The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Richard Doetsch and
The Thieves of Darkness

November 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Well before gaining recognition for his clever, backward tale of The 13th Hour, Richard Doetsch had established a reputation for inspired writing with The Thieves of Heaven and The Thieves of Faith — both featuring reformed thief Michael St. Pierre. And, in the author’s latest thriller, The Thieves of Darkness, this unique anti-hero returns — not necessarily to save the world — but to save those he loves.

As with any genre, there are thrillers and then there are quality thrillers of substance. And Richard’s thriller has been classified as:

“[A] masterpiece. . . . Richard Doetsch handles all the elements of a classic thriller superbly, and his characters are fleshed out and involving. He has earned his seat at the table with other A-list thriller writers.” — Booklist (Starred Review)

In his guest post, The One Thing a Writer Needs to Do Every Day, the author explained how he writes a daily story to keep the creativity flowing and when he’s ready to begin a new novel there are a lot of ideas on hand. According to the writer, The Thieves of Darkness contains five of the following one page stories:

1. A story based on Alistair Crowley’s expedition to climb Kanchenjunga and the question of what a man who was into the black arts was looking for.
2. The Piri Reis map story revolving around the fascination with this real map, housed in Topkapi Palace, that shows parts of the world in detail from 6000 B.C. long before man supposedly sailed the seas. But my story was about the other half of the sea chart, the half no one ever asks about, where was it and what did it depict?
3. A woman who worked for me left school at 6th grade to raise her younger sister when her parents were no longer capable of doing so. This gave me a story of true sacrifice, a story of a girl who has to go out and steal to raise her sister despite her own morals.
4. A story of Shambhala, and how it was both holy and evil, in balance, the concept of yin yang where one couldn’t exist without the other.
5. A story where a criminal had to break into prison to save his friend.

All of these came together to evolve into the novel and its synopsis:

An irresistible treasure, two master thieves, and a secret as old as mankind . . .

Michael St. Pierre, a reformed master thief, thinks he has left his criminal days far behind him, when he receives word that his best friend, Simon, has been locked up and sentenced to die in a brutal desert prison. Breaking into jail for the first time in his checkered career, Michael is stunned to discover that his new girlfriend, KC, is connected to Simon’s case.

With a madman on their heels, the three adventurers make their way to Istanbul in search of the mysterious artifact that landed Simon behind bars in the first place: a map containing the location of a holy place lost to the mists of time, a repository of knowledge and treasure predating Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Testing their courage and wits, Michael and his team are forced to plot a series of daring thefts that take them inside some of the city’s most celebrated (and heavily guarded) sanctums, from the imperial harem of Topkapi Palace to the tombs of the Hagia Sophia itself. More than priceless artifacts are at stake—the lives of loved ones and perhaps the fate of humanity itself hang in the balance.

A globe-trotting adventure that wings from the glittering banks of the Bosporus to the highest peaks of the Himalayas, The Thieves of Darkness confirms Richard Doetsch’s place as the modern-day master of pulse-pounding suspense.

Please click on Read an Excerpt (at Barnes&Noble’s site) for Chapter 1.

Not only is this book entertaining and enlightening, its writing is detailed, vivid, and fast-paced. In essence the reading experience is engaging and The Divining Wand wondered if that was because everything played out in Richard’s mind like a movie or does he write to create a movie? He said:

“I see it in my head as a movie. I’m not sure how other people write, but it all plays out in my mind’s eye. I usually have music going and that can really help drive the images out from somewhere deep within me.”

Now that is simply a remarkable gift and, as for his ability to present multi-layered, believable characters, Richard admits that Michael St. Pierre is based on himself. The reformed thief’s thoughts, feelings, and physical skills come from the author’s life in order to keep the character real. Still the truth is that he loves creating all the characters by observing friends/acquaintances so when he does a daily story there is usually a character in mind for the leading role.

