K.J. Howe: As we delve into writing novels, it’s challenging to know when the right time is to share this news with our family and friends. Writing can be a private affair, a place that is all our own, and that can feel good, special. It also takes a long time to hone our prose and sell our first book. Sometimes it’s easier to just keep the novel a secret until it sells. But sometimes it’s much, much safer to spill the news right up front. A warm welcome to Gary Grossman and Ed Fuller who share an entertaining story about research!
I didn’t tell my wife I was writing a novel. That was 15 years and seven thrillers ago.
After all, I had never written a novel. I didn’t know how it would turn out. Whether it would be good. If I could even finish it.
So every night, long after I came home from my day job as a TV producer, after homework help with the kids, after my wife and I put the kids to bed, I would hit the computer and write my three pages.
Nothing out of the ordinary. I was usually on the computer most evenings.
I researched. I sent emails. I printed out materials. I wrote.
Then I learned the Number One Rule: I should have told my wife what I was doing! Should have, but didn’t.
Why? Simply because one fine day (actually not so fine) Helene found some very suspicious internet research in a file folder I’d left on the desk: Printouts covering relatively undetectable poisons. Poisons even a skilled coroner likely won’t find. Papers on sniper rifles accurate in the right hands for 800 yards or more. And other ways to dispatch people.
Helene read the research in the manila file and, to put it delicately, thought maybe Gary was thinking about making some changes in our relationship.
Imagine waiting for me to come home that day!
Poisons. Sniper rifles. It was a long wait.
Actually, the only thing I was guilty of was writing a tense, political thriller that no one knew about. Not yet. Not my business partner. Not my wife. Not until that evening.
Here’s how it went down when I arrived.
“Gary—” (Gary, not honey.) “Do we have a problem?” she asked, barring me at the front door.
I didn’t see the file in her hand. I didn’t get a kiss either.
“Problem?” I responded with a smile. “What problem?”
I did and was very aware Helene had eyes in the back of her head.
“Again, do we have a problem?” she said once we crossed into our home office.
“No, of course not,” I responded sheepishly.
“Are you sure?” She put the file on the desk where she’d found them. (Maybe put isn’t the most accurate term. Put doesn’t make noise.) That’s when I saw what she had discovered.
“Oh those,” I said lightly laughing.
I was the only one in the room laughing. The kids were watching TV or perhaps already shipped back to Helene’s mother.
“Yes, those.” She leafed through the pages on poisons and rifles. My wife was deadly serious.
“Those?” I smiled meekly and looked up.
She held the high ground. Very high. She never looked so tall.
“I’m….I’m writing a novel. A thriller.”
She flashed an expression that only said, Sure you are… in a Prove it! kind of way. I gently slid into the computer chair and called up the latest draft. A quick – very quick – word search brought me to one critical scene I’d written, then another. She came close. Then closer. I felt her breathing on my neck as she read over my shoulder. Then a sigh. My writing exonerated me and completely relieved her.
Well, as my story continues, Helene lived and my first thriller, EXECUTIVE ACTIONS, was born with research a tremendous part of my work.
In addition to the poisons and weaponry, I consulted with sources who shared astounding information: A U.S. Navy Commander in his New York Public Affairs Office, White House insiders, a Washington Constitutional expert, a former Army intelligence officer, and more. Their stories and oversight added credibility, authenticity, and believability.
And now, I’m thrilled to be writing with another real deal – Ed Fuller, former President of Marriott International.
I met Ed through James Bond screenwriter Bruce Feirstein (just ask me about that story) and immediately recognized that Ed worked as much in the anti-terrorism business as the hotel business. His incredible experiences are woven into the narrative of RED DECEPTION (Beaufort Books, June 2021), our sequel to RED HOTEL. The exploits, though fictionalized, provide timely warning of real and present dangers to the homeland and the threats posed by Russia to the former Soviet bloc nations.
The plot of RED DECEPTION takes off as terrorists attack our highly vulnerable infrastructure. Roads, tunnels, dams. Details of the targets actually originated in a U.S. State Department assessment, originally written by our hero, Dan Reilly, when he worked at the department, but subsequently leaked by a Congressional aide. Now in the hands of the Russian president, the report becomes a blueprint for disaster and integral to a spider’s web of deceit and international intrigue. As for the rest of the story, it’s all within the pages of RED DECEPTION.
But getting back to that Number One Rule I learned. My wife definitely knows I’m writing fiction. From what she tells me, she feels safe at home. She’s also writing herself. I wonder. Maybe I should check out her research!
Ed Fuller is a hospitality industry leader, educator and bestselling author. He is the president of Irvine, California-based Laguna Strategic Advisors, a global consortium that provides business consulting services to corporations and governments. Fuller is also director of the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA). The plots for Red Hotel and Red Deception draw heavily on his experience and exploits. Follow Ed on Twitter.
Gary Grossman’s first novel, Executive Actions, propelled him into the world of geopolitical thrillers. Executive Treason, Executive Command, and Executive Force further tapped Grossman’s experience as a journalist, newspaper columnist, documentary television producer, reporter, and media historian. In addition to the bestselling Executive series, Grossman wrote the international award-winning Old Earth, a geological thriller that spans all of time. With Red Hotel and Red Deception, his collaborations with Ed Fuller, Grossman entered a new realm of globe-hopping thriller writing. Follow Gary on Twitter.
Do you have a “number one” rule for writing? Let us know what it is!