Author Spotlight: C.J. Williams

This week, let’s welcome author C.J. Williams and his new book Rise of the Aces:

CJWilliams

About C.J. Williams

Aspiring author. Mobile Logistics Technician. Husband. Father. Huge geek. Whovian. Gamer. Pun Master. Motormouth. Walking quotes/trivia dispenser. Excessive punctuation user.

Hello C.J.! Tell us all sorts of stuff about your book!

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What is your book about?

“Rise of the Aces” tells the story of Lucas Decker, one of thousands of people worldwide who suddenly and mysteriously developed superpowers—the Aces. He’s just trying to live his normal life, flying under the radar to avoid being placed on a government watch list. But his whole world falls apart when he’s involved in a deadly accident that gives him the power of another Ace…along with his memories. Unfortunately for Lucas, the dead man was digging into a conspiracy surrounding the origin of their superpowers. Now, not only does Big Brother know about him, but he’s also being targeted by a powerful, sinister organization that will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

 

How did you come up with the story?

The original concept was a cross between Battle Royale and the Hunger Games; I had the idea of a random assortment of people being given one superhuman ability each and being forced to fight to the death, with each kill granting you the power of the person you defeated. In trying to flesh out a plot surrounding what I thought was a pretty neat concept, I thought of questions like “Who’s making them do this? How did they get the powers?” and it morphed into its current form.

 

What makes this story different than other group-superhero/mutant stories?

Well, it’s not that often you see someone with the ability to kill others and steal their powers, and when you do, they’re usually a singular entity in their universe (Sylar from Heroes being a good example). I thought it would be uniquely terrifying to live in a world where anyone who has an ability can do it to someone else. And to my knowledge, I’ve never seen the power-stealing thing paired with absorbing the dead person’s memories, especially not cumulatively.

 

Which character(s) do you most identify with and why?

There’s a little bit of me in every character, to a greater or lesser degree. If I had to pick one, I probably identify most with Lucas; his sense of humor is much like mine, and I would probably act in a very similar fashion in his situation. I’d have about a million more questions about stuff though!

 

What is your writing process like?

It involves massive amounts of procrastination. ;) For shorter works, I can write off the cuff and just make it up as I go along. For a bigger project like this, though, I write out a sort of outline ahead of time. It includes a short paragraph describing each character’s traits and motivations, as well as any secrets they’re keeping. Then there’s also a brief list of scenes that need to happen in the order they should occur. As I progress through the book, it gives me a sense of what I need to cover in the part I’m currently writing and where I should be heading next. As for while I’m working, I listen to music at a low volume—typically instrumental so I don’t have lyrics bouncing around in my head while I’m trying to think of words. Dubstep or EDM usually work really well.

 

What do you snack on while you write?

Not much in the way of snacks, as such. Candy, cookies, or potato chips, if anything. I almost always have water, tea, soda, or alcoh…er, liquid inspiration on hand, though.

 

What are some of your favorite books? Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve been a longtime fan of horror writers, mainly King, Koontz, and Lovecraft. My first love, though, will always be comedy, which is why my favorite authors are Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. I also have a man crush on Harry Dresden, so gotta give Jim Butcher credit too. And of course, J.K. Rowling, because Harry Potter is a fantastic series.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Making terrible puns! In addition, I’m a huge fan of sci-fi movies and TV shows. I love Doctor Who. I’m an avid gamer, so I’m never too far from a controller. I also have a day job that takes up more of my writing time than I’d prefer, but I’m sure I’m far from the only independent writer who feels that way!

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Thanks for dropping by, C.J.! You can connect with C.J. on Facebook!

The book is Rise of the Aces.

 AcesCover

It’s available in eBook and Paperback editions at Amazon, or view the book trailer.

What if you woke up one day with a superpower?

What if thousands of others around the world did the same?

And what if they would stop at nothing to take your power for themselves?

