A sequel to The Heist called The Getaway. The first book covers Frank Lagotti as he plans a bank robbery - the name's a bit of a giveaway - and SPOILER ALERT - and the second book deals with ... the survivors getting away. There is a clue in every book title.
When I first had the idea for The Heist about fifteen years ago, it was a standalone novel where you never find out what happens inside the bank. Over time, and especially based on the feedback I received from beta readers and early reviewers, I realized I needed to give people more closure. The Getaway answers more questions but the Lagotti Family series won't end with The Getaway.
What is your writing process?
Simple. I take an idea which often comprises a single sentence or a scene from a movie in my mind. I leave it to fester for decades or a month depending how I'm feeling. Then I'll write a chapter outline to cover the main elements. After that, I'll do the basic research around the locations and times where the story is set.
Then I start writing and stop when it's all over. Of course, I'll carry on researching or fleshing out characters as and when I need to, but I believe the best way to write a novel is to ... write a novel.
How do you approach cover design?
I believe in simple design so an image which evokes some aspect of the story is good and some simple but legible typography. Done.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Cold Six Thousand by James Elroy. An amazingly complex story which mixes pure fiction with historical events and a tale that storms through to the end.
Anything by Raymond Chandler. The pictures painted with so few words. Wow.
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. Not my writing genre (although I'd love to write a sci-fi story at some point). The collection of short stories that all revolve around three rules all robots should follow. They can be viewed as a series of detective stories as well as a series of reflections on the human condition.
Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. This changed my view of the world, but I was sixteen at the time so I admit I was highly impressionable at the time. The hopeless search for a perfect moment goes beyond literature into existential philosophy. And the opening two page description of the inside of an empty cardboard box. Classic.
Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky. The other book which changed my view of the world. This time in my forties I saw how US foreign policy over the last hundred years has been shaped not by which President or party was in power but by other considerations. All documented in the Library of Congress. Powerful chilling stuff.
Describe your desk
It has four legs and a flat surface. Made of MDF and white.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Heist was launched in eBook on August 31, 2017. As its name suggests, it is about a bank robbery and follows jailbird Frank Lagotti over the months preceding the job as he puts together a crew to perform the heist and up to the moment of the robbery.
Crime drama seems to spend so much time on the robbery or what happens afterwards, I was interested in how people get to that point. Also, I figured if it takes months from deciding to rob somewhere to hitting the joint then the gang members would end up falling apart. Then I added some tension into the mix by plotting out ways different characters might want to kill each other.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I was twenty I set myself a list of things to do before I died. Nowadays it would be called a bucket list. One of the three items was to write a novel.
By the time I was twenty five I had achieved that goal. When I was forty five, I realized writing a novel wasn't what I actually wanted. It was to be published. Add a couple more years and I decided to write a novel with the intention of getting it published. That was The Heist which was released on August 31, 2017.
Why publish independently? I tried the traditional publishing route with more than one story as I thought that would be the best way to achieve my required outcome. But it's not how I get published that counts so I've done it independently.
The reality is that even if you are traditionally published, you still have to do almost all the marketing yourself (unless you hit a hardcopy best seller list) and you receive lower royalties so commercially I'm probably better off being independent. At least I hope I am...
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Discovering my characters doing things I wasn't expecting - even if it is exactly the right behaviour for them. People do stuff that surprises you. Loving it.
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