Oregon author readies ‘darker, grittier’ third book, Noble: Bloodlines, for release on April 17, 2012
Oregon City, Oregon – April 11, 2012 – Oregon City author David K. Hulegaard will release his third book, NOBLE: BLOODLINES, on April 17, 2012, available exclusively on Amazon.
NOBLE: BLOODLINES is the next book in Hulegaard’s smash hit Sci-Fi series about Miller Brinkman, a 1940s private detective who, while searching for a missing girl, makes contact with the last survivor of an ancient race that predates mankind.
“BLOODLINES will take the series to a whole new level,” says Hulegaard. “Miller wants to leave the memories of his last case behind, but it doesn’t take long before his past catches up to him and forces him out of hiding.” Adds Hulegaard, “Fans of the series should expect a darker and grittier journey into the NOBLE universe.”
NOBLE: BLOODLINES will be available on Kindle for $2.99. A free five chapter sample is available for download at www.davidhulegaard.com.
About the Author
David K. Hulegaard resides in Oregon with his fiancée and their Welsh Terrier, Tobi. He is the author of critically praised books NOBLE and THE JUMPER. David is currently preparing his next book, a short story collection entitled STRANGERS, for release this spring.
David asked me one of those hard writer questions that you hear and think will be easy to answer. But then, once you actually sit down to write the answer, you realize it might as well be “where do your ideas come from?” as far as complicatedness. He had the nerve, the unmitigated gall, to ask me how I knew when my story ideas were ready to become actual stories.
I think it might be a bit gauche to just copy and paste I HAVE NO CLUE over and over when I promised an actual blog post. So here goes.
Just like every other writer, I have a comp notebook. Now, they might not have an actual comp notebook, but that’s just because they’re buck-toothed hillbillies who don’t know what’s good. Regardless, it’s the repository of all rough ideas. Snippets of dialogue, rough plot hooks, basic character concepts, doodles, unfinished poetry, or whatever takes your fancy. The notebook holds the kinda junk that wakes you up at 2am so you can scribble down what you’re sure is genius, only to find even you barely know what the heck you were thinking when you jotted it down.
For me, those are the story seeds. Sometimes it really is gibberish from the middle of the night, but sometimes it’s whole plots in bullet points. However it starts, it doesn’t usually take up a whole page. Like I said, sometimes it’s one line. But I leave that idea, however thin and flimsy it may be, on its own there.
Now and then, I flip through the notebook and reread the ideas and see if any of the other stuff floating around my head that’s too amorphous to even be in the notebook yet sticks to the page. If it does, I scribble it down wherever it’ll fit and then connect it to the rest of the stuff on the page with underlines, different colored ink, or enough squiggly lines to confuse even Jeffy from Family Circus.
When I have a page or two of that mess, it’s probably time to go to the Pre-Writing Package bequeathed unto me by Aaron Pogue of the titular blog and the writing advice repository Unstressed Syllables. The ideas have gathered enough momentum that I need to let them keep rolling and see if they become an actual story. The PWP helps me connect the dots, flesh out characters, make sure there’s an actual Story Question I’m answering, that kind of thing. If I can make that leap, then it’s ready to graduate to a story.
As you can imagine, this is a far from perfect process. That said, I’ve only had it explode in my face one time. I wanted to knock out the first draft of a sci-fi neo-Noir story called Copper Lincoln, Robot Detective in The Big Sleep Mode. I had three or four pages of notes, so I knew it was time for the PWP. I filled that out in painful graphic detail. Courtney Cantrell, my Acquisitions Editor, and Aaron Pogue, my publisher, looked at it. They both declared it detailed, well thought out, and ready to be written. I had a long car trip and I attacked it with gusto.
I wrote the first act and it was…not very good. I mean, all the pieces were there, obviously, it had been through the process. But it was too short, too obvious, there was no subtlety. I had great sheet music but it had left me with no funk. So I did the only thing I could do. I rewrote it.
I didn’t scrap it, though! I didn’t start over from scratch because there was gold in what I’d written. I went back to the PWP, I figured out that all I had to do was tweak some character relationships and, in one case, change the relationship wholesale. It left me with something much more interesting, much longer, and, best of all, much more Noir.
So the process failed me. But I guess it hadn’t failed me all that hard. Not really. Oh, I didn’t finish the first draft on schedule (or at all, yet). And it was difficult to move bits around, write new connective tissue, and then stitch the existing good stuff I’d written into a new whole. And I’m positive you can still see the stitches and scars. But the new monster runs rings around the villagers where the old one lumbered. Instead of frustrated, I’m energized to finish it. In fact, I should really get back to work on that thing…
Here’s the thing about my process: It’s totally mine. I don’t actually expect it to work for anybody else EVER. There’s a ridiculous amount of Zen mixed into my notebook pages so that, in some way I can’t entirely explain, the entire story is represented in the first pen stroke in the notebook. Sorta like how every cell in my body holds the DNA that makes me, me. That sounds like hippy crap, and I know it, but there also isn’t anything I can do about it.
Anybody else’s process look like this? If not, tell me what yours looks like.
