Today’s guest is thriller writer Russell Brooks to share a little about himself, his writing projects, and his novel Chill Run.
Welcome, Russell. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to be an Indiana Hoosier Track Champion and Canadian Track Team member in the 100 and 200 metres. My BS in Biology has given me a leg up to help write my first thriller novel, Pandora's Succession, Unsavory Delicacies, and Chill Run. I have a series of Op-Ed style essays that I post regularly to my blog, some of which have been featured in the Canadian media and on MySpace. Although my goal is to keep readers in suspense with my novels, I may occasionally entertain viewers with my dramatic readings or play my violin.
I currently live in Montreal, Quebec.
Please tell us about your current release.
It's my first attempt at writing a thriller that leans more towards mystery as opposed to action.
In my first novel, Pandora's Succession, I attacked the story from a broad scope—making it international with a professional as a protagonist. The story was driven by a situation.
In Chill Run, I chose a different path. Rather than go international, I went local—focusing the story around Montreal, my home city. Instead of the story being seen from the point of view of someone who has military training and is backed by a government agency, I chose the Peter Parker (aka Spiderman) approach. My protagonist, Eddie Barrow, Jr., is the regular guy you would never notice in the supermarket. He's written one book but cannot get it sold to a publisher nor get an agent to look at it. To make matters worse, he doesn't have the support of his parents who keep telling him to get a 'real job.' And if life couldn't get any worse for him, he lost both his job and his girlfriend in the same day.
Eddie's roommate and best friend, Corey, won't even look for a job. His dilemma is that he can't leave the house without someone recognizing him as the FAILED Canadian Idol contestant who became known as the world's worst singer—after falling apart when a certain British judge made an unexpected surprise visit to the panel. Consequently he spends his days boozing or hanging out in the strip club where his girlfriend, Jordyn, works as a barmaid. As a result, both of them are behind on their rent and facing an eviction. What pisses Eddie off is seeing celebrities who leak their own sex tapes, become famous, and get book deals.
Meanwhile, an honest, hard-working individual like him can never be taken seriously. That's when Jordyn comes out to Eddie as a part-time Dominatrix, and suggests that he do the same thing with a female celebrity she can hook him up with. Then, deliberately have the media bust them so that he could become famous the same way former call girl, Ashley Dupré, became after she was caught with former New York State Governor, Elliot Spitzer. Eddie would be so well known that agents would be knocking on his door to sign him on. Figuring that he has nothing to lose, he eventually agrees to do the publicity stunt. Only one problem. The plan backfires when the client is killed and Eddie's framed for the murder. Now Eddie, Corey, and Jordyn are on the run from the law—and the real killers who want to shut up Eddie.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote this right after the Norbourg scandal that rocked Quebec the same way the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme rocked the USA. The Norbourg scandal hit an emotional chord with me when I saw how the company's CEO, Vincent Lacroix, swindled his clients blindly. Many of them who were retired and having to seek employment—most likely for life. What also inspired me were celebrities and politicians who became famous or infamous because of publicity stunts or bad behavior. So, I thought of having a starving author as the protagonist, and you have the perfect mash-up.
North Hatley, Quebec
Eddie Barrow, Jr. didn’t remember feeling the bullet tear into his shoulder. From where he lay on the hardwood floor, the ceiling spun in and out of focus. God, I can’t even lift my arms and legs, let alone move my wrists. The bullet may have been small, but he felt that it had blown a hole in him the size of a golf ball. Now a chunk of his shoulder was gone. It was surely splattered on the wall somewhere, oozing towards the floor and leaving a trail of blood and tissue.
Eddie could barely open his eyes, but he heard several voices all at once. It wasn’t too long after, that he felt himself lifted onto a slightly softer surface and tied down. The frost gnashed into his cheeks and chin as he felt a wintery wind-chill seconds after being wheeled outside. He caught glimpses of men and women in burgundy jackets, shouting orders and calling out words in French that he barely caught. Eddie soon felt himself being jerked upwards and hoisted into the belly of the ambulance, the doors slammed shut.
The warm air inside was a welcome relief as it chased away the chill on his face. This was followed by the jarring, unpleasant screaming of the siren. Although he was strapped in, he still rocked from side to side as the ambulance raced off.
Through partially opened eyes, he saw one of the burgundy jackets—a woman in her forties—staring down at him.
“Ca va?” You’re doing all right? But Eddie was too weak and drowsy to answer. He guessed that’s what morphine did to a person. “Soyez fort, mon grand. On est presque là.” Be strong, buddy. We’re almost there. He felt the patting on his forearm from the paramedic, which gave him some comfort.
