Earlier this month, a new super-hero themed book came across my desk. The Fire Inside, by Ramond Rose, is a recently released independent novel involving a shady organization, known only as “The Agency,” pursuing the protagonists in the shadow of a historical battle in which a number of super heroes were lost. I had a chance to correspond with Raymond about the background and inspiration for his novel.
JI: Your first book, Better Together, is about loss and fatherhood. Your second, The Fire Inside, is a thriller involving Federal agents and super heroes. The two genres couldn’t be any further apart. Why go from one to the other? And did any lessons from publishing your first novel carry over to the second?
RR: It was actually a little reverse. My first novel was The Fire Inside. I thought I was just going to be a fantasy author, although I had a special place for authors like Nick Hornby and Richard Russo, who tackled more ‘day-to-day’ subjects. However, after my first son was born, I kept thinking about how I wanted to write something about being a dad. I started a story in a fantasy setting but it just wasn’t working for me. So I threw out the fantasy stuff and went straight for real life, and Better Together was born.
JI: What led to your decision to publish through Christopher William Books? I read that the company publishes electronically while leaving you the rights to publish in print or other means. Do you have plans to release a print version or maybe an audiobook?
RR: Christopher Williams Books was started with the idea to find authors who are finding it impossible to publish traditionally and help them go about it, well, non-traditionally. After having been fed up with years of trying to find an agent and getting nowhere, the non-traditional approach appealed to me.
There is a paperback version of the book available through Createspace. As for an audiobook, I have been talking to someone about that, but it’s down the line.
JI: Are there any writers, of comics or novels, which provided inspiration for your work?
RR: The Fire Inside‘s genesis was reading Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. If you haven’t read it, there are a few chapters that are stories from the comic books that the two main characters are creating, but they are in novel format. They are brilliant. Right then and there, a little light went off in my brain – I could do that!
On the comic book side, I was inspired by writers Brad Meltzer, Alan Moore, and Joss Whedon. All three of them are amazing at deconstructing characters and presenting stories that, while exciting to read, really get into taking apart characters and showing what makes them tick. I mean, can anyone think of Cyclops the same after Whedon’s run on X-Men? Didn’t we see Red Tornado as a tragic character in Meltzer’s take on Justice League? Or even the Comedian in Watchmen. This guy’s a rapist and a murderer, yet Moore dissects him until we can’t help but feel a little sorry for him when we finally see his murder. I wanted to do that in a novel.
JI: The Fire Inside switches between events in the past and present day. That structure demands planning. Did you map out the plot in entirety before you started writing the novel or did you work it out as you went along?
RR: I originally wrote the story of the Battle as one big lump sum that would either be in the beginning or the end of the novel. However, as I was writing the book, I kept seeing similarities in themes in both the story of the Battle and the novel so I decided to break the Battle story into sections and intersperse it throughout the novel. It’s a bit jarring for some readers. For me, it’s not. As a comic book reader, I’m used to stories being broken up and jumping around in the timeline. I rather like it. But for someone who has never picked up a comic book (those sad, sad people), it takes a little getting used to.
JI: The novel touches on government agencies and covert operations. Did you have to do any research while writing the book?
RR: Not really. It was mostly just working off of what I knew about the CIA and the FBI, making it fit to The Agency, and then running with it. As we get further on in the series, we’re really going to take a look at The Agency and its origins. Some people have been frustrated by a lack of clear definition of what The Agency is but I want it to be murky. Murky leaves room for revelations.
JI: Your most recent book’s full title is The Fire Inside: A Sidekick Novel (Vol. 1). Do you already have a plot in mind for upcoming releases? Can you give us any sneak previews?
RR: Oh yeah! Not to make the series seem daunting but I’m planning something like 10 or so books. The series is a long take on Jack as he figures out who he is, then guides the others to become a team before they take on the major villains of the series. Each novel will be its own story that will keep the overall series barreling along until the final showdown.
As for a sneak peak, I think I can do that: in the second novel, Black Mirror, Jack and his team try to stop an assassin from ‘completing his list.’ The third novel, Take Back the City, will see Jack battling a pack of giant wolves terrorizing the city. Although I’m enjoying Black Mirror, I really can’t wait to write Take Back the City. Where the first two are sci-fi/action, Take Back is going to be pure horror!