Friday, April 5, 2013

Steve O'Brien, Author of Dead Money, Chats About How Not to Plan a Series

Meet Steve O'Brien

Steve O'Brien is the author of four novels: Elijah's Coin, Bullet Work, Redemption Day, and Dead Money. Elijah's Coin has been added to the reading curriculum in multiple secondary schools throughout the US and has been incorporated in a university ethics course. The e-book version of Redemption Day was an Amazon.com Bestseller. Steve is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Washington University Law School. He lives in Washington, DC.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

You Can’t Stop It.
The stranger’s menacing, dismissive laughter echoed in attorney Dan Morgan’s head. In the heart of thoroughbred country--Churchill Downs--a major con was about to be pulled. Despite Dan’s efforts, his filly, Aly Dancer, was somehow part of the scheme.
You Can’t Stop It.
Dan’s dream as a thoroughbred owner was to run in a Grade I race—a televised stakes race. That opportunity had finally appeared. So far it had only resulted in threats, violence and death.
You Can’t Stop It.
What was the scam? Who was involved? Who could he turn to?
Post time was nearing.
The man’s sinister voice would not leave him.
You Can’t Stop It.

Coming to Amazon and Barnes and Noble soon!

I would like to welcome Steve O'Brien, lawyer and fiction author to Emeraldfire's Bookmark. Mr. O'Brien was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in his own words:

'How Not to Plan a Book Series'
by author Steve O'Brien

Sometimes I am asked how authors plan a book series? I honestly have no idea. I certainly didn't start out to write a series. What happened was I fell in love with my characters. At the end of Bullet Work, I just felt like I wasn't done with the characters. Between the books Bullet Work and Dead Money, I finished writing a political thriller called Redemption Day. Throughout the process, the characters from Bullet Work kept calling out to me, so I went back to it and Dead Money was born.

In the truest sense there is character arc in storytelling. When a series is involved, that arc has to continue over multiple books. I found continuing that character arc to be more fun than I ever would have imagined. I enjoy the evolution of character. As I was finishing the first draft of Dead Money I felt like there was more I could do. So (spoiler alert) I set the stage for a third installment. Now, grant you, I had no idea at the time what the third book was going to be about or what would happen, but I put an imminent threat from the antagonist at the end. Maybe this was just a way to motivate me to move on to a third book.

I felt like I wasn't done with the character Vasily Korsakov, the antagonist behind the scenes in Dead Money. He has so many layers as a bad guy, I couldn't resist the temptation to poke, prod and reveal more of his dark side.

Characters are like globs of clay, but totally unique. They have back stories and lives separate and apart from the roles they play in a novel. The writer gets to mold them, change them, motivate them and if done correctly, get them to jump off the page. The fun part of a series for me is figuring out what to do with them next.

Oddly enough, though, the glue to the series is not a person. It is a horse, Aly Dancer. There is nothing in the world quite like a precocious thoroughbred racehorse. The great ones move up in class to face better and better competition. The inevitable question is how good are they? How far can they go? It is a heady adventure for the owner and one I had the good fortune to be on. In this series I wanted to drive the story off that emotion, that feeling of constantly moving up in class, hoping that their best was the best of everyone. It is not unlike the NCAA basketball tournament. Sixty-four teams start, only one team ends their season with a victory. For thoroughbreds it is running through the ranks of maidens, then allowance company, then stakes races, then graded stakes races. Every owner has that dream and every win extends and heightens the drama.

In the end I decided that the Aly Dancer saga was more than just one book. Now there are two, soon to be three. Will there be a fourth? I have no idea.

- Steve O'Brien, author

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May you read well and often

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