Interview with Roderick Donald, Author of Retribution of the Damned
22 Sep 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Retribution of the Damned?
• As with my other books, Retribution of the Damned crosses boundaries. It’s difficult to pidgeon-hole it into a specific genre. I like to think of it as contemporary urban fiction with a paranormal twist.
• I really think the story can be fairly succinctly summed up by quoting the words of one of my early reviewers – “Fast paced story . . . lots of action, adventure, mystery”. That sort of says it all.
• The story is an adrenalin rush from page one. It explodes off the page with two amazing action scenes in in the first thirty-four pages. It’s initially set in Australia, then quickly moves to California.
• Now, without giving too much away, as to be expected, Cait—and for those of you who aren’t familiar with the series yet, she’s my femme fatale heroine—well, she finds herself in the thick of things. She’s a bit of a trouble magnet.
• Anyway, Cait’s now a full-on criminal profiler. She ends up going undercover to help out a friend of her fathers who unknowingly has become involved with a ruthless international mafia cartel.
• Heaps of action and suspense builds as Cait goes head to head with a vindictive mafia heiress. And you simply have to hang in there to the final 15 pages. There’s a huge, unexpected twist at the end that will shock the socks off you!
• And by the way. This might be book #4 in the Cait Lennox: femme fatale series, but it’s a standalone book, so it can easily be read on its own.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
• No single person or event directed me down the writing path. I’ve always been a bit of a scribbler, right from when I was a kid. Words just came easy to me and had a habit of unexpectantly popping out of my mouth.
• But there was a cathartic event about twenty five years ago that literally shoved me down the writing path with the force of a locomotive on a full head of steam. I had an unfortunate business dealing that went totally pear-shaped and it forced me to rethink my life and my priorities. As an almost therapeutic way of dealing with the fallout I took a writing course, and that was it. I became hooked.
• And the rest is history. For the first few years I started writing freelance news and magazine articles and toyed with a few ideas for a novel. That was until one day, fifteen years later, my femme fatale character Cait started screaming at me – “Let me out. I’ve got a story to tell”. And then the books started flowing. My first book took 3-years to write, then I pumped out four in the last eighteen months.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
• That one’s hard to answer because I often read a novel, vividly remember the plot and storyline, but totally forget the title. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true.
• So books that immediately come to mind? They’re are usually ones that I’ve become engrossed in when I have been travelling. And as I’ve travelled to and lived in over 70 countries now, that’s a lot of books.
• Straight off the top of my head? Dune, by Frank Herbert. Just loved the world he created. I read this while back packing through Europe; Lord of the Rings. A masterpiece of pure fantasy and escapism. It brings back memories of hitch hiking around Ireland; Caravans, by James A. Michiner. This one reminds me of travelling the Silk Road from Istanbul through Iran and Afghanistan, then down the Kyber Pass and into Pakistan and India; the Conqueror Series by Conn Iggulden sucked me in a few years back, so much so that I immediately read the Emperor Series about the rise and decline of the Roman Empire and then War of Roses – medieval England at its decadent and violent best; I loved the historical detail in Nelson De Mille’s books like Cathedral. Read one this while driving around southern Europe for 6-months. So many countries, so many books . . .
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
• I think Mark Dawson. And why? Because he’s managed to achieve what every self-published author aspires to – success in the dog-eat-dog world of publishing, which he has done. But somehow he’s also managed to retain a totally down to earth perspective on life at the same time.
• #1 Question? With your obvious success, how have you managed to remain level headed and maintain what appears to be a sense of humanity?
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
• Well, I could say the expected—the creative process of course, or the way words play with each other, but I’d be wrong.
• If I really think about it, I’d have to say my favorite thing about writing a book is that moment in time when a story suddenly becomes alive. All I can say is that when this occurs, the storyline actually takes over. As a writer, the story is then in control and leads me where it wants to. When this occurs I may be steering the ship, but the story decides what ports we drop off in along the way.
• I find this usually occurs a few times in the life of writing a novel. For me, it always first seems to happen around page 50 or 60, which I suppose is understandable because by then the story is rolling. Then again around page 100 to 120, which is the half-way mark. By the time the story gets to page 150, the story is the boss and I’m just the scribe. Sometimes I really don’t know what’s going to happen next.
What is a typical day like for you?
• Days when I write? I’m an early riser, so I tend to fluff around for an hour or two with a coffee after a freshly squeezed orange juice (essential!!!) in the mornings, looking for an excuse not to start the writing process. Quite strange actually. I realize I’m consciously doing other things when I’ve ear-marked the time to write, but I do them regardless.
• When I start, I always re-read the last session’s work. Gives me a heads up on where I’m up to, and the editing puts me in the mood to put finger to keyboard.
• I aim to write about 10,000 words in a sitting. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Regardless, I try and put at least a few words down every day, 7 days a week.
• I always have my computer with me everywhere I go. Light bulb moments can occur anywhere, and they fade as quickly as they arrive, so I jot them down.
What scene from Retribution of the Damned was your favorite to write?
• Definitely the final scene, right at the end of the book. The last 15 pages in fact. The ending really surprised even me, because honestly I didn’t see it coming. It’s a totally unexpected twist that came out of left field.
• It’s actually where the title came from – Retribution of the Damned, with the emphasis on the word ‘retribution’. I’ll leave you to read the book to find out what happens!
• All I can say is, it certainly wasn’t the ending I’d initially factored in. But I’m glad it appeared out of nowhere like a beacon in the dark. Looking back, the original ending really was a bit vanilla and passe.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
• Cream always rises to the top.
• I’m very pragmatic about life and do tend to let things roll as they play out. I find if I force things, more often than not the outcome is less than desirable.
• I’m a firm believer in Karma. You reap what you sow. I try to do the right thing by every living thing. Especially if they’re furry, walk on four legs and have a tail wag that will clear your coffee table in a heartbeat.
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