10 Questions with André Baby
1. Mr. Baby, thank you for stopping by on my blog. Your newest thriller, THE CHIMERA SANCTION, came out on October 1. Tell us a bit more about this book.
First of all, I’d like to thank you, Ethan, for this opportunity to talk about my latest novel, THE CHIMERA SANCTION.
It kicks off with the kidnapping of Pope Clement the XXIst from his papal apartments in a daring and bloodless coup. Interpol is called in to help the local police and veteran inspector Thierry Dulac gets the nod. He arrives at the Vatican only to find the local authorities disorganized and overwhelmed. Critical decisions must be made, so Dulac bends Interpol’s support-only protocol and takes charge.
Dulac knows time is running out when the kidnappers, upon receiving only part of the ransom, send to the Vatican’s Secretary of State the Pope’s severed left ear.
2. How did you come up with the character of Thierry Dulac?
The character of Inspector Thierry Dulac grew out of the story’s plot, which involves a series of crimes committed in various countries. I needed a policeman with cross-border authority and investigative powers in many jurisdictions, unimpeded by the geographical limitations of local police. Enter Interpol’s Dulac, with his baggage of faults, habits and somewhat controversial methods, but who gets results.
3. What is one of the most interesting aspects of your research for this thriller?
I would say the discovery of the Cathars, one of the early branches of Christianity which thrived in southern France between 800 and 1250 AD. It had an extremely simple and democratic structure, with a minimum of hierarchy. Unfortunately, that simplicity led to its eventual downfall and near- annihilation by the royalty- backed Catholic Church.
I thought this bit of history might make an interesting premise for my story, set in modern times.
4. How was your experience as a prosecutor and a lawyer helped you in your writing?
At ThrillerFest a couple of summers ago in New York City, I happened to attend a conference given by Steve Berry, world -renowned author and “reformed lawyer”, as he calls himself. As an introductory remark, he asked: “all right, how many lawyers are there out there?” A forest of hands shot up in the air, to the amusement of all. I was surprised to see the number of lawyers- turned-crime writers. Natural affinity? Perhaps, but I think a lawyer has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to writing a good thriller. Training in logical thinking, especially when piecing together the various aspects of the story, is certainly a plus. Also we lawyers are taught to be concise, and that every word counts. Authors should emulate this. On the negative side, the conveying of emotions to the characters is rendered more difficult, as lawyers are trained to suppress all emotions. I took me awhile to think about and put down on paper what my novel’s characters actually felt.
5. How is The Chimera Sanction different from other thrillers in the genre?
I think the plot, if it doesn’t break entirely new ground, harbors within it the potential of being read on more than one plane. At least that is what I’ve tried to convey. At some point in our lives we come face to face with moral issues and dilemmas, the consequences of which we must live with for the rest of our lives. Such is the case of Dulac and others in THE CHIMERA SANCTION.
6. Why do you write?
For the intellectual challenge. Also, writing crime novels for me is a form of escapism from some of the brutal realities of our time.
7. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not? How do you go from the idea of the book to the finished manuscript?
I’d like to think my writing habits are slowly improving with experience and time. I’m currently writing HIJACKED, my third novel, but I still find it difficult to write every day. Life manages to invariably get in the way.
When undertaking a new project, at first I try to take a synoptic view of what I’ll be writing about: choice of protagonist, type of crime, location(s), and primary antagonist. At this moment, I have nothing more than a vague idea of the ending. Initially, I tried making outlines, but they changed so much during the course of writing that finally I gave up. At best, I’ll draft a few lines and bits of dialogue to give direction to the next few chapters.
My first draft is invariably a skeleton, usually in the form of dialogue. My only goal at this time is to get the story down on paper: a bare minimum of setting and description holds the skeleton together. During the next five or six revisions, I’ll have fleshed out my characters, added narration, descriptions of settings, made my dialogues more vivid, punchy and credible. I’ll have cut out extraneous bits, rendered the story more fluid, and connected the scenes. With any luck, my manuscript can then be submitted to the publisher.
8. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of self-publishing?
I am both traditionally published and self- published. I self- pubbed DEAD BISHOPS DON’T LIE with CreateSpace, and THE CHIMERA SANCTION is published by Robert Hale Books. The French versions of both thrillers are traditionally published.
Although I enjoyed the process of self-publishing with Amazon’s CreateSpace, I, as author, marketer and distributor, rapidly found myself facing the biggest hurdle of self -publishing, namely a limited scope of distribution to bookstores. Due to the problem of returns, one can only hope to place one’s novel within a small geographical circle from one’s home. To market the book outside that circle quickly becomes economically unjustifiable. In contrast, a traditional publisher usually enjoys the benefits of a country-wide distribution network. Of course the e- version has no such distribution limitations, although the e-sales of my books are still lower than those of hard copies. In time, that may change.
9. What is your greatest satisfaction as a writer? What is your greatest disappointment?
There is no greater satisfaction for a writer, I think, that to open one’s computer and to find an e-mail from a reader saying how much she/ he enjoyed his book. That invariably makes my day. What I found most disappointing in the publishing world is the rejection process, to be more precise sometimes the lack of basic civility in the form of an acknowledgement on the part of the recipient, following an author’s query. Even a form letter is better than a total lack of response.
10. What is your next book, HIJACKED, going to be about?
HIJACKED is about terrorists hijacking a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic.
If readers have any comments or questions, I’d be glad to discuss same. They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
André K. Baby