AUTHOR: SS Hampton, Sr.
BOOK TITLE: The Lapis Lazuli Throne
PUBLISHER: Musa Publishing
When and why did you begin writing?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was 15 years old. There were stories I wanted to tell, so somewhere around that age I began scribbling stories by hand.
What inspired you to write your first book?
From the time I was 15 until my late 30s, I did not get anywhere in the publishing world. Then I wrote The 24th of December, a Christmas story that takes place during the Vietnam War. It was published in a small local Colorado Springs literary magazine in 1992. I am not sure anymore what the actual inspiration was, but I wrote it during the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season.
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
In retrospect my research for The 24th of December gave me a better glimpse of the world of Special Operations Group (SOG) during the Vietnam War. I have always been in awe of those soldiers inserted by helicopter into the border regions of Laos and Cambodia to spy on the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong; those men were hunted the moment they stepped on the ground. More than a few were killed or simply disappeared.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
I have three publishers—Melange Books, Musa Publishing, and MuseItUp Publishing. Truthfully, I do not recall other than I was searching online for publishers who indicated an interest in genres that I liked to write in. There are plenty of resources online, but the problem is to separate the winners from those who just want to churn out an endless stream of books and stories regardless of quality. I am glad to say that I am published with winners.
What is your marketing plan?
Writing guest posts for various blogs followed by an excerpt and cover, with a URL link, from my various writings. I have “author pages” on various sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. In the future I plan on adding a blog and website to feature my writing and eventually, my photography.
What do you plan for the future?
Continue writing. I still have a lot of stories I want to tell. Other than that, this spring semester complete my degree in Photography.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Amazon.com Author Page
Amazon.com. UK Author Page
Goodreads Author Page
What genre do you write in and why?
Among the genres I write in is war/supernatural. To me the two subjects just seem to go together. There is a theory that where one dies violently there are sometimes ghostly appearances. For example, at the Gettysburg Battlefield there have been sightings of individual soldiers as well as sightings of entire regiments. At the Little Big Horn Battlefield a Park Ranger once saw several ghostly mounted warriors. War is a horrific event, and the supernatural seems to be a natural companion.
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
The Lapis Lazuli Throne takes place during the Iraq War. The setting is one of many supply convoys rolling north out of Kuwait into Iraq on Main Supply Route Tampa, the only north-south route available, protected by escorting gun trucks. A lot of convoys were hit by IEDs and assorted small arms fire, as well as mortars and RPGs. The convoy of Specialist Ken Adams is hit by an IED and he is wounded. His Gun Truck Commander dismounts and takes the fight to the insurgents; the Gun Truck Commander discovers an ancient talisman and commits a disrespectful act. In the following weeks the gun truck crew meet a mysterious fate one by one. Adams flees Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he was hospitalized. Though hiding in Las Vegas, he is soon discovered by a mysterious pursuer.
What gave you the idea for this particular book?I enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, was mobilized for active duty at Fort Irwin, California with my Cavalry squadron (mobilized in August 2004), and volunteered to deploy to Iraq. I served at Convoy Support Center Navistar, one mile south of the Iraq border. As I worked in company headquarters administration I did not have to go on convoy security missions, but I went on three missions. On my first mission into Iraq I wore Night Vision Goggles; it truly felt eerie looking at a fuzzy green desert world that faded into a mysterious blackness. At the CSC, in the quiet of the hot night, under the stars, it was a wonderful realization that I was in a land with a recorded history thousands of years old. I was in a land where Sumerians and Babylonians once trod—people like me with their hopes and dreams, and their fears of the known and unknown. From there it was a short jump to The Lapis Lazuli Throne.
Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Not in the least. As for sexual scenes, well, frankly, they are fun to write. Violence however—such a scene has to be an integral part of the story and not thrown in just for the hell of it. The details of such a violent scene have to be “within reason,” so to speak. Again, the details have to be integral and not just the equivalent of gawkers passing a body covered by a sheet. The violence I have written so far take place during a war, the result of combat, rather than, say, the result of domestic violence.
