Sunday, May 4, 2014

Globe-Trotting Thrillers: Interview with Barry Award-winning author Brett Battles

By Mark Young
Brett Battles
Readers: Keep your eyes focused on this rising indie author. Thriller novelist Brett Battles paid his dues struggling to survive in the legacy publishing arena for a number of years before deciding to throw his hat into the indie publishing arena a few years ago. Brett offers readers a variety of thriller novels filled with unique characters—a man who disposes of bodies as part of his espionage work; a feisty female bounty hunter who never gives up; and a former soldier reluctantly drawn into life-threatening situations to save others—to describe just a few. Always expect the unexpected.

A world traveler, Brett brings these experiences drawn from his global wanderings onto the pages of his novels. Engaging characters, exotic locations, and page-turning suspense all blend together to make these thrillers a must-read. I have found his novels to be very entertaining. Intrigued, I contacted Brett by email to see if he might share a little about himself and his writing here on Hook’em & Book’em.

Mark: Brett, I am amazed at what a prolific writer you
are. At this rate, you might surpass James Patterson. At last count, twenty-two published novels since your first thriller appeared in 2007. In the last four months, you’ve released Take Down (December 2013), Dream Sky (January 2014), and last month, The Discarded, a Jonathan Quinn thriller. How do you keep up this pace?

Brett: The threat of self-waterboarding. Works every time. That and, well, writing is my job. Like everyone else who works, I need to do it every day. So when I finish one book, I don’t wait months or years to start the next. I’m usually onto it within a few business days at most. Being self employed means I have a real taskmaster for a boss!

Mark: Tell us a little about your latest thriller, The Discarded.

Brett: I wanted to write a story about an operative who has retired but is still haunted by a job he did, and continues to look for answers. I decided to use Orlando’s (Jonathan Quinn’s partner and girlfriend) mentor as the old op, so, of course, Quinn and Orlando and gang get pulled into the mystery. It’s about regret and greed and doing the right thing.

Mark: Your main character—Jonathan Quinn— has a rather unique occupation. What insight can you share with us about him? 

Brett: Quinn’s what they refer to in the espionage business as a cleaner. Not the assassin type cleaner, though he is very skilled in that area if necessary, but the kind of cleaner you call when you have a body that needs to disappear permanently. 

Mark: Given Quinn’s occupation, one might question whether he has a moral compass in life? If so, what would it be?

Brett: In broad strokes, Quinn tries to work for clients he believes are good as opposed to evil, though he can’t always be 100% sure of that. Plus he is driven by a very strong need to do the right thing, which is why he often gets pulled into situations that go beyond his basic job description.

Mark: Beside the Quinn series, you have written the Project Eden Thrillers, the Logan Harper Thrillers and the Alexandra Poe novels—the last co-written by author Robert Gregory Browne—among other works. Tell us a little about each.

Brett: Sure. I’ve been fascinated with virus/end of humanity stories since I was a kid, and always wanted to write my own. Project Eden is the result…humanity is on the brink of extinction, and man is pulling the trigger. 

Logan Harper is a series about a man who is trying to simplify his life by moving back to his hometown after a bad divorce and years working for a defense contractor, to work as a mechanic in his 80 year old dad’s auto shop. The thing is Logan is very good at helping people in trouble, whether he likes to admit it or not. His father Harp, though, is more than willing to get his son involved in things Logan would rather not even know about.

And Alexandra Poe…love her. She’s a tough as nails
bounty hunter that has reluctantly taken on work at a defense organization specializing in retrieving wanted individuals no matter where in the world they might be. Her hope is, by doing so, she will learn information that might lead her to her father—a fugitive himself, who disappeared a decade earlier.

Mark: Which authors have most influenced your writing?

Brett: So many. Initially I would say the greats of sci-fi—Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, to name three. They were my gateway into becoming a lifelong reader, and taught me the power of wonder and adventure. Other influences over the years include, Graham Greene, Robert Ludlum (earlier stuff through around Bourne Identity or thereabouts), Stephen King (huge influence), and Dean Koontz.

