David Workman has spent most of his 20-year writing career hammering out advertising and marketing copy for companies large and small. A native St. Louisan, he and his wife and two kids now reside in North Carolina, where he is hard at work on a sequel.
When did you first know you wanted to write a book?
It really didn’t hit me until my main character popped into my head about ten years ago. Yes, I had thought about writing one, since I knew I enjoyed reading certain genres (mainly action/adventure and mysteries), but I didn’t really have a story to tell or anyone to put in said story until Gordon McAllister suddenly set up housekeeping back in 2001. It took me about seven years to formulate the plot – sort of – and then I only wrote about a hundred pages before I put it away and moved on to other things. But when I got laid off from my corporate marketing job over three years ago (lucky me), I was suddenly very available to start writing again. So I did. The most interesting part was when I got about two-thirds of the way through and absolutely froze. Not just writer’s block. I had zero idea where I was going. I had written four subplots and about 70,000 words but suddenly realized I had absolutely no idea how they would all come together into a cohesive and believable ending. So I just sat there, staring at the blinking cursor. And I closed the laptop and went home. The next morning, I got back to the coffee shop, got a gigantic latte and a chocolate muffin, opened the laptop, played around on Facebook for about two hours, checked all the news on every imaginable online source – and then, out of nowhere, the light bulb flashed on! And I sped through the last 26,000 words in about three hours and let out a howl when I finally reached The End! I was so pumped, I even wrote the Acknowledgments section without needing a refill.
What do you know now that you wish you did when you first started writing?
I wish someone had told me to write backwards. Seriously. Like knowing how it will end before it began. (See above.) It would have made my life so much easier. It also would have saved me so much time and frustration and editing.
Are you a traditionally published author or indie?
I chose to go it on my own through Amazon’s CreateSpace publisher rather than traditional publishing somewhat out of a sense of rebellion and somewhat because I’m impatient. We’ve all heard the stories of famous authors like Stephen King and others who were rejected by dozens of agents before some brave – and now very rich – soul took a chance on a newbie and lived to tell the story to generations yet to come. I didn’t figured I’d be the next Stephen King, but I thought maybe someone might want to give me a shot. But, no luck. I was rejected over 50 times. What to do next? But then I read that there are other authors like Vince Flynn who self-published his first novel and then got picked up by a major publishing house and became a huge success. Is there a guarantee that’s going to happen to me? Of course not. But it could. If it does, great. If not, I still have an avenue for my books.
My other reason for not being scared of indie publishing is I have spent almost my entire professional career in marketing, so getting the word out about my book is second nature for me. And with the advent of social media, it’s also free!
What was your biggest resource of information as an author?
It was a combination of things, really. First of all, I’ve lived in all three of the geographic settings in my book – St. Louis (my home town), Southern California, and North Carolina (my current state) – and I’ve visited Washington, D.C. over a dozen times, so I didn’t need to travel anywhere to know the areas I was writing about. That part was easy. The farm house called Raven is actually a friend’s family home that I took some liberties with and fictionalized a bit. I know about the three acre pond because I used to shoot rifles across it myself. So there was certainly some familiarity with the settings, which made that part easy to write.
Obviously, the internet is a huge resource now. I got almost all my information about the Russian Skat stealth drone from articles on sites like Janes.com and other online military resources. Folks who read books like mine look for accuracy in details, so I worked very hard to get flight specs and other critical information as accurate as possible.
I have always been a fan of history and studied it all throughout my life. It was my second favorite class in school, behind geometry. Mainly I have focused on military and political history, so I was able to pull immense information just from my own personal research over the years.
How many novels have you had published, or is this your debut?
This is my first novel, although I published a non-fiction book on real estate two years ago. It’s still on Amazon. There will be a sequel to Absolute Authority. I left it open-ended on purpose. Gordon McAllister is just getting started…
What genre do your write in?
I would classify this as a political spy thriller, if that’s a genre of its own. If not, we need to make it one because plenty of books would fall into it.
What made you choose this genre?
It’s what I enjoy reading the most and what I know the most about. Choosing this genre was easy for me.
