My first chapter books were the Hardy Boys titles, so they are the reason I love mysteries. As an adult, some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, and Greg Iles, so naturally I write what I love to read – mystery/suspense novels. My first crime book as an adult was Kiss the Girls by James Patterson. Actually Dead Man's Hand has been compared to James Patterson books, which to me is an honour. Maybe in style (short chapters, a quick read), as I have read many of his books.
2. From nearing the NHL to published author. How did that happen?
Actually my writing happened by accident. Growing up I never thought much about writing, but I was an avid reader. The only time I ever wrote was when my teachers at school made me. I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period. It was the winter of 2000, my second year of professional hockey, and I was playing in Oklahoma City. After sustaining a season-ending eye injury (one of the scariest moments of my life), I found myself with time on his hands.
My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was attending a French college in Montreal. She received an English assignment to write a short story, and asked me for some help. I loved the experience—creating vivid characters and generating a wire-taut plot. So, I sat down at my roommate’s computer and began typing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it I had completed my first manuscript.
I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing. Twelve years later, I still write for pleasure—and I still love it! The fact that I am being published is a bonus.
I made the decision to write a book with the intention of publication in 2005. I enjoyed writing so much as a hobby, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of being published and making it available for friends, family, and readers around the world to enjoy.
I`m not one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the internet, reading up on the industry and process. I made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.
Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2006, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write Dead Man's Hand. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of the novel.
I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing anything I could to learn, to improve my writing and my novel to point where I could create the best possible work. My years of hard work finally paid off. With my dream still in mind and my manuscript ready, I hired the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency to represent Dead Man's Hand. I signed a publishing deal with Imajin Books in May, 2012.
Plot: I get my ideas from stories I hear about, whether through reading (newspapers, magazines, etc.), what I hear (radio) or what I see (TV, movies, internet, etc.). The plot is completely fictional. I wouldn`t say that one thing or person influences my writing, but a variety of my life experiences all have led to my passion in the written word. There is not a single moment in time when this idea came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies. Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.
Setting: I usually set my stories in cities I`ve visited and fell in love with. Las Vegas was the perfect backdrop for this story, glitz and glamour as well as an untapped underground.
Characters: I have never been involved in a homicide investigation, LOL. Although I am not a 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, I’ve used much of my athletic background when creating my protagonist Calvin Watters. Watters past as an athlete, and his emotional rollercoaster brought on by injuries were drawn from my experiences. His mother died of cancer when he was young, as mine was. There are certainly elements of myself in Calvin, but overall, this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence.
4. What advice would you give to an unpublished author?
Get a part-time job to pay the bills (haha). Just kidding. Honestly, for anyone who wants to be a writer, you need to have three things: patience, determination and thick skin. You can`t let anyone or anything get in the way of your ultimate goal. You will hear a lot of “no`s”, but it only takes one “yes”. The writing industry is a slow-moving machine, and you need to wait it out. Never quit or give up on your dreams.
5. What's next for you?
I’m currently working on my second novel, another crime-thriller, following the career of rookie, female LAPD detective Charlene Taylor. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children (all girls, YIKES!!).
I don`t have much time to write, but when I get a chance, I do all I can. It could take some time, but eventually I would love to write a series of novels featuring Calvin Watters. But I will not limit my novels to Calvin Watters, as I would like to write a variety of novels, all in the crime-thriller genres.