Today, on the Big Blue Takeover, I am delighted to be joined by suspense fiction author W. Franklin Lattimore, as he chats about his superpower, Nathan Fillion, and his current suspense series, The Otherealm Saga, available in paperback and eBook from Amazon.
The Fun Stuff:
From where do you hail?
I grew up in NE Ohio, in the city of Twinsburg, a pretty doggone great place to be raised. Now I growing up in the Columbus, Ohio area.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought it would be pretty cool to drive a big semi-truck all over the place. Sometimes I still think that. Right at this moment, in fact.
List three words to describe yourself.
Witty, Investigative, and Casual. Mostly not in that order.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Nathan Fillion. He has the ability to be believably witty, investigative, and casual. Somehow those sound like three words I’d use to describe myself. But—and this is important—he’d have to be willing to shave his head.
What’s your favorite snack food when writing?
Beef jerky and other forms of meat that can be gnawed off a bone and then chewed while genius exudes from my fingertips (or as I vacantly stare at the blinking cursor).
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to zap into people the sure knowledge of their life purposes. Call me Purpose Man (not to be confused with my odd-looking cousin, Porpoise Man).
Where is one place you’d like to visit that you haven’t been before?
The north of Scotland, the Castles of Europe, and Narnia.
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
My first attempts at writing took place when I was about 14 years old, creating my own Sci-Fi stories and screenplays, because I wanted to be another George Lucas. It wasn’t until long after my military service was over that I re-discovered my ability to convey messages by writing comedic and dramatic sketches for the stage. That, in turn, landed me an invitation in 2003 to write a full-length stage drama that I was blessed to also direct. With that success, I began to wonder if I could put pen to page in a more literary format. It took five years to write my first novel, then I found that I could whittle that time down to around six months for my subsequent works. In my “down time,” I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend, traveling, going to amusement parks, volunteering through my church, and eating crispy BBQ wings. I’m also a bit of a history (American) and sciences (creation, origins) buff, which, for some reason, hasn’t, as of yet, filtered into my writing.
Where did the inspiration to write the Otherealm Saga come from?
The Otherealm Saga began as an idea for just one book. I thought that some rather dark experiences that I had as a teenager could be the basis for a good suspense novel. The problem was, that I quickly ran out of material after twelve chapters. It was then that I had to reach deep to find the fiction author within.
I didn’t really know how to develop stories that weren’t already pre-formed by personal experiences. After some hair pulling (the reason Nathan Fillion’s head would have to be shaved), I started getting better with developing life-like fictional characters, like Tara Baker, my black-magic-practicing witch (Deliver Us from Darkness), Tracey Larkin, my bull-headed, stand-offish, skeptical police officer (When Darkness Comes), and some surprises in the upcoming book three, Behind the Darkness.
What do you like the most about writing suspense fiction?
Not only do I create the need to keep turning the pages for my readers, but I am constantly, enjoyably challenged to find ways to make readers want to keep turning the pages. In my second novel, especially, I had to create puzzle pieces—investigative clues—that my characters had to put together in order to try to stop a murder from taking place. The more difficult thing was to bring readers into the story to also investigate the clues and hopefully discover a way to save the intended target from an untimely end.
Can you give us a brief excerpt? This is the opening to book two, When Darkness Comes…
843 A.D. – Pictland (Ancient Pre-Scotland)
19 Junius 843 – Approaching Midnight
Drosten ran. He had no choice. What else could he do? He wasn’t supposed to see. He wasn’t supposed to hear.
But he did.
All that he could see now were the branches just before they struck his face. All that he could hear was the snapping of twigs and the rustling of underbrush beneath his feet.
They are dead! All of them!
He had to stop and think. He would, but first he had to find a safe place.
River Tay was to the west. If he could make it, he could follow it back north.
His lungs were burning. He had to stop. He had to catch his breath. He ignored the thought.
I have to protect the key!
Though he tried to press forward, he could no longer take the pain. He’d been running, jumping, and climbing at full speed for too long. He slowed and tried to continue by walking, but ultimately he fell to his knees gasping.
He tried to listen. Was he being followed? If his heart would stop hammering in his ears and his lungs would just relax, he would be able to tell.
Drosten, Keeper of the Bridei Key, focused to control his breathing. He stilled his body, closed his eyes, and willed his heart and lungs to slow down.
After a few moments, he was able to hear clearly again. He concentrated on the woods behind him. He could hear nothing. He concentrated on the high grasses to his left. Nothing.
He lifted his chin and breathed in. A scent. Water! The river is close! He got up and began to walk toward the last stand of trees that sheltered the wide waterway. Upon breaching the thick woods he released a sigh of relief. He had reached the Tay.
He recognized where he stood. He was at a large bend that jutted eastward before heading back west. He’d been traveling northward the whole time. Good.
Drosten walked to the bank of the river and knelt for a drink. The cool water from the highlands relieved his parched throat. After taking his fill, he stood and surveyed as much of the landscape as he could by the light of the moon. Traveling the river was wise, but difficult. Following the waterways, he would make it from river to loch to river, all the way to Loch Ness.
He was more than a week away from completing the journey before him. But a warrior’s allegiance is to his king and his people. Because he no longer had a king to serve, back to his people he would go.
Which is more important to you – plot or characters, and why?
I believe that if an author cannot fall in love with his own characters, be it an endearing love or a love to hate, no one is going to read far enough into the story to even discover the plot. Plot is only important if the readers want to follow the characters on a journey, then plot becomes the life of the story.
What’s your favorite genre to read?
This is tough. I’m a fan of Ted Dekker’s suspenseful surprises, Joel C. Rosenberg’s prophecy-based political thrillers, Tom Pawlik’s dark and creepy avenues, and Stephen R. Lawhead’s history-based, legendary characters and worlds.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Hearing not just that people have gotten lost in my stories, but that the stories have also made meaningful impacts in their lives.
How much research did you need to do before writing the Otherealm Saga?
Book one, Deliver Us from Darkness, took several weeks in order to make sure that the witchcraft that I was depicting was an honest look into the occult. Book two, When Darkness Comes, was much more extensive. It took several months of looking into the world of ancient pre-Scotland, to see what Pictland and the Pictish people may have been like. It was frustrating initially, but discovered that the limited information also allowed for some latitude in the mystery that I created. As for book three, Behind the Darkness, research was done on an as-needed basis. Not a whole lot was required, maybe a week or two in total.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on the completion of the Otherealm Saga, That Dark Place. After that, I’ve got a World War II story, a time-travel thriller, and an ancient-history adventure trilogy in the wings.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Excerpts of my novels and sneak peeks of those upcoming, may be accessed through my website.
You can also find me on my blog in which I speak to spiritual matters and world events.
Next up on the BIG BLUE TAKEOVER is J.S.Bailey, author of Rage’s Echo.