Welcome my buddy, Daniel Palmer, to Murder HE Writes today! Daniel is multi-talented–not only is he a up-and-coming thriller master, he’s an uber-talented musician. He wows us at Thrillerfest with his singing and musical ability — harmonica, guitar, voice, probably more we haven’t seen. He knows how to write, and he knows how to have fun, which are two important traits 🙂 … Let’s give him a big Murder She Writes welcome! ~Allison
Putting It All On the Line
If you read any reviews of my third thriller novel, STOLEN, people tend to sum up the book’s big idea with a simple question. How far would you go to save the love of your life? I agree this question captures the story’s essence. The book begins with a devoted husband, John Bodine, confronting a terrible circumstance. His wife, Ruby Dawes, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer and he doesn’t have medical insurance to cover the cost of her life-saving treatment. After exhausting all legal means, John uses his computer smarts to steal another’s identity with the intent of committing medical fraud. Unbeknownst to John, the identity he’s stolen belongs to a psychopathic killer with a twisted mind for playing very twisted games. John and Ruby are soon roped into his demented world and things deteriorate rapidly from there.
All that’s well and good, and I hope you’ll find the book unrelentingly suspenseful, as one kind reviewer at Publishers Weekly did. But that’s not what I’m here to share with you today. Let’s go back to that earlier question: How far would you go to save the love of your life? I could twist the phrase just a bit and ask it a different way. What would you be willing to risk for something you desire? In a way, most of our big decisions revolve around risk assessment. Who, or even if, we marry? Do we have kids? Where should we live? How do we make money? Most of our significant accomplishments come as part of a calculated decision. We weigh the pros and cons of each choice and evaluate the risks and rewards, sometimes impulsively, other times in a more thoughtful manner.
When I set out to publish a book, I didn’t really understand the risks involved. I was on goal attainment autopilot. Write book. Find agent. Sell book. That was my mantra and twelve years after I started saying it (daily I might add) I managed to accomplish all these tasks. It wasn’t until the publication date of my first novel, DELIRIOUS, neared, and after the reviewers started weighing in, did I realize I’d actually put my sanity on the line. Goodness gracious, people were going to have opinions about what I’ve done! Yes, I know it seems obvious, and I was expecting it, but only in the abstract. It didn’t feel real to me until the first reviews started coming in. I never once asked myself, do I want to subject my creative work to public scrutiny? Should I take that risk? No, I just wanted to achieve my goal.
Suddenly, folks with cyber names like Daddy-O-67 and BookAvoireGal and ISayWhatIWant, with accounts on various social media networks, were anonymously posting their unfiltered opinions whether I liked them or not. And me, the writer guy, had to decide whether to look or not. Some of my writer friends never read their reviews. Others read them all. I think any smart businessperson would want to know how their customers view their product, so I check with each book, and read all the reader reviews, and yes, some love me and some not so much. But when I step back and think about it, I feel like the bravest person I can be. I’m no hero by any stretch. I’m just a writer who has dedicated his time and efforts to telling entertaining tales, but I still feel brave every time I look at a reader or trade review.
We all take risks in our daily lives, some of us more than others. Three books into my career, I know I’m going to be judged, for better or for worse. I embrace that aspect of this job, but it never gets any easier. Each book I publish still feels like I’m taking a substantial risk. For me to do my job, I have to shut out the noise, block out my fears, write from my heart, pull from my soul, and try my very best to capture the imagination of my readers. It’s a beautiful thing when it works, but the flip side is true as well. A bad review can hurt like a sucker punch to the gut. I guess the moral here is you’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet and realize that anything worth having is worth risking something to obtain.
So what about you? What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and was it worth it?