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About the author
Joshua Unruh is a stay-at-home dad and professional author who refuses to think of either as being unemployed. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, his son, his father-in-law, two dogs, and absolutely no peace. Still, he manages to write a little bit. He strives to make everything he writes clever, interesting, or funny. Like Meatloaf said, two out of three ain’t bad.
Though he has been a professional liar in the fields of advertising, sales, and private investigations, it is only recently that Joshua has turned his love of fiction into a writing career. Joshua is a lover of genre fiction, especially superhero comics and hardboiled detectives, and this comes through in his genre-bending style. Weird Westerns, nihilistic Norse-style fantasies, YA espionage stories, and hardboiled Noir tales with shades of fantasy or science fiction are just a few examples of the twisting and warped hallways of his imagination.
My latest project is a book called Idiot. The title is not supposed to be offensive to its readers or anything, if that’s what you first thought when you saw it. I did have a slight dilemma when I came up with the title, because I was thinking about walking into a bookshop and seeing my book on the shelves with the word “IDIOT” scrawled across it, and I realised it may put people off buying it. But, I called it Idiot nonetheless because the word is very significant in the book.
Idiot started as something for my eyes only. But, as the narration progressed, I realised that I was really enjoying writing the story. Then, when I sat back to read what I had written, I found myself enjoying reading it, too. Even having read the book about seven times, I still enjoy it. It’s the kind of story that never grows old. It doesn’t have an expiration date.
As a writer, I often find potential scenarios interesting. Say a fight broke out, or a guy didn’t return my affections, I would sit and write the alternative “what-if” scenario. What if that fight hadn’t happened? What if that boy had felt the same way? This was the same for Idiot. I’ve always wanted a friendship like the main two characters have in the book, and so I wrote about a friendship I wish I could have had.
Idiot follows the lives of Dennis Wellington and Susannah Watson who meet at a train station when they are thirteen-years-old. Their lives become inextricably ensnared as the book follows their lives at random points in time.
Idiot is not a love story. It is about friendship. Whenever I give anyone the synopsis, they always laugh at me.
“It’s about a boy and a girl, and they’re best friends,” I’ll say.
“And let me guess,” they’ll say in response, “they spend the entire novel hating one another until they realize they’re supposed to be together and live happily ever after.”
Well, no. My story is about a boy and a girl who are best friends, but showcases the more realistic side to friendship. I’m not saying that films like When Harry Met Sally, or books like One Day are not very good because they’re not realistic. Not at all. What I am saying is that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. Sometimes you think you know someone, but they’re not who you thought they would be. Sometimes you spend your whole life thinking something will happen, but it doesn’t. That’s life. My book isn’t based on a true story, but I wanted it to seem like it could be.
Dennis is from a poor background. His parents don’t earn very much. He lives in an ex-council house on the dodgy side of town. He can’t afford to buy new trainers, even though his have huge holes in the toes. He’s small, but good-looking for his age.
Susannah is from a rich background. Her parents are divorced, but they both still earn a lot. She buys new clothes every week, and can afford to go on holidays to exotic places. Her boots cost her a hundred pounds. She’s tall and slim and has tacky blonde hair.
They are from two different worlds, but have many things in common. They both like reading, writing, Star Wars, and arguing. They both hate Chinese food and books with disappointing endings. They think of each other as best friends, though they would never admit it.
As in real life, there are sad parts, and moments that will make your heart crack. I found myself screaming at my computer screen when reading through the first draft, wanting something so badly not to happen, but then there were the good parts to balance it all out. The happy moments. The amusing conversations that anyone can relate to.
It may seem ironic to call a book about the importance and closeness of friendship Idiot, but sometimes the people we love the most can be the biggest idiots. I think the sign of a true friendship is being able to call someone an idiot and having them say it back. We’re all idiots sometimes, and this is the story of two of them.
Unfortunately though, I am now facing a challenge that stands in the way of my book being completed: I do not have an editor. I do not have someone to tear the stories I have created to pieces. I have many proof readers. I have teachers who are willing to sit and read my manuscripts for hours, picking out the occasionally sloppy punctuation. I have many brilliant author friends, such as David, who are willing to give me the advice and support I need, but I don’t have an editor.
You’re probably thinking it’s not that important, and I was the same. “I don’t need an editor,” I told myself. “I’ll edit my own work.” I wish it was that simple.
Editors are very awesome people. They help you tidy up that masterpiece. They tell you the bits you should cut, and the bits you should keep. They’re not afraid to tell you when your writing has lapsed, or where you need to improve.
Editors are important, and it’s only now when I’m a bit stuck in a rut that I’ve realised how much I really need one. However, as I am a student just managing to afford to go to university, paying an editor is out of the question right now. However, without an editor I’m going to have all of those weeds of text that I don’t need, or I might miss that vital splash of water that will allow my apple tree to soar. It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation, really.
I don’t mean to bum you out. I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from. Editing is essential for my writing, and writing is essential for my happiness.
So, where do I go from here? I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I’m trying to contact as many agents as I can to try and get myself out there. Usually the things we want most are often the hardest to get. However, I’m not the sort to give up easily. I’m going to fight for my place on those bookshelves, or those spaces on the Amazon website. I’m going to fight like there’s no tomorrow. So, watch this space. You haven’t heard the last from me!
