I am thrilled to have Gerard de Marigny, author of the political thriller The Watchman of Ephraim, here with me today. Gerard is here to talk about his his new novel, as well as discuss a few things he has planned for his fans in the future.
1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you become interested in writing fiction novels?
Gerard: I think the word that sums my background up best – prior to publishing _The Watchman of Ephraim_ is ‘journeyman.’ Looking back now, I can see that I spent my life searching for the three secrets to a happy life … something to do, something to love and something to hope for. I’ve been blessed – I’ve found all three in my writing, my family and my faith. I became interested in writing novels about 25 years ago. Back then I thought I could pick up where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left off with Sherlock Holmes. After that I wanted to write novels for the Star Trek series but both aspirations died before I wrote my first real manuscript. It took two decades and my wife’s clear thinking to put me on the path to my ultimate happiness. My wife did it with tough love. In 2009, after seeing me go through the motions at my day job – devoid of satisfaction and becoming pretty depressed over my inability to create art – she finally just said, “Write the damn book already … no more excuses!” haha … not exactly lovey-dovey words but they were words of love and support. I owe my wife so much. I had a few ideas bottled up in me and I began writing the next day … and have never stopped since!
2) Can you tell us a little about your novel, The Watchman of Ephraim?
_The Watchman of Ephraim_ is about a man who loses the love of his life, his soulmate and wife, in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. It tells the story of how he channels his rage and agony of his loss in a positive way. Utilizing an epiphany of faith he dedicates the rest of his life to protecting the citizens of the United States from enemies domestic and abroad. His name is Cris De Niro and he’s from the same tough streets in Brooklyn that I’m from. De Niro is an extraordinary guy. He worked his way up in the financial industry to become one of the youngest, richest men in the world. He’s also an Italian guy. I can tell you … there is no one more passionate than an Italian guy from Brooklyn, New York – and no one more dangerous to underestimate. De Niro acquires a counter-terrorism agency, in order to carry out his new life mandate and renames it ‘The Watchman Agency’ after a Biblical passage. The prophet Hosea talks about “The watchman of Ephraim …” – Ephraim is a symbol of The United States in prophesy. The plot involves an Iranian businessman turned terrorist and his link to a Mexican drug cartel. All relevant topics going on right now. In the end though, the predominant theme revolves around De Niro’s devotion to his deceased wife Lisa. The book is Book One of THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM series.
3) What inspired you to write The Watchman of Ephraim? How much research was involved in the writing?
I was inspired to write _TWOE_ from a personal experience. My wife and I lost a dear friend, Danny Afflitto, in the North Tower of the Trade Center on 9/11. Danny’s wife Stacey and my wife are dear friends. We were with Stacey when she watched the tower collapse, taking her husband with it. Even as a writer, I can’t find words that can fully express all the feelings from that moment. I was left feeling totally helpless … no way to help Stacey … no way to help all those other people. All of them someone’s spouse or child or parent or friend. I wanted to create a character that felt the agony that the families and friends of victims of 9/11 felt. All of the frustration and anger … and utter sadness from loss. I wanted the character to feel all those things but then to be able to do – what none of us could do – I wanted the character to take action, to fight the bad guys … to win. Cris De Niro gets to do what we can’t do … he does it for us! With respect to the sensitive nature of the 9/11 catastrophe, I was very careful to reconstruct the events exactly as they happened. Two French brothers who were shooting a documentary on a local firehouse happened to capture the event on tape. I studied their documentary for over a month alone. The entire novel took four months to research. I’m anal about details being correct. Locations, times, dates, distances, weapons, gadgets … even down to food and drink – I have to get it all spot on or else I wouldn’t enjoy reading it. That’s the stuff I love about Tom Clancy novels and W.E.B. Griffin novels – my two favorite thriller authors.
4) What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel?
The greatest challenge was getting the first two chapters correct. The first two chapters deal explicitly with the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. I always considered that _TWOE_ could end up as a sort of historical document, if I recreated the situation accurately. I did. I hope the families and friends of victims of the terrorist attack read the book and feel some kinship with Cris De Niro. I want them all to be able to vent some of their pain and I also want to introduce the rest of the world to the intimacy of the event – through De Niro’s eyes. Taking it all together – not an easy thing to do – especially for a new author.
5) In this novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters. Who was the most fun to write about? Which character presented the biggest challenge?
