Robert Downs messaged me while I was on Goodreads one fine day, and despite various things happening, I am hosting him here.
Mr. Downs is the author of Falling Immortality, which, despite its title, is a very intense mystery-thriller starring PI Casey Holden. This goes without saying: I love any sort of mystery. So while I peruse the book, I bring to you the author!
1. First things first, you describe your latest release as MANfiction, and define it as the opposite of chick-lit. Did you start out planning to write in that genre description, or did the book direct itself?
Honestly, I’d never even heard of MANfiction until I read an article in Entertainment Weekly by Stephen King, and that was after my publisher and I were already into the marketing phase of Falling Immortality. My main character, Casey Holden, was very much in the driver’s seat of his storytelling, and I was the happy passenger, or medium, through which he told me his stories. I’ve been told I’m an excellent listener, and that was what I did throughout the entire rough draft, or at least when the writing was going well. I had decided early on that I wanted to write a first person mystery, as I’d had difficulties in the past of veering off in too many directions with my writing: creating too many characters and storylines. By placing a fortress around my creative abilities, I allowed the central character and story to shine through. I knew I needed a strong male lead to make it work (and I don’t really do anything halfway once I set my mind to a task), so I created the strongest male lead I could possibly imagine.
2. Walk us through Casey Holden’s head. He’s a PI; it’s a more intense and hands-on job than the average cop. Let’s get to know him.
Well, he’d probably beg to differ with you on the intensity of being a PI. Sure, he gets into roof fights and ends up in Dumpsters, knocked over the side of the head and dumped off a yacht, has sawed-off shotguns pointed at his head, and was shot by a doped up druggie with gold teeth and a lisp, but that’s because he’s a better detective than most people like to admit. He just has trouble with his focus at times, which isn’t all that different from the author. His moral code may differ from yours and mine, and his filter may appear nonexistent, but if he gets cut, he’s still going to bleed the same as everyone else.
3. Have you ever worked in law enforcement?
No, I’m a financial specialist for the government. Another gift I’ve been given is an extremely analytical mind, probably to my detriment in some cases. But it does come in handy when I write. I’m a huge fan of mystery and thriller novels, action movies, and detective TV shows. On some level that I’m not even aware of, I channel all of this knowledge, pull out the different parts that I like the best, and hopefully create something brand new. I haven’t found a character like Casey Holden yet, and so far neither has my publisher.
The greatest license a writer has is the ability to make stuff up. I take this license very seriously, and I use it to the full extent of my abilities. The thought of escaping into another world beats reality the vast majority of the time, which is why I enjoy writing, reading, and movies.
4. Let’s now shift gears a bit and discuss your method of publication. How did the story go from first draft into final?
The rough draft came rather easily, easier than any other story had up to that point, but as I realized later, the fun had only just begun. I went through two additional edits the first round, and I thought I had a completed story ready for publication. However, the agents and publishers told me otherwise. So I set it aside for a few years, wrote other stories, worked on my master’s, and improved myself as well as the craft of writing. I had my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, review my manuscript, and she discovered it needed a bit of additional work. I completed two more edits, and when she was satisfied, I sent it out for a professional critique, along with my submissions to agents and editors. This time I was more successful, and actually landed my publisher, Rainbow Books, Inc., who was crazy enough to take me and my book on. Incidentally, this same publisher passed on my book the first go round. Luckily for me, they didn’t remember me or my book.
5. What do you have planned for Casey Holden?
Did I mention that I never do anything halfway? A few of those stories I had worked on were actually sequels to Falling Immortality, and while most people might write one sequel, as they find a publisher, I had actually begun fairly extensive work on two of them, both of which are now with my publisher. Graceful Immortality will be the first of those two sequels.
Because Casey and I still have unfinished business together, I have begun work on three more novels in the series. But I haven’t put an expiration date on Casey yet. As long as I enjoy writing him and readers enjoy reading him, I’ll continue to tell his stories, but I do have an end book in mind, and I would rather have him go out at the top of his game than overstay his welcome, since I’m not sure his ego could take the abuse.
6. So. Tell us more about your writing routine. If you have one, that is.
I wish I did have one. That would probably make my life easier. Whenever I hear writers talk about writing a thousand words a day, or working for three or four hours at a time, I should start applauding, because that’s just not me. I tried the thousand words a day routine for about three
weeks, and I realized I was probably worse off than missing a day here and there.
I write when my head is in the game, and I stay away from it when it’s not. With that being said, though, I can certainly force myself to write, or at least put words on my computer screen, so I haven’t experienced writer’s block yet. But I have found that I need to input a certain
number of words into my brain before I can start spitting words back out on paper. Now that I’m in marketing mode, that’s taken the majority of my time and focus, so my writing has been sporadic at best these past six months. But I have produced words for interviews, blog posts, and
Facebook status updates, just not as many of the ones that I can place in a manuscript.
7. Casey already comes across as an intense character, but you said a curious thing in #5. To quote you, “I would rather have him go out at the top of his game than overstay his welcome, since I’m not sure his ego could take the abuse.” Not asking for a spoiler – seriously, I’m not! – but considering you know Casey best, what scenario would qualify as him overstaying as
opposed to coming out on top, in his frame of mind?
If there comes a point when he becomes less relevant, then he needs to have told his last story. And, ideally, we’d both like to hand in our car keys before that date. When readers don’t enjoy reading about him anymore, and when I don’t enjoy writing about him anymore, then he and I
have agreed we should end the charade. Like milk, he has an expiration date. But that doesn’t mean he’ll go down quietly, and he certainly has a few more stories to tell in the meantime.
So there you have it, ladies and gents, and while you’re at it, pick up Falling Immortality here on Amazon.
For more about Robert Downs, visit his site at http://www.robertdowns.net