Blind River is a thriller novel about FBI Agents Curtis Mackley and Frankie Lassiter. They are sent to Curtis’s hometown of Blind River in order to investigate the disappearances of four teenage girls. Curtis reveals that Blind River was once a crime-infested black hole, and that he was involved in taking down the criminals who ruled the town. As they investigate the missing girls, they find more questions than answers, and aren’t getting any closer to a solution. When Sam Marino, the man who plunged Blind River into darkness once before, escapes from prison, they find themselves in a battle for the soul of Blind River itself.
The soul of a small town and the disappearances intertwine within the pages of ‘Blind River’, and lucky for me that I’ve managed to snag some time from author Ben Follows to find out more about the possible bond between these intriguing occurrences. Ben, thanks for setting aside a little time to chat with me today. What was the original seed from which this novel grew?
Blind River started out as my attempt to make a book similar to the Godfather. The book subsequently went through 3 complete rewrites to the point where there was almost nothing similar to the initial story at all.
With three complete re-writes you must have had many ideas form and then morph into completely different beings. How did you keep your characters centered whilst this storm of ideas was brewing around them?
I’d like to say that the characters came to me easily, but with 3 rewrites and characters moving in and out of primary and secondary roles, I had a lot of time to figure out the personalities and motivations of all the characters. I’ve been told that Curtis, the protagonist, is very similar to myself, but this wasn’t intentional.
Were there aspects within the novel that you were intentional about enough to support the ideas with research to make sure they were solid? What kinds of things did you look into?
I researched FBI investigative techniques, and spent a day at the FBI headquarters in New York in association with Thrillerfest. I also spoke to a retired homicide detective.
I love that events like Thrillerfest can give authors a real-life insight into what goes on in places like the FBI headquarters. And being able to speak to a retired detective would have also been fantasic to ensure that your ideas were realistic. Overall, do you felt the approcah to this book was successful for you? Would you change anything if you could do it again?
Nothing, I think the process taught me a lot about the writing process and I’m very proud of the final product.
That’s awesome. No regrets, and you’ve acknowledged what you’ve learnt. And speaking to authors I’m sure this feeling of pride has helped spur on your internal writing desire. What can you tell us about your next book project?
In June, I plan to release another thriller novel, called “The Absence of Screams.” It is a thriller novel about a man whose daughter was kidnapped eleven years ago, and in the time since he has done terrible things in his attempts to get her back. When he finds her, he risks everything to save her. It’s currently available for pre-order on Kindle.
The release it almost here! Good luck with your launch of ‘The Absence of Screams’! Hopefully readers will take up the opportunity to read this book and also signup for the pre-order of your next release. What keeps you coming back to write?
I write because I love it. There’s no deeper reason to it. Creating a world, people and situations that never existed is the closest thing you’ll find to magic in the real world, and I love being able to experience that.
The magic of writing is amazing. I’m so glad to hear that the writing process has cast it’s spell on you, as loving your work is a fantastic reward. Now that you’ve completed two books, how have you found you approach writing? As you started ‘The Absence of Screams’ did you find yourself plotting out the ending before you sat down to start writing in earnest?
I don’t know the end when I start, but I generally figure out the ending when I’m writing the middle. At that point the characters are established, and I know what direction I’m going. Knowing the ending from there gives me something to aim for so I don’t get lost in the weeds.
I would imagine that some of those weeds that pop up are new ideas for things to write. Do you find yourself recording ideas or other thoughts so you can find them again in the future?
I saw an interview with Stephen King where he said he never keeps a notebook of ideas because, “it’s a great way to immortalize bad ideas”. Over time, I’m beginning to think he’s onto something. I have kept various records of ideas, and every time I go back to them the ideas are never anywhere near as good as I thought they were in the moment.
That’s an interesting point he’s raised there, and I can wholeheartedly agree that most ideas are not diamonds. Do you find yourself ever getting stuck within the writing process or experiencing writer’s block?
I’ve never had writers block. The best way to get past any blocks is to just sit down and get to work. You never hear of a lawyer getting lawyer’s block. If you view it as a job that you need to complete and accept that you will never find the perfect words, you will be able to write something. Never stop writing.
*Laughs* That’s very true, you never do hear of lawyer’s block! That is fantastic logic to apply – perfection can’t be achieved so just do the best you can. I think that I might be recommending it to others in the future. Before you return to pondering the future’s of your characters in the pages of your next written work, I’d like to ask you short selection of questions to show our readers a little more about the life and mind of Ben Follows. Let’s kick it off with: What is your zodiac sign?
What is your favourite ocean?
Pacific. It’s massive and so much of it is unexplored. There could be giant monsters down there and we wouldn’t know. The sheer quantity of unexplored ocean on our own planet is mind-boggling.
Those monsters of the deep are fascinating aren’t they? Everytime I see photos of new creatures from within those deep waters I’ve been inspired. What is your favourite word?
Incandescence, because it’s fun to say.
It is a fun word to say, and I also like the multi-coloured picture that I see in my head at the same time! And finally, before you leave today could you share a line from your book that you feels shows it’s own incandescent qualities?
Blind River was worse than hell. But it was also home.
Ben, thanks for sharing the home of ‘Blind River’ with the readers, and myself and I wish you the best of luck with this novel and your upcoming new thriller release!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Blind River ( ASIN: B0728CQX7L )‘.
Want to find out more about Ben Follows? Connect here!