Welcome to our Author Interview series.
Today we're featuring an interview with S.A. Van, author of Counterplay and Counteract. Our author interview series provides an opportunity for our readers to get to know our authors on a deeper level and also learn more about the types of books we're publishing.
S.A. Van lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, daughter, one dog and two cats. She has spent many enjoyable summers in Cape May, New Jersey vacationing with family and friends. She chose Cape May as the premier setting for The Counter Series, a five-part suspense series based on several factors – her love of the quaint Victorian beach town, its connection to pirate lore, and the chance to showcase actual restaurants, shops and sights to first-time visitors. After working several years in the areas of finance, law and educational administration, S.A.Van created her book series to finally realize her dream of writing a fiction novel based on the type of books she loves to read – those which invoke intrigue, drama and romance with interwoven plots. The first two books, Counterplay and Counteract, have been published in 2012. She is currently working on the third installment, Counterattack, with a target release of May 2013.
Synopsis: Counterplay and Counteract
In Counterplay, Jenna Reed, an English teacher at a private school in north Wilmington, stumbles upon a mysterious letter in her family’s beach house located in Cape May, New Jersey. She soon becomes an unwilling participant in a deadly cat-and-mouse game between a ruthless modern-day pirate and a driven FBI agent who will stop at nothing to settle a thirty-year old score. Jenna must find five gold treasure pieces believed to be the Lost Treasure of Blackbeard before her family and friends pay the ultimate price. Her travels take her to several locales along the East Coast until she finally meets her new nemesis, Mason Hamilton, an egotistical madman obsessed with obtaining the cursed treasure pieces.
The saga continues in Counteract, where Jenna must help rescue FBI Agent Maria Turette while both women soon realize just how dangerous determination can be. Hamilton is out of the country with the perfect alibi; however, his lethal ally, The Closer, has now taken the reins. The ransom for the kidnapping is quite clear…the four remaining treasure pieces delivered in person by Jenna and Maria’s husband, Damian Pierce. The Closer has his own agenda, and plans to enact his own personal revenge.
Here’s your chance to market your books. Describe them. And why readers should pick them up!
Counterplay and Counteract are the first two books of The Counter Series, a suspense saga which details the heroic journey of Jenna Reed as she attempts to keep five cursed treasure pieces out of the hands of a sadistic madman who threatens her livelihood and places her family and friends in danger at every turn. A twisted cat-and-mouse game ensues with players changing sides and loyalties tested as each chapter unfolds. Endearing supporting characters and real-life venues in Cape May, New Jersey add special touches to the adventure.
Both books are quick reads, and the enticing epilogues tempt the reader to wait anxiously for the next part of the series! Just the right mix of action, drama and romance to keep the pages turning and heart racing on many levels!
How did your books come to life?
I’m always been captivated and impressed by strong female leads in fiction novels, and their ability to juggle personal and professional commitments. As an avid reader of fictional suspense, crime and forensic novels, I wanted to create a book (or a series as it turned out!) based on the three elements of a story I personally enjoy – great characters, plenty of intrigue, and intertwining threads which carry the storylines from page one till the very end. One cold, blustering day in March 2011, I sat down and started to create the characters of Jenna Reed and Maria Turette, then built the storylines behind them.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
I love FBI Agent Maria Turette! She is close to my age, deals with the vain issue of reading glasses, and despite her petite size, she is a powerhouse! Maria is a woman struggling to balance her dedication to her job, her family and her friends, while she tries to keep one step ahead of a crazed, egotistical bad guy whose ability to sidestep the law has haunted her for years.
Are the characters in your books based on people you know?
None of The Counter Series characters are based entirely on anyone I know. They are composites of personalities, traits and physiques that represent a wide spectrum of people in everyday life. In other words, no; they are purely fictional creations!
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
Edits are opportunities for re-writes, which is a good…and bad thing! Authors should never edit, in my opinion…it’s too much of a temptation to keep re-writing paragraphs!
While writing how many times do you go back and rewrite a plot?
Usually two or three times, unless my manager pulls the plug and threatens me with bodily harm!
How do you start writing a new book? What comes first – the characters or the story?
Character development is key to a great story. If your characters are embraced by the readers, then you’ve done your job as an author. I create my characters and breathe life into them, then the story develops naturally and quickly as they take on a life of their own.
In two sentences or less can you tell readers something unique about your books?
The series is set in Cape May, New Jersey, and each book will reference actual places in Cape May. In part, the books are literary walking tours of my favorite beach-side resort.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do?
I’ve dabbled in writing for several years, producing plays at a local church. It was always a desire of mine to find the time to write a book. When I began The Counter Series in March 2011, I realized from the start, the main plot and side-bar stories were too complex to be concluded in one book. Seven books seemed to be a bit long, and three didn’t seem long enough, so the five-part series was born! Five books, five gold treasure pieces on the spines – perfect numerology!
Where do you want to go with your writing career? Where do you see your writing career in five years?
Although I love my current job of working in the field of educational administration, I can’t help but desire the opportunity to write full-time. I fully intend to write another series, once The Counter Series takes its final bow in Spring 2014. So, in five years, who knows? I hopefully will be able to pen at least one other multi-book series…maybe based in part on another lovely beach town on the East Coast!
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Besides working full-time, I love to cook with my daughter and try new recipes! The interaction is great when you’re covered in flour, olive oil, or chocolate! Additionally, I try to find the time to read, enjoying the books of some of my favorite authors – Patricia Cornwell, Janet Evanovich, Iris Johansen and Kathy Reichs.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
Self-publishing certainly provides an opportunity for new authors to get their books in front of their reading audience at a much quicker pace. The author has more “hand-on” chances to be personally involved in every aspect of decision-making (if they choose to be) such as cover design, book lay-out and final proofing.
Why did you decide to publish with Infinity Publishing?
After researching several self-publishing companies, we chose Infinity based on their location (about an hour from Wilmington) and the immediate repertoire we developed on our first visit to their production site. We wanted to deal with a company that guided us along each step of the publishing process and could explain our options in great detail, not strictly from a professional stand-point, but in a way that made us feel we were placing the production of our books in the right hands.