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Author Spotlight no.64 – Jeff Rasley

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the sixty-fourth, is of non-fiction and thriller writer Jeff Rasley.

Jeff Rasley is author of Light in the Mountains — A Hoosier Quaker finds Communal Enlightenment in Nepal, Islands in My Dreams, Nepal Himalayas — in the Moment, False Prophet? and Bringing Progress to Paradise.

He practiced law for thirty years in Indianapolis, Indiana and was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.  He has an outstanding academic record: graduate of the University of Chicago, A.B. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, All-Academic All-State Football Team and letter winner in swimming and football; Indiana University School of Law, J.D. cum laude, Moot Court and Indiana Law Review; Christian Theological Seminary, M.Div. magna cum laude, co-valedictorian and Faculty Award Scholar.

Jeff is currently President of the Basa Village Foundation USA Inc. and U.S. liaison for the Nepal-based Himalayan expedition company, Adventure GeoTreks, Ltd.  He teaches classes for IUPUI Continuing Ed. Program and Indiana Writers Center.

For chairing the Indiana-Tennessee Civic Memorial Commission, Jeff received Proclamations of Salutation from the Governors of Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania and he was made an honorary Lieutenant Colonel Aide-de-Camp of the Alabama State Militia, a Kentucky Colonel and honorary Citizen of Tennessee.  He was given a Key to the City of Indianapolis for his report on the safety conditions of Indy Parks.  Jeff received the Man of the Year award from the Arthur Jordan YMCA.

Jeff has published numerous articles and photos in academic and mainstream periodicals, including Newsweek, Chicago Magazine, ABA Journal, Family Law Review, Pacific Magazine, Indy’s Child, The Journal of Communal Societies, The Chrysalis Reader, Faith & Fitness Magazine, Friends Journal and Real Travel Adventures International Magazine.  He gives programs about adventure travel and philanthropy to service clubs, community organizations and churches.  He is an avid outdoorsman and recreational athlete.  He leads trekking-mountaineering expeditions in Nepal and has solo-kayaked around several Pacific island groups.  Jeff also loves to read and considers completing Marcel Proust’s 3600-page Remembrance of Things Past as one of his most enjoyable accomplishments.

Married to Alicia Rasley, Jeff is a multi-published author, RITA Award winner, and University professor.

And now from the author himself:

I started writing bad poetry as a teenager and graduated to short stories and feature articles in college.  I honed my craft at feature article writing as much as time permitted through graduate schools, practicing law, domestic husbandry and raising two sons.  My loves other than wife, kids and writing have been sports and what has been called adventure travel.

After one semester I dropped out of college and hitch-hiked across the country.  I spent the next summer traveling around Europe by any means necessary.  The following summer I motorcycled from Northern Indiana to Mexico City.  Career, marriage and kids slowed me down somewhat, but I have set foot in over 40 countries.  I’ve climbed several Himalayan peaks and have been leading Himalayan trekking and mountaineering expeditions for a decade.  I managed to survive an avalanche and getting lost at sea in a solo kayak in the Palau Islands.

Eventually travel for the sake of adventure and personal curiosity was insufficiently meaningful.  I began to “philanthro-trek” – combining travel with philanthropy in the new millennium.   A special relationship developed with a remote Himalayan village.  Two friends and I were only the third group of “white people” to visit the village.  Leaders of the village and I established the Basa Village Project, which has grown into a Nepal-based NGO and a U.S. nonprofit corporation to benefit Basa and other Himalayan villages.

Three of the books I have written tell the story of how I came to have a special relationship with the Rai people and the wisdom I have gained from them about environmentalism, spirituality and community.  I have tried to give a truthful account of the 3 Cups of Tea received from my friends in the Nepal Himalayas.

A fourth book, Islands in My Dreams is an anthology of personal essays about unique island cultures I have experienced in my travels.  For example, Tonga has the fattest kings and the longest ruling family dynasty of current monarchs.  Palau is the most litigious society on earth with three lawsuits for every citizen.  Islands are where dreams and nightmares come true.

False Prophet? is my first attempt at fiction, although it is inspired by a case I handled twenty years ago.  It is an inspirational mystery, romantic suspense and political / legal thriller; a story of love lost and found and a rant against the inequities of the legal system.  The story is gritty but uplifting.  It reveals the seamy underside of local politics in Indianapolis.  But it also shows how white folks and African-Americans can work together for justice.  The love story is one of frustration and self-destruction, but ultimately understanding, reconciliation, renewed intimacy and a baby.

Thank you, Jeff. 🙂 You can find more about Jeff and his writing via his website www.jeffreyrasley.com

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with editor and novelist Jennifer Ciotta – the two hundred and ninety-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo (Amazon to follow). And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.