Natasha Whearity is a published independent author and teenage phenomenon living in the United Kingdom where she attends college. Her debut short story, The Endgame, is featured in the anthology, Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front. When not indulging her love of Harry Potter, or reruns of the television show Friends, Natasha can be found out on the Go-Kart race track, or spending time with her close friends and family.
Part two of Natasha’s guest post will be featured later this week, in which she discusses her latest project, a novel entitled Idiot, which explores the complicated lives of two best friends, and the trials and tribulations they must face.
I don’t know why I write. I know that sounds really daft being that writing is one of my favourite hobbies, but the truth is that I really don’t.
Think about something you love more than anything: A person, a hobby, or just a general feeling. Now try and explain how you feel about it. It’s hard, isn’t it?
Until the Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front project, I’d never had anything published. Sure, I wrote almost every day, but everything was always for my eyes only… or my unfortunate friends who asked how my writing was going only to receive a manuscript of my latest ‘masterpiece.’
Before Resistance Front I’d written a play called Suns and Stars about a world in which people are judged entirely on the way they look. I performed the play at my school and had such positive feedback that I decided to adapt the play as a novel. Unfortunately, as with a lot of “would-be” authors, I was rejected by seven agents. It didn’t shake my confidence thankfully, although I decided to put Suns and Stars off to the side. I guess when you love something that much, you won’t stop at anything.
When I found out about the Resistance Front project, I sat in my room for hours trying to come up with an idea for it. I remember telling my mum that I couldn’t do it because I’d never written a short story before. And then the idea literally just popped into my head. The next thing I knew, I was writing a story that was better than any story I had ever written.
I still think of The Endgame as one of my best pieces of writing. I’m so proud of that bad boy. I’m also proud to be featured within a collection amongst so many talented writers, one of whom is David himself. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and just smile because not only have I had something published (which was one of my dreams anyway), but it was published alongside other phenomenal writers, making it even more special. The whole KAS team are all so lovely. They have helped me, guided me, and looked after me in the big, scary, writing world. They have all been supportive, and they are all awesome.
After The Endgame and becoming engrossed in the world of short story writing, I gradually became more and more fond of them. I discovered that a good way to write a short story is for it to have a twist at the end, and so I laid in my bed one night thinking of all the possibilities for twists. That’s when the idea for another project hit me (not literally though).
I wanted to write a trilogy of short stories based upon World War One. They would each be from different viewpoints of the war, and at least one of them would have a twist. I wrote all three, one after the other, and sent them to my top proof-reader: Sandie Slavin. Soon I had come up with the title for the trilogy: Those We Would Never Know. The title was dramatic. It told the truth. I liked it, and Sandie did too.
Writing gets on my nerves more often than not. Whenever I want something to happen with it, or for something to come to me, it never does. I will sit there trying to reason and bargain for an idea to spring to mind, but nothing ever appears. Still, if my house was on fire and my writing was still inside, I would run in to get it. Not because I’m stupid, but because that’s how much it means to me.
Writing can be infuriating. I’ve found that my most inspirational time slot is when I’m just about to nod off. Not very convenient, I must admit, but it has its redeeming moments that make it all worthwhile. Like that split second when an idea literally pops into your head and explodes like a cheap bag of popcorn from Tesco. Like those moments when you come to the end of your half-plan of a story and want to know what happens next. Then you realise that what happens next is up to you.
Natasha Whearity is a published independent author and teenage phenomenon living in the United Kingdom where she attends college. Her debut short story, The Endgame, is featured in the Kindle All-Stars compilation, Resistance Front. When not indulging her love of Harry Potter, or reruns of the television show Friends, Natasha can be found out on the Go-Kart race track, or spending time with her close friends and family.
Part two of Natasha’s guest post will be featured later this week, in which she discusses her latest project, a novel entitled Idiot, a story that explores the complicated lives of two best friends, and the trials and tribulations they must face.
I don’t believe that you have to give up television to be a good writer. I love television. I love entertainment in any form, really. To be honest, some of the greatest modern day stories come from the minds of TV scribes. Imagine being given an hour once a week for six straight months to slowly unfold your story. As a writer, my mind races when thinking about the possibilities.
As with any well-crafted story, its secrets must be protected so that the big “ta da!” moments do not lose their impact. This wasn’t really an issue during life before the Internet, but now days it’s nearly impossible to hide from them. Divulging the carefully guarded twists and turns of a story has become a favorite past time among a frighteningly large chunk of the population. So much so, in fact, that scripts and unedited footage are stolen all the time and posted on the Internet for others to find.
Why is that?
What is the obsession with knowing the big finish without experiencing the journey to get there?
What is the motivation that drives the people to comb the Internet in search of spoilers?
To cut down on our monthly bills, my fiancée and I made the decision about a year ago to live without cable television. It was a tough decision, but a low-cost Netflix solution has eased most of the pain. Unfortunately, a lot of good television shows got left behind, and won’t become available through Netflix for an exorbitant amount of time.