Though probably the author who had the most influence was William Relling, Jr. Not for anything he wrote, though he did write some great stuff, but because he was first my teacher at a class I took through UCLA extension, and then leader of the writers’ group I was in when I wrote THE CLEANER, my first published novel. He, more than anyone, help me to understand how to write a good story. 

Mark: Your web site bio indicates that you have traveled extensively throughout Asia and Europe, locations that factor into your writing of the Jonathan Quinn series and other novels. Are you a rolling stone just wanting to expand your universe or did you purposely travel to these places to add depth and color to your writing?

Brett: It’s a little bit of both. I LOVE to travel, so writing interesting locations into my stories was automatic. Not sure I even thought about it as a “thing.” I will now sometimes purposefully go somewhere I want to include in a book, while sometimes I go somewhere and decide, hey, this would make a great setting. That I can marry my love for writing and travel together makes me very happy. 

Mark: If you could only pick a couple of locations to re-visit, where would you go?

Brett: There are few places I’ve visited that I wouldn’t want to go again! But to narrow it down…hmmm…Vietnam, definitely. I was there about fifteen years ago, and know a lot has changed, so I’d love to see the difference. And how about Finland? I was there in the winter and would like to go when there isn’t ten feet of snow piled everywhere.

Mark: Tell us a little about your writing journey. As I understand it, you first began with legacy publishers and at some point began to pursue the indie publishing route. What prompted you to switch from traditional publishing to indie publishing? 

Brett: As most know, the publishing industry has gone through a lot of changes in the last several years, and will probably continue doing so for the foreseeable future. I did five books for Bantam Dell/Random House. When I was working on books four and five, the two people who were my biggest supporters at the imprint (my editor and the head of Bantam Dell) each left within four months of each other leaving me with a new team that was not invested in my work. When it came time for a new contract, they decided to pass, which is just part of business. It was also fine as I would have probably passed on any offer they may have made. It was time to move on. The question was where. I had at first thought about shopping around for another publisher, but was also intrigued by the growing indie publishing movement. Several friends—J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch to name a couple—had been having success in this new area, so I decided to give it a try. It was a bit touch and go in the first few months, but since then I haven’t looked back. Love the indie life.

Mark: As mentioned above, your writing life must take up a lot of your waking hours. When not writing, how do you like to spend your leisure hours if you have any?

Brett: I do have a little. If I didn’t, I think I’d go completely crazy. I spend it many ways…spending time with my kids, catching up on TV shows I like, hiking, playing with my dog, movies, hanging out with friends, travel, the occasional video game…things like that.

Mark: Your education and work experience prior to full time writing seems to revolve around the television and the movie industry. How do your educational background and past jobs influence your writing?

Brett: I think the way working any job would, life experience, meeting different types of people, being exposed to situations that could be extrapolated into situations that can be used in stories…things like that.

Mark: Where do you see the publishing industry headed? What roles will writers, publishers, editors, agents, and others have in this new world?

Brett: I believe the rise of the independent author is a change that’s here to stay. Will traditional publishers still be around? I think they probably will. But I also think authors will continue to gain more power, and have more choices. Publishing will continue to evolve, and it will be interesting to see where it is in five years. The thing I do know is that the two most important things in the publishing world are readers and writers. And since readers need stories to read, authors will always have work to do.

Mark: What advice would you give new writers trying to get their first novel published?

Brett: Make sure it’s the best it can be. Decide which avenue to being published you want to pursue, and go for it. And, most importantly, start writing the next book.

Mark: What can fans of your work look forward to seeing published in the near future? What projects are you working on?

Brett: Several things are stirring around. A new Project Eden novel before the end of the year. Perhaps a new Quinn, also. And, if all goes according to plan, a standalone in the near future. 

Mark: Brett, thanks for joining us. We look forward to re-acquainting ourselves with Jonathan Quinn and all your other characters in the coming year.


Brett Battles is a Barry Award-winning author of over twenty-two novels, including the Jonathan Quinn series, the Logan Harper series, and the Project Eden series. He’s also the coauthor, with Robert Gregory Browne, of the Alexandra Poe series. You can learn more at his website:

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