The Monarch: A Thriller
Author: Jack SorenGenre: Thriller 18+Publication Date: December 2, 2014Publisher: WitnessImpulse, an imprint of HarperCollins
~ Synopsis ~When Jonathan Hall walked away from his career as an international art thief to be a father, he thought he’d made a clean break—from crime, from life as The Monarch, from an early grave. But when The Monarch’s signature symbol resurfaces carved into the mutilated bodies of New York’s elite, Jonathan realizes his retirement might’ve been short-lived. Someone is framing The Monarch for horrific slayings. But Jonathan and his former partner Lew know this isn’t just murder—it’s a message. Now caught in a deadly game against a fanatic madman whose reach penetrates the darkest corners of the globe, Jonathan and Lew have no choice but to play along. But when Jonathan’s daughter becomes a pawn, all bets are off. To win this game, Jonathan and Lew will have to accept one final task as The Monarch—a job that could change the course of history forever.
~ About the Author ~JACK SOREN was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Before becoming a thriller novelist, Soren wrote software manuals, waited tables, drove a cab and spent six months as a really terrible private investigator. He lives in the Toronto area.
Connect with the Author
Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Before becoming a thriller novelist, I wrote software manuals, waited tables, drove a cab, and spent six months as a really terrible private investigator. I live in the Toronto area.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When is that? I enjoy anything that involves story: reading, movies, television, video games, and explaining why I’m three hours late and smell like nachos and tequila.
Where do you get your ideas?
A box I found buried beneath the underpass behind my house. Shhhh.
To be honest, I have no idea. I've tried the notebook approach, but I just end up filling up the notebook and then throwing it in a box and never looking at it again. But really, ideas are easy. Dime a dozen. Execution is the trick.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I don't really get writer's block, if that exists (my Dad would say "Carpenters don't get carpenter's block". Sometimes you just have to do the work.) There are times when it's more difficult than others, but I think that's more about figuring out the right path into and through a story. If I'm trying to write and it's not coming, then there's something wrong with what I'm doing. I may not know it consciously, but on some level I know something's broken.
The "block" part would be stopping to figure out what it is. But I don't believe writing is just putting words on the page. Sometimes it's drinking a beer and staring at your navel.
How does your writing process look? Consistent with regular amounts of word counts daily/weekly… or more sporadic with a gush of words all at once and then a dry bed for a while?
On the days that I manage to sit down to write, I try to get 2,000 words done. I don't really have a “process”. There are definitely more productive times. I'm not really driven by deadlines, more by how long it takes me to find the "in" for a project. Ideally I'd like to write every day, but with the business side of writing and life in general, that's sometimes just not possible.
Oh, and I’m really lazy.
What books did you read when you were kids? Any books you found inspiring?
I think I started out with the typical books most kids did -- The Hardy Boys, comics, etc. After that I got into Star Trek novels because I liked the show. After that I pretty much read whatever I could get my hands on, but I do remember a few standouts like The Runaway Robot and You're Stepping On My Cloak and Dagger.
It wasn't until high school that I found a book that really spoke to me: The Catcher In The Rye.
At what point in your life did you realize that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?
Has that happened yet? Man, nobody tells me nothin’.
Some authors listen to music while writing, others prefer a quiet space. Which is your preference? If you do listen to music, do you have a playlist? Care to share?
Depends on the scene I'm writing and the mood I'm in. I listen to everything from soundtracks to straight up rock and roll. But sometimes I want silence. Lately, I’ll put on my noise-cancelling headphones, open the laptop and just type the mood of the scene into Spotify. They have playlists for just about everything.12 - You need to write through the tough days12 Things I learned writing THE MONARCH
Some days the words come like feeding a bowling ball through a urethra -- you just want it over. Those days, when 500 words seems like a dream, it's really easy to think about closing the laptop and walking away. Maybe forever. But you have to power through. Because a few days later when you're racking up three and four thousand words, it's easy to forget that if you hadn't powered through those tough days you never would have gotten to the salad days. Or the meat days. Or whatever.
11 - Plans are for cowards
This one doesn't apply to everyone, but hell yeah it applies to me and was the case while writing THE MONARCH. When it's all planned out and you know where you're headed a month down the line, the spark is gone for me. Half of writing for me is discovery, letting your characters and your story lead you. Sure, sometimes you end up in an alley wearing a pair of assless chaps beside a guy named Bubba, but I think it's worth it.
Joss Whedon, writer and director extraordinaire, said something in the Director's Commentary for his movie Serenity. It's early in the movie, when the Operative is interrogating the boob who let Simon and River get away. As the Operative pulls out a sword, Joss Whedon says "I didn't even know he had a sword until he pulled it out." That one sentence changed a lot of writing for me.
10 - Software doesn't matter
Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- has their favorite way of writing. A type of pen, a kind of chair or the software program they use. And for the latter, writers seem bound and determined to convert the masses to their secret revelation. "If you're books sucks you just need to user Evernote or Scrivener or Notepad." But here's the little secret I learned: none of it matters.
When you're in the zone and not really looking at the screen, but through it, watching the book/movie in your head unfold, you don't even know what you're using to get it all down. Now, by all means, use whatever works for you. But leave everyone else alone. Use your magical program and get the work done.
