Where did you get the idea for the Summit Murder Mystery series?
Chuck: I was part of a 1987 Everest expedition. I never planned to attempt a summit but thought the experience would be one of a lifetime. I was right. I reached 21,000 feet, well below the summit, but that was enough for me. Climbing Everest, even with the aid of all the technology now available, is a daunting and dangerous undertaking. What I took away was just how dangerous high altitude climbing is. When the prospect of murder is introduced the possibilities were immediately apparent.
How flexible are you with the plot?
Chuck: The only things I knew for a fact going in were the killer and his or her motive. Everything other than that was up for grabs throughout the process.
Won’t writing about murder and mountain climbing get a repetitious before you’ve written seven novels?
Chuck: Not at all. There are far more possibilities than I’ll ever touch. The original concept is to insert murder with all its variables onto what is already a very dangerous undertaking. It also allows me to play with how characters are killed. If someone dies in a fall, was it really an accident? How about an avalanche? Is it poison, or high altitude sickness?
You’ve elected to pursue your own publishing and marketing. Why is that?
Chuck: I am certain each of the books could find a home with a traditional publisher, I have no doubt of that. But when you sell your work to them you surrender control and in the end I just wasn’t willing to do that. With a traditional publisher you can’t be certain of a publication date so you can coordinate your marketing effort , they control when the book goes out of print and there is a significant delay between when that happens and when the rights revert to you. There are too many positive alternatives available to a writer for me to lock myself into a position like that.
Do you think you’ve discovered a new marketing option for authors?
Chuck: I can’t say I’ve discovered it, but writers have never before had so many choices. The key, in my opinion, is dedicating the same time, effort and creativity to the marketing as you did the writing.
Where are you in the process?
Chuck: The whole series is complete. The list of the books in order are Murder on Everest, Abandoned on Everest, Murder on Elbrus, Murder on Puncak Jaya, Murder on Aconcagua, Murder on Vinson Massif and Murder on Kilimanjaro. I’m toying around with the idea of doing one more novel. I am so excited to be able to offer a complete series of books. I couldn’t be prouder of how the series has turned out.
Where will it all end?
Chuck [laughing]: With a bestseller.