Friday, June 15, 2012

An Interview with Bill Cokas

Please give a warm bookish welcome to Bill Cokas! Bill is the author of Ring of Fire, a twisted mystery that has a lot of wit and heart. The synopsis is below! Make sure to click the book cover and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! 

Seeking refuge from a corporate scandal, Wally Gibbs trades his corner office in Chicago for a tweed jacket with elbow patches in a quaint college town. He soon realizes he wasn’t meant to teach marketing; he was meant to reinvent it. And the timing is right. To Wally’s perverse delight, the economy has brought consumers everywhere to their knees. In Wally’s own words, “people are so desperate to lop thirty cents off a cantaloupe, they’d give a urine sample at the checkout.” During a routine colonoscopy, he envisions a new hyper-efficient marketing vehicle, which he labels “Project Argus.”

As Wally ensnares his unsuspecting students in the beta test, Project Argus catches the attention of eight-fingered frustrated campus policeman Nick Pappas. Sensing a connection to an unsolved student death, Nick becomes obsessed with exposing the scheme, even “deputizing” student cartoonist Zak Dawson to do the digging he can’t. The pair follows Wally to a tiny Greek island, where he acquires a rare exotic gem that he smuggles back home and turns over to a local jeweler. Within a few days, the hottest-selling graduation ring in the school’s history is quietly collecting data—and claiming lives.

Bill is here today to share a little bit about himself in an author interview, and he was also kind enough to bring along a giveaway! Read on, and please make sure to leave a comment. You know we bloggers love comments and authors do too!

1) Who, or what, would you say is your biggest inspiration? 
It's funny, because while I've been a reader all my life, I used to think of myself as an artist first and a writer second. After college, I realized that cartooning wasn't going to pay the bills, so I changed gears and focused more on the words vs. the pictures and pursued a career in advertising. Even as a writer, I have been influenced by artists from all genres: the picture books of Jack Kent and Harry and Wende Devlin, through the youth fiction of Mary Rogers, Scott Corbett and Donald Sobol (anyone remember thoseguys?) to "adult" writers like Stephen King, James Lee Burke and especially Carl Hiaasen, who proved to me you can make a point and still be funny doing it.

2) I read on your website that you wrote commericals! How did that add to your career as a writer?
Advertising is all about reflecting popular culture, so it's imperative that one stay current on trends, slang and attitudes, which are changing on a daily basis. More importantly, writing for short attention spans (as in a 30-second commercial) really forced me to bring more discipline to my writing and weed out the extraneous. If a sentence doesn't reveal character or move the plot forward, you really have to question its place in the story.

3) If you could meet any one of your idols, who would you choose?
Charles Schulz. And I almost did--while in Santa Rosa for work years ago, I walked through his ice skating rink hoping to catch him in the coffee shop. When I didn't, I walked next door to his studio and peered in the sidelight. Alas, it was a weekend, and the place was dark, but I'm convinced I would have knocked if he had been there. To me, he will always be the master of combining words, pictures and delicate emotions in the most efficient and memorable way possible.

4) Ring of Fire is being made into a movie. What does the tagline on the movie poster say?
That's easy, because I wrote a tagline for the book cover: "You'll be a customer for life--if you survive." Ring of Fire is about a new marketing technique that throws privacy out the window in exchange for brand loyalty. Along the way, however, people are being paired up with products that they have no business using, and that seals their fate.

5) Where do you see yourself in five years?
If things keep moving along at this rate, I predict I'll have another few books on the market (I'm working on a middle grade adventure now, but have ideas for more humorous suspense novels for an adult audience) while still helping my clients in central North Carolina differentiate their products and services from the competition. The lessons I'm learning on behalf of my clients come into play regularly as I try to establish my own "brand" as an author. Hopefully it's a brand with staying power.

A huge thank you to Bill for agreeing to be on my blog! Now, it's giveaway time! 

Up for grabs are digital copies of both Ring of Fire and Bill's simultaenously published Battle Axe. One winner will take home both. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form below! A winner will be chosen on June 21, 2012.



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