Interview: Harry James Krebs
A Conversation with Harry James Krebs
Below is an interview with author, Harry James Krebs! Check it out to learn more about him and his book, Vengeance is Mine. Then check back with us for our review soon.
1. How did your latest novel, Vengeance is Mine, start for you? Image, Idea, Dream?
A: I wanted to create a mystery series that was as much based on the interpersonal relationships of the main character as well as the mystery itself. I have always loved Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean miserly character from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In this regard, I have created Benjamin Tucker with all of his flaws and idiosyncracies. In any one chapter, the reader can go from having empathy for Tucker to wanting to grab him by the throat and choke him – in other words, he is an ordinary man.
2. Do you have a message you try to convey when writing a story?
A: I suppose there are some overtones of “good triumphs over evil” but my main focus in writing a story is to provide pure entertainment. My stories are written to provide the reader with a means of escape from the pressure of real life. And the characters are developed as normal individuals that the reader can readily identify with. If there is anything special about the characters, it’s the fact that they are not really special at all.
3. Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
A: I had always wanted to write mystery novels but my engineering career left me little time to write. However, the novel Guilt by Association by Susan R. Sloan published in 1996 was the catalyst that transformed my writing desire into an obsession. The ending of that book simply blew me away, and I still think of it often.
4. What do you do when you’re not writing?
A: My interests include dogs, classic and sporty automobiles, landscape gardening, guns, and playing golf. I also enjoy classic movies. I like to make my own version of Chicago deep dish pizza from scratch, which makes a huge mess in the kitchen and drives my OCD wife nuts.
5. Have you always wanted to be an author?
A: No. In fact, when I was younger, and in high school or college, I disliked writing. I believe it was because I couldn’t write about subjects that interested me. I finally got the urge to write my own stories about five years out of college. As a side note, my major in college was Applied Physics. My formal education had very little influence on my writing career.
6. How did you break into the industry?
A: My first novel, Fractured Persona, was self-published. Again, I had first attempted to secure a literary agent who would sell my work to the large publishers. When this failed, I entered Fractured Persona into some writing competitions. The novel won silver finalist medals from the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for “First Novel Over 80,000 Words” and “Best Mystery”. I also won a bronze medal from the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) for “Best Adult Fiction E-Book”. At this point, Peak City Publishers in Apex, North Carolina, picked up the rights to Fractured Persona plus the first three entries to my Benjamin Tucker mystery series.
7. What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?
A: The second installment in the Benjamin Tucker mystery series, Fatal Seduction, is almost ready for final editing, with an expected release late fall 2014. The third installment, Lethal Retribution, is in process nearly half complete on the first draft. It is expected to have a release in late spring 2015.
8. What is your favorite word?
A: “Wagging” as in, a dog’s tail. Obviously, I am a dog person. I believe that dogs are the sweetest animals that walk this planet. When they look at you and wag their tails, it’s genuine. They are not judgmental in any way. They don’t care if you wrecked the car, got fired from your job, or even if you’re ugly. If I could, I would wag my tail – if I had a tail.
9. Do you consider yourself a logophile? If so, have you always been?
A: I must not be a logophile—I had to look up the definition. Instead, I consider myself a lover of stories that entertain and give the reader a means of escape from the pressures of daily life. I’ve always been like that but my engineering career left me little time to write. I do like to use interesting and dynamic words though, and to write snappy believable dialog.
10. Who is your favorite author?
A: If I was being a smart ass, I’d say my favorite author is Benjamin Tucker, the main character of my latest novel, Vengeance is Mine. But I’m assuming we’re referring to real authors. There are so many that I like, but three come to mind. Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly and John Sandford. I find their books fast-paced, and well-developed with interesting characters.
11. What do you typically drink while writing?
A: Most of the time, I drink Coca Cola (called Co Cola here in the south) when I write. But there is the occasion when I enjoy a glass of Cabernet. No hard stuff for me though. It gives me a headache and who knows what Tucker would end up doing.
12. What challenges have you had in regards to your writing life?
A: The biggest challenge for me is keeping my morale up. This is a very tough business to break into. When I hit roadblocks in my pursuit of professional acceptance, I sometimes feel like I’m staring a dead hog in the butt. And sometimes it looks like a really big hog.
13. When did you first start and when did you finish your book?
A: I started Vengeance is Mine in January of 2012 and finished my first edited version in November of the same year. I showed it to a literary agent who told me it was way too long, and that I should cut out a minimum of 25,000 words. At first, I was totally demoralized, but I removed a major portion of the story and added some depth to the main character, Benjamin Tucker. Then I queried two hundred literary agents, but in the end, it resulted in total rejection. Finally, my first novel, Fractured Persona, caught the interest of Shiloh Burnam with Peak City Publishing in Apex, North Carolina. We worked out a deal and hopefully there will be many Benjamin Tucker novels coming out of the pipeline.
14. What has been the best compliment?
A: I recently received a raving review from highly successful author Michael Phelps. Here is an excerpt:
“FORGET “CASTLE” . . . BEN TUCKER is MUCH BETTER
VENGEANCE IS MINE is not a book you want to start reading before bedtime. I guarantee you will NOT sleep. You will be late for work, if you are able to go to work at all. You won’t concentrate on your job, and for some, like butchers, that could be dangerous.
VENGEANCE IS MINE is packed full of suspense. When I thought I had put almost all the pieces of the puzzle together and I knew the killer, it was like a tornado swept through and all the pieces scattered. In spite of BEN TUCKER’S faults (wine + women), his huge ego, and a few more, you just gotta like the guy, because he is darn good at what he does.
