C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The foundation book of the Hit Man Series is available as an ebook and in paperback.

I’m in the middle of revisions on next my crime novel, so I’m grateful that the amazing Bridgette O’Hare suggested the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. As I creep closer to publishing Higher Than Jesus, she asked me ten questions about my Work in Progress. Ta-da!

What is the working title of your book? 

Higher Than Jesus (It’s pronounced “Hay-soose”. The “Higher” is a reference to drugs and thrills.) This is the second in The Hit Man Series. The foundation book was Bigger Than Jesus (released in June.) Five books are planned in the series so far. It’s a lot of fun, because stuff we thought we knew about Jesus Diaz from the first book go deeper. He has a darker past than I revealed the first time around and there are a lot of layers to his onion. The one thing you can count on with Jesus is that not much ever goes according to plan.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The main character began with a cool idea I had for a suspense story called “The Inevitable” which appeared in my first book, Self-help for Stoners. Our first glimpse of Jesus was as a Cuban hit man who helps out women going through ugly divorces. That’s actually a glimpse of Jesus in the future, as a more experienced, mature assassin.

What genre does your book fall under?

Suspense, thriller, action/adventure. Whichever category appeals to you more.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I picture Enrique Eglesias as Jesus right now, but I’ve thought John Leguizamo, too. For the role of Willow Clemont, I’d need a very tall blonde glamazon. I’m not sure which actress fits the bill best. I’m not up on my tall, blonde actresses. As for the role of Chilli Gillie (another recurring good guy character from my Poeticule Bay Stories) who shows up in Higher Than Jesus, it’s kind of a sore subject. I pictured Michael Clarke Duncan. Sadly, he just died of a heart attack. I note Chilli’s resemblance to Mr. Duncan several times in the book and now I’m debating about rewriting that aspect and how to do so.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In Higher Than Jesus, luckless hit man Jesus Diaz is on the run in Chicago when he takes up a mission to free himself and his girlfriend from addiction to Vicodin and to thwart the evil plans of a group of gun running white supremacists.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m published by Ex Parte Press. This is the one company that cares most about my book. It’s my company.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft was a month or two. I write fast. Then the long editorial tail kicks in. That has more people involved, and so, more variables.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The pace of Blake Crouch’s Run had a big impact on me as well as an old book by William Goldman called Edged Weapons. I like a book that skips along at a fast clip with lots of chuckles and clever surprises. I should also add that fans of Bigger Than influenced Higher Than quite a bit. Everyone commented on how funny Bigger Than Jesus was in unexpected ways. From what fans said, I decided that I needed to keep the pacing and reversals of the first book, but to always look for the humor in situations that aren’t all that funny. That’s what I do on and off the clock, anyway. I think finding the cosmic joke is what we all have to do to get through every day.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have a dopamine addiction, so I’m compelled to write. I was born this way. Why write this book in particular? I read a lot, but I’m having a hard time finding this sort of book. Humorous books don’t tend to have a lot of action. Books with a lot of action often fall short on humor. I love snappy dialogue, so I probably owe more of an inspirational debt to the Coen brothers’ movies and Quentin Tarantino movies. If you can’t find the book you want to read, you have to write it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s a lot in there that provides deep context and verisimilitude for the plot, like some controversial observations about talk therapy, PTSD and drug addiction. My wife is a psychologist and I had to warn her that Jesus comes down hard on talk therapy, but it’s mental stimulation I’m dealing out. I’m not presenting Truth with a capital T, but an opinion from a guy who has serious problems, like killing people for a living.

Also, as a former military policeman, Jesus uses some clever surveillance tactics, skip tracer ruses and knowledge about IEDs that are all drawn from real life. Between research and some things I picked up from experts, the story yields some fun, interesting details and new twists that will amaze. Promise.

Who’s up next in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop? Look for more posts next Wednesday from:

The always-encouraging Jo Michaels, the lovely Jordanna East, the historically mysterious Laura Seeber, lover of all things just Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy and the ever-enthusiastic Ronald Fischman.

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Author Blog Challenge: I love the voices in my head

Michael Clarke Duncan at the Warner Brothers L...

Michael Clarke Duncan at the Warner Brothers Lot in Burbank, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge is to choose a favorite literary character. That’s tough. I mean, I relate to Tyler Durden from Fight Club, but the cognitive dissonance kicks me in the pills when I realize that, beside the insomnia and ennui, I am not even Tyler’s alter-ego. I have a few things in common with Portnoy from Portnoy’s Complaint, though. Ugh.

This isn’t a dodge and I don’t mean to fall into douchey pimping, but the truth is my favorite literary character is whichever one I’m writing at this moment. I have several works on the go, so let me introduce the interesting people I hang out with while strangers assume I’m staring off into space and drooling:

Legs Gabrielle is a very funny comedian whose career has fallen through the floor. She finds herself back in Poeticule Bay, Maine, in the house she ran away from as a teenager. A killer has come to town, the Sheriff disappears, the deputy is cute, her sister has cancer (and might also be crazy.) I love Legs’s sense of humour and she’s a pleasure to write for the jokes that work as  counterpoint to her emotional depth. Hollywood has rejected her, but she’s the star of her own book soon.

Chili Gillie is a Michael Clarke Duncan lookalike, Legs’ bodyguard and has Mike Tyson’s voice. He’s a sweet man who only looks mean when needed. He’s the calm rationality around which the crazy revolves. His presence is extraordinary, but he’s the most normal of my characters. Both Legs and Chili are the stars of the first story in Self-help for Stoners and Chili shows up again in Bigger Than Jesus in a larger role. I’ve got big plans for him.

Dr. Circe Papua turns up a lot in my fiction. She’s a psycho psychotherapist who is magically persuasive and can be deadly if provoked. I love her cunning, unexpected lethality. Circe’s complex relationships with her patients often demand a battle of wills and wit. She shows up in different incarnations in Self-help for Stoners, Vengeance is #1, Corrective Measures and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit).

Jesus Diaz is a mob enforcer who doesn’t want to be what his tragic childhood and circumstance has made him. He wants, above all, to fall in love with the right woman (if he can ever find her) and go relatively straight. He’s the main character in my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus and I like him most for three things: he’s clever and prefers to lie rather than fight; he’s not really all that tough despite his profession; and he’s funny. I like funny people and chapters that whip along, full of pops and surprises. The series reads like a Cohen brother’s movie. Bad things keep happening even though you think you have an easy way out. This book will be out very soon and I’m jonesing for it. Just nailing down the cover and then we’re just about there. Jesus Diaz originally came to me as a story for Self-help for Stoners, but in that incarnation, he’s a much older, wiser and experienced assassin.

Jack (from Corrective Measures and Sex, Death and Mind Control.) Jack is a serial killer who I find interesting because of the way he sees our world. He thinks about vengeance quite a bit, but I’m actually more interested in writing him when he’s not himself. He’s fascinating when he’s trying to fit in and working through his twisted motivations and problems. He’s a dark avenging angel who has to hide his wings (metaphorically, that is) as he punishes people he decides deserve bad ends.

What’s fun is, eventually, I’m going to have all these characters meet in one book, but they have a lot of work to do before they meet. I have a lot of books to write before that happens, too. It’s exhilarating, daunting and pretty cool. Yeah, I said so myself.

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Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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