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.]