I guess these things are supposed to start off with an introduction, so here it goes: Hello everyone, my name is Brian Springer and I have a writing problem. Well, it isn’t really so much a problem as an addiction. Which sort of fits in with the theme too. Because, despite what so many aspiring authors are led to believe, if you’re not addicted to writing, chances are you won’t ever get that book done. There are simply too many distractions out there.
I actually started my writing career in earnest while getting my MBA. There I was, listening to a bunch of yahoos talk about what would make the perfect PDA (this was ten years ago, before phones took over for good) when I realized I was bored off my ass. So I started writing a book. I’d always been a heavy reader and a natural writer, so I figured what the hell. Why not give it a shot. So I did, writing a bad 1984 knockoff and finishing it just as I graduated. It sucked, but hey, I proved I could do it. So when the tech bubble burst and there were no jobs out there for a student with a newly-minted MBA, I decided to write another one. So I took a slew of my favorite supernatural authors, (Dan Simmons, Stephen King and Clive Barker) and fused them with my favorite thriller authors (Stephen Hunter, David Morrell, Michael Connelly). My idea was to combine the supernatural with the traditional thriller and create a cross-genre supernatural thriller.
After I finished it and sent it out, I had some interested agents, including one from a major agency who like my writing style but didn’t dabble in the supernatural. He persuaded me to write a straight thriller for him, which I did, and after finishing it and sending it to him, he snatched me up.
Sweet! So now I had an agent, which as we all know, just means it’s a matter of time until you’re published, right? Well, no. Not exactly. Three years of very polite rejection letters later, we parted ways. So now I had four different books in two different genres sitting around doing nothing. And all attempts at a new book were fizzling out about 100 pages in due to my indecision created by the multiple rejections. So I floundered around for a while, trying to get something to work, when self-publishing began to take off. So I decided to take the plunge.
The first book I offered was called Highway To Vengeance, about an ex-Navy SEAL who goes to war with a drug cartel to avenge the death of his wife. The other is Blood Money, about a vigilante-for-hire who is hired to rescue a biologist from a government compound who had just created a cure for AIDS that the government didn’t want getting out. Both are straight thrillers and both were really, really close to being acquired by traditional publishers.
The two books have many similarities; both take place in San Diego and surrounding areas, both have similar protagonists, and both are mostly action and dialogue. Highway To Vengeance is written in the first-person while Blood Money is written in the third. Both are challenging point of views for different reasons. When writing in the first-person you have to avoid the tendency to editorialize too much. While in the third person you have to make a conscious effort to get inside the characters head more often. I like that the two books are written in different points of view because it separates the characters and keeps them from becoming too similar. Because, on the surface, they are very similar dudes. I plan to write both as series characters, and the POV differences will help keep the characters separate, or so I hope. I also have a book in mind that will bring the two characters together down the road. In Blood Money, the character (Kelton) is more introverted, so it helps to write him in the third person to keep his motives somewhat mysterious. Highway to Vengeance is a more generic plot, and I think the first-person POV allows me to get inside Highway’s head more, which helps serve to differentiate the book from a typical revenge-style thriller.
In both books, the characters are the key. The plot revolves around the characters just as much as the characters inhabit the plot. I think the two elements have to be intimately connected for the book to work as a whole.
Both books take place in areas of the country that I have lived in or frequent regularly. I think there is a big advantage when describing a setting if you’re familiar with it. Especially in some of the chase scenes, where an intimate knowledge of the surrounding area can help you avoid clichés associated with such scenes.
Highway to Vengeance has some interludes that describe in detail Navy SEAL training, and for those I did a few interviews with people that had gone through (at least a portion of) the training along with multiple viewings of a documentary following one class through the entire 24-week training. It was very odd to have written a book about a clandestine operation involving an infiltration and killing of a possible terrorist involving a Navy SEAL a full four years before the Osama Bin Laden operation. And to have the book published less than a month before the operation actually took place is a strange and wonderful coincidence indeed.
As for me, I’ve been writing for almost ten years. I write for a few hours in the morning and a few more after the kids and family go to bed. I’m a night owl by nature, and if it were up to me, I’d sleep from about 4AM to noon every day. With my wife taking care of the real world job stuff, I usually work from midnight to 3:30 AM, wake up at 6:30 to get the kids off to school, then work from 9AM to noon, then sleep from noon to 3:00 and take care of the family until they all go to sleep. It’s funny, even though I’ve been writing for ten years, until a few weeks ago, I’d always tell people I was a stay-at-home dad. But now that I’ve published a couple of books and even sold a few, I can honestly tell people I’m a writer. A slight boost of the old self-esteem there.
I’m really surprised at what the self-publishing bit has done for my psyche. For years I’d write what I thought was a good book, sent it out, get a bunch of rejections, and then put it away and start on a new one. And as time went on and the rejections increased, my productivity started to decrease. I still loved to write, but I was so concerned with writing for what I thought someone in the industry wanted that I would get bogged down in my own head and not get much actual writing done. But now that I know there is a market outside of the traditional system, I’m more inclined to write what I think is good and let the traditional system be damned. If they don’t like it, oh well, I’ll just do it myself.
So I guess this is where I wrap it up. I hope you didn’t think the above reading was a waste of time, and if you choose to check out any of my books, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Thanks Tim, and thanks to whoever slogged through my musings.
Highway to Vengeance and Blood Money are available on Amazon in kindle and paperback, Barnes and Noble in nook and paperback, Smashwords, Createspace, and other various ebook outlets.