Although Richard successfully challenged himself to write The 13th Hour in 30 days, The Thieves of Darkness — written beforehand — required six months to compose. In addition to the storyline and the characters, there is the intensive research involved. Research that made the novel 50% longer before it was edited out in favor of pacing.

Hmm, so what is the key to writing a good thriller? From his experience, the author thinks this type of book needs to have a rhythm. As he explains, “it needs to build like a song with tension growing higher and higher until release, then it needs to breath and start on that ride again. To me, characters are the most important part. If people care for and can identify with them, then the jeopardy is so much more palatable, you don’t need to threaten the world just threaten the characters people care about. When I’m in full on writing mode, my brain doesn’t stop. I’m usually plotting throughout my time away from the keyboard which my wife and kids always know by that far off look in my eyes.”

That far off look ultimately results in taking the reader to far away locations filled with mystery, suspense, and action. It’s truly an escape, a fun and refreshing change of reading pace for anyone. Of course it would be natural to suggest The Thieves of Darkness for every male on your holiday gift list and, yes, they would be thrilled (pun intended) to receive a copy. Yet what about you, don’t you deserve an escape too? Take off around the world with Michael St. Pierre and enjoy every page….as much as I did!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Richard Doetsch’s The Thieves of Darkness in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Richard Doetsch on
The One Thing a Writer Needs to Do Every Day

November 09, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Internationally bestselling author Richard Doetsch (The Thieves of Darkness, The 13th Hour, The Thieves of Heaven, The Thieves of Faith) writes thrillers filled with action packed storylines, foreign locations, and characters a reader needs to care about about and root for. How does he, as a writer, keep up with this fast-paced need for new ideas? In today’s guest post, Richard explains what he does on a daily basis as well as what he believes every writer needs to do too.]

The One Thing Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day

Every successful author will tell you to be a great writer you must write every day. True. But that doesn’t hone your craft as a story teller. I don’t care how well you write, how good your prose is, how deep your vocabulary is, in this day and age, story is king.

As writers of fiction, we need to distinguish ourselves, make our stories stand apart. How many police procedurals are out there? How many stories of love lost and found; how many tales of the handsome detective/Navy SEAL/Covert Agent are there? What makes the great ones stand out? Great original story.

I have what I call the everyday story file. Every single day I jot down a quick story, I have been doing it for a long time and so I have amassed a large file of stories which I have drawn on to write novels, Vooks, and movies.

Creating compelling stories is an art. So often when someone finishes a novel they take the first or second idea that has been floating in their head for months and run with it. But what if you have a file of ideas to draw on, a file with over 300 ideas in it?

If you want to write a great story you have to create a new story every day.

Every single day, 365 days a year. Nothing big. No more than a page, usually just a quick paragraph or two, maybe the three act approach. Write anything, write something out of your comfort zone, write something no one would believe you would write. Granted most of the ideas will probably stink, you may not want to repeat them to anyone, but think of this: if only five percent of those ideas are good, that’s 18 good ideas! And If 1% are great that’s 3 great ideas.

Of course you may marry some of your ideas together and come up with something completely different. But more importantly, you will open your mind, you will tap that well spring of creativity, the place where your childhood imagination ran wild.

By doing this you will hone your craft as a story teller, because after all, the public wants great stories, new stories, Hollywood and publishing want the next great idea. If you only ponder a story a few times a year you might get lucky once in a while but in this day and age we can’t rely on luck.

By example, The 13th Hour was an idea I had on April 26th 2008 of a story told in reverse, I had another idea from January 14th 2008 that involved a man going back in time in one hour increments to save his wife who had already died. I put them together and wrote The 13th Hour in July 2008.

Embassy was an idea from February 2009 that was sparked as I was walking by the Russian Consulate on the upper east side of Manhattan. It was a what if scenario about a hostage crisis within the walls of a foreign Embassy in New York, a place that U.S. law enforcement can’t enter.

And The Thieves of Darkness encompasses six different ideas that ended up fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.

