Brett Battles - A Simple Mission Turning Into Something More Sinister
Brett was born and raised in southern California. His parents, avid readers, instilled the love of books in him early on, and there were many days his mom would kick him out of the house in the afternoon just so he would get a little sunshine. He is the USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the Jonathan Quinn series, the Project Eden series, and the time bending Rewinder trilogy. As our Author of the Day, Brett tells us all about his latest standalone, Night Man.
Please give us a short introduction to what Night Man is about.
Nate is a man who makes his living working in the world of espionage, but he finds himself called to a different duty been jobs, helping those who can’t help themselves. It’s not exactly his choice to do this, but it is a calling for which he is uniquely suited, both because of his skill set and his temperament. Whether the voice in his head compelling him to this new life is the first sign of developing mental issues or not, he follows her (for the voice is that of a woman he knew), and, in Night Man, sets out to solve the mystery of who committed a hit and run in a small Northern California town. But what he thought would be a easy case quickly expands far beyond anything he could have anticipated.
This is the first novel that features Nate from your award-winning Jonathan Quinn series. Why did you decide to give Nate his own spin-off series?
Nate is one of my favorite characters and has gone through so much growth (and pain!) over the course of the Quinn books, that it felt only natural that he should get a series of his own. It wasn’t until last year’s Quinn novel (The Fractured) that I finally figured out how to set Nate up for his own adventures, and what the twist would be that would make his books different from the Quinn’s. For one, the Quinn books have a definite spy thriller backbone, where as the Night Man Chronicles (as I’m going to call the series) are much more vigilante/crime thriller focused.
Why did you title this book "Night Man”?
It’s actually kind of a joke, and alludes to something that happens in this first novel. It’s not a name he picks out for himself, nor one which he will ever use in reference to himself. But it is one that Jar, one of his closest friends, will needle him with now and then.
Tell us more about Nate. What makes him tick, and what makes him so different from Jonathan?
While Quinn does have a sense of humor and a very strong moral code, Nate has always been looser, if you will. He’s a joker who has no problem making himself the butt of his own jokes when appropriate. He’s smart and self-aware. He’s also missing part of his right leg, lost on a job with Quinn. And, of course, he’s haunted by this voice I mentioned. It belongs to someone he had been very close to. I know I’m being a little coy not telling you who that is, but I think it’s something readers would probably prefer learning about in the book. But not to worry, it’s not something that’s hidden for long. I think it comes out in the first two or three chapters.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Hmmm…I’m pretty good at eating. Does that count?
What inspired you to write about "cleaners”?
I had always wanted to write a spy thriller, but didn’t want to just create another James Bond or Jason Bourne or John Rain. There are plenty of assassin in spy literature. I wanted my hero to be different. At the same time, I’ve always been interest in the idea of—what I refer to as—“what happens after.” We always see the hit/assassination, the attack on an army base, the car chase through busy streets. What I’ve always wondered is what happens after those events take place? Lives are clearly disrupted, so what happens to those people? Combining this thinking with the idea of a new spy thriller, I came up with a character (Jonathan Quinn) whose job it is to make bodies disappear that others terminate. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t get in scraps now and then. He gets in plenty, but his specialty is that body removal role. A what happens after role, if I’ve ever heard one.
How many books do you plan to write in this series?
Just like with the Quinn series, I think it’s open ended at this point. Largely it will depend on the interest of two parties: 1) Readers. If enough of them enjoy it and want more, I’ll write more. And 2) Me. As long as I can keep MY interest up, I’ll also keep writing them.
How have readers responded to this book?
The response to Night Man has been even better than I could have hoped. The reviews have been tremendous, and during the first month it was out, it spent over a week as the #1 new release for private investigator novels on Amazon. That was very cool!
When working on a new book, what’s the first thing you do?
I guess, technically, I start working on a new book while I’m still writing the one before it. Mainly, this involves letting whatever basic ideas I have stew in my head for a few weeks. When the time comes to focus on that book, I usually just sit down and start writing. I have vague ideas about a few things—the ending, the beginning, and some important points in-between. All of that may change as the book develops. I’m not an outliner, though, on occasion, I’ll write some notes. There have been a few times when those notes have been more detailed, but most of the time they’re just a few lines to set me on my way.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
Writing is my full-time job, and I want to keep it that way, and to do that I need to write at least three books a year. There’s no way to achieve that goal without being discipline. What does that look like? Well, my schedule morphs from year to year, but there are a few things that are constants. If it’s Monday through Friday, I’m writing. If it’s the weekend, I might also be writing, but I will definitely be doing some marketing. When I do write, I’m more productive in mornings. There have been periods over the last ten years when I would wake by 4 a.m. and be writing by 5. I’m not doing anything that severe right now. While I do get up around 5, I’m not writing usually until around 9 a.m. Another important constant is having a daily word total goal. Again, this has shifted over the years. Five or six years ago, I could do 4500 to 5000 a day. Now I’m lucky if I hit 3K.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Do the right thing.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the next Quinn novel. It should be out in July, though I don’t have the title yet. While it will have most of the usual hallmarks of a Quinn thriller—the espionage, the action, the adventure, and, of course, Quinn and Orlando—it will also be a little different. It’s a story from Quinn’s past that I’ve been wanting to tell for a long, long time. It will also be a bit shorter than some of the more recent books, but that’s only because that’s what the story calls for. What Quinn fans probably don’t know yet is that I’m planning on bringing out a second Quinn novel out in the fall. So, it will be a double Quinn year. And, if everything goes right (which is way too early to tell), the second Night Man novel will be out in December.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I’m all over the place! You can find out a lot more of my books at my website brettbattles.com, where you can also contact me via the contact links there. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Author-Brett-Battles-152032908205471/, twitter @brettbattles, and on Instagram @authorbrettbattles.