In this episode of Books in 30, C. G. Cooper interviews USA Today best-selling author, Ernest Dempsey. Ernest takes it back to the beginning to talk about his love for adventure as a child and just how that led him to write the archaeological thrillers we love today.
However, Ernest soon switches gears to talk about his newer projects that lie outside of those set boundaries. Most importantly, Ernest talks about how he has stayed inspired during the process of writing in a new genre, including reading Vince Flynn novels and even working with his 9th grader cousin.
[2:02] How being an adventure-filled childhood lead Ernest to being a writer
[6:08] The steps Ernest has taken to understand the new genres he is working with
[11:03] Everyone’s love for a revenge tale, and how captivation is key
[14:12] A sneak peek of Ernest’s newest book When Shadows Call
[19:20] How readers react to Ernest’s commitment to keeping his books profanity-free
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Visit Ernest Online at ErnestDempsey.net
Connect with Ernest on Facebook
Watch Ernest on Youtube
The Fourth Prophecy: A Sean Wyatt Archaeological Thriller by Ernest Dempsey
When Shadows Call: A Shadow Cell Thriller by Ernest Dempsey
American Assassin: A Thriller by Vince Flynn
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Contact C.G. Cooper
"My favorite thing about being an author is freedom. I can work anywhere (…) I’m never tied down."
"I don’t like rules too much, so making my own rules is amazing."
"’Write more books’ is the best advice I’ve ever gotten. You’re never going to do worse by creating more content for your readers."
"It’s a little different from the stuff I normally I write, so I wanted to see how Vince (Flynn) did it."
“It’s funny because I get comments from readers about how much they appreciate (the lack of profanity) in my books."
C G Cooper: Welcome to Books in 30 with C G Cooper. Bringing you must-read books according to today's hottest authors. We'll discuss everything from their current selection, favorite genres, and even the latest reviews good or bad of their latest work. It's time to go cover-to-cover with your host and fellow author, C G Cooper.
Welcome to Books in 30 with me, C G Cooper. Here at Books in 30, we discuss great books with some of today's top authors. Don't forget that you can snag the full list of books we discuss in this episode at cg-cooper.com/podcast along with the full transcript. Welcome to our listeners, and a big Books in 30 welcome to today's guest, Ernest Dempsey.
Ernest is a USA Today best-selling author, and he is an archeological thriller writer from Chattanooga, Tennessee, two hours south of me. His Sean Wyatt series has sold nearly a half a million copies worldwide. After leaving an English major behind, he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a masters in counseling, but his passion was always with telling stories.
After 12 years working in the education system, five of which were writing part-time, he quit in 2015 to write fiction full-time. When he's not writing, he's torturing himself by cheering for his favorite sports teams. His two new books, "The Fourth Prophecy" and "When Shadows Call," are available through all online retailers. To learn more about Ernest and get his free digital starter library, visit ernestdempsey, that's D-E-M-P-S-E-Y dot net, [inaudible 00:01:45]. Welcome, Ernest. How are you doing my friend?
Ernest Dempsey: Doing good. Thanks for having me on here.
C G Cooper: Absolutely. Well, I gave your official bio, but could you give the readers a little snapshot of why you become an author? A little bit more detail.
Ernest Dempsey: I've always been making up stories. Some people call me a fibber or a joker or a kidder. I was always joking around with people, making stuff up. I just decided maybe I should start doing that for a living, start selling those stories, so I just made them larger. It's like I tell lies for a living, but I don't want to be called a liar. I don't know.
C G Cooper: Well, you know what? It's fiction. We can do what we want.
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah, but ever since I was a kid, I've always enjoyed reading and enjoyed stories, and especially things to do with ancient treasures or treasure hunts, stuff like that. One of the biggest inspirations for that was The Goonies movie in the 1980s.
I was a kid growing up in the '80s, and The Goonies was huge. I just thought it was so cool that these kids could find a treasure map and go through all these adventures, and find this old pirate ship and all this gold and stuff like that. That was probably the beginning, and then the Indiana Jones movies were huge in the '80s and I loved those. I've always had kind of a desire to do stuff like that. When I found Clive Cussler's books I don't remember how long ago, that was like the tipping point for me. I was like, "I need to do this. I can write stories like this." That's kinda where it comes from.
