I’d like to welcome N.D. (David) Richman today to talk with me about his B.R.A.G. Medallion book. David is the father of four teenage children – Christopher, Michael, Thomas and Katherine. He has been married to his high school friend, Tracy, for thirty years. David is a dedicated husband and father, and wrote his first book for his children, wanting to ensure they were interested in reading. When not writing David is a self-employed Automation Engineering Technologist. He loves the wilderness, in particular the Rocky Mountains to the west of his home in Calgary, Alberta. David is a graduate of an Outward Bounds wilderness survival program.
Hello, David! Thank you for talking with me today about your B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree book, Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys.
Thank you for this opportunity, Stephanie, and all you do for writers and readers.
Please tell me a little about your book.
Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys is the first book in the Boulton Quest Series. It is an extreme action and adventure story about two brothers whose parents are kidnapped in a home intrusion. The brothers must put their differences aside to find and rescue their parents as the bad guys hunt the boys down.
I wrote the book for my son, Michael, when he was ten, as a means to interest him in reading. The concept and main characters were his creation. The four characters in the book, Christopher, Michael, Thomas and Katherine share the names and some of the characteristics of my children.
Although the book was written for reluctant readers it has received an overwhelming response from boys and girls of all ages, and their parents.
What is the relationship like between Michael and Christopher?
The relationship between Michael and Christopher is tenuous. Christopher is withdrawn, serious and mature. He has taken care of Michael for most of his life and is disappointed in his brother’s antics but never gives up hope that Michael will become the person he wanted in a baby brother.
Michael’s a reckless bully and a failure at school. He cares little of his older brother and finds pleasure in hurting Chris mentally and physically. There’s an unseen side to Michael, however, which unfolds as the story develops.
What is Christopher’s strengths?
Christopher is an introvert and that’s where his strengths lie. He reads, thinks and observes and in spite of his disappointment in his little brother, he loves Michael and has a deep sense of responsibility for him.
Was there a challenging scene to write?
I’d have to say the entire first chapter was the most challenging to write. It was moved, replaced and re-written more than any other chapter in the book. I submitted the book to agents for a year and with each rejection revised the first chapter, trying to find the formula they were looking for, and ultimately reduced its quality and purpose. After I published the first edition of the book I received a couple of comments on the first chapter that encouraged me to revise it one more time.
It’s all good now.
How did you come up with your fictional towns, Silvertip and Corunton?
Silvertip is Grizzly Bear nickname and a direct reference to the bear attack suffered by Chris and Michael in the Pacific Coast Mountains.
Corunton is located on the west coast of Canada and I perused west coast aboriginal words to find the name. It means angry and I refer to the definition when I write in the book:
“Are you nuts? Coruntan? Four hundred and fifty miles?”
“Why so angry, Michael?”
Unfortunately, the link defining the word has been removed from the internet so I can’t give a reference.
I should note, I’ve written the second book so the reader can use Google Earth to find the exact location of the plane crash with one additional piece of information, the location of Silvertip. One day, I’ll publish this secret link.
Could you please share an excerpt from your story?
Michael pulled up beside him. “Oh, Ssshhiuks,” Michael said.
The train station looked like a war bunker. Eight metal doors, scarred and dented, were set into a blackened, cement block. Concrete walls funneled into them like a slaughterhouse drive corridor. It smelled of stale cigarettes, sweat, alcohol, and puke. It was a perfect trap.
Six teenagers leaned against the doors, smoked cigarettes, and watched. They wore old jeans, torn and dirty, and T-shirts that looked like they’d been washed in grease. Their hair was long and un-kept. Their eyes sparkled as though they had spotted a fancy toy to play with, or a car to steal.
One kicked a clean, yellow boom box. The music stopped.
Chris glanced around. A four-lane road ran behind the station. Beyond it, a Costco sign perched atop a building. The ground vibrated under his feet. An eighteen wheeler rumbled by. Could they run it without being hit? Probably not. Michael had been hit by a car already today. He wouldn’t be so lucky a second time.
Chris turned and glanced behind him. He shuddered. The path was the only option. He tensed, ready to bolt. He caught Michael’s eye and nodded back towards the path.
Michael pursed his lips and glared at Chris.
The teenagers spread out and blocked their path.
One of them flicked his cigarette onto the ground. “Where are you guys going?” he asked. Smoke streamed through his teeth. He was fairly small, had charcoal hair, and a hint of insanity in his brown eyes. He wore torn and dirty jeans, a black T-shirt, and a jean jacket with a snake on the sleeve.
“Mini motor bike gang wannabe,” Michael whispered. He squared his shoulders and started toward the kid.
“What the heck are you doing?” Chris whispered. He glanced behind him and turned. Michael quickened his pace.
“Shoot!” Chris said. He sprinted after Michael.
Chris looked at Michael. Michael furrowed his brow, clenched his jaw, and glared at the leader. Chris scanned the kids. They were grinning. There was no way he and Michael could take on six of them. They were dead.
Two more steps to go.
What is an example of a conflict in your story and how does your characters handle it?
The conflict between Chris and Michael lives through the entire book, though it morphs into a playful rivalry as Chris learns to deal with it, which he does unknowingly by falling in love with Katherine. At this moment Chris understands his self- worth is not defined by his relationship with Michael and he lets it go. Michael stops hurting Chris when he realizes Chris isn’t impacted by it anymore.
What are the ages of your main characters?
Michael just turned twelve and Christopher is just under fifteen. This is a balance I had to strike to keep Michael at a more believable age of twelve and Chris just old enough to remember Michael as a baby.
Is there a particular message in your story you want your readers to grasp?
To me, the book reveals the extent our behaviour impacts others — whether parents on their children, bullies on their victims, or siblings on each other. Although not a direct message I’d like the reader to think about that.
Who designed your book cover?
Peter at Bespoke Book Covers designed the cover. He was amazing. I gave him a quick overview of the book, showed the characters through pictures of my kids, and asked for a cover with a James Bond feel. He nailed it on the first try.
How long did it take for you to write your story? And where in your home do you like to write?
I didn’t set out to write a book and surprised myself when the first third flowed out over a few weeks. The middle third took a few months. The last third was written in one night (a very late night). This occurred over a year. I read the book to my kids and tossed it in the basement, thinking it wasn’t good enough for the public. My wife rescued the manuscript and gave it to a writer friend of hers, Gloria Singendonk. Gloria insisted it had to be published and that started my five year journey of learning, critique groups, and revision.
Michael was sixteen by the time I published it
Gloria was incredibly supportive and is the editor for all my books.
I wrote this book with four young children and had to write it wherever I found the opportunity, and that was most often sitting on the floor between dances, on a plane, or a hotel room at Irish Dance Competitions (Feis’). Now the kids are older I’m most often found writing in a Lazy-Boy recliner with my feet up when the family is watching TV or early weekend mornings while they’re sleeping.
What is your writing process and how do you come up with the ideas for your story?
I create the chapters in my head before I write them, and write about eight chapters before I’m overwhelmed by the desire to go back and revise. As I write the next eight chapters I’ll often go back to the first eight to revise, and so-on until complete. I take sporadic breaks that can last for several weeks.
Many of the situations in the first book came from my childhood — yes, even the bear. The sequels (the third will be published this summer) have taken on a life of their own. They’re writing themselves now. I just put the words on paper.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
I discovered IndieBRAG through Awesome Indies, a fine group of people whose advice improved Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys.
Where can readers buy your book?
Both books in the Boulton Quest Series, print and ebook format, can be found at all major online retailers including Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters Indigo. Links can be found at my website, website
Thank you, David!
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview N.D. Richman who is the author of, Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys, one of our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.