Interview with Author Bill Wade – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Bill Wade

B. R. WADE, JR., though relatively new to fiction writing, has been all too happy to add it to his list of life accomplishments. Born in Roanoke, Virginia, he spent his teen years and much of his adult life in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

While in Tampa, Bill worked in retail management before switching to a career as a computer systems analyst for the local school system. He changed careers again and started a manufacturing company producing an extensive line of model railroad kits for the hobby market under the B.T.S. name. After this last change, he made his self-proclaimed escape to the mountains of West Virginia shortly after the turn of the century where he still owns and operates his hobby kit manufacturing business.

After enlisting in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1969, he was called to active duty and graduated top of his class from both basic training at Naval Training Center Orlando, Florida and Yeoman ‘A’ School at NTC Bainbridge, Maryland. Soon after, he was assigned to the Naval Investigative Service Office in Norfolk, Virginia.

Bill left active service as a Petty Officer Third Class, then spent three more years as a weekend reservist at his local Navy Reserve Center. And despite his busy work schedule, Bill obtained degrees in Business Management and Computer Science. He also studied marketing at the University of South Florida.

Happily, all of Bill’s pursuits have proved quite inspiring and provide him with plenty of writing material. He is nearly finished with the third adventure for his Fair Winds NIS novel protagonist, Marcus Colt.

Tell me more about your latest book

Fair Winds of Death is a military crime novel set in the early 1970s. It is centered around the Naval Investigative Service, a world-wide organization that could be considered the detective bureau of the U. S. Navy. Trained agents investigated a wide range of crimes including fraud, sex crimes, assault, drugs, murder, and all the way up to treason.

Back then, the Naval Investigative Service, or “NIS” as it was better known, was nothing like the NCIS of present-day television. There were no cell phones, desktop computers, DNA, or the Internet. And the Navy ran the operation.

This first novel introduces the leader of the internal affairs division of NIS, Lieutenant Commander Marcus Colt. With a successful complex mission from the previous year proving him to be a man suited for the unusual, Colt is assigned to go undercover at the Norfolk, Virginia NIS office to find out who is leaking information about their confidential informants (CI). Those leaks have led to the death of several CIs.  

To accomplish this difficult task, he must build close relationships with the personnel of this NIS unit, invade their privacy, and dig up their life secrets all while keeping his true identity and mission hidden. He quickly discovers that nothing in this assignment is what it seems. With time running out, Marcus Colt has to stop the leak before someone else dies. And that next person could be him.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Having been a technical writer for years in both the hobby industry and as a computer systems analyst in an IBM mainframe shop, just getting into the overall flow of writing fiction was a bit of a challenge. 

Unlike technical writing, fiction has multiple layers – the scene, character action, character emotions, dialogue, mood, location, et cetera – and tying them all together was different from anything I had ever done.  

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

When my first book was nearly finished, I researched publishing.  I found frequent mention of it taking a year or two to find an agent, then a few more years to convince a publisher the manuscript was worthwhile.  Since I started writing late in life, I figured those were years I didn’t have to waste, so I went the self-publishing route. 

I spent months finding the right team – editors, cover designer, and formatter. Then more research led me to my printer and distributor.

This method has given me better control over all the production steps and allows me to get my work on the market sooner.

How important are the elements of character, setting, and atmosphere to a story, and why?

Those three things are the foundation of any good story. No matter how exciting the story is, without that strong foundation, it will come across as flat as the old “Dick and Jane” primers.

How many books have you written so far?

Fair Winds of Death is my first in print. 

My second novel, Fair Winds of Deceit,will be out in February 2023.  The synopsis can be seen on my web siteIt picks up where Fair Winds of Death ends and it continues the story of Marcus Colt.

And the third novel is about 1/3 the way done. Fair Winds of Doubt follows Marcus and his crew a few years later.

What’s the best way to market your books?

As a fledgling author/publisher, I am still struggling with that. 

In addition to the ubiquitous social media postings, I am pursuing targeted direct marketing in cities near military bases.  In addition, there are ads in newspapers and mailings to book stores in areas where I have lived looking for the “local boy does good” attention.

Of course, with decades of exposure in the hobby industry, I am constantly reminding my hobby kit customers that I have a new product in the form of a book.

What is your writing routine? When you write, do you plan or outline ahead

Since I own and operate a small manufacturing company, my daylight hours are filled with kit design, manufacturing, and shipping.  My writing time is most every evening as the clock approaches midnight.  I pull out the laptop and write for an hour or two before sleep overtakes me.

Neither plans nor outlines exist around here.  I start with the protagonist and the book title, create a crime that fits the title, and build the story looking at that crime just as an investigator does.  Lots of questions come up immediately, like who done it, why, when, et cetera, and from there the story builds.  I don’t know how the story will end until I get to the last dozen or so chapters.   

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

Seems it’s hard to establish a career unless you are very lucky or the relative of a celebrity who can get you noticed.  Especially hard if you are dependent on your writing to pay the bills. 

I’m on the cusp of a writing career.  Those who read Fair Winds of Death enjoyed it and are looking forward to the next book.  I just need to interest a few thousand new readers.  And that is the hard part when competing to stand out in the crowd of a couple million new books per year.

I believe maintaining my writing career will be easier as I build a following for my work.  With the next book ready for publication, and two others in development, repeat customers will be a big asset.  The stress is on me to provided them with quality in both the story line and the writing technique.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Observe the world around you.  Take time to actually see the places, people, events, and not just from a high-level place.  Study people’s small facial expressions and see how body language matches, or perhaps it doesn’t, their spoken words.  Notice the small things around you like paint chips on a building’s door or the way water runs down the gutter.   In the model train world, we often say “details make the difference” and that same attitude applies to writing.

And experience things.  It is hard to write about a hotel lobby unless you have been in one.  Ditto for relationships, both causal and intimate, and interactions with people and situations.  And where actual experiences are not possible, research!

And write.  Staring at a blank screen accomplishes nothing.  Write something, refine it, and keep going.

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