My special guest today is super-fun author Deek Rhew. He’s volunteered to sit under the spotlight and talk to me about his new adult thriller, 122 Rules, which, coincidentally enough, releases TODAY!
Yes, you're getting in on the action as it happens, readers. Please check out this interview!
Yes, you're getting in on the action as it happens, readers. Please check out this interview!
Deek lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with the stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords.
He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town--with antique shops and bakeries--they call home.
Welcome, Deek. Please tell us about your current release.
In his black and white world, Sam Bradford--former Marine turned government assassin--finally sees a speck of grey. He has always followed orders without question, but his latest assignment threatens to disrupt the precision of his universe and may either severe or redeem his last remaining sliver of humanity.
Using his mastery of the 122 Rules of Psychology, Sam hunts down everyone The Agency sends him to find and eliminates them. Just as he has his rifle scope focused on his latest victim, Monica Sable, a SoCal girl entangled with the mob, his long-dormant conscience reappears for a final performance...one last ditch effort to save the sinking ship of Sam’s soul. He’s killed innocents before, but tarries on pulling the trigger this time.
When Monica escapes his crosshairs and fumbles her way across the country in a pathetic attempt to elude capture, Sam gives chase. But he’s not the only one after her. Ruthless henchmen, hired by the mob, froth like bloodhounds and nip at Monica’s heels. Now Sam is faced with a choice: turn his back on the rules and jeopardize his way of life by helping her or join the pack and rip her to shreds.
What inspired you to write this book?
I don't think I had a main inspiration for 122; it just sort of popped into my head. Actually what popped into my head was a scene. I was on my way to work at o'dark 30 in the morning, and an image so vivid came to me that I had to pull over and type it out on my phone. Funny, the scene is the opposite of "It was a dark and stormy night." It was actually a beautiful bright morning in a little SoCal beach town called Alabaster Cove.
Excerpt from 122 Rules:
Okay, I have a couple of favorites but there is one section ALWAYS makes me laugh.
Setup: Monica has been in Witness Protection for over a year and gets away after someone tries to kill her. She calls her best friend, Angel, and together, they flee across the country. They've been driving all day and stop in Colorado, parking way up on a hill overlooking the Colorado flatlands. Monica is depressed about the state of her life and been grousing about it. She is standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down at the rocks below, contemplating, when Angel comes to her rescue:
Monica reflected for a moment, her gaze not focused on anything. When she came back, her eyes found Angel’s in the deepening twilight. “I can’t believe how badly I’ve messed up my life. Everyone tells me how smart I am, but I had to call you because I couldn’t figure out what to do on my own. I can’t even take care of myself: how am I supposed to help the kids of the world who need it? I’d probably make things worse.”
Angel came up and stood next to her on the edge of the bluff. She took Monica’s hand and said in a quiet voice, “Why don’t we just Thelma and Louise it then?”
“Huh?” Monica stared at her friend.
“You’re a complete and utter loser. A failure. A pimple on the donkey’s ass of society. What’s the point in going on?” Angel took a step closer to the ledge. “Right now. Couple of steps and we’re flying, at least for a few seconds, then it’s all over. No more Peter, Jon, Crew Cut, your mom, the mob, the dream, any of it. A quick, neat end and all your little problems are solved. Come on, let’s do it!” She pulled Monica’s hand. “Right here. Right now. I’m not screwing around. Ready? On the count of three. One…”
Monica gaped at her, looked over the edge of the cliff, and then back at Angel.
“Two…” Angel took a step back, tensing to run.
“Ang, I don’t know.”
“What?” Angel snapped, turning to her. “What don’t you know? It sounds like you’ve got it all worked out! It’s been kinda tough, so let’s just fold up and let those bastards win. Oh, poor me. I’ve been so abused. My dad died, and my mom’s a whore. Sure, I’ve had a friend that always, always has my back and a surrogate family. Sure I got straight A’s in high school, a full ride to NYU, and had plans to be a big-shot lawyer.”
Angel threw her arms up in the air. “But shit got a little rough for a while ’cause I was helping take down some low-life scumbags. Life hasn’t been ideal lately, and there’s simply no way to get back to the dream. I can’t do that with another identity, which is what my friend is going to insist on when we get to the effing FBI headquarters. Oh, poor me.”
Angel turned back to the cliff and took another step back, tensing her body for the final leap. “Come on! You’re right. There’s no turning this boat around. Let’s do it! Let’s end this thing! Ready?”
Monica’s mouth still hung open. Her jaw bobbed up and down, but no words came out, making her feel like a guppy. As hard as she tried to stop them, the edges of her lips curled up, and she giggled. She tried to stop, but the giggles were relentless and attacked her. She laughed harder than she had in years as she mimicked her friend. “Right here. Right now. I’m not screwing around.”
“I’m not. Come on, let’s go.”