What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
Strictly speaking, I have written only one novel and that is due to be published this April. Stand-alone stories and novellas (I will not include stories published before 2011 or those included in anthologies, except for an anthology of my stories) that have been published through my publishing houses consist of:
The Sentinels – Musa Publishing (2011)
Intimate Journeys – Melange Books (2012)
Dancing in Moonlight (at 36,000 Feet) – Musa Publishing (2012)
An Incident on MSR Tampa – Musa Publishing (2012)
The Lapis Lazuli Throne – Musa Publishing (2012)
The Ferryman – Melange Books (2012)
Better Than a Rabbit’s Foot – MuseItUp Publishing (2012)
Second Saturday – Musa Publishing (2012)
The Gates of Moses – Melange Books (2012)
Sharing Rachel – MuseItUp Publishing (Forthcoming) (2014)
Describe your writing space.
My writing space is a square table about three feet on each side, and it sits next to my bed. I use one side of the bed to spread out research material, including 3-ring binders, books, and magazines, that I refer to when writing or doing research. The table also contains a pile of yellow stickies of various sizes, pens and pencils, and a broken printer/copier/scanner/fax. I used to buy a certain brand of printer, but when this one broke two weeks ago—the third printer from this company to do so in the past six years—I swore I will never buy another printer from that company again.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favorite part is the research and the writing when so many different parts come together to become a (hopefully) viable and believable story that someone will enjoy. The least favorite part of being an author is editing. I know it’s an indispensable part of writing, but still, it takes time to edit, to mull over grammar, punctuation, leafing through the Thesaurus, and rereading to ensure the edited version is better than the initial draft. It goes without saying that an 8,000 word short story is easier to edit than a 63,000 word novel.
“The Lapis Lazuli Throne.” Ed. Stephen Morgan. Musa Publishing, April 2012.
BLURB: During the Iraq War supply convoys rumbled out of Kuwait every day, bound for Baghdad. These convoys traveled on MSR Tampa, one of the most dangerous roads in the world, battling insurgent ambushes and IEDs. It is on one such convoy that an IED took out a gun truck and wounded Specialist Ken Adams. His gun truck commander took the fight to nearby insurgents, but in the aftermath he committed a disrespectful act. In the following weeks the entire gun truck crew was stalked by something unknown, and they disappeared one by one, until only Ken Adams was left, cornered in Las Vegas…
The desert was alive. Damp foul smelling sand exploded in a white flash. Smoky red and yellow tentacles snaked out of the sand. He tried to scream, but the tentacles choked him. Other screams tore through the boiling smoke that stung his eyes and fouled his mouth. He was suffocating. He swung his arms wildly through the heavy hot air as the ground gave way beneath him. He was being pulled into the living desert...
Specialist Ken Adams, the Gunner of his gun truck, picked at his meal of cheeseburgers, French fries, and salad. The mess hall, no wider than a pair of double wide trailers and twice as long, was almost empty. Other than an evening kitchen crew, the only occupants of the mess hall were gun truck soldiers preparing to go out on another convoy security escort mission.
They were escorting another supply convoy of forty-five white trucks, the civilian manned eighteen-wheel tractor trailers that had arrived that afternoon at Convoy Support Center Navistar. The small, cluttered, dusty camp a mile south of the Iraqi border, a jumping off point for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was now manned by mobilized Army National Guard soldiers. After sunset, four HMMWV gun trucks would escort the supply convoy to Cedar, the first CSC on Main Supply Route Tampa. There, they would then turn the convoy over to other escorts, who would take the convoy further north. The gun truck crews would have time for a quick breakfast before they picked up an empty convoy returning to Kuwait.
It was just another typical mission for Ken and his buddies. He grabbed a pair of bananas on the way out the door.
They met their convoy of white trucks at the Convoy Movement Center, the dusty marshaling lot on the other side of a narrow dusty track across from Navistar. The soldiers checked the drivers’ paperwork and made a quick mechanical inspection of the trucks. It was a tedious but necessary process. Ken alleviated the boredom by raiding the packed bag of bubble gum Lenny had packed for the mission. Lenny loved bubble gum, and whenever care packages were put on the mail table for everyone to help themselves, he was one of the first to paw through them, searching for bubble gum…