Rethinking Concepts

It’s been a while since I posted, but I suspect there are very few people that noticed.  I’m okay with talking in an echo chamber for right now.  I’m still figuring stuff out.

Including, it seems, the concept for the new novels.  I’m staring at starting from scratch again.

I need to make a decision and that’s where the problem lies.

I enjoy spy novels.  My favourite authors are mostly spy thriller writers (le Carré, Bagley–sometimes, among others).

On the other hand, I really like damn good caper stories, which have faded away from the scene a lot these days.   I’m thinking of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series of novels in particular, which were all enormous fun to read.  There’s never really been anyone else like him–or Modesty.

I also like a really good hard boiled detective story, and there’s never enough of those around.

I also grew up reading Alistair MacLean.

I’m strongly leaning toward the international spy thriller novel, but the scope is daunting.  Maybe that’s a good thing.

I think I’m suffering from shiny object syndrome.

Time to retest my concept…

Cold War Feel, Modern Day Treatment

I recently started watching Counterpart, the new Starz TV series, which was haphazard of me, as I generally prefer to wait until a season is over before starting to watch it.

I was thoroughly engrossed by the end of the first episode, despite the science-fiction-y concept of the show, because the alternative worlds premise is really a great substitute for Berlin during the Cold War.

The antics each side goes through, spying on each other, brings Berlin sharply to mind, too.

So does does the art and design of the series.  Clothe are subdued, sets are dark, and there are interesting touches, like throw-back computer monitors and clunky reel-to-reel mag tapes.

The homage is deliberate:  part of the series is filmed in Berlin.

If you like Le Carré, you’ll likely enjoy Counterpart.

Another birthday.

It’s my birthday today.  Yet another one.

I’ve spent the day thinking of and talking to family, of which there are fewer these days than there used to be, and what is left of us is scattered around the world.

I’m more determined than ever to get these thrillers done and published, as they are, indirectly, my acknowledgement of family and those gone.



You’re Really Writing A Book?

From the mailbag:

You’re really writing a book?  How come you don’t talk about it on the blog?  What’s it about?

I’ve had a few emails like this one (which is a paraphrase), so I thought I’d answer the email(s) publically, too.

I’m really writing a book, yes.

In fact, I’m writing three books in a series, to start with.  They are spy thrillers, one of my favourite genres.

The reasons I don’t talk about them very much here on the blog are:

I don’t want to bore or irritate you.

Writers waffling about their work-in-progress can be incredibly frustrating for me as a reader.  If the story they’re talking about sounds interesting, then I want to read the damn thing now.  I’ll even settle for a few weeks/months, if the book is on pre-order.

But dangling it now, when the writer hasn’t even finished the book yet, is just cruel and unusual.  What if the author doesn’t even finish the book?  Because that has never happened…

On the other hand, most authors are shitty at describing their own story in a way that intrigues readers–not off the cuff in a blog post.  They have to work their blurbs into an enticing description.  I include myself among those authors…and I don’t want to have you give up on the book before it’s even finished.

I’m still working on it.

Related to the first reason, but not exactly the same.

I’m still actually working on the concept and outlines for the series.  I have a name for my primary character, but the rest of the story is in flux and inclined to shift every time I work on it.

I don’t want to risk telling you about a story that you won’t recognize when you get to reading it.

I have limited time.

Like a huge number of other fiction authors, I have a day job.  I’m writing the thrillers in my spare time.  That means I can’t be certain how long it will take me to finish them, and therefore, what the release date will be.

Once I have the outline nailed down, I will be in a position to talk more about my stories as well as everyone else’s.

I’ll also be deep diving into the research by then, too, and reporting back on some of the cooler factoid I unearth.

Stay tuned.

Good Thriller, Not Such A Hot Gumshoe Story

I started hearing the rumbles about the “don’t-miss” new Netflix series, Altered Carbon, almost as soon as it dropped on Netflix, and checked it out with some degree of curiosity because everyone was raving about how it was Blade Runner meets Sam Spade.

Yeah…not so much.

I was intrigued by the first episode which set up a neat little murder mystery, complete with femme fatales and dodgy characters galore, set in a grimly advanced future.  The hero even had a personal stake in solving the murder.

So far, so good.

I’m only a couple of episodes from the end of the first season (I believe there are two more seasons in the making), and can say with a fair amount of confidence about the season overall that:

1.  It’s a brilliant thriller.

The layered and complex future setting doesn’t overtake the story.  There are some great characters mixing it up in unexpected ways, and the hero is constantly barely a step ahead of murderous trouble.

The series is certainly compelling.


2.  It forgot it was a hard-boiled murder mystery.

The hard-boiled characters are still there, because it is a dystopian setting, so they get to come along for the ride.

Unfortunately, the massive back story the series must go through to explain the present day story overwhelms the mystery.  (The book the series is based upon is over 500 pages, and it shows.) There has been very little movement on the mystery itself for a few episodes.

If you don’t mind pure thrills and chills, then you may enjoy this futuristic thriller.   It’s damn fine viewing, within that perspective.

Just don’t hold your breath waiting for a mystery to unravel.

The Perfect Place for A Spy Thriller

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned in any of my posts yet that I’m in the process of writing my first spy thriller series.

I would have mentioned it on the about page, and there’s already a yawningly empty book page for the said books to show up when they’re done.  I just don’t think I’ve actively talked about the series in posts, yet.

Mostly what I talk about in posts are items I come across through my research and reading.

But yes, I’m writing a spy thriller series.  To be exact, I’m still plotting it, although that’s an improvement on where I was when I started this blog.  I didn’t even have a concept worked out, then.

Now I’m actually plotting and the details are coming together very nicely.  The books and the characters are taking shape and starting to talk back, which is always a great place to reach when building a new story.

It’s taking more time than I’m used to because I’m writing it in my spare time.  That means there’s a lot of “think” time in between plotting sessions, which helps the boys in the basement offer up some peripheral and quite interesting lateral suggestions.

I’m not quite ready to share anything yet, except to say that the first book will open in Morocco, which is a slight and deliberate tip of the hat to Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series of books, which are still among my favourites.

Morocoo is a fascinating country.   Here’s one of the odd contrasts that demonstrates the country’s bipolar character:  There are great surfing beaches up and down the coast, while people go snow skiing in the High Atlas Mountains just to the east.  At the foot of those mountains, the Sahara desert begins.

Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

That Morocco in a nutshell.