This week, I have the honor of chatting with W. Richard Lawrence, author of the recently released novel, Fatal Transaction. Like many writers, Lawrence came to writing after another career. He worked as an electrical engineer and ran a science supply company for several years. When a publisher picked up the science books he co-authored with his wife Debbie, they shut their company down to focus on writing. Now, after he and his wife’s twelve award-winning science books he’s turned to fiction. His stories are filled with distrust, deceit, murder, treachery, faith, love, and at times, the ultimate sacrifice.
[box]ADG: Tell me a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? What types of writing do you do?
WRL: My first attempts at writing began when I got bored reading the same kids books to my children about twenty years ago. I started making up stories to go along with the pictures and found my children enjoying my on-the-spot creations more than the books. My wife suggested I write some of them down, which I did. I learned it was a lot more work to come up with a children’s book than I thought it would be, but I did put together a few stories before our busy lives took my attention away.
Years later, my wife Debbie and I started writing our science curriculum (God’s Design for Science). She wrote the lessons while I wrote the special articles about events or people. I had fun writing again. Shortly after this, Debbie came across one of my children’s stories and told me she thought it was good and asked me why I stopped working on them.
At this point, I decided to try my hand at writing again, but this time I decided to write what I would want to read: thrillers. I really enjoyed coming up with my stories, making each part of the plot fold together to form the world in my imagination. The process is a lot like writing the computer programs I worked on for so many years, but a lot more fun.
ADG: Why did you decide to become a writer?
WRL: Some people say they have a story that has to get out, and that’s partially true for me as well. But there’s more to it than that. Writing a novel requires an author to write the story, then go over it time and time again to make sure it’s right, spending months if not years on their first book in the hopes someone will read it and enjoy it.
I wanted something as challenging as computer programming, but more entertaining and rewarding. I wanted to produce something others will also enjoy. Writing provides that challenge and reward.
I spent much of my childhood moving around the world, and I always made up stories in my head as we traveled. I never broke the habit. So I have hundreds of stories waiting to get out. Writing novels is an enjoyable way to tell them.
ADG: What is one piece of writing advice you wish you’d had at the beginning of your career?
WRL: Truth be told, I had this advice in the beginning, but I didn’t listen. There are lots of books, articles, and blogs out there which give you tools, methods, and guidelines on how to write or how to make writing easier. For example, outlining your book and developing your characters should be done before writing the actual story. I ignored this advice and started writing because I had a good idea of where I wanted my story to go. The problem was, I had holes and inconsistencies in my plot, and I got stuck a lot, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out where to go next. I suggest beginning writers listen to the people who write these “how to write” books and articles. Many of the authors, like me, have spent a lot of time learning the hard way. Learn from our mistakes.
I’m not sure if anyone can teach you how to come up with a good story. That’s something you learn on your own. However, these tools and methods to help you outline your story and help you develop your characters are not out there because someone wants to make you waste your time, slow you down, or make you write the way they write. They are there because they truly help.
ADG: What are you currently working on? Any special projects?
WRL: I’m working on the second book of a high-tech thriller series. This is a sequel to Fatal Transaction.
After discovering terrorists working in the government, a U.S. senator is murdered. Sara is suspected of using her position within the FBI to feed information to terrorist groups. When her friend and partner is also murdered, she becomes the prime suspect and runs for her life. The FBI wants her alive. The terrorists want her dead. Sara and an old friend use their computer skills to hack into government and private computer systems to discover the terrorists’ plans to kill millions of Americans with a nerve agent. These terrorists are high-ranking officials working in our government. No matter who she tells of their plans, the terrorists will know.
WRL: My novel Fatal Transaction was just released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. In the novel, with the Colorado Rocky Mountains as the backdrop, Sara is blackmailed by Mr. Levy into developing a credit card scheme to steal millions. When she double-crosses him and steals his money, she runs for her life and into Derry’s. Now the FBI and Mr. Levy are closing in. Can she escape, and at what cost?
ADG: What do you enjoy most about writing?
WRL: I love getting my characters into no-win situations and then finding a creative and believable way out. One of the taboos I have in writing is the “Hey, I escaped somehow! Let’s go!” syndrome. Something you see in ‘C’ rated movies and something I hope no one ever says about my writing.
ADG: What is the hardest part of writing?
WRL: Besides keeping track of all the balls I’ve thrown into the air? Making sure they land in the right spots. I think that’s a challenge for all writers. In addition, I constantly struggle with not taking shortcuts. Sometimes, when you need to get a point across in the story, there is a tendency to take the easiest route. I have to watch myself and remember that it’s not the destination, but the journey.
ADG: How can my readers find out more about you and your work?