The Thriller Zone

On today’s 192nd episode of The Thriller Zone, host David Temple interviews author Brian Freeman about his latest book, Break Every Rule. 

They discuss the importance of engaging readers' emotions, the balance between description and pacing, and the challenges of writing a second book in a series. 

Freeman shares his writing process and emphasizes the significance of pre-orders for authors. Temple praises Freeman's ability to create authentic characters and compelling settings. 

The episode concludes with a discussion about the secret sauce of Freeman's writing and his advice for aspiring writers.

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Award-winning Green Beret, Steve Stratton, is the author of the Shadow Tier Series and the novella, A Warrior's Path: the Lance Bear Wolf Story. Learn more at

What is The Thriller Zone?

Podcast host and thriller author David Temple gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (00:00.11)
Hello and welcome to the 192nd episode of the Thriller Zone. I'm your host David Temple. And before I introduce today's guest, allow me to say thank you for making our show one of the fastest growing thriller fiction podcasts in the world. You know, we couldn't do it without you. Secondly, hello and thank you to Steve Stratton for single -handedly sponsoring this month's show. And lastly, as an invitation to subscribe to our YouTube channel at the Thriller Zone. OK, now on with the show.

You know our guest is the author of 30 novels spanning the last 20 years. I know, unbelievable. Including several which have landed in the top charts with his Jason Bourne books. I'm pleased to welcome for a return appearance, Brian Freeman. I do wanna say that the book that we're gonna be talking about today, Break Every Rule, is I'm going to save a little piece of my accolade for just a little bit, but I'm going to say this was a

Damn fantastic read. Thank you. Not just really good but damn fantastic I've been I've been really thrilled with the with the early reaction to this one I you know Brian I'm I'm gonna save some of that again for later in the show, but I thought I knew your level of

Professionalism, acuity, swagger, et cetera. I thought I had a pretty good handle on it. But then this book comes along and I thought, you know, I'm looking at the cover and I'm like, okay, cool cover, you know me in covers. And then I look, geez, 400 pages. Can he keep me going for the 400 pages? And if my wife Tammy were not on another call right now in the other office on a Zoom call, I would say, come in here and tell Brian.

Exactly what it is. And she'd say, Brian, every little spare minute David has, he's squirreled away in a corner reading your book. Nice.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (02:03.918)
And I finished it just this morning. Excellent. Excellent. And folks, for those of you who don't know Brian, he's the guy who writes Jason Bourne right now for one, which, by the way, hold that thought. Where did I put it? It was right here.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (02:27.662)
I'm gonna give you little props to this too. Thank you, there we go. I haven't even seen the book yet, so you're way ahead of me. You haven't seen this one? I have not, no. I have the arc of this one, but no, I have not actually seen Born Myself yet. Okay, well, number one, this is a beauty. As you can see, I haven't... No, I did start it. I'm sorry, I did start it because, folks...

You can't open a Brian Freeman book and expect to just go, I'm just going to take a little taste. No, no, it's it's classic born style and you won't be able to put it down. Maybe you'll come back and talk to me about this one. Absolutely. All right. That is on my list of things to do. This, of course, we're talking about today and

Should I tell you the inside secret? Yeah, I don't know if you knew this or not. I'm doing a top 20 summer reads. Okay. Show. You know I do that every year. Well last year actually it was 10 books and then I realized that's stupid. There's a lot of summer reads out there.

And when you're doing two books a week, basically, and we are now what halfway through the year, practically, I had to increase my word, my count. So you made it in the top 20. Thank you. That's why I love that. I think you may be surprised just to find out just how far up the 20 went, but we're going to save that.

Let's do this. Let's get caught up on what's new with you. Tell me what's been going on since last we spoke, just so we can kind of get caught up. Yeah, yeah. Well, there's been a lot of creative stuff and a fair amount of significant personal change as well, I think, since we... I can't remember if when we last talked, I had made the big move to Florida yet, but now Marcia and I are... After spending our entire adult lives...

