Over the years, people have asked me questions about writing a novel. Here are some of the common ones.
Where do you get your story ideas? Writers have different sources of raw material. I read newspapers and find plenty of great story ideas from current events. I base the story I’m currently writing, A THIN GREY LINE, on a news story from a few years ago. Regardless the source, fiction writers invariably ask the question that starts with “What if…” From that question, a kernel of reality can explode into an elaborate world of fiction. CAUSED & EFFECT came from a more unusual source. In one of my early fiction writing courses, I performed a standard fiction exercise that involved writing a scene with two characters twice. The first time, I wrote from one character’s point of view, the second from the other. To show a dramatic difference in the character points of view, I decided to write a sex sting from the viewpoint of the male sex predator, Jack, and the young woman police officer, Linda Baldwin, masquerading as a 15 year old named Chastity. A few months later I found myself thinking about that scene and I asked why Linda Baldwin was doing a sex sting. That began my development of Linda Baldwin as a character. Her evolution to the woman in the first novel took place over the course of several years. Incidentally, readers should now be able to recognize the source of the opening scene of CAUSED & EFFECT.
You mention characters. Are your characters based on real people? At the risk of sounding like a politician, let me say yes, and no, and it all depends. Yes, many of my characters have traits, physical descriptions or mannerisms that closely resemble those of people I know. In some of those cases, I chose the fictional name as a cue to me to think about that person when writing a scene with that character. But, no, none of my characters are anything but a composite of attributes drawn from several people and my own imagination. The ratio of real to imagined depends upon the character. Linda Baldwin, for example, contains a very high ratio of imagined to real even though she is my main character. That’s only because I don’t know anyone quite like her. There are a few characters at the other end of that spectrum in the sense that I know people a lot like them. Virtually every person who has critiqued a portion of CAUSED & EFFECT or served as a test reader has asked me if I am Bert Bariteau. The answer is no, but I wish I had been. Bert Bariteau, the lobbyist, wields a great deal more influence than I ever did. On the other hand, I can’t say that I never did any of the things Bert does in the novel.
What about the places? Are they real? For the most part, yes. In a few cases the names are thinly disguised, but the places are real. I decided early on to write about places I knew. I figured it would be easier to show a reader around my story if I was familiar with the surroundings. Having said this I must admit, as with everything else in the story, I reconfigured the details of some places to fit my story needs.
Will CAUSED & EFFECT be available in bookstores? Probably not, although traditional bookstores will be able to order it for you if you ask. Most major online booksellers will have it available, though. The world of book publishing and selling is changing rapidly. Publishers are finding it increasingly difficult to make money selling the works of new authors like me. I recognize the dismal economics and that’s why I chose to distribute my book through online outlets. There will also be E-book versions for virtually every E-reader out there including the full range of Apple devices, Kindle, Android, Sony, Nook and others. I am still working on the various distribution channels and will post them as they come on line.