By Brett King
It’s time to KILL again.
In 2008, author Andrew Peterson made his debut with the powerhouse novel FIRST TO KILL. His novel introduced a complex hero named Nathan Daniel McBride to a legion of faithful readers and spawned a series of popular and tightly constructed thrillers, all bearing the signature “kill” in the title. April 29 marks the publication of READY TO KILL, the explosive fourth installment in the bestselling series. As with earlier books, Andy’s latest novel doesn’t disappoint.
Trained as a Marine Corps scout sniper, Nathan McBride has retired as a CIA operations officer to run a private security company with his best friend, Harv. However, a cryptic message referencing a top-secret U.S. operation changes Nathan’s plans for a quiet retirement. Acting on a request from CIA director Rebecca Cantrell, Nathan and Harv must return to a daunting jungle in Central America, a place where Nathan was viciously tortured decades before. Their task is not an easy one as they race to stop a rogue killer who learned from the best, Nathan himself. If he hopes to survive a second time, Nathan must not only confront a formidable enemy, but also face the hellish past that left him scarred for life. Compelling from the beginning, READY TO KILL is an intense and unflinching thriller that runs at a relentless pace, taking Nathan into a gripping and memorable showdown.
It’s no surprise that several first-rank thriller writers have praised the Nathan McBride character. Ridley Pearson describes him as “the most brutally effective thriller hero to appear in years” and Steve Berry adds, “Part Jack Reacher, part Jason Bourne, Nathan McBride is a compelling, conflicted hero.”
Andy was the first person I met when I attended my first ThrillerFest conference and I liked the guy from the beginning. Smart, affable and charming, he disproves the old aphorism that “nice guys finish last.” He has been active in a number of ITW functions over the years and he did a phenomenal job interviewing authors for Between the Lines before I joined him as an editor for the feature. He also happens to be an accomplished marksman and has won numerous competitions throughout the Southwestern United States. His dedication to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces is nothing short of admirable. Born in San Diego, Andy now lives with his remarkable wife, Carla, in the Land of Steinbeck: Monterey County, California.
I was honored when Andy named a character after me in his second novel, FORCED TO KILL, even though he put Captain Brett King in charge of the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base. I returned the favor in my second novel, THE FALSE DOOR, when I named General Andrew Peterson as the new Director of the National Security Agency. (I’m guessing the commander of Gitmo has only a slightly less controversial job than DIRNSA right now!) One of my characters notes about General Peterson that he “could only imagine the stories the guy could tell.”
Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on imagination to get stories from the real Andy Peterson. He credits some of his recent success to his working relationship with Alan Turkus, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Amazon Publishing and Editorial Leader for Thomas & Mercer. In fact, Andy asked if I would invite Alan to join us later in the interview to discuss their work together, as well as certain aspects of Amazon Publishing. Andy and Alan generously agreed to be interviewed for this feature and I appreciate the time they took to answer questions on a variety of topics about the process and production of writing thrillers.
Andy, Nathan McBride has come a long way since you introduced him to readers in your debut novel. READY TO KILL signals Nathan’s unofficial return to the region where he was tortured then imprisoned in a suspended bamboo cage. What inspired you to take him back to Nicaragua?
Brett, thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and insights with you and THE BIG THRILL readers. In 2008, my experience as a Debut Author was overwhelmingly positive and it helped shape my writing career.
There are hundreds of novels focused on the Middle East and Asia, so the New World concept seemed fresher and more interesting. I’m also fascinated by the jungle environment and I think it’s a great setting for a stealth-themed story. Not many novels are centered in Central America and my editor, Alan Turkus, liked the idea of doing a Central America–based novel. I also wanted to use gold mining as a story element because I think it’s an interesting subject. The mindset of people seeking gold has always fascinated me. Nicaragua was a good match due to Nathan’s past history and the fact that Nicaragua’s gold industry is becoming a major economic force and gold could become one of it’s leading exports.
