December 31

And those other names?

3 WISE MEN features real locations, real cafes, and real hotels , etc. in order to give authenticity to the novel. The plot is also plausible and based on a genuine ancient document.

The sense of place – places that reader have heard about or visited – was essential for me as a writer. In fact, one idea for the story was dropped – simply because it was a far-fetched possibility that our protagonist would be able to circumvent the security in place. I had checked it out carefully and realized that there was a slim chance of getting past the guards, but this was highly unlikely.

I hope the exotic locations and real places give 3 WISE MEN that touch of reality that I was looking for. Even the airline and train schedules needed to be correct. Some research took a while!

Finally, I was grateful to Galimard in Grasse for allowing me the rights to use their company name in 3 WISE MEN.

December 29

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name – a character’s name, that is? In 3 WISE MEN the protagonist, Jak Daniels, was a very simple name to think up – a name, like the author’s, that causes confusion and mistaken identity. Jak meets a woman on the train – and her name is Sasha. In the early draft she had a different name – an older name, and one less fitted to her young looks and outgoing personality. ‘Sasha’ fitted her persona better and it was a name that worked well alongside ‘Jak’. But I wanted to mention another name used in 3 WISE MEN – Ambrose. His name was, in the first instance, ‘Ambroise’. One reader commented that he found it difficult to say ‘Ambroise’ correctly. Therefore, I reverted to the simpler spelling – ‘ Ambrose’. Again, this small revision made the text much easier to read. Finally, and one that I struggled with, was the name of Jak’s dog. I laugh thinking about it, because the first manuscript had a glaring error – I had given Jak’s dog three different names! Yes, names in a novel are important and need to provide – for a thriller at least- a measure of contrast and good (or bad) character-fit. The names of our 3 daughters also appear in the book, which was a nice touch to honor them. Another name – Andrea – was used (with permission) following a very special tour around Milan by someone of the same name. It took quite a while to come up with names that matched, but I do hope you find the names used in 3 WISE MEN appealing.

December 29

How Many Words Should a Thriller Have?

This is a very common question and one that I have looked at many times. 3 WISE MEN was originally around 68,000 words when I thought I had finished it. I say “thought” because this was the word count when I told my wife (and friends we were staying with) that “I had finished the novel.” What I should have told them was that I had finished the plot. When I advertised this fact, my writer friends informed me that the long period of editing would follow and that completing the draft was the “easy part.” They were correct, but it was still a real joy to have the draft done. Several months and many re-writes later, 3 WISE MEN was up to a word count of around 86,000. On close inspection, I discovered that there were too many adverbs and overuse of adjectives, etc. A culling of unnecessary words and phrases dropped the total work count to about 78,000 words. This period of review gave me time to clean up many sections of the book, split long chapters, etc. and generally improve the writing in sections that did not “flow” as well as I had thought. 3 WISE MEN seemed much tighter and better-paced as a novel at this stage and I was pleased to get it published. Then, helpful feedback from close friends gave me pause – especially from one who enjoyed more detail to help build up the tension of thrillers. With this advice in mind, I reviewed several parts of 3 WISE MEN and discovered that just over 80,000 words allowed better “breathing space” in the novel. This helped in describing characters and drama. I was still quite happy with my description of places, but broke up longer chapters where it seemed natural to do so. Finally, with the 2nd edition of 3 WISE MEN, I can now say that the novel is more complete! So, how long should a thriller be? It depends how long it takes to build characters, describe locations, create tension, and tell the story. But, at close to 80,000 words, the book seemed, for me, to be the right length. I just hope that you, the reader, agrees. If not, please let me know!

December 27

Why the Extra Chapter(s)?

Why the extra final chapter in the new edition of 3 WISE MEN? Answer: “It’s personal.” I made the ending more personal by returning the dialogue back to Jak’s family and posing a question about him as a character – an important denouement which leaves open the possibility of a sequel. Although the new chapter is quite short, it took a while to conceive – and was done over two distinct periods of writing – the latter adding just 18 more lines. In fact, with some restructuring of other chapters, the new version of 3 WISE MEN has six more chapters in total. Despite this, the book is still essentially the same, but enhanced slightly for smoother reading. I hope you enjoy this new version! If you purchased the first version and would like a complimentary copy of the new version in Kindle format please let me know.

December 27

3 WISE MEN 2nd Edition is Launched!

3 WISE MEN is now available in a 2nd Edition-released for 2019. This new version has approximately 10 more pages. It has the same action-packed plot with a few typos fixed and more detail added in a few places; plus one more final chapter. At over 80,000 words, 3 WISE MEN continues to be a thriller that is ‘difficult to put down’ and has received rave reviews. Yours for just under a few cups of coffee, or less for the Kindle version. 3 WISE MEN, 2nd Edition, is available from Amazon at this link.