Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where I was also the Dean of the College of Media.
I have written six books. My book, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, is the second in the Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels. I am also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. Other books include Aboard The Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey Through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.
During my career as a foreign correspondent I lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia and Latin America where I covered several major stories including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975; the 1989 Tiananmen Square tragedy in Beijing; Afghanistan during the last year of the Russian occupation; and revolutions in Nicaragua, El Salvador an Guatemala.
My work as a correspondent was rewarded with several awards, including three Pulitzer nominations; the Inter-American Press Association’s Tom Wallace Award for coverage of Central and South America; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; and three Edward Scott Beck Awards.
I write a blog entitled “ForeignCorrespondent” that can be found at: http://ronaldyatesbooks.com/category/foreign-correspondent/.My Website and authors pages can be found at: http://www.ronaldyatesbooks.com/ and at the Authors’ Guild: http://www.ronaldyates.com/index.htm and on Amazon’s Author Central page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KHDVZI.
I served 3-1/2 years active duty with the U.S. Army Security Agency in Germany, where I was worked in communication intelligence (SIGINTEL). I am a proud graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles is Book #2 in the Finding Billy Battles trilogy. It was released June 2016. Book 2 in Billy Battles’ life takes him far away from his Kansas roots and out of his comfort zone to the Far East of the 1890s and places like French Indochina, The Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Billy finds himself mixed up with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries and an assortment of malevolent and dubious characters of both sexes. In short, How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? Book #2 was inspired by Book #1 and Book #3 will be inspired by Book #2.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I like to listen to music when I write. Most often, I listen to Mozart, Haydn, Telemann, William Boyce, and Beethoven. Classical music, played softly, is inspirational and helps me think. However, I also like the jazz of Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, The Modern Jazz Quartet, George Shearing, etc. and I will on occasion switch from classical to that. I usually write about four hours every day. I view it as my job and that way I avoid any temptation to procrastinate. When I finish writing, I usually spend an hour or so doing research on what I plan to write the next day.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh; The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck; The Quiet American, Graham Greene; The Jewel in the Crown, Paul Scott; Kim, Rudyard Kipling; Huckleberry Finn, Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain); A Passage to India, E.M. Forster; Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser; The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer. I also love to read Elmore Leonard and Ernest Hemingway for their crisp, punchy style and barebones descriptions.
What are you working on now?
I have just begun working on Book #3 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy. It will be ready for publication in April 2017. After that, who knows. I may finally get around to writing about my life as a war correspondent. I am thinking of calling it: “Looking for Trouble.”
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am still learning how to use the vast universe of social media to market my book. In addition to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, of course, my book is on Goodreads, Smashwords, Google Books, Createspace, NetGalley, Independent Book Publishers Association, as well as the Historical Novel Society, my blog, my author page on Facebook. My website is http://ronaldyatesbooks and I am constantly updating it. My blog is http://ronaldyatesbooks.com/category/foreign-correspondent/ I try to post to it at least once or twice a week. I also have an Amazon Author Central page at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KHDVZI, and an Author’s Page on Facebook called Ronald E. Yates Books. It is located at https://www.facebook.com/Ronald-E-Yates-Books-688075584557417/
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Try to write as much as you can from your own experiences. They are real and uncontrived and if you incorporate those experiences in your fiction, your work will have a truthful ring to it. Beyond that, KEEP AT IT! Don’t let anybody (editors, agents, etc.) discourage you. At the same time, be willing to accept constructive criticism from those who have experience as authors, editors, agents, etc. Notice I said CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Some people criticize just to be criticizing–or to be malicious. You must believe in yourself, your work, your vision, and your story. If you don’t, who will?
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t let anybody discourage you from pursuing your goals. Don’t be discouraged by rejection. You must believe in yourself, your ideas, and your stories. If you don’t, who will? Certainly not that dense editor or literary agent who couldn’t see your potential or grasp your book’s storyline. Finally, there is this bit of advice: Never tell your problems to anyone; 20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.
What are you reading now?
End of Watch, Stephen King; All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
What’s next for you as a writer?
I want to finish Book #3 in the Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Then, I want to begin my memoirs. They will tell the stories behind the stories–those juicy details that I couldn’t share with readers when I was covering the war, revolution and mayhem as a foreign correspondent.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh; A Passage to India, E. M. Forster; The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck; Kim, Rudyard Kipling.