A dingy, unkempt office space with the thump-thump-thump of a broken down ceiling fan wobbling on the ceiling…smoke from a half-used cigarette clouding the room in a haze…and a long legged dame slinking over to the desk, a look of desperation on her face…that’s what I usually think of when I picture a hard-boiled detective story in my head. I can almost see the black and white images flashing through that little TV inside my brain. But Rick Nichols’ debut novel is not your typical cardboard cutout hard-boiled thriller.
In Survivor’s Affair, Nichols has created a perfect blend of classic murder mystery, martial arts mayhem, conspiratorial espionage, and edge-of-your-seat action scenes. Oh yeah, and there are some really good looking, sexy dames just dying to get the book’s hero, John Logan, in all sorts of trouble.
The best way I can think of to really describe this book is Phillip Marlow meets Burn Notice meets American Ninja. I know that’s a tall order to take in, but the premise of the book centers on John Logan, a man who was raised in Japan since the death of his parents as a child. While living there, he learned the martial arts, then was recruited by the United States government as a spy. After falling in love with the woman of his dreams, Logan quits the business and starts doing private investigations and consulting. The subsequent death of his wife (before the book even begins), has traumatized him to some degree and he’s having to daily deal with the ghosts of the past. In a white-knuckled, beat up the bad guys kind of way.
Here’s the product description and a few advanced reviews of the book for your own perusal:
John Logan has left his life in the intelligence community behind, eking out a meager living as a private investigator and trying to stay off the espionage radar.
But keeping a low profile proves harder than he thought when Coral Bay’s millionaire Golden Boy ends up on the wrong side of a Samurai sword and his former mentor’s wayward daughter the number one suspect. Finding himself honor bound, Logan is forced to join the hunt for the real killer.
But when the body count quickly rises and the danger begins to spiral closer to home, he calls on two former colleagues for help. What they uncover will have Logan questioning everything he’s ever believed.
PRAISE FOR SURVIVOR’S AFFAIR:
“Survivor’s Affair is a whirlpool of violence, treachery, and babes who can’t keep their hands off PI John Logan. Be warned, this book will suck you in and won’t let go until the last shot is fired.” – Sean Ellis, author of The Shroud of Heaven.
“Nichols’ ability to take the reader’s imagination and put it into overdrive is impressive…brilliantly conceived. The raw emotion brought out in the story is something that makes the book hard to put down.” – Detective Bradley Nickell, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Robbery/Homicide Bureau and author of Repeat Offender.
“John Logan joins the ranks of crime fiction’s tough guys.” – Simon Wood, author of Terminated.
“An ex-spy, turned private eye…conspiratorial twists and turns…and a murder with one heck of a sharp samurai sword. What’s not to love about this book? Nichols’ debut novel packs a two-fisted wallop!” – Kent Holloway, author of Primal Thirst (Yes, I even gave this book some pre-publication praise!)
Recently, I was able to sit down and chat with Rick about his book and his writing. Here’s what he had to say:
1) Where did you get the idea for John Logan and company? Can you describe the evolution of the character(s)?
John Logan first came to me when I was in college over 20 years ago. I wanted to write a sci-fi story about a group of cyborg soldiers fighting against an alien race and John Logan was to be their leader. Like the character today, he was a widower, and had roots in Japan. One day I happened upon three novels by Eric Van Lustbader: The Ninja, The Miko, and Black Heart. The main characters had strong Asian connections and were skilled martial artists. Logan began to evolve into a modern day character and more of a skilled soldier and spy. My early attempts to write him this way failed because I felt that I was doing a faint copy of Lustbader. By this time I was out of college and did a tour in the military and I’d been wanting to do a private eye story. I came up with the idea to combine my love for the PI noir story with Logan’s background. All the years Logan had been evolving in my head, slowly revealing more layers of his character and personality and background.
2) This is your first novel. Can you tell us a little about your experience getting it published? How many versions of your book could there have been? What was your biggest frustration?
In my journey as a writer, I’d read a lot of books on writing and they taught me a lot about the basics of writing: showing, not telling, and good points on plot, story, pacing, etc. Still, Survivor’s Affair went through almost 10 different versions and rewrites to get to the book it is now. I’ve never considered it wasted effort. I learned a lot about the craft and it’s a much better story than it was 10 years ago.
I’d also read about how to get published. I’d read how John Grisham was rejected over 20 times for his first one so I knew it would be an uphill battle. By the time I was sending out query letters, the economy had turned south and publishing companies were folding or merging. I’ve had enough rejection slips to paper a wall. It can be a frustrating and humbling experience for a young writer but you have to have a tough skin and keep plugging away.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
My first influence was a paperback writer named Don Pendleton. He wrote The Executioner series of action books in the early 70’s. His writing started the spark in me to write. Of course I was a kid and didn’t know much about writing but it started me on the path.
When I got older I discovered Raymond Chandler and fell in love with the detective novel. Robert B. Parker was also a big influence and still is. His sparse Hemingway-like prose taught me that flowery and wordy isn’t always better. And of course, Eric Van Lustbader. His novel Black Heart is still on my bookshelf and remains one of my top three favorite books. His pacing and descriptive prose could enthrall me for hours.
4) Can you tell us about any of your upcoming books? Do you have a sequel to Survivor’s Affair coming out? Anything different?
I’ve just finished the first draft of the sequel to Survivor’s Affair, tentatively titled The Affairs of Men. I’m doing preliminary work on a fantasy novel that’s been rattling around in my head for some time and will probably work on it next.
5) What do you think is the greatest source of pleasure for you in your writing? Why?
I love taking the ideas and characters inside my head and making them come to life. Logan, Killian, Teri, and the others are very real to me. When I don’t write, I feel on-edge, as though something in my life is out of balance.
6) If any aspiring writers are out there reading this, what would you like to say to them?
I could spend an hour on this but let me mention a couple of things. Stephen King, I think, had the best writing advice I ever read. I follow it and it’s never let me down: READ A LOT AND WRITE A LOT. I’ve never met a good writer who wasn’t a voracious reader.
I would also add:
–If you’ve never written a novel before, learn the craft. Get a couple of good books on writing and read them. A couple I’d recommend are King’s On Writing and How to Write Fiction by
Barnaby Conrad. Both were very helpful for me. I wish I’d had them earlier on in my life.
–Whatever you want to write—novel, short stories, poetry, whatever it is—there can be no
buts, no excuses. You need to set aside time every day to write. If you let too much interfere,
you will never get it done.
Thanks Rick, for that interview!
Now I know you guys either love a great mystery or know someone who does. So I highly recommend going out and getting a copy of Survivor’s Affair today! It’s currently available on Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble though the actual release date isn’t until May 11…Christmas came early this year, I guess! The following is a link to it at Barnes and Noble:
You can also pick up an ebook copy of it at Smashwords (the Kindle version is on its way, but hasn’t been released yet):
And finally, you can learn more about Rick at his website…or just look him up on Facebook!