Interview with Charles O'Keefe

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Excellent question! First though for people who don't know me I'm Charles O'Keefe. I am an indie author with 2 novels coming out this year (both in the vampire genre). If you'd like to more about me please visit my site: htttp://www.charlesokeefe.com , or even better buy my books (the 1st one will be re-released March 27th 2015) Back to the questions, I'm not sure if they are in order of how much I love them but here we go:

1. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

This is a fantasy novel of the epic length (almost 1000 pages) but I flew through it. It was the fastest I ever read a book that large and it was a wonderful experience. The book approaches the story of Arthur (and the knights of the round table) from a different perspective, the female point of view. It is a magical tale where a large amount of time passes and one particular character is born and eventually grows old. It had everything I wanted, sex, magic, action, intrigue, twists it's all there. A wonderful book I'll always think fondly of.

2. I am Legend by Richard Matheson

A unique (at the time) take on vampires and the end of the world scenario. This book is quite short (just over 100 pages) but what a ride! I can honestly say I couldn't put it down, I HAD to find out what happened next. What I loved about this book also was the simplicity of it, most of the book it is just one guy, his thoughts and his struggle against the vampires. He's a flawed character but you come to love him. I also found the scientific approach Matheson took on vampires very refreshing and interesting. A wonderful read from a great author (if you have a copy similar to mine you're also treated to a bunch of his short stories as well :)

3. Out to the Battery

This is a non-fiction book that unless you live in Newfoundland, most likely won't find. It was put together by some Memorial students as an important testament to the history of the Battery (in St. John's) and part of their graduate studies in Folklore. I read the whole thing in 5 hours and found it extremely hard to put down. If you want to get a feel for how the Battery once was, is now and learn how the people are struggling to not only hold onto their historic structures and their community but also its unique nature, this is the one for you. For others who want to learn about Newfoundland, our culture, the weather and everything else that makes this a unique place I would also highly recommend it.

4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

How can you not love Tolkien? I'll be honest "The Two Towers" is long and for the first half rather boring. I don't think you can pick either of the other two (as it's just one long story), so I went with "the Hobbit". This is a self-contained piece of fantasy joy. Tolkien creates a world where magic, elves, dwarves, hobbits (halfings if you will) dragons and wizards all populate it. The great part though is that none of these elements overwhelm the story. It is a low magic world (high fantasy) where they blend in seamlessly and the displays of magic are given the great awe and wonder they should be. I love so much about this book, the dragon, Bilbo, the battles, the creatures. It is also the shortest and quickest read of the Lord of the Rings story. Smaug in particular fascinated me, he is a dragon and some would say evil but is he just doing what's in his nature? When does intelligence and personality override instincts and conditioning? Tolkien never answers these questions but they are immense fun to ponder. This is also the only book I ever read twice (that I can remember) and another one I found hard to put down.

5. 1984 by George Orwell

A masterpiece I read about 7 years ago. Short but packs an incredible story with fascinating ideas. While this is obviously a harsh commentary on society (Big Brother is more real than ever today!) and politics I found the brainwashing aspect the most intriguing (that and the unique ending). If you haven't read it I won't say but it's certainly not a happy one. Just a simple concept like making people believe if 2+2=5 then you can control anything they say or do. If government can control how we think then the possibly for evil and corruption is almost beyond imagination. Orwell was ahead of his time and this brilliant novel is a fast, compelling read that I had to force myself to slow down with so it wouldn't be over with too quickly.
What do you read for pleasure?
Lately I've gotten back into comic books. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman is amazingly well done. It got me back into the comics. I've also been reading Punisher, Batman and Dark Tower comics. I generally prefer more adult comics.

