Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Interview: Gordon Gumpertz, Author of Red Hot Sky
In addition to writing novels, Gordon has won gold and silver awards in national and regional short story competitions. He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Palm Springs Writers Guild, a UCLA graduate, and an instrument-rated private pilot. He keeps his website current by blogging on natural disasters and natural phenomena.
Gordon and his wife Jenny live not far from the San Andreas fault, where the Pacific Plate thrusts into the North American Plate, building increasingly high levels of faultline stress which, the seismologists say, may soon produce the Big One.
Visit his website at www.tsunaminaturaldisaster.com.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm a native Californian, a UCLA grad, and an army vet. I'm an instrument- rated private pilot. Flying a Cherokee Arrow from L.A. to New York and down to Los Cabos in Baja are among my favorite trips. I started my working career as an advertising agency copywriter. Later, I opened my own ad agency with two partners. I began writing adventure fiction after leaving the agency. I'm married with two kids and two grandkids. Things I enjoy are reading, hiking, tennis, movies, and travelling. I'm a member of the Authors Guild and the Palm Springs Writers Guild. In addition to writing novels, I've won gold and silver awards in regional and national short story contests. My wife and I live in the California desert just a few miles from the San Andreas fault, which is overdue for the Big One.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in San Diego, but raised in Oxnard, CA, a small agricultural town sixty miles north of L.A. Population was 7,000 at the time. There were 90 in our high school graduating class.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Playing touch football with the neighborhood kids.
When did you begin writing?
I wrote some short stories in college, and a ton of advertising copy during my business career, but didn't start serious fiction writing till I left my business to devote myself to becoming an author.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I do all my writing during the day. I like to start by 9:00 a.m. after clearing my email, and get in 4 to 5 hours of undisturbed writing time. Sometimes life interferes, but I try to stick with the schedule.
What is this book about?
Red Hot Sky is a fast-moving novel about what happens when the buildup of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gasses in earth's atmosphere reaches a tipping point. In this scenario, global weather destabilizes and turns chaotic. Ice storms, dust storms, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes pummel the earth nonstop. A secret computer model reveals that the frantic weather will peak out, and transform world climate into an alien environment devastating to human survival.
Scientists Ben Mason and Claudine Manet, developers of the computer model, are lovers as well as lab partners. While they work frantically to head off the approaching catastrophe, a disgraced Russian general hacks into their model and sees earth's bleak future as his opportunity for ultimate world power.
Ben, who had left the CIA to develop the computer model at the national lab, is reactivated by the Agency and sent on a perilous mission to block the rogue general's plot. Claudine is placed in charge of a massive NASA project that, if completed on time, could stop the approaching doomsday climate change. But her project is stalled by bureaucracy. Ben, his cover blown, is on the run in hostile territory. The climate change calamity steadily approaches.
I read a report that CO2 concentration in earth's atmosphere had increased dramatically in the last 50 years, and that the rate of increase had greatly speeded up just in the last two years. Ice caps are melting, weather is getting more extreme, and scientists say we are now heading toward a hotter and greatly changed natural environment much faster than predicted. In my imagination, I took it a step beyond, and wondered what would happen if CO2 concentration keeps zooming higher till it reaches a tipping point, and kicks earth's atmosphere into something radically different, and threatening to human survival. My book is based on that idea.
Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?
Yes. I belong to critique group of published writers. We meet weekly for 2 to 3 hours and critique each other's work. I find the feedback extremely helpful.
Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?
When I finished my first novel, Tsunami, I sent query letters and chapters to agents for several months, without success. When a small press called with interest in the book, I signed up. Unfortunately, they were underfunded and unable to live up to their commitments on publishing schedule and promotion. They took orders for several thousand copies, but by the time the books were finally shipped, the recession had hit and book sales were going south. Half the shipments were returned and I never saw a penny of royalties. I finally negotiated the return of all publishing rights and went direct on Kindle, selling through my website, which has been quite successful.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
Do a more thorough check of the publisher's finances and track record before signing the conract. For Red Hot Sky, I decided to bypass the traditional route and publish with Amazon's CreateSpace.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Paperback copies of Red Hot Sky can be ordered from Amazon or your local book store. The ebook version is available on Amazon's Kindle.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
Yes. My website is http://www.tsunaminaturaldisaster.com/ where I blog on natural disasters and natural phenomena. In addition to my blog articles, the site features information about Red Hot Sky and my previous novel, Tsunami, plus reviews, excerpts, and bio info about the author.
What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
My best investment was paying a good website designer to design an attractive homepage. Also, I've signed up for a virtual tour with Pump Up Your Book and I'm hopeful the program will pump up interest in Red Hot Sky and drive more traffic to my website.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
Write every day. Some days will be better than others, but stick with it. Never give up.
What is up next for you?
I've completed the first draft of my next book, also on a disaster theme, which I prefer not to divulge at this time. It's being revised. I plan to publish it later this year.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Buy Red Hot Sky. It's a pulse-pounding read.