Written for Sirens of Suspense
For the week before Memorial Day my wife and I took a much needed vacation to the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, culminating in a visit to Key West over the holiday weekend, to celebrate my 60th birthday. It was time to get away from the real world, and our jobs, for a brief repast. I did take time for something extra special, and for a half-hour of that vacation I took my feet off the beach long enough to do a blog radio broadcast and talk about writing and my recently released novel, Kettle of Vultures. I allowed myself to kick-back with my feet up on a small table in a gazebo, just a block from the beach. The ocean breeze gently ruffled my hair, while I drank from a Heineken and listened to the gulls screech overhead.
During the interview on Dialogue: Between the Lines, conducted my author Susan Wingate, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dialogue/2016/05/24/dialogue-returns-author-susan-wingate-hosts-guest-thriller-author-mark-sadler I was asked an interesting question, “What was it like to be a writer at sixty?” Now, having only having published two novels so far, one self-published and another through an indie-publisher, I look upon my accomplishment as being a toddler in the industry. I do everything I can to continue to learn my craft and build a better model. Classes, on-line or at community college, research about writing as well as the subject I write about. I want to immerse myself in the area I am writing about to give my readers a chance to also immerse themselves in my characters and their story-lines.
Writing suspense and thrillers, as I do, I find myself becoming very plot driven in my writing. Nothing advances the storyline like a good police chase or a house full of chained victims. On the other hand there are some readers that call for a character driven novel, where the ideas of the protagonist change the direction of the plot, building a compelling individual that the reader becomes absorbed with. For example: Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl where the relationship between the squabbling couple is dragged out to manipulate the plot. I strive to write complex, interesting and memorable characters, and combine them within page-turning action. I strongly believe that just because I write in a specific genre that demands action that I can’t also have a character that develops with the story; a touch of literature within the pages of the police-procedural.
A good measure of how well you are doing can be garnered from your reviews. When your readers write “Good action, fleshed-out characters…” and “…the hero of the story, is believable and the author does a great job of developing him…” it gives hope that perhaps you are achieving that for which you reaching for at last. Unfortunately potential literary agents or publishers are only interested in the first 1000 words, and unless you have established your character instead of the plot within that limited window, it could be the death knell, the slush pile for your novel. One of my co-workers (yes, I still have to work a full-time job as I am not yet making a living writing) engages me in conversation daily about the protagonist in Kettle of Vultures, Nate Duarte, as she is so smitten with him and what he will do next, in the second in the trilogy. She suggests places in Arizona that I might stash the next body! One can only hope that every reader ‘gets’ your writing like this young lady gets mine. This is the reason we, as writers, write. To have someone so engaged that they will tell everyone they know how great the last novel is that they read. If only the publishing industry gave the writers as much attention rather than just shuffling us off on to reject pile after three chapters.
As a child of ten in 1966 I would often amuse myself with reading old copies of National Geographic’s from America. Somehow my parents had accumulated a collection from the ‘50’s. I loved the ads as much as the articles. Greyhound trips to the Grand Canyon, Pan Am had wonderful flights to America. Everyone dressed so well, men in suits and hats with scarfs – I guess you would call it the ‘Leave It To Beaver’ time period, not that I knew what that was back then because we had no television. I loved the Norman Rockwell pictures. I aspired to have that when I became an adult, the white picket fence, a large family gathering at the holidays, the beautiful, smiling wife and well-behaved children. I quickly learned however that nothing ever is as it is in dreams. Welcome to the world of imaginative writing.