We are delighted to welcome author Deek Rhew to Omnimystery News today.
Deek begins a new series of crime thrillers with 122 Rules (Pandamoon Publishing; March 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to spend some time with him talking about it.
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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your series lead characters.
Photo provided courtesy of
Deek Rhew: The one constant character throughout the 122 series is Sam Bradford — former Marine, turned assassin for the Feddies. In the book that was just released, 122 Rules, we start with a different main character: a SoCal girl, Monica, as she's being hauled away in a dark SUV with three goons in suits. We stick with her find out why she's in the spot she's in, and we get to learn a bit about her. She's joined by a scrappy secondary character, Angel, as the two make their way across the country trying to escape being killed.
Sam was hired to kill Monica, and after she flees, he gives chase — only not for the reasons you might expect. See, he's not the only one chasing her; there is a completely insane homicidal maniac also after her. Sam's boss, country, and government told him to eliminate this girl, but now he's struggling: Do the right thing and help/let the madman kill her or try and save her.
Sam is the main character in the second book, 122 Rules — Redemption, and third book, 122 Rules — Revelation. He has a slew of secondary characters, but in Redemption, he's really the only main character. In the third book, he's joined by another main character — and love interest! (spoilers!). Unfortunately for him, his lady turns out to be someone different than he thought her to be.
OMN: How do you see these characters developing over the course of a series?
DR: Really, I don't try and control my characters. I let them evolve at whatever pace they want to evolve at. Sam is totally torn. We get glimpses into his fall, and he's blindly been following orders for most of his adult life. He trusts in the country he loves and takes their word as the gospel. But his conscience is screaming at him during this assignment, and for the first time, he hesitates on pulling the trigger. There is this constant inner turmoil within him, and we are left to wonder if he's going to evolve or not.
Monica does grow as a person. She's a fighter, but she has kind of a dower attitude towards life. I don't think she sees the great things that she's done. Angel helps her see that.
Angel, though a secondary character, has tremendous growth. We first seen Angel in Birth of an American Gigolo, where she's leading a dead-end, directionless life. When Monica calls for help, Angel answers in a big way and finally finds her bearing and her purpose. This girl kicks bootae.
OMN: Why did your opt for a female lead character? How hard was it to find the right voice for her?
DR: I didn't pick Monica to be a woman; it's just who she was. Really, I don't feel like I create characters or even create stories as much as transcribe them. Like my characters already exist, and they're telling me their story. The people chasing her are almost all men, though there are some real brutes in the FBI that are women too. One of the chapters I absolutely loved, but had to cut because I simply had too many characters and her story didn't fit the overall story, was a Marine named Wilma. Man, I loved this character. Think a buff, war-hardened version of Kathy Bates, and you have an idea of Wilma.
I don't think it matters to people if it's male or female. Sometimes it is fun to find a male/female character that busts stereotypes, but I don't intentionally do that. I think either men or women can be tough as nails or mamby pamby. It all depends on the person, not their gender.
I plan to eventually make available the Wilma chapter as a free download on my web site. There's also a couple of chapters about Tracy, Sam's ex, that didn't make it into the final manuscript. It will include some of her story and her letter, in its entirety, to Sam.
OMN: Suppose Sam were to interview you. What would be his first question?
DR: Okay, so I've mentioned that Sam is tormented by his conscience, but I didn't tell you to what extent. Sam has an inner-voice which he's nicknamed Chet. Chet is a sarcastic, take no BS, mocks-you-till-you-cry kinda character. So, if anyone was going to ask me questions it would be him.
Chet: You've had your little fun on Twitter and whatever but now it's time to get real: Let's face it, you couldn't write decent prose if William Shakespeare, Stephen King, and Mark Twain tag team taught you like you were going twenty rounds in a WWE Cage Match. You aren't even worthy of washing their soiled jockeys if you owned the last Laundromat on Earth. What makes you think anyone would want to read the scribbles and half-baked concoctions of a second-rate computer geek with delusions of grandeur?
Deek: <sobs quietly facedown in his morning oatmeal>
OMN: When starting a new project, which comes first: the characters or the storyline?
DR: The characters. Always. Usually it starts with someone in a situation, in this case a SoCal girl who's had a really hard life but has persevered in spite of everything thrown at her. As the story unfolds, we find out that her father died and her mom became a neglectful drunk. But even as her life seems to be going well, something happens, and suddenly she's being chased. By whom? Enter Erebus, Sam, Laven, and the FBI. It's kinda crazy, but the characters tell me their story.
OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your stories?
