John D. Brown writes, besides a fantasy series, a series about ex-con, Special Forces vet Frank Shaw. The series is doing pretty good, so I figured I'd ask him all about his series and his view on our favorite genre.
Q: What makes Frank Shaw different from other hardboiled characters?
Frank is an ex-con who is out of prison and trying to fly straight. Yes, he has skills. He is a Special Forces veteran and worked for a private contractor afterwards. But the thing that distinguishes Frank from many other characters is his down-to-earth appeal. There are some action thriller characters who never make a mistake and always seem to have the upper hand. Not Frank. I also enjoy his sardonic wit.
Q: How did you come up with the character?
Frank was inspired by a fine old brother in my church in Ohio who was one of those salt of the earth folks who also happened to have at one time been a bank robber. When he got out of prison, he determined his life would change. He married a good Methodist girl he met at a church dance, went into the laundry business, and never looked back. It was my privilege to record his life history. At the time, it struck me that I rarely saw stories about ex-cons who actually make it out of the recidivism cycle. I thought, I’m going to write one and have a ball doing it.
Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
I love it. My debut was with a big New York publisher, and I learned a lot working with them. But there’s so much freedom with indie ebooks.
Q: What's next for you and your characters?
Frank’s nephew Tony makes a reappearance in the third book, which is called Gray Hat. I’ll be working on that in the coming months. Tony and a group of his nerd friends have stumbled onto a crime and have gotten way in over their heads. And Frank comes in to work with them to save the day. After that, I was invited to co-author a book with New York Times bestselling author Larry Correia. That one will be a big, fun, high-action science fiction story about gun runners in space.
Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
Teach, hike, and enjoy my time with my wife and children. And have a blast researching the next book. For example, some of that recent research included shooting carbines, riding horses, taking a class from those who have trained our special operations forces on how to disable an attacker, and traveling to Southern Utah where my second novel is set.
Q: How do you promote your work?
The most effective promotions I’ve found are advertisements on social media and discount book services.
Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I like almost all genres. What I’m looking for is a good story.
Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation?
I have no idea. In the last century you had a small set of publishers effectively controlling which stories and authors made it to the market. With the ebook revolution those constraints are gone. And so you will have thousands of authors inspiring thousands of other authors. As for who the next biggie will be, that’s like predicting who will win the lottery.
Q: Why do you write in this genre?
Because it’s fun. Really, it boils down to that.