Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rik Stone: The IAN Interview

Do children born into poverty become impoverished adults? It happens; pitfalls and roadblocks to advancement are everywhere. Rik Stone grew up poor amidst the slum-lands of fifties North East England, leaving school at 15 without any academic qualifications. After working in shipyards and a stint in the merchant navy he worked quarries in South East England.

Life was without horizons until he studied for, and completed, a BSc degree in mathematics and computing. Taking a company pension at fifty, he was able to follow personal desires and began writing. Now, he is offering up his debut novel Birth of an Assassin, the first in a series.

Independent Author Network: Please tell us about your latest published book.
Rik Stone: Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

IAN: What inspired you to write Birth of an Assassin?
RS: Birth of an Assassin came from a few stories I heard from Jewish relatives who had escaped the tyranny of the csars at the end of the 19th century. The final story that came to mind had a better fit in the cloak-and-dagger period of post-war Russia.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
RS: I started with a brief beginning, middle and end, and added the bones and flesh from that. Doesn't matter how brief these three elements are, they should be in place before you start in order to give direction to the story.

IAN: How long did it take to write Birth of an Assassin?
RS: The original draft only took a few months, but I have revisited and redrafted so many times in between writing other stuff, I genuinely have no idea how long this work took. The subsequent stories I've written are probably complete within a year.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?
RS: To hold my interest, the text has to have a fast pace.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?
RS: I've had several titles in the course of the writing, but the story itself dictated what it should be.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
RS: An eager anticipation for the next one.

IAN: How much of the book is realistic?
RS: Like life, stories have coincidences, yet I like to believe this work is feasible.

IAN: How is your book different from others in your genre?
RS: I love to read this genre. However, I find a lot of the stuff is filled with gung-ho heroes. Birth of an Assassin follows the military dreams of a young Jewish boy, but it also absorbs his emotions, whether of love, deceit or betrayal. I also think the setting is very different to the norm. There are books out there covering cold-war etc., but they always have a western hero, US or European. I was, and still am, happy to follow my instincts and use a Russian Jew as my front man.

IAN: What books have most influenced your life most?
RS: The Carpet Baggers and The Adventurers. I was too young to appreciate the slower parts of these books, but the early action excited me such that it has stayed with me always.

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?
RS: I took a company pension when I was fifty. When I'm in the zone, I spend maybe sixty hours a week at the keyboard. I never worked that many hours in my previous life, so yes, I see writing as a career.

IAN: Who designed the cover?
RS: The cover was produced professionally, but the end-product came from my brief.

IAN: Is Birth of an Assassin published in print, e-book or both?
RS: Birth of an Assassin is available in paperback and ebook format.

IAN: Where can we go to buy Birth of an Assassin?
Amazon US:  Amazon UK:

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
RS: The Turkish Connection is a prequel to Birth of an Assassin. The work is complete and undergoing the final copy-edit. It should be available sometime during the summer months.