Oliver F. Chase is a thriller & suspense & romance writer from Mississippi. His debut book was Marsh Island in 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing Inc. (respectively) he followed with book two, Blind Marsh in 2014 shortly after.
He recently published Levant Mirage 2015 and won first place in a short story contest with the work ‘ Albuquerque Snow, a Christmas Dog ‘
Oliver is a fantastic, kind and intelligent writer. I’m excited to share this interview with everyone, and hope you’ll enjoy getting to know him!
My home is on small “urban” acreage near the Gulf Coast in Mississippi. There’s nothing really urban about our setting. Six families live on our street … called a road, becuase the nearest town is about twenty miles away. When the volunteers burned down the little general store and post office, the last building of Leetown vanished. Time marches on.
Our more traditional family home resides amid various military bases and FBI Field Offices across the country. Some of my siblings and off spring have settled. Some haven’t. I’m among the latter and am always gazing at the far horizon, and wondering.
We’re all close, as most nuclear families are. We haven’t had the chance to dig into one another’s issues and actions in decades so we all get along fine. That fact alone leaves us anxious about our next “dreaded family reunion.” I say what the heck and look forward to trading stories, all the while keeping my car keys close. My family is quite an accomplishment. We have senior and junior military officers, television producers, pilots, and government contractors. We have entrepreneurs, doctors, and an accomplished artist who routinely shows throughout the country. We are conservatives, liberals, and libertarians; humanists, humanitarians and religious. I suppose one could say we’re a microcosm of America. A little bit of everything and having great time being it.
What have you written?
Marsh Island and its evil son, Blind Marsh and Levant Mirage are on the shelves. Camelot Games will be out this summer, while “Rite” working title will wait for the winter of 2017 to see the light of day. Two other novels are in either outline or first draft, both of which use only working titles.
What is your favorite genre to write?
Mystery, thriller with strong male and female actors. Wimps are not allowed – good or bad. I find a plot that’s interesting, germane, or controversial. I play around with an ending so I know where I’d like to go and develop major characters, and a few minor ones to get me there.
That’s the easy part.
Then, I draw a half dozen mental circles representing the events that must occur for the outcome and develop my opening gambit. I sketch major scenes, scribble in minor ones, and then flesh out each, but save the actual paragraphs. That next step is when all heck breaks loose. Once those characters get to moving, I’m hard pressed to keep them herded toward the finish. Often I must return to my circles to keep me connected. If that doesn’t work and I like the new better, I trash the circle. Rarely do I need to trash an entire idea so late in the process. Start to finish, the ride is really quite exhilarating.
I like salads with bits of everything that a garden can offer. My meat consumption stays iffy, so upon when a pork chop shows up, I don’t complain?
Where would you like to visit?
A significant part of my family’s heritage is Swiss from northern Wisconsin. We’ve lost contact with those in the old country but not the three or four hundred cousins around the upper Midwest. After a little research, I’d like to visit to see if there are any relatives on the other side of the pond that might speak English.
I’m headed for the US Virgin Islands, this spring; Alaska in August; and tentatively an artist’s retreat in Italy next fall.
Favorite musical artist/Do you listen to music when you write?
I change favorites by activities. When knuckling down with the word processor I listen to classics interpreted by Jim Brickman, Robin Melody Goldsby, Laura Sullivan, Kevin Kern … they all do it for me.
Under the car or in the hangar? New Orleans blue with Sachmo or Fats Domino intermingles with C&W and rock and roll. I like the older stuff from George Strait and Vince Gill. If nostalgia is the mood for the evening or the car ride, I listen to Bob Segar, some memories from the very old like the Kingston Trio and anti-war Joan Baez.
When I write, I like quiet rooms with the door closed, an interesting canvas on the wall, and a distant pasture or woods outside my window. That’s not to say that I haven’t written in noisy airports, in the back of C130’s scooting around thunderstorms, inside canvas tents with a Norwegian rain pouring. As a young man, I did some of my most forgettable work sitting on the open ammo bay panel of a Cobra and the front seat of pickup. Both were literal and antithetical crossroads.
What makes you laugh?
Can I change the question a little?
What makes me smile?
The young learning about a new world and the unquestioning trust placed in our careless words. The old staring into eternity intent with passing on to us one last lesson just in case we hadn’t heard yet. The innocence of prayers learned decades ago as they rise unbidden in moments of crisis.
How about what catches my heart? The opening bars to our National Anthem or the Marine Corps Hymn, the promise still there, and our unvarnished declaration to the rest of the world. The hug from a brother. The trust of a niece. A two line email from a daughter. The plans Jane and I make on a Saturday morning.
Too much information?
How old were you when you started writing?
The first story I remember rendering to the critics was a 3rd grade assignment about the American Revolution. My dog and Paul Revere were the ones who actually rode the countryside. The dog was in the saddlebags keeping Paul on track. History books forgot the dog’s contribution. Mrs. Baumgartner assigned the work and although I do not remember my grade, she disagreed with my analysis. My first critic.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Writing what I know, or believe I know usually leads me into the research or dark alleys where inspiration lives. Sometimes, he’s a pretender and hasn’t anything really to excite me. Other times, he simply will not let go.
How do you overcome or work through writer’s block?
This is something I’ve yet to experience. I suspect the block is the result of someone’s expectation, deadline, outside pressures, etc. My life has plenty of distractions so the act of carving out time in the day to write overcomes mental blips.
Who is your favorite author?
Stephen King, Walt Whitman, John Sanford, Lillian Jackson Braun, James Lee Burke, Ernest Hemmingway in no particular order.
Tell us about one of the best books you’ve read?
Exodus by Leon Uris. Powerful, dramatic, influential, life molding even if slanted by passion.
Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
Easy, my Dad. He was pragmatic, no-nonsense, never lifted a paint brush to a canvas, and never read fiction from the time he dropped out of high school. He rose from orphan to Marine Corps officer, war hero, and died far too early. He was absolutely my biggest life and literary critic. He was self taught, self directed, and held great sway over many of my early decisions. I was always a little afraid of his larger than life essence and memory. He guided me through the shoals of fidelity, confidence, and integrity. He was also flawed. Thank, God, and let me keep my humanity.
If you could sit down and have a conversation with a person, who would it be and why?
What an absorbing question. I’ve run the gambit of known historical and literary figures, imagined characters, and present day authors that would be fun. I’d like to think that James Lee Burke, John Sanford, and I would enjoy sharing company and a backyard beer.
I have to confess however, pound for pound, instead of God, who I’ll meet soon enough, I’d like to meet a fictional Stephen King character. Talk complex, heroic, tragic, confused, passionate, and human. Jake Epping in Stephen King’s 11-23-1963 is just that guy. Think about going back and altering the seminal event of the 20th Century; an event that changed the most powerful country in world history from innocent and optimistic to something still evolving.
Forget about your politics. Think about altering the lives of 300 million people in a single moment. Jake is goaded into accepting that challenge, looses everything and gains himself in the effort. Jake Epping never listened to me even though I warned him quite thoroughly through all three of my reads of Mr. King’s book.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. Quit reading this silly essay. Find time and write. Forget the excuses and put it to paper…or screen. Don’t crumple it up. Print and lay it in a box. You should see mine. Old stuff and even some new is boxed and not for posterity. My work good and bad is an affirmation that I take the writing craft seriously and that I’m willing to learn.
You are your best teacher if you’ll listen and learn from others, then trust your heart and your gut. When it comes time to close the door, be alone with your characters and your story, and write. Let Jim Brickman play into your headset and make a new world.
You can contact Oliver at the following
or contact his PA at: KyGrabowski@Gmail.com