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AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Richard Crofton

I'm happy to bring you another interview of an author you may not have heard about... yet. Richard Crofton is in the spotlight this week, along with his book Agents of Shadow (The Keepers of White) Here's a little bit more about Richard: Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, I currently reside in Florida with my wife and five children. Though I’ve been writing stories for most of my life, I’ve only recently gained the courage to share my work. Holding a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Education, I taught English Language Arts for ten years, but now work as an instructor in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate. I’m an avid lover of animals, backpacking/camping, bowling, chess games, baseball, and homemade Italian food (also love my Philly cheese steaks!). However, creative writing and martial arts are my two main passions, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to pursue both avenues. Agents of Shadow (Book I of The Keepers of White Series) “It’s during the new moon, when the real monsters come out.” from Part I, Chapter I Jamie woke up to discover she was immobile and had been stripped of her clothes. Though she was disoriented, she could see the strange masks covering the faces of the men surrounding her as she lay on a cold, smooth, hard surface. As the grogginess of her anesthetic-induced sleep started to wear off, she thought that perhaps the surface she lay on was not in fact cold. She herself was, for she felt an uncontrollable shivering throughout her whole, naked body. She focused with all her might to gather her bearings, trying to determine where she was and how she got there. Coming around to an adequate alertness was not happening swiftly. Had she not been drugged, she may have still found it difficult to make an assessment of her situation, as it was completely alien to her. Besides the strange masks, Jamie noticed the figures were cloaked in hooded robes: dark, medieval and intimidating. The masks were plain silver with little design. Mouthless, with only two thin slits for nostrils from which to breathe, they looked thick and heavy on the faces of her captors, as if they were made of chrome. For a moment she was reminded of Greek theater. The deepness of the masks appeared to hide their eyes, though she knew they could see clearly even if she could not. The dark figures seemed to be chanting something very low, and it was too inaudible for her to make out the words. It was almost melodic, but with potential malice in its monotone hum. They were standing around her, not moving from their positions, but their arms were sometimes moving side to side, as if they were passing an object among each other in their circle that formed around her. She may have been able to see what they were doing if she were able to move her head. In spite of all her efforts, she couldn’t budge an inch of her body. She lay flat on her back, forced to stare at the enigmatic men, the strange painted symbols on a low ceiling, and the dull glow of candles on a pointy designed chandelier, all hovering above her. Only her eyes found slight freedom to wander about in their sockets. Still unable to grasp what was happening or why, Jaime lay there only trying to focus on her surroundings, only trying to understand the where and when other than the why and how. She slowly realized that she must have been lying on a table (more like an altar, judging by the tightness of the robed figures who circled around her), because she could only see the upper torsos and heads of the strangers, which could only mean that she must have been horizontally on a platform as high as their waists. The glowing candles were of a pitch-black color and started to blaze in her eyes with a reddish tint that seemed haunting. Her peripheral vision also sensed the same tint that emitted from the candles in view from directly above. The strange light forced such a pestering impact on her that, now that she was finally formulating complete thoughts, she gathered there must have been hundreds of red-glowing candles in this room: miniature dancing devils, anxiously anticipating something violent but entertaining. It could have merely been electrical lighting, but her head could not turn to its side to confirm anything. The chandelier above her was nothing large or of anything one would find in a spacious cathedral, but it still implied a sense of something fantastical and unrealistic about this place. The ceiling, and what little of the walls that were in her limited view showed a dull-grey, large, rectangular stone pattern, but they seemed so close, that she started to feel a little claustrophobic. There was a cool, damp moisture and a dank, moldy smell of the place; she could have sworn she was in a sewer as there were so many familiarities… her mind briefly drifted to July 4th, when she was eight years old, the day she and her older brother were playing at the park and found a tunnel that led to the sewer system under their neighborhood. The only perception that conflicted with Jamie’s theory of being held captive in a sewer of all places was that of sound. The low and indecipherable chanting of the dark figures seemed more than just intentional. There was no echo from any of the sounds she could hear. In fact, every voice sounded so muffled as if no words travelled farther than the very front of their mouths. She started to imagine being enclosed by a protective barrier that one might see on the walls in the room of an asylum’s most unstable patient, rather than by walls of stone. She also wondered if she could turn her head to view the floor; would she see a thick rug instead of stone floor beneath the feet of her captors, albeit unfitting in such a dungeon-like room. Jamie started to become more awake, and tried to ask where she was. Though weak and mouse-like, she could hear her voice sounding out noise, but because her lips or jaw couldn’t move, save the shivering she couldn’t control, her question was not comprehensible. However, her voice managed to draw more direct attention from the strangers. They were looking directly at her through those thick, plated masks. “She’s awake,” she heard one of the masked men speak in a low, raspy voice. “Continue with the ceremony.” Ceremony? What ceremony? Jamie’s grogginess began to dissipate more, and she could comprehend that she was in serious danger, although she had never faced any danger like this, she still recognized it to be so. She tried to gain control of her shivering body, tried to move something: an arm, a hand, an eyelid. If only she could move her head and see what was these freaks were doing… then again, did she really want to? Still, she prayed that she would snap out of this trance and be able to escape from this insanity, but her prayers were not answered. