well-known.

Is there anything you would do differently?

Nope. Everything I’ve learned so far I’ve learned the hard way, cause that’s how I’m built, that’s how I learn; the hard way.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

Everyone and everything in my life has influenced my writing, including friends, families, work colleagues, random strangers, motes of thought that come dancing into my head in the middle of the day or night, nightmares, fantasies, and even my own character’s thoughts, desires, dreams, and fears. It all makes for an interesting ride for me, and hopefully for my readers.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Keep on going. You don’t get to be a published author if you quit. Oh, yes, and REWRITE! So many books out there mean that you have to standout for quality as well as quantity. There’s no point in writing a million books that you never rework. An author is a writer who rewrites, and rewrites, and rewrites. I like the story someone told me about Pablo Picasso getting arrested carrying a paintbrush and paint in an art museum. He was trying to ‘fix’ his own paintings, because he wasn’t happy with them. And that’s another lesson. Learn when to say ‘enough’ and move onto the next piece. It will never be 100% perfect, not in this lifetime. When you’ve done enough rewriting and your brain is melting out your ears, publish it move on.

What are three words that describe you?

Energetic, enthusiastic, tenacious

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

The Breakfast of Champions and Kurt Vonnegut.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

Killer App:

Jacob's reality begins to unravel the moment he is hired to hunt down the Chairman’s lost property. As cryptic clues appear out of thin air and the bodies pile up, he realises that finding the missing machine might be his last chance for salvation.

Ben has been on the run for as long as he can remember. His last hope to finding answers flaps skinless against a worn brick wall. Now all he can do is run from the steel-bladed killers, heading for a safe haven that haunts his dreams.

Finn and Victoria track the killer, hoping to find out what it wants, and where it is going. Their bickering turns sour as it becomes clear that they are London's last hope. Thousands of innocent lives hang in the balance.

As the clock ticks down to midnight, hunters and hunted race to work out what is real in a world where even your own memory cannot be trusted.

List of previous books if any

Poemetics – a poetry anthology

Little Bear Fred and his New Circus Bed – a children’s bedtime poem

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.

Killer App book site – www.killerapponline.com

Facebook fan page – www.facebook.com/killerapponline

Poetry and short story blog – www.darkerzeus.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/darkerzeus

Book Spotlight:
Killer App by Emerson Freedman
Available in paperback and ebook


Jacob's reality begins to unravel the moment he is hired to hunt down the Chairman’s lost property. As cryptic clues appear out of thin air and the bodies pile up, he realises that finding the missing machine might be his last chance for salvation.

Ben has been on the run for as long as he can remember. His last hope to finding answers flaps skinless against a worn brick wall. Now all he can do is run from the steel-bladed killers, heading for a safe haven that haunts his dreams.

Finn and Victoria track the killer, hoping to find out what it wants, and where it is going. Their bickering turns sour as it becomes clear that they are London's last hope. Thousands of innocent lives hang in the balance.

As the clock ticks down to midnight, hunters and hunted race to work out what is real in a world where even your own memory cannot be trusted.

Excerpt: Chapter 2: The creeps

“I told you not to put that god-damn coffee cup there! Can’t you follow a simple god-damn request without someone having to draw you a god-damn map?” Victoria is tired of babysitting Finn. You couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. Remind me why we hired you. Victoria takes a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Not worth stressing over. Each time she looks at Finn she wants to shout at him and beat him to the ground. Bastard left that cup of coffee so close to the server I nearly dowsed it when I turned around. Victoria fights the urge to christen Finn with the burnt black mush. Serve you right, behaving like a two-year-old.

“How was I supposed to know you would put that there?” Victoria’s best death stare fails to stem the growing tide of Finn’s whinge, “I can’t be held responsible for you putting the damn mainframe just anywhere, can I? Besides, I always put my coffee mug there-” a camp flop of his wrist points out the browning circle of drying coffee on the granite-black surface, “-notice the stains on the console table?” Victoria digs her fingernails into her palms, Oh please. Just one little slap.

The glint in her eye and half-hidden evil grin are completely missed by Finn. “What the hell are you talking about? That is where the mainframe belongs, numb-nuts.” Razors embed themselves in her suddenly velvety voice. “Notice the label on the table, ‘Wireless Mainframes’?” Victoria points at the black on white label below Finn’s coffee stains. She slides her wrap-around TV glasses down her nose with one pinkie to give him the death stare, You idiot.