C G Cooper: That's awesome. Goonies, definitely one of the tops on my list. I was the same thing. I was a kid of the '80s and I have no idea how many times I watched that movie. I know probably too many lines that I really don't want to admit how many lines I know. But gosh. That was just, for me, the adventure of it ... As a kid, that's what you wanted. You wanted to be Mikey, right? You wanted to be out there looking for One-eyed Willie.
Ernest Dempsey: That's right, yeah. It's funny, because I remember I wasn't playing a trick on my neighbor, but I actually took an old tin box and put some stuff in it and buried it and then created a treasure map and hid it in this old lumber pile. I burned the edges of the paper to make it look older, and I was probably like 10 years old when I did this. Then I kinda forced this little neighbor boy into finding the map and then making him follow the steps in the map to find this treasure that I'd buried. It was like a stupid little story from the past that nobody knows about with me. That was my first foray into creating a fictional treasure. It's just kinda blown up from there I guess.
C G Cooper: Isn't it funny? Now you're just being a kid all over again, just on a different level.
Ernest Dempsey: That's right, and it's interesting. I was working on this this morning, but it'll be coming out I think in January. I'm working on a new series called "The Adventure Guild," which is a kids-based adventure archeological thriller series. It'll have a very similar feel to the Goonies with maybe a hint of Scooby-Doo in there. It's gonna be for a younger audience but the same genre. I'm actually co-writing that with my ninth-grade cousin right now.
C G Cooper: That should be interesting.
Ernest Dempsey: He's excited about it. He thinks it's cool.
C G Cooper: That's awesome. Well, cool. Let's get to the meat of things. Let's get to what the listeners are here for. They want to hear about books, and they wanna know, just like I do, what is a book that you're currently reading or finished recently that you think the listeners would love?
Ernest Dempsey: Well, right now I'm reading my first ever Vince Flynn book, so I'm reading "American Assassin."
C G Cooper: Your first ever?
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah. A lot of readers have recommended Vince Flynn to me, and I hadn't read him yet. I'm reading American Assassin right now, which is also a motion picture, and I gotta say, it's awesome. He was so good. It's a shame that he's passed. Man, it's such a good read. I've been hooked from the first page.
C G Cooper: He's fantastic. He was a huge influence for me. I'm so glad you're finally gettin' into those, 'cause I think I've read 'em multiple times, and they're all sitting just to the right of me on my bookshelves right now.
Ernest Dempsey: I'm partly reading it for pleasure, but I'm also partly reading it because I have a new series that has nothing to do with archeology. I took one of my characters from the main series and had her recruited by an anti-terrorist organization in the UK. Based on her set of skills, they recruited her and wanted her to come in, so she's going to work for them now, so to really get a good idea of what that looks like ... It's a little different than the stuff I typically write. I want 'em to see how Vince did it because he was awesome from what I had gathered.
It's been good. It's been eye-opening, but it's also neat 'cause I just released that first book about that character, and as I'm reading through, I'm like, "Okay, good. He doesn't do things too much differently than I do." I guess it's good to be on point with somebody like that.
C G Cooper: Heck yeah, man. Tell the listeners for anybody who hasn't read that book or any of Vince's books, why should they pick up "American Assassin"?
Ernest Dempsey: You know, one of my favorite things so far, and I'm not even halfway through it yet, but one of my favorite things about it is the dialogue is really snappy. I'm a big dialogue guy. I don't get into 300 ways to describe a bar. I don't like being slowed down with too much description, and he puts just enough description there, but it's really short and choppy and to the point, so that you get the setting. Then the dialogue and the action ... The action's really good. It's crisp. It moves you fast through the scene.
But the dialogue is something ... I try to take pride in good dialogue, and his dialogue's awesome. It's on point. It always makes you feel the emotion of the characters involved. It makes you understand the relationships of the characters involved, and I think that's hard to do. A lot of people don't get that because a lot of people don't naturally have those voices in their heads, and the psychologist in me says "That makes you crazy." I think that's so hard for a lot of people to do right, and he absolutely nailed it.