9 - Life will ALWAYS get in the way
"I'd love to write a book, but I've got this thing next Wednesday. But after that..." That was me. I spent years waiting for that magical block of time when I had absolutely nothing else to do. Thing is, you're ALWAYS going to have something to do. The old adage "you don't find time to write, you make it" is about the best advice ever uttered. (Insert cow joke.)
I was working a full time job while I wrote THE MONARCH, not to mention raising an 11-year-old daughter by myself. I made the time. Every morning after taking my daughter to school I'd slam my butt into my Lazyboy, open my Thinkpad and crank out at least 1,000 words before I'd go to work. The fear of getting in trouble at work actually made me write faster some mornings. Pretty soon I was finding time at night to write as well. "I'm always tired anyways, I might as well be a tired guy with a book under his belt."
8 - Your worst enemy are the people you care about
The first thing friends and family would say to me when I'd tell them that I'd been writing every day for over a month was "That's amazing!". The second thing was "You deserve a break! Let's go golfing!" Newsflash, while you're writing the world keeps turning. They mean well, but you have to let them know what you're doing isn't a burden. To be honest, I'd rather be writing than just about anything. Especially the way I golf.
7 - Book is boss
When THE MONARCH really took off for me was when I realized it was in charge. This is related to not planning too much, or at least not viewing your plan as gospel. Sometimes your book wants to go in a direction you didn't even think of -- that character who simply won't leave a room usually is trying to tell you he still needs to do something before he leaves. Ease up on the controls, lean back and say "Show me".
6 - Timezones were created to make writers crazy
THE MONARCH crosses about every time zone there is. With all the concurrent threads I was wrangling it made keeping track of what day it was and if it was day or night a, well, nightmare. I finally ended up creating a spreadsheet to help me keep things in check. But even that got hairy from time to time. Add in trying to figure out if daylight savings time was in effect for the time of year I was in and you have a recipe for hair yanking. The sequel DEAD LIGHTS isn't much better, but I'm a little more prepared for the insanity this time -- all my hair is already gone.
5 - Nobody cares about the vegetation
You know all that research you did on the flora and fauna of your locales? Yeah, throw that away. What this all boils down to is that those pesky readers have imaginations. If you're trying to describe every footstep and glance/look/gaze of your characters you're taking the opportunity away from your readers to use their wonderful imaginations. It's the reason that when your favorite book is made into a movie it never turns out the way you want. What you're seeing is the Director's vision -- one person.
I learned after some feedback that you just had to sketch the picture edges for your readers. They'll bring the paint and markers. This is actually liberating once you embrace it.
4 - One foot in front of the other, bruddah
A novel is a MASSIVE thing, a huge undertaking. Thinking about it as a whole all the time will make you crazy -- thousands of words, hundreds of scenes, scores of characters. Thinking about the entire book at once makes you wonder how anyone ever finished a novel. THE MONARCH was no different. The first draft was 160,000 words. If I'd thought about it all at once I would have spent most of the time whimpering in the corner and throwing cheese doodles at my laptop.
There are definitely times when you need to think about the whole thing, but most of the time you should just think about the scene you're writing. Maybe even just the sentence you're writing. It makes it digestible. Anybody can write one scene, right? There, one scene done.
Now do it again.
3 - You won't die before you finish
This is apparently something that many writers suffer from at some point. For me, it was when I was about 3/4's done. I could see the end and I was sure I'd die before I got there. Sometimes it was a heart attack. Sometimes it was a car crash. One time it was a sudden plague of raining great white sharks. But I survived. And so will you.
2 - Everyone knows how THEY wrote a novel
When you run into trouble or start to have doubts, it's common to seek out help. For a novelist, that means talking to other writers, reading books on writing and blogs. Something I learned pretty quickly was that everyone knows how THEY wrote their book and what works for THEM. Thing is, everybody's different. Unique -- or in the case of writers, uniquely bent. What worked for one writer has a very low chance that it will work for you. And most writers, it seems, have no idea how they do what they do. And they don't want to know. They're superstitious that if they look at it too closely, the magic will go away.
There are some principles and approaches you can try, or philosophies you can adopt, but for the most part you need to roll your own. Books that did help me while writing THE MONARCH were:
On Writing by Stephen King
Blogs and Websites that helped me were:
- Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction by Patricia Highsmith
- Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
1 - Finishing the book is just the start
- Chuck Wendig's blog http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/
- Kill Zone, the joint blog by 11 thriller writers http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.ca/
- Alexandra Sokoloff's blog http://www.screenwritingtricks.com/
I'll never forget the day I typed THE END for THE MONARCH. It was elating. I immediately printed the book out, took a picture and posted it on facebook. (Yes, my book has a selfie.) But I was so far from where I am today it wouldn’t recognize itself. The next step was revision. A LOT of revision. Then agent submissions. And rejections. And more editing. And query letter writing. And agent blog reading. And more editing. But, until you type THE END, you won't have anything to edit, or mail, or whine about. Get it done and embrace the next phase. While you start writing another book.
Cause there's always more tales.
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