by Earl Staggs
My guest today is Terry Ambrose, an interesting guy, a good writer, and he’s telling us about how his latest book came about. He also has a question at the end, so please feel free to jump in with your thoughts.
And now, here’s Terry.
Thanks for hosting me today on your blog, Earl. When we set this up, you asked how I came up with the idea for my new book, “License to Lie.” As it is with many authors, it was a series of events that led to the idea. I was in the middle of trying to market my Hawaiian mystery, “Photo Finish,” to agents and the rejection pile was growing. I’d just finished the second book in that series and thought a break from the cantankerous McKenna might be in order. I love the way McKenna digs himself into trouble until the only way out is to solve the crime, but I also wanted to try something different. Really different.
“Photo Finish” is told from McKenna’s point of view, but the female con artist plays a heavy role in the book. The next logical step in my mind was to give her equal importance in my next work. But, books with a criminal as the protagonist have been done before and that still wasn’t different enough for me. However, by making her a co-protagonist with a really good guy did intrigue me.
I tend to write by the motto of “Go big or go home” and started looking into dual protagonist novels, of which there were very few. That was good. Everyone wants fresh, right? After I was hooked on the idea, I discovered that the writing gurus proclaim, “Thou shalt only have one protagonist.” It’s some sort of basic writing rule that, when violated, destines you to writing purgatory.
My first reaction was “uh oh.” Second reaction: “expletive” them. I liked the female con artist character and wanted to write about her again. I also had a male forensic hypnotist from another series I wrote some time back that, with some changes, would make an interesting co-protagonist. Best of all? The underlying problem these two would always face—trust. The book could be described as “Moonlighting meets White Collar” and is driven by the theme, “Never trust a soul…even your own.”
One of the difficulties I faced early on was writing the voice of the female con artist. I thought I knew what women sounded like, so how hard could it be to write that onto paper? Obviously, the character needed to sound like a woman and not a man writing like a woman—kind of that “Victor-Victoria” thing but without one of the levels. My critique group was composed mostly of women, several of them published multiple times. Next thing I knew, I had these long-time writers telling me “she doesn’t sound like a woman” or “a woman wouldn’t do that.” What I was doing wasn’t working, but I’m determined and try to be a good student of human behavior. So, all of a sudden, I had to learn to write as if I were a woman—but not all the time. The book is written with the characters each telling alternate chapters (male POV in one, female in the next, etc.) Once I got started, it was like having a sex-change operation every time I sat down at the computer. Talk about conflicted. Move over, Mrs. Doubtfire.
You can find out more about me and my two Goodreads giveaways for License to Lie and Photo Finish at terryambrose.com. But hurry, those giveaways end very soon! Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter as @suspense_writer.
I’m interested in how your readers deal with points of view, Earl. Do they like to read/write novels with tight points of view or prefer the omniscient world view? For them, does not knowing what a character is thinking generate more suspense than knowing?