Spotlight: Stefan Vucak Visits to Talk About Political Thriller, PROPORTIONAL RESPONSE!
Today, fellow author Stefan Vucak is stopping by to talk about his latest book!
Hello, Stefan! As always, it's a pleasure to see you. Welcome to the MLB blog! :)
Hello! Thank you for having me here.
Of course! So, let me ask a few questions since you're here...
Can you tell us a little about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?
So, what inspired you to write this book? And how did you get into writing?
I once happened to see a documentary on tsunamis, how they are generated, and the massive destruction they can cause. All very interesting, but it was merely an additional piece of information I picked up and stored away. Then came another documentary about the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands and what could happen if its western flank gave way. Given the island’s unstable structure, such an event is measured in hundreds of years. Seeing that film got me thinking. What if somebody induced the collapse of the western flank? Somebody who wanted to see the United States destroyed without getting themselves caught up in the resulting tsunami or having to engage militarily.
This gave me the triggers I needed to start developing notes for Proportional Response. Before I could write even a point outline, I had to learn a lot more about tsunamis and Cumbre Vieja. I also immersed myself in trying to understand the Chinese; their philosophies, government, and internal infighting – which exists in any political system. Having accumulated a box of material, I had to read it all, assimilate it and pick out what I could use in the book. That wealth of knowledge gave me confidence that I could make my Chinese characters believable, and I am not sure that I succeeded fully, the Chinese mindset being so foreign to Westerners. I guess readers will pass judgment if I got it right or not.
As a kid, I liked doing things all other kids liked doing – until I discovered books. After that, I was gone, lost in the universes those books opened for me and dreaming of writing my own novel. I had a great time at school, even though English and its convoluted grammar rules did give me some trouble, but those rules gave me a grounding how to write. My first effort was pretty awful and I am glad it will never see the light of day. The thing went through two rewrites, but it still isn’t something I want to share. Call it my training wheels.
My first successful book, although not perfect, a science fiction work, was presentable enough to win an award, and I tried for a long time to break into the traditional publishing market while holding down a demanding job in the IT industry. But writing has always been a passion and a drive, and I kept at it in my spare time. When e-book publishing took off, I had a chance to get my books to readers. Having learned more about e-book publishing and problems writers can have in that arena, I decided to self-publish, not giving up trying to find an agent. These days, I am no longer in the IT industry and I spend my time writing, reviewing and being a hardnosed editor. It hasn’t been a bad journey, enabling me to produce thirteen novels. As long as that fire of creation burns within me, I will keep writing.
Well, I can certainly identify with that! ;)
Thank you, Marie, for having me on your blog!
So, tell us...what, do you feel, sets your book apart from other books in the genre?
There are lots of good political drama/thriller books that explore international conflicts, especially where the U.S. is threatened and it eventually prevails. What sets my book apart is the exploration of the Chinese political and cultural psyche, often misunderstood by Westerners, and the audacity to set off a natural disaster designed to cripple America as an instrument of foreign policy, albeit a personal one. Throw in some military action and FBI detective work, and I have created a different novel.
Please give us a teaser or two of the book if you can.
USS California (SSN-781), a Block II Virginia-class fast attack submarine, glided silently through the Indian Ocean deeps some 370 miles northwest of Diego Garcia. Its sister ship, USS Minnesota trawled thirty miles west of it. Both were point ships for Carrier Strike Group Ten, part of the U.S. 5th Fleet operating in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea. The group’s flagship, aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), was hunting an enemy, as were the subs.
At 7,800 tons, 377 feet long, powered by a single S9G reactor, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and torpedoes, it was a powerful ship to go in harm’s way. Captain Garry Hewat thought so too as he stood beside the sonar operator watching the large port and starboard display screens that filled the control room one level down below the Operations Compartment under the sail. Apart from background machinery noises, everything was quiet.
“There it is again, Captain,” the chief sonar operator announced from his portside station, pointing at the BQQ-10 sonar display screen. “I’ve got it also on the wide aperture lightweight fiber optic array. No turn-count from his screw. Contact tentatively identified as a Qin-class attack submarine powered by a magnetic fluid water jet propulsion drive running on course two zero five at sixty-four knots indicated.”
Hewat frowned. “Sixty-four knots?”
“That’s a confirm, Captain.”
He’d heard rumors about the Chinese Qin and its fancy propulsor drive capable of doing 100 knots, which he thought was a load of whale shit. Still, powering along at sixty-four knots wasn’t to be sneered at. The damned thing was about as fast as his ADCAP Mk-48 Mod 7 torpedoes. With such a narrow speed gate, to shoot the bastard meant he needed to be close—very close. Close enough for the Qin to squirt off a salvo at him. However, his orders didn’t say he had to survive the encounter. Well, if the CNO was happy to see a 2.7 billion dollar asset scrape the bottom, Hewat wasn’t about to argue the point. He could…
“Very well, sonar. OOD, designate contact as Target One.”
“Aye aye, Captain.”
“What’s the range, Quincy?”
“Showing 7000 yards.”
Ouch! That was close. The thing was fast and stealthy. Could it have detected California? Probably not, or it would have tried to evade or engage. From his ops brief, the Chinese boat had a mission to complete, which meant it would probably try to evade rather than attack. If cornered, though, he was sure to receive a hot welcome.
He turned to face Commander Hollace. “What do you think, XO?”
