The snow is almost gone, but it's still pretty chilly here. Anyway, welcome to a new week and a new guest author interview, today we meet Ronald Klueh.
Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Besides writing and wanting to some day be introduced as a novelist, I am a scientist by training with a PhD in Metallurgy and Materials Science. I spent many years as a research metallurgist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and at present, I am a materials consultant. Being self-employed, I now have more time for writing.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I think I liked reading action stories when I was a kid, and I did a lot of day dreaming back then—I look back at them as novels of the mind. After two years in the army, I was still interested in writing, and I was accepted by the Indiana University Journalism School and the Purdue University School of Engineering. Although the idea of writing appealed, I chose Purdue—more money and jobs in engineering. I thought if I flunked out of engineering I could always go to journalism.
As a scientist, I wrote and published many technical papers, but I still wanted to write for a general audience. I began to write science articles for the layman, which branched into short stories. Since there was little demand for such stories, I turned to trying to write a novel.
I have used my scientific background in my fiction, especially in Perilous Panacea, which involves nuclear terrorism. My scientific career as a metallurgist developing steels for nuclear reactors gave me a background that was useful for the novel. I think of the book as fitting the techno-thriller genre popularized by Tom Clancy.
If you could write anyone's biography, whose would it be?
That is an interesting question. Although I have at times searched my mind for a non-fiction book subject, I don’t think I ever considered a biography. People who interest me are successful people who started out in an environment or with some other condition that by all outward appearances would seem to condemn them to never escape their circumstances. My brother was born with spina bifida that caused his body to be unable to function below the waist. He had many problems as a child and through his school years. After high school, he became a linotype operator at a newspaper. From there, he worked himself up to becoming a writer and eventually an editor for a newspaper. I regret that I didn’t really recognize his accomplishments until after he passed away at a young age.
Stephen Hawking is such a well-known person. Sixty years ago he contracted motor neuron disease and was given two years to live. That didn’t stop him from going to Cambridge University and eventually become a brilliant theoretical physicist and professor where he obtained the chair first occupied by Isaac Newton. There are many such people, for whom I have a deep admiration, and it is biographies of such people I like to read and would want to write.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I have an office in the loft of my home to which I can escape to and think and write.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
When I get into the story I am writing and the words are flowing, I find myself completely relaxed. It is an amazing feeling that seems to last well beyond the period I spent putting the words on paper—or on the hard disk of the computer. I actually started writing back in the days of typewriters, onion skins, and carbon paper (many young people probably know what these items are), and I do not remember that relaxed feeling in those days. I would first write the story in long hand with a pencil and then type it. I was always making typos, which had to be erased or covered with “White Out” liquid. On occasion I read about older writers who never made the transition from the typewriter and say they could never write except on that typing machine. Although at the time I wondered if I could make the change, I found the transition quite easy.
And the least?
I guess it would be trying to get people to read the book. As a salesman, I am a failure—perhaps because I never tried hard enough, although I hope not.
What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
When I finished my first novel back in the typewriter age, I got an agent, and I began dreaming of how great it would be to be a full-time novelist with the money and fame. Despite several agents, fame and fortunate never appeared. From the time I started Perilous Panacea until it was published took about thirty years. That journey is described in the “Road to a Novel” section on the Perilous Panacea website.
Therefore, my advice to the new and aspiring writer is: have fun writing, and worry about fame and fortune. If money and fame are your goal, the probability is very high you will be greatly disappointed. As I said, I once had such dreams, and they occasionally still seep out of the nether regions of my mind, but I eventually realized it wasn’t going to happen. I kept writing because I enjoyed the process.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am writing a coming of age novel about a fifteen-year-old Tennessee boy who gets in trouble and is forced to enlist in the army, where he struggles for maturity and love in post-World War II Japan before being transported to war and heroism in Korea. This is different from what I’ve tried before, and it is challenging since I don’t have my technical training to fall back on.
Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Perilous Panacea begins with an Israeli raid on Iran’s nuclear weapons complex that destroys Iran’s nuclear capability. Shortly thereafter, an American computer genius approaches an Iranian agent with an ingenious computer-driven plan to hijack National Nuclear Security Agency carrying plutonium and enriched uranium. Once they have nuclear material they will build atomic bombs within the United States. To manufacture the bombs, an Iranian expatriate scientist is blackmailed and two U.S. scientists are kidnapped. They know they must escape to stop the plan … escape or die. Meanwhile, bureaucratic interference and media leaks spread chaos in the corridors of power in Washington and hinder the FBI pursuit of the missing nuclear material.
The novel’s title refers to the dichotomy of nuclear science. The panacea: nuclear reactors with unlimited energy without the pollution and carbon dioxide of fossil-fired plants that produce most of the world’s energy. The perils: nuclear weapons and destruc¬tion and chaos for the world. Unfortunately, Fukushima in Japan highlights another peril, and in Perilous Panacea, this peril is unleashed on an unsuspecting town.
Readers can find out much more about the book and about me and the 30 years it took to write the book at the Perilous Panacea website.
The book is available at Amazon.com (Kindle and paperback), Google eBooks (Adobe.pdf, Tablet, iPad, Nook), and Barnes and Noble (Nook and paperback). It is also available at Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Japan, Amazon Italy, Amazon Spain; Amazon Austria, and at Bookadda India.
Thanks to Ronald for sharing his thoughts with us, on Wednesday we invite Sean MacUisdin to the hot seat. As a special treat for Easter I'll be posting interviews this weekend as well.