The Three Questions I Am Asked The Most

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I have a lot of friends who, until I released The Grandfather Clock, had no idea that I was writing. And there was good reason. I never talked about it. Then a few years ago I wrote my first novel and word started to leak out. And then curious people started asking lots of questions, as if I were John Grisham. Here are the most common questions I get?

1. Have you written anything else? Lots over the years, but only one other full novel manuscript. That first novel isn’t The Grandfather Clock. Stored in several digital locations, in order to survive nuclear winter, is a 130,000 word thriller with Swiss banks, base diving daredevils, and a female romantic interest based on my wife. To this day, my wife is the only person who has read that book. It doesn’t even have a title, but let’s call it Golden ParachuteIt’s possible that it’ll get rewritten with a different main character, or I’ll write the main character into another book and spin it off into an other series. I don’t know. It currently sits like a 1978 Camaro, on blocks, under a tarp, rusting.

2. Is this a true story? Yes. I really did chase down an Argentinian soccer player who fell in with Neo-nazis. Okay, that’s a lie. I had a lady come up and ask me if I’d really been beat up before, because she thought the scene felt real. A nice compliment, but no, I haven’t been beaten up. I’m undefeated, ma’am. Here’s what’s true: I do have a grandfather clock that I had to retrieve from a storage unit in California. And there is a Napoleonic muzzle-loading gun as well. But the similarities end there. My character’s brother is loosely based on my brother, because he’s a great brother. Everyone else is fiction. Sorry. There might be an anecdote or two that are semi autobiographical, but even then I take real events and then go nuts.

3. How do you write your stories? Good planning. I start with a framework. A 30,000 foot view of my story. What’s the main concept, the main twist, and how does it end? The end is hardest part to write, so I try to write it first. It gives me a target to aim for when I start writing from the beginning. That way I don’t end up with wizards or zombies popping up. Then I outline each section of the book, do character composites, and research. For The Grandfather Clock I read everything that I could about Nazis in Patagonia and the theory that Hitler died there in the 1960s. It’s a fascinating story. Read The Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams.

grey wolf

So far, I’ve failed to completely stick to my original outlines. As I write, I find plot holes. issues with character motivations, and main characters developing the decision making powers of a five year-old. If Michael Chance is a little hapless at the beginning of the book, in the first draft he may as well have had pepper in his teeth and mustard on his shirt through the entire book. That’s why I pay for editing.

Update on the follow-up to The Grandfather Clock: The second book is flying. 4,000 to 5,000 words per week. Hoping to be editing in May. I will announce the title soon.

Thanks for reading!

-J.K.

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