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (04:32.046)
in minnesota we are now officially full -time floridians okay last time we spoke you were living in minnesota but you had a place that you would go i don't get a second home but you were you frequently quite a bit we we've been we've been florida for vacations for years and i think the last time we talk we purchased a place down in florida and and our intent had been well you know what you know

we'll winter down there and kind of go back and forth for a few years and see how we do. We came down here early November of 2022 and by the end of the winter, we were so thrilled with where we were living and the community and the people that we said, why go into the time and expense and hassle of hiking back and forth across the country a couple of times a year? And we said, you know what?

We want to be at home in one place. And so we, we consolidated down here and, and I, I now do most of my writing outside. In fact, break every rule was that the first book I wrote completely in Florida and most of it I wrote sitting outside on the Lena which was just great. So awesome. And now do I know what town in Florida or are we keeping that a secret? East coast between Cocoa and Melbourne. So

15 minutes from the ocean, which is great. We're still west of the 95, which I like a little bit more protection from those hurricane winds. But anytime I want to go dip my toes in the ocean, 15 minutes and I'm there. well, congratulations. Thank you. That was a big change. And it meant that last year I felt sort of guilty because I think I only wrote one book last year. I'm sort of used to doing two or three.

one book wow man you're really slacking off there so but I'm making up for it this year because this is going to be another three book year here I've got two borns on the slate one is already done and then I'm in the I'm about halfway through a new standalone for Blackstone and then I'll be diving into another born after that so yes it's going to be another another busy year here

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (06:37.581)
My good now dude, I did not realize I mean and forgive me I keep up pretty well with you, but I can't remember everything about everybody But I knew that you were doing too. So three is a stretch you're doing So we got the one that we just talked about which is the born shadow. That's done. Of course I'm sorry looking at the one that is coming is the one you're

working on now? There's that there's there's with those who actually the born shadow I turned in last year so there's a another born book the the born vendetta which will come out in january that's done in and now i'm working on a thriller called it's actually more of a more of a pure mystery i haven't done a pure mystery in a few years so i'm really excited about that called the photograph and that's going to be my my black next blackstone book so that will be out sometime in 2025 and then i'll be once i get that done i'll be

turning over to the next born which will come out next summer. We're still working on the title for that one, but so, yeah, they're keeping me hopping. Wow, I am so in awe of your talents. I really am. I'm not blowing smoke up your skirt. And I'll tell you why. I have very specific reasons. You have an ability to create.

There's gonna be some listeners that hear this and go, really Dave? Yeah, okay, but I don't care. It's my show. They're fully fleshed out. They're real. I feel them. I understand them. They have plenty of history. You don't beat me over the head with the history. You have such an impeccable sense of setting. So you tell me where you are.

What the world is you paint that world again, you don't belabor it You're really what I noticed about this book and I'm gonna finish and let you take a bow in a second What I realized about this is how much dialogue in this book and what I love about that is that is really true storytelling the Conversations it goes back to our time sitting around the campfire just hearing the conversation That's those are the big three or four reasons. I love this book

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (08:45.261)
Yeah, you know, it's always finding that sweet spot of how much description that you include. And what I always tell people is I like to paint my scenes in watercolors. I like to provide just enough information to seed the reader's imagination. And then they fill in the details and gaps around it. So I'm sort of involving the reader in the creative process, as opposed to feeling like I have to give them 110 details.

to sort everything out so it's exactly my vision. I actually want to share the creative vision with the readers and let them kind of build the story out, whether it's the characters or the scripted scenes, in their heads. So yeah, that's always a very careful balancing act of just how much you provide. And I'm telling you folks, that is a deft craft because, and it's so interesting that you say that, Brian, because

I think it requires, and it's one of those mistakes that I think novice writers like myself make. We go, we don't trust, here's what it is, we don't trust their reader to either remember the things that I told you early on, and that's not the case, or that they won't use their imagination perhaps to fill in the blank. And what you're saying right there is going, this is what you need to do is put the trust in the reader and let them do that. I know that sounds painfully obvious, but

No, that's absolutely true. And I think you always have to be conscious of pace. Certainly when you're writing a mystery or a thriller, you're not looking to slow the reader down. And I never want to get between the reader and the story or the reader and the characters where they're stopping. We have some great prose stylists in this genre, but every now and then I'll be reading one of their books and I'll kind of feel like the writers sitting there next to me going, that was a great paragraph, wasn't it?

