Interview with Author Nik Venture
So many people believe that we are living in the End Times. I thought, therein hangs a story. Who are these people? What goes on in their minds?
According to surveys, 31 percent of Americans believe the “end times” are approaching. With Evangelicals, the numbers rise to 77 percent, and, among Protestants, 54 percent agreed that "the world is currently living in the 'end times' as described by prophecies in the Bible." At least half, or more, Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi, a messianic figure they believe will begin the final events of the Muslim calendar.
What if a tiny fraction of those people are unwilling to wait?
For my characters, the prophecies related to Armageddon are clear, if only they could trigger the war that starts it all by blaming Iran for a horrendous act of terrorism. American retaliation would start the dominoes falling. The final battles would begin.
Enter Jack Kant and his girlfriend Angela Bow. They don’t have a lot, but they do have each other. Jack’s a muckraker journalist with an unhealthy compulsion for poking in places where he shouldn’t. Angela is a resourceful documentary researcher and not above kicking a wiseguy where it hurts.
When Kant visits a sketchy source to return a package of illegally-obtained materials and back out of a story he’s considering, he confronts a parcel deliveryman who slaughters the whistle-blower, his wife, and nearly Kant, to obtain said materials. Kant escapes with the package, but before he can get home, Angela’s six-year-old niece, Kiley, is abducted.
Should he go to the police, even though he’s soon framed as a suspect in the murders? Would they even follow up on one of the odd items in the package -- a brochure about the dangers of natural gas storage facilities with the phrase “55 Hiroshima bombs” circled?
He is drawn into the scariest story of his life, and his obsession with learning secrets demands that he follow up, but what about Kiley? His choices are grim and the world is pressing down on them, more so than he knows, if he doesn’t act there may be no world.
On the run, he and Angela must use all of their ingenuity to outwit unknown adversaries while trying to determine who their friends are, and who would make them patsies in an international conspiracy.
Can you tell us more about the main characters, Jack and Angela?
They are a fun couple with a banter like characters from an old movie. Specifically, as I say in my book description they don’t have a lot, but they do have each other. Jack’s a muckraker journalist with an unhealthy compulsion for poking in places where he shouldn’t. Angela is a resourceful documentary researcher and not above kicking a wiseguy where it hurts.
Every story has a bad guy, who are your bad guys?
Well, this was the most important thing really. Interesting antagonists make or break a thriller. I’ve got two. Three technically, but I can’t say any more without revealing the plot. However, I think I’ve got villains who believe in what they are doing, and you learn why quite clearly, and so they are not stock bad guys, which is just boring to me. I’ve created one villain, not the ISIS guy, that I think not too many authors have tried before. You may be surprised. Maybe I’m wrong, there are a lot of books out there. The thing is, he needs to be believable and you see why as he goes through his motions.
Tell us more about yourself. How long have you been a published author?
I was first published nationally back in (gulp) 1986. I was fresh out of college and I got a gig with a magazine in Los Angeles called The West Coast Review of Books. I was the Managing Editor and wrote book reviews. The magazine featured short 500-800 word reviews and published 100 reviews every issue. It was a circus trying to wrangle so many writers to be on time and then edit it all to a professional standard.
So, seven or eight magazines later, as the Editor in Chief, here I am retired from the magazine industry (which is in the dumps, after the Internet came along) doing what I always wanted to do anyway.
How many books do you have published? Can you tell us about them?
I have two out right now. The ISIS book is my second and it was years in the making. I’m quite proud of it . . . now, if I can only master the nuances of discoverability. That’s really the hard work in this business. And, despite what you do, a certain amount of luck is certainly involved. If someone had the magic formula for capturing the Zeitgeist, of what will spark readers imagination, they would be sitting on gold. Of course, there is no such formula although people certainly do chase that dragon. Whether it’s vampires or 50 Shades knockoffs people always run after the latest trend. However, the real key is being first. Nobody knows what the “next big thing” is going to be. All you can do is write the best book you know how and make it as engaging as possible and hope for the best. There is a reason why the three act structure works as well as it does and if you write a good book then you know that, even if you are not leading the wave of the hottest trending topic, you will have a happy reader if they do read your book. And maybe that’s the best you can hope for.
Oh yeah, my other book is a comic novel called Office of the Apes. It is a first-person gonzo satire of office life, the publishing industry in particular, and life in Southern California. I set out to write the funniest comic novel ever. As humor is certainly subjective when you aim for the stars and, perhaps, only make it to the moon you’ve still taken quite a leap. I think it has a certain charm that, if people knew about it they would like it. I have no idea how to market it. It is unlike any other book you may have read; it was a very difficult, unique voice to pull off.
Can we expect any more books from you in the near future?
Oh, there will be more. I should be writing right now. Of course, my procrastination button is stuck. I write with passion. They say you can’t wait for your muse . . . and they would be correct. But once you latch onto something you know is a good idea and will make a good story, it is all consuming and draining. But in a good way. I am getting restless and ideas are bubbling, so hopefully not too long. I am hoping readers want more of Jack and Angela.
Tell us more about your rockin’ blues band.
We call ourselves the Dawgs . . . not the best name, but we got about 19 years invested in it, so I guess it stays. We play classic blues and rock. We’re pretty good at it by this point. Our thing is that we don’t try to dupe what’s on the record, we use all the songs as vehicles for improvisation. That’s what it’s all about. On any given night when we’re cooking we’re as good as most anybody, more or less. And that’s the thing with improv, when you’re on, amazing things happen. I will post some songs on my website (nikventure.com) when I unstick my procrastination button. You know what John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” It’s a point of reflection we should all consider at some point.
Author by day, keyboardist by night. What other activities do you enjoy doing?
Running, mountain biking, blah, blah, blah. I’m a bore.
What are some of your favorite authors? Did these authors influence your writing? If so, how?
I’m an omnivore. I’ll read anything. If I have to name a few authors I like from a variety of styles: John Updike (for his descriptive magic), John D. MacDonald (brilliant, engaging story teller), Dennis Lehane (gut sensibilities), Ken Follett (textbook teller of thriller tales), Len Deighton (even on a bad day he was better than the rest), Frederick Forsyth (Day of the Jackal. Drops mic). I’m reading Barry Eisler right now. He’s definitely a step above so many of the thriller writers plying their trade in the current marketplace. I definitely liked Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, the real funniest comic novel ever written. If you liked that book (not the hideous movie) then you will appreciate the Office of the Apes book. His later books never did it for me and he, more or less, lost his chops for the last 30, or so, years of his life, before he put a bullet in his head. (I know many fans will carve me into little pieces for saying shit like that but, if you’re a writer, you just know it. Case closed.)
Any last words to your readers?
How about this? We Love You