Thanks so much for having me. When it’s time to write, that’s when I hunker down in front of the TV or get on Twitter or remember that I have a wife and kid. Basically, I procrastinate as long as possible until the muse possesses me and compels me to burn the midnight oil in the solitude of my den.
It’s not that I like to write in my den or any place of isolation for that matter. But when I’m in the zone, it’s best to leave me alone. I don’t have any writing rituals per se, but I need to create some, especially when the muse goes MIA.
Your novel is called Hands Up. What is it about?
Hands Up follows three characters from different worlds on are on collision course after a deadly police shooting spins their lives into chaos. Officer Ryan Quinn is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to choose between conscience or silence.
Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student who lives in one of the city’s worst neighbourhoods. She sets out to find the truth and get revenge after learning that there’s more to her brother’s death than the official police account.
While mourning the death of his son, Kelly Randolph returns to his hometown broke and broken to seek forgiveness for abandoning his family 10 years earlier. But when he is thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.
What’s your writing process like from idea to final draft?
It’s like a sausage factory on fire. It’s not pretty or safe. As Ernest Hemingway said, the first draft of anything is s***. My writing process aims to turn that s***, speck by speck, into gold.
What music would be on a playlist for Hands Up?
Given the different worlds explored in Hands Up, a variety of music genres would be appropriate. From classic rock to pop to hip hop to classical. In fact, several songs are referenced throughout the book, including Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” and Etta James’ “At Last.” Quite an eclectic mix.
Most of the characters I’ve enjoyed reading about the most have been serial killers (the Dexter book series), sociopaths (Amy Dunne of Gone Girl) or just a hot mess (Rachel Watson of The Girl on the Train). I wouldn’t want my life to collide with any of them, thank you very much.
Which novel that you’ve read has influenced or inspired you most?
The Stranger by Albert Camus. I first read this existentialistic classic in high school and its themes of absurdity and alienation haunt me and my writing to this day.
Do you think that character or plot is more important when writing a novel?
I think they’re equally important. A strong plot without fascinating characters is like a throwing a party in an insurance office. On the other hand, fascinating characters without a strong plot is like taking a road trip to nowhere. But when you have both, fasten your seatbelts!
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to write a novel but doesn’t know where to start?
Don’t do it. Unless you absolutely feel you have no other choice. Writing a novel is a masochistic, stress-inducing and tortuous experience that rarely leads to fame or fortune. But if you truly believe you have a story that must be told and can only be told by you, then I would recommend starting with NaNoWriMo, an annual writeathon in November to write a novel in a month.
How do you keep yourself motivated through the writing process?
By hanging out with my good friends Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker.
Any other advice for writers?
Never give up. The next draft will be better.
Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son.
Stephen’s Publisher: https://widopublishing.com/product/hands-up-by-stephen-clark/
Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.
Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighbourhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.
Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.
Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.