So, fellow writing-obsessives, dive into this interview and find out what theme Richard Sanders found himself obsessed with!
Welcome to the blog, Richard! Could you tell us a little bit about Dead Line?
Sure, it’s a character-driven thriller about memory, identity and making peace with the past. The lead character, Trish Fenellosa, is an arrogant, self-centered media executive, but not your usual arrogant, self-centered media executive. She’s also served time as a teen for murdering her sister, and now she suddenly believes she’s possessed by the spirit of Indira Gandhi. At the same time, a secret from her past is threatening to destroy her empire, while someone from that past is trying to take her life. In other words, there’s not much going.
What led you to write this novel?
I found myself getting really interested—I guess obsessed is the right word—in writing about someone who believes he or she is someone else. A character suffering bouts of intermittent amnesia and constantly losing identity. While that was going on in my mind, I also wanted to tell some of the stories I’d picked up in 30 years as a magazine and internet editor. The result is Dead Line.
How did you make sure readers will want to follow your main character Trish in spite of her potentially murderous past?
A lot of my characters tend to be crazy (I have NO idea why) and I always try to treat crazy characters like Trish the same way I try to treat crazy people—with sympathy and understanding. There’s always a reason people act the way they do, and the more you know about their reasons, the more interesting they become.
You used a very interesting marketing technique to promote this novel. Can you tell us about it?
I took the opening chapter of Dead Line and published it as free short story on Smashwords, with its own title and cover. Why bother? Especially when people can sample the beginning of the book for free? Because a lot of people only browse the Free Books section of Smashwords, and these are people I’ve never reached before. The idea is: Give them a free appetizer, maybe they’ll buy the entrée. So far it’s been working out okay. To switch metaphors here, I haven’t seen any rushing river of a result, but I have seen a steady stream of sales. I’ll take it.
What is your best advice on writing?
Writers are always trying to make what we write better, which is why we should give at least some respect and consideration to every piece of constructive criticism we get. But never forget that the ultimate authority on your writing is you. It’s your voice, it’s your vision—no one knows how to plumb it and shape it better than you do. I don’t care if William Shakespeare stops you on the street and starts giving you a lecture—he doesn’t have the final say. You’re diving into your dreams, you’re tapping into your subconscious, you’re putting your name on the final result. That makes it your responsibility.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Richard!
I worked as an Executive Editor at Entertainment Weekly for 11 years and (in two separate stints) at People magazine and people.com for 12 years. I often speak to young journalists and try to use myself as an example for inspiration—a guy who spent time in jail, rehab and a psych ward and somehow went on to become a successful editor at Time Inc. and managed to stay sane and alive. I’ve tried to reflect those experiences in my books. Dead Line is my sixth thriller (you can check out the other titles at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, etc.). I’ve been married for 41 years to my wife, Laurie—without whose help I wouldn’t be alive to write any of these words.
Richard Sanders can be found Facebook. He blogs at http://rsandersblog.wordpress.com/.
Dead Line is available at Amazon and Smashwords!