We want to be watching The River or Game of Thrones along with everyone else, but can’t. We’re patient enough to wait for DVD, but the challenge we face is that of our friends and family that don’t seem to want to let us wait. People can’t seem to tell us about the shows they love without leading off with the biggest plot twists first.
Here’s an example:
FRIEND: Hey, did you catch that new episode of The Walking Dead last night?
ME: Nope. We don’t have cable right now, so we have to wait until it’s on video.
FRIEND: Oh, lame. Well, anyway, I hope you didn’t get too attached to ________ from the first season because the zombies just killed her.
Here’s another example:
FRIEND: You watch Chuck, right?
ME: Yes, but I’m only through season three. I have to wait until season four is out on video.
FRIEND: Didn’t you meet Joshua Gomez once?
ME: Yeah. He’s a really nice guy. Very humble and happy to chat with fans.
FRIEND: That’s awesome. Did you ask him if he likes using the Intersect?
FRIEND: Oh, you’ll get there. Morgan gets the Intersect at the end of season four.
If avoiding potentially spoiler-filled conversations with friends was the key to our dilemma, it wouldn’t be such an issue, but the whole practice has become a staple of pop culture. I can’t even read Entertainment Weekly anymore, one of my favorite magazines, because each issue offers up spoilers before I’ve even flipped past the table of contents.
I don’t expect people not to talk about television shows simply because I don’t have the means to watch them, but I wonder how difficult it would be for us to revert back to a simpler time: A time when people didn’t feel the competitive need to race onto the Internet and be the first person to spill all the secrets. It wouldn’t take that much. Would it?
I dream of a day when a conversation can be carried out more like this:
FRIEND: Hey, did you catch that new episode of The Walking Dead last night?
ME: Nope. We don’t have cable right now, so we have to wait until it’s on video.
FRIEND: Oh, lame. Well, anyway, I am loving the second season so far. They have made some bold decisions that have really upped the ante. It may be a little early to be saying this, but I think this season could even be better than the first. I can’t wait to hear what you think.
My moral to the story is simple: Take pity on a fella a little down on his luck and in need of conserving his cash. I think it’s great that you enjoy the stories that you do, and I want to enjoy them too. Think about how you felt when you first experienced that one big death, or love gone bad, or secret agent’s true identity. Now imagine how you’d have felt if someone had taken that moment away from you.
In summary, don’t skip to the last page. Don’t deprive someone else of their enjoyment… or karma will find you. It’ll be waiting for you at the corner of [SPOILER ALERT].
Have you ever blinked and felt as though several weeks flashed by? That’s where I’ve been. I looked at my blog this morning and saw that I haven’t updated in over a month! I swear, it feels like I just wrote that last entry yesterday.
I’m not complaining, though. The time may have passed quickly, but it’s been an exciting and productive few weeks. Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve been up to and what’s to come:
I started work on this sequel back in July of last year. I got about halfway through before I realized something very important: The book was much better than Noble. A sequel should always be better than the first, right? Well, that’s true, but the difference was so extreme that I knew I had to “fix” the issues that plagued Noble. I hired a professional editor to go through it with a chainsaw and fix it.
The changes resulted in over 7,000 words being cut from the original manuscript, as well as a thorough scrubbing of the 72,000 words that remained. With the exception of one nasty review, the overflow of positive write-ups has been staggering! In my wildest dreams I never imagined such support.
However, there are still thousands upon thousands of people that have no idea Noble even exists. With Bloodlines, I hope to change that.
Over the past month the manuscript has undergone the editing process and is now in the hands of the final proofreader. Once I get it back from her, all that is left is to make the necessary corrections and push the PUBLISH button.
Words cannot describe my excitement to share this book with you all! If you liked the story from the original, I can’t wait to hear what you think about the direction it’s going. Noble’s ending left a lot of unanswered questions, all of which will be addressed in Bloodlines… of course, there’s still a finale coming to wrap up this trilogy, so don’t go expecting everything to be tied up in a neat bow. I personally guarantee that Bloodlines will leave you scratching your head, but in a good way!
The official release date is still not set, but I expect it to be available on Amazon within the next two to three weeks. This is my most ambitious novel yet, and I’m investing in a significant marketing push to back it up! Stay tuned.
What’s that? While Bloodlines went through the beta reading stage I quietly took on another book? You’re darn right I did! I am very excited about Strangers. Rather than write a novel, I compiled an anthology of short stories that all shared the central theme of train travel. Bloodlines exhausted my brain, and I needed a break from Miller Brinkman’s universe. I think Strangers reflects that, though not quite in the way you might think.
You wrote a collection of short stories about train travel? That sounds so boring!
Yeah, I suppose it does sound boring at first, but if you’ve read any of my other books, you know that I have a love for the strange and unusual. So, I took that love and applied it to an unconventional setting. Even though Strangers isn’t a Sci-Fi book, I am confident that fans of my writing will find something “familiar” to them. I mean, it is still me, right? I can’t very well write a book without some inclusion of the paranormal, can I? Based on the feedback I received during the beta process, I think my readers are going to come away both shocked and satisfied.
As I type this, Strangers is getting packaged up and ready to send off to my editor. Once I get it back from her, I’ll apply the edits and send a clean copy off to my second editor for the final proofreading. I don’t want to commit to a date yet, but I expect Strangers to follow closely behind the release of Bloodlines.
