Soldier, Writer, Awful Chef.
Today brings us another author interview, this one with my good buddy Trace Eber. If you’ve followed the Twitter Novel Project for any length of time, you’ll probably remember Trace from the awesome 47 Echo short stories “FUBAR” and “Los Angeles is Burning,” among others. Trace was kind enough to take some time out of his busy (and believe me, it is very busy) schedule while deployed overseas to answer a few questions for me. Shorter interview this time, but well worth the read.
Shawn: So, you and I first met while I was writing the first Twitter Novel, and you emailed me mentioning you write a bit. How did you start writing?
Trace: First, let’s call it what it is — I sent you a fanboy e-mail. And yeah, I mentioned that I write a bit, but I hadn’t really done anything for public consumption until you asked me to throw out some short stories. But I’ve been putting together stories since I was a kid. Whenever an English teacher assigned a writing or story exercise, I always destroyed that thing.
S: Huh. I didn’t know that your 47 Echo supplements were the first things you ever put out for people to read. They sure didn’t look like it — they came across as very complete and polished. Yours were ones where I didn’t have to do much editing at all.
T: Was there a question in there?
S: Uh, nope. Guess there wasn’t. But here’s one — how did you come up with the character of Roger Daniels in “FUBAR?”
T: Roger Daniels is based on a guy I know (not a SEAL, but an Army Combat Diver). He’s a guy that, no matter what, always seems to be calm, almost bored with whatever’s going on around him. I’ve only ever seen the guy even raise his voice once, and that was to be heard over some not insignificant gunfire.
S: I suppose I should get this out of the way right now — you’re my go-to military advisor, as you’re active-duty military. Care to elaborate on what you do for a living?
T: I went into the Army in 1993. I got out in 2002. I went back in in 2004. Right now, I’m a part of the global war on terrorism. Probably shouldn’t say too much more than that.
S: Fair enough. Now, I know you’re working on a novel, and I know your daily schedule doesn’t leave you a whole lot of time to write. How do you cram in some writing time?
T: Well, I have a BlackBerry. It’s kind of been a godsend, since I can just pound stuff into the phone when I have a free minute. I should say that yeah, I’m working on a book, but it’s coming slowly. But it is coming.
S: I’ve seen a bit of it, and I really dig it. Want to tell folks what it’s about?
T: Sure. It’s called “Chinese Democracy,” and I’ll buy you a coffee if you can tell me where that title comes from.
S: You’ll owe me a coffee, then. But if anyone commenting gets it, I’ll give them a copy of the 47 Echo audiobook.
T: Ha. Cool. Anyway, it’s basically a story about a hardcore rock band from the late 90s who get their big break ten years after they decide to quit the music business.
S: That’s an interesting premise. When can folks expect to see it?
T: No clue. I just went over the 80,000 word mark on it (unedited), but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. Maybe I’ll pull a Chief Kupfer and just put it out for free on the Internet when I get back Stateside.
S: Well, I know I’ve taken up a bunch of your time, but anything you want to say before we wrap up?
T: You’re not going to ask the Mad Max question?
S: Shit. I forgot. So, you’re in a desert wasteland after the peak oil crisis. The Great Humungous is nowhere to be found, but his little weird assistant with the mega-mohawk and the bikini-cut briefs is chasing you on his dirt bike. What items do you choose as you explore the wasteland, as depicted in the Australian documentary “The Road Warrior?” Who do you team up with?
T: One thing that always bothered me about Mad Max was that he had no concept of small-unit tactics. He never had anyone watching his back. I’d put together people I knew I could trust (you, a couple of Army buddies), and arm them with M4s and M-ATVs. We’d rule that place in no time, flat. Then we’d hook up with your buddy Christopher’s people (from last week’s interview) and start rebuilding.
S: Stellar answer. I’ll start learning how to drive a Cougar. You know, just in case.
T: Yeah, that might not be a bad plan.
Thanks so much to Trace for taking the time to babble with me over IM! If you have any questions for Trace, leave them in the comments. And the first of you to answer the “Chinese Democracy” question can get a free copy of the 47 Echo audiobook — just leave your email in your response.