For Lucas Decker, part of a group of people with strange abilities known as Aces, there is only one answer: hide. Hide your ability, stay under the radar, and hope nobody notices you. But when a deadly accident leaves him with the ability and memories of another Ace, he’s caught up in a dangerous conspiracy that may expose the origin of their mysterious powers…if it doesn’t kill him first. Now, with the help of Angela Cross, an agent for the enigmatic Veil Network, he must uncover the truth while trying to stay one step ahead of government agents, other Aces eager to kill him for his power, and a sinister, shadowy organization trying to silence him by any means necessary.

 

I had the pleasure of being a beta reader for the book and enjoyed it thoroughly. Check out my review here.


Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

David ducked through the warehouse door and slammed it behind him. He was sweating despite the chilly temperature, his gasping breaths pluming out in the frigid air. He knew his pursuers couldn’t be far behind him. I need to buy some time, he thought. Making sure the door was closed completely, he gripped the doorknob tightly. Seconds later, the metal knob began to glow red, and intense heat channeled through the steel and into the latch. In moments, the interior of the mechanism was molten metal; he released his hand and it quickly cooled, hardening into an immovable lump of fused steel. David took a second to catch his breath, but his respite was short-lived as he heard footsteps in the alley outside, followed by the rattling of someone futilely trying the ruined doorknob.

“He’s jammed the door!” a male voice yelled from the other side. “Get Zakhar!”

Not wanting to find out who or what Zakhar was, David sprinted rapidly away from the door, running for the opposite side of the building, hoping he would find another exit. The interior of the warehouse was dim, full of metal shelves forming tight corridors, and the floor was cluttered; in his haste, his foot caught on something and he fell to the floor, his knees slamming painfully down on the concrete before he caught himself with his hands. He cried out in pain, but heard an impossibly loud banging noise from the direction of the door behind him. No time to be hurt right now! Got to move! He quickly scrambled back to his feet and resumed his panicked run across the building.

The booming sound from behind him repeated, this time accompanied by a horrible screeching. It took him a moment to recognize the sound of tortured metal–something was banging on the door hard enough to bend it. He didn’t have long before they would be in the building. David reached the far wall, but he didn’t see another side door. Frantically running along the wall toward the corner of the building, he hoped he might find a way out in the next wall, but his path was blocked by some heavy metal shelving, stacked high with boxes.

Just then, a loud shriek echoed across the cavernous space, followed by a resounding metallic clang. He couldn’t see the door he had entered from, but he guessed that it had just been knocked out of its frame by whatever force had been pounding on it. Looking around for somewhere to run or hide, he saw a set of metal stairs leading up to some narrow walkways overhead. He dashed up the stairs, feet pounding on the steps. As he neared the top, he heard a few gunshots, and a bullet struck the railing near his foot. David turned in the direction of the sounds and saw a small group of people in gray combat gear gathered around the breached doorway. A few of them had rifles raised and aimed in his direction.

He held up his open palms and began making slinging motions, as if he were pitching baseballs at his assailants. Small, blindingly bright balls of red-hot flame leapt from his hands and flew across the open space. Some of the fireballs splashed to the floor, splattering small fires in multiple directions and igniting a few boots. At least one fireball struck a shooter square in the chest; the man’s vest burst into flames and he dropped the rifle as he fell to the floor, rolling around and screaming as he tried to smother the fire.

David tossed a few more fireballs, scattering the group in multiple directions as the men ran to escape the flames. One man ran to the warped steel door lying on the floor. As David watched, the man picked up the thick door with one hand–as if it weighed nothing–and threw it at his head with unbelievable speed. He barely had time to duck under it. That almost took my head off! The attacker started toward a group of shelves; David decided he didn’t need to stick around to guess what would happen next. He sprinted down the walkway, taking turns whenever he could, hearing more occasional gunshots and silently praying he wouldn’t feel a bullet tearing through him.

