Earlier this month, “Eight The Hard Way”, an anthology of short stories contributed by eight masters of the Mystery and Thriller genre, hit publication.
I set up an interview with R.S. Guthrie to not only discuss his short story “Veritas: Concubine” within the anthology, but to catch up with the author and bring his readers up-to-date on what he has going on in the months ahead.
First, about “Veritas: Concubine”: The synopsis off the Amazon page describes it as “How far would you go to find the truth? Shale Veritas is not his real name, but that’s not important. What’s important is why he’s taken an interest in you – and what you’ve done to deserve it…This dark, atmospheric tale of revenge, justice, and redemption is not for the faint-hearted. You have been warned.”
From my own reading of “Veritas: Concubine”, I can share with you that Shale Veritas is nothing like anything R.S. Guthrie has written before. This character is edgy, calculated, driven and highly intelligent. Skilled with natural-born talents honed by none other than Delta Force, Shale Veritas is a seeker of justice. And, he will dispense that justice in a way that fits the crime. Oh, and I should mention ladies….he’s very easy on the eyes. Shale Veritas is a truly lethal combination of brawn, brains, looks and compassion. (I can hear a collective of sighs now – mine included.)
At the conclusion of the short story, “Veritas: Concubine”, I didn’t feel like I had read a short story but a lengthy novella. So packed within the pages, R.S. Guthrie told, and showed us, a history; a setting; an injustice and then imparted on the reader the feelings of suspense, sorrow, vengeance, and retaliation. At the conclusion, all expectations were met and exceeded and you felt you had yourself lived the character of Shale Veritas.
A big thank you to R.S. Guthrie for taking time out of his busy schedule to indulge me in answering a variety of questions relating to his work, while having some fun at the same time.
Veritas is a very unusual name – what inspired that name?
Veritas means “truth”. The core of the series is that we all, in some way, yearn for the truth. And truth comes in myriad packages, not all of them pleasant. Shale Veritas is the person you want standing on that wall when the truth needs a defender willing to do whatever it takes to keep good people safe.
If Shale Veritas were to show up in Wind River, the town setting in your mystery/thriller Blood Land, would Sheriff James Pruett have anything to worry about?
If Veritas showed up in Wind River (and who’s to say he might not one day?), he would clearly have come to take care of some ugly business; Sheriff Pruett understands nothing if not the need to do what has to be done to protect his town. My guess is Pruett and Veritas would like each other very much. Then again, that’s the beauty of a story: not knowing just what will happen in the end!
Having read your short story in Eight The Hard Way, I am so intrigued and enthralled by this character. Will this be an on-going series, or do you have a set number in mind? And, if it’s any influence on your answer, this reader is hoping that your answer will be that it is on-going indefinitely.
Well you are in luck, because my plan is to release Veritas novellas—succinct, enthralling, action-packed reads—two or three at a time. In my mind, there is no limit to the number of Veritas novellas to be written; there is a lot of truth that needs defending out there in the world.
In the Detective Bobby Mac Thriller series and the Sheriff James Pruett Mystery series, you’ve shown an ability to appeal to the male reader by creating a strong, man’s man, tough-guy persona; yet, using those same traits to attract the female reader and also portray a sexual and intimate side to these characters. It’s certainly a tough line to walk. Will Shale Veritas also be the kind of man every woman wants?
You know, when I wrote Detective Bobby Mac in 2011, I made no secret he was patterned after John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, a tough-as-nails, tender-hearted hero. My readership on that (as well as the Sheriff James Pruett) series is well over two-thirds female. I see Veritas appealing to both men and women—men because he is a product of Special Operations training, ruthless toward the evil in this world, and as expert and tough as they come; females because, like Travis McGee, he knows what a woman appreciates in a man and is able to both protect, respect, and treat her with love and tenderness.
What does 2014 hold in store for the fans of R.S. Guthrie books?
The completion of the third James Pruett mystery, Honor Land! That one has been a while coming. After that, as mentioned before, a good number of Veritas novellas. I’d like to have a dozen of those out by year’s end. We’ll see. A writer’s eyes are often bigger than his or her “stomach”.
Congratulations on being named one of the “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading”! Is there an award you aspire to receive?
Like any Mystery writer, I don’t think I will feel fully accomplished unless, one day, I am considered for an Edgar. I mean, how could any actor be honest if their ultimate goal was not a Golden Globe or Academy Award? I’d also feel pretty satisfied if one (or more) of my books landed one day on the coveted NYT Bestseller list. Small goals, you see. 😉
We’re starting to see a lot of anthologies hit the market. Do you see that as a trend? Is it a statement to how busy we’ve gotten in our lives or another genre that has been stagnant too long and now coming to the forefront?
I think anthologies have always had their place. For me, they’ve always been a great source of finding new authors to read. If an anthology has one or two authors I love, the chances are pretty good that the other authors in the collection will appeal to me as well.
Your non-fiction “INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book” is lauded by writers as being one of the best how-to’s on the craft they’ve ever read. Do you anticipate following that up with a sequel?
Yes, my intent with “INK” was to provide a short, concise, no-frills list of actionable tools an author could use to make their book better. Period. I always envisioned it a smaller book, not unlike Strunk & White’s Elements of Style; a book to keep next to your computer for quick reference. This year I plan to publish a much more extensive book for writers that delves into the murky necessities of book marketing, author branding, what works, what doesn’t, as well as some more plentiful writing advice.
In Veritas, you take the reader inside the Army Delta Force; in Detective Bobby Mac, the Denver Police Department and FBI; in Sheriff James Pruett, the local Sheriff’s Department and inside hometown politics. What’s next?
Great question. The Secret Service and the areas for which they are responsible have always fascinated me. We all know they are tasked with the crucial duty of protecting the President and other high-ranking government officials, of course. That’s all I want to say at this point, but there is a book coming, and it will not be what anyone expects.
Finish this dialogue:
Shale Veritas sat with his arms folded across his chest. An untouched whiskey sour sat atop the oak table engraved with graffiti.
Rockin’ Rita and the Glory Hole Band just finished playing their first set. Rita takes the mic and says, “Any requests from the crowd?”
Veritas calls from the back, above the rest:
“Sympathy for the Devil.”
He catches her eye when she scans for the requestor. He smiles sardonically and motions to the whiskey sour and the empty seat across the table.
“Hold that thought,” Rita says to the crowd, the verve and energy of the moment draining like fluid from her already gaunt features. In the poor lighting, she looks to have instantly aged ten years. She turns to the band. “Take twenty.”
You can follow him on Twitter @RSGuthrie; “Like” him on Facebook; Visit his website RSGuthrie.com; and, subscribe to his popular blog RobOnWriting where he gives writing advice and shares his humor, snippets of life, and great taste in movies!