If you meant novels lately I've been reading some vampire ones (as I do enjoy them). So be broader I most enjoy horror, Sci-Fi, fantasy (all of those in short-story form as well) and the occasional non-fiction book. I am fascinated by World War II history and I also quite enjoy novels and short-stories by Ernest Hemingway as well.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I do own a Kindle but I have to say the iPad is far superior. On it I can read comics in full cover, open the Kindle app or even read PDFs or Word documents whenever I like. It is a wonderful device and something I use every day. (It's perfect for bathroom reading as well :)
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
That's a tough one. It's hard to say for certain as I don't know why some of my biggest jumps in online sales happened at the times they did. I can say for me that I made the most money selling books in person. So I would say things like doing conventions, book signings, book readings, putting up posters, giving out bookmarks, doing interviews (on radio and in newspapers) and just visiting people did the most. I think Twitter is also a good tool and when used properly (no overdoing it, RTing as much as possible, being friendly) also helps with sales. They say there's no substitute for word of mouth and I think that worked best for me but time will tell for book 2.
Describe your desk
My desk is messy, while I'm an organized person I hate cleaning (like most men I think). Right now it has boxes, a phone, pens, my iPod, my laptop, sunglasses, a sunglasses case, stickers, an angry bird toy, my book, gum, some cards, sticky notes, a watch, an envelope, a fake orange, some pictures, hand cream and socks on it. It's near the kitchen and has a light above it and is really more of a cut out into a wall than a desk. It has a counter top (not wood) so I can lay drinks on it as well.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Manuels, Newfoundland (Canada). It is a small town and I think it influenced the way I write about nature. Newfoundland is not known for good weather (as a small example we can easily see snow from November to June and less than 150 days of sun a year) and as such I tend to have characters in misty,rainy and cold weather a lot. I do love to be outside when it's pleasant and as such I have given two of my characters a huge appreciation for nature and wooded areas in particular. I have also become something of an environmentalist and this has found it's way into my writing as well, living in a beautiful place like Newfoundland with so much unspoiled beauty (only about 500,000 people in a land area roughly the size of Germany which has 30 million). I guess also like most people from a small town I put an emphasis on friends and family combined with a desire to explore the world.
When did you first start writing?
I did some lousy poetry back in high school when I was 14. Later in university I wrote for the student newspaper (movie and music reviews). After that I was content with creating adventures and story content for my various role-playing campaigns. Really nothing serious though until my first novel when I was 34. Even though I've always loved reading and the study of literature (I did a major in English at Memorial) I was quite slow to get into serious writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
So to be brief, over 10 years ago I had an idea for a vampire novel. I wanted to base the main character on myself (he really is me, I'd say 90%) and set it here. I put it aside and did other boring life stuff (except for falling in love and getting married, that was fun :) but eventually got to it. So while the first book really explores not just my own thoughts and feelings but also the importance of family, friends and my hobbies book 2 goes beyond that. In book 2 I tried to get deeper into the way people act and the difference between good and evil (more importantly how many people fall somewhere in between the two). Book 2 also spends a lot of time outside of Newfoundland as I wanted to write about places I've visited and others places I hope to visit someday. Book 2 shows my thoughts on serious issues like the environment, violence, government control, politics and child abuse. The main guy is Joseph but I have to mention Cassandra. She is the other main character in the book and this book explores much more of her personality and her experiences. I think she really comes into her own here and leaves the reader with many questions to ask themselves about morality and how to fight crime/evil. I tell people both books are to some extent like getting answers about me that you never wanted to ask ;)
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A friend of mine put out a book in 2006 and that gave me a big nudge. What finally put me over the top though was just the idea that I had something to say to the world, a story I wanted to share. I also decided several years ago not to have any children and I realized I wanted something to be left behind when I'm gone. I consider my books to be my legacy. In terms of the indie side, well it's pretty simple. The "big 6" publishers as they're called don't accept people (unless something really amazing happens) without an agent. I didn't want an agent, I wanted to get published on my own and luckily for me I found Penumrba Publishing. I stayed with Penumbra for books I and II and decided to leave (on good terms) to find a new publisher. Since then I signed with Distinguished Press in 2014 and I now have a great new editor Jen and very much look forward to the re-released of book I and II along with III and IV in 2016.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I think Smashwords offering such a wide variety of formats for my book is wonderful. I have had people ask me where to get certain formats and I am glad to tell them Smashwords has them all. I also think tools like this interview is a wonderful way to help to help authors promote themselves. Finally I think that allowing authors to offer people coupon codes is excellent. This way you can share your novel and they can get the format they want.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Another tough one...Hmm writing an action or sex scene is great fun but I would say the feedback. To be recognized and appreciated for something you enjoy doing is a most wonderful thing. Having two people come up to ask for my picture and my autograph was an exquisite pleasure I hope happens again soon. Also while it's a little off topic the single greatest result was having a book launch (I'm having another soon). I know this makes me sound narcissistic but it's true. Being the center of attention that night, giving a great reading, having people listen and then clap afterwords, coming up to congratulate me, it was just amazing =) The only thing that compares was my wedding day.
What do your fans mean to you?
As I spoke about before feedback is very important to me. My fans mean a great deal to me, I appreciate all the help they've given me on Twitter and ultimately they are the most important part of writing. While some people could just write and publish for themselves for me if no one was reading my work and giving me any feedback I think I would quit. Writing is something you do a lot of the time by yourself and getting it out into the world makes it a real thing, that feedback not only helps shape future work but makes you want to keep going. Everyone wants to feel needed and appreciated and my fans (I have a few I'm certain :) give that to me.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm working on Book IV which will be out next year (I like to stay ahead). I also keep myself busy maintaining my blog. It focuses on book and movie reviews along with author interviews and some occasional ramblings from me.
Who are your favorite authors?
This might sound funny as several of these did not make my list above for favorite novels. I should say that I can admire an author a great deal but more so as a person than as a writer.

