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Richard Aaron lives in a cold, northwestern city with his wife, four children, and various dogs and cats. He has a university degree in mathematics and a Masters in law. Neither have anything to do with his burgeoning career as a writer. He worked in the real world for two decades before realizing he was actually meant to be a writer. Gauntlet was produced soon thereafter.
We interviewed Richard to find out more about his new book, Gauntlet, and his life as a published author.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
My name is Richard Aaron. I am a lawyer by day and a writer by night. I have been practicing law as a litigator for 28 years. It was there that I acquired the skill to write and weave together intricate stories. It’s what every successful lawyer does. I felt that I could take that skill to the next level of abstraction, and was encouraged in that direction by some neuropsychiatric testing I’d had done. The result was Gauntlet, published March, 2009. I am presently working with my editor on revising the sequel, and am hopeful that it will be ready for printing within four to six months (I’m told the release date is July, 2010). Gauntlet is selling extremely well.
Do you write full-time?
I do not write full time. I write for three or four hours a day, if I can manage it. If revenues from writing increase, I hope to dedicate more time to it in the future.
At what point in your life did you make up your mind you were going to become a published author?
I began to toy with the idea of writing in my mid-40s. When I started writing Gauntlet, I knew I would want to see it published. I had no idea how that was going to happen, but it was always my goal. I’m now working on reorganizing the firm so that I have enough free time to pursue this seriously.
If you could trade places with one author who you have admired over the years, who would it be and why?
If I could trade positions with one author, it would be Tom Clancy. I think he is a magnificent writer. I have enjoyed all his books, and I would love to see how he does things.
What was the inspiration behind your book? Why did you feel a need to write it?
The inspiration for the novel came from one of my children, who is autistic. I wanted to give him a vision of someone with autism conquering great odds and becoming the hero. I absolutely believe that my son is capable of amazing things, and I wanted to take the character of Turbee and mold him into what I think my son can become. Having my son read the book was incredibly rewarding, for that reason.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
The novel begins when Libya, to appease the U.S. and Britain, agrees to turn over its vast stockpile of highly explosive Semtex (some 660 tons). It is hauled to the center of the Sahara, and destroyed. Richard Lawrence, the CIA agent in charge of the assignment, realizes afterwards that 4.5 tons have gone missing, and is now in the hands of terrorists intent on destroying a major American landmark. This sets off a colorful chase across the globe, as the Semtex makes its way towards its intended destination, with the good guys racing madly behind. Turbee, the autistic hero, is the character based on my son. Part of the novel deals with his fall and subsequent redemption, as he’s the only one with the keys to the terrorist’s destination. The tension notches higher throughout the novel, and the leader is constantly left with the question - where is the Semtex heading, and will the U.S. be able to stop it in time?
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I chose this genre because I enjoy reading books like this. I have been asked recently whether I will do a legal thriller, because of my experience in the field. My publisher is in favor of that route, and perhaps someday I will. I can tell you that in all of my books there will be a court appearance, and the judge will almost certainly be an ass. This is a promise I’ve made to myself, based on my experience as a lawyer.
What kind of research did you have to conduct to write your book?
What kind of research? It was endless. I knew my book had to be realistic. And as a writer, I want my reader to know how the great Garagum Desert feels, what it’s like to fly an Apache LongBow, or an F-18. I research everything constantly. I can fairly say that for each page of prose I had at least three of research. No one can get into my study at home anymore because of the piles of paper. My wife says it’s becoming a fire hazard.
Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do when that happens?
I seldom get writer’s block, but it does happen. If it lasts longer than a day or two I will strap on my gear and go running to the point of absolute exhaustion – I’m talking 20 to 25 miles. After the first 15 miles things get kind of surreal, you’re starting to drift through the run and the confusion recedes. Usually at that point things sort themselves out. My wife wants me to put on a GPS device so that if I have a major cardiac event, or am wiped out by a train (I often run railway Right of Ways) she will know where to find me.
Where do you get ideas to write your books?
My ideas for books? I am by nature a curious, mischievous what-iffer. You know, what would happen if this blew up. Or how could I destroy this structure, and so on. Sometimes I feel like the Department of Homeland Security must have a bead on me, because of the things I email back and forth with my editor, and the books I order from Amazon (like twelve books on how to make a simple nuclear weapon, and that sort of thing). They’ve got to be watching me. The ideas, though, always come from seeing a news story or a particular structure and just thinking… what if…