Randall Krzak is a writer of thrillers, whose experience of living in many countries has proved advantageous in his writing. His new novel, Carnage in Singapore, was released on 11th August 2019 and he's joined us today to give us a taster of the book and discuss his writing methods.
Randall, when penning a novel, do you put yourself in the eye of the world’s bad guys and imagine what plots they might aspire to?
When I first begin fiction writing, I took a look at what I knew, what I liked to read, and made a decision I’d begin with action-adventure thrillers. Sometimes, I’ll put myself in the protagonist’s shoes and let them guide me. I also do the same with the antagonist(s) as there’s always two sides to every story (at least). Most of my ideas have come out of my head, but I’m working on a novel now called, A Cartel’s Revenge, which is based on three sentences someone gave me to see if I could do anything with them. I just went over the 40,000-word mark.
Another person also gave me an idea for a story and we’ve collaborated on the title and the synopsis. It hasn’t gone anywhere just yet because of time, but it’ll be called, The Reluctant Assassin.
What writing method do you use, daily, writing forward or going back to edit as you go.
I try to write daily, but if something gets in the way I don’t worry about it. With my first novel, I tried editing as I went. This didn’t work for me, as I found I was spending more time editing than moving the story forward. Now, I wait until the entire first draft is completed before doing any major editing, although I might correct a typo or two as I go.
Do you find writing getting easier, the more you progress?
The Kurdish Connection took about two years. I cut six months off my writing time for Dangerous
Alliance, and about a year for Carnage in Singapore. Yes it's getting easier, and over the past year I’ve started on several other novels.
Many adhere to the belief in the importance of writing groups, but what are your thoughts?
I’ve never found a physical writing group anywhere close to where I’ve lived. However, I did find two online sites (www.scribophile.com and www.thenextbigwriter.com) which have been invaluable in my writing journey thus far. Between the two sites, Carnage in Singapore received 710 chapter reviews—plenty of feedback on what was working, what didn’t, and suggestions for things which might be missing.
How have your experiences in life affected your writing, and have you/do you visit the settings in real life. If not, how do you research?
Having lived there for five years, it seemed a natural beginning for me to use Turkey as the primary location for The Kurdish Connection. Dangerous Alliance is set primarily in Somalia, where I also lived for a couple of years. My biggest challenge so far has been Carnage in Singapore, since I’ve never been there.
Of course, even with locations I’m familiar with, research is a must. There are reviewers on the two online sites I mentioned who seem to spend as much time researching my story as I have and will point out anything I might not have quite right.
Most of my research is done online, using a variety of tools readily available. However, I have purchased several non-fiction books to aid me in getting things right, particularly with a three-volume historical action-adventure I’m working on. The tentative title of the series is New World Revolution, and each book will include the name of one of the characters. It’ll be set during the American Revolutionary War, but begins with a tenant farmer and his family living in northern England.
Your new book Carnage in Singapore is about ISIS. Given your plot, do you think such terrorist groups could get ideas from novels on how to develop themselves?
It does include a number of groups affiliated with ISIS. It wouldn’t surprise me if such groups get some of their ideas from reading about other groups and exploring the internet. I try to stick with things which should already be common knowledge and available in the public domain.
Apart from what you mentioned above, are you working on anything else?
I recently received a fantastic opportunity. Earlier this year, I contacted Michael Maxwell, the author of thirteen novels, including nine in his Sage Cole mystery series. I want to see if he’d give me two or three sentences about Carnage in Singapore which I could use for promotional purposes. I didn’t really expect a reply since I’ve tried with some other authors and never received a response. Needless to say, I was very excited when he said sure. I sent him a .pdf file (still not fully edited). He got back to me after he finished reading the third chapter. He said great stuff and asked if I’d like to collaborate with him on a new series. We already have the first two planned: Xavier Sear: Clean Cut Kid and Xavier Sear: Angola.
Randall Krzak is a U.S. Army veteran and retired senior civil servant, spending almost thirty years in Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. His residency abroad qualifies him to build rich worlds in his action-adventure novels and short stories. Familiar with customs, laws, and social norms, he promotes these to create authentic characters and scenery.
He penned A Dangerous Occupation, a winning entry in the August 2016 Wild Sound Writing and Film Festival Review short story category. His first two novels competed in the 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards. Dangerous Alliance finished as one of seven First in Category winners in the Global Thrillers category, while The Kurdish Connection ended its run as a semi-finalist.
His creative enterprise delved even further into the treacherous sphere of the drug cartel in South America, expanding the manuscript A Cartel’s Revenge into a future series.
Randall holds a general Master in Business Administration (MBA) and a MBA with an emphasis in Strategic Focus, both from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. He and his wife, Sylvia, and five cats reside in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. In addition to writing, he enjoys hiking, reading, candle making, pyrography, and sightseeing.
Blurb of Carnage in Singapore:
Terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah have flourished in recent years with new recruits joining them and ISIS-affiliates at an alarming rate. Blended operations by various Asian countries have forced the groups to work together to identify a new operational base.
They seek an island nation to call home, one where they can plot against countries who oppose their ideals. They found a target, a small nation-state, perfect for their needs: The Republic of Singapore.
Before anyone can respond, the ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain, and Australia are kidnapped from their residences in Singapore. Right index fingers of each victim are sent as a warning. Any attempt to recover the ambassadors will result in the removal of additional body parts.
Bedlam Charlie team leader, Evelyn Evinrude, leads the group to rescue the ambassadors and capture the local leaders of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. Can Bedlam succeed or will events escalate, resulting in more deaths?
“It worked.” Kali chuckled. “The sole casualty was Gesang’s suicide bomber.”
“Two options to consider about him.” Abu Zeze gazed into Isagani’s face, followed by Kali’s. “Either we kill him ourselves or report him to the Indonesian authorities.”
Kali ran a hand across his mouth as he stared into the flames. “If we kill him, we’re rid of a problem. However, if we notify the authorities, he’ll end up with Detachment 88. This could lessen their search efforts.”
“Hand me the satellite phone, Kali. “Abu Zeze pointed. “On top of the mantle.”
After receiving the phone, Abu Zeze punched in a number from memory. Once someone answered, he said, “A man named Gesang is responsible for the attacks in Surabaya.”
“Who? What is your—”
Abu Zeze broke the connection and gazed at the others. “One issue resolved. Gesang is no longer a man of action. He’s become old and feeble and deserves to die.”
After Kali left to catch the speedboat, Abu Zeze and Isagani shared a forbidden glass of sherry. Isagani tossed another log on the fire to ward off the evening chill and poured a second round of drinks.
“My friend, Kali is a well-educated man.” Isagani raised his eyebrows. “Perhaps, too competent for his own good. I would be cautious in giving him too much free rein. He’ll be thinking of replacing you.”
Abu Zeze nodded. “I thought the same myself. For now, he provides results and seems to be supportive.” His eyes hardened into a distant stare. “Once he outgrows his usefulness, or gains too many followers, he’ll be eliminated.”
“A wise decision. I would also have someone keep a close eye on him.”
“How long have you known him?”
“About six years. He’s a friend of a friend.”
“You realize a friend might still be an enemy?”
“I may be aging, but I still keep my wits about me.” Abu Zeze chortled. “I had someone begin following Kali weeks ago. If he oversteps himself or fails in his tasks, we’ll deal with him.”
“Do you trust this person?”
“Yes. Sakti’s already taken the heads of two traitors—a third won’t matter. My daughter will act as necessary to defend our ways.” Abu Zeze stared at Isagani. “To her last breath.”