PAULA CHINICK – Russian & American Intrigue in Japanese Occupied China During WWII

Paula Chinick is the international award-winning author for Red Asscher~Living in Fear—a WWII spy thriller series, which includes Living in Turmoil and Living in War. She is a CWC Tri-Valley Writers past vice-president, president, and conference project manager. Paula’s publishing company, Russian Hill Press, has been in business since 2014.

I have published a WWII historical spy thriller series under the title Red Asscher, Living in Fear, Living in Turmoil, and Living in War. The stories are set in 1943. In the first novel, Anya Pavlovitch, a Russian expat working for the U.S. War Department, is asked to assist a naval officer who is being sent to Japanese occupied Shanghai. Throughout the series, the two try to flee China but find themselves caught up in situations that impede their escape.

What are you currently working on?  I am currently working on a prequel set in Russia in 1898 through the revolution and ends in China in 1920, where the first book begins. The story centers on Anya’s parents.

What brought you to writing? I have been writing since I was a tween but didn’t get serious until I was laid off in 2008. In hindsight probably the best thing to have happened. I love the freedom that stream of consciousness writing allows. It may end up being crap, but it’s exciting to see the words appear on the page as your mind reels.

Tell us about your writing process:  When I wrote my first book, I spent 8 hours a day writing and editing. It was my job, and I took it very seriously. In the other books, I relaxed a bit and would try to write 1000 words a day. Sometimes it worked, other times not so much. Currently, I’m taking a break. I recently adopted a puppy who is in training which occupies most of my waking hours.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? It’s easy to write the beginning and the ending. What’s difficult is all the stuff in the middle. There are days, even weeks where my mind is blank. I try to research for inspiration; sometimes, it works; other times, I have to wait for the muse to strike.

Has an association membership helped you or your writing? Definitely. My membership with the California Writers Club has been invaluable in helping me to become a better writer, editor, and critiquing. It has opened doors to conferences, workshops, and seminars. All important outlets if you want to be a serious writer.

Who’s your favorite author?  I fell in love with the Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte. I love historical fiction, and his writing inspires me. I also enjoy reread Jane Austin, D. H. Lawrence, and my favorite, Dashiell Hammett.

How long did it take you to write your first book? Off and on about ten years. I didn’t get serious until about four years before I published the first in the series. After the first one, it took about three years to publish the second and another three years for the third.

How do you come up with character names? I used a few family names and researched foreign names for those characters that were outside of the U.S.

 What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? I don’t find it any more challenging than writing from the same sex but at a different age. I use a combination of characteristics from people or children I’ve known or know. I have men and women beta read to see if the characters are believable.

Do you ever kill a popular character? If so, what happens to your story? I kill a lot of my characters—it’s war, and people die.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? I try to place obstacles in front of them and make them figure out how to work around it or avoid it.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? I would have to say, Shakespeare. It was required reading in high school, and my head just wasn’t in it. It wasn’t until I attended the Ashland Shakespeare festival (for almost ten years) where I developed a love for his histories. I bought a thick book with all his plays and read them.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? I have, but they have since passed. I try not to defame them. I read biographies about them and pick and choose what I want to use. Some real characters I have placed in a bad light, but they were evil people who lived in a foreign country and have been dead for decades.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I’m a plotter. I create a rough outline that I constantly rewrite. I mainly use it to remind me where the plot is headed and my character’s traits. Sometimes I go off the trail and end up pantsing a bit. Sometimes I keep it. Sometimes I toss it.

What kind of research do you do? I use the internet a lot but try to get my questions answered by several different sources. I have purchased old Life magazines for insight into the language and history. I also read other’s historical writings from the period.

 Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I generally use real locations. I research old photographs to see the layout of streets, buildings, transportation, and attire in that period. I try to build a world that is believable. I may get a few things wrong, but for the most part, I think most readers are forgiving.

Do you have any advice for new writers? My only advice would be if you like to write then WRITE. It doesn’t matter if you wish to publish or not. Do it for yourself. Writing is something that you alone own, and no one can take it from you. If you wish to be a serious writer, then you need to join a writers group that offers critique, attend conferences, and build your vocabulary.

For further information, you can contact Paula at www.russianhillpress.com/contact

Russian Hill Press www.russianhillpress.com

3 Comments

  1. Madeline Gornell

    Very interesting post–made me think. And I like the whole idea of WWII spy thrillers! Much success.

    Reply
  2. Violet Moore

    Write for yourself is a great advice, Paula.

    Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Excellent advice, Paula. It sounds like you’re very dedicated to your craft. Good luck with your writing and with the puppy.

    Reply

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Dave Freedland, Mystery/Thriller Writer

Deputy Chief Freedland, (Ret.) Irvine Police Department (CA) had a long and action-packed law enforcement career in addition to his writing.