The most fun to write about is easy … the character’s name (and he certainly is a character) is David Nicholls. He’s a character that I originally created as a friendly gesture towards a British friend of mine – the real David Nicholls. The Nicholls character was originally intended to appear in only one line of the first chapter but so many people that know both me and David in the social networking universe got wind of it and soon the skinny was that Nicholls was a main character in the book. I was about to set everyone straight when once again my wife Lisa came to me and said, “I like the idea that you’re gonna add a quirky character to the story.” I trust my wife implicitly so I expanded Nicholls into the storyline. If you can believe – after _TWOE_ was published this January, I began receiving ‘fan mail’ for David Nicholls! Haha … no kidding. Readers were coming telling me that he was one of their most enjoyable characters. My wife will tell you that her favorite character is Nicholls. All of the messages I received all said the same thing too, “… can’t wait to read more about him in the next book!” So, I had to add David Nicholls to the sequel, _Signs of War_. I actually think its kinda cool now – I created a beloved character … without actually intending to. The biggest challenge was the turncoat character, Les Pastak. It’s easier for me to write plain good guys or bad guys, but Pastak was basically a greedy imbecile – not really evil, per se. I found it challenging at times to express him in those terms.
6) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
Let’s see … 1-Fast internet access. I research continually … everything. It’s not unusual for me to have a dozen windows open on my laptop, all within Google; 2-For this series, I need the copies of the other books right next to me. So far, that just means having a copy of _The Watchman of Ephraim_ next to me, for reference; 3-And probably the most important, I need to have a clear vision of the story. I write similar to the way Nikola Tesla invented – I ‘see’ the entire story in my head. If any part of the storyline is hazy to me – I need to sleep on it and allow the little grey cells to rest. I’m unable to continue writing though unless I’ve solved the plot kinks. Writing rituals … yikes, yes I do! Actually too many – I have a tendency to want to have everything ‘taken care of’ before I write – from personal stuff like bill paying and email reading to tracking _TWOE’s rankings and sales. I follow the teachings of a great writer and mentor, Dean Wesley Smith who teaches that, in order to establish a career as a novel writer – I need to write three to four novels per year. Figuring that it took my entire lifetime to turn out my first manuscript and nine months to write _TWOE_ from soup to nuts, I know I have to work on eliminating distractions. Some of my rituals have to go.
7) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future? What can fans expect next from you?
I’m completing the sequel to _TWOE_ as we speak. It’s called _Signs of War_ and it will be published in September (2011). I’ll immediately start on the third novel in the TWOE series and am shooting to have that one out by December (2011). I have the outline for that book already, so we’ll see if I can pull off three novels in 2011. After that, there’s a fantasy/adventure series that I had come up with before TWOE that I might attempt to write in ’12 along with a couple more TWOE novels. As Master Yoda once said though, "Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future." So, we’ll see.
8) Favourite authors?
The most influential authors on my writing career have been W.E.B. Griffin, Tom Clancy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Shakespeare … I know, a bit of an eclectic bunch.
9) What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your ultimate luxury?
The three most important aspects of my life are my faith, my family and my friends. The rest of life, to me, is just noise. If I’m not writing, I’m with my boys doing something or out with my wife or bending an arm at a local pub with friends.Ultimate luxury … hmm … my ultimate luxuries are those that I can bestow on my wife and boys. Their happiness from stuff like my wife’s ‘Bling-Mobile’ and Kindle to the boys X-Box360 and PSP’s are my greatest luxuries.
10) Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Just to say thank you to you, Stephanie, for affording me the opportunity to introduce myself to your friends and followers here – and to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read this Q&A. Hey, if anyone wants to reach me, I’m always available by email: g@GerarddeMarigny.com or my social networks listed below.Peace All!
Gerard de Marigny is author of the political thriller, _The Watchman of Ephraim_. He lives in the beautiful foothills surrounding Las Vegas, NV with his lovely wife Lisa and their four sons. When he's not writing he can be found spending time with his family or bending an arm with friends at the local pub.
Author's Website & Blog: www.GerarddeMarigny.com
Social Networking Sites
Facebook Page: www.Facebook.com/GerarddeMTwitter: www.twitter.com/GerarddeMarignyBuy
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Personalized, signed hardcover and paperback copies can be purchased from the author's website: www.GerarddeMarigny.com