Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One Launch Date, Two Great Books (Clarity Hunters Is Now Available)

I have decided to write a series on a murky think tank and a new recruit who is trying to puzzle the place out. The series is called Clarity and, today, I've released the first two books.

Let's talk about Clarity Hunters (Clarity #1).

Hugh Brier went to what he thought was a focus group. He came away with two things: a dossier detailing the obscure events leading to his brief federal incarceration and a job offer from the Merit Group. He runs from any organization that would want to hire the “old” Hugh Brier, but when his life fills with the dealings of a dangerous enemy can he afford the luxury of saying no?

You can get a sample or purchase the book from Amazon.

Q: Where did the idea for Clarity Hunters come from?

A: The short answer: I’ve always liked spy fiction so this is my twist on that.

The longer answer: I read and listen to a variety of strange things, including one brief report on NPR about twelve years ago. I was living in LA then and had the radio on whenever I was on the road, which was often. I remember listening to a story about authors like Tom Clancy working for the Department of Defense to envision, or predict, scenarios as dangerous as 9/11. (After all, Tom Clancy wrote about a 747 flying into the Capitol building in his 1994 novel Debt of Honor. By 2002, he was regarded as prescient by some.)

I enjoyed that radio story, filed it mentally, and thought I was done with it. Not so. More than a decade later, the bones of this story reemerged from my mind when I sat down to write a story about a man who goes to work for a special kind of think tank. His first tasks were to grapple with “impossible-to-conceive” scenarios, much like the Defense Department had Tom Clancy consulting on.

So, for a decade, my mind worked over the bare bones of something I listened to one weekend. It chugged and churned and eventually I had the beginning of my plot.

Q: How is your book different from every other spy book out there?

Let me explain things as I see them.

1. I enjoy a book that takes its time and explains things rather than just zips from this to that. Yes, that means the pace of the books in this series will be slow compared to a lot of thrillers. Think John le Carre, but no one writes a complex page turner as well as Mr. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

2. I had an early reader of Clarity Hunters call my book, in an approving way, "idea porn." I think that's right. These stories aren't just a lot of action. There are ideas bandied about inside this think tank called the Merit Group, very interesting and dangerous ideas. Yes, ideas can be scary. If no one had worked through the possibilities of the atom, we wouldn't have spy thrillers about ticking atomic bombs. The idea for the bomb came before the existence of the bomb. Those kinds of realizations are pretty scary to me.

3. Each book has a great plot and detailed characters, but each one also attempts to dig into this think tank, The Merit Group. Organizational development, or how people inside a company or organization function alongside each other, is one of my intellectual passions, so I've tucked a healthy dose of it into this series. Clarity Hunters tackles how a think tank recruits new people into it. Clarity Kingmaker looks at how an organization copes with a critical project that begins to go horribly wrong.

4. I've spent a long time sketching out what I like in villains. In this series, the villains aren't your usual bag of terrorists, dictators, disturbed mass murderers, or mafia guys. My villains are basically normal people, as in business owners, property owners, or low level FBI agents, who just do horrible things, which makes them more real and far worse, in my opinion. I want to explore the hows and whys of these people.

5. The books in this series will be on the shorter side, like the original Ian Fleming Bond novels. I think some writers can make every word of a 100,000 word thriller interesting, but I don't think many can. There's a lot of fluff and filler in the product coming down the pipeline today. (I haven't read a best-seller in a long time where I didn't think, 'that could have lost 100 or 200 pages and been even better.') So, as to novel length, I prefer shorter and less diluted.

Q: Are you going to tell us more about this series?
A: I plan to post two or three longish pieces on my blog this week. So read a sample now or look for some of my philosophizing later, your choice.

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