I once commented that being a writer is like having a big box of action figures and getting paid to play with them. It's also a profession that makes dreams come true, in the sense that we can "do" all the things we've wanted, in our imaginations, to do by living through the characters we put onto the page. In the years since I began writing, I've had many opportunities to write things that relate to ideas and concepts that have been very important to the development of my imagination. I've written, and seen published, stories featuring some of my favorite fictional characters, like Sherlock Holmes and Allan Quatermain. I've also had chances to create my own characters and throw them headfirst into interesting situations in books and stories in various genres. I've had the chance to play with vampires and detectives and zombies.
Today, I'm happy to announce that another writing dream has come true. I am now officially the author of a published spy novel, Nobody Dies for Free, just released by Pro Se Productions. Nobody Dies for Free is the story of Richard Monroe, a former CIA operative pulled back into the world of espionage and intrigue following a personal tragedy. I'll let the back cover copy speak for itself:
And I'll give everyone a good look at the front cover too:
So now that the book has officially been thrust out into public availability, maybe I should talk a bit about how it came to be that I'd write a book in that particular genre.
I first became aware of the spy genre, as I suspect many people did, through the James Bond movies. I must have been six or seven when I saw my first one. I became a big fan of those movies and eventually of Ian Fleming's Bond novels too. As the years went on, I came to enjoy other spy fiction as well, some as fun and occasionally over-the-top as Bond or Mission: Impossible, some much more serious, like the novels of John Le Carre, and some in-between the two extremes, stuff like the Jason Bourne movies. Having long had an interest in that type of story, I suppose it was inevitable that I'd eventually write my own. The several stories I've written featuring my pulp hero, Hound-Dog Harker, are sort of in the spy genre, but are period pieces with elements of horror and science-fiction thrown in too, so I'm not sure if they really count. As far as a contemporary spy story, which is what Nobody Dies for Free is, it was the accidental creation of the book's title that finally set things in motion.
My wife and I were in the car one evening--I don't remember what the topic of conversation was--when I spoke that phrase for the first time: "nobody dies for free." My wife's immediate reaction was to point out that it sounds like it could be one of Ian Fleming's titles. Of course, Fleming is long gone and so he'll never use it, but I decided then and there to jot it down for future use of my own. Then I forgot about it for a while.
At some point after that, I got a great deal on DVDs of the James Bond movie series, everything from DR. NO to DIE ANOTHER DAY for under a hundred dollars. I watched them all in order for the first time (I'd seen them all before, some many times, but never in order of production). I had a blast revisiting the early installments with Sean Connery and George Lazenby, but then I got into the Roger Moore years and thought it would be a bit of a chore getting through that era, as the 1970s and early 80s Bond strayed far from Fleming's serious spy fiction and went too far with its gadgets and jokes. But as I got into those films, I began to notice something. While those movies are quite silly much of the time, there are moments scattered in there where Roger Moore plays Bond straight and is, for brief scenes, as ruthless and deadly as the Connery and Dalton versions. In The Man with the Golden Gun, he very brutally interrogates the character played by Maud Adams. In For Your Eyes Only, he kicks a car off a cliff with people inside it!
Seeing those scenes for the first time in years, my mind began to wander and I started to think what it might have been like if Roger Moore had been in darker, more serious Bond movies. That was the beginning of Nobody Dies for Free.
Now that's not to suggest that Richard Monroe is directly based on Roger Moore and this hypothetical Bond he perhaps could have played. That meandering of my mind was just the first little seed of Monroe. My character quickly grew into someone else as I started to write the book.
He has certain similarities to James Bond and many other fictional spies: he's handsome, brave, sneaky, ruthless, and enjoys the company of beautiful women. But he's his own person too. He rarely uses clever gadgets and is more likely to rely on just his wits, his gun, his car, and a cell phone. He's American, though his personality has also been shaped by the time he's spent in many parts of the world. He doesn't work for a large organization like the CIA or FBI, although he used to. Now he's much more a solo agent, taking on missions too secret or sensitive for the more official agencies.
It wasn't just Bond and the other fictional spy worlds I mentioned earlier that had an impact on my writing the book. I wrote Nobody Dies for Free at roughly the same time as I was discovering what quickly became one of my favorite TV series of all-time, the British spy drama Spooks (retitled MI-5 when shown in the United States, presumably because while "spook" is slang for spy in the UK, it has, unfortunately, been used as a racial slur in the US). If you happen to be a fan of spy series, you must check out Spooks. But be warned: this is serious stuff and no one is safe! Characters die, brutally and often. It's a wild ride. 86 episodes of edge of your seat entertainment.
Anyway, back to Richard Monroe. I wrote the novel, was very happy with the result, and submitted it to a publisher I've worked with many times before, Pro Se Productions. They accepted it and here we are about a year later with the book now available to readers, and I'm thrilled!
As with any book, an author can't do it alone. I want to sincerely thank everyone involved in this book's birth: Tommy Hancock and Morgan Minor of Pro Se, Perry Constantine, who did the brilliant editing, and Ariane Soares, who created a cover that is exactly what I wanted for this book!
And, speaking of that cover, if Richard Monroe looks slightly familiar to anyone, his face is loosely based on that (in a younger version) of actor Iain Glen of Game of Thrones. The first time I saw Iain Glen on screen, he reminded me of a rougher, tougher Roger Moore, so a face somewhat modeled on his fits Monroe quite well, I think.
So that's how Nobody Dies for Free came into existence. I hope everyone has as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I look forward to hearing what readers have to say once they've met Richard Monroe!
Nobody Dies for Free is now available at Amazon in a print edition or as an e-book.