Today I’m joined today by Anthony Bidulka to go behind the stunning revelations unfurled in the novel ‘Set Free’. Anthony, thanks for letting me pick your brain for a few minutes today to find out more about your novel. Let’s begin at the beginning, what made you want to begin writing this book?
It began with this line coming into my head: “I would have packed less if I knew I was going to die.” This is now the first line of the book. I traveled to Morocco a few years ago and, as with most of my books, I am very inspired by travel and foreign locales. The two seemed to go well together.
I love that you’ve included your first hand experiences into the narrative. The fact that I’m talking to you today indicates that you made it out of Morocco relatively unscathed. Was it necessary for you to also explore those darker elements of abduction and kidnapping to ensure that you didn’t loose the depth from your own experiences?
Yes. Having traveled to Morocco, and especially Marrakech and into the Atlas Mountains, I used a great many of my own experiences in creating settings for parts of this book. A less cheerful bit of research was trying to understand such weighty issues as starvation, mental strain while being kidnapped, the sensation of being beaten.
Those weighty, intense topics no doubt have formidable impacts on the characters. How did you see the central characters change as the book progressed?
The three main characters of Jaspar, Jenn and Katie were each so intriguing to me in how textured and flawed they became the further I got into the book. These were people who could be friends, and then with a turn of cheek be the worst people you know. Since the book has been released, I have been very interested to hear reader’s varying perceptions of who these people were and whether or not they empathized with them.
Has the reader feedback been the most rewarding aspect of writing this book, or was something else more fulfilling for you?
Until this book, I have been known mostly for writing series mysteries. This is my first stand-alone suspense novel. It may not sound like it would be, but I found the writing of a series versus a stand-alone quite different and wonderfully challenging. Coming up with an end product that encapsulated everything I wanted to say in under 300 pages was very rewarding.
How did you approach getting everything you wanted to say clearly, concisely and effectively completed within 300 pages?
As a CPA, having come from a corporate background where every half hour of my day was recorded for billing purposes, I am very cognizant of producing value for time. I don’t fill out a time sheet anymore, but I do tend to work a more traditional type of work week. I write Monday to Friday, rarely on weekends or evenings unless I have a deadline. I do not have a set number of words or pages. It just doesn’t work as well for me as it does other authors I know. I find that type of schedule sets me up for failure rather than success. I’d rather write an awesome paragraph than a substandard ten pages. I will write until I just don’t feel creative any longer. Some days that takes me to 5pm, others, only to lunch time. But then I’ll use my time to focus on the other important aspect of a writing career – the business/marketing side.
The business and marketing aspects are huge and can easily fill the rest of your day. Do you also treat editing as an important aspect of a writing career, or do you leave that more to external professionals?
Yes. I like to have my book as clean as possible before sending it to my editor. Eleven books later, I’m still waiting for the day when the editor says: It’s perfect just as it is! I’m quite sure that day will never come. But that’s a good thing. I learned early on that the relationship between author and editor is one of the most important in this career. When you realized everyone has the same goal – creating the best book you can – then it becomes much easier to navigate.
How do you navigate through the complex world of cover designs?
I come up with the original concepts and then hand them over to a professional to turn my ideas into beautiful covers.
And do you have any overall top tips for other authors wanting to improve their game?
Get involved in the industry. Join a club, sit on a board, meet other writers. It will help.
The more people and things that you know the better. Now to round out today’s interview I’d just like to pose a few rapid fire and response questions to see if we can uncover any more knowledge gems that you hold. Let’s start with an innocuous one:
What is your zodiac sign?
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
That’s one of the best answers that I’ve seen a few other authors choose. Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Oh it’s gotta be both!
Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Not for a second!
Damn, I will have to hold off on starting my circus. And the final wisdom nugget of the day, do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Life is short, but you can make it wide.
That my friend is a great nugget to end our chat with. Anthony thank you again for being so generous with your time and I really hope that you are able to entice many new readers to ‘Set Free’.