So when you listen to all the experts out there, all the people that say write everyday, you should listen, but just as important you should create every day, dream every day, formulate a story every single day and file it away.

And think of it this way, you get to free your mind for fifteen minutes from your current writing assignment. How great is it to let the mind wander, to go anywhere it wishes or is taken? If you don’t believe me, try it for a month and see what happens, you will be surprised what you come up with.

Hope all is well with all.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Chandra Hoffman’s Chosen in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Chandra Hoffman and Chosen. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

The Revealing of Richard Doetsch

November 03, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Richard Doetsch, bestselling author of The Thieves of Heaven, The Thieves of Faith, and, of course, The 13th Hour, offers readers/fans a new thriller, The Thieves of Darkness.

In a brief sentence — to avoid any *spoilers* — the author describes the novel as: Filled with history, mystery, and the breakneck pace of The 13th Hour, I think it is my best novel yet.

And Booklist more than agrees:

“*Starred Review* The plot offers an agreeable blend of heist drama and escape story. Knowledge from the previous St. Pierre adventures is not necessary, but readers will scramble to find them after finishing this masterpiece. Doetsch has earned his seat at the table with other A-list thriller writers.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The Thieves of Darkness for Monday, November 15, 2010. However, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through his “official” bio:

Richard Doetsch is the bestselling author of two thrillers The Thieves of Heaven and The Thieves of Faith, as well as The 13th Hour. He is also the president of a national real estate company based in New York, where he lives with his family.

Hmm, now it’s definitely time to get to know Richard upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Creative, adventurer, passionate, athletic, focused, optimist, loyal, happy

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Nothing is impossible.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: I call it Perfection of Moment, when all your senses are firing, you want for nothing, and everyone around you is happy.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Living, being, and dying alone.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Standing on the bow of a moving boat at sea.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Ben Franklin, his imagination fed his writing, his inventions, his politics.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Sounds corny, but without hesitation, my wife. She accomplishes more in the morning than most do in a week.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: According to mY kids: Doetsch’s never quit, don’t tell me it can’t be done.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: To fly.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: My kids.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: My optimism.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: My optimism.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: I have no regrets, I have learned from my failures and mistakes, without them I wouldn’t be the person I am now.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: Superman.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I’m always positive.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Indiana Jones

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: The Joker – He encompasses so many traits

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Pat Tillman who left the AZ Cardinals to go to war and was killed. I’d ask him what gave him such strength of character and conviction and how we could instill that in others.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: I have two: People who talk about what they are going to do instead of doing it & I wish people would educate themselves beyond a newspaper headline before talking like an expert.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Playing and listening to music & adrenaline sports.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Explorer of New Worlds.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Loyalty, persistence, passion.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Peanut butter and bacon on white toast

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Layla-Clapton
Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting – Elton John
Misty MT Hop – Zepplin
Hotel California – Eagles
Unforgiven – Metallica
My ipod has over 10,000 songs from rock, to country, to classical, to soundtracks, I love it all.

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Count of Monte Cristo
A Christmas Carol
The List of Seven
The James Bond Books
To Kill a Mockingbird

Interesting, intriguing and as adventurous as his thrillers, Richard Doetsch is an author to follow on Twitter and friend on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: This week Skyhorse Publishing has generously provided The Divining Wand with two Hardcover copies of Kim Stagliano’s All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa to be given away in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Kim Stagliano and All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.

Richard Doetsch: What Makes This Author Tick?

January 27, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

After a month in bookstores and — two months since the late November post, Richard Doetsch’s The 13th Hour, appeared here — the thriller is doing well. And the author of The Thieves of Heaven, The Thieves of Faith asked for the opportunity to revisit The Divining Wand to say:

“Thanks to those initial readers of The 13th Hour, to pick up a book and take a chance is not an easy thing. The promise of a cover or inner flap is asking people to commit to spending five or ten hours with someone’s creation. And so it’s a risk, but with the building buzz and reviews, I think it was a risk worth taking.

