It’s not often one gets to combine one’s vocation with one’s avocation, but author Gary Ader is one who has succeeded in doing so. A onetime travel agent (among many other vocations), Gary has used his experience in that field as fodder for his writing, most recently in his new novel, Regards From Oscar: Confessions Of A Spy, published by Escarpment Press. I thought readers might like to know more about Gary, so I invited him to be interviewed. Here is the result.
Joe— Regards from Oscar is the second solo book you’ve written featuring the character of Ray Walker, the other being Two-Lane Blacktop. Is this a sequel, or a prequel?
Gary—Regards was written first, in the first person, and I wasn’t happy with it. I wanted to tell the story, but didn’t feel like I had it right. So, I started Two-Lane Blacktop in the third person, omniscient. Then I re-wrote Regards in the same voice. So, in answer to your question, Regards is a prequel.
Joe—Gotcha! What prompted you to start writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do, or was there something that sparked an interest?
Gary—At a certain point in my life, I realized I needed a form of self-expression. I quickly learned I had no aptitude for art or music, so I chose words as my medium. I was always a story teller, and have lots of stories to tell. My experiences as a travel agent naturally provided me with a plethora of material.
Joe—Indeed it did! And that brings me to a follow up question. In the foreword you say “. . . the author has visited all of the foreign locations mentioned in the book.” Just how many foreign countries have you visited, and which three were your favorites?
Gary—I have visited more than 26 countries, most of them more than once, some three or four times. As for which ones I liked the best, that’s hard to say. It’s like if I asked you what foods you really enjoy, and then asked you to pick your favorite three. Well, you wouldn’t want to give up any of them; it just depends which one you are in the mood for. I have enjoyed all of the places I visited, but, if I had to pick three, they would be the ones I have returned to—Sweden, Singapore and, Italy. But keep in mind, places change, and I have been traveling for a long time. Many of the places I returned to were different on the next visit. Globalization has changed things. For example, there were no American fast-food restaurants abroad when I started to travel. Now they are everywhere. By the way, I never go to any of them. I always go for the local cuisine, and then, I look to see where the locals eat. In many of them English isn’t spoken, and that adds to the adventure.
Joe—I’ll bet it does. Speaking of adventures, your main character, Ray Walker, certainly has a few. Writers are told to “write what you know.” You have obviously tapped into that advice, but can you be more specific about your choice of characters and some of the things they do in Regards From Oscar?
Gary—I try to make my characters as real as I can. I’m in my seventies, had several careers, and have known many different kinds of people—some nice, others not so—but that is the way life is. So, some of my characters are flawed. Arrogant like Charles, romantic like Abby, vain and selfish like Ann, or heavy handed like Max. (NOTE: You’ll have to read the book to learn who the characters are.)
Joe—Do you have any plans to continue writing about Ray Walker?
Gary—Well, as my editor and publisher, you know how things turn out for Ray in TLB, so unless I do a spin-off of Regards From Oscar, I don’t think that would be possible. Besides, I have a lot of other ideas I am already beginning to put together.
Joe—(There he goes with those ideas of his.) Okay, big question: Your main character, Ray Walker, do you like him?
Gary—That’s a good one. Actually, I do, but it is because he’s a flawed character. He has a good heart, and strong values, but he doesn’t always get it right. He makes mistakes, he recognizes them, and in the end, he is willing to accept the consequences as part of the game.
Joe—As well he should . . . LOL. Now that Regards From Oscar is published, is there anything you would like to have done differently to the plot?
Gary—Yes and no. Originally, I wanted to have Ray’s Uncle Herb make another appearance when Ray was having trouble adapting to his training, but decided to go for a new character and came up with Sarge. I wish I could have found another place for him to enter Ray’s life again. I also wanted to have chapters in Alaska and Italy, but decided that eight adventures were enough. I also thought of getting a little more into Walt’s life, but he was kind of a flat character. He was there to give Ray some stability, showing up when needed, as a grounding point.
Joe—Okay. Last, but by no means least, what are some of the things Gary Ader enjoys doing when he’s not writing?
Gary—Joe, I would have expected you to figure that one out. That would, of course, be traveling and people watching; that one is the key. I can put the action anywhere, but it’s the characters that bring life to any story. And, as you will see in some of my future stories, I have a passion for the outdoors, and my experiences in the wild will be included in future projects.
Joe—And I can’t wait to hear all about them. Thanks so much for taking the time to allow my readers to get to know you.
Joe—Oh, I almost forgot. Where can we buy your books?
Gary—Why, Amazon, of course. I hope your followers will check out all three: Regards From Oscar: Confessions Of A Spy; Two-Lane Blacktop; and The War Never Ends, which I co-authored with my friend, Tom Hooker. It involves the Vietnam War, and we’re very proud of it.
Joe—In paperback and Kindle.