Dusshehra has made this resumption quite an auspicious one for me as I can restart with the author of one of the best books I’ve reviewed recently. Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Augustine Sam, author of The Conspiracy of Silence
v Hi Augustine, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Augustine: Thanks for having me. It’s quite an honor to be given an opportunity to talk about my work.
v Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Augustine: I am an Italian citizen of African descent. I’m a journalist by profession, a bilingual poet, and a novelist. I was formerly Special Desk editor at This Day newspapers, an African daily first published with the Financial Times of London, I later became correspondent for central Europe. I’ve been involved with the art of storytelling in one form or another ever since I was a kid. While still in school I wrote plays for radio; I also scripted and voiced a satirical radio program called "City Caravan" that was quite successful for a few years.
v So, what else have you written?
Augustine: Well, apart from the radio plays, I’ve written short stories for magazines. And I’ve published poems in two international anthologies: The Sounds of Silence & Measures of the Heart. My contest entry in the North America Open Poetry Contest, Anguish & Passion, was adjudged winner of the Editors’ Choice Awards sponsored by the National Library of Poetry, USA. I am also the author of Take Back the Memory, a contemporary women’s fiction, which was awarded a 5-star medal by Readers’ Favorite. My second book, Flashes of Emotion, a collection of poems, was the 2015 International Book Award finalist. The Conspiracy of Silence is my latest work.
v Where can we buy or see them?
Augustine: I have a blog - http://augustinesam.blogspot.com - where I post stuff about my writings, poetry, articles, and wisecracks. My books are available in all major online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. For The Conspiracy of Silence, the following link is global - http://bookShow.me/B015YF1T9Q. It works equally in the U.S., U.K., India, Canada and so on. Same goes for Take Back the Memory on this link: http://bookShow.me/B00OCBWC8G and http://bookShow.me/B00TLS3OHS for the poetry collection, Flashes of Emotion. The books may also be purchased directly from the CreateSpace store here: https://goo.gl/iFlV1O.
Readers who also enjoy visuals may visit my YouTube channel - https://goo.gl/JOHcJL - for movie book trailers of my novels. Interestingly, excerpts of The Conspiracy of Silence can be read on my website (see link below) or on Bublish.com where readers have a rare chance of taking in the "story behind the story" on my current book buble at this link: https://www.bublish.com/bubble/stream/7783.
v Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Augustine: In The Conspiracy of Silence, the main character is Rita Spencer, a young defense attorney who shied away from the spotlight until her boyfriend’s indictment for murder threw her into the very limelight she dreaded. By an uncanny twist of fate, she stumbled on an important piece of evidence that turned out to be a game changer. Spurred by the information in her possession and the riveting legal tricks she had learnt from her boss and mentor, she embraced the challenge with determination. Despite personal issues with her boyfriend, a Hollywood megastar (who clearly lived in a glass house and should never throw stones), she went to great lengths to outwit diabolical forces in order to save him from the murder rap. Now, what makes her special is not just her feminine grace but her courage as well and the mesmerizing way she transformed herself from an underdog into a player with an ace, as was evident in the epic courtroom showdown.
v What are you working on at the moment?
Augustine: I’m currently working on the first part of a suspense trilogy that I’ve been developing for some time now. It’s a Literary piece that runs like a fast-paced thriller, imbued with all the elements of mystery. But I’m afraid I can’t give out the details yet, I hope you understand.
v What genre are your books?
Augustine: Well, The Conspiracy of Silence is a thriller, a genre I really feel at home with, though my debut novel, Take Back the Memory, is a contemporary women’s fiction because of the nature, and particularly, the evolution of the story. Of course, it has elements of suspense and romance in it. But I’m also a poet, so that puts me squarely in three genres.
v What draws you to this genre?
Augustine: I love poetry because it helps bring out thoughts and expressions in ways that other genres suffer a limitation. And I’ll say what draws me to the thriller genre is its rousing and fast-paced nature that kind of helps the author simulate the reader’s moods by providing that sudden rush of excitement, and exhilaration that eventually drive the narrative. By its nature, the genre spawns surprise and a high level of anticipation as well as an ultra-heightened expectation. I think that though we read thrillers sometimes to 'escape' and/or to be entertained, we also read them to be informed because thrillers, in manifold ways, give us valuable insights into many of life’s realities.
v Which writer inspired you to this genre?