Angel’s serious demeanor only made Monica laugh harder. “Let’s Thelma and Louise it.” She fell on her butt in a cloud of dust, not caring about the dirt. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
Angel’s face cracked, and a smile played across her lips. A groan turned to snickers, growing until the full belly roll took her. Their combined laughter echoed, amplified by the canyon walls until it sounded like an auditorium full of spectators at a Jack Benny premiere. They lay on the flat rock, the dust clinging to their sweat and tears.
As they regained control, Monica looked at her. “I love you, you know that.”
“Of course you do. I’m awesome.”
Monica started laughing again, and they lay on the ground holding hands as the sun finished its decent to the west, and darkness claimed the desert.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m about ⅔ of the way done with the follow-up book, 122 Rules - Redemption. It’s got a lot of your favorite characters from the first book and a slew of new ones. It’s also got one of my favorite bad guys from 122; he’s crazier and raising havoc on a mission of destroying the town of Alabaster Cove. Actually his entire purpose in life is to right a wrong that had been done to him by a particular female protagonist, but he doesn’t mind killing a lot of other people to make that happen.
I pondered this question for a really long time, and at first, I didn’t think I’d consider myself a “real” writer until I’d been published. But I read several blogs about the topic, and at some point, I decided that I was really a writer after I finished the first draft of 122 and began working through the edits. So many people start to write a book or want to and will add the title “author” to their bio. But I don’t think you really are one until you’ve actually finished the raw book. Editing can take for-ev-er! So you don’t have to wait until that’s done…well, at least I didn’t. :-)
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?
Man, I wish! Erin and I have plans to become professional vagabonds, living in one place for six months at a time, picking somewhere new and moving there. We want to travel the world and experience life everywhere. Even within the United States, cultures can be so vastly different; it’s as if you’ve gone to a different country. Part of that vagabond dream is supporting ourselves on our writing. Between the two of us we have five books out now, and we are each working on new ones.
We squeeze in time to write whenever we can! Being an author is a ton more than just writing though. After I finished with the edits for 122, I turned right around and began the edits on Birth of an American Gigolo. We released that book in January and became marketers in December through February. Most of April is spent marketing for 122. It’s awesome and fun, and I get to talk to a lot of interesting people, but it doesn’t leave much time for actual writing.
Next, I’m going be working on edits for Erin’s new historical fiction book—this story is completely amazing and beautifully written—then back to my current work in progress: 122 Rules – Redemption.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Well, I don’t know if you’d say it’s a writing quirk, but it is definitely something quirking about this writer: I stole one of my character's name. Wut? Yep! There is a character, Max, you'll meet in 122's follow-up book, 122 Rules - Redemption, who originally was named Deek, but I liked his name so much I took it for myself.
My birth name is VERY common, so trying to make my name stick out among the millions of others was almost impossible. One of my all-time favorite Stephen King books is Needful Things. In that story, there's this character, Deek, that doesn't get but a page or two of face time. I always loved the name and stole it for my character as a nod to the great author. Well, flash-forward a bit, and I decide to give myself a pen name. I took Deek as my first name. Rhew is actually my wife's maiden name. Together we are Deek and Erin Rhew of Rhewination!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in high school, I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps and join the military. I wanted to fly! To see the world from the clouds and fight the bad guys all Maverick-like. Sigh, alas the military has no use for people who are colorblind. Something about the good guys are green on the radar and the bad guys are red. I don’t know, silly stuff.
After that devastating blow, I did the next best thing: music. I mean, everyone sees the transition…right? My friends and I had a rock band, and I did the music major in thang in college and was set to go. Then something interesting happened: I started living a musician’s life. Traveling from gig to gig, getting itty bitty paychecks, and working super-long hours. I love music, but that life blew chunks. Hard.
So I transitioned to something geeky that would, ya know, let me eat. I’d been doing the nerd thing for a while when a friend at work said that he’d read an interview of men who’d fought in WWII. These guys are all retired now, and the interviewer asked them what they would do if they could go back and change anything about they way they lived their lives. Almost universally, they said they would do something creative. I’d learned to love writing in high school and decided that I didn’t want wait to scratch that author itch, so began to write.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Erin and I work out and love to go adventuring. Trips to Portland, Seattle, the beach, or hiking. It doesn't have to be big. We don't have the money for anything lavish, but we love getting to spend time together.
In Portland, there's never a shortage of interesting characters. I took a picture of a unicycle-riding, Darth Vader mask-wearing, FLAMING bagpipe player. I kid you not. Google him. He's famous!
We are planning a Flat Rhew Portlandia trip here in the near future. Flat Rhew is like Flat Stanley, only, we’re, ya know, the Rhews. Portlandia is a TV show that they film right here in Portland and basically play up to all the idiosyncrasies of the city. We plan to selfie ourselves through all the locations featured in the TV show. Come, join us!
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Thanks, Deek for this fun interview! All the best with your writing and adventures!