This post is dedicated to a dear friend, a genuine person, an author who works hard and never gives up. Part of the Virtual Blog Tour for Dark Side of the Moon, I can offer you a review, an interview and a giveaway. Now, you can’t do fairer than that, I think you’ll agree. It’s like a huge chocolate sundae with chocolate wafer fingers and sprinkles on top. Tuck in.
First, let me introduce you to Ahmad. He is a 36 year old author currently residing and writing in the heat of south Florida (I envy him hugely for that). Originally from Brooklyn, New York, his debut best-selling Sci-fi/Suspense/Thriller, Dark Side of the Moon, incorporates knowledge from his prior law enforcement career, and a vivid imagination for the intense and suspenseful.
After being a semi-finalist for The Kindle Book Review: Best Indie Book of 2012, Ahmad has begun the sequel to Dark Side, which will be released in early 2013. He is also working on a shocking Crime/Thriller which will be out mid-2013.
Now, just so you know, I call Ahmad 24/7, or simply A. He calls me E. I guess we must have been rushed when we first tripped over each other on social media, as these abbreviated versions of our names stuck and are still in use many months later.
Ahmad! Hello, my friend! Almost a year on since I’ve last received trustworthy intelligence on your projects, I’m planning to come out of the shadows and ask you exactly what’s new in your life (read ‘check up on you’). If you could find it in yourself to share something really exciting, like…say…any more unwanted possums you had to dispose of, or any great ‘social life’ horror stories, we’re all ears. For those of you who haven’t yet read the story, have a look here.
E! It’s a pleasure to be here with you. I love doing interviews and getting to share with new audiences, but in this case I’m a bit nervous since you know a little bit more about me than most interviewers. We’ll see if I can answer all your questions or if I have to pass any up.
1. Dark Side of the Moon is a great read, and it shows: you were a semi-finalist for The Kindle Book Review: Best Indie Book of 2012. How did that make you feel?
Honestly, I thought it was a joke at first. I was completely unaware that my book was being considered for the award and only found out when I received a congratulatory instant message from a friend. I gave the appropriate, “LOL. =) Funny!” response. They then responded with the link to the announcement of the semi-finalists. I was blown away. It was a tremendous honour. I am humble but extremely proud, as well.
2. Was it enough of a boost to ignite the fire under the sequel? I remember you were swamped in work at some stage.
It provided a slight impetus for me to start writing the sequel, but I have yet to complete the follow-up to DSOM as of yet.
3. I can see you’re working on a prequel series to Dark Side of the Moon. Not that I’m complaining, because I love the characters, but most people write ONE prequel. You’ve gone for a whole series. Care to share the thinking behind this one?
Sure. I had been toiling with the sequel, and taken several “breaks” in writing it. I even started a completely different novel just to clear my head and try and stimulate the creative juices again.
I was then having a conversation with a friend who like everyone else I speak with was asking me when the sequel was due. Since that is now my favourite question to answer, I just explained the fact that I was in the middle of it and it would be done sometime soon (my standard response to a question I don’t have an answer to). This friend then gave me the idea of a lifetime. They suggested that if I was having such a hard time tackling a full length novel why not just aim for something shorter. Now, I do not generally enjoy writing short stories, I find it difficult to limit myself to a few thousand words, but the idea seemed more feasible for me at that moment. I had also been toying with the idea of making DSOM a complete trilogy, giving it a clearer starting point than where we pick up with the characters in the central story. At this point I decided to give the short story approach a chance. I began writing book 1 of the prequel and found that it was less complicated than I had previously imagined it would be. As soon as I was finished, I rushed it off to my usual suspects for their opinions. I received a positive response from this test group and decided to try and do another. Two short stories down, I wanted to keep going, so it was at that point I decided to take the five main characters of the story and write a sort story for each, the premise being the reader would get a deeper background to each one. You will be able to learn what circumstances and experiences have influenced them and helped formed the persons you meet in the central book. For new readers, I think it’s a great lead-in to the world of ARCA, Mickot Shrader, Drug-X and the Thomas family. For old fans, it will be a nice history lesson on their favourite characters and will bring more excitement for the final chapter in the Dark Side saga.
4. Neat idea. I like it. And, for the uninitiated, the last chapter is already brimming over with excitement; I’m curious to see how much more you can pump it up. Now, there were some other projects in the pipeline – you contributed to an anthology for Grim5, organised by Lyn Midnight. Has that been published now?
That project has been on hiatus for a few months, but recently I received word that it has been revived and, with any luck, it will see publication in the very near future. With over 30 individual contributors, there are many who are interested in having the project see the light of day, you as well, E!
5. True, I have contributed to one of the stories, too. And more recently, you wrote Tag Team in Space (TTiS) with J. Naomi Ay – could you explain the concept behind this blog story? Is it something you plan to publish?
TTiS is a project I am very proud of.