So, what’s next?
I’ve been fleshing out some ideas for Noble 3, but I’m not quite ready to begin work on it. I am too emotionally connected to the series right now and need to give myself a little separation to think about the creative decisions I’ve made and what impact they’ll have on the finale. I also want to allow time to collect feedback from readers and weigh their reactions and expectations first.
My next project will be a return to the paranormal. I love ghost stories! This story is set in modern day Oregon City, Oregon. Oregon City was founded in the 1820s by Dr. John McLoughlin, and was the first incorporated city west of the Rockies. It became the new home for pioneers that had traveled across the Oregon Trail. While much of the city’s historic past is well-documented and proudly on display, there is a darker past that people rarely speak of:
If you’re quiet enough, you can hear her. She’s out there right now, stalking her prey from the woods under the cover of night. There’s nowhere left to hide. She’s coming for me, and I’m powerless to stop her. Soon I’ll be dead, and no one will ever know why.
This has been an exciting week for me. I sent off the Noble: Bloodlines manuscript to my editor after six months of writing, editing, beta reading, and tweaking. The expected completion time for first round edits is about three weeks away, so, that gives me a little free time. I thought, what better opportunity to start talking about the book in preparation of its March release!
Bloodlines is the second book in the “Noble” trilogy. I waited almost a year after the release of Noble before attempting to write it. Not only did my brain need a vacation from Miller Brinkman’s universe, but I wanted to properly address some of the criticism I received from my debut novel.
Readers were split right down the middle about my choice of using a first-person narrative in Noble. While I still believe it was the right decision, I also saw the limitations of it. With Miller telling the story from his perspective alone, there is much about the other characters that didn’t get fleshed out as well as I’d have liked.
Then I asked myself, “What other characters?” Miller’s world felt too small, consisting only of him and a few bit players. So, with Bloodlines I decided to make the switch to a third-person narrative. I think it works very well for the next chapter in Miller’s life.
They say in the movie business that a sequel must be bigger and better, which is the same philosophy I adopted for this book. Over half of Noble took place in Miller’s home town of Ashley Falls. He traveled to different locations, but most of his tasks were resolved within a single chapter. To address this issue and improve the pacing and plot progression in Bloodlines, I relied on inspiration from an old friend: The 16-bit RPG (Role-Playing Game).
Some of the greatest stories I’ve ever encountered came from the heyday of video games in the mid-1990s. By today’s standards, the mechanics of the 16-bit RPG are archaic and plodding, consisting of choosing actions from a menu and watching the story progress through non-interactive cut-scenes. But, we played them for their rich storylines and character development.
No matter how different the stories may have been, 16-bit RPGs all shared a common structure: Receive a quest, the quest goes awry, travel to the next town, find a new ally, fight a boss, and repeat. I implemented this strategy when creating the outline for Bloodlines. Below is an example of how I applied the formula to my book.
SPOILER ALERT: The following text contains minor spoilers for my upcoming book. If you want to be completely surprised, turn back now.
RECEIVE A QUEST: A call comes into the station from a concerned citizen reporting suspicious activity happening in an alley. Miller and two police officers are dispatched to investigate.
THE QUEST GOES AWRY: It was a routine investigation until the officers stumbled upon the crime scene of an elusive serial killer within a penchant for rifles. Officer Jenkins is slain in pursuit.
TRAVEL TO THE NEXT TOWN: Miller is called upon to lead a special task force assembled by the FBI. His first assignment is to travel to Savannah, Georgia and…
FIND A NEW ALLY: Recruit Special Agent Roscoe Jacoby to join the task force. Jacoby refuses to join up with Miller until…
FIGHT A BOSS: Miller assists him in taking down a deranged scientist who’s been concocting lethal toxins and distributing them to revenge-seeking everyday Joes.
In using this structure to fill the pages of Bloodlines, I was amazed at how much thicker the story became, and the stream of new ideas that popped into my head because of it. Not only does Miller’s story deepen thanks to this approach, but so too do the stories attached to Miller’s new friends and enemies.
I am very proud of the form that Bloodlines has taken on, and I believe whole-heartedly that this book will represent a major evolution; both in the quality of the series and the maturation of my writing ability.
I will be posting book excerpts, concept art, and other goodies here on my blog over the next few weeks as we count down toward launch day. I hope that you’ll return to check it out and join me during this very exciting time!
I am pleased to unveil the front cover for my upcoming anthology, Strangers. My sincerest thanks to Tony Healey for his amazing creation. Tony and I only exchanged a couple of emails about cover ideas before he knocked this one out of the park!
Drum roll, please…
Strangers is a collection of eight short stories sharing the common theme of train travel. When I was thinking of cover designs, I wanted something that captured the essence of life before the invention of airplanes. It’s hard to believe there was a time when traveling by train was considered a luxury that people looked forward to. I still love it.
In a world without the internet, smart phones, or iPods, people conversed on trains as a way of passing the time; a tradition that still exists today. It never ceases to amaze how much can be learned about people’s lives when traveling long distances in together within a confined space. Everyone has a story of how they got there, and that’s the concept behind my book.
