Interview with Jacques Antoine


Hello Everyone!

We are delighted to have author Jacques Antoine amongst us today at Musikdiv India Online Magazine at our Special ‘Authors Festival’ interview series to tell us about his new book Go No Sen!
Please read on …


Go No Sen is a martial arts/espionage thriller about a high school girl who has to fight off covert operatives from rival intelligence organizations in order to salvage the life she knows and stay in school. When her home is destroyed in a sudden attack she refuses to become a fugitive, assume a new name and go into hiding with her family. She is determined to preserve her own identity. But along the way she learns that she is not who she thinks she is, and that her family is not who she thinks they are either. Who exactly is Emily Kane, and why is she so good at fighting? To solve the mystery of her identity, she turns to her high school classmates and makes new friends when she had always been a loner. But then she has to protect them from the danger swirling darkly around her. The only solution may be to draw her enemies out into the open and confront them face to face.
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So Jacques, we’ll start your Interview with the very first question

1. Please introduce and tell the readers something about yourself.

Hi, I’m Jacques Antoine and I’m the author of The Emily Kane Stories. The first book in the series, Go No Sen, came out last summer. I’m working on the second book, Sen No Sen, right now. I hope to be finished with it by the end of January. The third book in the series, Sensei/Sempai, is scheduled to appear next fall. When I’m not writing, I’m a college professor, a husband and the father of a 12 year old girl. As a young man, I studied three different martial arts: judo, aikido and kempo. I ended up incorporating martial arts into my books mainly because of my daughter’s interest in karate. The books aren’t about her, but you could say that they were inspired by her experiences in a few different dojos. And I consulted her on all the fight scenes.

2. What brought you to writing?

I come from a family of writers of different kinds. My grandfather wrote children’s books. My father was a medical writer. My sisters are legal writers. My brother is a journalist. So I suppose it’s only natural that I should end up a writer, too.

3. How long have you been writing?

I think I’ve been writing stories casually since I was a teen. But I didn’t really focus on it as anything more than a hobby until some time after college.

4. Which was your first literary project? Tell us something about it.

A few years ago I wrote a couple of children’s picture books. They were about the lives a little girl imagines for the various animals she can see from her window. As a writing project, the trickiest bit was setting all the tales into verse. I think I was mainly inspired by the style of Max Bemelmans, the author of the Madeleine stories. Unfortunately, I’m not a very good visual artist, and I was unable to come up with satisfactory drawings to accompany the stories. I eventually put the project aside. But I may take it up again if I get an inspiration.

5. Is this your new/latest project?

These days I’m not really in the frame of mind to write children’s books. My current writing is directed to young adults.

6. Traditional books or e-books? How do you prefer to see your works published? Have you tried ever publishing the traditional way?

Right now, my books are only available as ebooks. They may eventually come out as traditional style books. But for now, I like the freedom that ebooks give me. The most important advantage traditional publishing gives a writer is the editorial review. But since I have editorial experience myself, and lots of editorial contacts, I have access to professional editing without an agent.

7. Can you give a chapter sample preview of your book here for our readers to know more about it.

There are lots of free excerpts from my books available on my blog, starting here: http://ronin1999.blogspot.com/2011/07/go-no-sen-ch-1-as-promised.html. But since you asked, here’s a special excerpt just for you.
( Please look at the bottom of the interview for book excerpts )

8. What are your hobbies? Things that you enjoy doing besides books of course.

I live in the mountains of New Mexico (altitude: 2300m), so I’m very fond of hiking and amateur astronomy. I injured my knees a few years ago playing soccer, so I’m not really able to do as much with martial arts anymore. But I do other sports, like squash and cycling.

9. Who is your favourite author?

My “all-time” favourite is Jane Austen, of course. She writes about young women who have been educated beyond their family’s social or economic class. The typical dilemma they face is how to attract a man from the class for which she has been educated when she has no dowry. Obviously she has to interest him in her inner qualities. But since the most important virtue for a young woman in 19th century England is modesty, the puzzle she must solve is how to “advertise” her modesty. Austen is full of wonderful insights into this paradox.
Among current authors, my favourites include Maureen Johnson, John Green and Libba Bray, from whom I try to learn whatever I can. I am also very fond of Benjamin Goschko, Meghan Ciana Doidge and Alle Wells. They’re not famous yet, but they are really worth reading.
My “guilty pleasure”: I like spy novels, especially John Le Carré and Robert Ludlum, and even the occasional Tom Clancy novel. Those guys just know how to keep you interested in a story with lots of technical details that might take a long time to unfold.