DR: Oh, man this question. Well, I'm evidently not as good at fact checking as I thought. There's a lot to do with the law in 122, and I thought I understood the judicial process. Yeah, evidently not. One of my editors picked through the minutia of my story finding all the places where I got the facts wrong and wouldn't relent until everything was solid. Usually I just write, making up what I don't know, and then check facts later. I don't want to stop and break the rhythm of the story. Most of my research I do on Google because talking to an actual lawyer is cost-prohibitive.
OMN: How true are you to the settings in your book?
DR: So my story is a mix of real places and made-up places. A lot of the story is in an awful little town of Walberg (made up). This place is retched and dying, but it's where the FBI park Monica to "keep her safe." There are visits to other real places, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, New York, so on, but the home base is a tiny little isolated surfing town called Alabaster Cove. All of my 122 stories are based from or in that little town, as is Birth of an American Gigolo. I love being able to create characters and have overlap between stories, and having everything in one place let's you do that.
My wife, Erin, and I actually visited the New York Public Library and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis where part of the story takes place. I had to rewrite some of the library scenes because of what I found. The Arch scenes too had to be changed. It was totally fun to see the places that my characters had been!
OMN: If we could send you anywhere in the world to research the setting for a book, where would it be?
DR: I would totally go to the Mediterranean! Erin and I plan to be professional vagabonds some day. We plan to live in Italy, New York, Clearwater, and so on for six month stints. Originally I thought 122 Rules would be based out of a little town in the Mediterranean where the streets were cobblestone, no cars were allowed, and pace of life hadn't changed in a 1000 years. But I don't think I could ever do a place like that justice without experiencing it first hand. So Erin and I will live there, and, who knows, maybe it will help me find a story!
OMN: What prompted you to use a pen name?
DR: I originally used my birth name as my author name, but it's so incredibly common that it simply gets lost in the white noise. It might as well have been Jon Smith — which ironically is one of my secondary character's name. So I created a pen name.
One of my favorite authors of all time is Stephen King and of his great works is this book that stands above all the others for me: Needful Things. For a few paragraphs a character appears whose name is Deek. I loved the name so much, I gave it to one of my characters in Redemption. But I wanted a new name, so I stole it.
Fun Fact: Max used to be named Deek!
Rhew is my wife's maiden name. She also uses her maiden name as her writing name, Erin Rhew, so now we are the husband-wife author team, the Rhews!
So, my name is the compilation of two of my all-time favorite authors!
OMN: Suppose your series were to be adapted for television or film and you're the casting director. Whose agents are you calling?
DR: Okay, not that I've thought about this or anything, but here's my rundown on who'd play the parts in the movie:
Sam — Erin and I recently watched Under the Dome, the TV version of the Stephen King novel by the same name. I think that the male lead, Mike Vogel, who played Dale "Barbie" Barbara would be the perfect Sam.
Chet — Chet is an interesting character in that he doesn't have a physical body. What he does have is snark and attitude. If I was to cast a voice for Chet one of the people I'd consider is Gilbert Gottfried. He's not exactly the voice I'd always heard in my head, but man does he have the attitude.
Monica — There isn't anyone more perfect for her than Anna Paquin. Erin will tell you that I picked her because she's my TV crush, but really she has the right brooding mix with kick-ass tendencies.
Angel — I love Angel. She's spunky, dark, resourceful, and willing to do anything — even die — for her friend. What better person to play her on the silver screen than Emma Watson!
Erebus — There is nothing better than a good bad guy, and there's no one else I could see playing Erebus better than Walton Goggins. This actor has it all, charisma, mood, and a dark and brooding lunacy that makes him the perfect villain.
Laven — Before Joe Pesci was in Home Alone, he starred in a dark sinister roles. In fact, Monica even says that Laven looks like Joe. So who better to star as the mobster?
Barry — Barry is Laven's lawyer who feels like if he displeases his boss one more time, he's be taking the big snooze. He's described as cadaverously gaunt with big eyes swimming behind glasses. Fortunately for me, my bride let me keep the adverb "cadaverously" because I totally love it. But who better than Jared Leto?
Lisa — Lisa plays a small but very crucial role in 122. She gives Monica her first job and supports her. She's dramatic, her love life "rivals the best day time soap opera." The best person I can think of to play this lawyer turned crispy critter is Jennifer Tilly.
Mary Beth — Mary Beth is an about-to-be-married barista. She's got a hard life and works hard. If you could fatten Carrie Preston up a bit — Mary Beth is chunky and Carrie is anything but — you'd have the perfect Mary Beth!
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Deek Rhew lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with his YA author bride Erin Rhew and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin's fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek's dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords.
He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town — with antique shops and bakeries — they call home.
For more information about the author, please visit his website at DeekRhewBooks.com and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.
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