CHASING KELVIN is the second novel in my Marc Huntington series which follows the adventures of recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington who make their living recovering missing persons, stolen items, and rare treasures. In CHASING KELVIN they stumble into a terrorist attack upon a train while recovering a stolen diamond of great value. The terrorist plot turns out to be only a small part of a worldwide scheme and Hunt (Marc) is sent racing cross country in pursuit of terrorist leader, Kelvin Donnelley who holds a vile necessary for Dana’s survival. There are plenty of twists, thrills, and suspense. The story takes some shocking turns which impact Hunt and Dana profoundly on a personal level. The novel is set for a June release.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
There are two layers to this answer. The Huntington series is based on characters and stories first created for my weekly audio drama radio program, 21st Century Audio Theatre, which aired here in Las Vegas. So, this particular story first saw light as a full-cast audio drama. Initially, CHASING KELVIN was a fun romp broken into half hour segments with lots of chases, sound effects, and dramatic music. In writing the novels, I was able to look deeper into the characters and motivations and tell a much fuller underlying story. A lot happens in the book that didn’t happen in the audio dramas. Something very traumatic happens to Dana that changes the entire course of the story and adds several layers of suspense and intrigue.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters?
I think a little of me makes it into each character – even the villains – some random thought, some observation or concern. But, at the same time, none are specifically like me. Hunt is probably the closest in that he has a silly sense of humor and is really a boy at heart. But he does things in his life that I would never even consider.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Well, again Hunt is probably my favorite because he’s a doer. He can’t stand to sit still and let someone else take the lead. He tends to carry responsibility even when it’s not his to carry. That said, he’s also flawed. He’s dealing with an addiction that he’s kept from Dana and is gradually losing control of it. As well, he’s a former Delta Force commander given a dishonorable discharge due to events that may or may not have been his doing. Due to injuries caused by an explosion, his memories of the events are spotty. His wife, Dana, is former MI-6, which is akin to the British CIA. She also left under a bit of a cloud as she got involved with and married a man she was tasked to investigate. The marriage ended when he learned that she was a spy. Dana is brilliant, lively, and sometimes slips into her native cockney accent when rattled, though most of the time she’s quite proper. Her ex-husband, Jonathan Thorpe, is a high end art thief and a thorn in Hunt’s side. He is conceited, considers himself above common morality – and thus the law – and is amazingly charming. Despite their pasts, Thorpe is still in love with Dana.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
Character development occurs throughout my first draft. I start with a basic feel for my characters and then get a better grasp on them as I write. I start filling in their biographies, nailing down their speech patterns, habits, motivations, and temperaments. I build a bio on each of them and once it’s completed refer to it constantly through subsequent drafts.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
The biggest challenge was the process of adapting the audio drama script while adding characters and circumstances not in the original, much shorter, tale. Thorpe, for instance, was not a character in the original script. As well, events detailed in the first Huntington novel, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, are addressed in the second. I’m very happy with this novel because I was able to take both the character development and the story itself to a new level. Yes, I’m biased but I think it’s a great thriller with believable characters that readers will care about.
What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
I’m an early riser and so am at the computer between four and five AM every day of the week. I almost never take a day off from writing, though some days are much heavier than others. I have no specific word count per day.
When where you first published? How were you discovered?
That’s an interesting story. I wrote some articles and short stories for small publications early on and then landed a fulltime position as a writer for an online magazine. The dot com eventually went under and I renewed my focus on writing fiction. In 2007 I and my wife, Kathy, launched an audio drama radio program. Eventually, through my blog, a publisher (Speaking Volumes) learned of these dramas. They published audio books and were interested in hearing our productions. Upon hearing the audio dramas, they loved the production and writing and offered to publish several of them. Kurt at Speaking Volumes then asked me to write novels based on the Huntington stories and to write a short story collection (13 Bodies: Seven Tales of Murder and Madness) based on the stand alone audio dramas. I then submitted an additional manuscript (The Demon Baqash) to Speaking Volumes and they published this as well. They have now offered to continue the Huntington series beyond the original stories and so the series will continue. During this same period, publisher L & L Dreamspell accepted and published my novel, THE EMPTY.
Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?
Some of my readers have accused me of too readily killing off characters. I do get a bit of a twinge when I eliminate a character that I’ve grown attached to, but it’s very important to me that readers experience the sense of dread and unknowing that can only come when it’s clear that no one is truly safe and that things will not necessarily turn out as everyone would like. True drama comes from conflict and the unknown. Sometimes that means a character must die.
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
My college creative writing professor, Charlie Tinkham. He was a remarkable, dedicated teacher who felt that creative writing could not be taught properly in a classroom setting and so met with each student individually once a week to go over their work. He told me that a story is never done, it’s only given up on, that there is no such thing as a good writer, only a good rewriter.
DEAD MAN’S FIRE CHAPTER ONE: http://thomreese.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/dead-mans-fire-chapter-1/