7 Questions With Author Glenn Muller
Stir together generous helpings of Clive Cussler, Lynwood Barclay, and Walter Mosely, add a dash of Sue Grafton and pinch of Janet Evanovich, and you’ll get a taste of Canadian author Glenn Muller’s style of writing.
Laced with action, humour, and a host of characters that readers immediately relate to, Glenn’s stories revolve around ordinary folk being dropped into extraordinary situations. He likes to push his characters out of their comfort zone then give them plenty of opportunity to screw up, which they often do.
With two published books, Torque and Boomerang, garnering great reviews, and a third novel, Jacklighter Copse, due early in 2020 his fan base is steadily growing. Having lived in England before emigrating to Canada, his broad North-American view of the world is sharpened with a healthy dose of British wit.
At various times he has worked in hotels, car plants, tree nurseries, and accounting firms. In past years he has been a weekend racer at a local drag strip, the president of an astronomy club, and a witness at a murder trial. All of which provide plenty of fodder for this writer of fast-paced mystery thrillers.
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Are you a plotter or a pantser?
The initial idea for a story determines the path you need to follow. How far down the path you need to see before setting off determines if you’re a pantser or plotter.
I start with a catalyst around which the plot revolves then try to determine how I’d like the story to end – that becomes my compass. Next, I make a list of things I want to happen, be it a plane crash, bar fight, murder, betrayal, etc. and drop those along the path. But it’s all arbitrary in the beginning, and the events often get moved around.
That’s about the extent of my plotting. Once I set down the opening scene, I pants my way from one plot point to the next, hoping like mad that the characters will step in and tell me what to do next.
Speaking of characters taking over, I never force them to like, dislike, or take a romantic interest in, each other. As the story develops, I have found that this happens organically. By giving them the ‘freedom’ to choose their own friends, enemies, and lovers, I end up with some really great chemistry – So, yeah, I’m a pantser.
Does the genre you normally read have a direct influence on your writing?
Absolutely. I like crime fiction and thrillers, particularly those with plenty of action. I read plenty of police procedurals, especially the British ones, but sometimes I find them a little pedantic which is why I paired Detective Inspector Evan Lareault with Chas Fenn who is a driving instructor/weekend racer with a knack of stumbling into trouble.
Just how much research is there behind a novel?
With thrillers and police procedurals, especially, there has to be a great deal of realism in the fiction. Fans of those genres are quick to spot bloopers – inaccurate facts bug them more than typos. State something as fact that isn’t true and your story quickly loses credibility. Once your story is no longer credible the reader will quickly lose interest.
So, it’s important the story conveys, through certain details, that the author is qualified to ‘drive’ it. Even when I am knowledgeable about a subject I will still research specifics to make sure I’m not mis-remembering something.
The research also has a side benefit in that it will often reveal another avenue, or thread, that can be used in the story.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
Due to be released in the Spring of 2020, Jacklighter Copse (not corpse) is the sequel to Torque. It is also the second book in the Chas Fenn and Inspector Lareault mystery thriller series so readers who enjoyed the action, pace, and characters of Torque can look forward to a similar page-turner.
How do you imagine your target reader?
I imagine them to be a publishing director at HarperCollins – or Tricia Helfer. Just kidding.
Obviously, my target reader must like crime fiction. They must also be willing to go off that well-worn and much beaten path. If they think they’re going to ride around with the inspector all-day, watching him collect clues, they may as well get out at the next stop. I employ a multi-third-person POV and always have a full cast of interesting characters.
One thing I work especially hard on is gender equality. On the one hand I know that most of my readers are female so I create plenty of assertive women, both heroines and villains. On the other hand, I know guys like technical details so I scatter a few of those into the chapters. I’m confident the formula works because I tend to get the same positive response from men as I do from women.
We all know this industry is full of surprises. Can you share an unexpected experience?
So far, the biggest surprise for me came from my next door neighbour. When he learned I was an author he said that Howard Engel, creator of the Benny Cooperman mystery series, was a good friend of his father’s. A couple months later my neighbour phoned and said that Howard was visiting his dad and that I could go over and meet him.
Howard and I had a nice chat for about an hour, and exchanged signed copies of our books. Unfortunately, Howard, now quite old, had suffered a stroke and lost his ability to read so I don’t think he ever opened mine but I was thrilled to spend some private time with one of Canada’s most popular authors.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
Completing my first novel and publishing it was one of the most satisfying things I have done. I couldn’t wait to be discovered as the next Lee Child and start living off the royalties. Luckily, I was let down gently. The book was well-received by those who read it and, when I pushed it, had no problem selling copies, but I soon realized I was pedaling uphill.
Most authors need to publish several books (a series if possible) and market the hell out of them to gain any traction.
I’d advise new writers to join writing groups, either locally or online, and participate in those groups to build relationships and benefit from the vast amount of knowledge and experience to be had.
It’s a long road so we have to be patient, keep plugging away, and know that this journey has rewards other than fame and fortune.
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And check out Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance if enjoy girl power, adventure & a toe-curling love story.
She just wanted to mope over her breakup but the universe had other plans for Zoey Mills.
Read the full blurb here.