Augustine: In poetry, I have always been inspired by the writings of Oscar Wilde but no particular writer inspired me to the thriller genre though I used to be fascinated with the crime novels of James Hadley Chase and the thrillers of Frederick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum.
v Do you expect The Conspiracy of Silence to be made into a movie?
Augustine: I’d really love that. But at the moment I don’t have the right contacts to enable me achieve that.
v Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character?
Augustine: I would cast Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Alba as Rita Spencer and Blair Underwood as Benjamin Carlton, Vera Farmiga as Susan Whitaker, Bruce Willis as Governor Whitaker and Danny Trejo as Manuel Ernesto Rodriguez. (Yeah, dream on...haha)
v Did you feel that the disguise of Susan Whitaker could have been more convincing? I mean does eye and hair color necessarily disguise someone? Please correct me if I went wrong somewhere.
Augustine: Of course, eye and hair color alone can’t be an effective disguise strategy especially for someone under public scrutiny. The character of Susan Whitaker did not rely on eye and hair color to disguise herself. As a public figure who sometimes needed to go somewhere incognito, she used unconventional dress codes to disguise herself but that had nothing to do with her transformation from one personality into another. Of course readers of the book would note that in her revealing encounter with Carlton in Chapter 17, she revealed that she’d had several plastic surgeries that had helped in her various transformations from Lindsay Miller, first into Sally Gordon and then into Susanna Hernandez, a fashion model, and finally into Susan Whitaker. But Carlton remembered Lindsay Miller as having green eyes, which he thought should have remained the same in spite of the plastic surgeries. That’s when Susan told him about the contact lens and the bleached hair. So, you see, those were not the main elements of her disguise; she altered her physical appearance with every new personality she transformed herself into. I hope this clears up any misunderstanding about the character’s evolution and habit.
Oh, so I missed out the plastic surgery part somehow. I apologize.
v Moving on, How much research do you do?
Augustine: A lot. I am, first and foremost, an investigative journalist, so research is the bedrock of my work and that applies to all my other my creative endeavors as well.
v Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
Augustine: Yes I read practically everything I can lay my hands on, both fiction and non-fiction. My favorite authors are Oscar Wilde, Nathaniel Hawthorne (author of The Scarlet letter), Umberto Eco (author of The Name of the Rose), Arundhati Roy (author of The god of small Things), and Frank McCourt (author of Angela's Ashes).
Good to hear that you liked Arundhathi Roy because she is an Indian, moreover a Keralite, which I myself am.
v For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Augustine: I don’t have a preference per se. I read books in any form that’s available.
v What book/s are you reading at present?
Augustine: I have just taken a break from re-reading some of my favorite classics, like Edgar Allan Poe’s works, so as to concentrate on my writing. I usually read less when I am working on a new novel.
v Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Augustine: I do as much proofreading as I can but like every decent author, I always have a professional editor work on it before considering it done.
v Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Augustine: Yes, I do that but not only with a finished work. Sometimes I "walk away" from a chapter for a while so that when I come back to it, I can view it with "a reader’s eye" and possibly spot any structural weakness. I prefer to do my own critique/editing before submitting the work to a professional editor.
v Would you or do you use a PR agency?
Augustine: I do not use one at the moment but I might consider it in due course.
v What’s your view on social media for marketing?
Augustine: I do not really know how effective social media is for marketing but in terms of creating visibility, it helps a lot.
v Which social network worked best for you?
Augustine: That, I am unable to determine at the moment, I suppose because I haven’t yet succeeded to generate the right kind of buzz.
v Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
Augustine: I announced the release of the book in advance to many people by mail, did a cover reveal on social media, as well as a virtual book tour when it was released. I believe it generated a buzz, now I’ll wait and see if it’ll generate sales too.
v Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
Augustine: No, unfortunately, I didn’t do interviews on the local press/radio. I have the singular disadvantage of living in Italy and writing in English, so that penalizes me locally.
v How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Google +: http://goo.gl/yruj3D
Google +: http://goo.gl/yruj3D
Amazon Author Page: http://goo.gl/osU1VZ
Amazon Author Page: http://goo.gl/osU1VZ
( Amazon global links:
The Conspiracy of Silence - http://bookShow.me/B015YF1T9Q
Take Back the Memory - http://bookShow.me/B00OCBWC8G
Flashes of Emotion - http://bookShow.me/B00TLS3OHS
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/N6WXJ4
v Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Augustine: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.
Other Books by the Author:
Recipient - Readers’ Favorite 5-star seal
2015 International Book Award Finalist