Updated: Jul 12, 2019
Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today? Just a standard transmutation of lead into gold will do. Better yet, straw (writing budget, you know, even lead can get pricey). *Chuckles* Perhaps you've come to the wrong place. I'm not Rumpelstiltskin. He's next door. But tell me about this #historicalthriller The Sky Fall Conspiracy.
What makes a nation believe a lie? William Stephenson is an expert in mass media persuasion and propaganda. He watched the rise of Hitler on a mountain of lies, but Stephenson also believes that the Nazis can be undone by the same power that created them: propaganda. There is just one problem. All foreign broadcasts are illegal in Germany. At best Stephenson will have a day before the Nazi soldiers storm his radio station. It took Hitler over a decade to change the beliefs of the people; one day is not enough. Then something incredible happens. In less than one hour, The War of the Worlds broadcast convinces millions of Americans that aliens exist, and the world is coming to an end. Now, Stephenson races against the Nazis to discover the secrets of the Sky Fall before the Third Reich uses them to gather more allies for the coming war. Some say The War of the Worlds scare never happened, others promised it would never happen again. Dive deep in the history and science propaganda of persuasion as this conspiracy unfolds. Take a Look-Inside and discover what makes a nation believe a lie.
THIS. SOUNDS. EPIC. What kind of research did you have to do for this? Mostly, I studied propaganda techniques and advertising, and the two have a lot of cross over, particularly when you get into the psychology behind specific techniques. I also read a lot of World War Two books or those that take place during the 1930s.
Tell me a little more about your protagonist. I selected my protagonist from history itself. I read an old article in the New York Times about an interview with Ian Fleming (author of James Bond). In it, he mentions that Bond is just a fictional version of a spy, “William Stephenson is the real thing.” The idea that James Bond was based on a real person intrigued me, so I read up on him. Long before he was a spy, he specialized in propaganda research. He was a perfect fit for my story, so I plucked him right out of history.
Which one of your characters surprised you? My characters don’t surprise me. I’m a plotter. Plan things out. If something surprises the reader, it’s likely I brainstormed ideas until I found one that seemed surprising. I don’t write myself into corners, and the characters don’t get whimsical mid-chapter.
Who is your favorite (or least favorite) character, and why? My favorite is Silas Cooper, the antagonist. I worked hard to create a backstory so that it is easy for the audience to see that in his mind, he is the hero of his own story. He’s forced to do a lot of things he disagrees with and has a hard time doing it, but he believes the great goal is worth the sacrifice.
If you could time-travel, would you travel to the future or the past? Where would you like to go, and why would you choose that time period? The future. As much as I write historical fiction, I’m eager to see what new technology will bring us. I remember being filled with envy that a younger generation would grow up with podcasts and such easy access to audiobooks that I didn’t have.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? Nothing makes me feel more like a beggar or annoyance to my reader than reviews. They have probably heard this a thousand times, and a thousand times more, but leave a review. Readers have no idea how important that is to an author. It does more than make us feel good, it directly impacts how many people will click on ads, read the blurb, and ultimately buy the book. When it comes to reviews, I built a team of over 40 readers. Sent out early, free copies. Sent reminder emails, and more reminders emails and in the end, I got 2 reviews. We writers beg and plead, but most of the time our cries fall on deaf ears. Readers don’t understand how important it is. Some advertisers won’t even take our money if we don’t have enough reviews.
So very true...What can we expect from you next? I’m working on the last book in the series, from there I plan to change my psychological direction. This series has all been about mass media persuasion. Next, I will look at peer persuasion: how we influence each other—from celebrities to friends and family, how each relationship shapes our decisions and choices. Of course, it will be another historical thriller. My big pitch is that when people talk about peer pressure, they usually think it’s a teenager issue, but then I point out the events in Nazi Germany, and that changes the way they think about the issue. That’s how I write. I pick moments in history when we can look at an idea and see it entirely different, more profound, and powerful than people thought.
Well, thank you so much for stopping in to talk with me and good luck finding Rumpel, he's an elusive one.
Joe Bendoski studied psychology in college and was fascinated by all the insights it provided into human behavior, only to realize most information never reaches people, and when it does, rarely is it in a form that allows for practical application. He started writing non-fiction, but soon realized how few people read that genre and began the difficult transition to fiction writing. His non-fiction works include: the Chemistry of Attraction and the Language of Emotion. He worked as the head writer for the television show Saved by Grace. After being frustrated with comments like "make this scene cheaper," "What's my motivation?", and "Do we need this scene?" he decided to move into literature. You can connect with Joseph on
. And you can get a copy of The Sky Fall Conspiracy on