Friday, October 17, 2014
SCHMOOZING WITH RICK BLECHTA
Boy, that’s a tough one. There are a lot of people who influenced me. Most are not even writers. All the musicians from whom I’ve taken lessons showed me so much that I use every day in my writing: perseverance, how to break down problems to make solving them more easy, how a small amount of progress every day will still get you where you want to be, how to believe in your ability even when things aren’t going well, and above all, patience! Writers who influenced me would have to start with Rex Stout. He had such fine control of his writing and characters. I love the way he packed in telling details so effortlessly and, in most cases, invisibly. For getting me started down this path, it was Dick Francis. It was his revealing writing about the horse racing world that led me to believe that I could do the same sort of thing using music. It’s sort of worked out pretty well.
2. What are you working on now?
My agent has convinced me to do a series. Having spoken to many authors about how they went about this the wrong way, I have taken my time to lay things out thoroughly. I normally fly by the seat of my pants and let characters develop naturally as I work on a book, and then fix things during the revision process. With this project I’ve written pages and pages of character descriptions, situations from the past which will allow me to write further books in the series, some of the most inconsequential-sounding details which will allow me to expand on each of the regularly appearing characters in the series in subsequent books (should I be so lucky), just tons of details I may or may not wind up using. Most of all, I have spent hours simply thinking about these people to the point where I now dream about them. As for writing the actual novel, that’s going slower than I would like, but that’s the fault of having to make a living more than anything. I also will be working on another Rapid Reads book over the winter. And I’m really excited about the story line. You heard it here first, folks: it does not involve music!
3. In what ways is your main protagonist like you? If at all?
The protagonist in the novel that’s about to be released by Dundurn (Roses for a Diva) is nothing like me. First of all, Marta is a female (last time I checked) and she’s also an opera singer. I’m a brass player (French horn and trumpet) and singers are only needed to fill up a stage while we’re in the orchestra pit playing all that lovely music! However, Marta does share my sensibilities in many ways. Most of my protagonists do. Not all though, and I won’t reveal which ones those are! The two protagonists in my new series will be pretty different from the sorts I’ve used in the past. You’ll just have to remain patient to find out in what ways they differ.
4. Are you character driven or plot driven?
I think in the current publishing climate, one has to be a bit of both, don’t you? You can get away with being more plot driven in the thriller genre where I tend to write, but somehow, I could never quite manage that. I find people intensely interesting, so it’s no wonder I want my characters to be interesting, as well. Another thing is that characters who aren’t particularly sympathetic can be as interesting as ones with whom you’d want to be friends, so I occasionally write those kind of people. However, if you don’t have an engrossing and plausible plot, you’re going to compound the problems of writing a publishable novel. I have read examples where the story was crap but you just loved the characters so much, you enjoyed it despite its shortcomings but you’ve got to have damn fine characters to pull that one off. So to when a plot is just so fantastic you have to find out what happens even though the world created by the author is completely populated by cardboard cutouts of real people. That is really difficult, too. So I guess you could say my books are both — or at least I try to make them that way.
5. What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
That no question or issue is ever black or white. Real life exists in the gray space in between. Things might not happen the way you want them to, and you can start down the wrong road and never be able to return. What you do have to accomplish is to make the best out of what you’ve been handed. If you remain honest and forthright, you just might find something that makes you a better person. Boy, does that sound heavy, but it is the way my novels are constructed. There are also some funny bits, though. Honest!
6. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Obviously, music is also very important to my life. I’ve been a musician far longer than I’ve been a writer. But if tomorrow someone said I’d have to make a choice, I would choose writing — as long as I could listen to as much music as I want. Unless you know about my food blog, readers might well be surprised to know that I am a very good cook (I’m going by what others have said.) I know what a “really good cook” is and I fall far short of that, although I do have talent. My current huge interest is in crafting home charcuterie. Lonzino anyone?
7. Give us a summary of your latest book in a Tweet
A stalker is determined to possess Marta Hendriks completely. How can she possibly survive when he seems to be everywhere – and nowhere?
Rick Blechta is a Toronto-based writer and musician. His thrillers have been praised for their originality, finely drawn and convincing characters, and of course, for their realistic descriptions of the world of music and musicians. This October, his tenth novel, Roses for a Diva, the sequel to his very popular The Fallen One will be released by Dundurn Press. Opera diva Marta Hendriks is back and someone is stalking her throughout the great opera houses of the world. He seems to be everywhere – and nowhere. How can she possibly survive when he is determined to possess her, body and soul?