Ernest Hemingway: I do quite enjoy a lot of his work but mostly I am fascinated with him as a person. He lead such an interesting life and suffered so much (and sadly caused some others to suffer) that I have always been drawn to him.

Stephen King: King is the master in horror, while some of his work is absolute garbage (see Book 6 and 7 of the Dark Tower) other stuff is absolutely brilliant. I really need to read more Stephen King. I think his is a visionary in so many ways and his honesty and sheer propensity for the written word is very impressive.

Robert Jordan: A little similar to King in that while some of the Wheel of Time novels were terribly slow and dull, others were brilliant. He could write sword-fighting/magic combat like no one else. I also have great admiration for the dedication he had to his work and the fans. On his deathbed all he was concerned about was how the Wheel of Time series would end, I think that is incredible and showing of his true character.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Once again someone who had such devotion to his world (Middle earth). He developed languages, histories, maps and an incredible amount of material. His world has such believable and memorable characters that he has left his mark on fantasy and the world of writing forever.

Anne Rice: While the later vampire novels turn to crap (at least as far as I got) her earlier works are quite wonderful. She gets into the mindset of the vampire like no other, her descriptions of the hunting and feeding are second to none and certainly influenced me with my own vampire novels. I'll also admit that while some scenes went too far I think she does a great job with sex scenes. It's part of human nature and I think it's good she never shied away from that.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm generally a pretty happy person :) My wife gives me a lot of joy, I love to make plans with her (and sometimes friends) and go on vacations. I am also a great animal lover, I dearly love my cat Jude (my second novel is devoted to him) and I look forward to seeing him every day. Of course my parents and brother, my niece and nephew and after that most recently it would be writing, it get's me excited often as soon as my eyes open and something I always enjoy. Past all those things a nice, sunny day. I love to be outside in warm weather to walk or even just sit around and have a drink or read. Of course I work a day job but that doesn't inspire me do much more than collect a paycheck ;)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a fair number of hobbies. I enjoy walking, reading, Pilates, martial arts, going to movies, plays, role-playing, board games, television and traveling. I also have an extensive collection of D&D minis that I do occasionally like to organize and expand :)
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have been sent a bunch of free ebooks by other authors in exchange for reviews. I'm at the point now where I am so behind and have so many books from authors I enjoy that I probably won't look for any new ones for quite a while. I am lucky that my wife sends me ebooks through Kindle to read as well.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I think it was some terrible fantasy/sci-fi mash-up with cyborgs and superheroes I did back when I was 13 for school. I wish I still had it but it's long gone.
What is your writing process?
I know some people can write in public places with all sorts of noise and people around but for me I need quiet, solitude and something to look at. I also find that generally I am at my most creative in the morning. For me the best writing occurs when I’ve had a good night’s sleep, get up at 6 or 6:30 and start writing by 7 or 7:30 AM.

