Official Interview: Kim Ekemar

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ALynnPowers
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Official Interview: Kim Ekemar

Post by ALynnPowers » 21 Jul 2016, 08:21

Just in time for our August Book of the Month, The Lost Identity Casualties, I bring you an interview with author Kim Ekemar. Get ready to learn about a few of the amazing life experiences that Mr. Ekemar has been kind enough to share with us, and get a wonderful inside look at the intense work and time it takes to complete a single novel.


Q: Tell us about yourself and your background.

A: I've been fortunate with opportunities to travel the world, at one time or other counting Mexico, France, Sweden and Spain as my home. In the past, a good part of my life was dedicated to business ventures: commodity trading, an advertising agency and an art gallery, among others.

During the past two decades, I've been focused on artistic expressions – painting, photography, design and architecture, but mainly on writing. The sources for the things I'm interested in writing about are the passions of people; places and customs that I've experienced around the world; and stories or situations that intrigue me. However, I'm convinced that none of the aforementioned is enough to create a work of fiction (or any kind of artwork, for that matter), unless it's supported by a strong, fundamental idea.


Q: What are your hobbies?

A: My interests are centred around languages, music, traveling to extraordinary places, and all visual arts (painting, photography, cinema). These elements, I believe, occupy a large place in what I write. Moreover, because of them I perceive my literary work to be easy to visualize.


Q: What all have you written?

A: A dozen books by now. Four of them with short stories: Graveyard Grapevine, which is about death from a variety of perspectives; The Game & the Challenge, which deals with the unexpected; Destiny Comes with Strings Attached, stories about either being out of control or having it; and At the Heart of the Ivory Maze, which has deception as the theme.

The Crimson Blueprints is a dark novel within a novel that I intended as a criticism of making war. It tells the story of Paul Crimson who in 1971 returns from the Viet Nam war after having being trained to kill as a soldier. After publishing a successful novel about his war experiences, he reluctantly travels to Harbor, Maine, to write a second novel, thus encouraged by his editor. What he’s observing in Harbor is reflected in what he writes, until he becomes overpowered by what he learned in Viet Nam. (This is not a book for the faint-hearted.)

The Patricide is a ‘whodunit’ set in provincial France in 1935. Due to changes in his will, Patrice Lafarge is murdered on his 75th birthday. He’s found alone in his bedroom, which is locked from the inside. One of his children must have killed him, but who did it and how was it done? (This book is right now available for pre-orders at a discount before it’s publishing date on August 15, 2016.)

I recently finished an illustrated non-fiction work, El Reino del Terror – at the moment only available in Spanish – about the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, who lasted thirty-five years as ruler of Paraguay. Because of an innocent question I made at an event he hosted, I was arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist and jailed in a place of torture until I was able to escape. Two years ago, circumstances brought me back to Paraguay where I made an investigation of the dictatorship with the use of the so called Archives of Terror, documents that now are part of UNESCO’s world heritage.

[Interviewer’s Note: This sounds fascinating and terrifying! I’m sure everyone would love to hear more about this story in great detail, and we’d encourage and appreciate a translation to English!!!]

Then, of course, there is The Callaghan Tetralogy. It consists of four books, and deals with the fate of Matthias Callaghan. For reasons unknown to him, he’s tortured to reveal where money stolen from the Russian Mafia is hidden – a request he’s unable to answer because he simply doesn’t know. There’s a book trailer on YouTube that describes the series more in detail.
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xEMZ1MTBHI )


Q: Tell us about The Lost Identity Casualties.
A: It’s a book about injustice and, as the title indicates, a loss of identity that affects several people. The main character, Matthias Callaghan, loses his identity due to the greed of criminals, while earlier his wife Julie Cross has chosen to shed hers for different reasons. Abdul Mahfouz and Callaghan’s father get their identities stolen when Callaghan uses them for the purpose of revenge and recovering his life. Also, during the immense credit card scam described in the book, a million people have their online identities stolen.

Besides the main storyline, I wanted to make my book both more challenging to write and interesting to read by adding several subplots that had to be integrated with the main story and solved before the ending.

The subplots in the first book include people trafficking, a Moroccan drug smuggler, a credit card scam via hacking and money laundering. In the following three books I added a Ponzi scheme, police informers, extortion, swindled octogenarians, child molesters, an East German spy-turned-burglar, Mexican drug cartels, and more.

All of this sounds somewhat sinister, but without exception I got these subplots from reading the daily news. I wanted to write about real life, not create some fantasy, and I was also determined that the text should be well documented. I think – in spite of the content being concentrated for dramatic purposes – that my book reflects the reality we live in. It’s also intended to be a thriller, so of course I had to make it as thrilling as possible.


