Sunday, December 2, 2012

Author Spotlight: Richard Doetsch

As many of you have noted, Gazalapalooza took off the month of November. Though we weren’t here on the blog, November was a productive month -- issues were addressed, matters confronted, ghosts put to rest, and conflicts resolved. Now we’re back, and we’re back in a very big way with this edition of the Gazalapalooza Author Spotlight featuring internationally best-selling author Richard Doetsch.

There are many great thriller authors whose books enthrall readers worldwide. With eight globally successful and popular books to his credit (one of which is being made into a big-budget movie), certainly Doetsch is one of them. But not many of those authors actually pursue some of the "thrills" their characters endure in those books. Doetsch does. The accomplished triathlete counts skydiving, and scuba diving among his extracurricular activities. That is, when he’s not quenching his thirst for real-life thrills by jumping off bridges, cliffs and cranes with only the glorified rubber bands wrapped round his ankles standing between him and a messy end. We’re confident it’s Doetsch’s willingness (nay, eagerness) to belly up to the extreme experiential bar that gives his writing the flavors that his readers savor so avidly. Esteemed Gazalapalooza Author Spotlight alumni SteveBerry and James Rollins both have declared Doetsch’s just-released novel, The Thieves of Legend, as one not to be missed. Rollins confesses the book "stole my breath..." Not to be outdone, Berry says, "You’ll grip the pages so tight your knuckles will turn white."

We fear such lofty praise for Mr. Doetsch’s new book from two of the world’s preeminent thriller authors might go straight to his head. We can’t have that without inviting him to sweat some of it off under the unforgiving glare of the Author Spotlight. Now that’s he’s perched expectantly on the edge of the Spotlight’s hard wooden chair, let’s see how well Doetsch does under our klieg lights’ blaze.

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and why you choose them.

Doetsch:    Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, not just because of the season but for what the book is. It’s a ghost story, a feel good story, and a time travel tale. It has mystery, humor, poignancy, hope, and one of the greatest characters ever created.  It paints a picture in the mind far better than any of its film adaptations. It is one of the few stories you can read time and again and get something new out of every time.

As for the non-fiction, that’s a tough one… I would take a visual dictionary, one of those huge visual dictionaries so I could learn about everything, so once I was rescued from the island I could get back to writing and all of my research would be done.   

Gazala:    Your latest book is an excellent and gripping thriller titled The Thieves of Legend, featuring the return of former thief Michael St. Pierre. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about The Thieves of Legend, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.

Doetsch:    The Thieves of Legend is an action, adventure, thriller, mystery, with strong characters, a bit of history, and love (the true motivator). It delves into historical figures who have shaped the world yet have remained out of the spotlight, such as Chinese admirals from the past who commanded forgotten fleets of 300 with giant ships over 425 feet long whose size wasn’t matched until the aircraft carriers of today. It tells of treasures from World War II, and even greater treasures from 600 years ago; eternal life; thefts from the depths of the Venetian Casino in Macau (the largest casino in the world); and intricate, complex break-ins into the Forbidden City and its secret vaults where mysteries have been lost to time. It’s a race through New York to the medieval streets of Granada, Spain; from Italian castles of old, to modern China and its ancient history, and to volcanic islands that evade modern sea charts. Oh, and it’s the story of Michael St. Pierre, a reformed thief and his group of friends: a priest, his old parole officer, and his on-again, off-again, on-again girlfriend who’s his on-again, off-again rival thief. And P.S.: The Thieves of Darkness, the prior book in the series, is being made into a pretty cool movie.  

Gazala:    What are books for?

Doetsch:    Everything. They are for fun, education, escape, seeing the world through different eyes. They’re for excitement, insight, paperweights (the over 800 page ones). They’re for gifts, for sharing, for collecting, and for libraries.

Gazala:    W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?

Doetsch:    I disagree. No rules. Rules constrict creativity. If I listened to the rules I wouldn’t have started my novel, The 13th Hour, at the last chapter and written it backwards.  But… there are things... Things like writing every day, thinking outside the box, thinking differently, reading, watching movies and other forms of entertainment. Living, experiencing life is so important as drawing from our life gives our writing realism; facing our fears so we can translate those emotions to paper. Experiencing love, loss, and pain makes our writing believable.  So, no rules, but maybe habits that will contribute to our skill. Habits.

Gazala:    Speaking of thieves, someone outside is trying to heist my truck. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.

Doetsch:    Q: For someone who just found out about you, would you say they can start with The Thieves of Legend and then go back and read more about the adventures of Michael St. Pierre? A: Absolutely, each story stands on its own, fully fleshing out the characters in the context of the current story while hinting about things past and future. This way, there are definite arcs in each story -- the new reader can emotionally relate to my characters and in doing so enjoy the ride as much as the reader who has experienced all of my stories.

We suppose it’s not altogether surprising that an extreme sports enthusiast / best-selling thriller author of Doetsch’s pedigree survived the Spotlight reasonably intact. You might not be able to say the same for yourself after indulging in the relentless wonders, mysteries and adventures filling the pages of The Thieves of Legend. Don’t take our word for that -- get your copy of the book from Amazon by clicking here. You’ll be thrilled you did.

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