Monday, January 19, 2015


Author S.W. Lauden has interviewed...sorry, interrogated me over at his blog. Go check it out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Grant Jerkins Interview

Grant Jerkins quickly became a favorite author of mine when I ripped through his three novels, The Ninth Step, A Very Simple Crime and The End Of The Road. Since then I've been on the lookout for a new Grant Jerkins novel and now we have one. One with a very interesting backstory.
I'm always fascinated to hear when other writers have done collaborations in the same way that JB Kohl and now Frank Zafiro and I have done in that we have never met in person. When I read that Grant and his co-author of Done In One, Jan Thomas, worked this way I had to know more.
The new novel, about a police sniper, originally started as a screenplay by Thomas which Jerkins had been assigned to do a rewrite on, unbeknownst to Thomas as is so often the case in Hollywood. The film died in development but the story stuck with Grant and his polished rewrite stuck with Jan. When Grant pitched the idea of turing it in to a novel, Jan went for it and now Done In One is upon us. 
I don't need to see anything except Grant Jerkins' name on the cover to know I want to read it, but add to that Jan Thomas' personal experience being married to a police sniper and you know this one has the voice and authenticity to make a very compelling read.
Thanks to Grant for submitting to questioning.

Eric: You and I have both written with co-authors whom we've never actually met in person. Tell me about how it worked for you and Jan. Lots of lengthy phone calls? All email exchanges?  

Grant: 95% of it was email exchanges with a few phone calls here and there. I was doing much of the constructing, so I really needed those emails to have a written record of what we were planning. Jan was composing these lengthy, lengthy stories of her and her husband's life together, and I'd sometimes cut-and-paste whole passages into the narrative. There were things I knew I wanted to use, but not sure how or when I could work them into the book. There was so much great information and insight Jan was giving me. It got to be like spinning plates. But we got all the important stuff in there. 

Eric: I'm fascinated by the history of this project going back to when it was a screenplay and you did a rewrite without Jan ever even knowing about it. Was it hard to adapt your work into a novel form?  

Grant:  That's a good question. The answer is yes and no. The script was maybe 20K words and the novel around 80K. It was like working from an outline, I guess. There was the safety net of the preconceived story. but there was also sixty thousand extra words of narrative to imagine. The biggest challenge was letting the imagination have free (novelistic) reign, but then stopping and realizing, well, my imagination carried me way the hell over here, but the original story is over there, and how are we going to get them to meet up again? But it worked out, and I think it feels very organic, like an original novel.

Eric: Obviously the story already had a structure and a solid story from the script days, but how much did the story evolve as the novel went along?

 Grant:  We didn't really add new characters or events or plot devices. We simply gave our characters fuller, deeper, authentic, lived-in lives. I think with a screenplay you're relying on actors to breathe life into the characters and for the director to fill in the mood, pace, tension, setting, subtext, etc. An author does all of those things on the page. That's what we used the extra words for.

Eric: Did you two trade chapters? How did the day-to-day workings of the writing go? 

Grant: Passing it back and forth didn’t work for either of us. I was in constant communication with Jan. She was writing out these long passages of memories and observations and insights and plot ideas and character studies. Thousands and thousands of words. I used our script as the starting point, but also wove in (often word-for-word) these amazing things Jan was coming up with. 

Eric: Once you were working did you talk constantly or get out of each other's way and let the writing flow? 

Grant: Were in constant communication. -- Small things changed, were brought into sharper focus. Things were improved. But mostly, it was a deepening of what was already there. I wanted the reader to know what it might feel like to actually kill people for a living. What does your life look like if that's your job? What does it feel like to be married to that person? 

Eric: Did you two do any revising or changing of the plot line as you went, or did you wait until revisions to make any course adjustments? 

Grant:  It pretty much stayed the same. I would say we fine tuned things, but nothing drastic. 

Eric: Living in different states, how did you celebrate the release of the book? 

Grant:  Heh. Now that's a funny question. Insightful. Jan is the demonstrative one. I'm Mr. Cool Been There Done That, and Jan is wide-eyed and genuinely excited about the whole process. And really, a lot of her excitement has rubbed off on me, so that I feel an optimism I hadn't felt in a while. The pleasure of publishing and sharing a story with readers. We celebrated with a phone call. But what Jan really wants is for me to come to California so that she and The Sniper can take me out to the range and teach me to shoot. I know nothing about guns.

Eric: Any plans to meet up on a book tour or anything? Does a face-to-face jinx the process in any way?  

Grant:  No plans to meet up. Just a sincere hope that it happens one day soon. We are literally on opposite sides of the country. I'm always worried about jinxing something. Very superstitious about the work. But I think meeting Jan face-to-face would be an anti-jinx. Good juju.