Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Stephen King, all the way. I know, it’s not exactly original, but the man’s writing just sings to me. All of his stuff, the non-fiction, the short stories, even the less-praised books are all gems in my eyes. There’s a couple of things he does that make him the King (pun intended) and it seems that they complement each other. His style of writing is very easy to access, as he doesn’t weigh you down with prose but still manages to craft fantastic sentences. Then there are his characters. He really gets inside their heads and hearts, breathes real life into the clay. He couples that insight with that highly-readable style of his to make you laugh, love, hate, fear and bleed along with the characters in the story. Every time you put down one of his books, you’re leaving a world behind.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I guess that I try to keep the flowery prose to a minimum, cutting it out as soon as it appears, as I’m terrified of being called out for being pretentious. I love that line about using ten dollar words when a two dollar word would work just as well. For instance, I’m a big fan Rust Cohle’s dialogue and philosophical ramblings from True Detective, but I lean more towards a Marty style of writing!
Do you write in different genres?
I mostly write horror or speculative fiction, and The Blue Ridge Project is my first attempt at grafting some of that onto a suspense/thriller story.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
The title and the idea of the story came together. It was the third or fourth title I came up with, and it just felt right. Also, blue is the color of trust, loyalty, wisdom and intelligence, and is also apparently good for the mind, slowing the metabolism. It’s fitting for the experiments taking place in the book and the underlying theme.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I wrote the book with the theme of trust in the back of my head. Everything that happens to the characters, good or bad, can be traced back to trust somehow. Trust in the government, trust in the law, trust between family members, trust in people in charge of our well-being and trust in strangers. Making or breaking that trust is a catalyst for the story’s events. I see a lot of that breaking of trust happening in the world now, especially between the authorities and the public. It seems like the public is starting to get sick and tired of it, and there’s a good chance they will act out because of it.
What book are you reading now?
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I’m not a big ‘Great American Novel’ reader, but after seeing a million quotes and references I never had any context for and that movie with Jason Segel playing the writer (The End Of The Tour) I went and bought it. It’s quite dense, and I’m still getting my head around the footnotes, but I’m enjoying it so far.
What books are in your to read pile?
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton
11/22/63 by Stephen King
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (I know, late to the game right?)
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
Right now I’m putting together a collection of short stories, some of which I’ll be sending out to subscribers as a little gift. I’m also outlining the next book in the series. All I’ll say is, there’s going to be new and more chilling villain and some seriously raised stakes!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep the story on track. I like to create a whole backstory for the people and the events, which I try to draw on when writing. The problem is, I’m so enamored with what I’ve created that it’s hard to know what’s important and relevant to the story and what was just for my benefit. That’s why editors and beta readers exist, I suppose!
Who designed the cover of your latest book?
I actually found it as a pre-made template on ebooklaunch.com. I was about to resign myself to the fact that I would have to fork over a few hundred dollars to get one designed to spec, when I saw the original image. It was almost exactly what I was thinking for the cover, I just had to ask for some color tweaks. I don’t know how often that happens, but I’m sure that I was damn lucky to find one that fit the book so well, and at an affordable price. A big help for a self-published author living on a shoestring budget!
The Blue Ridge Project
Genre: Dark Suspense/Paranormal
Date of Publication: May 6 2016
Number of pages: 260
Word Count: 65,500
Cover Artist: ebooklaunch.com
Conspiracy. Murder. Secret experiments. Mind control. A detective, a journalist and a rich deviant struggle with their pasts as their actions set them on a collision course with each other and The Project.
Detective Andrea Nox has been asked to quietly investigate a bizarre and violent murder-suicide that could have consequences for Beacon City and the people in charge. Dead ends and odd clues are hindering her efforts, and when another similar murder occurs, she has to juggle the investigation and her own troubled past with the Beacon City Police Department.
Journalist Robert Duncan is visiting home after a personal crisis when the unthinkable happens, and secrets are unearthed about his family and his place in it. His involvement in a dangerous and far-reaching conspiracy grows as he uncovers information that implicates powerful people in horrible crimes.
Frank Mortimer, disturbed son of a wealthy and influential family, is taking part in an experimental program that has promised to make him better. However, with the shadowy and powerful group known only as The Project behind the program, what he is getting better at could prove disastrous for everyone else, as a dangerous power is unlocked inside him...
Their paths will converge in a shocking story of murder, conspiracy and clandestine experiments taking place that could change the world.
The car that had followed Frank’s van out of the city rolled down the same route Frank had taken, belching exhaust occasionally. It was a gray sedan, with a bumper sticker that said 'If You’re Reading This, You’re Too Close!' As with Frank’s van, the driver had chosen a car that wouldn’t draw attention or stick in a memory. It was as if the owner had used the word “nondescript” when the salesperson asked what type of car he wanted.
Said owner was Graham Turner, a self-made journalist according to him, a bottom-feeding paparazzo according to almost everybody else. His purview was the lifestyles of the rich, the famous, and the mentionables, especially their bad habits and indiscretions. The most money was to be made in the latter and Turner had made his meager living through catching people of note with their pants down, figuratively or otherwise.
His mission today was to catch a Mortimer doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. A picture of the son, Frank, doing something untoward could pay out massively. Turner didn’t care if it was through sale of the picture or blackmail, just as long as he got his payday.
He was sure the squeaky-clean bachelor was up to no good, driving out here in the middle of nowhere in a busted-up van when his family was rich enough to have a foundation in their name. Turner parked a good distance from the van, reached around to the back seat to grab his camera with the long-distance lens, and stepped out onto the tarmac.
He began to feel ill immediately. He broke out in a sweat and his stomach churned like a washing machine at the start of a spin cycle. He stood leaning against the front of the car for a second, a headache thumping behind his eyeballs, and a loud ringing in his ears. He wiped his soaked forehead with the sleeve of his shirt and started to make his way through the grass, searching for a decent vantage point.
Around forty paces in, close to the warehouse, his headache intensified massively. The pain shot up and down his body, and he felt a pop inside his skull. His left leg went dead and useless beneath him, and he groaned as he fell to his knees. The camera fell and smashed apart on the ground. He heard another pop, like a tiny balloon being pricked with a needle inside his ears, then he fell forward onto the remains of his equipment.
The man with 'SECURITY' written across his cap came sauntering over the grass toward Turner’s body. He rolled it over with one boot-clad foot and saw the burst capillaries in Turner’s eyes: They were as red as the eyes of a B-movie vampire, and just as dead.
Hell of a tune they play, the man thought as he went through Turner’s pockets for the keys to the gray sedan. As he stood up, he double-checked his earplugs, as he often did after finding someone who had come too close, and strolled over to the car to put it out of sight. The body could wait. He couldn’t even see it from the car, the grass deep enough to hide it. He saw a small flock of birds flying overhead, wheeling to make a wide detour around the building nearby.
Birds are smarter than people. He chuckled, proud of his philosophical revelation, and got into the driver’s seat of the almost unnoticeable car.
About the Author:
Neil Rochford is a freelance writer who loves fiction where bad things happen. After more than five years traveling from continent to continent and a few short stories, he finally got to work on his first book, and hopes to continue writing as many as he can. Originally from Ireland, he speaks three languages and has lived in Estonia, Brazil, France and Spain. He is a staff writer for the popular Irish podcast and website Those Conspiracy Guys.