Local Author Showcase to take place Wednesday at Off the Beaten Path | SteamboatToday.com

Local Author Showcase to take place Wednesday at Off the Beaten Path

Today, a panel of local authors will be at Off the Beaten Path for the Local Author Showcase at 6 p.m. to talk about their inspirations, newly released novels and more. The event is part of the All Arts Festival this week.

— Local Chuck McConnell remembers seeing his first western movie at a young age and having been so intrigued, he felt the need to write his own fictional story.

Fast-forward to present day. McConnell recently released “Fire with Fire,” his first, self-published novel, through CreateSpace. Inspired by authors such as Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, McConnell’s novel is a political/military thriller and the first in his planned Jack Tallon series.

The story is set amid a modern-day reign of terror brought down by drug cartels who control much of Mexico's government and economy. Desperate for a solution, the U.S. government calls on Jack Tallon, a retired special forces colonel, to lead a team of elite soldiers on a daring paramilitary mission. Filled with betrayal and intrigue, the novel takes many unseen turns as Tallon grasps for ways to fight fire with fire.

McConnell is among the authors selected to be on a panel and share excerpts from their new books during the Local Author Showcase Wednesday. The event is part of the Steamboat Springs All Arts Festival and will begin at 6 p.m. at Off the Beaten Path.

Steamboat Today spoke recently with McConnell about the process of writing a novel.

Steamboat Today: How long did it take you to write this book?

Recommended Stories For You

Chuck McConnell: I was working on that book for about five years. I ran for the Colorado House of Representative in 2012 and 2013; it was hard to write a lot during that time. The book I'm working on now will be a lot faster than that because of what I've learned with the editing process and publishing process. But there is all this heavy stuff that you get into during the day with work and such; then, if I want to disappear into my plotline story and characters, it's a good feeling.

ST: Why did you select "Fire with Fire" as the title?

Chuck McConnell:Because of the fact that by these people — by Tallon and his men going into Mexico — they were not fighting the war on cartels from a distance. When there is a forest fire or prairie fire, they will set a second fire, and that will eat up and actually stop the bad fire. And that's where it came from. It's a technique used by firefighters to stop forest fires or wildfires.

ST: How much research went into this novel? 

Chuck McConnell:Google is a really wonderful tool. A lot of the political nuances I had a feel for — because of what I had been doing for years, being politically active. I had been a follower of military issues, so I knew what I wanted to do. As far as getting the details on different weapon systems and things like that, I researched a lot of that on the Internet.

ST: How does this compare to those other military thrillers?

Chuck McConnell:When people ask me what kind of a book this is, I will say, ‘well do you like Tom Clancy?’ I don't ever say my name and his in the same breath, because he is kind of a hero of mine, but I say that a lot of my inspiration for the kind of novel that it is came from reading his books.

ST: How have you evolved as a writer since you started this process?

Chuck McConnell:Started writing 15 years ago. I had done a lot of technical or business writing, went to writers conferences a long time ago in California; that got me into the nitty-gritty of what writing a novel was about. My evolution here has been from the Steamboat Writers Group that meets every Thursday. They have been so incredibly helpful that they've helped in my evolution as a writer in going through the editing process. I learned from what they said about my writing.

ST: What would you say is the hardest thing with writing a book?

Chuck McConnell:Self-editing. I will write something, and it will be this free thought that turns into a chapter. Then I may edit that a dozen times, and every time I reread it, I think it could be better. But sometimes you just have to stop and move on.

ST: Was the end result of this book what you thought it would be?

Chuck McConnell:Yes. And what was really cool was that there were things that I didn't even dream of when I started writing the book that created those plot twists. It's almost like when you are working on this, something hits you that you didn't think of in the beginning. Nuances, twists and other things just come to you.

ST: What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book?

Chuck McConnell:The hero, Jack Tallon; I would like people to take away, at least fictionally, that he is somebody they can look up to. I've created a character I think is a great American, someone who is courageous and who is so dedicated to the men who follow him that he would go to prison for them. I guess I would love people to go away and say I like the idea of that kind of a person.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: Local Author Showcase

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11

Where: Off the Beaten Path, 68 9th St.