I owe Tony a sincere debt of gratitude for creating something that matches the concept so well. I can’t wait for Strangers to release this Spring!
I met a new neighbor recently. He’s an older English fellow that reminds me of Anthony Head. He invited me into his house—an old Greek revival mansion built in 1875—and offered me a cup of tea. He was as charming and hospitable as his accent implied. He told me about his life in England and how he had adjusted to living in America over the past twenty years. I enjoyed sitting back in his antique-laden living room, listening to his stories. I could have listened for hours. His stories were far more interesting than anything I had to contribute.
The conversation shifted toward professions. “What do you do?” he asked, sipping from a porcelain cup (for my English readers, no, he did not stick out his pinky). I told him that I was a writer; not one that he would have heard of, but one that hoped to call writing a career one day and not just a hobby. He smiled in a patronizing way, as though he had heard this same story from many other “would-be’s” before.
“Oh? What do you write?” he asked, rubbing the bristles of his moustache. I told him that I had many stories inside to tell, but that I always felt more at home within the realm of Science-Fiction. His eyes lit up as soon as the words passed between my lips. His once doubtful eyes softened, and he shifted in his seat. “Really?” he said. “Why Science-Fiction?”
I spouted off an inventory of my influences as though I had banked them for just such an occasion: Lost, Star Wars, Firefly, Doctor Who. He interrupted me the very second after I’d said Doctor Who. “Doctor Who is brilliant, isn’t it?” I felt like I had uncovered the secret word that would endear this man to me for a lifetime. We talked about Doctor Who for the next forty-five minutes, including how to integrate the brand into my upcoming wedding (Dalek ice sculptures and TARDIS-skinned photo booths).
“You know,” he said, “Science-Fiction is all the rage back in England right now. If you’d like, I can send a couple copies of your books back home. I think they’d be quite keen on them.” He didn’t need to ask me twice. Within an hour, I had a care package packed and ready to ship across the pond. It was an honor… er, rather, an honour, to have my books read in England, to which I have never been, but love a great deal.
A couple of weeks passed before I saw my new neighbor again. He knocked on my front door, coming to inform me that a careless driver had taken out the Internet cabling connected to my house. As I started to shut the door and call the cable company, he turned around and said that he had just spoken with a mate back home about my books. His mate had read Noble and couldn’t stop raving about it. He wanted to know if there were others. A lightening strike could not have erased that smile from my face.
As a writer, I feel very blessed to have sold a modest amount of books. My books don’t score a direct hit with every reader, but when they do, I am elated when I receive kind words and feedback on Twitter. I’ve begun to notice that the bulk of these positive marks are coming from British followers, which leads me to wonder if there is something to what my neighbor said.
Are my books better suited for an English audience?
Am I not focusing enough marketing across the pond?
Am I ignoring a potential hotspot for my books while I struggle to stand out amongst vampires and zombies in the USA?
I don’t have the answer to those questions at present, but it’s certainly something that I am going to research a bit more. I don’t care about fame and fortune; I just want to find a demographic that I can entertain with my stories. If it truly is within the UK that I belong, then I can’t think of a better reason to start looking for a flat. I’ve been ready to have a laugh and a pint with my mates for a long, long time.
This is going to be the shortest review that I’ve ever written for a book. Why? Because I don’t want to waste precious time that you could be using to read this book.
There are so many things that I want to say about Superbia, but I truly believe that the best way to experience it is to go into it cold. That’s the way I experienced it. From being a fan of the author, I knew roughly what it was about, but when I began to read, it could not have been any further from my initial expectation.
Hands down, Schaffer is the very best independent author I have ever read. I buy his books with confidence knowing that I’m going to get a quality read. With Superbia, Schaffer has taken his game to an entirely new level. It’s obvious from the first pages of the book that he is very close to the subject matter, and that he’s speaking straight from the heart. He presents the reader with an opportunity to peek behind the curtain of real police work. It’s gritty and hard to stomach at parts, but when it’s over, I can close the book. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to face that kind of evil every day.
You have probably read a police procedural or detective story before. You have never read one like this. Schaffer’s story is dark, intelligent, eye-opening, and if you can believe it, funny. Superbia is somehow both the most somber and hilarious book Schaffer has ever written. I’ve already read it twice and I’m ready to go back again.
I have read all of this author’s books, and Superbia is my new favorite by a wide margin. If I had any criticism to offer at all, it’s that I have no idea how he’s going to top it, but I can’t wait to watch him try.
Q & A with Superbia author, Bernard Schaffer
Welcome back and thanks for dropping by! Let me start off by congratulating you on the release of not one, but two publications over the past few weeks. My God, man, when do you sleep? I feel like I should be warning Sarah Connor about you.
I appreciate the opportunity, David. The question about when I sleep and how fast I write has come up often lately. People who are balancing jobs and families seem mystified at how quickly I write and release products.
I wrote like this when there was no Kindle. I wrote like this when agents and small press magazines were laughing at me.
SUPERBIA is a project that you have been talking about for a long time. You and I touched on it briefly during your last visit to the site. Of all the projects swimming around in your head, why did SUPERBIA rise to the top? Why now?
