Michael Haskins

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My friend and fellow writer Dixon Rice answers some questions about his new book, The Assassins Club. I think you'll find the interview and book fascinating. 
Thanks Dixon for taking the time to put this all together.

1.      What is the main premise of this book?
I wondered, “What if a young, likable guy ‘accidentally’ became a serial killer?” I set up a situation in THE ASSASSINS CLUB where Tyler Goode gets targeted by a redneck bully and his squad of younger, equally brutal brother in the Flathead Valley of Montana. (And don’t forget Dad.)  Each time Ty kills in order to survive, he feels he’s performed a community service – and he gets one helluva rush.  Before long, it’s become a habit he can’t shake.
2.      How long did it take you to write it?
 The main plot came to me, pretty much fully realized, during a 15-hour car drive after dropping off my son at college.  Then it took two years to weave in some interesting subplots, flesh out the characters, and please my critique group.
3.      Who’s your favorite character in it?
 Heroes are easy to write, in my opinion – so easy that they often become cardboard cutout characters. I enjoy the unbalanced, unreliable characters.  In THE ASSASSINS CLUB, there is a second serial killer who will collide with Ty in the final chapter, a 30ish man who thinks he is Jesus.  His sections are written entirely in present tense, because that’s all he knows.  The voices in his head raise such a ruckus that he can’t remember the past, nor can he look forward to the future.  He’s walking up the West Coast, killing when the mood strikes him, going where his voices direct him.  If Jesus tells you it’s Monday, you’d better check a calendar.
4.      When reading, do you prefer eBook or paperback?
I love tree-books at home, but nothing beats my Kindle when I’m on the road.
5.      What projects are you currently working on?
 I have written another Montana thriller, and puttered away with it for a decade, trying to solve plot problems caused by modern police technology.  I really enjoyed writing THE ASSASSINS CLUB in the 1970s, and realized that moving my work-in-progress back to that same era would make the plot problems vanish.  So I’m on my final rewrite of MONTANA IS BURNING and hope to have it published this summer.
6.      What is something that surprised you about being an author?
I am continually surprised by the unexpected actions of my characters.  On my 15-hour car trip, Ty was already very real to me, but the minor characters around him were pretty vague.  The book concept really caught fire when two deputy sheriffs approached the protagonis and said, “We know you’re killing people, Ty.”  He thought, “Uh-oh, here come the handcuffs.”  Instead, one of the deputies said, “We want to get in on it.”  The addition of two law enforcement officers to Ty’s pastime creates interesting problems.  In further books in this series, the ‘club’ will continue to expand, with continual new complications.

7.      Who designed this cover?
I was fortunate to discover Suzanne Fyhrie Parrott and her business Unruly Guides.  Suzanne and I talked about my story, and I gave her some general concepts. She did a marvelous job of turning my fuzzy ideas into a brilliant reality.  She also formatted my novel.  You can find Unruly Guides on FB at https://www.facebook.com/UnrulyGuides and Suzanne’s website is http://www.UnrulyGuides.com/ 
8.      What are your pet peeves? 
One of the things I love about the writing community is how helpful people are, even to clueless newbies.  However, there is always a small number of folks in any endeavor who take job in dragging other people down.  Some friends of mine have receive awful reviews from people who never even bothered to read the reviewed book.
9.       So do you like to cook? 
I never would have survived college if I hadn’t learned how to make spaghetti sauce and barbecue chicken.  My wife and I have a deal – if one of us cooks, the other one cleans up. I try to cook whenever possible. 
10.  Do you sleep in or get up early?
 We all have an internal critic in the back of our head, whispering that “this is worst crap that’s ever been written – let’s go for a jog instead.”  I’ve learned that if I get up at 5 am and head down to a local coffee shop, I can get hours of work done before my critic wakes up.  And if I’m on a good writing roll, I can just ignore his negative remarks.
11.  If you were to attend a St. Patrick’s Day Party, which one thing would you never leave behind and why:
 I’m about three-fourths Irish, and every Irishman knows that his most precious asset is the “Luck O’the Irish.”  It’s amazing the Emerald Isle survived the Potato Famine, centuries of British mistreatment, and our own fondness for fermented and distilled beverages of every kind. There must be a reservoir of good luck to account for our very existence.

12.  Where can your readers stalk you?
My daily blog on the writing life, Wredheaded Writer, can be found at  http://wredhead.blogspot.com/  I plan a second blog aimed at fervent readers such as myself, but haven’t yet gotten it off the ground.  The Kindle link for my e-book is   http://tinyurl.com/7fav44l and you can find me on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/87hkkoz  or search for plain old Dixon Rice. 

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