for the entire interview go here:
Rick Ollerman was born in Minneapolis but moved to more humid pastures in Florida when he got out of school. He made his first dollar from writing when he sent a question into a crossword magazine as a very young boy. Later he went on to hold world records for various large skydives, has appeared in a photo spread in Life magazine, another in The National Enquirer, can be seen on an inspirational poster shown during the opening credits of a popular TV show, and has been interviewed on CNN. He was also an extra in the film Purple Rain where he had a full screen shot a little more than nine minutes in. His writing has appeared in technical and sporting magazines and he has edited, proofread, and written numerous introductions for many books. He's never found a crossword magazine that pays more than that first dollar and in the meantime lives in northern New Hampshire with his wife, two children and two Golden Retrievers.
Rick was also the editor at Stark House when Grind Joint was published, providing good advice and patience with a newbie above and beyond what anyone could expect. Not too many editors would pack their families in the van and drive from New Hampshire to Pittsburgh to be there when an author broke his launch cherry, as Rick did for me, and for that I will always be grateful.
He has a twofer coming out from Stark House: Turnabout and Shallow Secrets, and agreed to sit for Twenty Questions. (I thought about making him answer Forty Questions, but he’s a friend.)
One Bite at a Time: Tell us about Turnabout and Shallow Secrets.
Rick Ollerman: Turnabout is a revised incarnation of the first novel I ever wrote, some years ago. I wanted to create a book that could only take place in Florida, where the Everglades played a central role, and where structurally the book leads to moving not just from scene to scene, but location to location. I think the conclusion is one of those serendipitous things where not only is it perfectly logical but also completely unexpected–without cheating. Shallow Secrets was the second book I wrote and it was done in large part much differently than Turnabout. I wanted to write in a different style that addressed any of the issues I myself had with the first book.
OBAAT: Where did you get this idea, and what made it worth developing for you? (Notice I didn’t ask “Where do you get your ideas?” I was careful to ask where you got this idea.)
RO: I actually sort of like the “Where do you get your ideas?” question because I think I’ve been coming up with an answer. A writer observes everything, and then, being creative, they ask themselves, “What if?” For instance, in my third book (which comes out next year), I had read FBI documentation that stalking is the only real predictor we have of murder. That’s the observation. The “what if” is, what if you’re a person qualified to recognize the signs, and the target is someone you care about? What do you do? (More “what if.”) If you go to the cops, you make yourself known to them and it likely escalates the problem. If something happens to the stalker, the victim’s co-workers already know something strange is up. In other words, once you raise that flag trying to protect your loved one, there’s no hiding. But you can’t take it down again, either. The rest grows deeper from there.
Turnabout’s “what if” had to do with the early days of the Internet, and the question is, how do you track crooked money when the transactions occur over the Internet? Turn the computer off and the evidence is gone. Today, of course, we have tools that let us do this much better, but back then….
Shallow Secrets was a cop, implicated by a killer who he had let crash in his house. He hadn’t known he was a killer at the time, and when evidence is found in his home later, he’s stigmatized by the wrong color brush. What can he do to redeem himself in light of the fact that not all the murders had been solved? Nothing. He walks away. So years later, when a killing takes place up north, he gets pulled into it by the accused by way of a female reporter. The question is if these later crimes can exonerate him from the earlier ones.
OBAAT: How long did it take to write Turnabout and Shallow Secrets, start to finish?
RO: Turnabout took about ten months, and then later the first third was rewritten. Shallow Secrets was about the same, excluding the computer problem that ate the ending and required the last half to be rewritten. Gee, that was fun.