And, you know, I mean, and as much as I love the, you know, the artistic content there, I don't want to be slowing the reader down. So if it's not advancing the story, if it's not advancing the character, it's got to go. And that's hard. So, and I will say, I'll let you in on a little tip. I tend not to have very long paragraphs, and I think people note that. If I've got a very long paragraph with a lot of detail into it,

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (11:08.397)
It's probably likely I've tucked away a little clue somewhere in the middle that a reader's likely to just kind of skip past and think, well that's just one more detail, you know, in this paragraph. I know readers are impatient people. They kind of tend to phase out when those paragraphs get too long, but don't do that because I've probably planted in something there that you should know about.

my God, yes, you're right. And now that you've told me this and I look back, and that's one of the reasons I like your books, is you don't go, you know, a lot of people will put lots of description, then a little bit of conversation, then more description, less boring. Some people go all conversation and no description of what's going on. So that's kind of challenging. There will be those, and I just ran across this recently, they're going back and forth between a conversation, but they don't...

land me those tiny little reminders as to who's saying what and I'll get all the way down the page and I'm like, Jesus, what do I, who's saying what do I, and then I got to go back and I'm like, so anyway, you have found, you have found the mouthful. Yeah, it's also, I mean, you know, the he says and the little fillers that go in, I mean, it's, you know, it's not just about the dialogue and the description, it's also about setting.

the speed of the dialogue for the reader. So there are times where I want them to be slowing down because the dialogue is slowing down. There's a pause between what the person is saying to each other. So I'll include a little bit of description, even if it's just a sentence, to deliberately slow the pace of how the dialogue's unfolding in the reader's head because then it's going to feel more natural. So, so good. All right. Hold on one second. I'm going to reach for another.

Here's a book here I want to mention and a book right here. Okay. The reason these books are stacked, they're part of this upcoming show that I'm doing. There are three books. Now there are more than three folks, settle down, but there's three that if someone said, David, this is your final show of the year. You're retiring. You're dropping the mic.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (13:18.093)
Give me just three books that you read this spring into summer that are master classes in writing. And here they are. Number one, Matterhorn by Christopher Reich. This is your show, Brian. So don't be afraid. We're coming back to you. One of the best books I've read this year and a master class in spy storytelling and pacing.

Number two, Shadowheart, Meg Gardner. She is a master class in and of herself. Phraseology, words, pacing, making you think. And the third, I don't know if you've heard of this guy, Break Every Rule by Brian Freeman.

a master class and you want to shove a lot of information into a book and only 400 pages and I'm talking about this. I'm talking about plot. I'm talking about characters. I'm talking about the action. But here's where you really got me. You put a lot of heart in it.

So you got all these bad guys and good guys, but there's heart woven into the very core of the story and takes you right to the final page. And when you can leave it going, the adrenaline is still rushing through my body from the action, but there's nearly a tear in my eye because of the heart. Wow.

Yeah, I really try to write thrillers with an emotional core because I think that's what really connects the reader to the story and the characters if their emotions are engaged. I totally agree with you. It sounds weird to say you can read a thriller and feel like you're going to have a tear in your eye at the end, but to me that's kind of the highest praise I can get from a reader is if they were that engaged in the character that they're really feeling those intense emotions.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (15:24.495)
as they go through it. All right, we're going to take a quick short break. We're going to put that phone on silent because it's dingy and it's going to drive me crazy. And when we come back, I'm going to give you an inside secret behind break every rule. And we're also going to find out one extra little secret, a little goodie that I wanted to talk about that is about this character. So say hi to our new sponsor for the month of July. Stay with us. We'll be back with Brian Freeman right here on the Thriller Zone in a minute.

