21 January 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Guest Post by Dave Conifer, Author of Wrecker and eBully

Say what you will about authors, but they know how to rescue my bacon when I need it. Dave offered up eBully to me last year and I really enjoyed it. This year, he passed Wrecker to me (which I’m still mulling over, which is a good sign, I won’t say anything else, other than I ended up purchasing it so it would be on my Kindle account so I could share it with others on my account, though!). I’ve finished reading it and I’ve done the review… in my head. This time of the year is nuts for me and I asked Dave if he’d like to do a Q&A. Either it’s lucky or he knew that I’d probably never actually get the questions written until after April 15th, because he did one better. He wrote up a guest post for my blog. And wow, I LOVE all the information he gave us in here. Great stuff. And a BIG thank you, Dave, for not letting my blog get too stale. I promise, reviews are coming!

(Send copious amounts of booze and/or coffee to your bookkeeper. Now! You guys have NO idea what we go through *laughing hysterically from lack of sleep*)

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Without further ado, or ramblings by me… I give you Mr. Dave Conifer:

The Evolution and the Writing of Wrecker

At its conception, Wrecker was nothing like the thriller it turned out to be.  Rob Manteo’s background and history remained the same but what he did about it changed by about 180 degrees.  Originally, he was found randomly by Steve and hired to work around the house.  Anybody who has read Wrecker knows that this doesn’t even scratch the surface as to how he became a fixture at the Havelock’s place.

In the beginning the story was going to be more of a romance than a scary thriller.  In fact, here’s what I posted on my blog on May 23, 2010:

I think I’ve finally gotten the writing bug back because in the past few days I’ve done a lot of work on a new story. Surprise — it’s not like anything I’ve written before. I do that a lot!

For now the best way to describe it is that it’s probably “Nicolas Sparks-ish.” Maybe I’ll post some of it here at some point.

A romance involving who, you might ask?  Jane and Rob.  There really aren’t that many other choices.  Jane was seeking escape from her crummy marriage and Rob was looking for a new start.  The only action I anticipated was when Steve figured out what had happened and went after Rob.  I figured I could squeeze a few explosions and a good fight out of that.  I wasn’t sure whether the  story would be told from Steve’s or Rob’s perspective, and the answer to that one was a surprise as well.  Here’s what I posted on my blog on May 30:

Surprisingly, the story I’m currently working on is coming off more feminine than I expected. It’s turning out that a female character is pretty much the main character (I thought it was going to be somebody else) and the story seems to be rolling out from her point of view.   I didn’t expect this. I wonder if the world is ready for a chick book by Dave Conifer.

Rob was actually going to turn out to be a handsome guy under that scraggly beard.  He and Jane were going to be quite the couple.  But it didn’t turn out that way.  Rob – as I wrote the character —  didn’t want to be a vulnerable, charming man who arrived just in time to save Jane from her boorish husband.  The biggest change came just a few days later, June 3, as chronicled on the blog:

Remember that so-called chick book I’m working on? Well, yesterday I had THE IDEA! Anybody who writes will know what I mean. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s something like this. Instead of somebody with an interesting back story showing up out of the blue — there’s an intriguing reason for his sudden appearance. Intrigue abounds, actually.  Even better is that it has the potential to lead to explosions and car chases. Cool! THE IDEA!

Yeah, Rob and his intentions just changed radically.  As of that blog post Wrecker was roughly on target to be what it is today: no longer a romance but a story of vengeance.  There were still problems.  Something didn’t feel right.  The plot was too soft for what the book was turning into.  The transition from romance to thriller was difficult for me but at least I recognized the problem.  But what to do?

Enter big-time epic fantasy writer David Dalglish.  He probably doesn’t know how much he helped me shape this story those nights when we chatted on Facebook.  He urged me to put a harder, more aggressive edge on it.  Rob, especially, had to be toughened up.  Dalglish was absolutely appalled and disgusted that Rob was going to turn out to be so handsome and likeable (I believe his exact words were “Ugghh!!  No!!!!!!!”)  Here are my comments on my rap sessions with Dalglish as blogged on June 8:

I recently chatted with [my friend Dalglish]. Besides being a great writer he has great business sense, so I knew I’d be getting some gems from him. When I told him about my WIP, the one with the working title of GRIME, he thought it sounded good.  He also gave me some insights on a few directions I could take it in order to make it more commercially viable. Hopefully I’ll be able to weigh in with him from time to time…

By July I had what I wanted, and it was just a matter of writing it.  Here’s my comment from July 14:

My new story is coming along really well. I’ve been busy incorporating my many ideas on how to make my antagonist more interesting, unstable and scary while at the same time lending a basic logic to his mission. I’m really liking where this is going.  Actually, this guy is what I would call a sympathetic antagonist, if such a thing is possible. I like him better than one of the major so-called protagonists and I’m pretty sure readers will too. I suppose there have been many stories where the bad guy has his reasons, reasons which readers can relate to even if they wouldn’t choose the path he chooses.

There was still work to be done.  A lot of work.  Rob was no longer showing up out of the blue – there was a reason.  So I had to go back and plant the seeds, so to speak, in the first third of the book.  That took several weeks but it was well worth it, considering that his motives are the heart of the story and would provide a huge twist that would be delivered with a whopping kick.  In late July I put my head down and started typing even faster than I had been already.  My strongest memory from September 2010 is of myself sitting at the dining room table in front of my lap top with a glass of wine and a pile of scribbled notes at my side.  I wrote over 40,000 words in September alone (I’m a serious word count tracker).

Did somebody say ‘twist?’  Well, there was another one in store.  I don’t want to say too much, but as I got into October I realized that Duane Rockingham was becoming too prominent a character in proportion to his involvement in the basic plot.  I took a few weeks and made the needed adjustments for the last significant modification.  This added another twist which pales in comparison to the first one, but was still pretty good.  Here’s are some excerpts from my October 21 blog post (heavily edited to eliminate spoilers):

Last time I added a pretty cool twist. … Without getting into it, because I haven’t worked out the details anyway, the off-duty cop?… Mr. off-duty cop just became a major character.

It’s going to take a month just to go over the 70,000 words already written and work in enough clues before I write the conclusion …so that the reader won’t feel cheated.  … I also wanted to get something new out there when everybody gets their new ebook readers for Christmas. But that ain’t happening now, I don’t think. It’ll be worth it, though.

After I typed THE END and began editing, I immediately saw a serious problem with a painful solution.  The opening chapter was my favorite, and it was strong, but it just gave away too much to the reader right off the bat.  It was okay when the story was “Nic Sparks-ish”, which it was when I wrote that chapter, but not for a suspenseful thriller.  As much as I loved that chapter, it took away my capability for surprise.  So I sucked it up and pulled it out.  Goodbye.  It hurt, but it hurt good.

There was one last thing — the title.  By October I was calling it Wrecker.  At the last minute, however, I did some Googling and found that there were a bunch of books with the same title.  That’s not necessarily a killer, but it bothered me.  I considered several other titles and sought the opinions of many, but in the end I left it the way it was.

And that’s how Wrecker became what it is today.

Note: excerpts from blog posts have been sanitized to eliminate spoilers.

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Make sure to check out both of Dave’s books – eBully and Wrecker

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