Anthony Bidulka nervous about replacing popular character Russell Quant with unproven one

By Simon Hiatt Metro Saskatoon

For Metor/Simon Hiatt Author Anthony Bidulka poses with a copy of his new novel When The Saints Go Marching In.

He might not live life quite as close to the edge as the characters he’s created, but author Anthony Bidulka is proving he isn’t afraid to take a risk.

After creating a highly popular, award-winning series of mystery novels centred around Private Detective Russell Quant, the Saskatoon-based author has left the character behind for a new one; disaster recovery agent Adam Saint.

“For me, it comes down to wanting to stretch my muscles as an artist,” Bidulka said. “But it is a little bit scary to be introducing a new character.”

While Bidulka says the Quant series were pure mystery novels, he describes his new book When the Saints Go Marching In as falling into the suspense/thriller genre. He has already begun work on a second Adam Saint novel, but admits to being nervous about the reaction to the shift in his writing from his loyal fan base.

“It’s going to be an interesting next few months; there are some pretty serious readers of that series and I think when they read about Adam Saint their hope will be that it’s Russell Quant part two, and it’s not.”

This isn’t the first time Bidulka has gambled with his career. He was a successful chartered accountant before deciding to pursue his dream of being an author.

“There I was, approaching 40 and I had a great career, but I knew that if I didn’t try this it would be a disappointment. It wasn’t necessarily about selling a million copies of the book; it was about having that experience in my life.”

Although he acknowledges the vast difference between being a number cruncher and a professional writer, Bidulka says his former profession has helped him tremendously in his new one.

“I understood the business world; I understood sales and marketing, which are so key in this profession. There are many better writers than I am out there, and you can write the best book in the world, but if you don’t know how to market it, you’re not going to be successful.”

Bidulka may have known how to sell his work, but he did make some potentially risky choices in telling the Quant tales, beginning with basing the stories in his hometown.

Although he says for business reasons there is pressure on authors to set their books in the United States, he thinks choosing Saskatoon, which also features prominently in the new novel, has actually helped.

“It’s proven to be one of the biggest factors in my success because by and large no one from outside of here knows about Saskatoon, so suddenly I’m giving them new information.

“That’s a good thing for a writer, to show people a world they know nothing about. I like the fact that I can tell international stories and Saskatoon fits right in there.”
Russell returns?

While his focus is on his new character, Anthony Bidulka hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to the Russell Quant series someday. “I never say never, but for me the last book ended in a place where if that’s it for Russell, if we don’t meet him again, he’s in a positive place for him to be. But if I go back to it I think there’s a whole new direction to go with it.”

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