Interview with George T. Chronis
What genre do you write and why?
Storytelling is what I do, which by definition tends to be cross-genre. So far the main genre components tend to be thrillers and historical fiction, with some drama, romance, politics, comic relief and adventure thrown in to balance everything out. Early on I developed a great fondness for 1930s cinema where you get that kind of storytelling with great push and pull between male and female characters. I just love that era and always desired to write in that style.
Tell us about your latest book.
Dead Letter File is a detective and espionage thriller set in Los Angeles during the late 1940s. My intentions were to capture some Film Noir style in my old hometown with a lot of atmosphere and locations that were bulldozed a long time ago. The main character is Tom Jarrett, whose war service is a bit of a mystery. When a comrade from the Air Corps turns up dead in East Hollywood, Jarrett gets pulled into the hunt for a German wartime military secret that all of a sudden has taken on major significance and is valuable enough to kill for. He has to figure out who the factions are and what exactly they want, while trying not to get shot and keeping the police at arms length until he gets it all figured out. On his own and laying low, Jarrett turns to a co-worker, Mary, to help him tie up the loose pieces.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
"You are a writer, a hired gun... collect your pay and leave your ego at the door." The quote is from Milt Gelman, my masters thesis advisor. Milt was an old Hollywood veteran whose credits included producer and chief writer on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He really did approach writing like a professional gunslinger. There were rules to the trade, and you followed them. What I learned about pacing, narrative structure, dramatic conflict, and focusing on telling a story for an audience – not myself as a writer – I learned from Milt.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
Every day is a new discovery, either in the process of writing, or in researching the background for what you plan to write. No day is ever boring.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
My book sites and Tumblr page are the best places to have a look:
Who designed the cover?
A very talented designer named Adrijus Guscia in Dublin, Ireland. He is delightful to work with and he has a very edgy style that was perfect for both Dead Letter File and Sudetenland.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
It is available in both print and ebook editions on Amazon. All of the various international stores are linked here:
How do you research your books?
Pretty much I break it up into primary and secondary stages. Primary research usually involves hunting down print volumes that I purchase from used book dealers, and online searches of old wire news service reports. Working with mid-century stories and crises means a lot of accurate backgrounding has to be done. The secondary research pops up when I actually start writing and discover I need a period hotel, or attire, or automobile. These are done online mostly. If the budget permits, I try and visit the primary location if I have never been there before.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
The sequel to Sudetenland is in process. That book takes place primarily in Central Europe during the 1930s. The sequel is both in Europe and branches off into Asia as the outcome in Sudetenland starts rippling eastward. Both books are set against a political crisis. Instead of Germany and Czechoslovakia, this time around it is Japan and the Soviet Union. As before, foreign correspondents take us to places and situations many folks have yet to be introduced to.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
Self-publishing has opened up tremendous opportunities for writers to distribute and profit from their works. Take myself, plenty of people enjoy reading my novels, but my stories are not the material the traditional publishing industry is looking for from debut fiction writers. Their content focus is very narrow, which I completely understand from the standpoint of risk and reward for their financial investment. Self-publishing gives writers the distribution mechanism to publish their work, and readers the opportunity to enjoy books that 20 years ago they would never have had a chance to read.
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
This will be an intriguing cross-section. Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon; Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, by Raphael Semmes; Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne; Daniel Raymond's The Elements of Political Economy; Foucault's Pendulum, by Umberto Eco; Tom Clancy's Red Storm Warning; The Law of Civilization and Decay, by Brooks Adams; and Frederick Forsyth's The Odessa File.