No matter what book I released, people around me would say, “That’s nice, but when are you going to write a cop book?”
I was afraid to write SUPERBIA. I couldn’t see what they saw. Plus, I was still struggling with the belief that I would be a police officer for the next fifteen years or so. I knew that to really write it, I would have to let go of that belief because the consequences would be potentially disastrous to my career.
SUPERBIA is obviously a very personal story. Was it difficult reliving some of these moments over again for the book?
No. What was difficult was trying to describe them in ways that would not make their source immediately apparent. I know what really happened. I needed to bend the entire story enough that no one could come back and connect reality to fiction, but still resonate.
You have said that SUPERBIA might be the book that ends your police career. Have you shared the book with anyone on the force? If so, what has been their reaction?
I’ve told several people about the book, and heard back from one already. His quote, I believe was, “This was no shot across the bow. This was a direct hit from the Battleship New Jersey.”
Without giving anything away, talk about the book’s ties to Greek mythology. What inspired that pairing?
Completely accidental. I kept struggling with Vic’s last name, doing “Replace All” in the manuscript multiple times, until finally it occurred to me to make it something meaningful. After that, the rest seemed obvious.
Anyone who follows you on Twitter knows that the real-life Bernard Schaffer is often a humorous and jovial guy. As an author, your subject matter rarely lends itself to comedy, but SUPERBIA is surprisingly laugh-out-loud funny at times. Did you base the relationship between Frank and Vic off of real life experience?
I’m doing very limited press for this book, David, but since you’ve been so good to me, I’ll tell you something funny that no one else knows.
SUPERBIA did not turn out the way I originally intended it. I meant it to be my “Beach Read” book, a la John Locke. I read his book How I SOLD 1 MILLION EBOOKS IN 5 MONTHS! and the part about his writing style annoyed me. I think he said it was heavy on dialogue, light on description, and that he didn’t exert much effort.
My reaction was, “Shit, I can do that with my eyes closed.” I sat down and wrote out a few scenes between Vic and Frank that focused on dialogue, getting their back-and-forth conversational style down. Then, the monster kicked in.
I first encountered the monster during GUNS OF SENECA 6. After WHITECHAPEL, I was trying to write a lighthearted little sci-fi western to show people I can do more than just explicit gore, and these psychopathic cannibal hillbillies showed up. I sat there staring at my computer screen like, “You can’t be serious. Don’t EAT THAT GUY.” But they did.
The turning point for SUPERBIA came toward the end of the first draft when I realized what Vic’s fate was. I don’t mean decided, I mean realized. Here I was, motoring along, writing my cute little cop buddy book and it was like someone slammed a gavel down and said, “Vic Ajax is going to XXXX XXXXXXX.”
I was absolutely horrified. Pissed off. I couldn’t sleep.
In that one fell swoop, my funny beach read became a major work. Once you’re faced with that, you can’t back down. I am not sure how many MAJOR WORKS the universe gives you, but when it does, you better be ready.
I know that a magician never reveals his secrets, but I’ve got to know: The bit about the poster-sized African American penis. Please tell me that was based off of a real event. I had tears pouring down my face after that.
The ENTIRE book is fictional. Honest. I swear to God. (If you read the book, I’m hoping you pick up on that one.)
As a policeman, was it difficult to toe the line between authenticity and protecting sensitive information when writing this book? Not just in the crime stories, but also in describing what happens behind the station’s doors?
That was the hardest part of all. I don’t want to give people the impression that I wrote a different book about my real life experiences and then modified it to create SUPERBIA.
If I told you all of the bizarre things that have happened to me during the course of my career, it wouldn’t be readable. It would seem like I was just being outrageous. I grew up as a cop’s kid, and have spent my adult life in police work. Believe me, I’ve got stories out the wazoo.
The trick was to create a fictional world, with fictional characters, who experience real things.
Like a good friend of mine said, “If anybody complains about what they read in the book, they are basically admitting that’s how they act. They won’t make a peep.”
I can’t talk much about this without giving away plot spoilers, but I am very curious to know about the backstory involving the “Truth Rabbit.” I got the feeling that it could have been a tall tale used to spook the rookies, but it also sounded bizarre enough to be true.
The Truth Rabbit is a mythical beast that once reportedly roamed the basements of Philadelphia Police Districts. He’s an urban legend. That’s all I’m allowed to say.
When writing WHITECHAPEL, you talked about how listening to Morrissey for inspiration played a huge part in your process. Did you look to a specific playlist for inspiration for SUPERBIA?
I did, especially once I came to that division bell of the book turning from Beach Read to Major Work. It took me some time to absorb the ramifications of the story, and I relied on Chris Cornell and Hank Williams III to help me understand what it meant. Specifically, “Cleaning My Gun” from Chris’s Songbook LP and “#5” from Hank 3’s Rebel Within album.
Based on the early reviews, how do you feel about the warm reception SUPERBIA is getting?
Grateful. It’s like bringing your girlfriend home to meet your family, and when she goes to the bathroom, they all say, “She’s a winner. Where did a bum like you find her?”