Tell us a little bit about your latest novel (or upcoming novel)?
Here is the jacket blurb. It says it best…
Gordon McAllister never wanted to be a hero. At least not one who ever got any outward recognition. An executive recruiter by day, McAllister’s other job came with a code name, ZEBRA, the leader of a team of elite assassins who report to only one man: the President of the United States.
But he’s been inactive for years, perfectly content to spend his time finding CEOs and VPs for Fortune 500 companies. Now, as members of his team are murdered in seemingly unrelated incidents and multiple terror attacks savage civilian targets throughout the country, McAllister realizes it’s time once again to screw on the silencer and get back to work.
He must reactive himself and hunt down the man who is behind it all. The one who will do whatever it takes to steal the power he craves. And tear the nation to shreds to get it.
Which of your characters do you most relate with?
Definitely the main dude, Gordon McAllister, mostly because he’s been living in my head for so long. His personality is probably the closest to mine, although his life is not anywhere close to being autobiographical. I could only wish! I’ve never been a spy, a hitman, or worked for the government in any way. And that’s probably why I like him so much. I never got to do the things he gets to do for 300+ pages, and more as the series continues. We share the same dry sense of humor and steadfast sense of patriotism, but I’m a lousy shot with a pistol.
Did you know the title before you started writing, or did it come to you later?
No. I had another title picked out, but when I ran it past friends and family, they all said, “Huh?” So I decided that title probably wasn’t going to work, so I changed it to something a bit more universally understandable. Lesson to be learned: don’t use abstract Aramaic words as titles of popular fiction if you want to actually sell any copies.
If you could use only FIVE words to persuade us to read your book, what would they be?
Judge it by its cover!
What do you find are the biggest obstacles to overcome when writing a novel?
Managing time with the rest of your life is probably the biggest obstacle. For me, I had plenty of time for writing because I had been laid off from my full-time job. I used the time I would have been at work for two things: looking for new work and writing my novel. But for those who are juggling work, home life, and writing, it can be hard to find the time – espeically if your family doesn’t taking your writing career seriously. My family was very supportive and my wife gave me plenty of time to write, but that’s not always the case with most folks. The non-writing public looks at writing as a hobby. They smile politely, pat you on the wrist, and tell you to take the garbage out and change the baby’s diaper when you really should be planted in front of the keyboard hammering out pages. They don’t get it. Help them understand in whatever way you can.
For those writers who have not yet completed their first novel, what advice would you give them?
Finish it. I’m not kidding. Get it done. At least the first draft. The biggest barrier to new novelists is plowing through the first draft all the way to the end. They get frustrated because it’s harder than they thought it would be, so they quit. Don’t. Yes, writing is hard work. But once you have the completed manuscript of the first draft, at least you have the story told. It’s all there on paper, which will get you all jazzed to start tackling revisions. You will likely go back and change things during revisions. But get the first draft done if it kills you. (You can always have someone publish it for you posthumously and collect your millions for your family. Worked for Van Gogh, right?) Writing a book may be the hardest thing you do in your entire life. But you’ll be forever sorry if give up your dream.
What famous writer would you most compare yourself to and why?
None. They are all better writers than I am. Comparing myself to them would be dragging them down a few very large notches. Or I could just say Hemingway and get a good laugh.
E-book or hard copy – do you not have a preference?
They each have their place. I find myself drawn more to “real” books with spines, but I also read on my Kindle. So pardon the politician’s answer here, but I can go either way on this one.
Writing, marketing, creating an author platform – it all takes up a lot of time. How do you manage this aspect of your life with everything else?
I’m a professional marketer, so getting the word out on my new book is easy for me. I know all the avenues and how to use them. And I always look for the free or cheap ones that are effective to maximize exposure and minimize expense. I’ve written advertising and marketing copy for nearly 20 years. Need a blurb about my own work? Give me five minutes.
What current project are you working on?
A sequel. And that’s all I’m saying about it.
Can you share any of it with us?
No. (Spoken in my most polite tone, of course.)