 

 

 

 

In The Pepper Tree,” a Southern California landmark primarily known only to law enforcement earned a reputation for crime scenes of the most unspeakably vicious murders. Infamous serial killers had chosen this location to discard and display their victims as trophies of their horrific acts. Lieutenant Scott Hunter leads a team of detectives seeking to capture the perpetrator who targets young women and has selected this landmark to showcase his victims.

This story is a work of fiction, but the Orange County location is real. So notorious, in fact, that those officers working the graveyard shift need only radio their activity at a site bearing two words – “pepper tree,” and they are immediately dispatched a back-up officer.

As a young patrol officer, Hunter had been introduced to the “terror at the tree” on an evening when he turned his police cruiser down that dusty road separating asparagus fields and discovered a corpse hanging from a tree limb. But now, as the leader of the Robbery/Homicide team, he received that most dreaded call interrupting the stillness of the night, a body dump.

Tell us about your writing process:  In my 34-year law enforcement career, I worked assignments that included SWAT, Detectives, Training Bureau, Internal Affairs, and a street-level, Narcotic Suppression Unit. I would think about the most unique cases and then start outlining a plot using other actual investigations to complement the storyline. I developed a protagonist based upon a handful of mentors from my career who exhibited strong moral character and superior technical and physical skill-sets. I included sub-plots to give readers opportunities to speculate on the primary suspect’s identity and included a romantic character that matched the protagonist in interest and intellect.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Trying to include sufficient detail in a criminal investigation to convince the reader that the story is credible without getting wrapped up in the scientific minutia can be particularly challenging. I remember working on my first novel, “Lincoln 9.” I was constantly thinking that the most cantankerous detective was looking over my shoulder, criticizing my failure to include steps 3 & 4 in my homicide investigation. As I read more crime thrillers written by successful authors, I realized that it was more important to include a few choice technical procedures and get into the characters’ minds and emotions.

What are you currently working on? I’m working on my third novel, which involves homicides and human trafficking cases that will take the characters to Japan in pursuit of suspects and victims. The first chapter begins with a graphic, contract-style hit that my department worked in conjunction with the FBI, which led investigators into the mysterious world of assassins for hire. During my years of competing in martial arts, I had the occasion to train in Japan and visited several dojos (training halls) located near some of the darker parts of society. It should provide some intrigue and texture to the pursuit of international crime syndicates in the Orient.

What is the best book you ever read? Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” was my favorite book and was a masterpiece in the preparation of a surprise ending. It is the total package: history, romance, fascinating characters, and intense suspense. Dickens has always been considered a master of developing memorable characters. But in this historical novel, he presents some of the most fascinating people whose lives are impacted by the French Revolution. Whose names are perfectly suited to their personalities.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? Twenty-five years of my career involved serving in several areas of responsibility in Special Weapons and Tactics Teams (SWAT), which included Hostage Negotiator, Scout, Team Leader, and Team Commander. Our team was well-trained and well-financed. Based upon our successful operations and competition performances, the California Association of Tactical Officers sponsored our team to compete in the International SWAT Round-Up in Florida. We have had training relationships with members of SEAL Teams 3 & 5, and one of the firearms trainers for the U.S. Army’s Delta Force comes to California one weekend a year to train our team members. In each of my books, I introduce the reader to some aspect of a SWAT operation; a look behind the curtain of secrecy shrouding how SWAT operators perform. Based upon reviews, readers have found this piece of the plot an interesting addition to the fabric of the story.

 

 

 

 

When you visit my author’s website, www.davefreedland.com, you will find several photos from SWAT operations and training scenarios in which I have participated.

I would like to thank George Cramer for inviting me to share on his blog. Please take a visit to my website, and hopefully, one or more of my books will interest you. If you have a technical question, I always find time to respond.

Best Wishes,

Dave

Website:      www.davefreedland.com

Links:          Facebook: Dave Freedland          Instagram:    dfreedland01

 

4 Comments

  1. John Schembra

    Good interview, Dave. I enjoyed your books a lot. Your attention to detail is great, without being burdensome, and your characters come alive on the pages. Hope to get your 3rd book soon!

    Reply
  2. Madeline Gornell

    Good interview, Dave, I was fascinated by your experiences and the impact they must have on your writing. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Deven Greene

    Very interesting interview. I lived in Orange County for a while years ago. I’m wondering where the pepper tree is.

    Reply
  4. Michael A. Black

    Dave Freedland is the real deal. Having read his novels and seen his presentation on SWAT Tactics at the PSWA conference, I can attest to his abilities as both a writer and a superior police officer. Dave’s the guy who’s been there, walked the walk, and can talk the talk, but with a modesty and humility that belies his accomplishments. The self-discipline he’s obviously learned through a lifetime in the martial arts is evident in the way he moves. Plus, his handshake is unintentionally strong enough to make a grown man wince. 😉 Check out his great books.

    Reply

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