Interview with Theo Cage – author of Buzzworm

1. Tell me about yourself.

I’ve always loved to write. I scratched out my first short story when I was seven, about a boy who mysteriously shrank down to the size of a mouse and was sucked up by the family vacuum cleaner. I still remember the excitement of being able to manufacture a story out of pure imagination. Getting that boy safely out of the vacuum cleaner at the end was also a great puzzle to solve. Nothing is more fun.

I work in the technology industry today and write and paint in my spare time. And I continue to enjoy finding ways to get people safely out of tight spots.

2. How were you inspired to write Buzzworm?

I worked for a year with an IT expert who, it turned out, was on contract once to the Mossad in Israel. His first-hand accounts of using computer viruses as a military weapon really caught my imagination. Most people have no idea how powerful and ubiquitous these threats are. Today, computer viruses can attack our smart phones, our cars and even our appliances. Just think of all the possible story lines.

3. What inspired you to write?

I didn’t grow up on Harry Potter; my YA was H.P.Lovecraft, Issac Asimov and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Especially Vonnegut. He just seemed to be having so much fun writing that I could hardly wait to finish his novels so I could start my own. Of course that sense of ease was a complete deception. He struggled over every word just like all of us. He just made it look easy.

4. What is something interesting about you not many people know?

I actually wrote and produced a comedy television show for one year in partnership with a very talented comedic actor. The series even caught the attention of the American Comedy Network in New York. What I learned from that experience is the technique of writing on-demand. You have five minutes and we need one hundred words. Go.

5. What genre do you like to write in?

I’ve always loved thrillers and have read everything written by Chrichton, Stephen Hunter, Connelly, Sandford and Lee Childs. Again, I think this goes back to my fascination with watching interesting characters find their way out of difficult situations. But I am working on a novel right now about a golden retriever that goes on a long journey to find the answers to life, so I do wander around a bit. As a kid I wrote a lot of sci-fi short stories and loved horror too.

6. Have you ever encountered writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

 That hasn’t been an issue yet (I’m crossing my fingers). I write far too much as it is and most gets swept away in the first edit, so I’m very “word wasteful”. If you find yourself staring at your computer screen, my suggestion would be to break out of your comfort zone. Dive into a completely different genre for a while and see if that gets the ideas flowing. But that’s just a suggestion. I’m certainly no expert.

7. Summarise your novel.

The CIA comes under attack by what appears to be a computer virus that has learned how to kill people. Med, a programmer working in satellite surveillance, thinks she knows how to stop the threat. She partners with a quirky virus expert from Canada and a veteran homicide detective from DC to find the deadly source of the “Buzzworm” super virus.

8. Tell me about your characters.

Greg Hyde is a veteran homicide detective, who, like many I’ve met, is a bit jaded by the politics and the bureaucracy after ten plus years on the job. And of course, he has seen everything – a lot that can’t be erased. I don’t really know how these people get up every morning and go to work. I find that endlessly fascinating. But what I love most about Greg is he has a great sense of irony about life in general and he just doesn’t know how to give up. It’s not in his tool kit. So he soldiers on. 

Mary Ellen Dukes (Med), the book’s CIA hacker, has dreamed about being a secret agent since she was ten years old. Imagine her excitement when she actually gets hired and then finds herself working in the sub-basement of a special division that monitors satellite imagery. In Buzzworm we barely scratch the surface of what Med is capable of. She will definitely be coming back. There’s a multi-book story arc for Mary Ellen I can’t wait to write.

9. Tell me about your publishing journey. 

Like thousands of other writers, I spent a decade submitting manuscripts and query letters to agents. I have over a hundred rejection letters in my inbox. Then in 2008 I secured a New York agent who was very supportive and worked with me to completely re-write the book. That was an exciting six months. Unfortunately, due the recession, he lost his job. That was when I decided to self-publish. 

The self-pub learning curve is pretty steep but involves the use of a lot of tools and techniques I enjoy playing with; Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, AdWords, Google+, Goodreads etc. I am also experimenting with a number of marketing features available on Goodreads, Amazon and Google and hope to write about them when I learn more.

 

 

 

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