By George Ebey
I recently caught up with author Jeremy Brown whose new novel, Suckerpunch, takes place in the tough-as-nails world of MMA heavyweight fighting.
No head butts, groin strikes, or eye gouges—MMA heavyweight Woodshed Wallace thinks they’re taking all the fun out of fighting. He also thinks he’s beaten his criminal past, but the past fights dirty. Woody’s stuck on no-name cards fighting for gas money when Banzai Eddie Takanori—president of MMA’s largest organization—offers him a last minute fight against a highly favored poster boy. By the time Woody realizes he’s a pawn in a high stakes game between psychopaths, he and those he loves are in way too deep. Good thing he can take a punch. And give a few back.
Your story takes place in the world of mixed martial arts. What initially interested you in writing about this subject?
I’ve been a fan of MMA since the early 90s when the UFC debuted, but I didn’t think about writing a book based in that world until around 2005. Before that the Aaron Wallace character was rattling around and I had him as a self-defense instructor, but he was boring. What was his past? Ex-cop, maybe ex-military, but that’s been done to death. I wanted to have this guy who was born fighting, but he couldn’t be a thug. He had to have some honor and something to fight for.
It was a collision of a few things that made it all click. My martial arts instructor at the time held a clinic called “The Art of the Suckerpunch,” I finally read Raymond Chandler, and MMA started to get a lot of exposure via Pride, the UFC, and the UFC’s reality show The Ultimate Fighter. The more MMA I watched, the more I saw these guys beating the hell out of each other, and when it was over they’d hug and show respect, win or lose. There was real honor on display. Once I realized my character belonged in MMA, he got the nickname Woodshed and we were up and running.
Was your hero, Aaron “Woodshed” Wallace, based on anyone in particular?
Not really. I always have to picture a face when I’m reading or writing, so I had someone playing Woody but it was based on a look and a voice, not necessarily a personality. I don’t want to divulge who I pictured, in case that screws up a reader’s personal choice.
What challenges come with writing about hand to hand fighting vs. other forms of action such as gun fights and car chases?
With gun fights, it can be as simple as “He shot him in the face.” The bullets hit or miss, which I appreciate most of the time. With hand-to-hand combat and especially MMA, the techniques can drill down to which hand or foot goes where, the angle, speed, torque, then what happens when it lands, gets blocked or countered, on and on.
A fight between two skilled tacticians can be a full-contact chess match, but I try not to make the fight scenes into instruction manuals.
Are there any plans for more potential Woodshed Wallace stories?
Yes indeed–I’m currently writing the sequel to Suckerpunch, named Hook and Shoot. The series is designed to go for five books, and we’re hoping that happens.
Tell us about your books in the Crime Files: Four-Minute Forensic Mysteries series.
Those books were a very lucky break for me. They’re a combination of Encyclopedia Brown and CSI, with mysteries around 1,000 words each. They’re all solved using forensics with the solution at the end of each mystery. Because they’re so short, it was a great way to cut the fat from my writing and keep things lean and mean.
Jeremy Brown is the author of the Crime Files: Four-Minute Forensic Mysteries books and the MMA crime thriller Suckerpunch. He has trained in Jeet Kune Do, MMA, and close-quarters combat, and quickly realized it hurts less to write about such things. He lives in Michigan.
To learn more about Jeremy, please visit his website.