Nathan’s brutal torture carved both physical and psychological scars. How did that experience change his perspective about the world?
Did his experience change his perspective on the world? I’d have to say no. Nathan’s ordeal solidified his understanding of the true nature of evil in the world. Sadly, torture exists. Nathan’s not immune; he and Harvey have conducted some fairly rough interrogations themselves. But being on the wrong end of torture is a horrible experience. The humiliation of being completely bound and helpless is far worse than the physical pain.
I think what bothers Nathan the most about his ordeal is what he learned about himself. He discovered an extremely vicious entity within his soul that thrives on hatred. It came forward during the worst of the torture, took over for him, and literally saved his sanity. It’s difficult to describe how it works. Nathan named his dark being the Other and he knows it will always be an integral part of who he is. If you read FIRST TO KILL, you’ll see Nathan describe a safety catch that he uses to prevent the Other from coming forward.
To this day Nathan can’t watch violent movies where torture is involved. I’m the same way. In the movie Casino Royale, I can’t watch the “chair scene.” I literally have to leave the room or change the channel. I’m sure I’m not alone.
I’ve received a few negative reviews from people who philosophically can’t accept torture as a truth of the world. I know the reviews are politically based, and some of the reviewers accuse me of being a proponent of torture. I’m definitely not. But I can’t sugarcoat the real world in the Nathan McBride books. I either have to tell the truth and show torture for its true ugliness or not. I don’t cross certain graphic lines, but I take people to the edge then ease off before taking them over the cliff.
Did READY TO KILL evolve as you wrote it or did you have a clear sense of the story before you started?
The answer to this question is both. I had a clear concept of the beginning of the novel and I knew Nathan would have a showdown at the end, but I wasn’t clear on the route Nathan and Harv would take through the story. I think all of my stories evolve as a natural part of the writing process. As I research and develop a road map of Nathan and Harv’s challenges, the story develops. Detailed outlines tend to inhibit my writing style. The Nathan McBride books aren’t super complex or driven by an intricate spider web of plot twists and turns. If you think of a novel in the shape of a tree, I like to stay near the trunk during most of the story. If I go out on a branch, I return to the tree’s main structure pretty quickly. There is no “book of rules” defining the process of writing novels, but I’ve found a style that works for the type of books I write.
Nathan and Harv share a powerful bond. What is the most critical difference between the two men? What is something Harv understands about his buddy that Nathan doesn’t know about himself?
I’d say the biggest difference between the two men is Harv’s protective nature. He’s overprotective of Nathan to the extent of being obsessive. Its roots can be traced back a couple of decades to the botched mission where Nathan was captured and Harv got away. Harv has always felt horribly guilty because Nathan sacrificed himself to ensure Harv escaped.
Nathan and Harv definitely share a powerful bond; it’s deeper than most families. Nathan’s definition of friendship is different from most of ours. A friend to Nathan is someone who’s willing to die for him and vice versa. To answer the question, I don’t think there’s anything that Nathan and Harv don’t know about each other, nor are there things they don’t know about themselves. They don’t have unrealistic expectations of themselves. They live their lives to the fullest extent they can, knowing they both have a significant amount of baggage. As a scout sniper team, they used to kill people for a living. These two men have been through some glorious and horrifying experiences together; victory and defeat, trial and tragedy. When it comes to his ordeal in Nicaragua, Nathan’s of the opinion that “it happened, get over it.” But when is life ever that simple?
Poor Harv. He’s always a bridesmaid but never a McBride. Andy, when are you gonna give this guy his own book? Or, at the very least, the starring role in a short story?
I’ll probably give Harv his own book at some point in the future. I’m just not sure when that will be. Harv has a pretty big role in READY TO KILL. He does a lot of the legwork until the final scene. In OPTION TO KILL, Harv was pretty much absent from the book except as a supporting role on the phone. I got a lot of emails from people asking if Harv will return in the next book. Well, they’re going to see lots of Harv in READY TO KILL. I got an equal number of emails asking for more Lauren and Jin, so we’ll likely see their return in book five. It’s important to note that Harv isn’t a sidekick; he’s not the Lone Ranger’s Tonto. He’s an integral part of Nathan’s world. Nathan wouldn’t or couldn’t be who he is without Harv. I can never kill Harv because his absence would quite literally destroy Nathan.
