Monday, November 26, 2012

How I Started as a Writer - by John Tucker

Hey all.  John Tucker is a new friend I have on FB.  We have been communicating back and forth and when I asked him for a post, he happily (and promptly!) replied.  Please enjoy getting to know him as I have.

How I started as a writer ----  Some guys buy Lamborghini's or marry a twentyish trophy wife when they have their mid-life crisis. Instead of those dull things, I began to write. After raising my sons and seeing them leave the nest, I had to fill a hole in my life and chose to do something I always wanted to do - write a novel. I soon discovered it's hard to write at a professional level thirty years away from school. After I joined a wonderful place to hone my skills - The Internet Writers Workshop - I think I've finally grown decent enough to terrorize readers who want a little grit with their reading.

The hardest thing about writing -- Besides the computer related issues of formatting, the hardest thing for me is the last few chapters leading up to the ending. I always start a novel by developing the scenario, come up with a starting point and an ending, outline the characters, plot out a series of 'event's for my characters, and do a chapter-by chapter 'working script' that I usually deviate from once I get the novel in gear. The last few chapters - the wrap-up - are probably the most stressful and time consuming for me.

J.D. Tucker is the author of Divisive, a Psychological/Crime novel aimed at adults. The plot involves Dennis Rask, a man who insinuates himself into dysfunctional families, heals the unit, and turns them against the other using lies and manipulations. He’s ripped apart three families in the past, leaving six corpses behind him. Now, he’s focusing his newest ‘game’ on the Connors – Widowed Carolyn, snarky seventeen-year-old Elizabeth, and precocious twelve-year-old Emily. Will they make a stand against his malevolence, or fall to his wicked desires?
How did you come up with the concept of your latest novel, Divisive? Is there a little bit of the main evil character Dennis Rask in you?
(Laughs) I love any book or movie that has elements of horror, suspense, action, and wicked twists that keeps the reader/viewer on the edge of their seats. With so many families being dysfunctional these days, a man who comes into their lives, pulls them together, only to tear them apart his way seemed like a good starting point.  As far as Rask’s similarities to me, I’d have to say he’s the Mr. Hyde to my Dr. Jekyll. He’s a charming rogue who’s chauvinistic, brutal, appealing, and a sociopath. I’m just charming…in a totally adorkable way.

You took the chance of starting Divisive near the end of the book. Did the revelations of the first chapter, where the detective walks the reader through the crime scene before interrogating Rask ruin any suspense for the reader?
I don’t think so. The biggest reveal was the death of a main character. Another is in a psych ward, and one hovers near death after a suicide attempt. As in any good mystery, the fun is how the family gets to that point and what did Rask do to cause it. If anything, the storyline of the character that’s revealed to be dead in the first chapter becomes even more poignant after the fact. While the reader knows her fate before reaching the chapter that shows what really happened to the Connors family, I toss in a few red herrings that’ll keep them wondering if it was an accident, or a cold blooded killing.

You write Divisive with two story lines alternating through the book could be confusing to readers. Why did you write the novel that way, instead of using a linear path?
That’s a good question. First, I wanted to start my novel out with a bang. The current physical fate of the family is provided in the first chapter. One is dead, another in a coma, the other hospitalized in a crazy tank. Chapters Two and Three have the Connors family meeting Rask for the first time and falling under his beatific spell. Chapter Four brings the reader back to the present, where the detective starts his first day of the investigation. Each chapter has a title and a date to help the reader know if they’re in the past or present, until the time lines meet and propels the story to its shocking and devastating conclusion.

What was the toughest scene to write?
The actual death scene of the character mentioned in chapter one. Up until it happens, the reader has several different reasons why the character could have hanged herself. Was it an accident? Did Rask kill her? Did her mother? The disgruntled next-door-neighbor who wanted her for himself? By the time I reached the scene, I was so invested in the character I debated changing the entire book to save her life. I’m not afraid to tell you I shed a few tears when I wrote it.
In the end, I left it alone figuring if I wrote her in a way that tore out my heart, if would do so to the reader’s as well.
Most novelists have an underlying theme in their books. What’s yours in Divisive?
That’s easy enough. In Divisive, as in real life, everyone has evil coursing through their veins. It could be a small amount, or it could be so dark their heart has to work overtime pushing the black sludge through their system. For some, a fine line separates them from good and evil – and only a slip in the wrong or right direction stops them from acting like a saint, or living like the devil himself. Over the course of my book, one major character will surpass Rask in malevolence. When it gets to that point, the roller coaster begins and it won’t stop until it hits the brick wall of the end.

Are any of the characters in Divisive based on real life people?
Yes. (smiles) Several friends and relatives. And I’d like to keep it that way. 

What special piece of advice would I give a new novelist ---  Make your character's three dimensional. Virtually every scenario you could ever come up with has already been done -- so make your character's unique with flaws, various temperaments, quirks, and foibles. Those are the elements that will make YOUR book something different.


A life-long Georgia native, John D. Tucker has burned through three wives, raised two sons, and has persevered despite being brought up in a wonderfully dysfunctional family. Following on the heels of his first published novel 'Divisive' he plans to release two more books over the course of the year - the suspense laden The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight, and the first of an trilogy, the drama-romance novel Romancing The Fox. He is a proud member of The Internet Writers Workshop and Scribeslice, both of which he highly recommends to aspiring authors.

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