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D. A. Randall

 

This week's featured author is D. A. Randall, ThrillerWriter. He writes fantasy and action thrillers that read like blockbuster movies with action-packed fun and inspiring heroes who square off against diabolical villains while facing their own moral dilemmas. He also writes action-adventure and suspense thrillers under his given name, Randall Allen Dunn.


What drives you to write?

I write because I almost can’t help it. I have more ideas in my head than I can ever get written down. And I’m pretty good at it. If you’re good at something and it fills your mind with ideas and imaginary people that keep you awake at night, make you laugh or cry spontaneously so that your friends and family question your sanity, you should at least make some money from it.


The fourth book in your Red Rider Saga releases May 15. Tell us a little about the series!

[The series is about 16-year old Helena Basque, whose] face was marked with triple scars from a savage wolf attack when she was seven years old. She grew up bullied and terrified, as her parents tried to protect her from any further wolf attacks. But when the attacks continued, she insisted on learning how to hunt, fight, and ride a horse. She discovered the wolf attacks were directed by the Lycanthru, a cult of wolf-worshipping sorcerers who actually transform themselves into wolves.


In Red Rider Reviled: Book 4 of the Red Rider Saga, we see Helena finally [face] her war against the Lycanthru wolves. [She] discover[s] there is another faction of Lycanthru wolves in a neighboring province, DeSarte, an unsettling place that she is warned not to visit...but as she searches and encounters the DeSarte Lycanthru, her stories sound too wild to be believed. It appears that Helena could lose everything, including her freedom, if she can’t convince her friends that the DeSarte Lycanthru are real.


How do you choose names for your characters?

Names are critical to me, and I almost always create symbolic names. The Red Rider Saga is a bit different, because I came up with general names and then found a French name that sounded as close to that as possible.


Names for me are like genres and book titles to publishers. The names help me and my readers identify that character instantly. So Helena’s boyfriend, Pierre Leóne, takes the French name for Peter—as in “Peter and the Wolf”—to be her ally, and his last name sounds like “lion”, because he’s a much more fearsome hero than he appears to be.


And as for Helena Basque (and this is the funny part), I wanted to create a name that would feel correct for readers, as the name of Little Red Riding Hood. We always picture her having the red hooded cloak and a basket of goodies, so I gave her the French surname of “Basque”, like basket. If you sound out her name, it sounds almost like “hell-in-a-basket”, which is what she becomes to the wolves she’s fighting. Hahaha!


What’s your craziest, off-brand story idea, the one you want to write even if “no one wants to read it”?

It’s a crazy dream, because it would likely be impossible to do it, but I would love to write a genuine sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s my favorite movie, along with Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan, and I consider both films to be highly underrated. Even people who love those movies don’t often realize how outstanding they are.


But I came up with a legitimately cool idea for a sequel that continues with George Bailey and his friends, and I would love to write it one day, but it might only happen as fan fiction. And I would be okay with that, if that’s all I can do with it. As long as people get to read it.


Out of all the books you’ve read, which had the most unexpected twist and what was your reaction to it?

Oddly enough, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’ve since heard others say they weren’t at all surprised that Snape wasn’t the real villain, but only a red herring. (Spoiler Alert! Snape wasn’t the villain! Another Spoiler Alert! And then he was, and then he sort of wasn’t, and then – I’m not exactly sure what he was. Also, Darth Vader is Luke’s father!)


Reading the story and being led by the nose to assume Snape was behind everything, I was stunned that it was someone else who was easily overlooked. I had a novel series in mind at the time, with a secret villain planted among the heroes. After reading that Harry Potter book, I realized that it was obvious who the villain in my series was, and I needed to up my game. I learned to be careful about my writing, to always work at doing what readers won’t expect, the way J.K. Rowling did in her books.

And I’ve patterned some characters in the Red Rider Saga after some of Harry Potter’s relationships.


"I learned to be careful about my writing, to always work at doing what readers won’t expect."


What’s your writing process?

Whenever I have a new story idea, I think it over, imagining what could happen. Then I start picturing certain scenes and characters that sound cool. Then at some point, I find some action movie soundtrack pieces that fit certain scenes I have in mind. I often listen to them as I’m driving, working through the scene details in my mind. Eventually I put together my own personal soundtrack of selected songs for the novel.


When I’ve figured out enough scenes, I make an outline of all the story events that will happen. Then I write the story straight through, using the outline to know what to write next.


When the first draft is done, I start the long and tedious process of character bios. I list extensive details of all the major characters—physical description, birthdate, major life events, relationships with family and friends and what has shaped them, current address and significant past addresses, and so on. I also list some details for minor and supporting characters, and the few details needed for walk-on characters.


I dread this stage, but it’s the most important one. It’s like doing hard exercise. You hate it when you’re doing it, but you get great results later.


Because once I finish all the character bios, I write the second and final draft, and it’s a breeze. The character bios stage helps me troubleshoot any story problems or plot holes, so there’s nothing nagging at the back of my mind when I start the second draft. I’ve answered all the questions that can come up. Plus, the second draft is far more believable. Because the details make all the difference...in one of my Red Rider books, [I realized in the backstory] I had a couple marrying each other when they were twelve years old (which seems a little weird)! So I adjusted several timelines to make the history work.


But in this final stage, I don’t have to think about them. I just write, and it’s fast and easy. Then I send it out to beta readers and incorporate their feedback as needed to fine tune the story, but it’s essentially finished and ready to publish.


