Today I’d like to welcome Joe Compton, Awethor extraordinaire and author of Amongst the Killing.
Can you give us your quickest description of your book?
Amongst The Killing is a crime thriller, set in Los Angeles in the early 80’s that follows a young hotshot detective whose dream has become a nightmare thanks to an idealistic Mass Murderer. Told in dual perspective, one chapter written by the Detective, the next by the Murderer as their story unfolds.
Ooh, I love the dual perspective idea. Is there one side you liked writing more than the other?
You know, it’s funny. I set out with the excitement of writing Jack Casey (the murderer) and there was certain scenes I had that I knew I would enjoy writing for Detective Street but then as I got into it, especially in the 3rd act, I really loved writing for Detective Street. His arch really took hold and shape for me as it went on.
What are you working on currently?
The sequel entitled “We The Moral Majority” which follows some of the characters of the first book, taking place a few years after the events of the first book, in the backdrop of a political campaign run by an organization that proclaims to be taking back the morality of city that has lost its way.
So a crime thriller spins into politics? That seems…natural. 🙂 Do you use any real life politics, either directly or as inspiration?
Well, I have been talking to someone who ran for a local office already. I was also looking at volunteering for a political campaign just so I could get some good “inside baseball” terms and little subtle things to make the reading experience more authentic but my own personal politics are not going to be on display. The book is really not about that, politics is just the backdrop but I also have to stay true to my characters and who they are and thus their politics will be on display; walking that fine line. 🙂
Interesting. What is one bit of advice you’d like to share with writers?
Network, keep writing, network some more, keep writing, and…keep writing. Also be patient, do your due diligence when it comes to networking, but know that frustrations and bad days happen, so stay the course. Then you will understand when the Good Days happen why they are so much more powerful than the bad ones and having like-minded folk and a supportive network will enhance that tenfold.
Great advice. Do you find it true the idea that “marketing is harder than actually writing the book” or do you enjoy all that goes into getting your book out there?
You know, I have been doing my own marketing, pitching, and sales for so long it really isn’t the aspect of this process that is harder per say for me. In the same token I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, but what I don’t enjoy, even though I know and have accepted this as truth, is that you have to play the percentages, so the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, and it’s never what you expect. There was a great discussion going on about this on a Facebook message board I was reading just this morning. If you want to be seen and be successful (no matter how you define success) you have to market and the effort you put forth is the result you will achieve.
In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
James McAvoy of X-Men fame and tons of great films for the Detective Charles Street, and Liev Schreiber of Ray Donavan fame and several movies for the idealist mass murderer Jack Casey.
Wow, those two would pair wonderfully! So I’m guessing there’s a fair level of intensity to your characters, based on your choices. Is that part of what made you think of McAvoy and Schreiber – their ability to convey so much?
Yes. The book is all about intensity, just in the way it begins with a life altering event for both characters. However, what I really like about McAvoy and Schreiber in particular and what I think would lend itself beautifully to a film version is they can convey the moment with just a look. The choices they make as actors when they pause or smirk, or put on their poker faces (2 of the best in business at that in my opinion) that would add a cinematic element that one might not draw from the book right away.
Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?
Not so much experiences in this particular first novel of mine but I used familiarity for sure. Scenery, landmarks, speech patterns, and because of the realistic and authentic feel I wanted to give this novel. I spent an enormous amount of time on research and getting factoids and terminology that I could use in authenticating the backdrop. I do feel like I have personal stories to tell but I just don’t know if they are ready to come out. I am not sure I can articulate them and make them interesting within a context of a story arch and give it a flow that would captive an audience for a few hundred pages. In other words I am too chicken shit to put me out there. 🙂
LOL (I actually did). That’s interesting you mention using familiarity with scenery, landmarks, and essentially “real life” around you. Do you think that works especially well in your kind of fiction as opposed to, say, more fantasy-based writing? Or do you think all authors of all genres can benefit from observing and drawing off of what they see around them rather than make it up in their heads?
I think it’s a neat trick for writer’s block. Go sit down somewhere and write down what you see, feel, and hear. Describing it to the very last detail and maybe you will see how natural it is to write that way? It might even get you creative juices flowing. I don’t think writing the familiar has to be genre specific nor does that make a good story. What make a good story are so many factors. All I know is it helps me and I kind of like my friends and family finding those little subtle things. Like for example in Amongst The Killing I mention a local pizza pallor where I grew up and couple of my long time friends got a kick out of that. Little things like that make me smile because they would be the only ones who would have ever noticed that and for me that was kind of the point. Plus if I put the action somewhere I know, less research I have to do because I know it was there at the time of my story. 🙂
Thanks, Joe, for sharing!