10. What is your favourite genre to read and also to write?

I don’t think I have a favorite genre for reading. I don’t really choose books according to genre. But as a writer, I favor action thrillers about young adults. I like thinking about the dilemmas young people face when they are put under pressure, the way profound insecurities emerge about who they are, who their friends are, and what they will make of themselves.

11. Do you have a role model that you get inspiration from?

I think I have lots of role models. As a writer I often think about my grandfather who spun stories for children out of the things he saw around his house everyday. The most ordinary things could become magical once he applied his imagination to them. He also had a keen sense for the irony hidden in everyday situations. In one of his books, a lion in the city zoo is visited by his many friends from town everyday. One day his cage is accidentally left unlocked, and he decides to go visit all of his friends. But to his surprise they are not happy to see him.

12. Where do get your ideas from? Do you take your story ideas from real life situations?

I get ideas from life, but also from books and movies I’ve seen. For the Emily Kane Stories, I was partly inspired by my daughter’s experience in her first karate dojo. Like many girls, she did not enjoy sparring, mainly because the little boys in the dojo did not pay enough attention to controlling their kicks and punches. She ended up getting hit a lot, but it wasn’t the physical pain that bothered her. She’s pretty tough. But she was offended by the boys’ lack of focus, and the Sensei’s failure to do anything about it. Lots of girls who start karate end up quitting because of this. I saw how frustrated my daughter was by this, and I tried to imagine a girl who would overcome it, beat the boys at their own game, so to speak.
I was also inspired in part by Donnie Yen’s performance in the Ip Man movies. Of course, I was fascinated by his exhibition of wing chun as a fighting style. But I was mainly struck by his depiction of Ip Man’s profound compassion and generosity, and how those traits could be compatible with the resolute ferocity with which he defends his people.
Finally, my daughter is very fond of manga style drawing. I noticed that the characters usually have very large, deep black eyes, and it occurred to me that I could try to reflect that feature in my heroine. She has deep, black eyes, and when people look into them they are surprised by what they find there.

13. Do you have a pseudonym?

I do use a pseudonym, mainly because I also publish scholarly articles on ancient philosophy under my real name. It was a way for me to keep these two writing styles distinct for myself. I suppose that in the back of my mind I was also thinking that I don’t want to get tangled up in my grandfather’s reputation as a writer. With a pseudonym I’m free to be whatever sort of writer I want to be.

14. What’s your experience been like in the publishing industry?

Positive or negative? Please share your experience with our readers.
I have no experience with the publishing industry as a fiction writer. But I have a generally positive impression of the people I know in it. The industry is in transition right now, and there is a lot of pressure on agents and editors. Self-publishing has never been easier than it is now, or quicker. By contrast, trying to get the attention of a traditional publisher can take several years. But what would-be authors need to know is that those years are an important opportunity to develop as a writer. I think it is a mistake for writers to rush into print. If the publishing industry can be faulted, it isn’t for the time it takes for new authors to get published. The industry’s main fault is its tendency to favor formulaic works.

15. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I look forward to congratulating my daughter at her college graduation in 10 years. I know I’ll still be a teacher. I think I’ll still be writing. I hope you’ll be reading my latest novel!

16.What motivates you to write?

Curiosity. I love my characters and I really want to find out what’s going to happen to them next. But the only way to find out is to keep writing.

17. How important is good cover art for your books?

A good cover is really important. It’s strange to say that, I suppose, since we all know the old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But the fact is that a good cover defines the first thing you get to say to your reader. It can also help you think about your own book by crystallizing its ideas into a single paradigmatic image. I like to spend a lot of time tinkering with cover images on my own, even if I get someone else to do the final version. The cover for my first book was eventually done by James Junior.

