Interview with James Crouse

When did you first start writing?
BROKEN EAGLE comes after writing for as long as I can remember--at least back to my early teens. I remember a few early poems then OpEd pieces to my hometown newspaper which at times created quite a stir due to their subject matter.
What's the story behind your latest book?
BROKEN EAGLE emerges from my long-standing inspiration to take action when I see injustice--often via pen, typewriter or computer. My decision to become a lawyer was fueled by this same motivation. Representing the families of people killed or individuals injured in aviation disasters and other accidents has only reaffirmed the goal of telling the stories of people harmed by the negligence and intentional acts of people, corporations and governments that often act with impunity.
No group is more unfairly affected than our military men and women. When the products they have no choice but to use injure or kill them, they find out that they have far fewer rights to recover for their injuries than their civilian neighbors. Trying to get redress, they face a phalanx of laws, rules and court decisions that greatly narrow their paths to recovery. What iss worse, unlike the civilian world, the findings of the post-event investigations are kept from them, based in part on the strange notion that truth is more likely to emerge in a secret process than in an open one. So, military people and their families face the double insult of not being able to recover for their loss and not knowing what really happened,
So, it was time to tell this story. We need to rethink how we treat the fine men and women who sacrifice their time, energy and lives for us on a daily, 24/7 basis. We need to change the laws and make accountable the manufacturers, government officials and agencies that currently are untouchable. We must make sure the military has the best products and ensure that when something is defectively designed or manufactured and service people are injured they have the same rights to be made whole as the people whom they protect
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Necessity. I wanted to start writing novels and after my very talented, well-respected agent couldn't get any of the major publishing houses to accept Broken Eagle--the reasons were all-encompassing and no themes could be discerned-- I had enough positive comments from people whom I respected as well as my own faith in the work to proceed to self-publish.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has given me a platform which really isn't offered anywhere else. We are just into the process, but I have great faith in Smashwords--and its great customer support.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The discoveries that I make about the story and the characters as I write. The basic creative process. I am still amazed at how some character just "appear" when they weren't in the original plan. Other times characters that were part of the plan will develop attributes and flaws that they did not have to begin with. It is fun discovering the story as I go along and the events and inputs from the characters.
I also am absolutely delighted when I go back for the 100th time and a passage still brings out my emotions.
What do your fans mean to you?
I think any writer first writes because he/she feels the need to write. But a very close second is the audience. In writing a book an author is creating a gift to give to others. Of course, it is very important what readers think and how they react to a given work. Acceptance means the author can be pleased with creative capabilities and grateful that his gift was enjoyed by others. If the writing isn't well received, the author suffers both the pain of realizing that his/her skills aren't what they should be and he/she has failed to deliver the gift and intended pleasure for the readers.
What are you working on next?
Following BROKEN EAGLE, my next work has the working title WILD HORSES. Here is its summary:

Powerful, intelligent and breathtakingly beautiful, the wild horses of Corolla have been roaming North Carolina’s Outer Banks for over 500 years and at one time numbered in the thousands. Now just over a hundred remain, restricted to a small portion of the maritime forest in the northern outer banks, they are threatened by development, sparring government entities, and hunters.

Big money interests intent on developing seaside mansions and condos and local businesses and governments seduced by the promise of unlimited revenues are all eager to proceed with development, regardless of the costs to the horses or the environment, ignoring the fact that it will change forever this tranquil strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound. When a visiting equine vet sees disturbing health problems in the horses and discovers that development is poisoning the grasses on which the horses graze, she is murdered in her hotel room before she can make the findings public, her death disguised to look like a heart attack.

Contacted by the family to investigate, and with his secretary’s prodding, attorney Jake Baird agrees to look into the case and sends retired Navy Captain Stanford Kemp, who has now relocated to NC and is dating Jake’s animal-loving secretary, Florence, to look into it. Kemp starts finding things that don’t add up. Eventually, through some twists and turns and great personal danger, Jake finds a complex conspiracy that is only unraveled through a most unlikely lead.
Who are your favorite authors?
Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, John Hart, John Grisham, Dale Brown, Stephen Coonts, WEB Griffin, David McCullough, Stephen E Ambrose, Shelby Foote
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Many things--my family, my law practice, and not knowing what the next pages of the current work in progress will bring.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Practicing law, attending my children's sporting events, reading, movies, traveling and photography--not to mention the chores around the house.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Generally through bookstores and on line.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not the first story, but I still have some of my original poems and I remember my first OpEd.
What is your writing process?
My process begins with a story nugget--the one thought or situation that I find compelling and around which I see that a multi-facets story can be created. When I find that central idea, the characters and the story twists start coming to mind, and this process continues until the end.
I don't outline, but I do create a central story line/arc that drives the story. My main characters also get the "charter trait chart," meaning I write their physical appearance, voice, personality, laugh, clothes, what they like, etc as I create them.
I write in spurts, not necessarily every day, but I am thinking about the work every day when I am writing.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I grew up reading about great historical characters and events, which I am sure impacts the way I write and the fact that I am drawn to issues of principle and significance, which inspire my fictional efforts.
How do you approach cover design?
With a cover designer and editor! I had a great designer named Brett Miller who did a great job on BROKEN EAGLE. I described the essence of what my work was about to Brett and listed the aspects of the work or the emotions the cover should inspire.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Death Of A Nation--the best book about Gettysburg, one of the most important events in our nation's history.

Clear and Present Danger--I actually wondered how our guys were doing in the jungle and had to remind myself it was fiction.

A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn--Tells the whole story about this terrible event.

The South and The Nation--Pat Waters A great book about the South and its character

To Kill A Mockingbird--writing story characters etc
What do you read for pleasure?
Generally historical works, biographies, and theology.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Computer or Ipad
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth email social media and direct contact
Describe your desk
Clutter and organized. I know what is in each pile.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Small cotton mill and furniture town of Lexington, NC. It has molded me from day one and still does. The values I learned there and warmth of that village are a part of me to this day. The experiences I learned about people through interacting with them in my father's shoe shop have benefited me in school, the Army, the legal profession and in writing. Growing up in a segregated society also taught me lessons about equality and justice--and lack thereof.
Published 2016-05-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Broken Eagle
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 83,050. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
A fast-paced, legal-military-aviation thriller about southern attorney Jake Baird, a former Army helo pilot, whose quiet law practice is blown apart when a disheveled ex-military officer gives him a folder of classified documents about the fatally flawed Sea Eagle developmental aircraft. Jake finds himself is in the fight of his life—for himself and his client, the widow of a Marine pilot.