Trojan Horse, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Trojan Horse?
DAVID LENDER: Trojan Horse is a love story built around a thriller about a Wall Streeter who falls in love with an exotic spy and then teams up with her to stop a Muslim terrorist plot to cripple the world's oil capacity.
Daniel Youngblood is a world-weary oil and gas investment banker who’s ready to hit the beach, when he’s hired by a Saudi Prince for an OPEC deal where he can net himself $25 million as a swan song. At the same time, he meets and falls in love with Lydia, an exotic European fashion photographer, who he later discovers is really CIA-trained spy with a shocking past with the Saudi Prince. She convinces Daniel to enlist in what becomes a race for the lovers to stop a Muslim terrorist Internet plot to bring down the Saudi royal family and cripple the world’s oil capacity, all before they wind up dead.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
DAVID LENDER: Developing characters starts at the same time as developing my story ideas. A different story idea would result in different characters and vice versa, so they’re intertwined. Once I have the basic idea and characters, I write character biographies for all my major characters, and then as I flesh out my story it’s driven by what those characters would or wouldn’t do.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
DAVID LENDER: The best way to sum it up is someone who loves thrillers, suspense and also loves to crawl inside the characters and their emotions. When I look back at the thrillers I’ve admired most, they always have interesting characters with complex, deeply emotional or moving relationships in them.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
DAVID LENDER: I started writing about 15 years ago, cramming it into my schedule during my career as an investment banker doing mergers and acquisitions deals. After finishing two novels, I was introduced by a prominent literary agent to seasoned publishing exec who’d edited Robert Ludlum’s first nine thrillers. He taught me how to write a thriller over the next 18 months. Then I got caught up full time in my career on Wall Street again, until about 3 years ago when I got serious about writing again. I wrote another novel and started shopping all my stuff around to agents, including pitching at Thrillerfest in New York. When I couldn’t find the right agent to take me on, I started looking at Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. I now have Trojan Horse and The Gravy Train out and in the Top 100 on Kindle. I’m releasing Bull Street soon, and I’m hard at work on my next novel, another thriller.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
DAVID LENDER: I write character biographies and I outline. I also use storyboards with 3x5 cards and a structure for major points in the story that I adapted from screenwriting techniques. My outlines are detailed, scene-by-scene summaries of the novel that run about 35-40 pages. When I’m ready to write a scene I then make notes on the back-and-forth in the dialog, sit down with my detailed outline and write the first draft of the scene using dictation software. Then I either completely rewrite or revise. And revise. And revise, and . . .
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
DAVID LENDER: Right now, Elmore Leonard, John le Carre, Thomas Harris and Scott Turow.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
DAVID LENDER: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
DAVID LENDER: I’ve done some Book of the Day sponsorships on Kindle Nation Daily, BookLending.com, eReader News Today, The Frugal eReader and Kindle Author. I seek out opportunities to guest blog and appreciate invitations to be interviewed on various blogs. I am in a writing group on Facebook and try to help out my colleagues and they help me out. I’ve sent out some review copies to local newspapers and reviewers. It’s all little bits and pieces, but I think it all helps to get the word out.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
DAVID LENDER: Why not? When I went into it, I had the attitude of, “What have I got to lose?” I saw it as a potential bridge to finding a quality agent and getting a traditional publishing deal. Now that I’ve educated myself about e-publishing, I see it as an end in itself. I’ve been offered representation by a major literary agency in New York and I’ve decided to stay an independent.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
DAVID LENDER: Educate yourself about e-publishing. Look at what successful authors are doing with pricing, their platforms, their content. Read blogs and other tools to learn the business. Joe Konrath. Kindle Review. Kindle Nation Daily. Read Steve Windwalker’s book on pricing ebooks for Kindle. See what people are talking about on the KindleBoards.
Then write the best material you’re capable of, and find people to edit, proofread, format and produce professional covers for it. Buy a Kindle and see what your books look like on them, and on the Mac or PC version of the Kindle Reader before you release them.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
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