Thanks for visiting the blog, Bob! Could you tell us a little about your novel?
The motivations and self-examinations of the lead character, Detective Kenny Elliot, are the heart of this story, his unique way of dealing with his world the driving force. Of course the argument could be made that this is truly the case with all stories. However, historically fiction has been divided into two categories: literary and genre – with the general belief being that literary stories are character-driven while genre tales are more plot-oriented. Being a bit difficult to pin down, Twisted Perception has been called a mystery, a police procedural, a psychological thriller, and even a suspense novel, all of which are genre classifications. I still say the story is character-driven.
That being said, Elliot has a few years as a cop under his belt when the story begins. However, a bizarre murder investigation catapults him into his past, not exactly a comfortable place for him. His reputation for solving unusual cases lands him the assignment, but as the story develops, the reader will discover that there is much more to it than that.
How do you build suspense?
I wish I could give you an easy answer for this, but the truth is I cannot. Similar to the literary versus genre split, writers typically fall into one of two categories based on how they go about creating their novels: Those who outline and those who do not. I tend to fall into the latter category. I’ve tried both ways, including variations in between, which has shown me that there is no wrong way or right way, just whatever works for you. I do my best writing when I just sit down and write, with no preconceived ideas of where I’m going with either the story or the characters. Consequently, I’m not sure how the suspense manages to come about. The fact that it does seem to happen is good enough for me.
What led you to write this book?
Actually there is quite a story in itself behind that. It’s been a few years ago, but when I first began to get serious about writing for publication I decided to join a writer’s group. I sought out and found The Tulsa NightWriters, a group that I still belong to. I am, in fact, now the president of the club. However, to get back to the question, as an offshoot of the club, some of the members had started a critique group and I joined that as well. At the time, I was writing what I like to call dark fantasy short stories. My short stories were not exactly a hit with the critique members. After my first reading, I was encouraged to abandon short stories as a vehicle for my creativity in favor of the longer and more saleable form of the novel. It was also suggested that I take up a more serious subject matter.
Being quite new in my writing endeavors at the time, I was devastated by what seemed to me as a rejection of my writing abilities. While sitting at home that night after the meeting, watching television and feeling sorry for myself, something unusual happened. An idea for a character bloomed in my mind and I began to hear him speak. This had never happened to me before.
The first words the character spoke were, “You can’t fill out a homicide report indicating the suspect to be a ghost.”
In one simple sentence, the character had solved my problem. I now had the beginnings of a novel that would be conservative enough to satisfy the critique group while maintaining enough of a fantasy element to satisfy my leanings toward the unusual. I started writing that night. The result was my first novel, Twisted Perception, and the character, well, that turned out to be Detective Kenny Elliot.
Which authors inspire you?
My favorite authors are: Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John Saul, James Lee Burke, Tony Hillerman, and Thomas Harris.
What is the best advice you can give to other writers?
I’ve never been one to sugarcoat things. My advice has always been to go into writing for the right reasons. If your goal is to get rich, there are much easier ways to do that. If your goal is fame, then again you are likely to be disappointed. One should only go into writing for the love of the art. The face of publishing is changing daily, and it’s easier than it has ever been to get published. However, it is now more difficult than it has ever been to get traditionally published, that is, backed by a publisher that pays you and not the other way around.
That is the best reason to write I’ve heard. Thanks for sharing, Bob, and best of luck with Twisted Perceptions!
If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe via email or Networked Blogs. You can even follow me on Twitter or check out the new Freelance and Fiction page on Facebook!