It was only supposed to be a stupid and harmless publicity stunt. No one was supposed to die. How was he supposed to know that he’d be involved in the biggest investment-fraud scandal in Canadian history? As of now three people were dead and his best friend had been shot. He'd dreamed of making it big in the world with his first novel. For now, he’d settle to live long enough to see tomorrow’s sunrise.
Montreal, Quebec. Four days earlier.
This shit-storm of a day has to end!
There wasn’t a pleasant thought in Eddie’s mind at the time, as puffs of vapour disappeared nearly as fast as he breathed out. He unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of his car, pulling his wool hat over his ears leaving the tips of his cornrows hanging out the back.
He deliberately parked two blocks away from the strip club so that no one there would know that he drove around in a piece of crap. Not only was it old, had rust stains on the bumper and around the wheels, but lately it had started backfiring. He was sure an art dealer would claim that bird drop stains would increase its value. Boy, how he regretted giving $4000 cash to that salesman. He should’ve known the man was a snake.
But the car was the least of Eddie’s problems. Earlier in the day he’d lost both his girlfriend and his job. His roommate and best friend, Corey, still hadn’t paid his share of the rent. This had been going on for weeks, and every time Corey kept telling him that he’d pay him.
Corey always kept blowing his money on liquor and video lottery terminals. Corey had spent the last three weeks integrating with the other lowlifes at the strip joint his girlfriend, Jordyn, worked at as a barmaid. Eddie knew that she must be getting fed up with him. It was a miracle that she put up with his crap for so long. Eddie figured that it was the thick skin Jordyn developed from serving winos and other lowlifes every night.
He splashed his way through the mixture of gray, inch-high slush and gravel that covered the sidewalk. He couldn’t believe that it was already November—meaning that there was another four to five more months in this freezer box. Why’d my parents leave Barbados for this? What the hell were they thinking—giving up the hot sun, and the beach, just so that I could be born in this? After all, the Barbadian economy’s strong enough, there’s no damn snow to shovel and no icy roads and sidewalks to throw him down. And he didn’t have to put the snow tires on the car every year—a law that was recently enacted in this province.
Eddie didn’t make it five feet inside the joint when a human cement truck blocked him.
“Ton identification,” said the bald-headed bouncer.
Eddie made a face. “What?” He’d only been asked the same question by this bastard the last dozen times he’d come to this strip joint.
“I said, hi want to see your hidee. You make me repeat in henglish, so show it.”
“Boy, move aside. You’ve seen me come here before. You know I’m twenty-four.”
“Rules are rules. I want to see your hidee.”
Screw my ID, I don’t have time for this. “Man, move aside. I’m not in the mood.”
“Patrick,” came a young woman’s voice from the bar. Eddie glanced around the bouncer and saw Jordyn behind the bar counter. He gazed at her, forgetting about the cement truck. Corey sure knew how to pick them. It must have been so easy for him since the best ones were always attracted to him. But Jordyn was somewhat unique, being born to an Italian father and a Jamaican mother. There wasn’t a place that Corey went with her where they didn’t draw stares. She preferred her dark hair to be in locks, showing off her Caribbean roots. And her arms were just as toned as Michelle Obama’s, which she loved to expose. Eddie didn’t recall her ever having mentioned playing any sports while in high school, but she sure knew how to take care of herself.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm currently close to finishing the first round of edits of the spy/thriller, The Demeter Code, which is the sequel to my debut spy/thriller, Pandora's Succession.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began taking my writing seriously when I was 14 years old. It was then that I began the first of several rewrites that eventually became Pandora's Succession.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Right now it's part-time, mostly because my fan base is still growing. Even though I write on a part-time basis I do my best to come out with a novel at least every two years. Like the late Tom Clancy, I started my career selling insurance—except he did casualty whereas I work in health. I still have my license and I still do consultation and sales. Even though I retired from Track and Field I still work out regularly to keep in shape. My writing is done at anytime during the day, it just depends when my muse is firing. I may go a week without writing if the ideas aren't there, then all of a sudden I'd wake up at 5AM on a Saturday morning and write all the way through to 2AM Sunday morning—taking short breaks in between.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I'd say that I tend to edit too much as I write, rather than saving it for the rewrite. That's a habit that I'm desperately trying to break. Sometimes I'll physically act out a scene in order to get a better idea what may be going on in a character's head—what they may see, smell, feel.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a obstetrician. Then I wanted to be a criminal lawyer.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I occasionally post of video of myself playing the violin, and the only way you can see that is if you LIKE my Facebook Page.
Facebook: Russell Brooks Thriller Author
Thank you, Russell! Happy writing.