When you introduce a new character, what do you do to bring alive that person in the minds of your readers? What advice would you give to aspiring writers about creating memorable characters?
Brett, the question on characters is an interesting one and I don’t think there’s an easy answer to it. In OPTION TO KILL, Lauren, a twelve-year-old girl, was very tough to write because I’m not a parent and I haven’t spent much time around girls that age. Writing OPTION became a significant challenge because Lauren and Nathan are on the complete opposite ends of the two spectrums of character; a mature, battle hardened male versus an innocent twelve-year-old girl. The dichotomy of their personalities and the two completely different ways they see the world made for an interesting interaction between them. They had to learn to trust each other in order to survive.
It’s important to remember that characters are first and foremost human beings and as such, they have flaws and quirks. The reader needs to see some of them. It’s also extremely important for the author to understand his characters’ core motivations. Why are they doing the things they’re doing? What are the driving forces at work in their lives that affect the way they see the world? All of the characters in my books are very real to me, and I don’t know if I could write them if they weren’t.
Harv struggles with remorse after he is forced to kill. Have you interviewed scout snipers about finding that “emotional switch” that makes them ready to kill?
The emotional switch is something that I made up myself. I worked as a volunteer firefighter and there were many times when I needed to disconnect from my work in order to function. Some of my fellow first responders were much better at doing that than me. I had a hard time with it, especially when children were involved. Nathan once described the emotional disconnection like acting in a play.
I didn’t interview any scout snipers because I’m uncomfortable asking them such personal questions. I think it’s fair to say that it’s hard to feel good about killing, even when it’s your job. All snipers have to deal with what they do in their own way, and the spotter isn’t excluded from the ethical dilemma. Harv was the other half of Nathan’s two-man team and even though he didn’t pull the trigger on the ops, he felt equally responsible for each kill.
Harv describes Nathan’s dancing moves as an “ugly thing to watch” and adds, teasingly, that “the man has no rhythm.” Does art imitate life here with your dancing ability or can you work it like John Travolta back in the disco era? Maybe you have moves like Jagger?
What a hilarious question! It’s funny you asked about the dancing moves of Nathan. It’s just something I like about his character—he can’t dance. I’m not a terribly good dancer myself. I just don’t have a lot of experience with it and it’s not something I enjoy doing. I equate it to doing aerobic exercise while fully dressed. If I’m going to get hot and sweaty, I prefer to do it at the gym in a controlled environment. I guess that makes me kinda boring. What can I say, I don’t like dancing. To truthfully answer your question, my dancing moves mirror the “white man’s overbite” as described by Billy Crystal’s character in the movie When Harry Met Sally.
What challenges have you faced in writing series fiction? What do you do to overcome them?
One of the issues involved with writing series fiction is character description. Nathan needs to be physically described fairly early in each book. People often read series books out of order so each book has to be free standing. It’s not necessary to read the series in order, but it’s probably better to. Another issue is core character. Nathan’s character is not going to evolve through the series. Readers will discover new things about him, but he is who he is. Nathan will never become a touchy-feely guy; it’s just not in his nature. And he never deflects blame or responsibility. If he screws up, he admits it. The buck stops on his desk.
I received a great email not long ago from a female reader imploring me to never let Nathan get married and settle down. She was worried that if he did, he wouldn’t be able to “take care of business” when it’s needed. I think what she was saying is this: don’t change his character; I like him for who he is. Nathan has some soft moments, but he’s predominately a no-nonsense guy who’s never going to be in touch with his feminine side. It’s important to say he’s not an ogre. He loves animals and hates to see people bullied. If you want to ring Nathan’s bell and get him in your face, all you have to is mistreat an animal or bully someone in front of him.
So in a nutshell, when writing series fiction, describe the hero fairly early in every book, and don’t change his or her core character. I made that mistake in OPTION: I didn’t give a physical description of Nathan soon enough.
Mickey Spillane famously wrote that “Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle…The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.” What do you do to captivate readers in the opening and concluding pages of your novels?
To captivate readers, I always open my books with the bad guys. I believe the bad guys drive the story. Without the bad guys, the hero has nothing to do. It’s not an ironclad mold, but it’s worked for me. The stories aren’t mysteries, the reader knows who the bad guys are. The stories are about how Nathan goes after them. It’s all about the chase. How does he first find them and then defeat them. And he takes lumps along the way. It’s rarely smooth sailing. I hate to admit this, but I torment Nathan in my books. He’s under near constant stress. What makes him shine is the way he deals with it. Nathan is at his best when things are at their worst. Metaphorically, he steps up to the plate and is willing to take a fastball to the ribcage for the team. I love reading thrillers in which the hero has to make personal sacrifices, both physically and emotionally in order to get the villains. I think it’s engaging fiction.
Another thing I do to captivate readers is imagine how my manuscript will sound with Dick Hill narrating it. If I don’t think it would sound right with Dick reading it, I change it. Dick Hill is the voice of Nathan in the audiobooks and he really makes Nathan’s character come to life. I’m constantly asking myself: What will this sound like with Dick reading it? I keep a little note taped to my monitor that says, “Dick Hill’s narration.”
In Chapter 30, Nathan shares his perspective on happiness. It’s an interesting moment that gives real insight into his character and I wondered if it mirrors your own views.
The answer to this question is wholeheartedly, yes. Money is a necessary evil; society can’t function without it. Not that long ago, people used to pay for things with solid gold and silver coins. It’s an alien concept now. In READY TO KILL Nathan makes the statement that there is no correlation between wealth and happiness and that true happiness can only be achieved by helping those who are less fortunate than yourself. Without getting too deep here, it’s true for me and I suspect it’s true for most people who are honest with themselves. Someone who can afford all the expensive toys and buys them to find happiness is going to be disappointed. I would argue that such self-indulgent behavior creates an empty feeling. Lottery winners have openly admitted they were happier before they won all the money.
Nathan McBride is a shrewd judge of character. If he could rise from the page to meet you, Andy, what would be his impression of you? What advice would he offer you?
If Nathan could rise from the pages he’d probably tell me to chill out and not worry about so many things. Being a contract writer has changed my perspective on the industry. I still love the creative process, but sometimes it feels like I like wake up with a .45 in my face. It forces me to set goals and stay on schedule. When I get behind, I’m miserable. Every contract writer knows what I’m talking about here. So right after Nathan tells me not to worry about things, he’d follow it up with a swift kick in the ass and say, “Get going!”
Nathan is fond of saying, “Luck favors the well prepared.” He’s talking about covert fieldwork, but would you say the same is true for writers?
Luck definitely favors the well prepared. I personally believe this is true in all aspects of life. Whether it be covert fieldwork, writing, teaching, public speaking, parenting, etc., being well prepared is essential. I tell anyone who’s willing to listen to me that a writer needs three things to succeed: Hard work, talent, and luck. There is no substitution for hard work. Period. Talent is developed over time. If you do your research, write your manuscript, and then edit, edit, edit, you’re much more likely to produce a good product.
Sadly, a good product doesn’t always sell. It needs to be commercially marketable. I’m straying here, but I never build a brick wall around my work and dismiss constructive criticism from professional editors, especially my in-house editor, Alan Turkus. I have no ego when it comes to writing. My goal is to produce the best manuscript I can and embrace input from people I trust.
My lucky moment occurred when I met Ridley Pearson on the Maui Writers Alaskan Cruise. He liked my style of writing and recommended I contact his freelance editor, Ed Stackler. Working with Ed led to getting a terrific agent (Jake Elwell), which led to a contract with a publishing house, and ultimately to where I am now, with Thomas & Mercer. But here’s the kicker, I’d worked extremely hard on my prose and Ridley recognized it. If my writing had been sloppy and amateurish, he never would’ve recommended Ed Stackler. So, does luck favor the well prepared? I truly believe it does.
Andy, what is one thing that you never question in your writing?
My editing skill. I love editing what I’ve written and I place a lot of emphasis on sentence structure, prose, and the overall flow of the writing. In a great movie you don’t notice the directing. All the scene transitions, camera angles, lighting, and sound, all of those things blend into the movie and you really don’t notice them. Silence of the Lambs is a classic example of a seamless movie. I think the same is true of books. In a good book you don’t notice the writing. The writing should never take the reader out of the story. In other words, if a reader has to go back and reread something, the author runs the risk of losing him. I think most readers are willing to excuse a few missteps, but if it happens too frequently, the reader gets annoyed.
Writing manuscript doesn’t come easily to me. I often struggle with it. I know some writers who can crank out 2,000 words a day or more; I’m just not one of them. I’m a slow, deliberate writer.
In 2011, you joined Clive Cussler, Sandra Brown, Kathy Reichs, and Mark Bowden on an Operation Thriller USO tour. You had the chance to interact with our dedicated service members in the Middle East and you’ve written about how the experience moved you. I’m curious did the overseas USO Tour change the way you look at the characters in your novels?
Brett, I could write several thousand words about this experience and not adequately cover it. My tour to the Middle East confirmed what I already knew about our military personnel. My heroes aren’t professional athletes, actors, or musicians. My heroes are our military personnel. That’s why I chose a retired marine for the hero of my series. I haven’t really used my USO tour as a guide for writing or enhancing any characters. The USO tour allowed me to get the realistic flavor of what it’s like over there in the trenches; especially when we went out to the remote forward operating bases (FOBs).
I have to tell this one story; I’ll make it brief. So there we all were one morning, walking out to the flight line at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and what’s warming up on the tarmac to take us out to Mehtar Lam FOB? A beautiful Black Hawk helicopter. I looked at Mark and we both thought the same thing without having to say it. How ironic would it be for the author of Black Hawk Down to get shot down in a Black Hawk? We had a good laugh, especially when Mark signed the helicopter. Yes folks, he actually signed a helicopter!
That’s a great story! On another topic, I’ve noticed that the issues of betrayal and mistrust form the bedrock for some character dynamics in FORCED TO KILL and READY TO KILL. Am I right about that? If so, do you see this as a continuing theme in the McBride series?
Betrayal and mistrust are very powerful thematic elements. I personally believe one of the worst things a person can do to another person is betray their trust. No one likes to be betrayed and I think it’s fair to say no one likes a betrayer. Nathan has many faults, but a lack of loyalty isn’t one of them. A core part of his character is to be true to himself and those around him. Nathan will never betray Harv’s trust. He’d rather die.
One of your characters clearly does not like the Oakland Raiders (as a Denver Broncos fan, I gotta tell you it broke my heart!). So let me ask the California guy: after writing READY TO KILL, do you fear the wrath of Raider Nation?
Another funny question, I love it! I don’t worry about the wrath of the Raider Nation. I believe the Raider Nation prides itself in its team receiving boos and hisses at every stadium in America. Heck, the Raiders would probably get booed in the U.K. if they ever played there. If a Raider ever stepped off of a plane in a remote area of the Himalayas, he’d get booed from the local villagers! It’s just a fact of life!
The scene in READY TO KILL was intended as a lighthearted moment, and a true Raiders fan wouldn’t see it any other way.
Can you tell us a little about the next book in the Nathan McBride series? Will Holly play a larger role in the upcoming novel?
I’m currently writing Book Five and I’d like Holly to play a larger role. I really like her character. So yes, we’ll see her in Book Five. Jin and Lauren too!