18. Do you have a pricing strategy?

I want my books to be available. The list price is more or less standard. But I’m able to offer lots of discount opportunities. I think they are usually discounted to $4.99, and often much less than that.

19. Have you read a bestseller that you felt was not as good as yours?

Well, to be honest, that doesn’t happen much. I have sometimes felt that Young Adult books don’t always challenge their readers enough. But that’s not the same as saying that they aren’t good books. It’s hard to write a good book, and my own experience has helped me appreciate what others have done.

20. Why do you think readers should buy your book? What can you offer them through your book?

It’s a martial arts/espionage thriller with lots of fight scenes, so there’s lots of visceral excitement. But it’s also about high school kids who struggle with all the dilemmas of adulthood at the same time as they face deadly dangers together. The profound existential puzzles of the characters also provide a good opportunity to reflect on the meditative dimension of martial arts.

21. Where is your book available? Any Buy Link for our readers?

It’s available pretty much anywhere ebooks are sold:

Amazon Buy link >> http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005CIRTSG

B&N (BARNES & NOBLE | Go No Sen by Jacques Antoine | NOOK Book (eBook)),
Itunes,
Sony,
Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Go-No-Sen/book-1bJilIRwb0GiwTni8TTiWw/page1.html
Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/74492)

22. Do you have a website or a blog that you’d like to share here.

I have posted excerpts from the first two books of The Emily Kane Stories on http://ronin1999.blogspot.com . I have also posted imaginary interviews with my characters there.
You can also find breaking news about my books on http://www.jacquesantoine.com

23. What advice would you give to other writers?

Patience. This is not the path to quick riches. You take your time when you write; you don’t look for shortcuts there. You shouldn’t expect to find them in any other part of the process either. Just keep writing—give that most of your attention. Marketing is difficult, and you can’t succeed without it. But it is not as important as writing.

24. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers

Keep reading. It’s the most human, most powerful thing anyone can do. Even if they’re not reading my books 😉

  • Thank you Jacques Antoine for gracing us with your presence.It was a sheer pleasure.Good luck with your book.We conclude the interview here

