Welcome to Day 1 of “THE LOST AND FOUND BILLY BATTLES” Blog Tour! @JHawker69 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA.
My dear friends and visitors, please join me to welcome Ron Yates to my blog. This is the first day of his blog tour. I invite you to click the link at the end of this post to follow the rest of his tour. I’m excited to announce the following giveaway.
GIVEAWAY: (2) Complete sets of the Billy Battles trilogy. For your chance to win, please leave a comment below!
Thank you for visiting my blog and spend time to tell us about you as a writer, the inspiration behind your books, and the tips and advice for newer writers/authors.
Q & A with Ron Yates (Part 1)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Probably when I was in the sixth grade. I loved writing stories, and I had a teacher (Mrs. Gooch) who encouraged me. My mother also bought me books and took me often to the library–a place that I found magical and magnetic. She often read to me, and I could “see” the story unfolding before me. When I could read myself, I began to devour everything I could get my hands on. Reading took me places I could not, as a young boy, otherwise go. As I used to tell my journalism students at the University of Illinois if you want to write well, read well.
What was your inspiration to write the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy?
I grew up in Kansas, and I was always fascinated by what life was like there in the 19th Century when the state was still relatively wild. At the same time, I spent a lot of time in the Far East as a foreign correspondent, and I was equally intrigued by what life must have been like in the 19th Century colonial period in places like French Indochina, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. Then one day, I got the idea to blend the two using a character from 19th Century Kansas who goes to the Far East and other places in search of himself. During that search, he finds himself immersed in more peril and adventure than he bargained for.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?
Try to write as much as you can from your own experiences. They are real and uncontrived, and if you incorporate those experiences in your fiction, your work will have a truthful ring to it. Beyond that, KEEP AT IT! Don’t let anybody (editors, agents, etc.) discourage you. At the same time, be willing to accept constructive criticism from those who have experience as authors, editors, agents, etc. Notice I said CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Some people criticize just to be criticizing–or to be malicious. You must believe in yourself, your work, your vision, and your story. If you don’t, who will?
What do you think makes a good story?
A good story needs a strong plot and even stronger characters. Otherwise, it falls flat. The writer needs to be above all, a good storyteller. If you build a good story, THEY WILL COME, to paraphrase “Field of Dreams.” Make readers care about your protagonist. Make readers empathize, cry, and laugh with them. At the same time, keep them off balance. Don’t be predictable, and don’t be afraid to do terrible things to your favorite characters. Have you ever known anybody who has sailed through life without some turmoil, some pain, some suffering? I haven’t.
If your trilogy became a movie or a Netflix mini-series, who would be your first choice to play the lead roles?
Clint Eastwood as the elderly Billy Battles; Clive Owen as the middle-aged Billy Battles and Ashton Kutcher as the young Billy Battles. I would pick Saffron Burrows for Billy’s first love, Mallie McNab and Famke Janssen, for the widow Katharina Schreiber who Billy meets on the boat to the Far East. (Why these choices? These folks are all tall, like me. Billy is 6’3″ and Mallie is about 5’10,” as is the statuesque widow Schreiber).
Do any of your characters have qualities/characteristics that are similar to yourself?
I think Billy Battles and I are a lot alike. I mean, aren’t most novels a bit autobiographical? He is a restless sort. He enjoys traveling, going to new places, and experiencing new things. Like Billy, I couldn’t wait to get away from Kansas (though I love the place dearly). And, like Billy, I am a happy wanderer. How else could I have survived and thrived as a foreign correspondent for 25 years? We are both journalists. At the same time, he is a dependable guy who is loyal to his friends and to those he chooses to keep close to him. Above all, Billy respects two traits in people: Honesty and Kindness. We are alike in that way.
Tell us about your next release.
I am finishing my next book, which is a novel about foreign correspondents in Asia. It’s working title is Asia Hands: A Tale of Foreign Correspondents & Other Miscreants in the Orient. Here is a blurb about it:
A mysterious object of unknown origin hidden in the heart of an impenetrable S.E. Asian jungle. A covert alliance of dangerous people determined to keep it concealed. Treacherous secret agents. Betrayal. Assassination. Murder.
It’s one hell of a story, and two foreign correspondents—one recently retired and the other approaching burn out—are on the scent.
Meet Cooper McGrath and Clayton Brandt.
They have just stumbled onto the biggest story of their lives—one that could have staggering ramifications for the planet and its people.
Now all they have to do is live long enough to tell it.
Will they meet their deadlines, or will they meet their deaths?
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
I don’t outline my books, and I don’t write down plot scenarios. I just start writing and see where the story and my characters lead me. It’s a lot like life itself. We may have a goal in mind, but the route to it is often strewn with obstacles, surprises, and sometimes tragedy. I usually write 3,000 or 4,000 words a day, and I edit as I go. In other words, I may write a few paragraphs and then rewrite them within a few minutes of creating them. I don’t write what I would call a “First Draft.” When I finish writing a book, it is finished. I may go back and make a few tweaks with the plot here and there, or alter a little dialogue or some action by a character, but there is no second or third draft.
I know some authors who will write a first draft and put it away for weeks or months and then go back and look at it with fresh eyes. Alternatively, they may send it out to professional “beta readers” or “critiquers.” I do use beta readers, but I don’t put my writing away for weeks or months. Those strategies may work for some people. They don’t work for me. I guess it’s my journalistic training: see it, report it, organize it, write it and then move on to the next story.
If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to research an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
To Papua New Guinea. That is where a significant portion of my next book takes place–or should I say in the dense jungles of that still mostly unexplored country. There, in the forbidding and uncharted Foja Mountains, lurks an ancient mystery that two foreign correspondents are attempting to uncover.
(TOMORROW: Part 2)
The Finding Billy Battles trilogy tells the story of a remarkable man who is born in 1860 and who dies in 1960. For decades Billy lives an improbable and staggering life of adventure, peril, transgression and redemption. Then Billy mysteriously disappears. For several decades his family has no idea where he is or what he is doing.
Finally, with his life coming to an end, Billy resurfaces in an old soldiers’ home in Leavenworth, Kansas. It is there, when he is 98 that he meets his 12-year-old great-grandson and bequeaths his journals and his other property to him — though he is not to receive them until he is much older.
Years later, the great-grandson finally reads the journals and fashions a three volume trilogy that tells of his great-grandfather’s audacious life in the old west, as well as his journeys to the Far East of the 1890s—including French Indochina and The Philippines—and finally, in the early 20th century, to Europe and Latin America where his adventures and predicaments continue. One thing readers can be sure of, wherever Billy Battles goes trouble is not far behind.
Ronald E. Yates is a multi-award winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.
Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.
The Lost Years of Billy Battles is the final book in the trilogy and recently won the Independent Press Award’s 2020 Distinguished Favorites Award. In 2019 it won Best Overall Book of the Year and the Grand Prize in the Goethe Historical Fiction Category from Chanticleer International Book Awards as well as a Book Excellence Award and a New Apple Award. The second book in the trilogy, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, was published in June 2016. It won the 2017 KCT International Literary Award and the New Apple Award in the Action/Adventure category. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014 and won a Book Excellence Award and Laramie Award from Chanticleer International Book Awards.
As a professional journalist, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places. His work as a foreign correspondent earned him several awards including three Pulitzer Prize nominations.
Ron is a frequent speaker about the media, international affairs, and writing. He is a Vietnam era veteran of the U.S. Army Security Agency and lives just north of San Diego in Southern California’s wine country.
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To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to schedule your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE. Thanks for supporting this author and his work!