The basic concept is a collaborative story between J. Naomi and I that takes place between our two blog sites. I had been interested in collaborating with another author for some time but the specific project had not presented itself yet. I was having a conversation with J. Naomi about marketing for Indie authors and I broached the subject of doing a collaborative project. Up until that point I had been limiting my co-promoting to tweets and hosting author interviews on my blog, but it was my desire to continue creating while working on co-promoting, as well. I discussed the idea of taking a few of our individual characters and mashing them up together in a little story. I wasn’t 100% on how we would do it but just wanted to gauge her interest level. I received my answer 20-minutes later when she sent me a copy of chapter one. I, too, was excited and quickly wrote chapter two in response to her ideas. She messaged me back saying she loved it and TTiS was born.
We talk at least once a week and we try and figure out the end-goal of the project, but for now we are just allowing the story to flow naturally and go where it will. It’s our version of Improv.
We have spoken about setting a chapter limit and taking it to publication after that. We are interviewing illustrators currently, and hopefully we will end up with a pretty cool graphic novel at some point.
6. What was it like to ‘tag-write’ a book? Would you do it again?
It’s interesting writing with someone else. You know this from all your work co-authoring books. Individually, you have ideas, and so does the other person. Trying to combine these ideas and styles while creating something cohesive and not disjointed is a challenge.
I actually enjoy the process because it opens me up to new ideas and avenues which I may have not been open to previously.
7. I have to say, Ahmad Darkside Live is a very classy, professional looking site. You must have put a lot of effort into blogging and social media. I can see lots of author interviews.
I admit I have trouble keeping up with my individual sites. I have trouble managing my time period, and because of that some things suffer from time to time. My sites are definitely on that list, but I try and do general upkeep every couple of weeks because both sites are my “store window” to the world. If people are browsing or window-shopping, I’d better have something worth looking at or else they will never come in the store and buy anything.
8. Time management is one of those like skills I’m yet to master, so I understand completely. Now, about this particular author, the brain behind the sci-fi thriller. You have a background in law enforcement. Is that what created the spark of an idea, to start with?
The idea was from a wild dream I had in which my sister and I were government agents on assignment. In the dream, my sister went on a mission and never returned. I then began my own mission to track her down.
When I woke up from the dream I was freaked out a bit. I even gave her a call at 4 am to make sure she was okay. Well, after she cursed me out for waking her up, I realized that I wanted to get this story down on paper. I grabbed a pen and paper and began jotting down notes and eventually formed an outline. Several hours later I decided to power on my laptop and start writing something. One month after that, I had draft one of DSOM.
My background in law enforcement was not the impetus for writing the story, but it certainly aided me in creating the characters and in developing the theme (former government agent out to track down his missing family).
9. Did you always dream of writing thrillers?
I read and watch a lot of action, suspense and thrillers. I like being surprised and getting sucked into a story. I did not always know I wanted to be an author, but once I did, I knew that I wanted to shock people with the way I told my stories.
10. Ok, so you started writing, the words began to add up, and then one day you had a book. What did you do next?
Besides pee my pants?
I stayed awake for days on end waiting for one of my review group to get back to me with some sort of reaction. I was terrified of their reactions but excited at the same time. Once I finally got word that there was something there, I began editing, editing, editing.
Eventually, I decided I wanted it out for public consumption. I was a rookie and hadn’t the slightest clue how to make that happen. I also am notorious for my lack of patience, so I sent out my couple hundred query letters to agents and pub houses, but also decided I would get it out there on Amazon as soon as possible. So I did.
11. Were there any sites, any people or places you found especially relevant or helpful in your journey as a newbie indie author?
Jess of “Jess Resides Here” was so amazing with me. She didn’t know me from the next guy, but she was super sweet and helpful. She pointed me in the right direction and has always been around to offer help and a much needed pat on the back.
Rachel Thompson of “RachelintheOC” is also someone I am happy to consider a friend. She is a great writer and marketer, and a tough cookie to crack, but she has always been around to help me out or lend me some advice. Even when she has a criticism, it is useful and beneficial.
J. Naomi Ay has been not only a partner, but a great friend. She has helped me tremendously with progressing as a writer. I also kicked her arse in fantasy football this year, so now we have a friendly rivalry going.
And of course my wonderful, sweet, mother-hen: Ella Medler. E (as I have been allowed to call her) is a darling person to know, and genuinely a friend. Though circumstances have not allowed us to communicate on the everyday basis we had grown accustomed to previously, I know that E is always there for me, as she has been from the first day we spoke.
Out of any of my fellow authors, or anyone else in this industry, I would say E knows me best.
(Aw, now I miss talking to you every day, E!)
12. Ha, ha. You’re funny, A. Tell me, now that you’re so much more experienced, is there anything you’d do differently? Other things you wish you’d tried earlier on?
LOL. Yes: tried everything a lot earlier.
And also just continued creating more regularly. I allowed frustration and other things in life to interfere with creating and that is a huge no-no for a writer. I am back into a somewhat regular groove now, but the time off has certainly not benefited me at all.
