Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke have achieved more than most, yet remain humble and giving of their time and their talent. Talent breeds confidence, and confidence allows Ken and Buck to give of their talent without worrying someone might try to copy their style. I met them at the Lexicon Conference. Welcome guys.
Thanks Bill, you’re too kind.
With all the acting, directing, and screen writing experience the two of you have, how did the idea of writing novels enter the picture?
In August of 2010, we adapted an epic 900 page novel, Verdict in Search of a Crime, to a screenplay for a friend, John Eastman. When we finished, ten weeks later, we looked at one another and simultaneously said, “Hell, we can write a novel.” So, two months later, we finished the first draft of Black Eagle Force: Eye of the Storm.
Let’s talk about talent and egos. First, to collaborate the way you have in the past, each has to bring his own expertise. Does one of you act as the main storyline writer and the other layers with color and technical expertise, or is the process different?
We both input the storyline, but since we both have military aviation experience, Buck in jets (both military and commercial) and Ken in choppers, it was obvious who handled what. Buck also has enormous knowledge and experience with all types of weapons an ballistics. (he is a gunsmith and owns a large gun store in Gainesville, Tex.) Ken has over 40 years experience as a professional actor and oversees most of the drama/dialogue. But nothing is exclusive.
Second, do the sparks ever fly between you? If so, have you ever drawn blood?
Of course sparks fly, but no blood…yet. We make a concerted effort to leave our mutually enormous egos at the house. Our key to successful collaboration is to be open to criticism and suggestion. We have a mantra, “Never fall in love with your own stuff.” We never hesitate to tell each other, “That sucks”.
Black Eagle Force novels have swept the military fiction genre by storm. Much of your success has been defining and marketing to your audience. Describe your marketing techniques for those struggling reach their markets.
Do we have techniques? Damn if we know. We just do anything and everything we can to reach our potential audience: Radio/TV/Internet/Newspaper interviews; Personal appearances; Charity events; Book Signings; Libraries; Military Base Exchanges; Conventions; Blog; Facebook; Twitter; Linkedin; Our own web site; Email and never go ANYWHERE without cards and books. Our friend and NYT best selling author, Dale Brown, posted just the other day that he attended a function and didn’t bring any books or cards…”Bad Dale,” he said. Provide interesting content on FB and web site for your potential audience in addition to your books. Support other authors, by reviewing their books. If you don’t toot your own horn, rest assured no one will toot it for you. Do something every day to promote your book or yourself. At any event, you have to learn how to be outgoing, make friends and be likeable.
Avid readers are every author’s audience. Still I find the vast majority of authors end up marketing to other authors. Do you have any advice on where to uncover readers in various genres?
Actually, Bill, we avoid marketing to other authors…we prefer to give or trade our books. Call it professional courtesy. This is part of supporting our profession. As part of the Lexicon group philosophy, we like to “mentor” those who ask for help in writing…especially dialogue and help them promote their books. A lot of people can write well, but can’t SELL effectively. Go where your audience is: if you write children books go to schools; Christian books – church functions, ect. One of our best venues is to hold periodic book signings at banks…that’s where the money is.
Return of the Starfighter has just been released. I understand you have a historical out called, THE NATIONS. What can we expect from the Stienke/Farmer team in the future?
We are currently working on three new novels…simultaneously. Our fourth Black Eagle Force, Black Eagle Force: Blood Ivory, about poachers and pirates. Two more westerns, Haunted Falls (sequel to The Nations) and Trail to Durang (post civil war). We are at 85,000 words on Blood Ivory and expect it to be out by the holidays.
One final question, I know at least one-third of my time creating a novel is spent in research. How much time do you spend on checking the facts, outlining the flow, and general research prep before you write down the words?
Well, one; we don’t do outlines, neither of us is locked into structure. We have a general concept of where the conflict will be…we brainstorm. Buck and I also often write out of sequence, like a particular event that actually may wind up in chapter 7 and we are working on chapter 2. Go figure. Strike while the iron is hot…never negate the muse. But, we have a start point and then just take off. Research “as we go” because we don’t always know how the story is going to turn out. We kinda turn the characters loose and see where they go. After all it’s the characters that tell the story. Sometimes they surprise even us.
They say to write what you know and Buck and I have a great deal of knowledge on both the military and western genres, but thank God for the internet―there’s no delay in research like in the old days when you had to go to the library and check out beau coup books. One of us may be writing while the other is looking up information.
Thanks for sharing with us guys. Where can we buy your books?
Thanks much, Bill, for thinking of us. Hope this information is helpful to others. We have four books on our web site, Amazon and elsewhere.
Black Eagle Force: Eye of the Storm
Black Eagle Force: Sacred Mountain
Return of the Starfighter
Amazon links: http://tinyurl.com/BuckStienke
To buy my books click on the following link: