Glowing Author #16
Write about what you know about. That’s a firm rule for writers. And, oh, what Rick Acker knows about! He was here on Kay’s Words in the spring telling us ways to handle book piracy problems. And what he tells in his widely acclaimed new book is… Wait, let’s hear it from him.
Welcome back! Tell us a bit about yourself, Rick.
Like most authors, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. In 2003 I finally convinced a publisher to take a chance on publishing one of my books. Since then, I’ve have five suspense novels published and have a couple more in the works. When I’m not writing or practicing law, I’m usually with my lovely wife, Anette, and our four kids in our home near San Francisco.
Practicing law, eh? Tell us a bit more about that day job.
I’m a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice.
I’ll bet this inspires your writing.
I’m a prosecutor and I write legal thrillers, so my day job is an endless source of inspiration for my writing. For instance, my new novel is loosely based on cases I’ve handled, and several scenes take place in the California Department of Justice where I work. Our receptionist even makes a cameo appearance.
So, are your plot lines “ripped from the headlines”?
My books usually combine something topical with something very few people know. For example, When the Devil Whistles is about government fraud and the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea—but it also takes readers inside the unseen (but very real and very lucrative) world of free-lance whistleblowers.
I was born and raised in San Francisco, so I can hardly wait to see your settings. Any specific locations I can anticipate?
I think settings work best when they’re places the author actually knows. Living in the San Francisco area makes it a lot easier for me to write about, for example, what the wine country looks like at sunset or the feel of the waterfront Embarcadero at night.
Ooooh, yes. How about surveying the city at dusk from Coit Tower while nibbling from a fresh cracked crab and a loaf of sourdough bread? But I digress~! Tell us about this latest book of yours.
“I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t.” That’s what Allie Whitman tells herself every night as she lies awake. Sometimes she even believes it. But mostly she knows deep down that her inability to make a hard choice has put millions of lives at risk, including her own. Now the only one who can help her is her lawyer, Connor Norman. Unfortunately, Allie’s actions have destroyed Connor’s trust in her—and may destroy much, much more.”
How much of yourself do you put into your writing?
At the heart of each of my books is a conflict I’ve dealt with personally or in one of my cases: a flawed but well-meaning client whose lies put her and her lawyer in deep trouble, warring brothers whose power struggle threatens to destroy them and their family, a fiercely independent man who refuses to trust anyone else, even God. I also use little snippets from my life to add texture to my stories. For instance, I’ll put in funny scenes I’ve actually seen in court. Or I’ll take readers to fascinating places I’ve had the chance to visit or live.
What is it that compels you to write?
Only another author would know to use the word “compel.” Other (normal) people don’t understand that writing is a compulsion, not a hobby or even a job. I’m going to retire from my job someday, but I can’t see ever retiring from writing. Writers write for the same reason chocoholics eat chocolate—it’s something we’re hardwired to enjoy and we can’t really stop ourselves. Also, we both turn into pasty blimps if we don’t keep our compulsions under control.
Watch it. You’ve hit on my two greatest weaknesses! So, how do you balance your writer’s life with the rest of life?
With difficulty. Most of the time, I’m able to hit my daily word quota by writing during my commute on BART (the light rail system that connects San Francisco to America), but when deadlines loom I wind up writing every free minute.
Is there any particular book you read and thought, I wish I’d written that!?
Presumed Innocent by Scott Thurow, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy . . . Well, you get the idea. I get just a little jealous anytime I come across a suspense novel with a great plot, pacing, and characters.
Now we will all read When the Devil Whistles and be jealous that we didn’t write it! Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me on your blog, Kay!
Thank you for being with us!
Visit Rick on the Web at: www.rickacker.org.
“In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.”
Commencement Address 2010, U of North Carolina