Hello my bookish peeps. Today the Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to host a visit by Kurt Kamm, author of Code Blood, The Lizard’s Tale, and more. Mr. Kamm will be discussing his insight on how “not to” write a novel. Without further adieu, I give you Kurt Kamm.
PLOT AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – HOW (NOT?) TO WRITE A NOVEL
It’s important to have a plot before you start writing a novel—right? Can you set out to write 60,000 – 80,000 words without having a detailed story in mind? What about the characters? Shouldn’t you have a complete list, along with an outline of their personalities and physical descriptions? What about the twists and turns in the story, and the surprise ending? Shouldn’t you have that on paper before you start?
Maybe. Maybe not.
I have read that some mystery writers develop incredibly detailed plot outlines before starting their novels. Some even supposedly plan every chapter and each event within the chapter. When I began writing Code Blood, I had resolved to develop a detailed outline before beginning to write, but found that I simply could not do it. I started with nothing more than a basic plot idea. All I have ever been able capable of is beginning with is a rough idea—in Code Blood, a woman’s foot is severed in an accident and the paramedics are unable to find it. I knew that I wanted to have two main characters – Colt the sensitive rookie paramedic, and Markus the weirdo who steals the foot from the scene of the accident. With that in mind, I sat down and began writing.
I have found that my plots unfold as I begin to write. This is where imagination comes into play. You start with a few words about what is happening, and the action begins to unfold. You are drawn into it and begin to visualize what comes next. The same applies to my characters. I always begin with a couple of two-dimensional individuals and see what happens when the action starts. Very quickly they fill out. They begin to live their own lives, make their own decisions, bring their own friends and enemies into the story, and create their own crises. At that point, I become no more than their mouthpiece—they determine their own courses of action and tell me what to put down on paper. Sometimes they get into a lot of trouble, or back themselves into a corner. They are often sad, frightened, or broke. Then they appeal to me to help them out. Sometimes I get annoyed, how could one of my characters get into such a mess? But I have to help out. After all, I created them.
I won’t tell you that this is a perfect process—there is a lot of cutting, pasting, and revision. But it works. Sometimes I may have to stop writing for days at a time and just try to think through what will happen next in the story. Usually, if I concentrate on my character’s personalities, and think about what they would do, the solution becomes apparent.
In Code Blood, Markus, a medical records technician, is obsessed with finding Bombay Blood, the rarest blood type in the world. This leads him into all kinds of delicious and dangerous predicaments. He‘s also very weird, uses painkillers, and collects body parts.
Markus handed Alexei the manila envelope with the cash. “I want a hand, a woman‘s hand,“ and imagined all the things he could do with it. He thought of his mother and felt her soft, fleshy hands caressing him.
“Is not so simple.“ Alexei opened the envelope and looked inside. “I cannot run downstairs and get hand. I match supply and demand for whole body. You choose left or right, but not man or woman.“
“Is a left hand cheaper?“
“Yes, left is cheaper. Is still another $1,200, payment on delivery. You take male or female, whatever comes. People don‘t die so often in summer. Everybody outside, having fun, no time for death. I give you couple days‘ notice.“
At the same time, Colt is a rookie paramedic who is a good, wholesome guy. How far does good and wholesome get you when you start to uncover the dark truth about a beautiful accident victim who dies in your arms?
“I’m still getting used being responsible for whether a person lives or dies,” Colt said. “What if I screw up and make a mistake? What if I forget to do something?” Colt got up and looked out through one of the small windows in the kitchen. “Like yesterday. That girl, Bibi, was lying on the pavement and her foot’s cut off. There’s no one with her and she’s looking at me with those deep blue eyes. So I tell her everything’s gonna be OK.”
“You do everything you can,” Captain Ames said, “but if you can‘t pull it off, it’s not your fault. You can’t perform miracles. You’re gonna lose some people.”
I find that as the novel progresses, it builds momentum, and about halfway through, I am suddenly immersed in a complex story with multiple individuals. During the day, when I am not writing, I often think about each character, and try to imagine what he (she) is thinking and doing.
By the end of the novel, I am close friends with most of my characters, and I often miss them when I finish writing about them. When I look back on each story, I am often amazed at the number of twists and turns, and the events that I never could have imagined at the beginning.
I hope you will enjoy reading Code Blood.
on Tour April 1 – May 31, 2017
Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.
Genre: Suspense, Vampire
Published by: MCM Publishing
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 233
ISBN: 0979855136 (ISBN13: 9780979855139)
Series: Code Blood is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Code Blood Literary Awards:
Writer‘s Type – First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
2012 International Book Awards – Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) – Winner of the 2012 Award
The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: Horror – Winner
LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
Reader’s Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
Knoxville Writer‘s Guild – 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place
Read an excerpt:
Colt heard a small chopper. It sounded like a lawnmower. He knew it couldn‘t be the AirSquad and looked up. A news helicopter circled overhead. He saw another coming up the coast from Los Angeles. In minutes, news crews in vans would arrive, extend their satellite transmission poles, broadcast pictures of the accident and fan out to find people to interview. In the process, several spectators would have a moment of fame on Los Angeles network television. The accident would be a good lead-in on the 11:00 p.m. Sunday night news, but the anchors would be disappointed that a Malibu celebrity wasn‘t involved.
Moose joined them with the backboard and laid it down next to the girl‘s body.
Brian checked the C-spine. “Ready guys? On my count.“
The men prepared to roll the girl on her side.
“Be careful,“ Colt said.
Brian gave Colt a quick look and said, “One, two, three.“
In unison, they rolled her onto her side, Moose pushed the board in toward her and the men laid her back onto it.
Colt thought he heard her utter a faint moan. While Brian secured the head brace and straps across her body and prepared her for transport across the beach, he looked at her bloodied leg again. “Where‘s the foot?“ he shouted. “Does someone have her foot?“ She still wore one delicate leather sandal.
“We can‘t find the sucker,“ one of the deputies told Colt.
“Can‘t find it? How‘s that possible?“ Colt said. The girl needed her foot. They had to ice it down before the tissue started to die. It might be reattached. “It has to be here somewhere.“ He went over to the damaged pickup.
The driver of the truck sat with his head down, behind the metal screen in the back seat of a black and white. A sheriff‘s deputy stood outside, questioning him through the window and writing on his notepad. Colt interrupted. “Where‘s the foot?“ He was met with a shrug and a blank stare from the deputy. Colt looked at the driver of the pickup, a man about his own age, and hated him.
Colt walked around the pickup. Glass shards from a headlight and pieces of plastic lay on the ground. He knelt in a pool of green coolant dripping from the smashed radiator and looked under the front of the truck. The foot wasn‘t there. He stood up and looked around.
Thirty or forty people stood in the parking lot watching the activity.
Excerpt from Code Blood by Kurt Kamm. Copyright © 2012 by Kurt Kamm. Reproduced with permission from Kurt Kamm. All rights reserved.
Malibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels which have won several literary awards. He is also the author of The Lizard’s Tale, which provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.
Kurt has used his contacts with several California fire departments, as well as with the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels.
In his chilling and suspenseful multi-award winning novel, Code Blood, Kurt takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood type in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her.
Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot? During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals.
Emergency medicine, high-tech medical research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts make for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller.
Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.
The Partners in Crime Blogging Team is loving the Code Blood Tour! Check out the other interviews, guest posts, reviews, and Giveaways!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kurt Kamm. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $20 Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 30 and runs through May 1, 2017.