I believe those were my parent’s exact words when they met my fiancée. So, was there any part of you that was concerned that your readers might not “get” your book?
I sent the second draft of the book out to five beta readers. Three of them got back to me immediately and put me to work right away. I sat down and started making adjustments and rewriting the manuscript.
Two of them waited until the last minute to tell me they’d only had time to read half of it and disliked certain things. One said she thought the “weird names were distracting.”
That’s a gut check when you have already finished the book and ready to release it. I stuck to my instincts and people have had no problem figuring out the “weird names.” Thank God.
Are you at all worried about SUPERBIA becoming the measuring stick for which all your future books are judged, or are you looking forward to the challenge of one-upping yourself?
You know, it never crossed my mind until reader reviews started making it an issue. I never set out to write “My Greatest Book” with SUPERBIA. I was just telling a story.
Once you become concerned with the formula for success, it’s over. I’ve been bitten on the ass by too many authors who thought they could crank out another book in a series just to take my money. I’d probably be making a lot more cash if I just wrote just one series. The problem is, I have more to say than that.
You’ve been talking lately about your ambitious plans for 2012: Publishing four books and earning over a million dollars. That seems like a lot of pressure for one writer to put on himself. Care to divulge your strategy?
Write hard and well. So far, so good.
Let’s talk a little bit about your agenda for this year. One of the books on your slate is WHITECHAPEL 2, which surprised me a little bit. What prompted you to revisit this series?
I miss the characters when I’m not spending time with them. Little things remind me of them, like old lovers. Take WHITECHAPEL. It might be a Morrissey song, or a commercial for the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I’ll start thinking about my characters and wondering what they’re up to.
With WHITECHAPEL, I did an enormous amount of research into the times and crimes of London’s East End during that period. One thing that always bothered me was that Scotland Yard missed something incredibly important.
They had a second serial killer at work right under their noses, but were so consumed with Jack the Ripper that they missed him.
WHITECHAPEL 2: INSPECTOR LESTRADE AND THE TORSO KILLER is going to correct that. The Torso Killer has been getting a free ride for over a century. Gerard Lestrade is back on the job, folks. He’s got a little something special planned for the one that got away.
In all the times we’ve spoken, I can’t recall you ever mentioning THE WIDOW SWORD, which is another book you’ve targeted for release. How about a quick overview?
The original WIDOW SWORD manuscript predates WHITECHAPEL, written before anything like Kindle existed. It was too short for me to send to an agent, and I mothballed it. Recently, I was going through some of my older work and found the book. When I started reading it, I was happily surprised at what I saw and decided to try and make a go of it.
The story is a sword and sorcery romp, where a Viking goes off on a journey to rescue his son from an evil sorceress. It’s my next Beach Read. Honest. I swear to God.
I, as I’m sure many of your fans are, am excited to see a sequel to GUNS OF SENECA 6 popping up on your radar. Have you given much thought as to where the sequel will take our favorite characters, or is that one still a ways off?
It is a work in progress. I’m still accumulating ideas for it. All you really need for any book is a decent starting point. I tend to write in spurts, working on multiple projects at the same time, until one really takes hold and everything else comes to a halt.
I love the world of Seneca 6. It is as different and interesting to me as the world of Whitechapel, but in a completely different way. Kind of like my kids. They aren’t alike at all, but I dig them both unendingly.
And lastly, there’s CODEX LEICESTER, which you’ve announced will be a collection of short stories similar to WOMEN AND OTHER MONSTERS. How’s that progressing?
Believe it or not, CODEX LEICESTER almost came out before SUPERBIA. I finished ANCIENT RITUALS and took a hard look at all the material that is finished for CODEX, and was tempted to just finish it. I created a cover and everything. What held me back was the third Sean Price (Agent Omega) story. CODEX LEICESTER won’t be ready until that piece is finished, and I’m not ready to write it yet. At the end of the day, SUPERBIA won.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Kindle All-Stars project. After the successful launch of RESISTANCE FRONT last month, you are now offering professional editing and marketing services to indie authors under that same umbrella. Give me your best pitch!
There are a wide assortment of services available to authors out there now. God only knows what they’ll be getting for their hard earned money. I want to offer them a full service package that guarantees a professional looking product that is marketed correctly. It’s expensive, I realize that, but anyone who signs up with us is going to get the same attention I put into one of my own projects. I’m pretty sure no one would argue with my results.
You know everyone is asking, so let’s close this interview out with a little KAS 2 discussion. The clues are live on your website, and from what I hear, a few people have already cracked your code. So, that begs the question: If there is a KAS 2 coming, when are you letting the cat out of the bag?
A few people have applied themselves and come up with the correct answer. There will definitely be a KAS 2, but before we get there, we’re focused on a release for Worldreader.org. Laurie is hard at work assembling the right team for that project. KAS 2 will just have to wait for now. People need to keep checking the website.
Ah, well. Can’t blame a guy for trying, right?
Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bernard, as always, it’s been a pleasure to talk books with you. I wish you nothing but continued success and hope to see you here again soon. The door is always open to you!
David, you’ve been with me from the very beginning, and I don’t intend on that ever changing. Thank you so much for the chance to come back.