Q & A
Q: What’s my day look like?
A: I’m up every day a bit after 8 a.m. and by 8:30 I’m at my desk. Some days I spend most of the day writing, some days researching (locations, weapons, news I can use), some days critiquing manuscripts of other writers, and some days, editing my own manuscripts. I’m off for lunch for about an hour, then back at my desk until just before 5:30 p.m. From 5:30 to 6 I watch the evening news and then enter into my notebook ideas from the news that might make a good plot point for my next manuscript. I work almost every day, except when Andrea has me entangled in some social appointment or one of us has a doctor’s appointment. Even when we travel, I’ll be in the car or seated on a jet with my notebook computer on my lap.
Q: Where do I get ideas for my stories?
A: Most of my stories come from the news. Those that don’t come from things I hear from my friends in the military, hackers, and, very rarely, my own imagination. When I find something I think is compelling, I first ask, “What could go wrong?” And if what can go awry is big and bad enough for an entire book, I’m good to go. If it’s not that self-sustaining but really entertaining, then it’s a side item, a sub-plot. Sometimes it takes months before I find something useful. And, of course, my characters are amalgams of people I’ve known.
Q: Why am I self-publishing?
A: My former literary agent, Nancy Ellis, tried to sell my manuscripts for several years, and a few publishers were interested, but no one closed a deal. Reasons were that the industry is now as tight as a drum and nothing seems to please them. One publisher told Nancy, “There have been too many novels published on China’s intelligence service, so we’re going to pass.” Another said, “His writing is great and the story is great, but the marketing people can’t do it right now. Try us next year with the same manuscript.” And, my film agent said, “It would make a great television series, not a movie, but I’ll have to wait to see a book in print before I can sell the film rights.” So, that’s one of the things I’m doing now: learning how to turn a book into a screenplay. By the way, over 25% of the best-sellers on Amazon are self-published.
Q: What will you work on next?
A: The first nine books in the “Spies Lie” series have been released and I’ve hit the Amazon bestseller list fifteen times. When I get a book out, I receive emails from readers asking, “When is the next one going to be published?” The next one is book ten, and the final book in the Spies Lie series. In it I promise to tie up all the loose ends and give readers a twist of monumental proportions near the very end of the book. Promise!