Thursday, December 20, 2012

Please Welcome Techno-Thriller Author Thomas Waite

Omnimystery News: Guest Author Post
by Thomas Waite

We are delighted to welcome author Thomas Waite as our guest today.

Tom's new novel is a techno-thriller: Terminal Value (Marlborough Press; March 2012 trade paperback and ebook formats) … and is today's Amazon Kindle Daily Deal!

We asked Tom to tell us about setting and its importance to a book … and more specifically, to Terminal Value.

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The setting of a novel is critical, particularly for a mystery or thriller. After all, in addition to providing details that enrich the story, the setting can actually assist, or impede, an investigation. Choosing a familiar setting is usually a good idea for a mystery or a thriller because it should directly influence the characters and the plot.

Thomas Waite
Photo provided courtesy of
Thomas Waite;
Photo credit Allana Taranto

When I started writing Terminal Value, I deliberately chose Boston and New York City because I have lived in both locations and I know the cities well. Sure, you can do research, look at maps, and even read guidebooks, but there is no substitution for experience. If you have lived in a city, you know its character, the local customs, and the weather. For example, in my novel, I describe a "classic Nor'easter" and not only how these storms form, but also how they feel, and what the aftermath looks and smells like. I have also spent time with people in Boston and New York, and they talk, act, and think differently. If I were to have set my novel in Little Rock, Arkansas, it almost surely would have irritated people who live there and they would have quickly discerned that I really didn't understand them or where they live.

At a more detailed level there are sub-settings – streets, parks, offices, police stations, restaurants – that have their own vibes and traditions beyond the place where they are situated. In the case of Terminal Value, I visited all of these sub-settings (except, of course, the offices of the fictional companies, but even those were based on other companies I was familiar with). In the opening of the novel, Dylan, the protagonist, leaves his condominium in the Back Bay section of Boston, drives by the Public Garden, down a street, across a bridge, to the office of his start-up, and takes an old elevator and enters the office. I drove this route myself, and describe various sights and sounds along the way that are both authentic and "educate" the reader about the environment. Here's an excerpt to illustrate my point:

"Rush-hour traffic seemed unusually heavy for a cold January morning. Dylan glanced out through the frosty window at the Public Garden Lagoon. In the summer, swan boats and tourists filled the park. Now it was empty of water and people—a sure sign of a prolonged winter. He and his friend Tony had discussed the mobile computing revolution during many strolls through the garden."

The importance of setting doesn't end there. A good writer will develop their characters by deliberately describing elements that build both an image and understanding of the characters in the reader's mind. Why does one character drive a certain kind of car while another drives a different car? Why does one person have a messy office and another a pristinely organized office? What is it that upsets or stresses a character – heavy traffic, noisy office mates, certain smells – and what does it tell the reader about that character?

Setting is more than just place. It is also time. In Terminal Value, there is a certain rhythm in the novel that reflects the changing seasons in Boston. Settings in my novel include a raging winter snowstorm and an abnormally warm, foggy spring night. These are important because they can lead to a sense of gloom, tension, joy, and so forth that is important to the storyline itself. Consider this excerpt:

"At nine-thirty, Dylan stepped out onto the damp cobbles of Beacon Hill. The unusually warm spring temperatures foretold a hot summer ahead, and after a brief shower, the resulting mist wrapped eerily around the lampposts. Dylan admired the old neighborhood, with its Federalist and Greek Revival brick row houses, most of which were built between 1800 and 1850. After the turn of the century, many of the wealthy residents moved to the suburbs, and the old houses were subdivided into small apartments and, later, condominiums. Tony had moved into one of the roomier apartments shortly after their initial MobiCelus success. True to his character, his eclectic furnishings barely filled the space."

In sum, choosing and describing the setting is critical to a good novel. Even describing something as simple as a cemetery can convey a lot to reader. Here's one more excerpt from Terminal Value:

"The sun warmed the dry air as the funeral procession wound its way through Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Founded before the Civil War, it was one of the most famous burial grounds in the country and the final resting place for such luminaries as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, B. F. Skinner, and Winslow Homer.

As he followed the black limousine, Dylan smiled, recalling the times during college when he and Tony had walked through these grounds and shared stories about their dreams for the future. How ironic, Dylan thought, that he was now there to bury his friend. It was only when Tony's mother had died that Dylan learned that the Carusos owned one of the precious few open plots at the cemetery. Now here he was again—this time to see his best friend laid to rest next to his mother."

A great novel is one that takes place in a richly detailed world that gives the story authenticity. As Stephen King famously wrote in his classic, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: "Description begins in the writer's imagination, but should finish in the reader's."

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Thomas Waite labored for many years ghost-writing non-fiction for others. While working at one firm, he conceived the idea of publishing three business books and directed the writing and marketing of them. All three went on to become New York Times bestsellers. Alas, his name was buried in the acknowledgements and unnoticed.

Deciding it was time to pursue his real dream and write fiction, he believed there was an opportunity to write techno-thrillers that were fast-paced, contemporary, and accessible enough for those without a deep knowledge of technology.

Tom lives in Boston, where he is working on his next techno-thriller.

You can learn more about the author and his work by visiting his website, ThomasWaite.com.

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Terminal Value by Thomas Waite

Terminal Value
Thomas Waite

"Be careful what you wish for."

That's a warning Dylan Johnson should have listened to.

When his mobile computing firm is bought out by Mantric Technology, a red-hot company about to go public, it seems like a dream come true for the young entrepreneur and his partners.

But the closer they get to payout, the more uncertain Dylan becomes. Something doesn't feel right. When his colleague is found dead on what should have been their night of triumph, Dylan is determined to find out what happened. But asking questions plunges him into a digital web of deceit and betrayal that will shake everything he thought he knew …

Amazon.com Print and/or Kindle Edition  Barnes&Noble Print Edition and/or Nook Book  Apple iTunes iBookstore  Kobo eBooks  Indie Bound: Independent Bookstores

Note: Today only, Thursday December 20th, 2012, Terminal Value is the Kindle Daily Deal and is available to purchase for just 99 cents. Click on the Amazon.com button above to purchase.

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