Monday, October 28, 2013

Chester D. Campbell - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Award-winning Author Chester D. Campbell. He writes Mystery & Thrillers.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Chester D. Campbell - Nashville Mystery Writer
Author's Blog: Chester D. Campbell Newsletter
Twitter: @ChesterCampbell
E-Mail: chester @ chesterdcampbell dot com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
After following a snake-like career path that writhed about from newspapers to magazines to speechwriting to advertising to PR to association management, I settled on novel writing after retirement. I'm having a blast. My PI characters do things I'd never dare attempt. The reviewers love 'em, and so do the fans. Most of my stories are drawn from life, from all the weird and wonderful things that go on around me. Since I've been observing this for the last 86 years, there's no shortage of stuff to draw on. Lately I've been working on a trilogy of Post Cold War political thrillers. The first, Beware the Jabberwock, is now joined by Book 2, The Poksu Conspiracy. They're set in the early nineties, a time that arrived just after my retirement.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

What do you have on the drawing board next? Will you continue to write political thrillers or will give your readers something new? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I'm currently working on the sixth book in my Greg McKenzie Mysteries series. A retired Air Force investigator, Greg was just over sixty-five in the first book published in 2002. I didn't want him to age too fast, so after the second book, each story takes place a few months later. As a result, in Greg time it's early 2005. At my age I don't work on deadlines, but I hope to have it out by the middle of next year. The story involves the hit-and-run death of a Vietnam vet driving his motorized wheelchair on the street.

You have a great following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How much has it changed your book launch process?

I have not exploited social media as well as some of my colleagues, but Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads have definitely helped my sales. Ebooks account for most of sales, so online is where I promote. It changed the way I launch books in that each of the political thrillers was initially published as an ebook.

You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Because of a voice problem, I have had to curtail my speaking engagements. I quit doing book store signings because they always over-order, resulting in returns that can be deadly to a small press. I have a mystery-writing colleague who shares a booth with me at outdoor festivals and such. I do quite well with those, particularly in selling five-book packages of Greg McKenzie Mysteries. My next event will be the McGavock High School Christmas Craft Fair in Nashville on December 3. You can find where I'll be at

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach?

The political thriller trilogy brought in a new cover designer, Stephen Walker. I gave him some ideas and suggested illustrations and he came up with great covers. I'm quite happy with them.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

I see no difference in writing books for one format or the other. In the past I had book launches at a mystery book store where they featured cakes with the covers in the frosting. With ebook launches I've turned to online sales and marketing. I may go back to the book store for the new mystery.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I had modest success until I used the BookBub site in September. It's a bit costly, but the results were dramatic. I had over 49,000 free downloads and sales continue reasonably well a month later. The only other giveaways I've done have been contests on my website, which were marginally successful. One other advantage of the BookBub promotion was ballooning the number of reviews for the book on Amazon. They jumped from 23 to 54, and they're still coming in. I did several Amazon KDP free days during the spring that weren't too productive, but this new surge has been great. The goal, as always, is exposure to more reader who will come back for other books.

How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

I don't outline my plots ahead of time. I start with an idea and let the characters take over. I usually write backgrounds on the main characters, and I frequently graph timelines of a story, particularly if it covers a short period of time. It keeps me from having a character in the wrong place at the wrong time. I've never used any writing software, though I have several friends who swear by them.

You have a great newsletter. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

One of my problems in writing fiction is the need to guard against using too many qualifiers, words like appears, seems, probably, somewhat. It makes you sound unsure. That's a natural response to a lifetime of not holding strong, unshakable opinions about most things, instead trying to see both sides of issues. Which is a long way around of saying I don't have a fixed primary goal. The closest I can offer is that I want to write stories I enjoy writing and find readers who enjoy reading them. As for finding time to get everything done, I don't have much social life. A new challenge lately is working an afternoon nap into my schedule.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I have mostly relied on a group of well-established review sites such as Midwest Book Reviews, Crimespree Magazine and Spinetingler Magazine. I've received a couple of reviews from Library Journal, and I have solicited cover blurbs from popular authors. As I mentioned earlier, the BookBub promotion brought a stream of reader reviews on Amazon.

Now that you can look back at your working career, do you wish you could have been a Mystery Author all your life?

In a way, I have. I went to work as a newspaper reporter while I was a junior in journalism at the University of Tennessee. The next summer I wrote a novel about a reporter helping solve a murder. That was 1948. I wrote another mystery/thriller in the sixties, but I didn't settle down to writing fiction in earnest until I retired in 1989. I wish I had concentrated on fiction a lot sooner.

Author's Book List
Overture to Disaster - Post Cold War Political Thriller Trilogy
It's a thriller right out of today's headlines, though it took place in the early nineties.

The theft of Soviet nerve gas weapons as the Cold War ends and the fate of a Special Operations helicopter mission to Iran set the stage for a thrill ride across continents as international chicanery gone wild seeks to restore dictatorial rule in the former Soviet republics. Can a disgraced Air Force colonel, a Belarus investigator framed for murder, and a spymaster suddenly left in the cold stop a disaster that will paralyze Washington?

