Shadow of Betrayal: An Interview with Suspense Novelist Brett Battles

Brett Battles lives in Los Angeles, and is the author of three acclaimed novels in the Jonathan Quinn series: The Cleaner, which was nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller and a Shamus Award for Best First Novel in 2008, The Deceived, which has been nominated this year for a Barry Award for Best Thriller, and his latest Shadow of Betrayal. He is also one of the founding members of Killer Year, a group of thriller novelists who all had their debut books come out in 2007, and a member of both International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.

You can visit Brett Battles website at

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Brett. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Brett: I’m one of those kids who told everyone that I was going to be a writer in grade school. I’m just glad I wasn’t lying. But it did take me a bit to get there. In college, I studied film history. A great degree, you get to watch a lot of very cool films. After that, I spent some time working at a small Hollywood studio where we produced, among other things, People’s Court. This was the old one with Judge Wapner and Rusty the Bailiff, and, yes, I do have a few stories. But probably shouldn’t tell them here. After that I somehow ended up in television graphics, where I rose eventually to the position of executive producer at E! Entertainment Television. Still, I was very excited when I was able to quit that and start writing full time.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Brett: Shadow of Betrayal is the third in my Jonathan Quinn international thriller series. Quinn is a professional cleaner. He’s the guy international organizations call in when they think they’re going to have a body to remove. In Shadow, Quinn finds himself in a situation he’s not happy to be in. Unfortunately, it’s one he’s brought on himself. He had previously promised his main client, an organization known as the Office, that he would do three jobs for them no questions asked for some help they gave him on a personal matter. Now those jobs are being called in, and each leads Quinn deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that threatens not only the U.S. government, but also those of its closest allies. Deep enough that Quinn finds he’s the only one who can do anything about it.

For each of the Quinn books, I come at them from the angle of what would be the next logical story in his life. When I sat down to think about Shadow, images and scenes began coming to my mind. Scenes of an abandoned church in Ireland, an innocent woman in Africa, a secret facility in the desert of California. And soon I found the thread that linked them all. So when I sat down to write, this is the story that flowed out of me. It’s funny. Sometimes I feel like I’m a reader, too, each story unfolding itself to me as I sit at my keyboard.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Brett: The biggest challenge is always figuring out all the angles, getting the motivations and characters right, and telling a compelling story. My first drafts are always a bit of a mess. But that’s okay, I expect that. In a way, I kind of think of them as 400 page outlines. But it’s the challenge of the rewrite, something I actually enjoy, that’s where all the work comes in.

Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

Brett: Any press kit would come from my publisher, though I do have an author photo and book cover images on my website suitable for printing. They’re at the bottom of my contact page:

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

Brett: I’ve spoken at several library events, a couple that had over 100 people in attendance. I also appear every fall at Men of Mystery in Orange County, California, and will be doing so again this November. Along with Men of Mystery this fall, I will also be attending Bouchercon, the mystery fan convention held this year in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Brett: Yes, my agent is Anne Hawkins of Hawkins and Associates. She’s been great, and a big help to me. I think you do need an agent to navigate the ever-changing landscape of publishing.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

Brett: We always do everything we can, both traditional and online media, appearances, and whatever else comes up.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Brett: Absolutely. I’m just finishing up the next book in the Quinn series, due out next summer. And I’m in the planning stages for the one after that, which I’ll start writing in the fall. I’m also working on a stand alone, with no set timetable yet on that.

Thank you for your interview, Brett. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Brett: Shadow of Betrayal, and all of my books, are available at most online retailers, including: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, Amazon, and at the Random House website.

Thanks for having me.

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