Author No. 1…. Rick Campbell!!!
Welcome, Commander Rick Campbell, and thanks a lot for being willing to take this interview with me. I love your books, and learned a lot from them,(or I will soon) whether it be specific writing skills, personal life lessons, or just the thrill and enjoyment received from reading through each of your novels. It is a great pleasure to have you here!
And for my readers, here’s an exciting author interview– the first with more to come. You’ll have the chance to get to know the fabulous authors better(or have your first encounter with them, depending on your situation). I feel that y’all would be quite interested in who they are, what they write, and how they got on this exciting journey of being a novelist.
So, here we go!!!
Rick Campbell, a retired Navy commander, spent more than thirty years in the Navy, serving on four nuclear-powered submarines. On his last submarine, he was one of the two men whose permission is required to launch its nuclear warhead-tipped missiles. Upon retirement from the Navy, Rick was offered a two-book deal (which has been extended to a six-book deal) by Macmillan / St. Martin’s Press for his novel The Trident Deception, which was hailed by Booklist as “The best submarine novel written in the last thirty years, since Tom Clancy’s classic – The Hunt for Red October”. His first three books were Barnes & Noble Top-20 bestsellers, and his fourth book—Blackmail—releases on June 27, 2017 at brick-and-mortar and Internet stores everywhere.
How and when did you start to write? What (or who) influenced you to go down this road?
– I had a story rolling around in my head for 20 years, but never wrote it because I didn’t think it had any chance of being published. I have no background in writing – I have an engineering degree and my career was in submarines, which is very technical. I had’nt written so much as a short story since English class in high school. However, when I was at my 20th high school reunion, our class counselor took the microphone at the end of the evening and gave us one piece of advice – “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I felt like he was talking to me, because that’s why I hadn’t written the book – I was afraid of failing. Afraid of investing over a thousand hours writing a novel that had a snowball’s chance in Hell of being published. That night, however, I resolved to write the book.
What held you on the track (of being a writer) through all the obstacles and trials toward being a published writer/author—before and after you first got published?
– A combination of fear of failure and determination to succeed. I won’t bore you with the details, but that book I finally wrote – it went nowhere. I queried 40 agents and not one replied. However, while writing Book 0, I learned that I enjoyed writing and decided to give it one more try before calling it quits. There’s in adage in writing that says – “Either write what you love or write what you know.” I’d written what I loved (Sci-Fi) and no one else loved it, so I decided for my second attempt to write what I know – Submarines! That worked out much better and I ended up with a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press.
Tell us about yourself in one sentence.
– That’s way too hard. Depends on who’s asking. 🙂
What is most important to you when writing a book?
– The story. My goal is to write a story that you’re willing to lose sleep over – keep you up last at night to read just a little bit more, to find out what happens.
Which of your various novels is your favorite? Or are they all the same to you, after they’re published? (Some say that you either love the current novel-in-the-works best or vice versa.)
– My first book – The Trident Deception, will always be special, because that’s the book that got my writing career started. However, it was a difficult book because I was still learning how to write and it went through so many revisions. Each book has had its challenges, and I’d say my fourth book is my favorite – it was the first time I felt comfortable with the writing process and didn’t fret constantly about whether it would turn out okay.
How do you use your free time—if you have any? What do you do for a living besides writing books?
– Free time – what’s that? My writing earns about two-thirds of the Day Job, so I can’t quit the Day Job yet. The good news is I have two pretty good incomes, but the bad news is that I have two full-time jobs. I gave up watching TV about 5 years ago to find the extra time and I still need a few more hours in each day. As far as the Day Job goes, I’m a defense contractor supporting the Navy.
What advice do you have for budding authors—like myself—out there? Any sagely words of wisdom?
– Don’t give up. As a writer, you’ll be subjected to lots of rejection from agents and editors. However, all it takes is “one”. You need only one agent to love your work and one editor, and you’ve got a book deal. I have friends who didn’t get published until their ninth or tenth novel. So if writing is in your blood, don’t give up. It’s usually the story that’s the issue (not the writing), so keep writing until you come up with the story that agents and editors think people will buy. (It’s all about the sales for them. You could be the next Hemingway and you won’t get a book deal unless they think people will buy your book.)
I can hardly wait for ‘The Trident Deception’, ‘Empire Rising’, and ‘Ice Station Nautilus’ to arrive. What inspired you to write these novels?
– I wrote The Trident Deception when my first attempt (Sci-Fi Book 0) failed. Then when my publisher offered me a book deal for The Trident Deception, they wanted to know if I was writing a sequel. My answer was – “Of course!” 🙂 At this point in my career, I’m locked into “The Trident Deception” series. I floated different proposals across my editor’s desk for each contract negotiation, but so far I’ve been contracted for six naval/submarine thrillers using the Trident Deception character set.
How many drafts do you usually write before you reach the final draft?
– About 5 or 6. When I type THE END, my manuscripts still need a lot of cleanup. The story is complete, but there’s usually consistency issues and the prose needs a lot of work. In Thrillers, there’s an awful lot of editing required to eliminate everything non-essential, and I tend to be wordy in the first draft.
Do you have a writing schedule? If so, can you share a little about it?
– I’m on yearly contracts, and the first thing I realized was that I don’t have a full year to write each book. After turning in a completed manuscript, the next year is broken down into three phases:
– The first phase is supporting the editorial and production phases of the book I just turned in. I have to do a revision for my editor, addressing any issues he sees from a plot perspective and incorporate his line-edits, plus I have to review the copy-editor’s comments and accept or reject them. Then it goes to Interior Design where it gets laid out for printing, and I have to review 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pass pages. The goal is to make sure everything is perfect – not a single error by the time it hits the press.
– The second phase is promoting the book being released (which was turned in the previous year). That involves a few months of promotion efforts, culminating in a two-month book tour with 20-25 book signings and festivals.
– The third phase is writing the next book. After accounting for the first two phases, I usually have about five months to write the next book. As far as the writing goes, I’m not the kind of writer who can write in short spurts. I need a block of at least 3 hours to get anything done, and once I get going, it’s not uncommon for me to write 12-14 hours a day.
Do you have a favorite quote about writing?
– It’s a quote from the movie Galaxy Quest – “Never give up. Never surrender!”
Thanks a lot, Commander!!
(this is just one of his books…some how i could not get the other pictures to sit in the right places.. 🙁 )
His website is: http://rickcampbellauthor.com/
I hope you guys out there enjoyed this interview!!
Thanks for reading!!