“When I started writing The 13th Hour, it was really a personal challenge to see if I could write a novel starting at chapter 12 and writing it backwards over a 30 day period of time. I wrote just as people have been reading it, riding the rollercoaster of twists, turns, and excitement, never fully knowing where I was going, boxing myself into impossible corners, and then having to think my way out. I’ve jumped out of planes, off of bridges and cranes, and swam in wrecks 90 feet under water with a shark guarding the door, but nothing compared to the satisfaction and adrenaline rush I had when I finally finished this book.”

Could this novelist be as unique as his latest book? Indeed he could and is!

Every writer has a story and Richard Doetsch’s begins with coming to this career later in life. Despite never having taken a writing class, he discovered that his “voracious appetite for reading served as the ultimate school.” Actually he considers himself a storyteller first and a writer second, believing that his imagination needs to explore original ideas and not repeat what others have done. In fact Richard began writing one day while looking for something new to read, walking away empty-handed, yet with the question of what would he want to see in a book?

“Everyone talks about writing a novel someday which is ridiculous from so many points of view. But I had a story to tell so I just started writing on the train one day and did it every day for almost a year, writing my first novel, The Thieves of Heaven. I never had so much fun and, as it turns, out, I could actually do it.”

Sound a bit too easy? Well Richard does have a drawer full of over sixty agent rejection letters. But then his wife gave the manuscript to a friend/bookstore owner for a critical read. The bookstore owner loved the story and he knew an agent… And, though this flies against what almost all writers are told, Doetsch believes: “In any business be it real estate, manufacturing, or publishing, it is through networking and contacts that we make the most headway.”

Of course landing an agent and a publisher is one thing, holding on to those contracts requires delivering a good book. Doetsch manages this with a seven day work week schedule that includes writing in the morning from 9 to noon and returning at night around 9 until 2:00 a.m. Yes, there are exceptions for family and fun events but — when on deadline — this is how he works.

For The 13th Hour Richard challenged himself, not only to write a unique thriller, but to do so on a self-imposed deadline of 30 days. Having an open window of time, while waiting for edits on The Thieves of Darkness, he dipped into his every-day-new-idea story journal and chose “a time travel tale of a man racing against time to save the woman he loved.”

Richard Doetsch talks about The 13TH Hour:

Listening to the author talk about writing as though reading the novel begged the question, how much was outlined? And Richard answered:

“Writing the thirteenth hours was like playing five games of chess in my head at the same time. I wrote the story backwards in the same way the reader experiences it. In so doing, I had to remember the future and the past. It was difficult but fun as it was like a giant puzzle whose every move reverberated throughout the story. AS to the outline, I wrote a one page outline broken down by 12 chapters (hours) and wrote down how each started and ended. Other than that it was just full steam ahead with whatever popped into my head at the moment. I should note I had a note pad that grew daily with little facts, notes, and time sensitive points so I wouldn’t fall flat on my face in frustration or failure.”

For the record, Doetsch wasn’t under contract for the book and, since no one knew of his plan, there was an exit if he didn’t succeed. But he earned success and his literary agent loved it, his film agent loved it and Hollywood loved it too.

So how did this adventurous thrill-seeker reward himself for achieving his challenge?

“I did not reward myself but that sounds like a good idea! I actually started a new story the following day. I think being given the privilege to write for a living is reward enough. I’m extremely lucky in that I know how hard people work be it writing, their day jobs, or life and so I will never look this gift horse in the mouth.”

The 13TH Hour is a fun, fascinating, change-of-pace read that will be coming to a local theater next year. Yet why wait, when you can escape and be entertained now by Richard Doetsch and his most original ticking clock tale?!

[For those readers who think they know their time travel, please visit The 13TH Hour Contest page.]