Welcome back to the Thriller Zone. I'm your host David Temple. This is Brian Freeman, author of Break Every Rule. Welcome back. Thank you. The first rule in defending your family is break every rule. And that's one of the biggest reasons I like this book. You took a message that's at the core of every man. you're going to mess with my family? no, you're not.

So as I teased before we went into break, I have this question, and please say yes, please say yes. Is Tommy Miller coming back? You know, I don't know yet. I'll tell you from a...

from a cold -hearted, practical standpoint, I absolutely hate second books in series because they can be terrific, tremendous, great books. A lot of times, number two, I think, in series are better than number one. And they sell like crap.

Every single I've got a bunch of series out there and I'll tell you every single time The second book was always a disappointment from a sales standpoint and so I'm always very and at this point I'm very wary of Second books in series so you'll certainly see and break every rule that I left the door open that I can bring Tommy back and I love him as a character. They're certainly

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (17:28.685)
other interesting stories that can be told. But at the same time, I'm always in wait and see mode at this point when I do a standalone is, is there enough reader response that I'm going to go ahead and do a second book in the series? And I don't know. So I don't rule it out, but I don't automatically rule it out at this point. All right. I'm going to get on the horn with my good friends at Blackstone. I have a little poll over there, Brian.

And I'm gonna say I want you to break every rule and come after Brian to get a sequel on this. No, I'm kidding All right. Here's why? He is that quintessential every man. He's you know, he's got enough of the training, but he's enough of us average guys He's got a great sidekick

And to your point about leaving the door open, I was reading those last pages. I'm like, how is Brian going to tie this up? And of course I won't read it. But that last paragraph, which is only this big, you can't read it, goes, that door goes, right, right, right, right.

And you know, I also think it's important when you're thinking about whether a standalone becomes a series. There has to be some...

emotional resonance and reason to do the next book. It's got to still be a part of the character's lives, not just I'm taking the character and dropping him down in the midst of a story. For example, I've got 11 books in my Jonathan Stride series, and when I think about a new Stride book, I don't start thinking about the plot. I start by thinking about where are the characters in their lives, what's going on with them, what emotional and psychological issues.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (19:22.093)
have they not dealt with that I think I need to bring to the fore in terms of the advancement of that character. And then I take the plot and I start building around the characters so that the issues of the plot force the characters to deal with the things in their personal stories that are significant, that I want to connect to the readers. So it's like in the Bourne books, I'm kind of straddling that fine line here because

You know, Bourne is obviously an action hero and an action character, and yet I'm trying to write novels in which Bourne as a person is evolving and changing and maturing and dealing with a lot of issues, whether it's emotional issues dealing with the women in his life or dealing with secrets from his forgotten past that affect who he is as a person and what his moral identity is. So, you know, I'm trying to do all those kinds of things. So I think with someone like Tommy Miller in Break Every Rule,

you know i was in in time you know i wanted to create a character that sort of have the the best qualities of jason born and johnathan stride really interesting deep complex moral character who's had to do that that you may not himself

be that comfortable with and yet he did it in the context of what he thought was a greater good. Well that's something that Bourne has dealt with as well. And at the same time he's dealing with sort of a mystery in terms of what actually happened and what the secrets were that his wife was hiding. And so in that respect he's a little bit like Jonathan Stride as he pulled together the pieces of the puzzle. But then it's like, okay, you've got this character now and this particular mystery is all about

sort of his personal life, what's next, what else can we do in terms of him as a character where the plot would sort of bring out more about who he is as a person. If you can do that, then there's something, there's somewhere to go with a series. Otherwise, I think you leave it as a standalone.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (21:17.901)
All right, guys and gals, you just went to class right there. What you just said in that paragraph, Brian, really is kind of the quintessential example of that and explanation of that. And I hadn't thought about it that way. But as you were unpacking that, I thought, OK, I get it because it's such a full fledged story of an A, B, C, D, get to the end of E, and you have to solve multiple things, make some rescues.