    Thanks again from Team MusikDIV

    Book Exerpts – Sample Chapter

    Go No Sen By Jacques Antoine

    Chapter 14: Back to the Woods Again

    Wendy’s parents ran a bed and breakfast on the north end of town. It was a large civil war era house with several extra bedrooms and an extra large dining room. They had added an extra wing on the north side of the building which included three small studio apartments. These tended to be rented by the week all year round. There was also a small swimming pool in the back next to a hot tub large enough to accommodate eight or nine people. The parents lived in a small suite behind the front desk. The children had bedrooms in the basement on either side of a large rec room that led out into the back yard.
    Wendy and her brother had cleaning and front desk duties during the off-season, when there weren’t many guests. During the high season, the family usually took on a couple of extra staff to handle the business. Just now, the only guests were staying in the studios. These were long term rentals. The rest of the house was empty. Even though it was a comfortable life, Wendy disliked it intensely, and resented having to contribute to the upkeep of the house. Her family moved here from Baltimore when she was in seventh grade, and she left behind her childhood friends. She still harbored a grudge about that. Her parents watched uncomprehendingly as she gradually became more reserved and withdrawn, and began to dress more exotically with each year.
    Emily pulled down the circular drive to the front porch on the dirt bike just before ten. She was wearing black jeans over western style boots, a deep red t-shirt and a brown leather jacket. She tossed a second helmet to Wendy, sitting on the bottom step. Her jaw dropped. It really hadn’t occurred to her that this was the sort of ride Emily had in mind. She thought “What the hell,” pulled the helmet on, and climbed on the back of the bike. They sped down the drive, spitting gravel behind them.
    It was about an hour ride down to Potts Creek, where Emily turned east up a dirt road that connected to a network of logging trails through the forest. It was a thrilling ride up and down hills, in and out of valleys, bending around some sharp turns and over some large bumps. On a few occasions they were actually airborne. Wendy screamed most of the way. After another hour, they came out on a ridgeline overlooking a high meadow. Emily cut the engine and leaned the bike up against a tree. They sat on a fallen log and took in the scenery. From their position on the ridge they saw a lower ridge, some tilled fields and clear pasturage on the other side, and a much higher ridge about two miles away. It was a pastoral scene of exquisite beauty.
    Wendy had driven past scenery like this lots of times over the last few years. But somehow this was different. The thrill of the ride contributed to her giddy mood, but also the company. She started laughing out loud after a few minutes. Emily looked at her, puzzled and amused. She saw the ecstatic look of joy on Wendy’s face and couldn’t suppress a giggle of her own. Before long the two of them were laughing together. It was intoxicating.
    “Emily, I had no idea,” Wendy gushed after a few moments. “Do you do this often?”
    “My Dad and I used to camp in the mountains all the time,” she said after a moment.
    “I meant the bike. Did you do that with your Dad?”
    “It used to be his bike,” she laughed, though a sad thought lingered in the back of her mind. Talking about him now reminded her of the magnitude of what she had lost. But there was no other way to retrieve any of her happy memories.
    “You are nothing like what I expected,” Wendy said with a laugh.
    “You were expecting something?” Emily teased.
    “You seem like such a loner. Ya know, on the outside looking in,” Wendy mused. “But you’re not an outsider at all.”
    “Whaddya mean?”
    “I don’t think you’re looking in,” said Wendy, very pleased with herself. Emily laughed, because she was right, sort of. She had been a loner all her life, had lost herself in her own private pursuits, in martial arts, in school work, in her love for her Dad. She only realized how lonely she had been all those years when she began to allow people to get close to her. She had friends now. It was painful to think of life without them. But Wendy has friends, she thought. Why does she think of herself as an outsider?
    “I’ve got better things to do than worry about being in or out,” Emily said provocatively. “I’ve got more friends now than I’ve ever had before, and I like it. I guess I’m just Miss Popularity.”
    “Yeah, right,” Wendy snorted. “Why do I get the feeling all these new friends don’t really know you at all.” Emily was surprised at how perceptive Wendy could be, and yet still not really understand her. But perhaps it was better that way. She wasn’t sure she could let a friend get to know her any better than that.
    “What about your friends, ya know, the guys in black? Do they know the real you?” Emily teased.
    “I suppose not,” she conceded. “But at least they’re not phonies, like everyone else.” There was some genuine anger and frustration behind Wendy’s voice as she spoke. Emily turned to face her, looked her in the eyes.
