Adam Rocke, co-author with Mark Rogers of The Death Dealer, answers a few questions on the blog...
First, a bit about Adam Rocke ....
Inspired by Hunter S. Thompson's "gonzo journalism," Adam's unusual skill set (firearms/weaponry expert, tactical/CQB training) combined with hardcore adrenaline junkie tendencies resulted in countless high octane articles for hip men’s lifestyle publications. When editors had a wild story idea that could get a journalist maimed or killed, Adam was the go-to scribe. Somehow he always came back alive and intact—with the story!
These participatory adventures resulted in Adam being shot, stabbed, tazed, stun-gunned, maced, sapped, zapped, brass knuckled, pepper-sprayed, arm-barred, knee-barred, knocked out, choked out, body-slammed, roundhouse-kicked and water-boarded long before "enhanced interrogation" became a household term.
Adam has dived for pirate treasure in the Caribbean, hunted for poachers in Africa, played poker with cartel kingpins in Juarez, scouted for UFOs in the Sonora Desert, raced in the Baja 1000 and the Gumball Rally, swam with great white sharks sans cage, jumped out of a plane sans parachute (and sanity!), and taken part in Sasquatch safaris, Chupacabra sojourns and other “crypto-quests” around the world.
I see from your lively biography that you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie (an understatement), how did you manage to stay still long enough to collaborate with Mark Rogers on your latest book?
You're right, I do have a hard time sitting still—although I find taking it easy is becoming more enjoyable as I get older! But this is a story that I definitely wanted to tell, at least in some capacity, and partnering with Mark was the ideal scenario as it resulted in a truly awesome finished project—story, characters... I know I'm biased but it's a helluva read!
How did the collaboration with Mark come about? Did you know each other from before?
I didn't know Mark prior to The Death Dealer. I read something of his—not sure what, it's been that long—but I know I was really impressed by how he attacked a story and layered his characters. Plus, I had different variations of The Death Dealer story in my head for the longest time and I was absolutely certain it needed work... Needed a fresh set of eyes and different sensibilities and experiences to go from a story that was just okay to something that was really special. As soon as Mark and I started discussing it, I knew the end result was going to be something we'd both be proud of.
The book – The Death Dealer - can you pitch it to potential readers in a short paragraph?
I'd pitch it as The Billionaire Boys Club meets The Most Dangerous Game
Briefly... Millennial trust fund billionaire Joe Sinclair has checked off every item on his bucket list except one — he wants to know what it's like to kill a man. With a former mercenary as their guide, Joe and his three best friends travel to the Dark Continent for the kind of safari you'll never find in travel brochures.
How long from conception to completion did it take?
We wrote the screenplay first, and that took a number of months to refine and polish. Mark wrote the first draft of the novel, and then we just kept taking turns, tweaking here and there. But it's been a few years all told from where we started to the manuscript that's being published on August 26th.
Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the road along the way?
Any creative differences that you can tell us about?
This was, without question, the easiest and best time I've ever had collaborating with another writer. By and large, I'm not very fond of collaborative projects. I've just never "played well" with others. I think what worked so well in this instance is that Mark and I are two very different people, with very different life experiences. But we both love to travel, we both love adventures of all types, and we both love to write. There weren't any hiccups between us at any stage of the process. Quite the contrary. Any time one of us had an idea, that idea spring-boarded the other into building on that thought. It sounds too easy, I know, but it was truly enjoyable every step of the way.
Did it end up being the book you anticipated at the start of the process?
No, it turned out much better—with far more interesting characters—than I thought it ever would. That's the truth. "Most Dangerous Game"-type stories are a case of been there, seen that. They're a dime a dozen. But The Death Dealer really turned into something special. It's not just an action/adventure. Or an action/thriller. It's a very real story with very real characters. And it poses some hard questions about life and morality that I think people will appreciate.
Apparently, it’s loosely based around a rather shady character no longer with us?
Did you know this man?
The mercenary in our story, "The Death Dealer," is based on a real life mercenary/criminal/con
man/soldier by the name of Jonathan Keith Idema. I know JK Idema since I was a kid; he was my "dark arts" Yoda, teaching me all about self-defense, how to shoot, CQB tactics... And yeah, he definitely was a shady character. But I knew a different side of Idema. He loved animals, especially dogs, and he always stood up for the underdog, no matter what the situation. He also never backed down from a fight, and he was definitely not someone you wanted to fuck with, that's for sure.
*Jonathan Idema - Wikipedia
You’ve been published before – several Shag-party cocktail books? – not something I’m familiar with, what can you tell us about them? I have to say your latest The Death Dealer seems a bit of a departure from your previous ventures into publishing.