Reunite etc. And then I see what you're saying if you said okay, so now Tommy's Make sure I don't give anything away Built this life and then you take him out of this story Which was the entire journey and you go let's put him into a new situation. I Get your point. I hadn't thought about it that way

It's like a few years ago I wrote a book called The Deep, Deep Snow and it was a psychological mystery with a rural female sheriff's deputy named Shelby Lake and she was the narrator and the heroine in the book.

Very emotional story. It was a finalist for the Edgar Award, which was a great, great honor. It started out as an Audible original now. It's available in print and e -book as well. Audible came back to me and said, we'd love to do another follow -up book with Shelby Lake. And I said, well, I could simply do another Shelby Lake mystery. But I think emotionally, there's a part of Shelby's past that covers the whole book that is a mystery for the reader.

off doing a follow -up book that's really not about Shelby but about how Shelby came to be. And so I wrote The Ursulina, which I struggled to define what it is because it's a standalone and yet it's a prequel and it's also a sequel. And it's really not about Shelby and yet it's all about Shelby. But that was how I dealt with sort of the idea of a second book in the series and yet it also stands alone.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (23:25.517)
I get that. I want to go back to something because you said something and I caught myself going, wait, I want to hear more about that. And I know a few of my listeners who are real into analyzing a lot of the mechanics, the structure, how to build a story in a world. And it's this. So you made a comment and this is really, I don't think I've ever in almost 200 episodes had anyone say this to me. So it's very interesting to me. You caught my attention. David.

I have found that the second book often does little to anything. And I had to stop there for a second and go, wait, wait, wait, what? But it's Brian Freeman for crying out loud. So help me understand that. So do you have any idea?

Why that happened and has it happened repeatedly? Every single time. my god. Every single time. I mean, you know, take the Deep, Deep Snow and the Ursulina. The Deep, Deep Snow was a New York Times bestseller. Huge success. The Ursulina, in my mind, you know, as much as I love the Deep, Deep Snow, the Ursulina, in my mind, is probably the best book I have ever written in my life.

It's still the fraction of what the deep deep snow did it. It's just it's just the absolute nature of the game that that second book second books in a series, you know, you can cut in half what what they're gonna sell because readers, you know stop and think wait wait, do I have to go read the first book first and

Not necessarily, because I always write series so you can really dive in anywhere. But there are just a lot of readers where if it's a series, they need to start at the beginning. And if they haven't read the first one, in the stack of to -be -read piles next to their nightstand, it's hard to get them to embrace a second book. So it's just a marketing reality. OK. I get it. I hear you. I can follow that.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (25:26.445)
I don't personally roll that way. If I find somebody good, like if I had just stumbled onto you and this is my very first book, I'd go, good on you. And I'm going, is there a series? No. Yeah, but I know by the guy who's crafting this story, I'll go back and read anything you've written now. I mean, it's hard too, because I think there are writers that, I think all writers.

grow and change and mature the more books they write. But there are some writers that have definitely improved as they've gone along. And not to say their early books were not good, but I look at someone like Peter Robinson, who was absolutely one of my favorite writers. I got to know him initially through his book In a Dry Season, which was well into the Alan Banks series and was just one of the best books I've ever read.

I went back to the very beginning of the Alan Bank series. I read the first couple of them. Not that they were bad, but honestly, they didn't grip me in the same way. If I had started there, I'm not sure I necessarily would have continued with the series. And so I'm glad I discovered it later on because, you know, Peter had gained so much power and maturity as a writer as he continued with that series. So it was better for me to discover him.

kind of at the peak of his creative power in the series, as opposed to where he was starting out. And I think still kind of getting his hands around the character and the storytelling. Wow. Okay. Now I'm sitting here. I've got pulled up on the, my other screen. Your, God, you have such a list of books. So I'm going to run them down real quick. Just bear with me. And was the, well, the agent was the agency, your first book.

the agency! No, that was a little side project that I did with my agent in London.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (27:22.957)
probably about 2008, I think 2009, somewhere around in there. It's nothing like any of my other books. It was practically chick -lit. I mean, it was funny, it was... Yeah, it was a fun book to read. It was female first -person narration, and it was all about this literary agent and going through all these crazy, crazy things.