Richard Doetsch’s The 13th Hour

November 30, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Book Trailers, Books

Hear the clock ticking? Unlike Jack Bauer and company, who always have 24 hours to find the evil mastermind and save the world, Richard Doetsch (The Thieves of Heaven, The Thieves of Faith) only gives his main character 12 hours to prevent a horrific crime from destroying his personal life in The 13th Hour to be released on December 29, 2009.

Billed as “A THRILLER,” this novel takes the reader on a unique race against time by posing the question, What if you could reach back in time and change a single moment…?
 That’s correct, another time travel storyline but this one has a twist as the author notes:

“You are not mistaken as you turn to the next page and find Chapter 12.

“The chapters of this book are in reverse order and are to be read that way for reasons that will become evident upon your journey.”

Oh the fun of the chilling unexpected, the mental challenging turns, and the heart-stopping maniacal moments, seconds, minutes that this thriller holds.

Here is a synopsis:

A mesmerizing thriller — told in reverse! The 13th Hour is the story of a man given the chance to go back in time in one-hour increments to prevent a vicious crime from destroying his life.

Nick Quinn is being held in jail, accused of the murder of his beloved wife, Julia. He knows she’s dead; he saw her bloody corpse, shot in the head at point-blank range. The police tell him they found the murder weapon with his fingerprints on it in the trunk of his car. Nick is confused, grief-stricken — and completely innocent.

At 9 p.m. on July 28, a gray-haired gentleman visits Nick in the police interrogation room and asks him a simple question: “If you could get out of here, if you could save her, would you?” He hands Nick a golden talisman that allows Nick to go back in time, one hour at a time, for a total of twelve hours. With each hour that Nick travels back, he finds more clues to the identity of Julia’s real killer, but he also discovers that his actions in the past may have unexpected repercussions in the future.

In his race against time to save the woman he loves most in the world, Nick will find that friends become enemies, old loyalties are tested, and Julia’s murder is part of a larger scheme that has its roots in greed and vengeance. Nick has the ability to save Julia, the chance to put his own world in balance, but he is venturing down a precarious route. If he hasn’t set things right by the thirteenth hour, his desperate attempts to save Julia’s life may lead to a far greater catastrophe than he could have ever imagined.

A surprising and utterly original thriller, The 13th Hour is pure page-turning suspense — full of double crosses, cliffhangers, and shocking revelations.

Now please watch The 13th Hour video:

And you may also read The First Chapter.

Having heard about The 13th Hour earlier in the fall, this Fairy Godmother felt more than pleased to accept an Advanced Reader Edition with the promise of, “You will LOVE it!” And indeed I did.

The reading experience was a change of pace — a fast-moving, curiosity that dares the mind to remember what’s already happened and what needs to be changed. For, in this time travel, every hour takes two steps backward, one forward, and every new action affects the future.

Intelligent, clever, and thoughtfully moral, The 13th Hour is also just plain fun. In fact the novel is a refreshing escape that energizes the imagination, even while leaving it a bit breathless.

However there is one criticism, that being poor timing with the book’s release date. The 13th Hour is the perfect gift for…anyone, and it’s difficult to understand who scheduled the release for after the holidays. Although TRUTH: Happy New Year gifts can be among the best surprises!

And, finally, who is Richard Doetsch, this thrilling author? Well, according to his website:

“Richard is a respected expert in the field of commercial and residential real estate, having served as the president, managing director, and owner of several large national real estate firms. He currently runs his own investment firm with offices in New York and Connecticut.

While many authors choose to write about thrills, Richard has lived his life experiencing them.”

To learn more, visit About the Author and/or friend Richard Doetsch on Facebook.

Whatever you do, though, remember that The 13th Hour is coming to a local bookstore or online retailer on December 29, 2009. PROMISE: If you read this book, you will love it!

Announcement: The winners of Wendy Nelson Tokunaga’s new novel, Love in Translation, are: Janel and Reiko. Congratulations to you both! Please email: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with a mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly. Also many thanks to everyone who commented, my wish is that you’ll all have the opportunity to read the book.