What he felt instead was a tremendous shuddering in the floor beneath his feet as something heavy struck the walkway a few steps behind him. The tremors from the impact were so violent that he staggered and fell into a kneeling position, grimacing as his already-bruised knee struck the metal. He pulled himself back up with the railings and glanced behind him. A tangled mess of metal was hanging from one side of the walkway; after a moment, David realized he was looking at one of the shelves. It had apparently been thrown hard enough to deform the walkway at the point of impact. Good thing I wasn’t planning on going back that way, he thought, staring at the warped jumble of steel bars.

Seeing that the shooters were regrouping, he tossed a few more fireballs at them. His accuracy suffered at this distance, but his attack scattered them, and every second they weren’t shooting at him increased his chance of escape. He turned and ran to the next corner, but as he rounded it, the platform started shaking again. This time, though, it wasn’t a sudden hit but a gradually increasing motion as if an earthquake was happening…although the rest of the building seemed stable. Confused, David looked for the source of the trouble and saw the man who had thrown the door standing beneath a pair of supports for the catwalk. He was gripping them in his hands and moving his arms rapidly; the steel was vibrating with every movement. The platform was shaking so badly that David found it difficult to keep up the pace without stumbling, and he finally had to slow to a walk due to his unsteady footing.

Then he saw it–a door below him in a nearby wall. Desperate to escape his situation, he moved as fast as he dared along the metal catwalk. He reached a point directly above a clearing in the shelves just inside the door, but he didn’t see any stairs leading down in this part of the warehouse. A few more bullets struck nearby, and he felt a searing pain as one grazed his arm. Out of time! Without giving it a second thought, David threw his leg over the steel railing, pulled the other one up after him, and dropped to the floor below. He landed hard, knocking the breath from his lungs, and making his bruised legs throb in protest. Trying to ignore the shooting pain in his side, he rose quickly and ran for the door.

As he reached for the handle, it turned on its own and the door suddenly swung open, hitting him in the face and sending him sprawling to the floor again. His head impacted the concrete, and he saw stars. Stunned, he looked up through blurry eyes to see a tall, thin, blond man in the doorway. The young man stepped through the doorway and stood over David, looking down with a smile devoid of any humor. David started to push himself up off the floor.

“Oh, don’t get up on my account,” said the newcomer in a crisp voice with a faint accent David couldn’t place. He gestured with one hand to a set of shelves, which tilted and fell over onto David’s legs and stomach, painfully crushing him against the cold floor of the warehouse as their contents rained down around him. He gasped out a labored breath as the man crouched down next to him.

“Got him,” he called to the gunmen. Turning to David, he smiled, though the expression didn’t reach his cold blue eyes. “Well. You put up a good fight. And to think, you almost got away with it.” He shook his head sadly, still wearing that chilly smile.

“What do you…want from me?” David gasped, having trouble breathing beneath the weight of the shelves.

“Come on, David. You already know the answer to that, don’t you?” he said, leaning in closer. He braced himself against the fallen rack, putting additional pressure on David’s pinned body. His voice lowered to nearly a whisper as he said, “ I want you to die and pass your power on to me.” He spoke up as he continued. “The ability to control fire is quite useful. As I’m sure you already know, and as you just proved against my men.” He gestured in the direction of the far side of the building. “I think you might have killed Jacobson. And even if you didn’t, he won’t be useful in combat for a long time.”

“Please…” David gasped, barely able to speak. “Don’t…kill…me…”

The blond man clicked his tongue disapprovingly and shook his head again in mock sadness. “Now, now, David. It’s not that I want to kill you. It’s nothing personal. You understand that I’m only doing this because I need to, right?” He took his hand off the shelves, relieving the worst of the pressure on David, although not enough for him to extricate himself from it. He watched as the man peeled off one of his gloves and held his bare hand flat, as if he was about to karate chop something.

“Relax. I’ll make this quick,” he said, his icy eyes fixed on David’s. He laid the flat of his hand against the fallen man’s throat and drew it across in a quick motion like a knife slicing. David was shocked to feel the bare hand open his throat just as a blade would have done. He gurgled a pitiful last few breaths, his final sight on earth that of the blond man pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping David’s blood off the bottom edge of his finger.

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