To his credit Finn holds Victoria’s angry glare for almost a minute before folding and stomping off to the kitchen. Victoria watches his glasses dangle dangerously down near his jaw. I bet they get broken by the end of the day. Black corrosive looking stains scar Finn’s previously pristine console, Is that ketchup? Finn’s fibreglass specs clatter onto the kitchen counter. Victoria considers calling the Chairman. No, She straightens her shoulders. I can sort this thing out for myself. No more putting up with Finn’s tantrums. It’s going to be my way or the highway.

Victoria opens her mouth to call Finn back to his desk when her console chimes. She throws one last frustrated glance at Finn’s hunched back as he plays with the noisy coffee machine before plugging in both of her ear pieces and answering the call.

- - - - - -

Finn was in the kitchen, baking an apple pie, thinking of picking up the steak knife and sticking it in Victoria’s-, Finn catches himself before the fantasy can go any further. Make love not war, man.

Finn smiles as his imagination floats away to a distant Utopia where he and Victoria are happily married with kids, living in a house by the sea, If only.

Focus. Finn fumbles frustratingly with the pieces of plastic. How the hell do these go together? Preternatural silence settles over him. Finn’s fingers freeze. His breath catches in his throat. The hairs on his neck stand on end. She’s right behind me.

The light susurration of Victoria’s voice wafts into the kitchen to tickle Finn’s earlobes, simultaneously sending chills up his spine. He can make out the ticking of acrylic nails on glass keys. Calm down, man, she’s working.

Finn does not need to look to see her. His mind fills with the image of her perfect neck arching forward as she focuses on her screen. Her delicately graceful fingers tap lightning quick in rhythm with her moving lips. He loves the fact that she mouths what she is typing. So cute! And her smile! Even the angry glare of her beautiful eyes strips his heart bare. It is enough to drive any man crazy. She is gorgeous. Finn smiles to himself, One day

Snap out of it, man! Finn’s grin twists into a grimace as his fiddling fingers find yet another way not to connect the three pieces of plastic. What the hell were they thinking? He pauses mid-fidget to singe his taste buds on foul lava. Caffeine pulsing violently in his right temple makes it difficult to concentrate. I need a cigar.

Finn’s mind conjures up the look of irritation Victoria had fired his way only a moment ago. The image dissolves in a moment of elation as the pieces click together to form a tiny plastic ‘L’. Finn sighs deeply. The plastic piece lies pathetically dead in his hand. Who am I kidding? She would never go for me, even if I didn’t act like a total goof-ball.

I could sell this and go on the run with Victoria. The beach home and running, laughing children resurfaces for a moment. What if this is some sort of colossal leg-pull? The dust of despair settles heavily on his shoulders. She is never going to be with me, and I’m never going to get this bloody spying thing off the ground. He stares hard at the plastic L. How do you work, dammit?

His stress ramps up. Victoria is going to get suspicious. He turns over the plastic piece. There are no lights or buttons. He holds the L close to his face, looking for the hairline cracks he knows exist. Come on you bastards, where are you? Anxiety makes his hands sweaty. The plastic L slides across his slick palm and nearly topples into the sink. He can imagine it slipping down the drain and out of his life forever. Chance would be a fine thing.

What the? Finn turns over the L a few more times wondering what had caught his attention. Nothing about the small piece of plastic stands out. Finn’s eyes follow his hand as he goes to dump it on the counter. An LED light flickers just outside his area of focus. A few hand passes with the L confirms his first thought.

The coffee machine! Finn holds the plastic L in front of the coffee machine’s screen, which flashes bright red blue and green in response.

Ok, so now what? He scans the front of the unit closely. What he had originally mistaken for a coffee tray turns out to be just the right shape and size for the L. Finn slides it in. A small plastic cover slides down nearly nipping his finger in the process.

The small screen stops flashing blue and green, settling instead on fuzzy grey. Finn leans forward until his nose is almost touching the machine. He can make out a tiny grey room. A pixelated face fills the screen. Finn lurches back, sitting down hard and slamming his back against the metal table-top. His hands grip the bench as he holds his breath. After a few moments of nothing Finn hoists himself up. He creeps closer to the machine, peering intently at the screen. Could be a man. The face is digitised beyond recognition, Could be anyone.