Not a thriller, not a mystery, just a lot of fun. Totally different from anything I've done. It must have done okay because you came with what looks like, I mean West 57th looks like a chick lit as you said. Well yeah and there's sort of a sad backstory on this because

The agency, as I said, it was a project I worked on with my agent, Ali, in London. Ali O 'Brien was the author name. We used the pseudonym. And very sadly, my agent, Ali, passed away in 2014. Very, very unexpectedly. Cerebral hemorrhage. I mean, she was 45 years old. It was just crazy. And so, you know, we'd been talking for a couple of years about a sequel follow -up book to the agency. And I had to really think about, did I want to do that with Ali no longer around?

But ultimately I had what I thought was a great story and so I wrote West 57 and it was just plain fun I mean, it's such a fun book to read but again It's sort of in a in a separate genre all its own compared to everything else I've done gotcha my old stomping ground in West 57 now so in Immoral was that where that's a murder mystery. It looks like yeah, that was the first in the Jonathan Stride series. Yeah got it Okay, so then we went from immoral to stripped stalk

in the dark, the Baryon place, the Bonehouse, spitting devil, spill blood, turn to stone, the cold nowhere, season of fear, goodbye to the dead, the night bird, marathon, the voice inside, alter ego, the crooked street, the deep deep snow, the river falls, then we get into the born evolution, funeral for a friend, I remember that one, infinite.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (29:30.669)
The Ursulina, the born treachery, born sacrifice, I remember you. The Zero Knight, born defiance and born shadow. Wow. Dude, just a prolific world of - I think break every rule is number 30 in 20 years. So that's, yeah, I'm pretty proud of that. 30 in 20 years? Yep, yep, yep. Dude, okay, I'm just -

So amazing. Okay. I want to make sure I've asked everything. Yeah. I want to be, I mean, okay. I get it now. I get it. Tommy Miller. I have to put my passion for Tommy Miller on the shelf and make sure that maybe it was gone and sell a ton of, of break every rule so that everybody comes back demanding. We have a number two in the series. Well, I'm glad you should mention that way because, by the way,

This show will drop July the 8th, which if I'm not mistaken, your book drops on, I wrote it here somewhere. September 10th.

September 10th, so I can do one of two things Brian I can have it still drop here in July as I had planned and Stack those pre -orders because I'm that Fun fan. I'm that big of a fan of this book or I can push it down the road to September if you want it closer you know, I think I

Readers, I don't think readers always appreciate how important pre -orders are. I mean, they are, if you're gonna get on the bestseller list, it's because of pre -orders. I mean, it is that bubble in that first week where all those, it's sales in one week versus sales of six months of people wanting to get that book in their hands and start reading on day one. So I say, let's get it out there and get everybody pre -ordering the book. It is so.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (31:29.165)
Important in if you have an author whose books you love the best thing that you can do to support them It's pre -order their next book. Did you hear that folks pre -order is the magic word? Well a very big powerful Super hot kingmaker agent in Hollywood told me not that long ago. I'm not going to say his name said the magic To hitting the bestseller list is pre -orders. I had not probably fully

Captivated that thought before in my mind before but once he said it and then I started watching trends I realized what Brian just said is true. So to that end Let me be the first to say This is in the top three of my favorite books of this year so far

And I'll be more specific in my top 20 summer reads show that will air has already aired. I just realized we'll have already aired by the time this year. So everyone will know by now how much I love this book.

