It’s an intense thriller about a sociopathic author who has the good fortune to be assigned a cell phone number which used to belong to a murderer. Tucker is thrilled and uses this idea for a topic for his novel. He proceeds to contact all the people who are leaving messages for that murderer to help his plot line along. But the people aren’t just characters, they’re humans with complicated circumstances he never could have imagined.
So that is the setting for my novel but where on earth did I get the idea? My non-writer friends are horrified, wondering where such darkness comes from. My writer things see this as a day in the life, nothing out of the ordinary. It is just fiction after all.
The genesis for this plot is loosely based on real events. Very loosely. A couple of years ago we all got new Blackberries at work. When I set up my voicemail I received several messages clearly meant for the previous owner of the number. One that struck me most was from his daughter. She said something about, thanks for the birthday money, how have you been, sorry I haven’t seen you in a while…He also got texts from some folks asking to meet him at the bar, or at local music events.
At the time I was two days from starting the annual NANOWRIMO competition, where you are challenged to write 50,000 words in a month. I needed an idea badly. I was pounding my head against the wall, trying to come up with something. Anything. My phone rang. “Is Derek there?” His name isn’t really Derek of course. I said no, this wasn’t his phone number (which I am still doing two years later though the calls have died down). And just like that, I had my plot.
What if a sociopathic writer looking for a story idea contacted all the people who kept calling? What if he pieced together information from all the calls and acted as a puppeteer to align their lives with his characters? And what if he was delusional and hadn’t taken his meds in a long time? I couldn’t get the words down fast enough.
But who was the main character? What would he be like? Well, I stole him. About 10 years ago I wrote a horrible thriller novel that I am grateful never sold or saw the light of day. I made all the mistakes new writers do. Not just in punctuation and word flow and overly adverbing it but, well, trust me, it was stupid. But I loved the character of Tucker Millis. I liked his look, his personality, his quirks. Since he wasn’t working (he was only a fictional character after all waiting for his story to be told) I yanked him out and offered him this story instead. This happened much the way you’d call an actor whose pilot never aired and ask him if he was up for a similar role in a much better story.
He accepted (of course he did. I made him up). The combination of Tucker (who way back when I spent a lot of time creating) and this storyline makes for a fun, grisly and tight little suspense novel.
I hope you give it a shot. I’ll be signing hard copies at AnthoCon in mid November and will set up book signings in the New England area throughout the winter. Please check my APPEARANCES page for details.