“Are you done playing?” shouts a voice inches from Finn’s ear. He grabs the counter glancingfurtively past the edge of the door as his legs turn to jelly. Victoria is off in her own world typing and chatting away. How do I turn the sound down?

“Apologies, is this better?” the same voice replies quietly.

Finn smiles and nods at the screen. Yes, thank you. The shadow seems to be waiting for something. Realisation dawns on Finn. Oh my god! Are you in my head? The shadow-man nods gently. If only the boys back at Uni could see me now.

“If you told them we’d have to kill you.” There was a pause. “And them.”

Finn’s jelly legs turn to lead. What?

“Relax. We’re just testing our emotional barometers. You passed.”

An implant that read minds.


And emotions.

“Emotional states, to be precise. Interpretation is a little more difficult, because emotions are extremely personal. Once we get to know each other better our ability to read your true emotional state will improve. But it will never be perfect.”

Don’t focus on anything.

“Nice try.”

Damn. This is going to be hard.

“Spot on.”

Stop it! Finn’s brain goes cross-eyed as he tries thinking nothing at all. I am in control.

Can you hear me when I’m not near the coffee machine?

“Sometimes faintly but the range is not all that great, especially with the electromagnetic field pulsing through the operations centre. When you walk near the patching cabinet we lose you completely. Presumably this is to protect the wireless connections inside from external interference.”

What do I need to do now?

“Just what we asked you to do in the first place. You need to dig up the information for your article, remember. We will give you the rest of what we have in exchange for what we need.”

Finn feels he is going crazy. You are talking to a coffee machine in your mind, how sane can you be? The man on screen does not respond. Is that all you wanted to tell me?

“For now, that’s it. But you have to work fast. We don’t know how long we can keep Ben safe before they close the loop.” The voice pauses for a moment before continuing in a much more serious tone, “If you are still there when they finally close the loop you are on your own. We cannot help you.”

I know that.

“Yes, we know you know. We just want this to be completely clear. When this is all over you must disappear. Staying out in the open is not an option.”

Why, what can they do once I publish?

“First of all you will have to find a way to stay alive before you publish. Then you will have to find a way to stay alive after you publish. Now you know what you have to do. Get on with it.” The screen goes blank.

Finn puts a hand to his temple where his caffeine migraine has returned. Why me? He knows the truth, I volunteered. His hands slide uselessly across the front of the coffee machine in a desperate attempt to release the L. A grin breaks across his face loosening tense shoulders. First I’m talking to a machine, now I’m molesting it. He gives up on removing the L and punches in his favourite drink. Finn’s fingers tap the LED screen as the machine gurgles. Ouch! You’re poking me the eye. His grin breaks into a toothy smile. Finn jerks his hand back as if burned as the machines gears grind beans loudly.

- - - - -

Ben has no idea where his feet are taking him. What seemed like the beginning of a city now ends in a massive two lane highway reaching off into the distance. There is no sidewalk.

He hops the low wooden fence and heads out across the open field, keeping the road to his left. He does not want to stray too far from the main route to London. Wide eyes trace the white-scudding clouds tripping softly across the surprisingly blue sky. He can see the alley in front of him, dank smelling brick lining the path to the door, My door.

A sinking feeling anchors Ben’s feet. He is back in Guildford, staring up at the skinless boy dangling from the window like dirty laundry. Ben’s heart is racing. What if the killer catches up with me? Ben hyperventilates. The world leans slowly to one side as his brain is starved of oxygen. Ben takes a slow deep breath, forcing himself back to the present. I will not end up like him.

Broad daylight shines down around him. Cars blur by on the six-lane motorway. The panic attack returns. I’m exposed, they’ll see me.

Ghostly fingers caress his forehead, brushing the hair out of his eyes. You have to keep moving. Ben can feel his legs again. That’s it. You have to come home to me, to safety.

Ben strikes off across the field enjoying the scent of freshly laid manure and turned grass. He catches himself smiling as the sun shines down on him. His feet sink deeply into deliciously squelching mud. Blue sky kisses the tree-rimmed horizon beckoning him onwards.

It’s good to be alive.

The ebook is available from amazon | amazon uk | ibooks | kobo | b&n | smashwords

The paperback is avaiable from lulu | amazon | amazon uk

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