It is my great pleasure to have my first author of a series on my blog. Rich Goldhaber spent forty years in Research & Development in the medical product industry. He has leveraged his knowledge of science and Technology into a second career as a Mystery/Thriller writer. His five books, The Lawson Series feature his main characters; Dr. Sally Graff and Detective Dan Lawson. Her skills as an emergency room physician, and his as an energetic detective, make them a modern-day Dr. Watson and Sherlock Homes. Trouble always seems to find this pair as they travel the world in pursuit of bad guys.
Joanne: From my limited understanding of a series, there are several formats it can work.
Spinoffs: A series of novels that take an existing minor character, setting, or concept from the first stand-alone story and create a new plot/situation for additional stand-alone stories. Spinoffs are very common in the Romance genre
Serials: A series of novels that follow one particular character throughout many different, mostly unconnected episodes. Each novel is self-contained and could be read as a stand-alone title, though each successive title reveals more about the continuing character(s). Serials are seen most often in Mystery/Suspense and Action/Adventure
Sequels: A series of novels that contain one continuing story in a finite number of volumes. While each volume has a beginning, middle, climax, and denouement, the main plot/conflict of the series continues throughout the series and finally comes to a climax and resolution in the final volume. This main plot/conflict must be introduced early in the beginning of the first book. Sequel series are most common in Science Fiction, Fantasy (just do a search for “trilogy” in the books section of amazon.com!), and Historical Fiction/Romance.
What style of series did you choose and why?
Rich: My five novels clearly fit into the serial classification.
Joanne: Did you plan out all of your books ahead of time before you started to write your first book? What was the process?
Rich: Halfway through the writing of my first book in the series “The 26th of June”, I realized that the characters deserved more than just one story to fully tell their stories.
Joanne: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Rich: I am an avid reader. About six years ago I was reading a New York Times bestseller. I thought it was terrible. I said to myself, even I could write better than this. That was a challenge I couldn’t refuse.
Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript? Also, did books two through five come faster?
Rich: Once I settled on going the self-publishing route, I began exploring various self-publishing companies. Create Space, an Amazon company seemed the best, and once that decision was made it took me only three months to see my first book in print. Now I’m an expert using Create Space, and once I finish formatting my text in Word, and creating a PDF for my cover using Photoshop, it only takes a week to get a proof of my new book.
Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?
Rich: I tried going the classical route by trying to find a mainstream agent. It became clear to me after six months of trying that my query letters were for the most part not even being fully read. Feedback from my author friends indicated the general unhappiness of using second and third tier agents.
Joanne: Do you think you have a distinctive “Voice” to your stories? Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?
Rich: My technical background has allowed me to always have a credible technical aspect to my stories. Whether it’s about terrorists making a neutron bomb or a biological weapon, I like the reader to learn something new about a technical subject that they never explored. The trick is to do so without it appearing too much like schoolwork.
Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Rich: Being a technical person during my business career, I was skilled in writing technical papers. Technical writing, however, is heavy on nouns, verbs, and numbers. Adjectives, adverbs, and emotion are out of the question. As a writer of novels, I had to learn to write with emotion. Easier said than done for a technocrat.
Joanne: What advice would you give to new writers that think they want to write a series. What factors are important for them to know before they start?
Rich: Write the first story and then decide whether the main characters are worth additional exploration.
Joanne: One of my favorite series writers, Randy Wayne White always brings us exciting new stories but as a fan, I have my favorite characters that I would be so disappointed if they were not included. Do you have a favorite character that is in all your books?
Rich: Of course the main characters are my favorite, but one minor character, Benny Cannon is always exciting to write about. He’s the super-geek working at the FBI. He’s like the character “M” in James Bond movies. He always has a technical gadget to help Dan and Sally solve a problem. Also, I position him as a weird dresser (e.g. one green sock and one red sock).
Joanne: Do you have anything new in the works? If so, is it another book in the series or are ever planning on writing a new, totally different series?
Rich: After five books with the same people, my next novel moves to a new set of characters. It’s called “The Cure” and involves a young engineer who begins working for a start-up company that has found the cure to cancer. Is it really a cure or are there others factors at play? If it’s too good to be true is it always too good to be true?
Joanne: Where should readers go to purchase your books?
Rich: My books are available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Book stores are also able to get this book through their normal distribution channels.
Joanne: Can you share a few paragraphs from one of your book to wet out appetite?
Rich: The beginning of my second book “Succession Plan” follows:
I had been living with the guilt for almost a year. Disgrace began on the last day of my father’s life. I sat silently at the side of his bed in the nursing home waiting for what I knew was inevitable. As always, a potent cocktail of urine and Mr. Clean filled the air.
The special care facility where he had lived for the last six months was one of the finest in the city, but all of the Andrew Wyeth prints and brightly colored rooms could not alter one overriding fact. This place specialized in managing death. His cancer had slowly eaten away his self-esteem, and the frail man who now resided in what was once a fit athletic body, clung tenaciously to life.
He suddenly awoke, and his dark sunken eyes reached out to my inner soul. He searched for my hand, squeezed it tightly, and reminded me of my promise to take care of the ring. He then closed his eyes forever and left on his ultimate journey.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I bent over, kissed his forehead, held onto his now lifeless hand, and openly cried; not over his death, his passing had been a blessing. During the last six months, his life had been filled with miserable pain and suffering, dulled only by the increasing dose of prescribed narcotics. Instead, my tears were shed over his last words.
You see, the ring was the problem. He had given me the present on my eighth birthday. The gift was bestowed along with one of his famous long rambling speeches, and as he held the cheap looking plastic gold colored object reverently in his hand, he explained it was an authentic Captain Video Secret Decoder Ring. He wanted me to understand its true value lay far beyond its intrinsic worth. Rather, it was a symbol of the wonderful memories of his own childhood. Captain Video was a TV program from the early 50’s, and when my father was a young boy, he had used the ring to decode special messages from the Captain. Handing me the ring in front of the extended assembly of family and friends, he made me promise to save his most cherished possession and pass it on to my children when the time was right.
I didn’t know what to make of the gift or the ceremony, but I did hide the ring in the safest most secret spot I knew, a small shelf hidden from view behind a built-in bar in our basement. To reach the special place, a person needed to crawl behind the bar and reach up inside a cabinet; a difficult set of physical maneuvers unless you were less than four feet tall and weighed under fifty pounds.