To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?
Joey Turner, a mentally challenged young man, inadvertently witnesses the murder of his roommate in the Crawford Care Center where he lives. Scared for his own safety, he goes on the run. The care center sends a security team to bring him back because he knows too much and he must be silenced. Joey manages to elude capture for some time, but the men sent to find him are closing in fast
At a nearby high school, the body of a young girl is found in the bushes, stunning the community. Prompted by an unproductive police investigation, Marc Andrus and Chad Murphy, classmates of the murder victim, begin an investigation of their own. Their efforts eventually lead them to the Crawford Care Center, but before they can gather enough evidence to satisfy the police, their main suspect turns up dead. Now they must dig even deeper to find the truth behind the murders and they must act fast because the killer has already chosen his next victim.
Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?
I grew up in Provo, Utah. I liked to read when I was in elementary school and junior high school, but something happened when I hit high school. Suddenly, I was more interested in television, girls, and sports and my reading really took a back seat. I remember getting reading assignments in my English class and just sort of blowing it off, hoping I could manage to fake my way through the test. I look back and realized I missed a lot of good books by doing that.
One summer day in 1989, my parents came into my bedroom where I was watching TV and they threw a book onto my bed. They told me that I watched too much TV and that I should read more. I wasnt sure what to think. I remember picking up the book and seeing how many pages there were. They told me not to worry about that and to just read it. They promised me I would enjoy it. They were right. It was PROOF by Dick Francis. Twenty Dick Francis books later, I knew that I had found a new passion.
My new love for reading led me to explore my old love for writing. I had always enjoyed writing stories for school, or just on my own. I received good grades in my college writing classes and at some point, I decided that I wanted to try to write a full-length novel.
Its been fifteen years since that day my parents tossed the book on my lap, and Im now a published author. I really doubt I would have taken this path had they not encouraged me to read more.
Who were your earliest influences and why?
My earliest influences were Dick Francis and Robin Cook. When I read, I like to try to look at the story from the writers point of view. I like to deconstruct plots and try to figure out how one thing leads to another.
Francis has an amazing ability to create believable characters that you really care about. Cooks plotting and pacing taught me a lot about how to create suspenseful scenes and situations. Its all there in the books, you just have to carefully examine what the author is doing and then do your best to use the techniques in your own unique way.
Do you have any hobbies?
Writing is my hobby! Well, one of them. I also play acoustic guitar, and some piano. I have to play everything by ear because I simply dont have the patience to learn it the right way!
Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?
I remember a time, about three years into the writing of FINAL BREATH, where I was ready to quit. Because of my busy work and family schedule, I was only progressing about a page a month. I remember thinking that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. Its funny, because at the time, I had no intentions of seeking publication when I was finished. I simply wanted to do it just to see if I could. I honestly dont know what kept me going. Perhaps it was just the simple pleasure of sitting in front of the computer trying to get your characters out of the mess you put them in.
What is the hardest part about being a writer?
For me, its finding the time to actually sit in front of my computer and write. The next challenge for me is in the actual writing. I know that some writers can sit down and just pour out page after page without much effort. (Or at least it seems that way to me). I, on the other hand, struggle at times to get the wording just right. I work at every sentence until I am happy with it. Thats why when a reader tells me they just skimmed over a part, I get frustrated because of the sweat I put into each and every word. Ill get over that eventually I suppose.
What question do you get asked more than any other?
When is your next book coming out? Which is a bit frustrating because I want to tell them, Oh, it will be out early next year, or something like that. But honestly, my time is so limited with my career and family, I dont know if Ill ever get another one out. Thats how it feels anyway. Im keeping my fingers crossed. I have plenty of ideas. Its just a matter of getting them on paper.
*** Don't worry Paul our staff here has faith in you!
Whats the coolest thing a reader has said to you?
One woman told me that she stayed up until four in the morning to finish my book because she couldnt put it down. That kind of thing really means a lot.
Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?
Absolutely. I am constantly getting new ideas for characters and plots just by observing the people and things around me. Its not something I do on purpose. It just happens. Ill see an old guy riding a bike down the street and Ill begin to wonder who he is and what his story might be. Next thing I know, in my mind Ive made him an ex-CIA agent who is secretly hiding a fortune under his run-down shack in the woods.
Or sometimes I will think about one of my friends and how I could build a story around their day-to-day life. Ill think about them both as an antagonist or a protagonist and see which one seems more interesting.
Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?
John Grisham, Dick Francis, and Daniel Pinkwater.
If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?
Get a steady job so you can pay your bills while you write on the side. Its very difficult to make a good living as a writer. It takes time to get established and get your work recognized. If you are making money elsewhere, it relieves some of the stress that can come with trying to pump out stories just so you can feed your family.
Whats the strangest question youve ever been asked in an interview?
This one. J
** LOL ok
Whats the best part of being a writer?
For me, its receiving feedback from your readers. I prefer hearing positive feedback, but the negative is okay sometimes too. My wife punched me hard in the shoulder after reading a part of my book because I killed off a character that she liked. I loved the fact that I was able to create a character that she actually cared about. So, to me, that feedback was great. (Except for the pain in my shoulder).
As a writer, you put a lot of effort into creating something that you hope will touch somebody in some way. When a reader comes back and thanks you for giving them a few hours of suspenseful fun, or when they tell you they couldnt put your book down, it really makes all of the effort worthwhile.