    “I don’t know what you mean by phonies, Wendy. I’m pretty sure I’m a phony, ya know, pretending to be what I’m not. But I don’t need a uniform. All the black clothes, the death stuff, the makeup, isn’t that kinda phony?” Wendy didn’t like to hear this from her new friend, even though she knew it was true. She had felt it herself for some time now. The goths were phonies like everyone else. For Wendy, it started as a rebellion against her parents. She was angry at them for moving out here, for making her leave her friends behind. An added bonus is that it made her parents think she was not quite presentable to the guests. It got her out of doing any of the public duties of the bed and breakfast. But she wasn’t comfortable with how quickly Emily had turned the tables on her, telling her a cutting truth about herself. That was supposed to be her prerogative, not Emily’s. She was just supposed to be her exciting new friend. But when she looked into her new friend’s eyes, she saw something darker than any goth has ever imagined. It was dark, but it was not made of anger or frustration. She was fascinated. She thought Emily was a deliciously dangerous sort of friend.
    On the way back home they stopped for gas on the outskirts of Covington. Wendy went inside to use the facilities while Emily filled the tank on the bike. Wendy prowled about the store for a moment looking for a bottle of iced tea when she noticed a dusty white SUV pulled up on the other side of the pumps from Emily. There seemed to be a heated conversation going on with a guy and his girlfriend about Emily. She was paying no attention. Finally the girl yelled “I’m telling you, that’s the bitch from the other night!” Two other guys piled out of the back of the SUV. They were quite a bit larger than the driver. One was big and athletic looking, like he might be on the football team. The second guy was a little shorter and on the husky side. Wendy began to grow concerned. But she couldn’t seem to get herself to go outside.
    The driver sauntered over to Emily. He was clearly menacing her. Out of nowhere he had a knife in his hand and seemed to be threatening her with it. Emily hardly moved. Was she frozen in fear, too? Finally Wendy unglued her feet from the floor and ran to the door just as the driver was about to hurt her friend. “Look out, Emily,” she was about to yell. But before the words were even fully formed in her mouth, she saw Emily move her hands quickly towards the driver’s elbow and shoulder. He winced in pain as she took control of his arm, spun him around and stuck him in the ass with his own knife. He squealed in pain and fell to the ground. Wendy gasped. It was only a flesh wound, it seemed, not much blood. But it must have stung like hell. The girl ran over to him shrieking as the husky guy reached for Emily.
    “What the hell is wrong with you, bitch! You can’t do that to my friend,” he snarled trying to sound intimidating. Emily parried his hand, twisting it down and around and sending him tumbling head over heels. He lay on his back a few feet away groaning. The last guy, the athletic one, rushed toward her, thinking he would take care of her. She gave him a very hard look and pointed her finger at him. “Do you really want to risk it?” she asked. “If I take out your knees, you’ll be off the team.” He shrank back.
    By this time the driver had recovered himself, picked up his knife and lunged towards her with unconcealed rage. Wendy was terrified for her friend. But Emily seemed so calm. She waved her left hand in a lazy circle in front of the driver’s eyes. It seemed so innocent, so graceful. But without Wendy quite understanding how it happened, she twisted his right arm up and in, sending his entire body cartwheeling into the side of the building, his shoulder weirdly misshapen.
    “What is wrong with you! Are you afraid of this bitch?” the girl shrieked at the last guy standing. She pulled what looked like a little gun out of her bag and tried to point it at Emily. But before she could fully extend her arm to fire, Emily had slapped her hand toward her chest and slapped her hard across the face. As the girl twisted away from the slap, Emily kicked the back of her knee and she crumpled to the ground. Emily crouched down and whispered something in the girl’s ear. Wendy watched as her face became contorted in terror. Emily got on the bike and waved Wendy over. She swallowed, and then got on the back of the bike. They sped off down the road back into the mountains.
    A couple of miles later, Emily pulled onto a little dirt road that ended by a creek. She cut the engine and sat down by the water’s edge. Wendy got off the bike and stood a few feet away. Her heart was pounding in her throat as she tried to regain a little composure.
    “Wh-what the hell happened back there,” she practically shrieked. Emily looked at her calmly, but some sort of concern was clearly etched across her forehead. Wendy couldn’t quite read her expression.
    “Oh, that,” she said, in mock non-chalance. “Just taking care of a little unfinished business.”
    “Emily, those guys were trying to kill you! That girl had a gun! Where did they even come from? How do you know them?”
    “We met those guys the other night outside a pizza joint in Covington. Wayne stumbled into the middle of a fight and they all turned on him. Danny and Billy helped him chase them all off. I guess they were still pissed about it.”
    “I can’t believe how calm you are. I was terrified,” Wendy said. “And how did you do that? You were incredible!” Emily shifted gears at this point.
    “Wendy, don’t make a big deal out of this. In fact, I’d prefer it if we didn’t mention it to anyone else.” She was a little concerned that a fight like that might attract the wrong sort of attention. The only consolation was that it happened in Covington. If the wrong people looked into it, they would probably end up looking in the wrong places. Of course, Wendy was puzzled by this last request. She had just discovered a new side to her new friend, who was now even more mysterious than ever.
    “Emily, what are you talking about? You were amazing back there,” she gushed.
