Interview with Carl j England

Author of Alphabet Soup

After 4 years in the military belonging of one of the "alphabet" agencies, I know how far these agencies will go to protect national security. I also know how far they will go to cover up their activities. It is from this perspective that I wrote Alphabet Soup.

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How would you describe Alphabet Soup to a new reader?
  • It is a mystery built around one of the various "Alphabet" Agencies within the government. Because of a few sexual situations, the book is recommended for 18+ readers.
What was the inspiration behind Alphabet Soup ?
  • I once belonged to one of the :Alphabet" Agencies and, though the main story line is fiction, some events described in the book are real.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
  • John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. His matter-of-fact writing style is a style I prefer while writing.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in the book?
  • The central location is San Antonio, Texas--specifically Lackland Air Force Base. The lead characters are instructors in a military technical school.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? How would you advise a new author about traditional publishing versus self publishing?
  • A traditional publisher will provide the editing and cover art for your book. They may provide some or all marketing. If your book is accepted by a traditional publisher (not a vanity publisher that will require you to pay to be published,) you can be sure that your work is "good enough" to be published. When you self-publish, you are responsible for editing and cover art. Good editing and art can be fairly expensive or, if you know the right people, it can be had very cheaply. I have taken both routes to publishing.
What's your writing process?
  • I always make a spreadsheet with all the character names, occupations, demeanor, etc. I include main events in the spreadsheet. As I write, I refer to the spreadsheet and add notes to keep the story line consistent. I try to stick to the spreadsheet while writing but sometimes my characters want to take the story in an entirely different direction. I rarely argue with my characters--they usually know the story better than I do.
Which character in Alphabet Soup has had the greatest impact on readers?
  • Mark Hill is the person who discovers the government cover-up and he has the most to lose if he cannot solve the mystery.
If Alphabet Soup were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
  • Elyes Gabel would be my choice for an actor to portray Mark Hill. He reminds me a lot of myself (back when I was a lot younger and better looking.)
How have readers responded to Alphabet Soup?
  • I have had a lot of positive comments (mainly from people I know.) I have had mainly positive reviews on Amazon. I did get one negative review, but even a negative review is better than none.
Where next? What are you working on now?
  • My next book, Code Breaker, will be released soon. It is the second book in the Alphabet Soup series. Both books are "complete." By that, I am saying that they don't end in cliff-hangers. Either book can be read and enjoyed without having to read the other. The second book begins when the government suddenly takes an interest in Mark Hill seven years later.
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Our government is populated with a myriad of agencies referred to only by their initials. Within each of these "Alphabet" agencies are countless other agencies, each of them adding to the "Soup." Three members of an elite, secret team have stumbled upon a mystery. What actually happened while they were on a temporary assignment in Biloxi, Mississippi? Holly remembers the trip to Biloxi one way, but Mark remembers the events entirely differently. And Larry—well Larry can't even remember being there. There is only one possible explanation—someone has tampered with and/or erased their memories. What could have happened in Biloxi that was so terrible that such extreme measures would be necessary? The clues: Before Larry's memories were erased, he sent emails to himself, Holly and Mark. Each of the emails contained links to encrypted files. Once those files were decrypted, they would form a puzzle that only the three of them can piece together. But there is at least one person who is willing to do anything to prevent that puzzle from being assembled. Holly, Mark and Larry race against the clock just to stay alive while attempting to solve the mystery.