Douglas Dorow is a thriller writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He recently published his first thriller, The Ninth District, and is working on the second in the series and a separate stand alone thriller.
MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main character in THE NINTH DISTRICT, who is your favorite and why?
Douglas Dorow: Thank you for hosting/interviewing me! Aside from my main character, FBI Special Agent Jack Miller, I think my favorite character is his sidekick, the new agent he is mentoring, Ross Fruen, who Jack relentlessly calls Junior. They don't get along so great in the beginning, but by the end they're true partners. Ross is confident, young, open to learning and ready to move ahead on a long, successful career of bringing down the bad guys.
MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes in THE NINTH DISTRICT and why is it your favorite?
Douglas Dorow: One of my favorite scenes is near the end when Agent Jack Miller needs to go down into the sewers and tunnels that run below downtown Minneapolis in pursuit of The Governor. Jack needs to face his fear of enclosed spaces while he takes the reader into an underground world that few have experienced, that has its own dangers.
MWU: Is there a character from THE NINTH DISTRICT that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again?
Douglas Dorow: Readers have liked Agent Ross Fruen, aka Junior. I'd like to write a future thriller based on him in a new assignment, maybe Jack would come back and help. He's different than Jack. Ross is younger, single; it would be a different perspective.
MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing?
Douglas Dorow: I just try to put myself in the shoes of the character I'm writing. The Ninth District is basically told from two POV's; Jack's and The Governors. I try to picture the scene and circumstances at the point I'm telling the story and tell it from their perspective. If I'm not feeling it for one, I'll move to a scene from the other's perspective. I've sat down before, ready to write a Jack scene and found I was in The Governor's head and had to write one of his scenes. I guess I was more in touch with my dark side at that time.
MWU: Are any of your characters in THE NINTH DISTRICT based on you or someone you know?
Douglas Dorow: None of the characters are based solely on someone I know, but there are pieces of people I know that have found their way into my characters. Ross Fruen is named after a real person who I don't know. To help raise money for my kids' school I donated a kindle loaded with books donated by many authors to be auctioned off. In addition, I auctioned off the naming of a character in my book. A man bought the item and named a character for a friend of his for his birthday and gave him the kindle.
MWU: How did you choose the title for THE NINTH DISTRICT? Did you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose?
Douglas Dorow: When I first started the story I knew I was writing about an FBI agent solving bank robberies, but I wasn't sure where it was going. Then, Oct 2001, I read a story about urban explorers who liked to explore the sewers and tunnels under Minneapolis. They talked about how they were stopping their exploration of the sewers across the river from The Federal Reserve because of heightened security after 9/11. That was it! The bad guy was going to rob The Fed via tunnels that ran underground close to it. And The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis oversees The Ninth District. That's where the name came from.
MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from THE NINTH DISTRICT (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
Douglas Dorow: The Ninth District is a fast-paced thriller featuring a veteran FBI agent partnered with a new agent who is trying to catch a serial bank robber/murderer. Besides going along for the ride while they try and catch a bank robber you get to see their relationship change as they go from teacher and student to true partners. The Ninth District is a quick read that I think you'll enjoy!
MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Douglas Dorow: I get writer's block sometimes. I work off of a high level scene outline, so if I get stuck, I move onto a different scene and try and figure out why I was struggling with the other. If I have writer's block it usually means there's something wrong with the story at that point and I have to figure out how to fix it or remove or replace the scene.
MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?
Douglas Dorow: The best advice I've heard is; first, read in your genre, a lot. Get to know the flow, structure, what works and what doesn't. Second, keep your butt in the chair and write, writing is writing, writing isn't tweeting or playing games or emailing. Third, the best advice I heard from John Sandford and it's related to the second point; Finish the book. You learn to write by completing the project. Rewriting the first half over and over doesn't teach you how to finish a book. You need to bring the project to completion to learn how to wrap up the story, how to edit it, how to get to The End.
MWU: What did you learn about writing and self-publishing through the development of THE NINTH DISTRICT? What advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena?
Douglas Dorow: Know what your goals are. Why do you want to publish? To see your book on a store shelf, to see it listed on Amazon, to make sales, to make money? Once you know your goals look at the book you're going to present to the readers. Make it the best it can be. Writing is the first part, editing is the second, getting a good cover is third. And if you want to have sales you have to learn about marketing, price points, partnerships, and social media and see if you can make yourself a little luck.
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?
Douglas Dorow: Writers - write the story you want to write, don't write for the market. New readers - try out a new indie writer. In this new self-pubbing world there are a ton of great stories out there told by author you may have never heard of, at prices that you can't beat. Make use of the sampling features to read before you buy. Fans - Thanks for reading The Ninth District, I'm glad you liked it. Be patient, I'm working on the sequel and it will be out soon!
The synopsis for THE NINTH DISTRICT:
Jack Miller is an experienced FBI Special Agent working out of the Minneapolis office, whose specialty is solving bank robberies. He has been teamed up to mentor a new agent who is trying to catch a serial bank robber, who killed a person in his last heist, raising the stakes.
The FBI agents discover this isn't a normal bank robber. They find themselves targets of the bank robber, who has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if that means eliminating the agents who are hot on his trail.
While they try to catch the bank robber, they always find themselves one step behind and under attack and leverage the FBI technical team, a group of computer geeks, for assistance. Jack's personal life, on the other hand, is unraveling. His wife, tired of taking the backseat to his job, has decided to leave with the kids. Jack fears for his family's safety and wants nothing more than to solve this case quickly and convince his wife to come home.
As the agents close in on the bank robber, they discover that the ultimate target has been The Ninth District Federal Reserve of Minneapolis. If he's successful in this heist it could have global implications.
As the city celebrates the Fourth of July with fireworks above ground, Jack must face his own fears and go down into the sewers and tunnels that run below the city in pursuit of the bank robber to stop him before electronic transmissions from the Fed reopen after the holiday.
This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join DOUGLAS DOROW and 9 of his author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!