    “Wendy, those guys were assholes, and they got what they deserved. But there’s nothing to brag about in what I did. I would be happier if they had left well enough alone. Do me a favor and keep it under your hat.” Wendy could see that she was completely serious.
    “Okay,” she said reluctantly.
    “Great. Now we have a secret,” Emily teased. “We’re secret friends!”
    When they got back to Wendy’s house, her mom met them at the front porch. She was struck by how different Emily was from the friends her daughter usually brought home. She came down the steps to meet her.
    “Hi, Mom,” Wendy chirped nervously. “This is my friend, Emily.”
    “Hi, Mrs. Williams,” Emily added. “It’s good to meet you.”
    Wendy’s mom stood quietly for a moment, just taking Emily in. She had the strangest feeling about this girl. She was beautiful, sure. But the degree of self-assurance… she had never met anyone quite like her. She got caught in a reverie for a moment and there was the beginning of an awkward silence.
    “It is really good to meet you, Emily,” she said, recovering herself. “It’s almost dinner time. Would you care to join us? We’d love to have you.” Emily glanced at Wendy, who nodded vigorously, grinning wildly.
    “I’d like that, Mrs. Williams,” she replied. “That sounds nice.”
    “Do you need to call home?”
    “No, I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Emily replied. It was just turning dark, and there was a slight chill in the air.
    “Your Dad has the hot tub all set up. Why don’t you two go join him? Wendy, you must have a suit Emily can wear. I’ll be out in just a minute, as soon as I get the roast in the oven.”
    Wendy hesitated for a moment. She didn’t want to embarrass her friend. Emily smiled at her and said “Sounds great to me,” and followed Wendy down to her room. She only had two suits, and one was a skimpy two-piece her Mom got her that she was embarrassed to wear. “I’ll wear it,” Emily said with an air of indifference. Wendy breathed an audible sigh of relief. As they changed Wendy gasped when she saw how fit and well-defined Emily was. She was more than just beautiful. This girl was in shape, long, lean and strong. It was a little easier now to see how she had been able to handle those guys at the gas station. When they got out to the hot tub, Wendy’s parents and her brother had similar reactions. Emily was oblivious. She had no feelings of insecurity about her appearance. She had no false modesty. She thought of her body as a tool, or a weapon, an extension of her mind, the focus of her training, not as a silvered image in a mirror.
    The conversation in the hot tub and later at dinner ran through the usual topics. Her parents, plans for college, friends. Emily told them what she could, omitted what seemed too dangerous. Her new policy was to tell the truth whenever possible, but not to say too much. Wendy’s parents were surprised to hear that Emily was living on her own, that her dad was out of the country, that she did not know her mother. They were impressed by her profound self-possession. She was at eighteen as independent and focused as most adults. They couldn’t imagine Wendy managing half so well on her own. They had heard about her interest in martial arts and asked her about the dojo. She told them about her friends there, about Sensei and her father. Wendy was really the only friend she had who didn’t train at the dojo. Wendy was surprised to hear this. She had assumed that Emily had friends all over the school. That, at least, was how it seemed at the football game. Emily really is a loner, she thought. But how can that be? She is so cool, so tough, so focused. She suddenly realized that there was a good deal she didn’t really understand about her new friend. After Emily went home, Wendy had a long talk with her mom about two things: her goth friends and going shopping for new clothes.
    “That Emily is really something, isn’t she?” her mom said absent-mindedly. “She’s not like any of your other friends.”
    “No, Mom, I can assure you of that,” Wendy replied. “She is totally one of a kind.”
    “Yeah, I mean the vibe coming off her is like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” her Mom continued.
    “Vibe, Mom?”
    “She is just one cool customer. I bet nothing fazes her.”
    “Mom, you have no idea,” said Wendy, very satisfied with herself for having a secret she shared with Emily.
    Later, as she was lying in bed, Wendy went back over the events of the day in her mind. The bike ride, screaming up and down the mountains, the afternoon relaxing on the ridgeline soaking up the scenery, the encounter with the toughs in the gas station, and finally the evening in the hot tub with her family. This may have been the best day of her life. Her mind kept returning to an image of Emily in that bathing suit. It hadn’t ever occurred to her that human beings could look like that. They were roughly the same dimensions, wore the same size, but Wendy was pretty sure she didn’t look like that. “Sure, she’s beautiful,” Wendy thought, “but it’s more than that. It’s like she’s made of steel or something.” Wendy fell asleep dreaming of cyborgs and samurai.

    Buy Go No Sen by Jacques Antoine On Amazon Kindle >> http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005CIRTSG


    MusikDIV India Online Magazine is an online platform dedicated to promoting talented musicians and writers and giving them the ultimate platform to showcase their talent through our website http://www.musicdiv.co.cc
    If you want to be featured in our MusikDIV India exclusive Interviews kindly email us at : musicnd@yahoo.com

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