13. There’s a stereotypical picture of an author most people have. Now you know, and I know, that picture is far from a true representation. But just to be clear, what’s a normal workday like for you? Describe it for us.
After hitting snooze ten or so times, I crawl out of bed and shower. I run off to work, since I am already late, and suffer through dealing with my daily chores and my neurotic boss.
After work, I drag myself home, all the while believing in my heart of hearts that I will hit the ground running and start writing once I walk through the door. Fat chance!
I plop myself down on the couch and try and wake myself up. An hour or so of my phone beeping incessantly with emails related to writing, I get up and turn my laptop on. That’s when my real work-day begins. I spend the next 7-10 hours attempting to answer emails, read articles that will be beneficial, communicate with other writers about news in our world and maybe, just maybe, write a chapter or so. Somewhere around midnight’ish I take a break to have dinner and a quick cigarette before jumping back on my computer ‘till 2 or 3 am. I then catch an hour of television before passing out, only to hit snooze again when my alarm goes off at 7 am.
A friend of mine gave me a little nickname, and I think it is 100% appropriate: Ahmad 24/7.
14. And how do you recover after a day like that? After a string of days as full as the one you’ve just described? How do you relax?
It may sound sophomoric but weekends are usually pub time for me. I truly enjoy catching up with my friends and de-stressing over a couple (10) beverages.
I also play basketball a few times a week (hanging on to my athletic youth, I guess).
But, as you know, writers work (or should) 7 days a week, so weekends are just a cute term I like to use for days I don’t have to work my day job.
15. Finally, forgive me for borrowing a question from your own directory. Ahmad Taylor, tell us, are you afraid of the dark?
Maybe more than I would like to admit! But don’t tell anyone!
Thank you, E, for allowing me to come on and talk with your audience. I really appreciate all of your love and support this past year. It is a treat for me to talk about… me… so thank you for that.
I wish you much success, my friend, and I look forward to enticing you into some future collaboration of our own! (Great minds can do great things together!)
Yes, they can. Thanks for being a great sport and not shying away from my questions, A.
Dark Side Of The Moon
Blurb: When former government agent, Derrick Thomas, awakens to find his family missing and in danger, he must outwit a clandestine organization intent on keeping him from the truth and his family.
Government agent Derrick Thomas awakes from a disturbing dream to find a message from his father asking for help. As he sets out to lend his assistance he quickly discovers that not only can he not find his father, but that a clandestine government agency is out to derail his search before it can even begin. After discovering details of a global food crisis, an interplanetary mission gone awry, the murders of two of his father’s colleagues, and the further disappearances of his mother and sister, Derrick is thrust into a fight for his own life and a struggle to uncover details of secret government experiments which his family may be involved with. Will he be able to save them and uncover the truth before he becomes the next victim of an organization bent on keeping him silent?
Amazon USA: http://amazon.com/dp/B00716M0YU
Not the first novel written by an ex-cop I’ve ever read, but definitely the one which uses the most up-to-date jargon and technology. The writing style is crisp and to the point, without unnecessary flourishes and archaic turns of phrase. This is a modern read based on a modern idea and using sci-fi threads which are spun perfectly to fit right into this realistic world. Another refreshing feature (to me) is to be able to read a thriller where the weapons are not the same as the ones used by Philip Marlowe in the earlier Raymond Chandler books or Roger Moore as he first played British agent James Bond, but a rather more sophisticated, imaginative, slightly wishful-thinking-type new cache.
Twists and turns at every corner make Dark Side of the Moon an unexpected and enjoyable action-packed read. You get to see glimpses of a really talented family and you can’t wait to learn everything about them. By the time the storyline settles into a full-blown thriller, you wish you could be right there, in the middle of it all, shouting encouragement and warning Derrick about imminent danger.
Derrick Thomas is the sort of guy that brings a smile to your lips – from his morning routine to the over-the-top care his mom gives her baby son and the relationships with his older sister Jeanie and strong-willed father Martin, everything draws you in and compels you to be his friend. The more you think you’ve worked out what he is going to do next, however, the more you find yourself pointing down a different avenue. This is where Ahmad Taylor’s police training comes into its own – the action sequences and assault and hostage situations are spot-on.
I didn’t see the ending until the last moment. But knowing what kind of person Derrick is, you know what he is planning to do and you also know he succeeded, but boy – you wish he hadn’t. I can’t wait to read the sequel – I’ll be biting my nails until I get to see that everything turns out ok. Releasing a series of prequels, which deal with each main character in turn, is a stroke of genius. I will certainly read them all.
Ahmad is offering one lucky reader a chance to meet and appreciate the work of his co-author, J. Naomi Ay. He is giving away a copy of The Boy who Lit up the Sky (The Two Moons of Rehnor). You can read its description here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007B77U8A
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment under the post with a way for me to contact you, so I can pass the prize on to you.
If you liked what you read and would like to find out more about Ahmad, or simply stalk a nice guy, you can find him by clicking any of these links:
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