Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Interview with Andy Straka

Today I have an interview to share with you all. Andy Straka is a veteran crime fiction writer; his seventh novel (Dragonflies: The Shadow of Drones) was published last month. He's come to Trickster Eric Novels to tell us about his book and his writing process.
1. Why Crime Fiction? 

Of all the novels I read as an English major in college the book that most
resonated with me was Raymond Chandler’s
The  Big Sleep.  I suppose there might be any number of reasons for this resonance. Latent psychotic tendencies, perhaps?

But in all seriousness, I write crime fiction because I am passionate about it, and
I am passionate about it because crime fiction deals with issues of good vs
evil, justice and redemption. These subjects all seem vital and existential to
me and drive my stories.

2. Are there any authors who inspire you?

I’ve  been inspired by Raymond Chandler, Robert B Parker, Donald Westlake, J.R.R.
Tolkein, Michael Chabon, Dave Barry, Sharyn McCrumb, Brian Jaques, William
Gibson, Dennis Lehane, SJ Rozan, Dashiell Hammett, Andrew Klavan, Harlan Coben,
Jeffery Deaver, Sarah Strohmeyer, Steve Hamilton, Rick Riordan, George
Pelecanos, Robert Crais, Joyce Carol Oates, Megan Abbott, Kinky Friedman, C.J.
Box...The list goes on and on....

3. Did you always want to write fiction or did you have some other passion growing

Growing up I mostly enjoyed sports, eventually focusing on basketball, devoting an
inordinate number of hours to the jump shot and crossover dribble. Reading and
writing were at best a secondary passion until I entered college, where I
continued to play basketball and also determined that, not being able to do much
else, I would major in English literature. I went on to make the
earth-shattering discovery that I, too, could try my hand at a little prose. But
it would be another fifteen in the business world before I would finally get
serious about writing.

I guess you can say I’m a slow learner.  

4. You have a long resume and writers often say one should one writer what one
knows. Does your experience at your other jobs inform your plots or characters?

Life and work experience influences everyone. For example, after more than a dozen years as a medical sales rep, my wife of many years, a practicing physician,
told me one day that I’d “learned enough about medicine to be dangerous.”

Writers are supposed to be dangerous, I think, dreaming up new things and cooking up stories to see how they all fit together. I’ve said on many occasions that I  don’t think writing what you know is as important as writing what you love. Writing requires passion first and knowledge second. You don’t need to have worked at a particular profession or have experienced a particular thing yourself in order to write about it or create believable characters. (If you have indeed worked at in a field you want to write about that may be all well and good, up to a point, in trying to sell what you write, but in my experience it can also prove a hindrance to creating good fiction.)

Regardless, the one essential requirement is that the writer must either already have or be able to develop a passionate interest in his or her subject matter. It’s passion that allows a writer to empathize with their characters, to “get inside their heads” to accurately portray their thoughts and emotions.

5.  Your most recent book, Dragonflies:  Shadow of Drones, involves tiny surveillance drones sneaking into private places. Is there social commentary here or is it simply the framework for a thrilling story?

Number  one, I believe in the power of storytelling.


I  became fascinated a few years back with drone technology and its potential
impact on our world, and I soon came to believe it could form a compelling, and
in many ways new, framework for storytelling. This especially applies to crime
and detective fiction.

What happens, for example, when investigators (perhaps in the very near future) have
micro drones at their disposal? This was the concept that fascinated me and out
of that grew the characters of Raina Sanchez and Tye Palmer.

At the same time, it’s impossible to ignore the potential societal and cultural
implications. For example, what if, instead of “Big Brother,” what we’re now
seeing begin to develop is the beginning of “Big Brothers?” What if everyone has
drones available to them and the entire concept of privacy begins to be lost?
(Any celebrity can tell us how that feels.)

We’ve become a culture that worships and aspires to celebrity. What if drones, just
like the Internet and Youtube, etc. become just one more tool, one more pathway
to potential instant celebrity as the world becomes flooded with more and more
images and more and more information from places and settings heretofore unseen?
When it comes to right vs wrong, truth vs lies, will drones bring us any closer
to redemption or in some perverse irony, push us farther away?

I don’t have any hard answers to these questions, but I know I want to continue to
try to tell stories within such a framework.

6. Dragonflies: Shadow of Drones is your seventh book. Do believe the writing process is easier
after so much experience?

It does get a little easier each time, at least as far as organizing the plot and
visualizing the entire book once I’m deeply into the story. But I’m always
striving to improve and I know I still have a long way to go. These days I’m
actually frustrated by an inability to tell all of the stories I want to tell. I
have far  more ideas than I have time to write. It’s making me more curious
about human cloning.....kidding :)

7. If you could only give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would you

Read  all the time, write every chance you get, but make sure you get out there and
experience some real life, too. Take up falconry, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, go to a
NASCAR race, or visit the Tower of London. Somewhere within the wealth of your
accumulated experience you’ll find a host of stories. 


Learn more about Mr.Straka and his work at http://andystraka.com/

"Dragonfiles: the Shadow of Drones" is available for sale at:


Barnes and Nobles

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