What a special treat!
Today, I'd like to welcome author Richard Aaron to my blog. He wrote the novel "Gauntlet" (see my review on Tuesday, June 23).
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Rotterdam and emigrated to Canada with my family at the age of 8. After struggling through junior high and high school, I received a degree in mathematics from the University of British Columbia. From there, I went on to get degrees in law from UBC and the London School of Economics. I started practicing law on September 10, 1981 (it was the day my life really started, so I’ve remembered it!). I started my own firm in 1993 and now have eight lawyers working with me, with a support staff of about 25.
In regard to writing (which I think is probably more interesting to you), I started about four years ago, when some neuropsychiatric tests came back with a stamp that said “THIS MAN SHOULD BE WORKING IN FICTION.” I’m a workaholic and fairly obsessive-compulsive. I’m your classic telephone breaker, glass dropper, computer wrecker, truck/car bumper cruncher and am stumbling and bumbling most of the time (just ask my family, friends and editor). I have four children, all teenagers, and four pets (two dogs, two cats), all of which are narcissistic. I have a stunning wife and, given the above, she is the one who keeps me from shuffling off the coil of sanity.
Talk a little about your book.
Gauntlet is a high-tech novel of international intrigue, pitting a young autistic mathematician (Turbee) and a small American Intelligence Agency against a sophisticated terrorist ring bent on wreaking terror for profit. The plot is standard fare, the telling is not. Four and a half tons of Semtex go missing in Libya. It has been stolen by the agents of a brooding holy man in Afghanistan, who quickly promises a massive terrorist attack against the United States and challenges the Americans to stop him.
A game of cat and mouse begins, as the Semtex makes its way across the globe and toward its intended target. Turbee nearly has it figured out but is hampered by his autism in communicating this with his peers in the agency. As the terrorists grow closer to their destination, the good guys find themselves one step behind, struggling to save the American public from a devastating blow to its economy.
For all of the “cutting-edge research, complex plotting and in-depth characterizations” (as per Publisher’s Weekly), you will need to buy the book.
What sort of research was necessary to write Gauntlet?
I went through huge amounts of research. I think for every page of Gauntlet I have at least three pages of research floating around on various hard drives. In this genre, the audience expects some attention to detail, especially when it comes to describing technical devices, the nature of the military and the weapons that it uses and so on. It’s also an area of pride for me – the detail I’m able to use brings me great personal pleasure.
Gauntlet is also a big novel when it comes to travel. We visit many different geographical areas as the novel unfolds and for realism and accuracy, I studied those areas extensively so I could write them in what I hope is an accurate representation.
Why did you become a writer?
When I was younger I went through a phase of extreme depression and had some neuropsychiatric testing done. Those tests came back showing signs that I would be talented at dealing with fiction. This didn’t surprise me: most lawyers are, by necessity, writers of fiction. I had never considered taking that to the next level, though, and writing a book.
After some encouragement from friends and family, I decided to take a stab at it. It took quite a bit of editing and guidance, but you’re seeing the final product of that leap of faith.
How did becoming a writer change your life?
It has turned my life upside down. I had no idea, when I started, what the concept of ‘editing’ involved and how demanding that could be. I had no idea that once the novel was published, which was a miracle all by itself, we would start the brutal the round of publicity and marketing.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover how my characters have taken over my life, mentally! I have totally changed the internal organization of my law firm, so that I can devote four or five hours a day to lawyering, and the rest of the day to writing, editing, and marketing.
Who influenced you the most in your writing career?
Authors: Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Dean Koontz.
“Real” people: Obviously my editor, publisher and publicist.
What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Every novel must have a beginning, a middle and an end. A lot of people give this advice, from Aristotle to my present editor. You can’t have all middle. You can’t have all end.
What’s next for you?
I am working with my editor to put a publishable, presentable version of Counterplay on the table. In the background, I am also sketching out a third novel in the trilogy.
Thank you, Richard for joining us today. It's been a pleasure!