Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for Dan Newman’s THE JOURNALIST!  This book was actually the first thing Dan and I worked on together, but it was his second manuscript, THE CLEARING, that I ended up selling first.  THE JOURNALIST is a very psychological read, with a main character you’re never quite sure if you want to root for or against.  It got a fantastic Booklist review already and I’m excited to have Dan talk about it today!

Tell us about THE JOURNALIST!
The Journalist follows the fortunes of Roland Keene – a journalism graduate struggling to break into the news business.  Without any real options, Roland creates his own, by conspiring to put the heiress to a publishing fortune at risk, and then swinging in at the last minute to save the day.  It works, but at a cost.  Roland is launched into a successful career in international journalism, but his history won’t let him go.  Can Roland survive the price of his ascent?  This is the question at the heart of The Journalist.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?  What about the main character?
The Journalist is probably one of those stories lets us explore the darker side of our own characters.  Most of us are bounded by a moral code, a limit to the things we’ll do in chasing what’s important to us.  But every day we see people who are willing to exceed those limits – to a greater or lesser degree – and it can be frustrating to see that they often succeed as a result of that choice.  Roland Keene is probably an expression of my own frustration at seeing people succeed when they choose to play outside of the rules that the rest of us abide by.  There’s a price those people ultimately pay (I hope), but unfortunately, we’re almost never there to see it happen in real life.

What is one of your favorite plot twists in the book?
If I told you that it’d ruin the twist!  That said, the main character is a thinker.  His actions are purpose driven, so steps taken today are often as a measure to ensure a result tomorrow.  I’ll leave it there. 

Do you see any similarities between Roland and Nate from THE CLEARING?
I'd say not.  These are two characters that exist at the polar opposites of the moral scale.  Nate (in The Clearing), was compelled into action through a sense off righting a wrong, and through the power of bonds he made as a kid.  Roland, however, is more morally flexible.  He’s not a bad guy, but he will provide room to let his darker side have its say.  When we meet Roland, he’s still being formed as a person – still trying to understand his own moral code.  Through circumstance, he learns that not everything good in this world flows from acts of goodness, and that sometimes success requires sacrifice – interestingly, on the part of other people as well as himself.

Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process (e.g. do you have to write at night or while wearing lucky socks)?
There are a couple of things I’ve noticed, and I can’t explain them - even to myself.  Whenever I sit down to write, I have to take off my watch, and set it to the left of my laptop.  Maybe it’s a trigger to get into the right mindset, of maybe I’m secretly OCD, but either way, it works for me.  The other trait I’ve observed in myself is that I can’t wait for the right word.  If I’m humming along, and I can’t find that ideal word, I just hammer out a series of random keystrokes and keep going.  I’ll go through a whole page before I look back, and when I do it’s generally carnage.  Misspelled words, place holders (like “sldklhfa” that remind me I need to go back and spend some time looking for “that” word), run-on sentences and the like.  Barfing the story onto the page is what’s most important.  The finessing happens afterward.

Now fun question!  If these books were turned in to a movie (or movies ::salivates::) who would you cast to play the main characters?
Yeah – I’ve played this fantasy out before…  usually it involves Steven Spielberg and I sitting on the balcony of my multi-million dollar beach house, sharing a few beers and going though the Hollywood elite like we’re trading baseball cards.  For Nate Mason in The Clearing, it’s Sean Penn.  He’s got that grizzled, beaten-up-by-life-but-still-in-the-fight look about him that works.  For Roland Keene, I think a young Benedict Cumberbatch.  He’s got that air of intelligence that swirls around him, as well as a look in his eye that might just indicate that somewhere in there, he may be a tad unhinged.  
Ah, the movie biz…  Carrie – have you checked your messages for a call from Spielberg’s people?  They’re probably eager to set up a lunch.