ANDREW PETERSON: THRILLER HEROES HAVE TO BE BIGGER THAN LIFE
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Andrew Peterson’s new novel Contract to Kill was published few days ago. The fifth book of The Nathan McBride series received superb reviews and is standing solidly with average 4.7 Amazon stars.
Our next guest is a native of San Diego. He is known for his books donations to
wounded warriors and troops serving overseas. It’s a great pleasure to welcome Andrew Peterson at Land of Books.
– Andrew, what is your new release “Contract to Kill” about?
– Ognian, first let me thank you for inviting me to blog with your readers. I appreciate the opportunity to interact with them.
I brought back some characters from my debut novel, FIRST TO KILL, and it was fun getting reacquainted with them! Okay, here’s the cover copy synopsis of CONTRACT TO KILL:
When Toby Haynes witnesses a double murder—and suspects his boss, Tanner Mason, as the perpetrator of the crime—he does the only thing he can think of: he calls in Nathan McBride. CIA special ops veteran McBride and his partner, Harvey Fontana, respond to their friend’s plea. As they launch a covert investigation into Mason, the security chief for one of the nation’s leading private military contractors, they discover that not everything is as it appears. Mason and his inner circle are leading a top-secret operation to tackle a wave of crime plaguing the US-Mexican border, and the murder may have been part of their complicated strategy—or part of a more menacing agenda. Soon McBride and Fontana find themselves engaged in a deadly game. With a powerful politician behind it all, stopping Mason could mean joining a secret war—with truly global stakes.
– How did you decide to write Nathan McBride series?
– Back in 1990, I was an avid reader. I didn’t care much for television so I read books, mostly fiction. Then one day out of the blue, my wife asked if I’d ever thought about writing a novel. Her question became the catalyst.
I started writing in the horror genre because I loved Stephen King, Dean Koonts, and John Saul. It took several years, but I managed to complete two horror novels that were – simply put: Awful. Yes, it was a learning experience, but they were horrible books. Burning them would’ve been an insult to fire! I loved SciFi as well, and wrote a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel called The Ferengi Gambit, but I never submitted it. Maybe someday.
It was terribly discouraging to receive so many rejections from agents and I considered quitting, but Carla thought I should try writing thrillers before walking away. Bingo! That did the trick. I’d been writing in the wrong genre. Go figure. . . I felt more confident and the process of writing flowed much easier. I used my background in long-distance shooting to create Nathan McBride, a retired Marine Corps sniper and CIA operations officer. No, I was never a Marine and no, I never shot anyone!
I wrote the first McBride novel in 1993, but it didn’t sell, and neither did the second. Man, I remembered thinking, this is really appalling. But I refused to give up and kept writing—off and on—over the next ten years.
In 2005, I decided to get serious and attended my first writers conference where I learned I was doing many things wrong. Writing in a vacuum is not the way to get published. Eighteen months later, I had an agent and a sale to a New York publishing house.
Including the Sci-Fi and horror novels, it took me six books, (750,000 words) to break into the publishing world. There were many times when I didn’t think the journey was worth the mental anguish, but I’m glad I stuck with it.
– What is the biggest challenge during the writing process?
– Getting started. I’m like a thoroughbred that makes a slow start at the bell. But once I get some momentum – around the first turn – it’s on! In the Nathan McBride stories, the beginning of the book is the most important and I spend 50% of my time on the first 25% of the story. It’s important to hook the reader early and get them vested in your main character who sets the stage for the adventure. No matter what genre you write in, fiction must engage the reader on an emotional level. Nothing else works. If the reader doesn’t care about your main character, no amount of action can save the story.
– Tell us something more about your main characters McBride and Fontana? Are they close to someone from your real life?
– I’d have to say that both Nathan and Harv have some of my own personality and convictions. As much as I’d like to say I’m like Nathan, I’m not. He’s far more capable than I am. Thriller heroes have to be bigger than life. Nathan says and does things ordinary people don’t say and do. He’s also a deeply conflicted character. We share common values, but he’s much tougher than I am, or could ever hope to be. People often assume my background is the same as Nathan’s, but it’s not. I have experience in target shooting, but I was never a Marine nor a scout sniper. Having said that, Nathan’s still very real to me. His former spotter and business partner, Harvey is not a sidekick character and doesn’t play that role. Harv is an integral part of Nathan’s life. Many people like Harv as much, or more than Nathan.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– It takes me about nine months to write a Nathan McBride novel. My publisher then launches it around six months after that. It goes though a thorough editing and typesetting process before it’s ready for publication.
– Did you expect that Nathan McBride’s adventures would become such a hit when you initially started to form the plot?
– I was hopeful, but never certain. The best philosophy is to write from the heart and let the chips fall where they may. Every author wants to be successful, but it’s not something you can script. At the beginning of my career, my journey was a rollercoaster ride, but now I’m in a comfortable place with my writing. Having a supportive publishing team at Thomas & Mercer has made the business side of writing a lot easier. I owe huge thanks to Alan Turkus, Jacque Ben-Zekry, Grace Doyle, and Tiffany Pokorny. Any success I’ve achieved is equally shared with them. I’m also grateful for support from readers. Receiving an encouraging note or email from a reader is extremely rewarding, and I don’t take it for granted.
– Who are you?
– Great question! I am many things to many people. First and foremost, I’m a Christian. I’m also a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, and very importantly, an American. Is America perfect? Of course not. But I love my country and I respect and admire our servicemen and servicewomen. I’m also a novelist, and my job is to entertain my readers, not preach to them! I enjoy writing as a career, but my family comes first in my life. In my spare time I like to read, work in my yard, hike in national parks, travel with my wife, fly helicopters, play with my giant schnauzer dog, and I occasionally get in a few rounds of golf. I must say, I’m no Tiger Woods!
– What are your writing habits?
– I can’t say I have a routine. Some writers do, but not me. I typically start out brainstorming an idea with my freelance editor, Ed Stackler. After we have a solid idea, we run it by Alan Turkus, the editorial director at Thomas & Mercer, for a green light to proceed. I then develop a basic outline. Most of the time I know how the story will begin and how it will end. Everything in the middle unfolds as I write. On a daily basis, there is no routine at all. Some days I can’t get a single word written, and other days it flows.
– What are you doing to promote your books by the best possible way?
– I truly rely on my publishing team at Thomas & Mercer. They’re marketing geniuses and I can’t begin to second guess them. I have Facebook and Twitter pages, but I generally don’t use them to promote my books except during a new release. People don’t shop for books on Facebook and Twitter. I use those media for interacting with people. Personally, my website is my main marketing tool. It allows me to let readers know what’s coming as far as new releases, conferences I attend, blogging, and speaking engagements.
– When will we see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– Book #6 is due at the end of this year with a launch date in 2016. The story revolves around a female CIA operations officer who Nathan and Harvey worked closely with when they were assigned to the South American theater of operations.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what will it be?
– Where do you get your ideas? All authors hate that question! Just kidding. . . In reality, it’s a valid query and people ask it often. I’m always tempted to answer that question with another question: Well, where do you get yours? As fiction novelists, we create plots and characters from scratch. For me, I start with an inciting event. Something happens that triggers a subsequent chain of events. The story follows the chain. It’s a series of “if-then” scenarios. My stories are about action and consequence. Right and wrong. Good versus evil. In the Nathan McBride novels, the good guys always win!
Take a look at his books:
First to Kill
Forced to Kill (The Nathan McBride Series Book 2)
Option to Kill: (A Nathan McBride Novel, Book 3)
Ready to Kill (The Nathan McBride Series Book 4)
Contract to Kill (The Nathan McBride Series Book 5)