Godspeed, Carry My Bullet: Interview with Thriller Author Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis prefers not to be bound by a particular genre. Though the inspiration for his work varies, it often finds roots in something he dreamt. He strives for a gritty realism and maintains an interest in the humanity of his characters. His hope is that readers find themselves haunted by his stories in the sense that the narrative sticks with them long after they've finished reading, leaving them with a subtle restlessness for more. Mr. Lewis is the author of The Camaro Murders, Lady in Flames, and Power in the Hands of One, all novellas. His first full length novel, Godspeed, Carry My Bullet, was released in April of 2016. He has been writing since 2002.

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About the Book:

Bobby Clyne has nothing to lose. Two illegitimate governments have taken the place of the fallen United States: The Directorate in the East and the United States Valiant in the West. And he's just
learned that a man who once terrorized his family as a low-ranking member of the Military Police is set to become the Grand Marshall of the Ohio Region. Armed with his father's Dragunov sniper rifle, Bobby embarks on a mission of revenge with consequences far more reaching than his personal vendetta.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A: Thank you. I’m excited to be here. I tell everyone that Godspeed, Carry My Bullet started out as an inside joke. It germinated from conversations I had with co-workers in which we imagined ourselves as characters in a dystopian, post financial collapse version of the United States. We asked, “What if the divisiveness of partisan politics is intentional? What if it’s just another method of control used by those in power?” We were in the middle of an election year, and it seemed as though politicians from either camp were really two sides of the same coin. So our fictional premise began with two politicians who display public animosity toward one another despite the fact they are actually in collusion. They sow discord in order to maintain control of their respective governments—one in the East and one in the West. The idea stuck, and I told my coworkers I’d write a book about it just for fun. I didn’t have intentions of publishing it at the time, but here we are.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

A: This book was difficult for several reasons. First, this is the longest story I’ve written to date (~100,000 words). All of my previous releases are novellas (The Camaro Murders, Lady in Flames, and Power in the Hands of One). It required me to have a different sense of pacing and plot development than before. This is also a multi-character story with multiple sub plots and locations, so it was extremely important to create an outline before I started writing. This is something I would recommend to any author attempting to write a novel, even to those of us (myself included) who like a fair amount of organic development in his or her stories. It’s also critical if a timeline is important to your story. Even if your outline only consists of one paragraph per chapter, the exercise gives you the road map of where you want to go and what should happen at each stop. Once you have a skeleton, everything else is just filling in the details.

The other difficulty posed by the story was my desire to keep it factually accurate with regard to location, climate, vegetation, architecture, etc. The problem was that I’d never been to many of the locations in the story, and so I relied heavily on Google Maps, Wikipedia, and similar sites to ground the reader in each environment. This research consumed much of my time before I relented a bit. Since the book is technically an alternate history, albeit a recent history, I didn’t feel overly compelled to get every detail just right, since any number of things could be different in an altered timeline.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

A: My novellas were published with Untreed Reads. However, Godspeed, Carry My Bullet was self-published via Pronoun.com, which is a really cool platform if you’re not familiar with it. I can’t say enough good things about it as a publishing tool. This was my first foray into self-publishing, and Pronoun made it so easy. The best part is that it’s free.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

A: The Camaro Murders was my first book. What surprised me most was the fact that I was offered a contract for something that was so unorthodox in its format. I wrote the story primarily for myself; I wanted to produce something that I thought I would like to read. There was very little consideration given to whether it would be marketable. To begin with, it was a novella, so getting it picked up in the print world was already going to be tough. Beyond that, the story is told from four different first-person points of view in a non-chronological order. I wanted the reader to have to dig in and think a little bit. There are intentional gaps in the narrative where the reader can draw his or her own conclusions and fill in the blanks. I rather boldly envisioned fan forums where heated discussion would take place between readers who wanted to put it all together.

The other unique thing about the story is that though it’s somewhat of a murder mystery with supernatural/fantastic elements, the narrative is stone-cold sober. It’s all very low key and down-played. To me, it was an interesting juxtaposition to have these extraordinary events told through inner monologues. It might be my favorite thing I’ve written, quite possibly because I lived with the characters for so long. I could rewrite the book ten times over and probably never do them justice.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

A: I’m currently working on the sequel to Godspeed, Carry My Bullet, which will be the second and final entry in the series. Everyone does trilogies. Why not a duology? If all goes well, it will be released in 2018. I’m also doing some ghost writing here and there for a new Science Fiction series. This slows me down a bit, but it pushes me to be prolific and creative; plus it’s a certain paycheck. I also have a short novel completed that will stand as the next entry in the loose series that features the Driver character from The Camaro Murders and Lady in Flames. I hope to have that out in 2017. There will be two more Driver books after that. At some point I’d like to pay homage to Ian Fleming’s 007 novels with a 1950’s spy thriller. Ultimately I want to do an epic Fantasy type of series. Keeping in mind that I don’t care for Fantasy as a genre (why does everyone have to speak with a British accent?), I’d like to turn the genre on its head a bit. However, that’s a way’s off and I don’t want to tip my hand. I have enough ideas to keep me writing for at least the next ten to fifteen years.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

A: William Reamer, the man who rules the Directorate in the East, is based on me. Or rather, the original idea was that my character was supposed to be in charge of the East. Reamer is otherwise purely fictional.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

A: I’m typically not a fan of books, music, or movies that have a political slant. That being said, Godspeed, Carry My Bullet is an allegory of failed partisan politics. There’s enough of a thrill ride here that many readers will likely miss this. And that’s fine. I don’t think I was too heavy-handed with the message. But if I wanted the reader to walk away with something, it’s that we’d be better off getting rid of the party system and stop bickering about things that quite frankly, government has no business being involved in.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

A: Thank you for the opportunity. I would encourage everyone to check out my books and leave a constructive review on their favorite eBook vendor’s site or on GoodReads. Reading is a consumer past time for many people, and it becomes really easy to slap a star rating on something if one even bothers to do that at all. As someone who wants to hone his craft and continue to improve as a writer, I’m always interested to hear what people have to say.

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