I'm kicking off a new week with an interview with Roy A. Teel Jr. He's created a new 30-book crime series and is touring the first novel, Rise of The Iron Eagle.
On May 11, 1995, at 30, Roy’s life was irrevocably changed. After walking into the hospital, he was admitted and later received the worst possible diagnosis – Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. His doctors gave him two years to live, and he left the hospital in a wheelchair. After battling Multiple Sclerosis for nearly 16 years, Roy began devoting his energies and passions to the full-time art of storytelling. His disability has brought with it an unforeseen blessing. He can finally take medications to alleviate some of the pain from his MS and focus on the pleasures of character creation and the joys of putting words to paper.
As an author, Roy A. Teel Jr. is very diverse, and his works include both fiction and nonfiction. His previous works include The Way, The Truth, and The Lies: How the Gospels Mislead Christians about Jesus’ True Message (2005); Against The Grain: The American Mega-Church and its Culture of Control (2008); Light of Darkness: Dialogues in Death (2008); and And God Laughed (2013).
In 2014, Roy began publishing his latest and largest project – a 30-book geographically-centered hard-boiled, mystery, suspense, thriller crime series: The Iron Eagle Series. The main character, a former Marine Corps Black Operative turned rogue FBI agent, hunts serial killers in Los Angeles. Each novel addresses different subjects, and while fiction, all titles deal with real world subject matter. The Iron Eagle Series is not about things that can’t hurt you. What happens in these novels can happen to any one of us if we let our guard down and/or are in the wrong place at the wrong time. To learn more, go to http://ironeagleseries.com/
Roy lives in Lake Arrowhead, CA with his wife Tracy, their dog Sanford (Sandy), and their Tabby cat Oscar, who runs the house.
Rise of The Iron Eagle is the first book in The Iron Eagle Series.
The city of Los Angeles is no stranger to violence. It has both a colorful and grotesque history with it. Sheriff's Homicide Detective Jim O'Brian and FBI Profiler Special Agent Steve Hoffman are also no strangers to the violence of the sprawling metropolis, but in the past decade, something has changed. There's a serial killer preying on other serial killers – some known by law enforcement, others well off radar. "The Iron Eagle," a vigilante, extracts vengeance for the victims of Los Angeles' serial killers. His methods are meticulous, and his killings brutal. With each passing day, "The Iron Eagle" moves with impunity through the streets of Los Angeles in search of his prey. O'Brian and Hoffman create an elite task force with the sole purpose of catching "The Eagle" and bringing him to justice. But the deeper they delve, the more apparent it is that he may very well be one of their own. As the two men stare into the abyss of their search, the eyes of "The Iron Eagle" stare back.
Is The Iron Eagle a psychotic serial killer or a new breed of justice?
*Content Warning: The Iron Eagle crime novel series contains mature subject matter, graphic violence, sexual content, language, torture, and other scenes that may be disturbing to sensitive readers. This series is not intended for anyone under the age of eighteen. Reader discretion is advised.
Praise for Rise of The Iron Eagle:
“Rise of The Iron Eagle is a gripping crime fiction that is both brutal and hard hitting, and will keep readers glued to the very end. The narration is descriptive and spine-chillingly honest… The story leaves readers gasping with its horror, killings and crime. The scenes are raw and riveting, and the plot is fast paced. This is a must-read for all those who like crime fiction.” - Reviewed by ReadersFavorite.com
“Mr. Teel, Jr.’s writing about criminals is like what Stephen King does for horror – leaves a lasting impression and horrifies while weaving a tale that one can’t step away from… Rise of The Iron Eagle is dark, gritty, compelling and powerful.” – Reviewed by Long and Short Reviews
“Dexter fans may find their new anti-hero in Roy A. Teel Jr.’s pulpy crime thriller… Jeff Lindsay’s classic novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, gave rise to a completely new kind of protagonist – a serial killer that hunts serial killers. Roy A. Teel Jr.’s “Rise of The Iron Eagle” is proof that even the best ideas can be improved upon.” - Reviewed by BestThrillers.com
What inspired you to write this book?