Yeah, you can't I can't listen I'm not always sharp So folks pre -ordered this book today just Every once in a while you hear me rave about a couple of things. You don't hear me rave a whole lot Well, yeah, you hear me rave a lot, but you don't hear me rave like this. This is a book that's gonna be on your shelf This year you're gonna read it this summer

or fall by the time it actually drops, ish, and you're gonna love it. And if you don't love it, I don't know what's wrong with you. I almost said, are you money back? But I'm not gonna do that. Okay, now let's get into, as we start to wrap, because I know your time is precious and I'm always so grateful to spend time with you, Brian.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (33:18.765)
This is different than my closing question, which you know what it is, but that secret sauce there has to and you've kind of alluded to it already Brian and I feel like I'm talking too much and I'm not letting you talk enough, but there's something about you have a secret sauce about you and I I'm trying to figure out what it is. So tell me what I think

Tell me, give me an idea what you think it is. That's a tough question and I don't know if I can give you a satisfying answer because I think I tend to ask myself that and people will ask, well, where do your ideas come from? It's probably one of the most common questions that you get asked. And I can certainly talk about having a file in my phone with lots of story ideas and characters and things like that. But the reality is,

I don't know where all of it comes from and I'm honestly fairly cautious about, you know...

asking too many questions about that or probing it too deeply because wherever it comes from I don't want it to stop and I think if you ask too many questions you sort of run the risk that the inspiration is not going to be there. So I personally I tend not to take a lot of credit for my books. Frankly when things are really rolling it feels like there is some other force that sort of guided my hands along the keyboard and I am grateful that that happens but where it comes from I'm

I'm honestly not sure and I'm just happy it's there. You know what I think it is and you said it two -thirds of the way back when we were talking about having a heart at the core of the story. I think that is your secret sauce right there.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (35:03.405)
Yeah, I do not want to be creating the characters. I want to sort of be more of the diarist, where I am letting the characters tell their story through me. And that to me is very important.

that I want the characters to be authentic and to use me as the vehicle to get to the reader as opposed to me trying to actually build out those characters. I mean, there was, I did an event once where another mystery writer was on a panel and the question was about plotting and if you reached a point where...

the character would seem to be moving in a different direction that was going to be screwing up your plot. What would you do? And this other writer said, well, I would change the character to accommodate.

my plot because the plot is what I've set up. And I said, I get it, but I feel completely differently that if the character is taking me in this direction, the character must know something that I don't. And so I don't pretend that I'm smarter than the people on the page. I think if the character is taking me in a direction, I want to follow that. And odds are what they're going to come up with for the change in the plot is better than where I started.

You know, and a lot of people could look at this conversation and go, you guys are being pretty dang woo woo about it. However, I've got to tell you something. Artists, painters, musicians, writers, et cetera, pottery throwers have a, in my personal opinion, have a personal visceral connection to a creative source. You can call that whatever you want.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (36:49.357)
But there is, you cannot poo poo the idea that when you sit down and you allow your fingers or your hand to write, however you get it on page, that you are channeling in some form or fashion. And I'm not talking anybody satanic stuff or anything that's anti -biblical, of course. But sorry, I just had to do that. You're channeling.

your creative energies are all going so i would you the character knows better than i did let me just follow the character yeah i i i don't get to bent out of shape about all the a i stuff because all ultimately i think that the the the human element is still what makes a difference and will always be what makes a difference so i'm glad you brought that up because everybody's banging on my door we think about a re out of work we're gonna lose our jobs no well if they are if the essence of a i

gathering information and just basically regurgitating it. That's one thing. But to create something original or to create heart inside of a story, that's human. Yeah. As one of my characters says in the book I'm working on now, that when it comes to AI, it's a lot more A than I.

Bingo. All right, as we start to wrap, we've asked this before. I'm going to ask it again. This one I do know you have an answer for. It has to do with your best writing advice and everybody who's as prolific as you. 30 and 20 has a pretty good idea of a piece of advice they'd like to pass along.

Well, I feel guilty because you know damn well I'm going to say the same thing I've said for the last couple of years. Which is perfectly fine because we all need to keep hearing it. Yes, and it remains true to this day that 100 % of unwritten books have never been published. So, and you know, it seems very simple, but by God, you know, there are so many...