C G Cooper: I think it's just so well rounded. You talk about the 360 ways to describe a bar. That's how I always describe Tom Clancy's stuff, who I love, but he can talk about a bullet for 10 pages. I'm going, "I can't do that. I just can't."
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah. He's that, but Clancy was also the master of character development. Man, he could build characters like nobody else. I try to take some learning from that and to distill it into a shorter version of character development so that the reader can keep moving through the story, 'cause I never want my readers to slow down or pause or think, "Eh, I'm gonna put this book down and get some sleep." I kinda want my readers to sleep when they have my book open. One of my best reviews ever was, "I'm mad at you, because my husband got mad at me 'cause I was up til 3:00 in the morning reading this book." That was a cool little review. That's what I want. You don't ever want 'em to put it down.
C G Cooper: That's exactly it. They need to buy it. They need to go straight to their Kindle, their tablet, whatever, and just start reading. I'm with you.
Next question. This is the loaded question of the interview, the one that authors always love because obviously, we read a lot. What is your favorite book of all time?
Ernest Dempsey: The Count of Monte Cristo. No question. Yeah, Alexander Dumas, that book pulled me in and it didn't let me go. I was in college and I was on vacation with my girlfriend and her family. They were from Florida down in Orlando, and we all went to the beach. I remember her being so mad at me because I was not spending any time with the family. I didn't wanna go swimming with the manatees. I didn't wanna hang ... all I wanted to do was sit on the sand and just keep reading. I couldn't put it down. The character development and the plot development and the plot twists were so good.
I don't understand how somebody back then had such a firm grasp on all those concepts, because they feel like they should be modern concepts, but he was so ahead of his time. It was just an amazing story to me, plus I love a great revenge tale. Everybody loves a revenge story, right? The Count of Monte Cristo is like revenge times three. He gets revenge on everybody and in the most in-depth and incredible ways. That's my favorite book.
C G Cooper: Nice. I finally read that a couple years ago. I've always been a fan of the movies for the exact reason that you said. I love a good revenge story. You talk about a slow burn revenge, that's decades before the bad guy finally gets his due, and wow! The other thing I love too is it's mentioned in one of my favorite movies of all time, which is The Shawshank Redemption. Do you remember that part? How he picks it up ...
Ernest Dempsey: Oh, yeah.
C G Cooper: Dumbass! What is that about? Who is Alexandre Dumbass? And DuFresne says, "You'd like that. It's about a prison break."
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah, it's a prison break. Yeah. I watched it.
CG Cooper: I think that was one of the reasons I actually finally picked up the book, because I watched the movie for the 30th time, and then I'm like, "You know what? Maybe I should actually read this now." That's cool, man. You're the first to say "Count of Monte Cristo," but I agree with you. What a fantastic read.
Ernest Dempsey: Shawshank, yeah. It is a great read. Shawshank is tied for my favorite movie of all time, so whenever it's on TNT or one of those other networks, it gets on and I'm flipping through, I cannot not watch it. I have to stop whatever I'm doing or whatever I'm looking for and just watch Shawshank. I have to.
C G Cooper: Well, there you go. We both live in Tennessee,
Ernest Dempsey: I've probably seen it as many times.
C G Cooper: And we both have Shawshank. Apparently we have a lot of things in common. We're gonna have to talk more after this.
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah, for sure.
C G Cooper: Shawshank, Count of Monte Cristo, now let's talk about your work. Did you happen to bring a snippet to read for the listeners?
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah. I did from the new book, "When Shadows Call," which is the Shadow Cell Thriller Book 1, that just came out it would have been like a week ago. Or this week. It came out this week. [crosstalk 00:14:26].
C G Cooper: Congratulations.
Ernest Dempsey: Thank you. But I'm not supposed to-
C G Cooper: Whenever you're ready. Go for it.
Ernest Dempsey: Oh, okay. Just go for it? Okay.
C G Cooper: Yeah man. If you want to give us a little setup and then roll on.