The Iron Eagle was birthed by my imagination through tragedy after one of my schoolmates and friends was murdered by serial killer William Bonin, aka The Freeway Killer, on Memorial Day, 1979. From that moment on, I imagined a person who could protect people of all ages, sexes, races, and creeds from predators. The idea for the series would elude me for over 30 years until several life events encroached on my own life and people who are close to me. I was also inspired by the men and women who work in law enforcement, both state and federal. I was a partner in a commercial collection agency and repossession company for over three decades, and in that time, we worked alongside law enforcement, executing judgments and court orders, and because of our deep connections in the world of skip tracing (finding people), we would often find people that law enforcement was looking for, and we would often pass information on to assist in their investigations. After being forced to retire on disability in 2011 due to progressive multiple sclerosis, I was able to sit down with those experiences, and The Iron Eagle series of novels was born.
Excerpt from Rise of The Iron Eagle:
From the Opening of Chapter 8
John walked into Starbucks at the corner of Topanga and Lassen just before six thirty a.m. He got a coffee and a copy of the Daily News, and the headline said it all, “‘Billy the Kid,’ Crips Gang Member and Serial Rapist, Body Found in Legion Park: Iron Eagle Said to Be Killer.” He shook his head, “I should really start looking for the people who leak this stuff.” He walked to a flower shop a few doors down to purchase a dozen long-stemmed red roses. His truck was parked in front of Country Deli, a local landmark for nearly fifty years. He knew the area very, very well, but he knew it for all the wrong reasons. He pulled out of the lot and headed west through the neighborhoods of oak and eucalyptus trees, following Lassen as it turned from a busy thoroughfare into a quiet neighborhood of post-World War II homes and horse properties, until he reached the entrance to Oakwood Cemetery.
He parked his truck outside the large black wrought iron gates and the ivy covered brick walls of the cemetery and walked through the entrance and up the steep incline of the main road. He walked past a blue and white striped tent; a small backhoe sat quietly where fresh earth had been moved, and a concrete burial vault sat on the ground next to the newly-opened grave. He walked out into the cemetery grass and stopped in front of a grave marker set beneath a huge California Live Oak. He looked at the gray and white granite and its inscription, ‘Amber Lynn Swenson.’ He knelt and brushed away the fresh cut grass, so the whole inscription was revealed. ‘Loving Wife and Beautiful Soul. April 8, 1978 – March 20, 2003.’ Placing the flowers on the stone, he sat down, leaning his back against the tree. “I miss you, honey. I miss my best friend. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long.” He heaved a sigh as a tear rolled down his face, and he whispered, “I’m still looking for him, Amber Lynn. For the man who took your life and our life together away.” He wiped the tears from his eyes, his lower lip quivering. “I know I’ve told you, and I don’t know if you are somewhere where you can hear me or not, but I’m sorry. If I had just been on time that night, he wouldn’t have gotten you.” He wiped the stone with a handkerchief from his pocket and laughed. “You always made fun of me for being old fashioned … but you were glad I had it the night I asked you to marry me. How could I know that this same piece of linen that dried your tears of joy at our engagement would later dry my tears of sorrow at your funeral.” John paused for a moment, his anger rising up. “He’s still out there, Amber, hurting women and children. I can’t let that continue. I will find him…and I will avenge you and all the others he’s tortured and killed. He’s a sly one; so far below the radar not even law enforcement sees his pattern or knows that he even exists. The randomness of his killings and the large area that he covers is his protection. I thought I had him with Roskowski. He was evil but wasn’t the man who did this to you.”
He stood up and walked toward the unmarked piece of land next to Amber’s headstone. “This is my spot, baby, right next to you. I’m not afraid of death…I’m afraid of dying before I catch him and bring him to justice.” He leaned down on his hands and knees and gently touched his lips to her name. “Rest, my angel. The next time I come back, it’ll be to tell you that I got him.”
What exciting story are you working on now?
The Iron Eagle Series is scheduled to span 30 novels. I am currently writing book 14, tentatively titled, Equality in Mercy. The novel takes the characters in The Iron Eagle series into the dark and sinister world of psychology and psychoanalysis, as well as hypnotherapy, where a killer (or maybe more than one) lurks, preying on unsuspecting victims by manipulating their minds and emotions. The novel, while fiction, deals with real world issues of what can happen when those that are supposed to help heal the mind and emotions don’t, and instead use their powers of persuasion and their education to the detriment of their patients and society. It is a diabolical thriller that will keep my readers on the edge of their seats and perhaps make them look a little more carefully at those in the psychological profession.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been writing my whole life. I am a musician. I have played drums since I was six years old and started writing song lyrics in my preteen years. Now, looking at the fact that I just turned 50 this past March, I am feeling really old. I started to write professionally in 1996. It was a daunting task to write both fiction and nonfiction works in what little spare time I had while running a multi-million dollar company. I worked very, very hard to gain both a publisher and agent through hundreds of queries for over ten years, hitting nothing but walls of rejection.