I've been fortunate to play in many different genres. Growing up, my family owned a resort hotel in Upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where I learned to bartend. So when I was just getting started as a writer, before paying gigs were readily available, I tended bar to make ends meet. I came up with a wild idea for a cocktail guide, combined with my crazy Hollywood stories, and that resulted in a publishing deal with Surrey Books. Ultimately, I would publish seven books with Surrey—six were illustrated by renowned "kitsch culture" artist, Shag (real name Josh Agle). The books did very well—more about Shag's artwork than my drinks!
On your writing in general, do you have a typical writing schedule? Do you write every day?
I try to write every day, and for the last few years I've been blessed to have numerous projects going that keep me busy on a daily basis.
Have you swapped your life of adventure for a more sedentary existence now? Is the PC and keyboard your new playground?
I've definitely slowed down... My body doesn't recover nearly as quickly as it used to. That's not to say I don't enjoy a high octane storyline every now and again, but when it comes to getting beaten up or knocked around for the sake of a story, no—those I'm really not interested in tackling anymore. However, if it involves shooting (like competing in a sniper competition), or testing a hot new sports car on the track, or checking out a great diving destination, sign me up!
What can we look forward to next? Another collaboration with Mark?
Mark and I have talked at length about both a prequel and a sequel to The Death Dealer. Hopefully, the public (and Hollywood!) responds well to the novel and we're "forced" to give it another go!
What are the last five books you’ve read?
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen
Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans by A.J. Baime
SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper by Howard Wasdin & Stephen Templin
Silat for the Street by Burton Richardson
What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?
Blade Runner 2049 was absolutely brilliant in every respect!
TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Rocke household?
There are a number of TV shows that I really like. Ozark, Animal Kingdom, Billions, The OA... and I truly loved Bloodline and Justified.
Random question time…..
What’s your favourite vegetable?
Although I typically don't like vegetables that require me to "work" to eat them, I really like artichokes—although it's a toss-up between 'chokes and oyster mushrooms.
When did you last have a fistfight?
Pretty funny experience, actually... About five months ago I was playing poker at a small card club in Ventura, CA. One guy at the table was more than a little drunk and more than a little bad at playing poker. Okay, I'm being kind—he positively SUCKED at poker. And I'm sure being shit-hammered didn't help. Anyway, he lost three or four big pots in a row to me, and then on the fifth hand, after he folded to my all-in bet, I showed him and everyone else at the table a stone-cold bluff. That really got him froggy. About a half-hour later, when I went to leave, he followed me into the parking lot. He had a buddy with him, and they were both pretty drunk and babbling. I suppose I could have let it go, but...
So I turned around and stood there as he approached. He made another comment and threw this dreadfully slow, looping punch that a corpse could have blocked and I just sorta side-stepped it a bit and decked him. He staggered back a bit—and I was very disappointed that he didn't drop. So I tagged him again and this time he went down. His friend just stood there, not sure what to do. That was basically it and I just walked to my car and left.
Have you ever been thrown out of a bar or a club?
A few times. I was at a rather famous bar fight in the D.C. area — bar called "The Exchange"— that pitted students from the U of Maryland (where I was attending) against students from George Washington U. None of the people I was with started it, but we jumped in when we recognized some of the combatants. It turned into a slightly tamer version of "Rage in a Cage" and about 30 people got tossed; some got arrested. We just went to Denny's!
Do you have any tattoos?
Yes, plenty of ink. I have a big tribal orca (killer whale) on my back that I got following a great white shark encounter in which a killer whale chased away three great whites while I was free diving and spearfishing at Guadalupe Island. On my left forearm I have the names and birthdays of my three dogs and one cat. On my right forearm is a special combination of Atlantean symbols that hold special meaning to me.
What was your first pet’s name?
Darla - a Boston Terrier
What’s the worst meal you have ever eaten?
Years ago, before I got married, a girl I'd been dating for a few weeks wanted to cook me dinner. She turned a beautiful cut of filet mignon into something that resembled a leather satchel. Before the steak, she tried to make a caesar salad—keyword "tried." That was our last date!
Do you have any irrational fears?
All my fears are rational, although not much scares me anymore.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Truthfully, I HATE travelling during the holidays. I much prefer to travel off-peak and stay home for the holidays. When I do travel, if it's got an ocean and a beach, I'm good.
When did you last tell a lie?
Last week. I was at a writer's event and bored off my ass, so I told everyone my wife had an emergency. Instead, I went to a bar just down the street and had a beer and a shot.
Many thanks to Adam for his time. You can catch up with him at his website: www.AdamRocke.com
Check out his book The Death Dealer if you're so inclined......
Billionaire Joe Sinclair is bored. To him, life is one big “been there, done that. ”However, there is one thrill Joe has yet to experience and he's willing to pay any amount to make it happen: Joe wants to know what it's like to kill a man. Courtesy of his illicit connections, Joe hires Haden, a mysterious ex-mercenary to take him and his three best friends on the kind of African safari you won't read about in travel brochures. But when the bullets start to fly, Joe and company find themselves on the absolute wrong side of the predator vs. prey equation.
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