Q: Where did you get the idea for this series?
A: I thought it would be interesting to explore how a person would react to profound injustice and how this would change him. If he lost his former identity, his face and his fingers, would he be seeking revenge and, if he did, how would he carry it out?

Then I went further, and thought about how his changed personality would affect his relationship with the people that surround him. Would this man, initially perceived as a kind and generous person, become unscrupulous if he could (sort of) recover his former life?

When I had finished the first book (The Lost Identity Casualties) I kept thinking about what must have happened afterwards, and that’s the reason I wrote the following three books in The Callaghan Tetralogy.


Q: How long did it take you to write this book? The whole series?
A: Each book took me one year to write, which makes it four years in all. I’ve learned from experience that twelve months is the time it takes me to write any full-length book from start to finish.

The first draft represents about half that time, but then I make about ten revisions of the manuscript before I ship it to the editor.


Q: How much research did you do when writing this book/series?
A: Quite a lot. I had to learn about the effects of a transplant, how the body rejects it and the medicine used to avoid rejection. Since much of the story takes place in London, I had to study the layout and some of the history of the city. Also, the police hierarchy of the Metropolitan police; drug smuggling routes into Europe; people trafficking; how the Mexican drug cartels operate; the fate of the London Bridge sold to a US businessman; the giant cacti in the desert in Arizona; search for Chechnyan, Russian and Romanian names; the lives of the criminal Kray twins; how to sail from Sydney to Bali; and so forth. More than anything, though, I had to study maps to get distances and locations around the world right.

The most time-consuming part was probably getting all the dates right. I did this by using a spreadsheet where I, in chronological order, noted down birth dates, events, the parallel stories and who was doing what, to make everything check.


Q: What kind of message do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A: In the face of a life-changing, deeply unfair fate, how would you react? Would you use whatever time and resources you have at your disposal to exact revenge and try to get your life back? Or would you accept your situation and, perhaps not forgive, but resign yourself to your new life, however pitiful? Would you rise to a personal challenge, or would you settle into a new life of self-pity, a sense of injustice and endless explanations to those close to you about what happened and how you feel about it?

Do we know what a person is capable of doing under extreme situations? How come migrants risk their lives traveling in unseaworthy vessels to go from the Middle East or Africa to Europe? Would a a mother kill to save her child from danger? I believe survival is our strongest instinct, once it’s being tested.


Q:What feedback have you received about this book that stands out most to you?
A: The Onlinebookclub review, which ends: I would highly recommend this book to all readers who love a good crime, mystery and horror novel. I would even recommend this book to those who do not usually read this genre; perhaps this book will change their mind. I do not usually read this genre, but I am glad that I chose this book; it kept me intrigued and captivated my imagination.

What a great feeling it is to have written something that intrigues and captivates someone’s imagination! Especially if that someone is not usually interested in thrillers…


Q: Who has influenced you in your writing?
A: James Clavell, Mario Puzo, Patricia Highsmith, Alexandre Dumas, Anthony Burgess, Agatha Christie, Charles Palliser, Edgar Allan Poe, among many others.


Q: What do you think is the hardest thing about writing?
A: Beyond doubt the task of marketing what you’ve written. It’s more work than one thinks; it’s highly necessary and yet it erodes the precious time that I’d personally prefer to dedicate to writing.


Q: What is your usual writing process like?
A: It depends very much on what I’ll be writing. Most of my short stories start with a basic idea that I’ve jotted down for later development, and for which I don’t use a synopsis.

In The Crimson Blueprints I married two ideas: what happens if your editor manipulates you into writing something you’re reluctant to do? What if the psychopathic novel by an unstable war veteran makes him act out his work in real life?

I did make a synopsis for this book, alternating the chapters of the two stories that mirror one another.

I got the idea of how the locked-room murder was committed in The Patricide many years ago: it’s probably the first book I wrote in my head. Later I added Aunt Emilie and the menus of her food wizardry, and set the story in France in the year 1935. The unwritten rule for a locked-room mystery is that the reader is given an opportunity to solve the murder, so I had to – carefully – add leads throughout the text. Still, I dare anyone to figure out the full truth behind Patrice Lafarge’s murder before getting to the last page!

I wrote The Callaghan Tetralogy by first making a careful synopsis for each book to make the main plot and the subplots interact. I’ve done the same thing for The Callaghan Trilogy, which I’m presently working on. Relying on the synopsis, I write a draft with the chapters in chronological order without bothering too much about corrections. If there’s something I feel I need to change later, I mark this in red. When the basic text is finished, I read, re-read, alter and add to the text in up to ten revisions. Since I’m fond of wordplays, this is when I try give the text an extra dimension using such during the revisions. (It’s not by coincidence that the murdered patriarch in The Patricide was named Patrice.)


