DL Wilson is Vice President of the International Thriller Writers Organization. I interviewed David about his decision to become a writer and his new novel, SIROCCO.
Hi David, tell us a little about yourself.
My love of novels evolved during my day-job in the fashion industry which took me to 32 countries. The countless hours on airplanes drew me into reading thrillers. My extensive international travel also spawned a fascination with world cultures and exotic locales. Eventually I was hooked and decided to write novels. The process was much harder and longer than I had ever imagined. I was extremely fortunate that my years of practice to become a writer paid off. My first novel, UNHOLY GRAIL, became a national bestseller and has been translated into eight languages. Clive Cussler called UNHOLY GRAIL “a tale rich with intrigue that grips the imagination. A must read.” You can find out more about my writing life at my website www.dlwilsonbooks.com.
And you now have a second novel out. Tell us about that.
My second novel, SIROCCO, is a bio-terrorism thriller. I’m very proud to say it’s getting rave reviews from some of my favorite thriller authors. James Rollins said “SIROCCO is both a razor-edged thriller and a tour de force.” Steve Berry said “D. L. Wilson is a wry, appealing voice in the thriller world. This one is well worth a look.” You can view a SIROCCO video trailer on my website www.dlwilsonbooks.com.
Tell us about the protagonist and antagonist in the story—what do you like about them?
The protagonist in SIROCCO, Brett Reynolds, an attorney representing the pharmaceutical lobby, rushes to Washington for an urgent meeting of Homeland Security to investigate a terrorist threat by Sirocco, a secret organization within the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
With a bio-terror looming that could devastate the U.S., Brett learns of his brother’s death in a bizarre murder/suicide. He discovers connections between his brother and Sirocco’s terrorist plot. His investigation leads him on a harrowing chase that ends in a deadly confrontation with Sirocco and a chilling climax in the Oval Office.
I enjoyed the opportunity to present a character caught in the maelstrom of a family crisis and a deadly threat to his country. I try to get my readers to envision the daily turmoil gripping my characters and to be there in the moment with them experiencing every joy and every pain.
The antagonist in SIROCCO, Sharifah Abbas, is an intelligent woman who turns to terrorism as a means of gaining power and control in a society that relegates women to a position of subservience to men. Many of my female readers expressed a strange attraction to Sharifah due to her ability to manipulate the restraints of her culture to attain total dominance in her secret terrorist stronghold.
I also used Sharifah to demonstrate how terrorists can manipulate a religion as a means of supporting their evil objectives. In my extensive research I found that it’s not a religion that creates terroristic ideals, it’s terrorists who translate religious manifestoes to meet their own sinister desires.
I try to develop my characters as real people who my readers can relate to and feel, see, and experience their lives as my story plot unfolds.
How do you work on a story to bring the components like character and plot together into the final product?
My goal is to write Fiction with Content. I begin with a basic concept of the storyline and my key characters. Then I do way too much research into fascinating aspects that support my plot and develop my characters. I focus on the history, technology, associations, people, and locations that become major factors in creating a powerful suspense/thriller. I interview fascinating individuals who work in the fields my characters represent. I want my readers to be caught up in the “thrill” of my novel, turning the pages to follow the tension and twists and turns of the developing story. When they close that last page, I want my readers to reflect on the “content” within the story that opened new interesting perspectives they had taken for granted.
My greatest thrill is receiving the many reader comments through my website telling me they thought some of the content I had presented was incorrect and then they did their own research and realized they had learned something new. If I can enhance readers’ understanding of important aspects of history, culture, and technology as they keep flipping the pages enthralled with the characters and plot of my story, I’m achieving my goal.
In order to bring all the aspects of my novel together, I create a very detailed story analysis that contains Chapters, Scenes, Time Line, Story Line, Point of View, Characters, Tension/Conflict, Setting, and General Comments. I use this to bring a balance to the development of the plot and characters. This becomes my map as I put on my creative hat and start the actual writing of the novel. It’s important to note that as I’m writing my manuscript, I may find a fascinating side trip that takes me from my detailed analysis. But just as I might take a detour during a drive, I always have my analysis like a road map to get me back on the road to my final objective.
What is one thing that has helped you develop as a writer?
The most important factor that has helped me is sticking to my goal of practice, practice, practice. Writing is an art and a craft, and art is in the eyes of the beholder. In order to master the craft requires practice and mastering the art, which is constantly changing, requires reading your genre to keep up with the changes and more practice, practice, practice. Every little tweak that grabs your readers by the throat and keeps them turning the pages is a step toward success.
What is the most successful thing you’ve done to market your book(s)?
In today’s technology driven society, I don’t think there’s one simple marketing factor that can make an author successful. I’ve been focusing on the developing e-promotional arena to market my books. It’s a combination of many factors: a good website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Blogging, and new areas like Pinterest that bring your novels to new readers. I’ve gotten great comments about my latest marketing tool, a video book trailer. In today’s market people are attracted to things that are short and sweet. My book trailer is on the opening page of my website at www.dlwilsonbooks.com where visitors can click links to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and my Blog.