I will admit, I read your books out of order. But, having thoroughly enjoyed Knife Through the Heart (2022), I immediately ordered Revenge at Sea (2020). I believe: why move from the table while you’re still enjoying the meal? Or at least until the last dish is served. I love dessert! I also wanted to sample the growth of your protagonist, Quint, from book #1 to book #6.
I enjoyed the name of your character in the Quint Adler series. It’s hard to forget the shark hunter, Quint, played by Robert Shaw in the movie Jaws-- and the same can now be said of the character in the Quint Adler books. I especially enjoyed the tie-in you gave in Revenge at Sea with the terrifying ending and your character Charles Zane. How do you come up with such great character names?
Jaws has always been my favorite movie, so Quint was an easy name to come up with. I'd thought about it for a few other novels, but it just hadn't fit. With book one of the series ending at sea, it seemed like the perfect time to go with it!
And how did your muse lead you to the parallel between Charles Zane and the Quint from Jaws? Or did you start the entire novel with that idea?
I had the idea of the first 3/4 being on land and the final 1/4 at sea so I always kind of knew that was coming. Jaws is more like half and half but I just didn't think I could hold the interest of readers if that much was out at sea.
Your protagonist moves away from his career as a journalist in book #2: The Bay Area Butcher (2020 ). I like it when characters aren’t stagnant—as we live, thus we evolve. Why did you decide to remodel him as a Private Investigator? Was it for the craft of the story or the marketability? Who do you see as your reading audience?
I'd always wanted to have a protagonist who was a private investigator. For Revenge at Sea, he had to be a journalist investigating Charles Zane and the evolving case, but by the time The Bay Area Butcher (and the later Quint books) I didn't think he'd stay a news reporter for long!
Knife Through the Heart surprised me because you moved from a standard detective-type novel to a Law and Order style. A show you also mention in the novel, Quint states: “The courtroom makes good theater.” So the structure was specific to making your ending all the more elusive and suspenseful. I like your twists and turns. Did adding the court trial allow you an advantage in twisting the plot?
A Knife Through the Heart started when I rewatched an old 80s movie called Jagged Edge. It was about a husband whose wife was killed and the movie centered around his guilt or innocence. From there, I just rolled with it, and I honestly didn't know if the husband was going to be the killer until a few weeks before publication. People seem to enjoy the direction I finally went in and I know most were quite surprised. And yes, both in the book and the movie, the courtroom played a major role. This will be true of my upcoming novel The Mastermind as well.
NOW TO THE QUESTIONS OTHER WRITERS WILL BE INTERESTED IN:
Did your try at screenwriting trigger you to publish independently?
After being unable to sell my screenplays, I knew I wanted to publish novels and try to make some money. When the first two publishing houses rejected me, I just said screw it and decided to self-publish. I think it's been a good decision.
What is your greatest challenge as an independent author?
My greatest challenge is all the marketing I have to do myself. Most of the time, I wish I could just spend it writing.
Do you use a publicity company or handle your own marketing? And how does this work in your writing schedule?
I do all the marketing myself, but I now have a producer who is trying to pitch The Bartender to some streaming companies.
Do you still have and recommend a “day job” to writers, or have you passed the books-sold mark to write on a full-time basis? Thus, giving us readers the outlook of more books to come.
I no longer have a day job, basically because I wouldn't have time for one. The writing - and the marketing - take up probably 12 hours a day. It's not easy.
I read where you write primarily in the mornings. Do you discipline yourself to hours per morning, so many words down on the page? Many authors practice both.
Yeah, I'm best at writing in the morning. My goal is 2,500 to 3,000 words a day, but that changes often. And then I can edit in the afternoon or at night when my brain isn't functioning at quite 100%. But editing is easier than coming up with new ideas.
Will you eventually move away from the Quint series/or, at the same time, continue with other genres? Such as your:
Psychological Thriller The Bartender (2019)
Political Thrillers: The Puppeteer (a Frankie & Evie Book 1, 2017)
The Patsy (a Frankie & Evie Book 2, 2018)
My novel is going to be a multi-narrative like The Bartender, but I already have an idea for my next Quint book which I'll start up again after that. As of now, I have no plans to stop writing Quint books and even considered writing a novel called Loose Ends where Quint investigates some of the suspected who might have gotten away.
With the great accomplishment of the Quint series, the number of reviews, and the comments by happily satisfied readers, has your life changed?
My life hasn't changed much because of the Quint series. I certainly have lots of readers and my Twitter following has certainly changed, but I'm still the same guy day-to-day. Now, if one of my novels is turned into a Netflix series? That could change me, but I'd always remember my readers :)
There was a year or two stretch where I wasn't sure I could make enough to support myself, so I was writing more than you could believe. And once I started going through the editing process, I was already working on my new novel as well. I've cut back a little bit, but I still feel like I work really hard. Let's hope it all pays off :)
Thanks for such a good conversation, Brian, regarding your work and your life as an author. Keep writing...we all want more!!!
And thanks so much for this interview, DJ! You asked fantastic questions and I enjoyed it immensely.