Ernest Dempsey: This chapter is set in Liverpool, England. Our main character Adriana Villa has just been basically interrogated but not interrogated. She thought she was being interrogated, but it was actually an interview. She was kidnapped by these people and taken to this abandoned building on the docks, and basically told why she was there and what they wanted from her.
The people work for an organization called The Shadow Cell, which is a counterterrorism organization that uses sometimes unethical means to fight terrorism. They've brought her in because she's a master thief and she is also really good in a fight and a tough person, and she comes to find out that they knew about her because a friend of hers works for them.
This is an introduction to that friend sort of. Actually, this little snippet, I put it out on my Facebook page for my readers to decide what I should read on your podcast. This is what they chose.
C G Cooper: Sweet.
Ernest Dempsey: This is Chapter Two from "When Shadows Call," and I'm just gonna read the first seven paragraphs, okay?
C G Cooper: Go for it, man.
Ernest Dempsey: Adriana stepped through the creaky metal door and out into a drizzling rain. She pulled her thin jacket tight around her arms. It did little to keep the cool air from her skin. She was next to the River Mersey. That much she knew.
From the looks of things, the docks hadn't been used in a long time. The warehouses appeared to have been abandoned long ago, with a few rusted forklifts and flat carts sat silently along one of the crumbling brick walls. It was a dreary setting in a perfect location for a secret group of assassins, or whatever they were. No one would think that underneath the cracking streets and derelict buildings a group of people was running some sort of counterterrorism unit.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner," a familiar voice said from around a corner. Adriana didn't turn her head. She knew someone was there. In fact, she'd assumed it was June. Her instincts, it seemed, were as sharp as ever.
June stepped around the corner of the building. She was wearing a black trench coat and held a clear umbrella over her head. "I knew there was more to you than met the eye," Adriana said. "Your precision, your movements, something about you screamed "[inaudible 00:17:20]" underneath that cheerful disguise.
June shrugged. "But fear isn't a disguise. It's real. If you aren't at least a little afraid in my line of work, then you'll get sloppy. Fear keeps us alive. It keeps us sharp.
There you go. That's it.
C G Cooper: Awesome, man. Fear keeps us alive. I like it. I like it. Is that the first book in a spinoff? Is that what that is?
Ernest Dempsey: That's exactly what it is. I took a couple of characters from my main series because my readers asked for it. They said they wanted more June, more Adriana. They always were telling me, "Man, there's something up with June. What's with her? There's more to her than meets the eye, " and I was like, "Well, I'm not gonna give that away yet." Now I'm giving it away that she's actually not just some boring research assistant that sits in a lab all day analyzing relics and artifacts. She actually had a purpose behind that, and that was her cover.
This is gonna be a whole series. These are smaller books. Most of my books are between 300 and 400 pages or whatever, and I guess sometimes 400 plus. These are gonna be shorter, 125 to maybe 200 at the longest, because I think my readers also wanted some shorter stuff that they could go through in a day or a couple days. Some of them read ridiculously fast. I release a book and then they send me feedback that evening.
They wanted some shorter stuff but some more spinoff stuFF, so I'm doing that. I'm gonna be doing it with some of the other characters [inaudible 00:18:59] as well. This is the first in that new spinoff series.
C G Cooper: Awesome. Can't wait to check it out. Listeners, make sure you get a copy of "When Shadows Call" so you can hear the rest of the story.
Now, let's move on to some fun stuff, not that we haven't been having fun, but I always love to hear mean reviews. You said you brought one with you, right?
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah, and it's funny because I know you keep everything clean on your podcast. There's no profanity or anything, which is ... None of my books have any profanity. There's not one cuss word in any of my books. There's no sex in them. There's a lot of violence and fighting and shootouts and stuff like that, but there's no sex and no profanity because I write them so that my 74-year-old mother will read them. Well, she's 73 right now. I hope she doesn't hear me saying that.
But yeah, she's a 73-year-old Christian woman. She loves NCIS. She loves those kinds of shows, so she's okay with the violence and the shooting and all that stuff, but she's not okay with profanity and the sex. I said, "I'm gonna write this series so Mom can read it," so I will never put that sort of stuff in my stories.
It's so funny because I get comments all the time from readers how much they appreciate that. One guy even emailed me who used to be an assistant to the Reverend Billy Graham, and said he loved my stories and he loved the fact that there was no profanity in them.
That as the backdrop for this bad review, I got a review, I don't know, 2016 maybe, from this person who posted a one- star review on Amazon, and she said, "I couldn't get past the second chapter because of all the profanity in this book."
C G Cooper: Jeez.
Ernest Dempsey: I emailed Amazon, and that was like, "Okay. You take down legit reviews all the time. This is completely not legit at all. There's no way this is a legitimate review. If you've read my books, you know there's no profanity in them. You have to take it down." They never took it down. I'm pretty sure it's still there.
C G Cooper: So you go to great length not to include that, and still somebody posts that.
Ernest Dempsey: I think the worst thing I say is "crap," which I was taught that's okay. That's a socially acceptable version. I've used "crap" a few times, but I don't think I used it in that book that she mentions though. I don't know where she was getting that. I think it was probably just a troll. Most of the one- star reviews are just trolls hoppin' around tryin' to mess with people. I don't look at the one-star reviews because they're typically not helpful.
I only look at ... I look at all the three-plus, so three and four-stars usually have a good reason why they didn't like it or give it four or five stars, so I'll read those. Then the five ones, I do read them, because those are usually loyal readers or new readers that are excited. But I don't like to pat myself on the back too much, so I don't get too excited about those. It is nice to see 'em, but the one-stars I just ignore.
C G Cooper: Yeah, it's hard to sometimes though, right? You see the most recent reviews, I've mentioned this so many times on the show. Your eyes kinda wander down into the right on your screen. You're goin', "Aargh. Where'd that come from? Son of a ..."
Ernest Dempsey: Then the customer service person inside of you wants to reach out to them and try to make it better, but that'll be a fruitless endeavor.
C G Cooper: Oh, yeah. I did that early on, and man, did that just make things worse. I was nice about it, but like you said, it was just somebody who wanted to vent because, I don't know, maybe something was goin' on in their life, and you're like< "Wow. I guess I shouldn't unravel that one. Holy cow!"
Ernest Dempsey: Right. Yeah.
C G Cooper: That's not to engage. Just say, "Thanks for the comment. I appreciate the feedback." That's what I say now.
Ernest Dempsey: And actually, one thing I've learned too is not to engage at all, because A, it makes it worse, but also, the more engagement a review gets, the higher up it gets pushed in the sequence of reviews that are displayed, so if you start getting into a war of words, or my readers will start coming to my aid and start defending me to these negative reviews. I'm like, "Guys. Back off. The more you chat with them about it in these comments, the higher that review goes."
C G Cooper: I know.
Ernest Dempsey: Don't trigger the algorithm. Just leave 'em alone.
C G Cooper: Yeah, too bad we can't turn off that chat feature sometimes. But, whatever. It is what it is, and we deal with it.
Well, cool. You ready to move on to the speed round and answer some quick questions?
Ernest Dempsey: Yes.
C G Cooper: Awesome.
Ernest Dempsey: Sure. I'm a little afraid of the speed round. It sounds intimidating.
C G Cooper: No, it's easy. I could name it something else, but "speed round," I'm to the point. These are easy. The first one I know you'll like. What's your favorite thing about being an author?
Ernest Dempsey: It's freedom, man. I can work from anyway, and I do work from anyway. I can go on vacation with my family to the beach and pound out some work in the morning before everybody wakes up, or I can go to a coffee shop and work. I'm never tied down. The thing that I hated most about working in the public school system was the rigidity of my schedule, and all my vacation time was based on the school schedule and all that stuff.
The other thing too is that I'm in control. I don't like rules very much. Being able to make my own rules is amazing.
C G Cooper: I'm with you. I'm with you. Amen.
Second question. What is the best advice you ever received?
Ernest Dempsey: Yes. I knew I was going to get asked this question, and I had a good answer, but I have forgotten the answer I had prepared. But as far as my writing career is concerned, it's funny that it's the most cliché thing, but "Write more books," actually was the best advice I ever got, because you're never going to do worse by creating more content for your readers. It's a form of giving anyway, so I'm a big believer in that, in giving people something good. Writing more books, it was the best advice I've ever gotten as far as my career as a writer is concerned.
