An Interview with Author Rob Sinclair

Rob Sinclair is the author of Dance with the Enemy, an action-packed thriller, which I read and reviewed a couple of weeks ago. (Click here for my review). You can imagine how delighted I was when Rob Sinclair agreed to answer some questions for Indie Bookworm.

Why did you write Dance with the Enemy?

Dance with the Enemy is the first of three thrillers I’ve written about intelligence agent Carl Logan. They’re each fast-paced, action-packed stories that will keep readers turning the pages. They’re the type of books that I love to read myself. And that was really the main driver behind me writing them! I started writing about five years ago now but it certainly wasn’t something I had always looked to do, it really came about quite randomly. I had made an offhand comment to my wife on holiday in Spain that I betted I could write a thriller. I think it was largely borne out of frustration with some of the books I had been reading that just seemed so formulaic and uninspiring. I don’t think either of us took my comment too seriously at the time, but when we got home I started drafting out some ideas. For Dance with the Enemy I really only had one specific scene in my head right at the start - the kidnapping scene - and a concept of what became Logan, but that was more or less it! The rest of it just grew from there.

What kind of reader would enjoy Dance with the Enemy?

I think it will appeal to a wide range of readers; young, old, male, female. Really anyone who likes fast-paced, thrilling reads. Page turners. Fans of James Patterson, Lee Child, Simon Kernick, Michael Connolly and all those other big names should find my work up their street. I guess Dance with the Enemy isn’t for the faint of heart, though. There are some pretty gruesome parts and perhaps more violence than some would like but I’ve not let those elements drive the story. I’m not out to shock people, just to keep readers gripped.

How did you develop your characters?

It’s hard to remember now, it’s been such a long process! Logan was of course the first character I developed. I think in many ways he’s your classic action hero and it was important that he fit that bill in order to make the book work - so he’s tough, unforgiving, dogmatic. But what I wanted to do with Logan was to make him vulnerable too. I didn’t want him to be this one-dimensional and completely indestructible guy, so Logan’s got this really dark back story. He’s been a black ops agent for years, he’s highly trained – essentially he operated like a machine, a robot. He’s a loner, someone whose job was his life, who was trained to feel no emotion or pain. But all that came crashing down some months before the start of the story after he was captured and tortured by a sadistic terrorist, Youssef Selim.

So at the start of the book we have Logan, this guy who has all this talent, but who’s really just in a bit of a mess, not sure where his life is going anymore, struggling with all these new found emotions. And then, as he’s trying to deal with all that, Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris linked to the kidnapping of America’s Attorney General. You then have Logan hell bent on getting his revenge, and his people struggling to keep their man under control as he rampages on in search of Selim. I don’t know why but all of my books deal a great deal with revenge and betrayal. They’re just such powerful concepts and I think everyone can associate with them on one level or another.

Selim himself is an important character, as you can imagine, but actually I think he only fully developed late on in the process. You get to see real glimpses of just how despicable he is and I think that makes the reader want to see Logan achieve his desires all the more. He’s just an entirely unpleasant person!

On top of those two, you have Logan’s boss, Mackie. Where he came from I really don’t know anymore! Logan is very much a lone wolf – to some extent a lost child. But I wanted there to be more to his life, his back story, than just him and his assignments and that’s where Mackie comes in. He’s Logan’s tutor, his mentor, really a kind of father figure for Logan. In some respects his relationship with Logan is similar to what you see between James Bond and M, although the characters are quite different. Mackie is Logan’s biggest supporter and I think he makes Logan a more complete character and I really enjoyed writing the interactions between the two of them.

What has been the biggest influence on your career as a writer?

That’s a really hard question as I guess I’m only in the very early stages of my writing career. I never set out in life to be a writer – I didn’t write at all until five years ago, had never been on courses or anything like that. I thought I was going to become a big cheese in the accounting world and worked hard for a number of years building the foundations for that. So I’ve fallen into this career really. I do really love writing though – I love the process of weaving together plots, the excitement of writing out the scenes that will have the reader’s heart racing. It’s a bug that’s hard to shake off.

But I wouldn’t still be doing this without the support of my wife and my parents. I started writing at a really inopportune time. My wife was pregnant with our first child and we were both working hard at building our accountancy careers. With our hectic work life together with bringing up one and now two boys, it would have been really easy to just give up on writing before I’d really got started. There was just so little time to fit it in and, like many writers, the initial rejections from agents was really demoralising. But my wife, and later my parents, gave me great encouragement to carry on and I’ve just always thought if I don’t at least try, I’ll never know what might have been. So I’ve stuck at it and I’m really glad I have. It’s been a lot of hard work but hopefully that hard work will start to pay off soon!

In terms of literary influences, it’s pretty much the writers I mentioned earlier. All the big household names of the thriller fiction world. Those are the books I’ve always enjoyed reading.

Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

The second Carl Logan book, Rise of the Enemy, is more or less complete – final proofreading is the only hurdle now. I’m really excited about it and have had great feedback from the people who have helped me with the editing. It’s scheduled for release in March 2015.

Rise of the Enemy picks up after Dance with the Enemy and sees Carl Logan facing his biggest challenge yet; coming to terms with the betrayal of those closest to him. It’s told in the first person and so the reader gets really close to Logan and who he is. As a writer I enjoyed that book even more than Dance with the Enemy for that very reason. Hopefully readers will too!

I’ve also now drafted the third book in the Enemy trilogy; Hunt for the Enemy. It needs some work but my wife and parents have read the draft and all have said it’s my best yet which is just great to hear!

After that I’m torn. I’ve had an idea for a standalone book in my head for some time. It’s something I’ll definitely get to writing but more recently I’ve been thinking about an idea for a fourth Carl Logan book. I guess I’ve become close to him as a character over the course of writing the Enemy trilogy and there’s plenty of life left in him yet. I’m not sure which will come first. Maybe it depends on how the next two books are received by the public. I’m sure I’ll get them both out of me, though, just as soon as I find the time to write them!

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Thank you so much Rob for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. Living with Carl Logan must be a roller-coaster life and I'm really looking forward to reading about his next adventures when you publish Rise of the Enemy in 2015.

You can sample and download Dance with the Enemy by Rob Sinclair from the Kindle Store at Amazon.