In 2004, I was completing my dissertation for my Doctorate in Biblical Studies and was being rejected by all of the major Christian publishing houses, and a friend suggested that I self-publish. Now, let me tell you, that was one hard pill to swallow, but I also realized that the only way the world would hear my voice was to take the leap. So, in December of 2005, I started Narroway Publishing LLC/Imprint: Narroway Press and published my first book. Since then, I have published 15 titles (including the first 11 books in The Iron Eagle Series); however, I did not recognize myself as a professional author/writer until quite recently.
On December 30, 2014, I was accepted as a member of the Authors Guild. I had applied for membership several times over the years. Being accepted into the Guild is no easy feat. You have to be a proven author, who has had success in writing, who writes quality books, and has a proven track record of both publications and earnings (and my earnings just met the Guild’s standards.) So, after a very, very lengthy vetting process, I was notified on that date that I had been accepted into the Guild. To me, that was the turning point. I was being acknowledged by my peers as a professional author/writer, and that was the day I became a professional author/writer.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write, and how do you find time to write?
I am now a full-time novelist after retiring in 2011. Living with a wasting disease like MS has its own challenges. My wife (the love of my life and my caregiver) and I have a daily routine to help me get my feet on the floor and get my hands and fingers moving in order to write and get around. I am fully ambulatory, and most people who meet me have no idea I have MS. This is both blessing and curse. So, our day starts off with certain exercises and stretching to wake up those parts of my body ravaged by the disease. I usually begin my writing day around one p.m. The very first thing I do is READ! I can’t write a word until I have read. I take an hour to read news, fiction, and nonfiction, so that I am current on the day’s events worldwide and have allowed my mind to exercise and begin the creative process.
Then, my wife and I have lunch, and I put my butt in the chair, and I write. In the case of The Iron Eagle Series, I have written 13 novels in a little over a year. The secret to writing is quite simple. If you park your rear in the chair with whatever down time you have, the words will come, and before you know it, you will have a manuscript. I try very hard to stop writing by eight p.m., but my wife and I tend to run over that, and I also tend to write at night. One of the curses of MS is the inability to sleep due to pain, so I am usually up until three or four a.m.
During that time, I try to catch up on fan email, respond on social media, read, and write. I have to be careful writing at night, though. I tend to stay glued to my seat, and there has been many an occasion when my wife has woken up from a full night’s sleep and found me still sitting at my computer. She scolds me then sends me off to bed to get what sleep I can with the help of my pain medication.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write linearly, meaning I write all of my books from the beginning to the end. I don’t know who is doing what. The characters show me as I write my books. My crazy writing quirk is that I write all of my novels on the front and back of return envelopes that come in the mail. My outline, my characters, my scenes, all on a single plain white window envelope. It drove my wife crazy at first. She would just look at me and my scribbled envelopes and ask, “How on earth can you keep anything straight?” I don’t know, but it works for me. My wife earned her MFA in English and creative writing from UC Irvine in 2001, the third best writing program in the country at the time. She is my editor and harshest critic, but now she just laughs at my envelopes, which fill a black binder, in their protective sheet holders, each with a single envelope outlining each book.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At first, an astronaut. There was only one problem – I was afraid of the elevator that would take me to the capsule. It was a strange fear that I grew out of, but as a little kid, being launched in a rocket into space was a cool idea. The elevator, not so much. Then, as my interest and love of music evolved, I wanted to play professionally as a musician, a dream I did accomplish from 1979-1983 as a studio drummer in Hollywood. I didn’t really have a childhood (that’s a story for another time), and for those few years I was living my dream, which had to be halted when my son was born in 1983. From 17 on, I wanted to be in business, a goal I succeeded at and am proud of.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
No matter what your situation might be, I am living proof that with hard work and determination you can move mountains. Will you fall and fail? Of course, but through those experiences you get stronger. Accept constructive criticism. Use it to better yourself and your craft. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. There will always be those who want to bring you down and beat you up. You must rise above it. Despite your background and/or upbringing, if you have struggled your whole life like I did, continue to dare to dream. Ignore the ignorant people. You can accomplish great things, and you can overcome even the darkest of situations as long as you surround yourself with positive people and role models. And even if you are walking the road of life alone right now, walk it with your head held high and your eyes clear and focused on your dreams and goals. If you do that, you will achieve more in your life than the majority of people ever do.
Thanks for being here today, Roy! Happy writing!