Thursday, August 14, 2014

Interview with Ralph Sanborn, author of China Red


Title: China Red
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Author: Ralph Sanborn
Publisher: iUniverse
EBook: 292 pages
Release Date: April 8, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-47598-293-0

Heroin, called “China Red” on the street, is being smuggled into the United States. Zhou Jing—who fancies himself a fifteenth-century Chinese warlord, is using Muslim Uighers in western China to produce the heroin. In exchange, Zhou arms, trains, and provides security from the Chinese government for the Uighers. Caleb Frost is a professional assassin in a deep cover, black operations team that specializes in wet work. His team includes two ex-Navy SEALs and a Greek beauty and former New York City escort. Funded by the US government, the team operates autonomously in total secrecy. China hires Caleb’s team to destroy, with prejudice, the smuggling operation in the US. Zhou’s partner is a brilliant, psychopathic killer—a Harvard Business School graduate named Wrath. He founded the Visigoths MC, a hard riding, vicious motorcycle gang which protects, delivers, and collects payment for the heroin shipments. When matters become personal and Caleb’s sister Rebecca is kidnapped, the team’s task gets messier. It becomes more than an “assassination engagement” for Caleb—it becomes a bloodthirsty vendetta. “This tornado of a thriller drags the reader into a world of guns, bombs, swords and death and won’t let go.” -Rob Swigart, Author of The Delphi Agenda “China Red plunges the reader into a world of evil intrigue and high adventure. You won’t be able to put it down." -Antoinette May, author of The Sacred Well, Pilate’s Wife, and Haunted Houses of California


What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?

Because of the thriller/violence/villains  content my siblings wonder if we were raised with the same family values.  My children are impressed that I am actually finishing what I start. My wife is horrified at the cost and the lack of return on the investment – but she loves me and supports the effort. She doesn’t like my books, however.  Strangers and friends alike seem to think that writing a book is something special and I get points. You do become something of a local celebrity—or oddity. Everyone wants to know if it’s going to be a movie. 

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

Absolutely. Both. Any author who does not have a “Writing Group” is missing the boat. Our group meets every two weeks for six hour. Noon to six. And then we go out to dinner for a couple more hours. The conversation about each other’s very different books never stops.

A couple key words of advice I have for new writers is  find a group of talented, published, compassionate, leaderless writers with WIP. If there is a leader you have egos and “experts” who want it their way. You want frankness, but not domineering know it alls.

Beta readers, to me, are not editors (I love editors, by the way)they are articulate people who love reading and love reading your genre. If they are entertained. If they have retained the messages. If they have noticed some issues. Listen to them and take their comments seriously.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

I learned that nothing works out as you thought it would. I don’t know how authors who outline their stories in advance deal with the fascination I get watching the story unfold. I had a woman quit China Red because she said it wasn’t working for her. She left. My office door opened and a young woman came in. “Hi, my name is Rebecca. I’m Caleb’s sister. I’m a drug addict,” she announced. 

Sitting in cafes and eavesdropping helped me develop different speech patterns and the music of speech. 

I learned that researching my books was second most fun after writing.

How do you describe your writing style?

Punchy. Rhythmic. Sardonic, more humorous than disdainful.  Short sentences, paragraphs and chapters – as a rule. Memorable characters, plot and action.

Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?

As a new author I do not have a large crowd of followers. However some of the questions are about my social issues. Arte they actually current (yes) and will Wrath, the Brown Man, and several other characters return (probably not).


Ralph Sanborn was raised in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and earned a degree in psychology from St. Lawrence University. He has lived in several different countries and worked in a variety of manufacturing and software enterprise marketing capacities. He currently lives in Northern California with his wife, Susan, and their two dogs.

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