Author Spotlight- James R. Hannibal

Image result for james r. hannibal

I’m so excited for the opportunity to introduce you to James Hannibal. Not only is he at the top of my list of favorite authors, but he’s been a major blessing to me since I met him at the ACFW Conference in September. He’s got a heart to help put an end to the exploitation of children, and Compassion International plays a part in his newest release, Chasing the White Lion. Be sure to read to the end to learn more about this organization that brings hope to at-risk children around the world and how you can make a positive difference in the life of a child.

His stories are on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspenseful from start to finish, his characters will stick with you long after you read the last page, and the positive messages he includes are both challenging and uplifting. If you haven’t read his work yet, you’re missing out. In the words of Donald Trump, ‘Everyone knows it, and everyone agrees.’ He took the time to answer some of my most burning questions, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with each of you.

1. Your characters—among everything else—really make your books unforgettable. What is your process for creating such diverse and relatable characters?

My characters almost always start as people in my life, at least the good guys. Maybe that’s why I struggle with the bad guys. I don’t want to see people I know in that light. In one way or another, I have personal relationships with my cast of good guys, even when one character is an amalgam of several people, because I have personal relationships with the people who inspire them. The closest I’ve come to doing this with a bad guy was to use a horrible person I’d been studying in the intelligence world. I’d studied him so much that I felt like I knew him, and he inspired the villain in Shadow Catcher. Unfortunately, I wound up making the guy so close to the real villain that I got myself in trouble with the Chinese government.

2. If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Tough question. I’ve done this with London (sort of). I was flying a regular route to London as an airline pilot while working on the Section 13 books. They’re about a secret society on Baker Street. I spent anywhere from five to ten days a month in the city during that time.

I’m about to kick off a fantasy series set in a well-established world. I’d love to spend a year as a guardian at the labyrinthine castle of Lightraider Academy, nestled high in the Celestial Peaks and warmed against the long months of snow by a thermal spring. To get close to this fantasy setting, I’d need to arrange a stay at Hochosterwitz Castle in southern Austria. Anyone who wishes to support this effort, please send donations.

The Gryphon Heist by [James R. Hannibal]
One of my top 10 reads of 2019

3. What was your favorite childhood book?

Hands down, my favorite book as a child was the Horse and His Boy from The Chronicles of Narnia. I recently learned from author and C.S. Lewis expert Matt Mikalatos that this story is a stylistic departure from the rest of the series. The Horse and His Boy is a plot-driven, boyhood adventure story, while the others have more fable-like styles. This is likely why it appealed to me more than the others as kid.

4. Have you visited any of the locations in Chasing the White Lion?

Washington D.C. was a second home for a while, and I did some time in Eastern Europe. I’ve never been to the Greek Isles, Russia, or Thailand. I created the Greek Isles scenes from pure research. For the other two, I have former “business associates” who helped me out

5. Who was your favorite character to write and why?

I have a lot of fun with Finn. We share a daredevil spirit. Sometimes I use Finn to relive the glory days of my youth. At other times, thanks to Finn, I find myself begging my wife to let try something I’ve never done and definitely shouldn’t.

“Honey, this is necessary research,” I always say.

“No,” she always replies. “No it’s not.”

Chasing the White Lion by [James R. Hannibal]
So far, my top read for 2020

6. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I like to have nine months. One month to plan, seven months to write, and one month to revise.

7. Do you hide secrets/inside jokes in your books that only a few people will find?

I can neither confirm nor deny. I will say The Fourth Ruby has a scene that has special meaning to U.S. Air Force Academy graduates. The Nick Baron series also includes decipherable codes for serious code aficionados. The acknowledgements include a hidden message that require old-school code-breaking knowledge, and the text of each book holds the clues.

Shadow Maker (Nick Baron Series Book 2) by [James R. Hannibal]
At the top of my TBR pile

8. What do you hope your readers will take away from Chasing the White Lion?

I hope readers see two things from Chasing the White Lion. First, through Valkyrie, I hope they see how we con ourselves. We sell ourselves lies that might hold us back in our relationship with Christ or hold us back from having a relationship with Him at all. Second, through Compassion International’s role in the story, I hope readers see the value of sponsoring a child in need. Compassion is a real organization, and the hope and sense of identity they bring to families and children around the globe helps slam the door on human trafficking.

9. Who is your favorite author?

C.S. Lewis is my favorite, with Clive Cussler’s later work coming in a close second. Clive is the undisputed master of adventure, and he realized later in his career that he didn’t need the foul language or other stuff to make his stories exciting. Taking that stuff out made them so much more readable.

10. Compassion International played a part in Chasing the White Lion, made me want to sponsor all the children. How did that partnership come about and how did it impact the development of the book?

I’ve been partnering with Compassion for a while. It’s a passion for my whole family. When I realized I wanted to make human trafficking a subject matter in the book, I went to the people who I trust most regarding child dignity. Compassion deals with hard topics in the real world, including child poverty and human trafficking. They manage to do this while respecting the dignity and likeness of Christ of these kids. I knew I needed their help to do the same. In talking it out with my contacts there, I realized I needed to write many scenes we’d normally see from the villain’s perspective from a kidnapped child’s perspective instead. I’m so glad it’s been effective. Since the start, a portion of every book sold has gone to Compassion’s work. Now, even better, if one of your readers chooses to sponsor a child through Compassion.com, they can send their initial receipt to me at jamesrhannibal.com, and I will send them a free signed copy of the book as a gift of thanks.

Shadow Catcher (Nick Baron Series Book 1) by [James R. Hannibal]

If you’d like to consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International, here is the link to their website: https://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/?referer=603603 It’s a great cause, and not only will you have a positive impact in a child’s life, but you’ll get a signed copy of Chasing the White Lion. It’s a win-win!

I’m giving away a copy of The Gryphon Heist and Chasing the White Lion to one lucky winner on May 8th. Please comment below with your email address for an entry into the drawing. Feel free to share this post with anyone you know that loves free books and has a heart for children at risk of being sold into human trafficking.

Author Spotlight- C.C. Warrens

Meet the Holly Novels

Hi, friends! Welcome to the party! Today, I’m introducing one of my favorite series while conducting an interview with the author. I’m not gonna lie, ya’ll, I’ve gotten a little picky when it comes to suspense in the recent past. I don’t know if it’s the sheer abundance of mystery books I’ve read or that my mind takes a very investigative turn, but I can usually pick out the villain in any mystery as soon as they’re introduced. I’ll be reading with a cat in my lap and say, “There he is. I’ve got my eye on you, ya little scamp.” After getting a super judgmental look from my furry friend, I hope against hope that I’m wrong. I want to be surprised, I do, but that seldom happens. Then, I feel the bitter sting of disappointment. In the words of Adrian Monk, ‘It’s a gift . . . and a curse.’ Let me tell you, the the only disappointment I felt while reading C.C. Warren’s Holly series was due to the fact that I am gainfully employed and couldn’t read the whole lot in one sitting. #adulting

Without further ado, here is my interview with the lovely C.C. Warrens. At the end, I’ll share how you can get a free copy of ‘Criss Cross!’ Huzzah!!!

  1. Are any of your characters based on real people?

My husband would tell you yes, and on an unconscious level I suppose some of them are. It wasn’t my intention, but reflecting back, I can certainly see it.

Marx and my dad have a similar temperament. My dad (Mark) is technically my stepdad, but like Marx is for Holly, he’s my father in every way that matters.

Jace is in a wheelchair like my husband, and like him, she’s insanely competitive in her sports.

Jordan (the man and the cat) is based off a gray, blue-eyed cat I had when I was a teenager. From there, Jordan did pick up some of my husband’s better qualities—his patience and understanding, and the gentlemanly way he comports himself.

Holly, appearance aside, has quite a few of my quirks and characteristics (including her love of coconut shampoo and marshmallow hot chocolate), but as a whole, she’s designed to represent a lot of abused and neglected children that I’ve worked with.

2. Which of your characters do you relate most with?

I relate the most with Holly. Her social awkwardness and mischievous attitude are similar to mine. As a kid, I used to cut the centers out of the cakes and brownies mom baked just to drive my dad bonkers.

I’m also a disaster in the kitchen, and I occasionally catch things on fire. I could set off the smoke alarms by boiling water, and frequently did in our old apartment.

3. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do things a little backwards by researching as I’m writing. I’ve never calculated the time it takes, but I’m sure it takes a while. An example of this is Criss Cross, which is set in New York City, a place I had never been at the time. After I finished writing some of the scenes, I did some research to figure out where things might have taken place.

4. Stephen King advises authors to ‘Kill their darlings.’ Have you edited any scenes out of your books that you particularly loved? If so, would you give an example?

Oh yes. Every book is a struggle because I write scenes that I love, only to realize that they just don’t fit with the overall manuscript. In my current WIP, I had written a scene where Shannon takes Holly shopping for court attire, and Holly gets frustrated because she’s so petite that all of the suits make her look like a kid playing dress-up. Unfortunately, while it was a cute scene, I had to take it out.

5. How do you select your character’s names?

There is no method to my madness there. Jordan and Holly have existed in my head since I was a teenager, and I knew I would want to write a book with them in it someday. The others… your guess is as good as mine!

6. Do you read your book reviews?

I do. Some authors say you shouldn’t, but I find the positive feedback from readers motivating.

7. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Before my current WIP, I would say about six months. This one though, it’s a tangled web of complication, and it’s taking a lot longer.

8. Do you believe in writer’s block?

Absolutely. Though for me, writer’s block isn’t so much a lack of ideas. It’s when my brain gets stuck on one particular idea that I just can’t seem to maneuver around.

9. What is your favorite childhood book?

Pocahontas.

10. What is your favorite genre to read? Why?

I love suspense. I’m drawn to cop shows like Blue Bloods and NCIS, and having them in book form is even better!

11. How many drafts of your book do you generally write before publication?

Haha… I couldn’t even tell you. Truly. I lose count. I think I had about eighteen versions of Criss Cross before I settled on the final copy, but that’s just a guess.

12. If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

I’ve never thought about it, but I loved forests and rolling hills. So someplace like that.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed learning some of the aspects of C.C. Warren’s creative process! If you haven’t read her series yet, you are missing out in a big way. I’m attaching a link to her website below. Sign up for her newsletter and she’ll give you a free copy of Criss Cross in e-book format. The characters are unforgettable, and the plot will leave you on the edge of your seat, breathless, and reaching for book two. You won’t regret it!

https://www.ccwarrensbooks.com