Monday, July 25, 2011

Meet Author Gordon A Kessler ~ Master Writing Instructor and Former U.S. Marines Parachutist!

Gordon A Kessler is a former US Marine parachutist, recon scout, and Super Squad team leader, with a bachelor's degree in creative writing.  He is a Master Instructor for Johnson County Community College, National Academy of Railroad Sciences, and the BNSF Railway.  He has taught novel writing for Butler County Community College, English Composition for Hutchinson Junior College and has previously indie-published the thriller novels Jezebel and Dead Reckoning, and a book about the novel-writing craft, Novel Writing Made Simple.  He is a founder and former president of the Kansas Writers Association and tries to stay connected to writers and the writing industry by doing speaking engagements at writers conferences and for writers organizations, and has does his own "The Storyteller" seminar in Wichita, Lincoln (Nebraska), Kansas City, and other Midwestern cities based on his Novel Writing Made Simple book. His websites, and www.IndieWritersAlliance are landing pages for writers to help them in their writing endeavors.
Today Mr. Kessler is joining me in my paranormal domain, to talk about his latest novel Brainstorm and his journey as a writer. 
Mr. Kessler, it's an honor to have you on my blog today.  Let's go back a little to the beginning or your writing career.  When did you first start writing?
I found I had a knack for writing in my first college class—Eng Comp 1—right after getting out of the Marines. The instructor gave me straight A's on every paper and always read them to the class. I put the idea of writing away for about ten years after that. Then, during a rather low point in my life—both career-wise and personal—I started writing a comedy novel. I dropped it after I found out comedy novels weren't very popular unless your name was Jay Cronley (Funny Farm, Screw Balls). One day while sitting at the old electric typewriter, the family ferret came bounding around the corner, looking for trouble. Jezebel, I thought—ferret from Hell! My first novel, a thriller titled Jezebel (a large black Great Dane), was born.

I wrote the book in four months and had a royalty contract within the next year. Then, two and a half years later, the same week the publisher was to print 10,000 copies, they went bankrupt.

That really knocked the air out of my sails. From that point, I helped found the Kansas Writers Association and was their first president. I taught novel writing classes for a community college and conducted seminars while writing more thrillers. The only thing I love as much as writing is helping others hone their writing skills.

Do you have mentors? If so, who are they? What books have shaped your life?

My mentors, unfortunately, have passed over to the great unknown. Mike McQuay was an excellent sci-fi writer and writing coach. He taught me the rules and how to break them. He was the author of the novelized version of Escape from New York, and his big break-out novel (after thirty some published paperbacks) was based on a 750-word Arthur C. Clarke treatment. The hardcover Richter 10 came out on bookstore shelves a month after Mike died of a massive heart attack. He is missed terribly.

Leonard Bishop taught me how to entertain the reader without worry of the rules. He had the largest vocabulary of anyone I've ever met. A remarkable man, he wrote Dare to Be a Great Writer in a fashion after his own teaching. I truly miss him, too.

I honestly feel as though I've had the best mentors possible, and everyone who didn't know these two men, really missed out.

As far as novels that shaped my life; I can't say that there was any one book. I read a lot of Dean Koontz in my earlier, novel-writing days. I think his wordsmithing skills are incredible. I really enjoy the depth of Douglas Preston's thrillers, as well as James Patterson's Cross novels for mixing the protagonist's personal life into the story—and the first person/third person POV mix. And I like James Rollins for his really neat plots and action—I always learn something new about the world when I read one of his stories.

What is your advice to aspiring authors? How can the bridge the gap from querying to publishing?

It's tough in the traditional publishing world. I'm going to say, try it, and keep at it if that's what you want to do. That used to be my dream—get that big publishing contract and become a bestseller. Things are changing fast in the publishing world, however. EBook novel sales are outnumbering print sales and the big publishing houses are scrambling. Some big-name writers are defecting and going "indie". I'm going to suggest that any new, struggling writer write the very best story possible. Attend writing conferences and workshops. Read all you can about writing commercial fiction. Then, ensure that your story is well edited and get it out to a few agents and editors. If it doesn't work out, check into "indie" publishing. There are more pros than cons to self-publishing these days.

If you weren’t an author what would you be? What other hobbies do you have? How do you spend your time away from the keyboard?

Actually, my real J. O. B. is as an instructor of freight car sciences, believe it or not. Even though I've done many things, I can't imagine being anything other than a writer and a teacher—they are my passions. Hobbies? I tried some parachuting in the Marines—didn't enjoy it as a civilian. I like SCUBA, but I'm landlocked and don't get to the ocean much. I enjoy sailing, but sold my boat a few months back. I love snow skiing, but the closest good ski slope is ten hours away. I guess I'd better just write! I have a wonderful new diversion, however—she's a golden retriever pup named Jaz. She's one high-maintenance girlfriend!

