The Next Chapter follows a down-and-out writer, Sal, who had reached a peek of success when his wife and daughter died in a terrible accident. Unable to get past the loss, Sal is about to lose everything he had worked for. Then he finds a package in his garden. In it, a manuscript detailing a girl’s abduction. Also, a bag with a heart. A note tells him to write the next chapter in the girl’s life or she’ll be killed. Sal is convinced this isn’t a prank when breaking news reveals a girl has been abducted from the mall exactly as the chapter states. He realizes that he must play along in hopes to keep the girl alive while trying to notify the police. Unfortunately, the police want him for questioning when other girl’s bodies are dumped with pages from his novels. If police take Sal, he won’t be able to meet the killer’s deadlines to keep the girl alive. Sal’s only hope is to find the killer before the police find him.
Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
My most unusual character is Neil Kelly, a county detective. I patterned him from a gentleman I worked with. He was a man who droned on, oblivious of anyone’s time or interest. Not a bad guy, but one that would drive most people crazy. One story this man told me involved him nearly burning his house down with popcorn. I threw that in the story. I had to.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
I like to think all my stories have a bit of a message. All good fiction should have a theme and ultimately a point of view. This story involves God’s sovereignty. Often bad things happen to good people. But it doesn’t mean that God isn’t watching and isn’t working for the ultimate good. So, I envisioned this writer who would have to write a girl’s fate as she’s abducted by a sick killer. She’s in the worst situation she could possibly be, but her protector is working through it to save her. Will he? He’s not God.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
I outlined this story extensively. I first wrote out a rough draft without that. But then, I scrapped the entire first draft and started over. I outlined each day and ultimately broke down the days into hours in a final draft. I enjoy Dean Koontz and this book certainly shows my admiration in the plotting. I also re-wrote the pages over and over to make everything fit together as seamlessly as possible. I had to keep a lot of plot points in mind to pull it off. I don’t think I could have done that without plotting it and keeping track of everything.
How has your background influenced your writing?
My missionary kid background influences my writing to a great extent. I grew up learning theology and meeting people from different cultures. Every new person I meet creates a folder of influence for me. Those folders pop open when I need them for a character or plot point. There are times when something like a headline jumps out at me and I immediately incorporate that into my story.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me a few years to write it, but not constant. I wrote out the rough draft in a few months. Then, I took some time to research. When i got to writing the next draft, I took about a year, re-writing each chapter and re-writing them with critiques before moving on to the next. After that, I had an agent, did a few small re-writes. Then I got rid of my agent, re-wrote the entire book with a new beginning, and that took about 4 months.
How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?
I have about 4 stories swirling around in my head. They vary in genre, too. I have an Indiana-Jones-style adventure on tap. I also have a supernatural suspense story and a horror story. I guess that’s three. But I’m certain there are a few others. Oh, yes, a political thriller. We’ll see which gets the most attention once they’re out.
What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
My writing schedule is erratic. I write when I can, but I have 4 young kids and a wonderful wife that need my attention, too. So, I try to write on the bus or in the evening. Sometimes I can get some work done on the weekends. It just depends.
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
The best writing advice that I’ve received probably came from my mom. She pointed out a paragraph I’d written and said, can you think of a better way of saying that? That rocked my world at the time. I then started looking at everything I’d written and wondering, is that the best way I can say that to convey what I’m feeling? The second best advice, given from a number of sources, is never give up.
What do you like to read?
I like to read suspense novels. I recently finished a Jules Verne story. I’ve got some other classics on my Kindle. I’ve always enjoyed Dean Koontz. He has a wonderful way of putting words together.
What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?
I know only a little about book promotion. Social media is good. Having a large number of friends who help spread the word is good. Ultimately, what helps is having blogs review your books and getting a higher sales rank. Reviews on Amazon and other sites helps, too.
Have you written any other books?
I’ve written 2 novellas that are for purchase. A horror story, The Fold, and an end of the world Christmas story, The Last Christmas. Both are on Amazon and listed at my author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005O3ZMCY I’ll be releasing another novella in the spring of 2012 and a full-length adventure novel later in the year.
I have a website: http://www.bryntjones.com and a blog, bryntjones.blogspot.com and I’m on Twitter, @BrynTjones.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?
I strive to write stories that will grab readers. I don’t really adhere to one genre, but I think all my stories will have strong themes and characters that will engage the reader. If it’s boring to me, I won’t write it.