Spotlight On… Rob Sinclair

January’s Spotlight On…..

*** Rob Sinclair ***

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Can you tell us why you wanted to become and author and what it was that made you determined to succeed in an unpredictable industry?

It’s quite a hard one to explain really because until a few years ago I’d never written fiction in my life and was a keen but not voracious reader. This all started for me from a comment I made to my wife that I reckoned I could write a thriller to match the bestsellers. It was a seemingly innocuous comment borne out of frustration with some of the books I had been reading on holiday. It was at that point I started to think through a few ideas and when we were home from holiday I began to write them out and just kept going from there. Writing was something that just felt really natural to me and it seems strange looking back now that I’d never thought about it before.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the actual motivation! I’m a trained accountant and was seen as a bit of high flyer in my job (where I’m still working part time). I’m a really competitive person, was always striving for that next promotion and had my sights set on being a big cheese. It’s a stable career that comes with a great salary and great benefits and yet somehow writing has captured me and, even though I may never replicate the monetary rewards through writing that would be available if I pursued my accountancy career full time, I’m going to keep on going because I’m passionate about writing now.

I don’t think anyone should start out in writing with the sole goal to make big money. If that happens then great, but so few writers ever get to that point that you’ve got to love writing first and foremost. The question to ask yourself is “would I continue writing even if I never get paid a penny?” I’d like think I would.

On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t striving to be an international success. Like I said I’m very competitive and once I’m committed to something I give it my all to pursue that goal. The goal is certainly for my books to be recognised as bestsellers. It’s early days but I’m not going to give up easily!

The industry is incredibly unpredictable and also highly competitive. There’s a lot of talent that never gets noticed and some of those that do “make” it do so through a large chunk of luck. But I’m a firm believer that the more effort you put into something the more chance you have of succeeding, and the more chance you have of catching that lucky break. There’s a great quote by Richard Bach: “A Professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit”. I love it because it describes writing so perfectly. There are so many people who have the talent to write a book but it’s those people who stick at it tenaciously and relentlessly who make a career from it.

Can you give our followers a brief synopsis of your book “Dance with the Enemy”

Dance with the Enemy is the first of three stories I’ve written about intelligence agent Carl Logan. They’re each fast-paced, action-packed stories that will keep readers turning the pages. They’re the type of books that I love to read myself. The second in the series, Rise of the Enemy is due for release in April 2015, the third one in 2016.

Logan works for a secret organisation. In Dance with the Enemy he’s assigned to track down and rescue Frank Modena, the Attorney General of the US, who’s kidnapped in Paris at the start of the book in a really brutal armed siege.

That’s where the action comes from but much of the story is about Logan himself. He’s got this really dark back story. He’s been a black ops agent for years, he’s highly trained – essentially he operated like a machine, a robot. He’s a loner, someone whose job was his life, who was trained to feel no emotion or pain. But all that came crashing down some months before the start of the story after he was captured and tortured by a sadistic terrorist, Youssef Selim.

So at the start of the book we have Logan, this guy who has all this talent, but who’s really just in a bit of a mess, not sure where his life is going anymore, struggling with all these new found emotions. And then, as he’s trying to deal with all that, Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris linked to Modena’s disappearance. You then have Logan hell bent on getting his revenge, and his people struggling to keep their man under control as he rampages on in search of Selim.

As you can imagine though, it’s never quite as simple as that and the true story of who took Modena and why only slowly emerges through the story, so expect red herrings and lots of twists!

Where did you get the inspiration from for this particular story?

The idea for the story originated from very little, really. Essentially my aim was to write something that I knew I’d like to read myself. I guess the inspiration is a combination of all the movies and TV I’ve watched and all the books I’ve read. It’s hard now to remember exactly where the story came from because so much has happened since I first started writing it but also because I started with just a small number of big ideas rather than a fully formed plot. I remember though that for Dance with the Enemy one of the key scenes in my head when I first started writing it was the kidnapping scene. I wanted a really explosive opening to the book that would get readers hooked from the first pages and show them what to expect from the rest of the story.

That one scene may even have come before I’d thought about who Carl Logan was. Again, I’m not sure exactly where he came from but I knew I wanted a character who wasn’t one dimensional. So whilst I needed Logan to be this highly trained tough guy, he’s also got a really vulnerable side to him which makes him more interesting in my eyes, makes him more human and real, but also is part of why I enjoy writing about him so much – I feel like I get to share his problems and feelings which is quite cathartic.

Who are your personal favourite authors?

I have many favourite authors really – all the mainstream thriller writers that most people are familiar with; James Patterson, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Mark Billingham to name a few. One of the things that has been great about being a new author though is that I’ve recently, largely through social media, gotten to know the names of a lot of other new thriller writers whose works I would probably never have come across before. Like I said there’s a lot of talent out there. If you’re an avid reader it really does pay to seek out and support indie authors.

What can we expect to see from you next?

Rise of the Enemy is the sequel to Dance with the Enemy and is finished now, awaiting release in April. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to see what people think. It sees Logan struggling with his biggest challenge yet; dealing with the betrayal of those closest to him.

I drafted the third book, Hunt for the Enemy, last summer and I’m in the process of editing that now. My wife and parents read the first draft and, although it needs some work still, they all said it is my best yet so that’s great encouragement!

After that I’ve got two ideas; a fourth Carl Logan book and a standalone book that I’ve been playing with in my head for a while. I want to write them both, and will when I find the time, but I’m not sure yet which one I’ll go with first. Hopefully I’ll start one of those in the Spring.

Any advice for budding authors?

It depends at what stage people are at but my biggest advice is to simply start writing. I’m a great believer in getting your hands dirty. There’s a lot to be said for planning and learning and whatever but my theory is that you learn most from doing things, not thinking about them. Practice makes perfect. I think people are put off writing because they can’t imagine a whole story in their head in one go but that’s fine – I think that’s the same for most writers. Just sit down at your computer and start writing, even if it’s just individual scenes. At least that way you’ll know whether writing is for you and you never know, the ideas may start to flow (which luckily they seem to for me).

The other thing is to not jump too soon. If you’re looking to approach agents/publishers or to self-publish your work, make sure it’s as good as it can be. Don’t get over-excited about that first draft. I learnt this the hard way, that in the beginning my book just wasn’t good enough. It took a lot of work and a lot of re-editing and with hindsight I wish I’d been more patient because it would have saved me from a lot of rejection.

Finally, stick at it. It’s not an easy road to write a book, to get it published, and to get it to sell. But the more hard work you put into it at each stage, the more reward you’ll get – be prepared for that hard work. Most new writers will experience a lot of rejections when trying to get their work published and it can be very demoralising. But don’t let that deter you. Keep going and in the end, whether you get a good publishing deal or you choose to self-publish like I did, it’s the readers who decide whether or not your book is any good.

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