What inspired you to write Brainstorm?

With Brainstorm, I've always been fascinated with the various covert projects the US Government and other countries have been involved in. They've done some pretty crazy, illegal and spooky stuff. At the same time, I'm interested in all the new, high tech nonlethal weapons that are being developed. Wild, near sci-fi sorts of things. Lastly, I wanted to write a love story—not a conventional romance, but a story about a woman who would fight impossible odds and go to the ends of the Earth to save her man. Voila: Brainstorm!

That is exactly what intrigued me about your book. I love this kind of sci-fi!
I had a blast writing Brainstorm. The research was incredibly revealing in a lot of ways—some real eye-opener sorts of things. Research is a big thing for me. I enjoy using it in my stories to add truth to them—make them seem real.

Thank you for hosting me on you blog. I'd enjoy answering any of your bloggers' questions.

It's been an honor hosting for today on your blog tour.  For those of you reading, make sure you leave a comment because at the end of his blog tour, Mr. Kessler is giving a random commenter the choice of a basic Kindle, Kobo, Sony Reader or Nook!!!  You can follow him along on his tour and make more comments for more chances to win. 

About Brainstorm:
In Brainstorm, Gold Rush seems to be just another sleepy little Colorado community full of friendly, caring citizens, quaint cottages, and a sort of quiet peace, held gentlypicturesque mountains that surround it. However, something isn't right in Gold Rush, and early on a Monday morning Robert Weller awakens with a cautioning and insuppressible voice inside his head. He soon finds a secret behind every door, a motive with every glance, and a lie beneath every spoken word.

After meeting a strange but beautiful woman named Sunny who insists they were once lovers, people begin dropping dead around him and his world twists upside down as paramilitary teams hunt him, and his own wife and friends turn against him. Weller is thrown into the middle of a military mission to rescue thousands of the town's citizens from a plot to destroy the Free World.

Time is running out: Weller, Sunny and thousands of innocent citizens are facing nuclear devastation. Major “Jax” Jackson and a U.S. Air Force Para Rescue team are their only hope—but how can Jax and his PJs save them all, armed only with nonlethal weapons?

“ exciting and fast-paced as a thrill ride on a dive bomber, a maelstrom of action, violence, murder and mayhem, way too much fun to put down...based on an actual black CIA program known as ‘Project Stargate. Kessler...really knows his stuff. An outstanding novel.”— Douglas Preston, bestselling author of The Codex, Relic and Book of the Dead and many more.

"...a wild ride into the reality of human consciousness...a kickass adventure story that will have you thrumming through the pages well into the night...handled with stunning effect."— James Rollins, bestselling author of Black Order, Sandstorm and Map of Bones as well as many others.

Please stop by these sites, where you can connect with Mr. Kessler and purchase Brainstorm.


  1. Great interview! I love the comment about the ferret - ferret from Hell. Too funny. The idea of mixing paranormal with military is intriguing. Maybe it's because I'm married to a veteran. Brainstorm is now on my TBR list. Thanks for the interview.

  2. It's great you discovered you have a knack for writing in your English class in college. Some of my favourite classes include English and Englis Literature. I learned of my knack for writing at a young age but I can say these classes defeinitely helped me hone my skills and develop a better appreciation for the subject.


  3. Thanks for stopping by Kelli and Na, this book deffinatelly sounds awesome!

  4. Thanks, ladies!

    It was fun. Let me know if you have any questions for me!

  5. i can't wait to read the book it sounds wonderful.

  6. Thank you for sharing your personal self. I always appreciate the research done for any book. It makes good writing great.


  7. Gordon,

    It's clear in your answers to S.B. that you love writing and love teaching others about writing. Brainstorm sounds like a great summer read.

  8. This book sounds great! I can't wait to read it!

  9. What a great interview, and how awesome to have had good mentors. They can be worth their weight in gold.
    I liked the sound of your book so much on another blog I had to check out what you have to say about it on some other blogs, glad I stopped by to read this!


  10. Nice interview. Brainstorm sounds good!

  11. Looks like a great book! Best of luck to Gordon!

  12. Thanks for posting a great interview the links. Positive mentors are so very important and sorely needed in our society today.

    God bless and have a great weekend :-)


  13. awesome post! i totally loved it!

    fallendream03 AT gmail DOT com

  14. Thanks for another great interview!

    fb-ssp (at) darryl (dot) com

  15. an amazing interview! very informative and fun!

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  16. It sounds like you had better stick to writing as it seems to be the one constant hobby that you cannot leave (and shouldn't!). But I find it interesting that you've been involved in so many exciting activities. I'm sure your experiences have lent quite a lot to your book and I look forward to reading about them.


  17. thanks for this great chance!!! great book!