“We found what we were looking for, Skipper. I say let’s finish it before the thing finishes us.”
Hewat chuckled. Hollace was a charger and wanted one of the new Block IV Virginia boats for himself. A positive fitness report from Hewat would get him one, which he was happy to write. Running an ultramodern attack boat and managing fifteen officers and 120 ratings took skill and a deft touch, which the XO seemed to do with ease. By comparison, a surface command was a cakewalk.
“Tubes one to four loaded with Mk-48s and spun up. Outer doors open. We’re ready to do business, Captain,” the duty officer declared from his starboard side Weapons Control station. “The Qin won’t know a thing until it hears our torps closing.”
“Con, sonar. Target One not showing any Doppler. Speed constant. No transients indicated.”
Hewat chewed his bottom lip. At 7000 yards, with a mutual closure rate reducing that distance every second, he had expected the Qin to have acquired him by now. Maybe that fancy propulsion system of theirs interfered with their sonar sensors at high knot rates. Interesting if true.
“Weps, confirm settings for tubes one to four,” he ordered.
“Weapons are warm, Captain. Immediate enable set. No active snake set.”
“Firing point procedures, tubes one to four,” Hewat ordered quietly.
“Ship ready,” the Officer of the Deck announced.
Hewat could shoot now, but he wanted the Qin at point blank range. He could not risk having it slip away. No one knew if they could acquire it again. No, that wasn’t quite true. If the thing was really heading toward the Canary Islands as per his brief, they could try cutting it off at Cape Aghulas waypoint. The whole thing was stupid as far as he was concerned. There was no need to prosecute the sub now, exposing everybody to unwarranted danger. It would be far easier to ambush it once it reached La Palma. Once there, unable to use its speed advantage to maneuver, they could box it, destroy it or force it to surface, parading to the world Chinese treachery. But he was only a dumb sewer pipe driver and nobody asked his opinion.
“Con, sonar. Range to Target One now 5500 yards.”
“Very well, sonar.”
Hewat listened to the small ship noises as he waited for the range to close. He clenched his moist fists and set his mouth to prevent himself bellowing out the fire order. He wanted the Qin in his lap before he dished it up.
“Con, sonar. Range is now 3200 yards. Detecting transients. It’s possible Target One is opening its tube doors.”
Hewat decided this was close enough for government work.
“Snap shoot on generated bearings!” he commanded.
“Fire!” the weapons officer snapped and pulled the trigger. “Tubes one to four fired electrically. Running time is 78 seconds.”
“All units normal launch,” Quincy reported.
“Let’s get out of here!” Hewat growled. “OOD, blow ballast. Blow everything!”
“Con, sonar. Two torpedoes in the water!”
A lead ball materialized in Hewat’s stomach. At this range, he hadn’t a prayer of outrunning the incoming torpedoes. His only hope of saving the boat and his men was to surface where the incoming torpedoes couldn’t see California.
Let's try another question, okay?
I'm sure readers are curious about your next writing project. Can you tell us what you've got cooking up now or is that a secret?
Right now, I am half-way into something really different. Legitimate Power is about a strange crystal found in an ossuary dug up in the Jerusalem hills that is sold to an American collector who suspects it is more than a curious rock. A Chinese collector also suspects that this is no ordinary crystal and is prepared to kill to get it, as is the Israeli government. Running some tests, the American collector realizes that he holds something revolutionary, something that could initiate conflict between the major powers. He must defuse the situation – if he can survive threats from foreign agents and the U.S. government.
Wow! We certainly look forward to your next book!
Thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about Proportional Response, Stefan!
Thank you, Marie, for having me on your blog!
You're welcome! It's always a pleasure!
Readers, you'll just have to pick up a copy of this fascinating political drama/thriller!
Here is the blurb for Proportional Response.
The Chinese populist Tuanpai faction is dissatisfied with the rapid pace of change by the elitist princeling coalition to transform the country into a full market economy. The Tuanpai embark on an audacious plan to trigger a global disaster that will bring down the princelings and humble America. In the aftermath, America identifies China as the culprit, but doesn’t know if this was a rogue operation or a government sponsored plot. The Chinese president knows the perpetrators, but has no proof. Fearful of American retaliation, he invites U.S. investigators to help him find proof while outraged countries apply economic sanctions. Under a cloud of mutual suspicion, the investigation stumbles and America readies itself for a military confrontation. This is a mind-bending expose of international politics and distrust between two vastly different cultures.
Amazon Universal link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00PHZWHZY
Sounds like an interesting read!
About the Author:
Stefan Vucak has written eight Shadow Gods Saga sci-fi novels, which includes With Shadow and Thunder, a 2002 EPPIE finalist, and five contemporary thrillers. He started writing science fiction while still in college, but didn’t get published until 2001. In 2010, he decided to branch out into contemporary political thrillers. His Cry of Eagles won the coveted 2011 Readers’ Favorite silver medal award, and his All the Evils was the 2013 prestigious Eric Hoffer contest finalist and Readers’ Favorite silver medal winner. Strike for Honor won the gold medal.
Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry, which took him to the Middle East working on cellphone systems. He applied his IT discipline to create realistic storylines for his books. Writing has been a road of discovery, helping him broaden his horizons. He also spends time as an editor and book reviewer. Stefan lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Stefan-Vucak/e/B005CDD1RY/