Andy, you have described your relationship with your editor as a symbiotic one. Can you elaborate on your working relationship with Alan?
The writer/editor relationship is definitely a symbiotic one. At least it’s true for Alan and me. Amazon.com Inc. isn’t just some huge, nebulous thing. It’s made of people. Amazon Publishing, like its parent company, is also made of people. Publishers need authors and authors need publishers. Even a self-published author needs to think of himself as a “publisher” and be proactive in marketing, PR, and distribution.
What I love most about Alan is he truly cares about his authors. He’s personable, responsive, and exudes a feeling that he has a real stake in the game, because he does. Whenever I need to bounce an idea off of him, he’s there for me. Alan has been in publishing far longer than me and I trust his insights and knowledge.
Most of my structural editing is done with my freelance editor, Ed Stackler, but Alan is my lifeline to Thomas & Mercer and my business connection. He’s also a treasured friend. We discuss every aspect of a book; overall pace, scene settings and mood, cover design, cover copy, and more. It’s like a joint task force. There are many people involved in the process at Thomas & Mercer and Alan acts like a band director ensuring everything goes smoothly.
I am accountable to Alan. Yes, I’m an independent contractor, but my mindset is that of an employee. It helps me to stay grounded in the process and think of myself as a team member. I don’t want to disappoint Alan or the Thomas & Mercer team. It’s very important for me to fulfill my responsibilities, both in terms of quality and time.
Alan, I’d like to ask you the same question. How would you describe your working relationship with Andy?
Andy and I have developed a very close partnership. I feel that my job as his editor is to support him through the creative process, to develop a vision for how we can continue to grow the worldwide audience for the Nathan McBride series and to work with my team at Thomas & Mercer to enable Andy’s ambitions. Andy knows that I have his back personally and professionally and I think that frees him up to concentrate on writing great books.
Back to you, Andy. Based on your experiences at Thomas & Mercer, how would you describe the author-editor process of bringing a story idea to finished product?
The concept for READY TO KILL came out of the blue. It just kinda popped into my head. It started as a “what if” situation and grew into an entire theme. I don’t want to spoil the story, but Nathan has never really closed the book on Nicaragua. Alan was the first person I called because if he didn’t like the idea, there was no point in taking it to the next step with Ed Stackler. We brainstormed a little about the story; mostly about locale and I received a green light. At that point I could run with it.
Once the manuscript was finished, Alan then got the first read and offered his feedback and comments. His initial thoughts were quite positive and he had some ideas to make the story more streamlined which I gladly incorporated. Once I’d integrated Alan’s edits and comments, it then went to a copy editor and the process mirrors the traditional publishing model from there on.
I think what I appreciate the most is being included in the cover design input. Thomas & Mercer works closely with its authors, and I have to say, from an author’s perspective, it’s wonderful to have a say in the final cover. Alan and I discuss the initial cover concepts and Alan handles the interaction with the graphic designers. We look at a dozen or so conceptual ideas and pick the one that best fits what we both think the image should be. I thought the cover for READY should have an overall greenish theme because the book takes place in the jungles of Nicaragua. We probably looked at 20 to 25 covers before we zeroed in on the one that spoke to both us. The final decision is of course Alan’s, but he makes the progression from concept to final cover enjoyable. It’s a process, not a rubber stamp and the T&M authors really appreciate being included. It’s just one example of the many ways Amazon Publishing treats its authors like valued customers. Proof of Thomas & Mercer’s commitment to its authors can be found in a new position it created, the Author Relations Manager.
From the top down, the people at Amazon Publishing are future-driven, and they reflect the philosophy of Amazon.com Inc. Jeff Belle, Amazon Publishing’s vice president, is always developing new ideas and better ways to serve customers and its authors. People often ask me what it’s like to be a Thomas & Mercer author. The answer couldn’t be easier; it’s an amazing experience.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the same question, Alan. What is your take on the author-editor process?