 

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Guest post: A Writing Team by David Coles

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of his writing collaboration, welcomes the return of multi-genre novelist David Coles.

A Writing Team

We, David and Jack, have been writing together for more years than we can easily remember. It started with a humorous tale with the working title of Chunnel BC, it concerned Roman plans for a tunnel beneath the English Channel, because Julius Caesar became seasick outside of the Mediterranean. It never even made it to the publisher but as a first attempt, it was good fun and cemented our friendship.

In the years since then, we have continued the historical theme with a serious novel leading to the disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion in Britain, a medieval mystery and a WWII story. There have also been fantasy and science fiction novels – built on a shared admiration of Jack Vance’s work – and most recently, a political thriller: 1/1:Jihad-Britain. Work-in-progress includes sequels to a historical fantasy and recently-released The Tourist. Humour seems to creep in whether we will or no, sneaks under the door at night when no one’s looking.

We have written all of these novels as a team. The writing model is one of repeated layers. Typically, after discussing the main sweep of the plot for a new book, Jack might begin writing and pass a week’s work on to David who rewrites it, checking facts in some cases, questioning flights of fancy in others and adding 10% to 20% new material. Once the initial draft is completed, it goes back to Jack, back again to David, a process repeated until we are both satisfied and at each stage, material is added or changed, phrasing is amended.

It works for us. In this case, two people writing together generate far more than twice as much fun.

Our novel: 1/1:Jihad-Britain, began as an idea put forward by David and thought about for some time by Jack. Eventually, David wrote what is now some of the opening prologue and also the road to the radicalisation of Fahkri, a leading character.

The book raised some quite unpleasant questions. How does a young person reach the conviction that killing himself and others is some sort of solution? How do religious organisations come to the absolute conviction that their view of life is the only right view and that violence will change the mind of the rest of the world? Research into these attitudes took us only part way. The fundamental differences seem to be in  attitudes to others: the unimportance of the individual versus the people. Is this born out of the tribal way of life left behind by the West? We have to remember that only some 30%-40% of the World has lived a democratic way of life for any significant time; not so surprising then that societies are content to let minorities or individuals do their thinking for them.

We differed on what we considered important themes. We can both point to parts of the book which are particularly our own work. The difficulties suffered by Brian, a self-employed electrician, was written by Jack and may be more in tune with UK readers than the rest of the world. David wrote of an escape of 40 or so prisoners from St. Kilda – Britain’s answer to Guantanamo Bay – trying to show that Moslems are not somehow a different species from Westerners.

Both these examples of writing were edited by the other author and both passages gave birth to later episodes not envisaged in the original manuscript.

So, perhaps accretion is a better description than layering. Whatever, we enjoy the work; it’s kept us closer than most brothers and both know that it is the readers who make the book a success, not the writers.

Our most recent novel: The Tourist was written principally by Jack while a historical fantasy currently at the publishers, was mainly from David’s imagination. So there is considerable variation in the way a book is initially put together but finishing is always the same process and one rule remains paramount: if either of the team dislike something, it gets pulled.

Currently, there seems to be a new trend in the way we work. We are both working solo on two books and these won’t go to the other author until the originator is satisfied or has run out of ideas… Change, that’s the great constant.

Wow, we’ve had a lot of laughs!

Our output is varied, we’ve yet to figure out what particular genre of ours might be favourite so we can concentrate on a series. Please leave a comment and let us know.

Thank you so much, David. As someone who’s never collaborated in person it’s certainly interesting to hear how it works for you. Oh, and I’ve been writing on and off for six years and don’t have a clue what my genre is… ‘dark and light’ if there’s such a thing. 🙂

David and his co-author Jack both live in Yorkshire but 25+ miles apart, and have been writing together for too many years to remember but still meet weekly. David lives on the outskirts of a big city whereas Jack’s home is more rural. They still enjoy each other’s presence though – if the truth be known – they probably laugh more at the antics of their grandchildren. Their tastes in music differ, David prefers more instrumental works especially acoustic guitars whereas Jack likes good balladeers. David likes walking and exploring foreign climes. Jack also enjoys travelling but on four wheels in preference to Shanks’ pony. They both enjoy a good meal and glass of wine and still like to curl up with a real book despite having eBook readers. David’s websites are www.DavidBColes.co.uk and www.ArchimedesPress.co.uk. You can also go to http://acclaimedbooks.com/wordpress/abcauthors and find…“Everett Coles”.

Jack and David’s books can be seen and purchased at http://www.AcclaimedBooks.com and at Amazon around the world (including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com). They run the gamut of thriller through historical to fantasy and SF. Details and a directory can be found at http://www.ArchimedesPresse.co.uk.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical adventure fantasy author Helen Hollick – the two hundred and eighty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in ebooks, novels, writing

 

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