How long have you been writing?
As a kid, I liked doing things all other kids liked doing—until I discovered books, an illustrated copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. After that, I was gone, lost in the universes those books opened for me and dreaming of creating my own. I had a great time at school, even though English and its convoluted grammar rules did give me some trouble, but those rules also gave me an invaluable grounding. I started writing short stories while still in college those many years ago, mastering the craft and finding my ‘voice’. My first effort at writing a novel, influenced as I was by writers whose books I read, was pretty awful and I am glad it will never see the light of day. That thing went through two rewrites, but is not something I want to share, surprised to discover that writing is much harder than it seems.
Then came the computer and word processing software, and I was able to discard my typewriter that has served me so well. Transcribing With Shadow and Thunder into the computer resulted in a lot of reworking, which to my surprise, ended up as a 2002 EPPIE finalist. That book eventually grew into seven more Shadow Gods saga novels. Although my passion to write never diminished, even though I went through a patch of about a year where I did not write anything—my job as an IT professional keeping me very occupied—I kept producing more books, perfecting my craft. I guess writing all those essays in high school and university paid off after all.
What was the most challenging part about writing Proportional Response?
Getting an idea for a short story or book is easy. The challenge comes in translating that idea into something publishable. Seeing documentaries on tsunamis and the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands gave me the idea for Proportional Response. It came to me in a flash, all neatly wrapped in a package. Realizing that I could turn this idea into an actual novel set me on a path that was both rewarding and frustrating. Rewarding that I managed to write the book, but frustrating as it almost never happened.
It all came down to research. The documentaries I saw provided a solid scientific basis that underpins the book, but I could not figure out if it was possible to deliberately set off the Cumbre Vieja slide to generate a tsunami of sufficient magnitude to devastate the United States’ eastern seaboard. I had to do a lot of technical research before coming up with a solution that did not involve the use of nuclear weapons.
The other challenge, of course, was learning about China, its philosophies, history, current government, and political infighting that happens in any scenario. The Chinese have a different outlook on life than Westerners, which I had to come to grips with and portray realistically. Spanning this divide was an adventure of discovery and the process of writing Proportional Response a fulfillment that knitted many disparate scenarios.
What is your favorite part of being an author?
Wow, that has more dimensions than the multiverse! However, it deserves an honest answer. With the fire of creation burning inside me, I channeled it into writing novels. Science fiction having obsessed me since I learned to read, it was natural to try writing a book myself, which resulted over many years in eight novels in the Shadow Gods saga. Having said what I wanted in that genre—for the moment—I turned my attention to writing contemporary political drama, which has earned my books several awards.
Forgetting the many lonely days scribbling into a notepad, pounding the computer keyboard, hours of editing and tweaking, and the pain to market the stuff, what keeps me going is that I want to share something of my creations with others. For me, the favorite part of being an author is the sheer joy seeing words flow from my mind like a torrent, my hand struggling to write down everything. When it all clicks and I can tell it is good, the buzz I get makes up for all the weary things writers must do to produce a novel. This buzz doesn’t happen every time I pick up a pen, but often enough to keep me going.
Is this book part of a series?
Proportional Response is not part of a series and can stand alone. However, it does share some of the characters and timeline with my first political drama novel, Cry of Eagles. Having gone to all the trouble creating those characters and making them live, it seemed a shame to bury them after one novel. They grew and expanded in subsequent books, and I trust they will entertain in this one.
Do you have any works in progress you’re working on?
Ask yourself this? ‘What happens when a person living on the outskirts of Jerusalem digs up two ossuaries and finds a strange yellow crystal the size of a smartphone able to repair itself when scratched and turns into a perfect mirror under laser light?’
This sets the theme for the current novel I am writing, Legitimate Power. When the crystal is put on the market, suspecting that it is not a natural crystal, an American collector buys it, wanting to tap into its hidden potential. However, when the Israelis learn what it is, they want it back…as do the Chinese, which sets off a race to get it, no matter what the cost in shattered lives.
Legitimate Power takes the reader into a tangled world of international intrigue, personal obsession, and final realization that the only thing valuable in life are people and the bonds that hold them together. Sometimes though, the price of this discovery can be more than one realizes. Throw in machinations by impersonal governments, a person is not always given a chance to make that discovery. I am half-way through the book and don’t expect to have it available for release until early in 2016.
About the Book
Author: Stefan Vucak
Genre: Political Drama / Thriller
A political drama that will leave you gasping!
In a joint exercise with the Korean navy, Admiral Pacino’s son is one of the casualties from a North Korean missile strike.
Conducting negotiations with North Korean in an attempt to normalize relations, the Secretary of State learns that the CIA is secretly funding a faction to topple the Supreme Leader. Furious, President Walters fires the CIA Director and installs a replacement.
In the Yellow Sea, the United States and South Korea commence their annual joint naval exercises. A North Korean corvette launches a strike against an American destroyer, causing casualties. In charge of the exercise, Admiral Pacino learns that his son is severely wounded. He dies a day later.
Although Pacino understands the need for restraint by everybody, he is dismayed to read that the President is more interested in making a settlement with North Korea than acknowledging the lives lost—on both sides. To remind the administration and both Koreas that every life is valuable and should not be thrown away in a diplomatic gesture, he mounts a strike against unmanned military installations in the two Koreas. Summoned to Washington to face a hearing, Pacino’s flight is sabotaged and his aircraft crashes.
President Walters understands what Pacino has done, but faced with ‘big picture’ considerations, he cannot condone the action. The reformist faction topples the Supreme Leader and the new leadership makes overtures to America to hand over their nuclear warheads and dismantle long-range missiles.
Surviving the crash, Pacino faces charges that would see him serving time in Leavenworth. However, his action has struck a responsive chord with many in the military and the public. Although nothing could be done to save his career, President Walters does not want Pacino crucified.
The hearing exposes the heartless treatment of veterans by the government and the military. To limit political damage, the Navy awards Pacino administrative punishment in lieu of a general court-martial. Appreciating Pacino’s qualities, Walters offers him a position as Advisor to the President to get things fixed.
A stunning geopolitical thriller that examines American foreign policy and national values.
Stefan Vucak has written eight Shadow Gods Saga sci-fi novels, which includes With Shadow and Thunder, a 2002 EPPIE finalist, and five contemporary thrillers. He started writing science fiction while still in college, but didn’t get published until 2001. In 2010, he decided to branch out into contemporary political thrillers. His Cry of Eagles won the coveted 2011 Readers’ Favorite silver medal award, and his All the Evils was the 2013 prestigious Eric Hoffer contest finalist and Readers’ Favorite silver medal winner. Strike for Honor won the gold medal.
Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry, which took him to the Middle East working on cellphone systems. He applied his IT discipline to create realistic storylines for his books. Writing has been a road of discovery, helping him broaden his horizons. He also spends time as an editor and book reviewer. Stefan lives in Melbourne, Australia.