Q:Are you currently working on any other projects?
A: Yes, as I mentioned I’m working on a trilogy that is the follow-up to The Callaghan Tetralogy. Some time after finishing the first four books, it occurred to me that Callaghan and Vasily, the sophisticated Russian Mafia boss, have some unfinished business to deal with.


Q: Do you ever get writer's block? Any tips on how to get through it?
A: No, I’m blessed that way. However, should I get bored writing about a particular situation or person, I may jump to some other section and later finish the part that bored me.

I’m not sure if I have any fool-proof tips for curing writer’s block. I do believe discipline is a very important part of writing. “One sentence at the time, and eventually you will fill a page”, would be my best advice. Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about getting everything perfect in the first draft – corrections can be made later. As for inspiration, a lot can be found reading international news for different perspectives. And, every time you have an idea, no matter how insignificant – a smart phrase, an enticing book title, a story concept – write it down to be used later. I have a notebook with ideas that I go through every now and then.


Q: What is your favorite genre to read?
A: Biographies, drama, mysteries, thrillers … really, I enjoy anything that’s interesting and written with care and intelligence. I especially like stories that have a twist that surprises you.


Q:Are there any genres that do not interest you?
A: I find romance and erotica boring, repetitive and predictable.


Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
A: Don’t dedicate time on wasting it.


Q: Where do you hope to be in five years?
A: A best-selling author with five more books behind me.


RANDOM QUESTION from @Gravy : What is your favorite time of the year, and why?
The long days of summer, because I like the way the slanting sunlight paints the landscape in the afternoons.

----

Thank you so much for joining us for this interview! Please feel free to ask any questions you might have from this interview, and we might just be lucky enough to have @kimekemar himself come and answer them for us.

Read the official review for The Lost Identity Casualties written by @CataclysmicKnight at this page. Or check out the office review of The Complete Callaghan Tetralogy written by @stoppoppingtheP at this page over here.

----- ----- -----

The Books

The Lost Identity Casualties by Kim Ekemar ~ View on Bookshelves| View on Amazon

Being Medusa: And Other Things That Suck by A. Lynn Powers (interviewer) ~View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon
Latest Review: "Jake and the man-eating Picnic Basket" by Peter Preston

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Post by klbradley » 21 Jul 2016, 08:27

Very nice interview with the author of the August BOTM. Thank you for doing that!
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Post by hsimone » 22 Jul 2016, 09:13

This is such a great interview and wonderful insight inside the author's thoughts! I have all four of The Callaghan Tetralogy that I've been waiting to such for next month's upcoming BOTM discussion. Can't wait to dig into this series!
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Post by stoppoppingtheP » 22 Jul 2016, 15:19

Great interview. Its nice to see the processing and thought that goes behind writing a good book.

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Post by e-tasana-williams » 22 Jul 2016, 20:48

Awesome interview, thank you! You picked questions that elicit very thoughtful answers. It was great to get an inside view of how one successful author processes his work. I'm looking forward to reading his books.
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Post by AjaySS » 23 Jul 2016, 12:18

The answers complement the questions and show how well they have been framed. Its delightful to read such candid answers that are not just insights into writing but also tru life experiences. I hope to read a few of his books.

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Post by Stephanie-Ann » 23 Jul 2016, 23:48

Loved reading through this interview! The questions and subsequent answers actually made me want to dive into some of his books. It definitely gives insight and a personal touch to take the time to do these interviews and then post them for readers to see. Helps make a connection! Thank you

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Post by K_Kaori » 24 Jul 2016, 05:53

The interview was really precise and thoughtful. It gives a lot of knowledge about the August BOTM author. I praise author's dedication!

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Post by gali » 24 Jul 2016, 06:52

Thank you both for the interesting interview! :handgestures-thumbup:
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Post by bookowlie » 24 Jul 2016, 09:08

Great interview. I always enjoy learning about an author's inspirations.
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Post by uk8971 » 27 Jul 2016, 01:53

Great Interview. Wonderful personality. Cheers!!

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Post by fallenechoes » 28 Jul 2016, 20:15

Great interview. It was nice to get a glimpse behind the author and how he thinks, what his creative process is like and what drives him. Well done!

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Post by ALynnPowers » 28 Jul 2016, 20:26

Everybody getting ready for BOTM? Coming up in a couple of days!!
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Post by Amh73090 » 28 Aug 2016, 15:52

Great interview. I haven't read this author yet. Now I will have to look into the authors books.
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Post by tweety bird » 14 Nov 2016, 19:00

Thank you for another great interview. I love that Kim is not afraid of meaty subjects. Well done, and good luck with those 5 bestsellers!

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