'Imagine creating the perfect drug; all of the highs with none of the lows. No side effects, no painful physical withdrawal, no drawbacks.
Or are there....
Deep in the Louisiana bayou, Thomas Eugene O’Neill a.k.a The Street, an Irish immigrant mob enforcer, waits patiently with his gun amidst the sweltering heat of a southern storm. His employers, Italian American drug lords Guido and Ernesto Mancini, have a guaranteed formula to create the perfect narcotic and Thomas knows too much.
But he is not alone.
Detective Charles Roussel, ex hot-shot city lawyer turned small town Louisiana lawman, is investigating a strange case at the old plantation house he used to call home. He gets drawn inexorably to Ireland, as all his research begins to guide him to the same inevitable destination; Cork.
Agent Dale Foster, unorthodox New York DEA agent and victim of one too many bogus leads, hears murmurs of the next big thing; a drug without equal. The whisperings lead him to one last tumultuous confrontation with his superiors, who compel him to take an enforced vacation. As his plane lands in Ireland, and he follows the trail of rumours to Cork, he knows his professional instincts are leading him to the biggest bust of his life, or ending his career forever.
For Thomas, the middle-aged hit man, all roads seem to lead back to Cork; the city of his birth and the ghosts of his past.
He has plenty of questions and needs some answers, and all the while the words echo in his head.
‘Be careful what you wish for!'
What was your inspiration behind writing The Storm Protocol?
The Storm Protocol started out as a response to a throwaway writing challenge on a writers forum website. The theme for that month was to write a short story on "the gathering storm". All the writers who took part in the challenge would rate all the entries apart from their own, and this particular month, my entry won. However, it was one of the comments from a reader who had not entered the competition that caught my attention. He basically asked me "where was the rest of the book?" The more I read over my supposed short story, the more I realized that there was so much more to be said. When I sat down to write the synopsis for the book, the plot just poured onto the page and pretty much didn't change from the first chapter outline to the last full stop.
Tell us a bit about your favorite characters from The Storm Protocol.
I loved writing Thomas O'Neill, the "hero" of the piece. I took it as a real challenge to write a prolific, cold blooded hit-man, who does some really surprising and downright dark and scary things, and yet, much as the reader wants to dislike him, they start to feel a strange affinity with him. I also loved writing Charles Roussel, the Louisiana lawyer turned detective. I have a lot of friends and colleagues in the US who would have a very "southern" outlook on life. By listening to their opinions and reminiscences, I utilized aspects of their collective personalities and managed to build up a character profile, almost a composite really, of what I imagined a southern detective to be. Writing the character David "the bullock" McCabe was also very enjoyable. In some ways, he was even more challenging to write than Thomas, as David initially has no redeeming features whatsoever, and yet as his character develops through the book, the reader will start to feel very conflicted; to begin to like him without knowing exactly why. To be honest, I loved writing all the characters for this book. I have never been one to shackle my imagination and it is the most enjoyable part of the writing process for me. There is something amazing about the creation of characters; about using words on a page to create three dimensional images. It is what drives me to keep writing.
What’s one of the most surprising things you've learnt about yourself since writing?
I think it is best summed up in a quote I recently read. It was something like, "Either do or don't do, there is no try." I always knew there was a book in me, but the first novel I wrote was not good. I then started (and finished) the second one and it was better, but still not what I would consider publishable. So I tried a different tack. I started to hone my writing on writers forum challenges and short stories, and as I said before, after a couple of years of short stories, I felt ready to tackle a novel again. That initial short story became a very long story and pretty much wrote itself. It also turned out to be SO much better than the other two. But the most surprising thing I have learned about myself through this whole process is how determined I am. I believe so passionately in this book, that I am working harder than I ever did during the writing process to try and get the message out there and try and get people reading it. I strongly believe that the quality of the writing and strength of the plot will sell it, but the problem is getting the eyes on the words!
What’s your favorite way to spend your spare time?
I have a classic car (Jaguar E-type Series 3) that I like to tinker with. My kids are very much into sport too, so I like nothing better than to watch them competing.
What's one piece of advice you would give other aspiring authors?
Never give up. The best advice I ever got about writing was simple. "If you want to be a writer, write!" It really is that simple. The other thing I would say, is that you have to set yourself targets. Believe me, there are times when you really have no appetite for writing. After a hard days work, there is nothing you would like to do less than try and think about a new and imaginative story-line. Some days, as you struggle to reach that self imposed target, you are going to think that what you are writing is absolute rubbish; as Steven King puts it "shoveling s*** from a sitting position". But I guarantee that when you sit down at the weekend and polish it, you will have a jewel in the making. A couple of times during this current book, I dipped below my target, but most weeks I exceeded it, one week managing almost 8,000 words. So in summary, never give up, set yourself realistic targets and try and write as often as you can.
If you weren't a writer, what else do you think you would be doing?
I had a friend who was widely regarded as one of the worlds best landscape photographers. He was also my account mgr at a leading tech company. I asked him once why he continued to do his drudgery of a day job. He said to me "Iain, honestly, if I had to do the photography for a living, I would cease to love it." I feel the same way about writing. I think my writing is good because I do not impose limits on it. I do not expect a return on my investment and consequently I can write what I want in the style that I want without any outside pressure. Now, don't get me wrong, I do feel very strongly that this book is exceptionally good and I will do all that I can to get it out there and get people to read it, but it doesn't owe me anything. So I think I'll stick with the day job and let the writing continue to enthrall and entertain me (and maybe make a tiny bit of money out of it, who knows?)
Do you have one particular special ‘writing place’ or are you fortunate enough to be able to write anywhere?
Having a full time job with a fair degree of responsibility, coupled with a very active family life, I found that I was getting very little time to write. My solution was my two hour commute to work and back in the car. That was two hours of potentially productive time that I was just wasting every day, listening to the radio. So I bought a Sony voice recorder and a piece of software called Dragon Naturally Speaking. It learns your voice and then types your dictation out for you. It can be (and was for me) up to 90% accurate. So I set myself a target of 2,500 words a week. You can look a bit of an idiot talking to yourself in the car with full headphones and a boom microphone, but writing is about getting yourself out there. If something like that embarrasses you, there is no way you will put a bit of your writing out there for other people to read. So, I spend those 2 hours dictating, which I then get the software to type out when I get home, and then tidy and edit the finished pieces on the weekend.
Do you have a favorite scene in this book (without giving the story away too much)?
I do have a favorite scene in the book, and it occurs towards the end. It is part of an unlikely love story. The reason that I like it so much was that it was one of those rare occasions when the words coming out of my head went straight to page without the need for any further editing or changes of any kind. It happens very rarely, but it is very satisfying when it does!
Do you have any pets?
We have a dangerously lovable and hyperactive young lady of a Springer/Labrador cross called Jessie. The kids love her and she has boundless energy. It is amazing how something as simple as chasing a ball and bringing it back can go on for hours without any sign of boredom. It is also amazing to see the gun-dog instincts from both breeds coming to the fore. She loves water of all descriptions and can be found on a Sunday, endlessly retrieving tennis balls from the river that runs through our local Park.
Whats one thing that many people wouldn't know about you?
When I was a kid, I once stood behind Paul McCartney (yes THAT Paul McCartney) in the queue for the tills in a shop called Woolworths (sadly now gone) in the UK.
Amazon: The Storm Protocol