(Annasue McCleave-Wilson writes for the NY Times & Publisher's Weekly)
AMW: Before we get to your debut novel, "Killer," my last author Q & A was with Steve Martin. I understand you just adapted his book, "The Pleasure of My Company" for the big screen.
SC: Yes, I finished the screenplay just before writing "Killer."
AMW: How did you like working with Mr. Martin?
SC: Loved it. They say you shouldn't meet your heroes because you'll be disappointed, but I certainly wasn't. It was such a thrill to work with someone I've admired since I was a kid. And the book was a gift, as far as source material goes. It's wonderfully written, with a fascinating character at its heart. And Steve was incredibly generous with it. He liked what I did and it was a great experience. It was especially good to have that kind of experience in order to build up the courage to write my first novel.
AMW: "Killer" is a departure from your work as a screenwriter, even though you've written several thrillers in the past, for the screen.
SC: Yeah, in a way "Killer" was a return to my roots. I started out in the film business as a writer/director, doing movies like "The Dorm That Dripped Blood." My last movie thriller was an adaptation of Dean Koontz's "Servants of Twilight." After that I needed a break from terrifying people, so I started writing comedies. That's how "Blue Streak" came about, then "Ocean's 11," and "The Man." But even when I was writing lighter stuff I was still reading Stephen King and Robert Parker. And even though "Killer" is very dark, there is a lot of humor in it, just under the surface.
AMW: What made you choose e-publishing over traditional publishing?
SC: I'm not a very patient person. I like to see results right away. I like to be able to control the content and the release of the book, and to do my own share of the marketing. That said, I credit Amazon's amazing promotion machine for the success of the book so far.
AMW: What was the hardest thing about the transition from writing screenplays to writing a novel?
SC: The amount of detail. A screenplay is extremely economical--it's all about nailing down the story. So much of the finer details are in the hands of the actors and the director. With a novel, you're the actor, director, designer, cinematographer, etc. It's a blank canvas and you're all alone. That's hard, especially the first time.
AMW: So, after years of writing movies, what was the best thing about writing a novel?
SC: The same thing that makes a novel more difficult. With a novel, you have the final say. You don't have to worry if an actor is going to change the dialogue and go off script, or if the director wants to change the ending. Or if a studio cuts your favorite scene because it's too expensive. I loved that about it. The most important difference, though, was the opportunity to finally write an inner voice for my characters. I've always wished I could do that in a screenplay, but narration is tricky, and, with few exceptions, it's not very effective. It's seen as kind of an easy out for a screenwriter.
AMW: Any plans for making "Killer" into a major motion picture?
SC: Absolutely. Preliminary meetings are happening, but I'm more focused on writing the next book right now.
AMW: What are your plans for the next book?
SC: The second in the "Killer" series is going to be about Hollywood. In the meantime, I'm finishing a short YA novel. Stay tuned.
Author Jack Rhodes has a hole in his life. Five years ago, after the shocking suicide of his fiancé, Jack went on a fifteen-month alcoholic spiral into near-oblivion, and has no memory of what happened during that time.
Jack finds his way back to sobriety and, eventually, literary success. But just as Jack is finishing the fourth book in his series about a fictional serial killer, the LAPD interrupts Jack’s quiet routine with news of what appears to be a copycat murder from his first book. Jack cooperates, but soon finds out he is Suspect Number One because of one simple, baffling fact—the murder took place before Jack wrote the book.
Jack begins to investigate on his own. To his horror, Jack discovers that each of the murders he has imagined and written about are all real—down to the finest details—and all of them occurred before his books were published.
Police and FBI are investigating as well, and Jack winds up on the run, a fugitive haunted by his dark past and hunted by the very people he learned investigative techniques from. Jack must use every resource he has to prevent the murder of the young woman in his next book and find the real-life killer, while piecing together the fragments of his life he can only recall with the help with the help of his attorney Nicki Feldman and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Ben Abrams. Because the solution to the mystery lies buried deep in Jack’s own tormented past.