I also find that I need an outline. I like to have a clear idea of where I’m headed in a story so I always plan a novel at least two or three chapters ahead of time. Before I write I have a look at my outline (especially if I’m at the end of a chapter). Also at least once a month I look over the tips my esteemed editor, Pat, gave me from my first and second book. I find that generally I only write in short bursts, 20-30 minutes tops then I’ll look out the window, possibly check my e-mail or pet one of my cats if they happen to be on the table with me. Generally I do most of my writing at home but sometime I use my iPad for a little writing if I’m at a book signing, a flea market, on a train, boat or plane. A friend gave me the idea of writing just 1 page a day, surprisingly by sticking with that I found writing to come along quickly.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I think the first novel I ever read (I'm not sure about short-story) would have been "Gilpin's Space" by Reginald Brentor. I still remember it so I suppose it did make me want to read more serious fiction (and novels). I did admire how it was a creative (a sub that could travel through space) and I guess later that made me want to put my own spin on the vampire mythos.
How do you approach cover design?
For book 1 I had ideas that I discussed with my editor and then the cover was made. For book 2 it was a much more involved process. I hired someone (Nils Dannemann) and we spent a good month hashing out what I wanted and what he thought worked best. In terms of concept I try to pick out one of my favorite scenes from the novel and then bring it to life. The main characters (Joseph and Cassandra) have to be on the front and I like putting pictures I took on the back. The pictures are also significant as they show places. animals and objects that are in the story and meant something to me.
Published 2015-02-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Chaos Stories: Tales of Magic, Terror, Passion, and Blood
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 60,860. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Here you'll find 9 new short-stories, some which have been from my life, or things that could have happened. Some are even from other authors, who kindly contributed to my collection. Also are 6 deleted chapters from my Newfoundland Vampire series and two preview chapters from book 4. These are tales that will hopefully make you think a little about the world around us and the people in it.
The Gathering Dark: The Newfoundland Vampire Book III
Price: $1.50 USD. Words: 70,240. Language: English. Published: July 22, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
With Anne and Cassandra at his side, Joseph battles against the evil Countess Bathory, in the hopes of not just defeating her but striking a pre-emptive blow against the council. Joseph takes on his greatest challenge. If he wins, good will prevail. If he fails, the destruction of the entire world. With a lot riding on him, Joseph can only hope for help from old friends and new allies alike.
Killer on the Road: The Newfoundland Vampire Book II
Price: $1.50 USD. Words: 73,920. Language: English. Published: January 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Horror » Undead
Joseph O’Reily is still adjusting to the lifestyle and the dangers that come with being a new vampire. He and Cassandra recently fought to the death with Cassandra’s estranged husband John Snow, and now Joseph has experienced his first ménage a trios, as only a vampire can. As if all of this was not complicated enough, he and Cassandra have been tasked with hunting down and killing a rogue vampire
The Newfoundland Vampire
Price: $1.50 USD. Words: 86,420. Language: English. Published: January 23, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Horror » Undead
Like many geeks, Joseph O’Reily has always fantasized about being a vampire. Then one night Cassandra Snow walks into his life and he learns that not all dreams should come true. Cassandra has plans for him – plans for eternity. As his world begins to turn upside down, Josephs wrestles with the changes to his everyday life. Eternal youth and amazing power come at a price that might be higher than