Thursday, July 15, 2010

Author Brett Battles

 Brett Battles writes award-winning international thrillers (his second book in the Jonathan Quinn series, The Deceived, won the Barry Award for Best Thriller of 2008). He also blogs over on Muderati and writes short stories.

If you like to write or read thrillers, today’s your chance to hear from one of the best thriller writers and maybe even throw out a question of your own. We’ll start with five from me.

Hi Brett. Welcome to Straight From Hel.

Helen: I love the strong, intelligent character of Orlando and how she handles the relationship with Quinn. When you first envisioned her, did you see her as an ongoing character?

I always wanted there to be a strong female character to balance out Quinn (in fact, I would argue that Orlando is even stronger than he is). And, yes, I had planned from the start for her to be ongoing. But how she actually came to be? It was organically as I was writing. She just showed up on the page when I needed her, and grew very quickly into the person she has become.
H: Quinn does a lot of traveling in the books. What kind of research do you do on the various settings?

I try to visit most of the locations in my books. Or, at least, the main ones. I’ve spent time in Berlin, Vietnam, Singapore, London & Paris (the main locations of the next Quinn book). When there, I take tons of photos and movies as I wander the streets. Often I’ll find a café or restaurant I like, and just plop myself down for several hours and watch the world go by to get a sense of the local ebb and flow. One thing I don’t do a lot of is hit the obvious tourist spots. I prefer the city or town or country as they locals see it.
H: What is your process for coming up with each storyline? Does an idea percolate in your head for months, then you research, then you begin to write? Do you already have outlines for future books?

It’s kind of a combination of things. I usually have an opening scene in mind, and kind of know where I want to end things. Of course, more and more, I’ve been outlining as it helps me stick to deadlines, but these are only about 10 to 15 pages, so not overly detailed. I do let ideas percolate for a while, too. I would consider this percolation mental loose outlines of future books. Other than that I might have some notes written down, but don’t have detailed outlines for future work. On the research/travel front, sometimes I’ll travel first, before I even know what the story will be about, and let the location inspire me. Sometimes I’ll have the story in mind before I hit the road.
H: My husband has gotten hooked on your Jonathan Quinn series, so I asked him what question he would like to pose. He said he would like to know how you came up with Quinn’s job description of “cleaner.” When my husband thinks of a “cleaner,” he thinks of someone who cleans up a crime scene.

I’ve always been fascinated by what happens after the action happens. For instance, after one spy kills another. What if the body needs to disappear? Who would do that? What kind of skills would he need? I’ve seen characters like this in the movies LA FEMME NIKITA and, most notably, PULP FICTION (the Harvey Keitel character really stood out to me.)
H: And lastly, what has been the most difficult part of promoting your books?

I don’t think about it as difficult, not in the sense of doing promotional things. I want people to know about my books, so promoting is a necessary part of that. I enjoy connecting with people, too. I guess the difficulty would be getting people’s attention from all the other choices they have (other books, movies, video games, other activities.)

Thank you so much, Brett!

 Publishers Weekly said this about the Quinn series:
"Breakneck pacing, colorful locales and dizzying plot twists make the Quinn series a welcome addition to the political thriller genre."
If Brett’s answers have piqued your interest in Jonathan Quinn, you’ll want to visit Brett’s website where he posted a conversation with Quinn.

But before you go, say hi to him or ask a question of your own.
TweetIt from HubSpot


  1. Great interview, Helen and Brett!

    I always loved that guy on "Pulp Fiction," too. It's fascinating to me that there's this whole underworld of activity going on that I have very little knowledge about in suburbia!

  2. Being able to visit all those locations is a big advantage.

  3. I think it's possible to take even a small town USA and show the reader a side of it not seen before or show it from a new perspective or angle.

  4. Great interview, especially enjoyed the part about the 'cleaner.' Sounds like a very intriguing book.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. Thanks for the interview Brett and Helen. I have a question regarding promoting your book. What would you say has been the most effective promotion activity so far, of all you've done?

  6. Since I usually things backwards, I read the conversation with Quinn before commenting. Just so you know, I'm adding these books to my list the next time I'm at the book store. I can hardly wait to meet Quinn and Orlando. Thanks, Helen.

  7. Anybody else noticing that the top selling books are often thrillers and they're often series characters? And...they're often set or visit exotic locations. I think that's something to keep in mind.

  8. 2 strong characters in awesome locations? I'm in! :)

  9. Enjoyed the interview very much. I especially liked the mention of Orlando just showing up on the page and growing as a character as the stories progressed. That is so great when it happens and usually indicates a strong and interesting character. Probably much better than the ones we create. LOL

  10. Helen, you conduct great interviews. I've enjoyed learning about Brett.

  11. This series sounds like one both my husband and I would enjoy. Looks like it might be time to schedule another trip to the book store.

  12. I love idea of "setting research". Skip the tourist traps and head for the heart; that's the way to go!

  13. The Yard Bard, I agree totally. And take tons of pictures.

  14. I LOVE Brett. I interviewed him last year.

    [ ]

    *waves at Brett*

    I have a question:

    Can you beat your kids at wii bowling yet?

    Thanks for the Q&A today Helen. Nicely done as always!
    Karen :0)

  15. Thanks for all the great comments, everyone! And thanks, Helen, for the fun questions.

    And, Karen, we all take our turns winning at wii bowling...just some more than others.

  16. Thanks for checking in, Brett.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...