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (38:42.477)
external factors that get in the way of the very important process of simply getting the words on the page. And you know, I say this to aspiring writers because if you don't think that it's still an issue after 30 books, I'm here to tell you it absolutely is. And particularly, you know, when you're now living down in Florida and the sun is shining and it's a gorgeous day and the ocean's 15 minutes away, if you don't think there are an awful lot of days where I'd rather do just about anything else than stare at that blank screen

You know, I share a little piece of that with you. We're not even 15 minutes. We're about four minutes from the beach and we're in, you know, outside of San Diego. So between Delmar's Dog Beach and La Jolla's Torrey Pines Cliffs, I've got the best slice of walking, which I've been doing since this procedure, since day one. And I'm telling you.

I can wake up in the morning and go, yeah, I could sit down for a couple hours and bang out some words or I could just go off. Or, yeah. So, but that's where discipline comes in and you have a heap of discipline. Can you give me just an inside scoop kind of how your day runs? I don't ask this very often, but it's kind of cool inside scoop I like.

You know, most, it kind of depends on where you are in the process. I mean, there's the creative process of building out the story and the characters. There's getting the words on the page and then there's the editing process. I love the editing process because I love to just tweak every word and get it just perfect. I don't know who it was that said, you know, I don't particularly like writing but I like having written, which I think is absolutely fantastic. But when I'm getting the words on the page, which is the longest part of the process, most days...

In the morning, I'm editing what I did the day before, and that's getting me back into the story and the characters. And I go through to the point that I've been editing, and then hopefully there's enough of a wave that it kind of rolls me right on into the next chapter. And then most of the time then, most of the actual new words get done in the afternoon. Gotcha. OK. Well, folks, you've heard it from a master, 30 and 20, one of my favorite guests. I want to tell you, Brian, when...

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (40:57.293)
Tammy always checks my schedule before we go on and she asked me as we were having dinner last night, who's on the show tomorrow? I said, Brian. good, he's always fun to listen to. Well, that's good. I said, Brian is a good interview. He's enthusiastic, he's warm, he's caring, he's not afraid to give me his secrets, so to speak. And he's just always cranking on good books. So man, I wish you always the best. And I want to say folks, if you want to know no more.

BeFreemanBooks .com BeFreemanBooks .com is where it's been for 20 years. Okay, well there you go. Don't change a thing. BeFreemanBooks .com. Check it out. Do yourself a favor. Pre -order this book as you will now. There it is. So as you found out one week ago today, this placed at number one of my favorite books of the year. Well, that, I am just overwhelmed. I truly am.

There should be fireworks or something for crying out loud, folks. Hello? No, it deserved it. Anyway, Brian, once again, always good. I know that I've got Born Shadow. When's this one dropping? Earlier, actually. That'll be July 16th. Okay. Sadly, I won't be able to make that one because this is one of the last shows I'll be doing for a little while. I'm taking the summer off. Good for you.

I'm taking the summer off. I'll come back right after Labor Day and I'll catch you on your next book or I'll read this one and love it so much I may have to dial up your publicist. I've been really thrilled by the responses to Born Shadow. I mean a lot of folks saying it's the best of the best of the borns.

I try to reboot the series, you know, that's another thing to do with series is I try to reboot it every few books. So Born 5 here, I kind of wrapped up the threads through the first, my first four Born books. And now this is almost sort of a, you know, re -invention of the series again. So. I don't know how you keep it all straight. Well, enjoy the rest of your summer. Welcome to your new hood there in Florida. And as always, thank you so much for spending time with me. Thanks Dave.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (43:03.565)
Thanks again, Brian and folks. I hope you'll join this podcast next week when we welcome Bruce Borges to discuss his book Shades of Mercy. And then we wrap the month of July already with a debut author who's taking the world by storm. Henry Wise joins us on July 22nd to discuss his novel Holy City. Until then and pretty much every day in between, I'm David Temple, your host, and I'll see you next time for another exciting episode of The Thriller Zone.