C G Cooper: Awesome.
Number three. What is one thing you wish you could change about publishing?
Ernest Dempsey: Oh ... One thing I wish I could change about publishing? I wish that the powers that be like the Amazons and the Barnes and all those, I wish they were a little more diligent about eliminating scamming books. There's been some stuff happening lately where people are scraping other authors' books and copy and pasting them into books and then putting them into like Kindle Unlimited and all this stuff. It's straight up plagiarism. I wish that these big retailers would be a little more diligent about their review process and making sure that these types of [inaudible 00:27:05] brought into the retail spaces where it hurts authors and then it also hurts readers. Readers spend their money on these things, and then they find a book that's poor quality or written by someone, like it was outsourced somewhere or ghostwritten somewhere, it wasn't done very well ... I wish that would change. That's part of the downside of the new way things are going, like the easy accessibility for authors and self-publishing. It's also opened that Pandora's box for scammers, so I wish that that part would change.
C G Cooper: Yeah, maybe they'll come up with some new AI that'll figure out how to crush those ... Now, I've seen the same thing on YouTube, that things are goin' YouTube route with audiobooks. Anyway, hopefully that'll get figured out. I try not to worry about it much, 'cause it's not something I can control. It's out there. It's something we gotta deal with.
Number four. What is one piece of technology you could not live without?
Ernest Dempsey: That's easy. That's my laptop. I couldn't write books, I couldn't promote them, I couldn't get them to readers, I couldn't do anything without my computer. I could do it with my phone, but that would take a lot longer. I know Kevin Tumlinson is an archeological thriller writer, and he's actually writing a book on his phone right now, 'cause he travels so much. I was joking with him I don't understand how he could do that with his thumbs, but he's doin' it.
C G Cooper: He must be really fast. Really quick thumbs.
Ernest Dempsey: He's a quick texter.
C G Cooper: There you go.
Last question, and this is a fun one. If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ernest Dempsey: Nachos.
C G Cooper: Nachos!
Ernest Dempsey: My favorite. Yeah.
C G Cooper: Nice.
Ernest Dempsey: Yes.
C G Cooper: That is a first. I like it. Wait. What do you put on your nachos?
Ernest Dempsey: Nobody else has ever said nachos?
C G Cooper: Nobody's said nachos. Pizza's a really favorite one, but nobody's said nachos.
Ernest Dempsey: Yeah, I figured pizza, probably a lot of people said pizza, [inaudible 00:29:15]. Nachos is sort of like, it's the Tex-Mex version of pizza, 'cause you can get all sorts of different things on there. You can get all different toppings. You can change it up. Nachos are never boring.
C G Cooper: I like it, man. I like it. That is so funny. Watch, now more people are gonna be saying nachos. I guarantee you.
Well, we just ran out of time. Can you give a few last words to our listeners, let 'em know where they can find you and where they can find your work?
Ernest Dempsey: My home base is ernestdempsey.net. There's another Ernest Dempsey out there. He uses my name as a pen name. He has the dot-com, so don't go there. He writes different stuff than me. But yeah, ernestdempsey.net is where you can find my blog and all my stuff and the bio and the books and all that stuff.
Of course, my Facebook page, Facebook.com/ernestdempsey is a good place to interact. I do some special promos and contests on there to give away books sometimes for my readers. They also get a first glimpse into some of the stuff that's coming next. That's a really good place to check it out.
I also shoot YouTube videos. If you go on the YouTube and search Ernest Dempsey you'll find videos that I shoot for my readers. I answer reader questions and put them on YouTube and sometimes just chat with the readers with the camera so that they can kinda get to know me better and see what's comin' next.
C G Cooper: Awesome. Well, thanks again, man. Listeners, make sure you visit ernestdempsey.net. Check out Ernest's new book, "When Shadows Call," because I wanna find out why fear keeps us alive. This has been Books in 30 with C G Cooper. Thank you for listening, and don't forget to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to say hello or let me know of an author you'd like to see as my guest. Thanks for tuning in. This is C G Cooper. Out.
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