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? It's in my TBR pile and I'll be posting a review on a later date. Meanwhile, I wanted to ask a few questions. Question: What genre would you say the book falls into? Answer: It’s a paranormal or supernatural thriller. Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about? Answer: Yes. This book, the series, is very dark and not for the feint of heart. One of the story’s themes is Good vs. Evil, and the Evil is… really evil. Not a recommended read for anyone under the age of 18… and probably not over the age of 70. Also, if you’ve ever been, or you’re likely to be, one of those parents to accuse your child’s poor high school English teacher of promoting witchcraft for covering curriculum approved literature (like The Crucible, The Devil and Tom Walker, Dr. Faust, Macbeth, etc…) or likely to start or join a petition to have your school district remove these readings from the curriculum, don’t read my book. Question: Do you have any upcoming events? Answer: I’m fairly new as a published author. Agents of Shadow is my first novel and has just come out in late January 2017. So I haven’t really gotten familiar with how to do or participate in “events” so to speak. The only thing that might relate to an event is the upcoming pre-release of The Keepers of White, Book II: The Paladin’s Message. It should be released by mid-summer, but it will be available for preorder two or three months before its release. Question: What is next for you? Do you have anything in the works? Answer: Oh yes. Books II and III of The Keepers of White series have already been written. I’m currently working on Book IV. I’ve also been writing a few short stories here and there, and when I have enough, I will compile them into an anthology. Further in the future, I’d like to try my hand at non-fiction and write a light hearted and humorous memoir about my experiences as a middle school Language Arts teacher. Question: Is there anyone you would like to mention? (Editor, cover art etc...) Answer: There are many that I wish I could thank for their support and encouragement when I was working to publish my first book. But to name a few: Melissa Rinaldi, a fellow English/Reading teacher and former coworker who volunteered to proofread through my manuscript during her winter break (those breaks are extremely valuable to teachers, so I’m forever grateful!) David Karner, my fellow Dunkin’ Donuts patron and owner of Thunder Mesa Designs for creating such an awesome cover! Jo Beach, my first beta reader, and valued content adviser Question: What was your favourite book when you were growing up? Answer: The Hobbit Question: If you could meet any character from any book, who would it be? Why? Answer: From The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, I would like to meet the genie, assuming I’m also in possession of its lamp. I think the reason is pretty obvious. Question: When did you realize you were meant to be a writer? Answer: I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, as I’ve always enjoyed it and have gotten complemented on things I’ve written ever since high school. But I think it occurred to me that this was what I was meant to do when I finally got the idea for The Keepers of White series, and first sat down and began typing Agents of Shadow over four years ago. Once I started, I kept going. Eight hours had gone by… correction: eight hours had flown by, and I wasn’t even tired. I just wanted to keep going. That’s when I knew. Question: If your life was a book, what would be the tag line? Answer: “Glutton for Punishment: The Life of a Middle School Language Arts Teacher and Father of Five” Question: What advice would you give new writers? Answer: Heck, I’m still new. Not a new writer, but a new author, so I’m not qualified to give much advice. What I do know, however is this: if you try to publish your work, you’re most likely going to face so many challenges: rejections, criticisms, confusion, frustration, etc. As a self publisher, unless you have a degree or work experience in marketing, it’s very hard to promote to the point where your book gets in the top 100 on the sales rank. The closest my book got was like, 50,000 something. Some of these factors are out of your control. But there’s only one part of this business that you have complete, 100% control over, and that’s the writing part. So, if you love it, keep doing it. Whether you enjoy success as a best selling author, or your masterpiece that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into is lost within the millions of other little-known publications with only three sales a month, just keep writing. Oh, and back up your work often. I learned that one the hard way. Question: What has been the worst mistake you have made in your writing career? Answer: Truly, the fact that I didn’t start my writing career sooner. I’m 42 and I’ve just published my first novel. I’d written many incomplete short stories, play scripts, and novels, and after getting through so many pages, I would trash my work, thinking it was silly, corny, or just no good. No regrets though. I’m very blessed to have found the courage and inspiration to finally take the plunge. Better late than never. Question: What is the best moment you have had with a fan? Answer: Again, still new so my experiences are slim so far. But the one that sticks out the best so far is when I was contacted by a fan via email, who said, “I only have one question about your book: when’s the sequel coming out?” He then referred to me as “the next Stephen King” in his review of the book. In no way would I ever allow myself the arrogance to see myself on the same level as one of my biggest writing inspirations. However, I’d be lying if I said the fan’s complement didn’t make my day. Here's where you can link up! Thank you Richard Crofton for joining me today ~ and thank you all for reading!

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