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Poksu Conspiracy - Post Cold War Political Thriller
The Cold War has ended, but a reliable report reveals a plot that could throw the Far East into turmoil. Burke Hill, clandestine director for a Washington PR firm that's a CIA spinoff, is tasked to find the truth about a secret agreement for Israel to help South Korea develop nuclear weapons. The new Seoul government wants all U.S, troops to leave. A bomb decimates the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang, and Hill finds a diligent Seoul Metropolitan Police detective investigating a series of murders he believes are targeted at civilian leaders who favor close cooperation with America. Captain Yun Yu-sop identifies a ruthless Korean assassin who targets anyone who stands in the way, including Yun and Burke Hill.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Secret of the Scroll - Greg McKenzie Mysteries
Retired Air Force OSI agent Greg McKenzie thinks his troubles with the Metro Nashville Police are a problem. Then he brings a "souvenir" Dead Sea Scroll home from the Holy Land and things go from bad to worse. A Palestinian terrorist group invades his home, fails to find the scroll, and takes his wife, Jill, hostage. Greg finds himself with an ancient Hebrew scroll worth millions, wanted by both the Palestinians and a radical far-right Israeli organization. When he tries to exchange it for Jill's freedom, everything goes wrong. Then the police target him as a suspect in his wife's disappearance, and he sets out alone on a perilous chase to save her life.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Beware the Jabberwock - Post Cold War Thrillers
As the Cold War struggles to a close and the Soviet Union disintegrates, rogue elements on both sides of the Iron Curtain join in a deadly plot to maintain their hold on power, codenamed Operation Jabberwock. Telephone intercepts trigger a CIA investigation, but doubters among the higher-ups task a veteran clandestine officer with a drinking problem to track down Jabberwock with only an outsider for help.

Cameron Quinn recruits an old buddy, ex-FBI Agent Burke Hill, whose tarnished career had ended years before. Hill soon finds himself alone in the chase, with enough evidence to convince himself of the plot's potential danger, but shut out by an obsessive bureaucrat. He links up with Quinn's daughter in a race against time to find the shocking answer, a plot to assassinate the American and Russian presidents. Attempting to thwart it could cost both his life and that of the woman he loves.

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Good, The Bad and The Murderous - Sid Chance Mysteries
Medicare fraud, drug trafficking, a hired killer, a crooked cop, it's a nightmare scenario PI Sid Chance finds himself in when he takes on a tough assignment?prove a young man just out of prison for murder when he was twelve did not commit a new homicide. Everything is thrown upside down when Jaz LeMieux, the wealthy ex-cop working with him on the case, finds herself accused of a despicable crime, and the evidence is damning. When a hit man comes after Sid, all hell breaks loose.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A Sporting Murder - Greg McKenzie Mysteries
Christmas week takes on a deadly flavor when PI Greg McKenzie and his wife and partner, Jill, take on an investigation involving rumored shady dealings in a business group's plan to bring a National Basketball Association team to Nashville. Their client is a fan group of the local NHL hockey team who feel the fan base of their beloved Predators will be fatally diluted. When Greg goes to meet an informant who promises information that will "blow your mind," he finds the young man shot dead.

As they pursue sparse leads, a new complication pops up.

Greg learns a former lieutenant he helped send to prison during his Air Force OSI

career has been released with revenge in mind. The tension builds when someone touches off an improvised explosive device beneath Greg's Jeep. It all comes together in a Christmas day climax that features something other than good will toward men.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Surest Poison - Sid Chance Mysteries
Three seemingly unrelated murders crop up during the investigation of a decade-old chemical dump that plagues a rural community west of Nashville. PI Sid Chance, former National Parks ranger and small town police chief, takes the case and finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of lies, deceptions, and threats. Who is tailing and warning him to back off? Is the man responsible for the pollution dead or alive? When ex-cop friend Jaz LeMieux offers her help, she is awakened by an explosion behind her mansion. Is it related to the abduction of her employees’ grandson, or Sid’s case? As the tension mounts, Sid finds himself confronting the unsavory people responsible for his past troubles.

A Mystery Magazine Editor's View

"Chester Campbell’s latest, THE SUREST POISON, introduces a new character, PI Sid Chance and his side kick Jaz LeMieux…Chance is a great character, 59 years old, Viet Nam vet, ex cop and relentless. Campbell’s work here is his best yet and the book has a natural rhythm that moves the story along at a nice pace. The people who populate the book are realistic and nothing feels forced, it's as if Campbell is just telling their story without embellishing, which I found refreshing. A top rate mystery by a gem of a writer."
Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Marathon Murders - Greg McKenzie Mysteries
Did Sydney Liggett, assistant treasurer of Marathon Motor Works in Nashville, skip town in 1914 with embezzled funds, or was he framed and murdered? That's the question PI's Greg and Jill McKenzie are hired to answer when 90-year-old documents found during restoration of the company’s buildings disappear. They discover the contractor who had them has been murdered. As they follow the twisting path, more bodies are found and they fear their client, Liggett’s great-great-granddaughter, may be next.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Deadly Illusions - Greg McKenzie Mysteries
Molly Saint hires new PI's Greg and Jill McKenzie to check into her husband's background, then disappears. It starts them on a tangled trail of deceit. Complicating matters further, Greg gets drawn into a troubling police investigation stemming from the assassination of the Federal Reserve Board chairman at a Nashville hotel. The case resurrects old problems with a Murder Squad detective and his colleagues among Nashville's finest. The deeper the McKenzies dig, the more deadly illusions they face. After threats, break-ins, and another murder, the charade ends in a shocking showdown.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Designed to Kill - Greg McKenzie Mysteries
It's no vacation that brings Greg McKenzie and his wife, Jill, to the glistening white sand beaches at Perdido Key, FL. Architect Tim Gannon, son of the McKenzies' closest friends, is fouind dead of a gunshot wound. Self-inflicted, says the deputy who investigated, a clear case of remorse over a design flaw in a beachfront condo that caused a balcony collapse, killing two people. It looks otherwise to Greg and Jill, who find plans missing, an obstinate contractor, a too-slick developer, and an inspector angry over a disrupted love affair. After two hoods work him over, Greg realizes Jill is in danger, too, and if this is a murder case, he had better solve it without delay.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS eBook Author’s Corner
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.


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