The author-editor process is different with every author and one part of my job to assess where I can add the most value and support my author in ways that result in their best work. In Andy’s case, we are working on what has grown into a wildly popular series, so we talk about how to ensure that the book works as a great thriller on its own, as well as part of the series. What I am really trying to do is think about it from the reader’s perspective and make sure it delivers for readers who might be new to the series and for rabid fans who want to see continued growth in the characters and the back story. One of the things that makes the Nathan McBride series work so well is that each installment works for both newcomers and for dedicated fans.
When Andy and I are into a book, we text each other constantly. I’ve never used text messaging so heavily in the editorial process, but it works for us because we can resolve things quickly and keep moving forward.
Alan, we’ll give the last few questions to you. In your opinion, how does the Thomas & Mercer model differ from other publishing houses?
We look at the entire author experience end to end and are always asking ourselves, “How can make this better for authors?” Author happiness is at the center of everything we do, from our concise, easy to understand contract; to the way that we collaborate with authors on everything related to their book (cover design, promo copy, and other creative decisions); to the way we make sales data available through Author Central and send out monthly royalty statements. Every single interaction we have with our authors is an opportunity to deliver a great customer experience. That is what we aim for and I think it is what sets us apart.
How does Amazon Publishing select its authors? Are agents required?
We find books in a variety of ways, including working with agents and also directly with authors.
What challenges do you face when you begin a project with a new author?
When we are evaluating new projects, we always want to understand what makes the project unique, who the audience is, and how we are going to effectively reach that audience. If we can’t answer those questions to our satisfaction, then the project is not a good fit for us and we don’t move forward. In other words, we try to address the challenges before we sign a project with a new author. By making sure we have a clear understanding of what success looks like, and how to achieve it, we minimize some of the challenges for the project.
For a time, Alan, you wrote a blog about enlightened business practices that focused on building sustainable long-term success while increasing people’s well-being. What insights from the Enlightened Business Project have you tried to incorporate into your work at Amazon Publishing?
It is incredibly motivating and empowering for me to try and increase people’s well-being. Amazon Publishing offers me a fantastic platform to live this idea every day—in my role, I get to help authors make a living from their writing, enabling their dreams. For me it comes back to the author-centric approach that we have. If I deliver great customer service to my authors, then I am aligned with my mission.
Andy’s debut novel, FIRST TO KILL, was recently released in a German translation. Are there big plans to translate more Thomas & Mercer titles for foreign markets?
We’ve been excited about the success of Amazon Publishing’s English to German translation program, which publishes selected titles in German under the AmazonCrossing imprint. Helping our authors to find wider readership around the world is one of our goals, and we hope to continue translating additional titles in the future.
Can you name three things that authors do to enhance the author-editor relationship and make the process more fluid? And the reverse, what are three things authors do that you’d prefer not to see?
I don’t think it’s the author’s job to enhance the author-editor relationship. I think it’s the editor’s job to understand how to work with each author, and make the relationship as successful as possible. In general, as with any relationship, I think the key to success is clear, honest communication.
Finally, Alan, what story aspects of a thriller appeal to you? What types of thrillers are Thomas & Mercer editors actively seeking to acquire?
The best thrillers combine action, characters, and setting in such a way that the tension is increasingly ratcheted up to the point it becomes impossible to put the book down. The thing that makes the Nathan McBride series stand out is that Nathan is such a complex and compelling character—one that readers keep returning to because they want to learn more about him and continue to see him in action. READY TO KILL, in particular, combines action, characters, and setting in a unique way and it makes for a terrific read. At Thomas & Mercer, we publish all kinds of thrillers—legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, historical thrillers, military thrillers. Mostly what we look for are well-told stories that make you want to keep reading.
Thank you, Andy and Alan! It was terrific visiting with you both.
Be sure to pick up Andy’s latest book. READY TO KILL is both addictive and absorbing and it’s a must-read for thriller fans!
USO Photo by Mike Theiler