In my humble opinion, AUTHOR HARRY JAMES KREBS has created a character that will live a long life and promises every reader many hours of reading entertainment. With a strong cast of supporting characters, richly and vividly brought to life, BEN TUCKER will be in great demand. BEN TUCKER has what it takes to be a great television series; THINK: “MR. & MRS. NORTH” (circa 1952.)
FIVE GOLD STARS FOR VENGEANCE IS MINE!”
– Michael Phelps, Co-Author, along with Ellie Janssen, of David Janssen – My Fugitive
This review made my day, week, month, and year! Of course, winning a gold medal in the 2014 Readers Favorite International Book Awards also helps the ego.
15. Is there anything that you find challenging in your writing?
A: The most challenging thing for me to write is a scene where two of the characters are engaging in sexual contact. I wrote a fairly explicit sex scene in my first book, Fractured Persona. By the time I was finished with it, I was a nervous wreck. I came away thinking, “Maybe we should avoid this in the future, and write around it.”
16. If your book became a movie, who would be your first choice to play the lead roles?
A: I could see Dylan McDermott playing Benjamin Tucker. He looks like he could be a smart ass one minute and play it serious the next. Ben’s wife, Maggie, I have always figured to be the beautiful actress, Morena Baccarin. Roberta, the housekeeper, would be played by Jeff Lewis’ feisty housekeeper, Zoila Chavez. I had envisioned Dennis Farina as Lieutenant John Netter. Tragically, Mr. Farina passed away last year. He was a great actor, and he is sadly missed. It was most annoying of him to make me choose another actor to play Netter. I’m still searching.
17. When is a great time to read your books?
A: The perfect time to read one of my books is when you’re lying in bed or sitting on the beach or in an airplane where you’re trying to escape for a few hours. But, be careful. I’ve been told that once a reader begins, it will be difficult to put down.
18. Did you write this book with a series in mind?
A: My first book, Fractured Persona, was a stand-alone story I wrote to prove to myself that I could be a writer. For me, the plot of the first book was easy to write because it was based on a recurring dream that I had where I would wake up in someone else’s body and life. I threw a murder into the mix to make it more interesting.
But Vengeance is Mine was created as the first installment in a well-planned series. I have two more Tucker books in the works with storylines for four more. Hopefully, my career will allow me to continue to write them.
19. What do you think your readers will like best about Vengeance is Mine?
A: I want my readers to feel good when they’ve finished one of my books. Therefore, in addition to the main story line, there is always a second story line—the lives and interactions of the characters. In this regard, I am always poking fun at my main character, Benjamin Tucker, who finds himself in one scrape after another. He puts himself in awkward situations due to bad luck, his male ego, or simple stupidity. My goal is that the reader will alternate feelings about Tucker. One minute you have empathy for him, and the next minute you’d like to throttle him. After all, isn’t that what most men are really like?
Much needed comic relief is another ingredient I use to hold the reader’s attention. Some of this is done with my use of animals in the story—especially dogs. I am a huge dog lover, and my stories show it. Much of the interaction between Tucker and his Dachshund, Oscar, come from personal experience with my own four-legged friends. I aim to satisfy critter lovers like myself with entertaining animal crazy antics and heartwarming bonding moments.
20. Do you have any advice for other writers?
A: First, make certain that you’re writing because you enjoy writing. Do not expect fame and fortune because, as I said earlier, this is a tough business to break into. Aspiring authors should realize that it’s going to be a difficult and complicated road to gain any form of acceptance in the industry. It is nearly impossible to make a decent living from being a novelist. I would bet that there are more large-jackpot lottery winners than there are highly successful authors of novels—business wise. Make certain that, initially, you have a means of financial support. This will eliminate the stress of needing to be profitable within a specific time frame. Writing is difficult enough without that extra burden.
21. Have you ever received a negative review? If so, how did you handle the criticism?
A: My stories contain “colorful language” used by a particularly crusty old character, so I have heard about that a few times. Tucker, although faithful to his wife, has an eye for the ladies, and I have received mixed reactions about that also. I also received a review for Fractured Persona that said, “… there was no emotion in the writing. It was like reading a statement this guy made to the police.” I wouldn’t know if this is true because I’ve never given a statement to the police. I believe this is a good thing.
But if a reviewer is unusually cruel, I make him or her a character in my next book and do bad things to them.
Vengeance is Mine synopsis: Driven by a traumatic, violent event in his teenage years, Benjamin Tucker, bestselling true crime author, is obsessed with helping authorities solve savage crimes near his home turf of Holly Springs, North Carolina. When a series of decapitated female victims is found in neighboring communities, he is helplessly drawn in to the investigation to help bring the killer to justice. But in a bizarre twist of events, the psychopathic murderer becomes fascinated with Tucker and stalks him, presenting him with unimaginable, grotesque gifts. The hunt for the killer turns personal and Tucker is not sure if he’s become the killer’s idol or his next victim.
Vengeance is Mine, a gripping thriller with a healthy dose of droll humor, is a tale of sadistic revenge guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.
Looking for other books by Harry James Krebs?
About the Author: Harry James Krebs was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. After receiving his BA in applied physics from Aurora University in Illinois, Harry spent thirty-seven years with United States Department of Energy Contractors as a senior mechanical engineer. He designed, built, maintained, and operated large experimental detectors for high-energy physics experiments at national laboratories such as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Superconducting Super Collider, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University. Krebs always wanted to write mystery novels, but his engineering career left him little time to write until now. The author and his wife currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina with their Chihuahua, Lucille.