It might seem quick, but this is basically a modified version of Stephen King’s process that he described in his book, On Writing. He always does two drafts and a polish, to fine tune any details, then moves on to the next story. I simply incorporate a clear outline to start and the character bios stage to ensure I don’t need anything more than two drafts and a polish.


Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite author is Ian Fleming. Most people don’t realize that Fleming is a master storyteller in the classic literary sense. They see the James Bond films and assume the books are the same, but the books are simply the blueprint for the films, which took the concept in a somewhat different direction.


Like Raymond Chandler, Fleming was a genius in creating unique bad guys, with threatening characteristics, like a gaunt skeletal face or splayed teeth, along with dangerous deformities like a mechanical claw for a hand. His villains and plots were also larger-than-life, and Fleming was a master of suspense. He would start a story with something innocuous, like assigning James Bond to quietly expose a man for cheating at cards, then let that event gradually snowball, getting worse and worse until we discover the villain is about to destroy half of the western hemisphere. Plus, he created great action that still holds up today and often stands up to most modern action adventure novels.


What are some personal boundaries in storylines that you’ll never-or-almost-never cross when it comes to writing?

I want characters to care, even about their enemies. Which makes it odd that I’m currently writing about this sixteen-year old Rambo girl who’s killing werewolves right and left. But she almost always has an emotional reaction to the people she kills. Sometimes it’s pure loathing, but she also has a sense of grief over the killing, especially when she first starts her private war.


It bothers me when heroes kill with no remorse, or worse, with no emotion at all, making a silly joke about it. (And yes, I’m aware that James Bond is the one who first popularized this idea in movies.) No matter how much of a body count there is, I want characters to feel it when someone dies, not just shrug it off or laugh it off.


Unless, of course, that character happens to be a psycho.


"No matter how much of a body count there is, I want characters to feel it when someone dies..."


What was your last Netflix obsession?

COBRA KAI!!! I loved the original Karate Kid movie and I LOVE this series! All of the new characters are so interesting they could each have their own series. One thing I loved about the original Karate Kid film was that the Cobra Kai kids were individual characters with different values...I patterned the Lycanthru wolves in the Red Rider Saga after the Cobra Kai, showing the same mob cruelty and sadism, but having different personalities and approaches as individual characters.


What’s the last book you couldn’t put down and why?

Divergent was the first book in years that I actually wanted to keep reading, more than anything else. I wanted to eat my meals quickly and finish any necessary activities so I could return to the book. Something about it really hooked me, and I don’t recall what it was now. I only know that I usually struggle to get into a book. Within the first fifty pages, something usually slows down or veers off the path it started, becoming a less interesting story. But with Divergent, I wanted to stay with it from beginning to end.


I also really enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles overall...to me, if the characters are right, they will carry the story most of the time. If the characters aren’t interesting enough to sit and have lunch with, you probably won’t want to read about them having an exciting adventure, either.


If you could have your work exist in any other form, what form would it take?

I desperately hope I can find a way to pitch this as a television series in the next few years. But first I have to write the whole series, among other things. I originally pictured it as a film series, but a Hollywood insider told me it’s nearly impossible today to get the attention of filmmakers for a new project, while television networks are hungry for any new ideas. As I re-imagined it as a TV series, I realized that would be much better, taking time to really develop the characters and backstories, and leaving a long-term impression on viewers, the way people remember shows like Wonder Woman or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, years after they ended.


I would also love to put together my own comic book version of the series, which is what it was originally meant to be, but I had no ability to create it. [Or] I would love to see action figures (because it’s that kind of character) and possibly create a Roblox video game based on the series, that I recently learned people can do, so my ten-year old son can help me attempt that.


You also write Buffy fan fiction mashed up with Red Rider. What's that about?

And I’m currently publishing a weekly fan fiction serial that features the Red Rider, where Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Batman team up with her in the past. I’ve always told people that Helena is like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer meets Batman, so I decided to write a story that brings them all together, to demonstrate that. It’s turned out to be a lot of fun, because I have a good sense of humor but my stories don’t often lend themselves to comedy. This is a Buffy fan fiction story, and you can’t write a Buffy story without lots of jokes, so it’s been a blast, especially writing Xander and pitting Batman as the ultimate straight man dealing with all these obnoxious teenagers!


Catch updates every Friday at these fan fiction sites:


To you, what is the value of imagination?

Imagination is what makes things happen. Some people think they have no creativity, but everyone does, and it’s the key ingredient for any new discovery. If someone is baking something and doesn’t have all the ingredients they need, they have to be creative to finish the recipe. If a teacher is giving a lesson but the students don’t understand it, the teacher has to be creative to explain it in a different way. Creativity is simply finding a new way to do something...


ABOUT RED RIDER

Little Red Riding Hood isn’t little anymore.


My name is Helena Basque. I’m sixteen years old. As a child, I was attacked by a savage wolf that killed my Grand’Mere and left me with triple scars across my face. That wolf belonged to the Lycanthru, a secret cult of men who transform into wolves to attack the innocent here in La Rue Sauvage. No one will stand up to them, so I now hunt the wolves myself with weapons that destroy them, wearing my red hood and cloak that the wolves have come to fear.


Except for one, a new Lycanthru named Grenault. Bigger, stronger, more cunning than the other wolves, and not the least bit afraid of me. I need to stop him fast, before he takes over the Lycanthru to kill me and everyone I love.


But he’s too smart and too strong, He sees me for the little girl I am, scared and defenseless without my special weapons.


And I have no idea how to stop him.


Get ready to battle the beast.



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Copyright © 2019 Jessa Lucas

All rights reserved. This work or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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