Welcome to my blog Tony.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself and your latest book.  We appreciate your work and views.

Q: Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. and why you wrote it?
A: Set Free is a stand-alone suspense novel. Previous to Set Free, I published two series, one mystery, one thriller. As a reader, I really like series books. You really get to know characters, and even the writer, over the course of several books. As a writer, however, writing a stand-alone was a challenge I was excited to take on. The story starts on page 1 and ends 270 pages later. Everything you want to say has to be in there. There are no follow up books to add stuff or fix stuff or develop your characters.

My hope is that this is a book that can be read purely for enjoyment, or, depending on what type of reader you are, can put you to work. In ways, both subtle and not, this is a book that delves into the different means by which we can be imprisoned, not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually. It addresses the costs of freedom, the illusive nature of truth. On the book’s back cover, the byline plays with a well-known verse, it reads: The truth will set you free. Can lies do the same?

Partially set in Morocco, Set Free is also a bit of an exotic adventure story, which appeals to the traveler in me.

Q: What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A: Although some might think the difference between mystery, thriller and suspense is slight, I don’t find that to be the case. After writing mystery for so long, I found it endlessly interesting to discover those differences and work with them to create something interesting for me and compelling for readers.
Q: What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A: I am a planner. I suppose that may come from my former life as a CPA. But I also feel that creative writing needs room to breathe, room to travel down paths not seen or even imagined, room to make mistakes and backtrack. So how do I make the two sides of this coin work? Well, I always begin with an outline of the book and a dossier on my main characters. The outline can be detailed in some areas, very sketchy in others. At a minimum, I know where I’m starting, I know where I hope to end up, and I know some key spots in between. It’s a little like undertaking a long road trip with your final destination and a few important sights and fuel/food stops planned on the way. Some of the most fun I’ve had as a writer, and perhaps some of the best writing I’ve done, have been on the unexpected side trips.
Q: What kind of research was involved?
A: I traveled to Morocco. Much of the detail in Set Free in terms of the food, the souks, the Atlas Mountains were taken from my own experiences. Not so much the mayhem.

I also did research by reading documented experiences of being kidnapped, being beaten, being in extreme states of grief. Not always a cheery pursuit.

Q: How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A: I would be telling a fib to say there is nothing in me in my characters. I think every good character has a bit of his or her creator in them. The key is to know what parts to leave in and what parts to take out for the benefit of the character and the story. The main character of my mystery series, Russell Quant, had a fair chunk of me in him. The main character in Set Free, Jaspar Wills, even though he is a writer, less so.


Q: How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A: This was key to me fifteen years ago when I first left my long time career as a CPA to pursue writing. I treat writing the same as I would any other career. I write Monday to Friday, 9-5 (well, actually, more like 7-2), rarely weekends. I only work overtime if I’m facing a deadline. When I am on holiday or involved in some other activity, whether it’s community involvement or attending a party, I do my best to give my dedicated attention and not be distracted by what I’ve left behind on my desk. I love writing, but I love other things too. My motto has always been, “life is short, but it can be wide”. It’s up to us to make it wide.
Q: Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A: Another Canadian mystery writer from my province, Gail Bowen, was a great influence on me. Not only in terms of writing, but allowing me to think that it was possible to make a career out of it. I stand by the idea that during the writing phase a writer should always read writers who are better than they are. It elevates your game. For me right now it is Louise Penny and Ian Hamilton.


Q: What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A: I’ve just spend a couple of weeks at the beach working on a new suspense novel tentatively called Lone Cay. I had my outline and dossier prepared, and this was time to begin the journey and take a few side trips. Lone Cay’s setting, in part, is inspired by my love of the Turks and Caicos islands. As you can see, travel is a constant inspiration for me.
Q: Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A: I used to give a talk called The 5 C’s of Marketing. You can read about it at:

I’d say the most important things to remember are that (1) marketing is vitally important, (2) collect a variety of marketing tools in your tool box because what works is constantly changing, and, (3) if something doesn’t work, try something else.

Q: What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
  1. Get involved – meet other writers, join writing organizations, find ‘your people’, the ones who have the same dreams, worries, and passions as yourself.
  2. If you can make writing a viable career, great. But if you can’t, or can’t quite yet, don’t just ignore it. Find a way to make it part of your life – as a hobby, or volunteer pursuit, or that thing you do on Saturday mornings when everyone else is off shopping.
  3. Be prepared to be a different kind of writer than you imagined you’d be. Don’t be afraid to play with different styles, genres.


Again, thanks Tony for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.


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