I live in Arkadelphia, Arkansas with my wife of 37 years. Kathy is a professor in the education department at Ouachita Baptist University. We have two boys, Clint, who manages a restaurant in Dallas, and Rance, who works for Warner Bros. in Hollywood. I landed my first book deal 30 years ago and have written more than sixty books since in all kinds of different genres. My bestsellers included The Stories Behind The Best Loved Songs of Christmas, Stories Behind The Great Traditions of Christmas and Lassie A Dog’s Life.
Next, please give us a book blurb (or back cover or something) about The Yellow Packard.
Buckle up for intrigue and adventure in scenic Depression-era America. George Hall, a draftsman, buys a 1936 Packard sedan from the estate of spinster Abigale Watling in Oakwood, Illinois. At first, the car brings George, his wife Jean, and their daughter Rose an unexpected boon. But tragedy follows when Rose is kidnapped. The auto then comes into the possession of salesman William Landers, FBI agent Helen Meeker, and serviceman James Coffman’s family. As clues to the kidnapping caper come to light, more than one life is in jeopardy. Will Agent Meeker catch the culprit before it’s too late?
What was your favorite part of The Yellow Packard to write?
The biggest challenge was creating a book where a non-human literally drove the story. Thus, having the car as the lead was interesting. But, though I can’t go into detail, as it would give the story away, the last few pages, where the third and final mystery twist was revealed were my favorite. It was the first time as an author I had tears come into my eyes as I wrote. So that is a pretty touching and powerful scene in my mind.
How long did it take you to write The Yellow Packard?
Ah, that is like asking a magician to reveal his tricks! The actual writing and rewriting was about 6-7 weeks. Of course I thought about the book and played with ideas for a long time before that. I find writing a novel to go quickly as the characters start to create the story for you. It is the outline that seems to be the toughest part.
I always have trouble with outlines! What kind of research did you do? (Note: below, a Packard, found by googling "1936 Packard")
I had to get to know the era even better than I already did. I had to learn the hiring practices of the FBI and discover they didn’t have female agents then. I obviously had to know all about a 1936 Packard, including the layout of the assembly plant. I had to learn about fashion and the language or slang of the era.
What gave you the idea, or inspired you to write The Yellow Packard?
The credit goes to Barbour editor Rebecca Germany. She offered the challenge to have an object drive a book’s plot and examine people as they came in contact with that object. I gave her four of five different things to choose from and she chose the car. As Barbour wanted something historic, I put the story in the Great Depression. The story came from my head, as did the characters, so Rebecca gave me all the room I needed to be creative and then she assigned the wonderful Traci DePree to do the editing on the book. Traci made some great suggestions that I felt really enhanced the final product.
Ah, I guess I should have said "who"! Is there any special story about the cover?
The incredible artistic touch of Kirk DouPonce created that cover. He actually presented a couple of different looks and the final cover is a merger of those ideas. I can honestly say the front, back and spine capture the Art-Deco period perfectly. It is no doubt one of my favorite covers. He also did the cover for my novel Reich of Passage, and I love that as well. I hope he has a hand in some of my future covers.
Wow, I like them both, but that Reich of Passage is especially amazing! What do you enjoy most about being a published author?
There are so many things including getting to do my work from home and that gave me the opportunity to see my kids grow up. But likely it is just having an outlet for my storytelling. I have all these tales in my head and writing lets me get them out of my head and onto paper.
Do you have another book in the works yet?
I have three novels including The Yellow Packard that came out this fall. The other two are The Christmas Star and Reich of Passage. Two issue-oriented novels will be hitting the shelves in 2013, Darkness Before Dawn and The Cutting Edge. I have a devotional book that I am finishing now that will be out late next year. And I have a deal to write three more novels, a courtroom drama, a comedy- mystery and a Depression era romance. Those will likely be out in 2014.
Wowza! You are one busy man! I'll look forward to reading more of those. :) Your biggest fan and supporter is…
There are several, but if I had to narrow it down to one it would be a name from the entertainment world — Louise Mandrell. She is one of my best friends and was the person who pushed me into writing. She believed in my ability to tell a story long before editors and publishers did.
If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Why?
I have so much fun being me that I’m not sure I would want to become anyone else, but if I were forced to choose it would likely be the 40s-50s detective Richard Diamond. I like the way he was written for the radio. He was a bit wacky and had a great heart in his radio dramas.
What’s a book you recently enjoyed reading?
I am reading three books that deal with the parables of Christ and enjoying the different points of view from the authors. I’m really learning a lot.
What were your favorite books as a child?
I have one that stands out, Yellow Eyes. It was about a mountain lion. I read it in third grade for the first time and it just captured me. I also read all the Jules Verne books and every Sherlock Holmes book as well.
So glad you could come, Ace! Do you have a website where our readers can learn more about you?
www.acecollins.com. I am also easy to find on Facebook and my twitter comments can be found @AceCollins.
Thanks again for coming, Ace! I really enjoyed this interview.
Readers! Ace kindly offered a copy of Yellow Packard for a giveaway. Interested? You should be! It's a great book that you'll enjoy. Enter below, and good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway