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An Author's Perspective:

From Initial Scene to Complete Novel, by Dietrich Kalteis

© 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Title: Triggerfish

Publisher: ECW Press

Release Date: June 1, 2016

The initial spark for the book came after reading an article about cartels building narco subs in secret locations in Amazon jungles. What started out as go-fast boats back in the eighties, skimming across the surface, with just cockpits and exhaust pipes showing and easily detected by radar, had turned into a sophisticated means able to carry ten tons of cocaine. In just a couple of decades, these subs have been improved enough to travel submerged and undetected for a couple thousand miles, meaning they could travel from Mexican waters to Canadian shores.

I came up with the early scene where ex-cop Rene Beckman is having a hot date on his charter boat, a date that turns into a nightmare when a drug-running sub surfaces in the same secluded cove. Beckman and his date witness a major cocaine deal about to go down. When the cartel thugs point pistols at them, Beckman's quick thinking gets them out of there. But, the drug runners can't afford to leave any witnesses, so Beckman needs more than his wits just to get him into the next chapter. Cartel thugs and bikers chase him through the streets of Vancouver and the waters surrounding it, but when his boat gets torched and a friend nearly gets killed, Beckman stops running and starts looking for some payback. With a ragtag crew of his own, he gets set to take on both cartel and bikers head on.

I like to let my characters steer their own course, meaning as they develop I try to let their nature dictate the direction the story takes. I don't usually have an exact outcome to my stories when I start writing, and I don't write to a tight outline, allowing for unexpected twists. Rene Beckman, the main character seemed perfect for a fast-paced story inflected with dark humor. And he developed from that initial scene as an unwitting protagonist thrown into a violent situation, having to step up as the chaos escalates throughout the book.

Much of the novel takes the reader through Vancouver and the waters surrounding it. The Lower Mainland made the ideal setting for the story since it hasn't been overused in crime fiction, and it's my home and a locale that I know well. On top of being a postcard-perfect city of mountains and ocean, Vancouver's a major port city right on the U.S. border which allows an interesting contrast to the underbelly of drug smuggling and criminal element.

Triggerfish is a stand-alone novel, although I did borrow a minor character from my first story Ride the Lightning. I wrote the first draft in about three months. Then I took a break for a couple of weeks, coming back to it with fresh eyes, rewriting anything that didn't work or that I felt could stand improvement. Then the story got a third and fourth pass before I felt it was finally ready to send out nearly a year after the idea came to me for that initial scene.

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