We asked AFN Clarke, the best-selling author of CONTACT and the new Thomas Gunn thrillers, what it’s like to take on the challenge of writing a book series.
In the last 6 months I have published the first two books of my new Thomas Gunn thriller series, The Orange Moon Affair and The Jonas Trust Deception, and the third, Running with the Bonefish is already underway. When asked how different it was to write a series compared to a one-off novel, I realised how complex a process it really was.
Because I’m more of a “stream of consciousness” writer, I don’t map out each story and then write to that detailed outline. Although I have a clear idea of the plot and a definite focus, I simply start and the book takes on a life of its own. I’m told this approach gives my writing a greater immediacy, vibrancy, and feeling of being “real”. It’s certainly what I aim for.
But as I started writing The Orange Moon Affair, I realised the enormity of the task that any author of a series is faced with – how to write one book with its own plot integrity, while seeding it with links, symbols, events, characters, clues and elements of mystery and intrigue that won’t explode to the forefront till much later in the series. I’ve had to learn how to hold up to 5 books in my head at once, and keep going back to insert small but vital “set-ups”. I have to go forward in order to go back, if that makes sense at all. It does my head in to be honest, but I’m loving it, and am excited about the results.
What’s both fabulous and challenging is developing the characters over a longer time frame than just one book. It’s not easy for an author to create enough of a personality in one book while allowing room for growth in a future one. But for a reader, it draws them into a more personal journey, getting to know the characters intimately over time, developing an attachment to them and then holding their breath or cheering as they hurtle headlong into danger. My central character, Thomas Gunn, is ex-British Special Forces and all he wants to do is forget his past and create a new life with his girlfriend Julie. But something happens in each book to drag him back to his old life – like the brutal murder of his billionaire father or the mysterious disappearance of an old friend. These trigger events must catch readers by surprise each time. And, importantly for me, keep pushing the boundaries between reality and fiction.
All in all, I never thought embarking on a series would be so exhausting and thrilling at the same time, and I have a new level of respect for any author crazy enough to try it. It’s an all-consuming task, requiring us to face our worst nightmares and call on the creative potential of a lifetime of experiences and learning. But I wouldn’t change it for the world and as I’ve become quite attached to him, I intend for Thomas Gunn to keep having many more adventures for countless years to come. Perhaps even on the silver screen – why not?
AFN CLARKE is a full-time author, son of a British MI6 operative, pilot, sailor, screenwriter, father of four who’s lived all over the world, served as an officer in Britain’s elite Parachute Regiment, and recovered from the physical/emotional traumas of war. He’s insatiably curious, loves heated discussions and has a rascally sense of humour. His bestselling memoir CONTACT was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film. He now writes fiction of various genres – the Thomas Gunn thriller series (The Orange Moon Affair; The Jonas Trust Deception with more coming soon); political thrillers (An Unquiet American); human drama (Dry Tortugas); humour/satire (Dreams From The Death Age; Armageddon); and psychological horror (Collisions). All available now at the Amazon Kindle Store.
The Jonas Trust Deception, another Thomas Gunn thriller by bestselling author AFN Clarke, follows The Orange Moon Affair, a “hard to put down”, “5-star novel by a 5-star author”. Thomas (ex-Special Forces) goes on high alert after a desperate message from his journalist friend, Morgan. She’s in danger. But where? And why? Rushing to her ranch he finds it being torn apart by a highly-trained female assassin of East European descent, with a mysterious butterfly tattoo on her neck. An image that sends his mind reeling. Dread seeping into his soul.
In her ongoing investigations, Morgan may have uncovered something even more explosive and far-reaching than the Orange Moon conspiracy. If so, her enemies will want both her and her information destroyed. Racing to follow tangled leads, Thomas and his girlfriend Julie are thrust into the deadly path of Mexican drug cartels, corrupt politicians, unscrupulous financial brokers like Jonas T Purdue, the FBI, the UK intelligence services and their arch nemesis Marika Keskküla. What deception binds these unlikely “players” together? What’s their power struggle really about? And even more personally disturbing, why the constant links back to a secret mission in Afghanistan, that Thomas has tried so hard to forget?
Outraged by the feeling of constantly being “played”, Thomas decides to turn the tables on the faceless “puppeteers” by taking an action so bold, so dangerous, and so unexpected, that even his team fear he’s lost his mind. Has he? Or can he expose the “vermin” at the top and finally eliminate them forever?
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13