Author: Sean B. Fraser
Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Sean B. Fraser, author of Extreme Betrayal.
Good day Sean and thanks for participating in our interview.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
And a very good day to you Norm, well, as far as my personal life goes, I live in, Dolls Point, Sydney, Australia. It’s a small suburb by Botany Bay, just south of the city. In fact it’s directly opposite the first landing site of Captain Cook.
On a day to day basis I love getting out and about, walking, bike riding fishing and having coffee with my friends. In the wider picture, last year, with a couple of friends, I fulfilled a long held dream to walk along the rugged coast of the Cinque Terre trail in Italy. The visit to Italy was just fantastic but the scenery and views from the steep cliffs of Cinque Terre are just out of this world.
Work and professional wise, I joined the taxation office out of school and studied accountancy. After about 10-12 years with the tax office I joined a public accounting firm and then went into private practice. Over the years my professional career has had a good deal of variety including getting the chance to work in film financing, with a few trips to Hollywood thrown in.
At the moment I’m more focused on financial control and strategic planning and that’s in the context of achieving the clients’ objectives within external constraints of today’s global market and world problems.
If that sounds a little boring believe me, it’s not, there’s plenty of room for fiction, fraud and intrigue when it comes to financial matters.
Tell us what's the one thing other people always seem to get wrong about you?
That’s a bit hard. What I can say is that I’ve found that when you think someone has got something wrong about you, you should take a deep breath, because more often than not they are right. There’s a bit of truth in every opinion so I tend to try and take on board the useful parts and move on.
There is one thing that makes me laugh and that’s when I’m travelling. Most people think I know where I am and therefore I usually get to do the driving but really I’m mostly lost like everyone else and just follow the red tail lights of the cars in front of me.
Maybe I appear too confident?
What was your creative process like and what happened before sitting down to write Extreme Betrayal? As a follow up, did you read any special books on how to write or follow courses on creative writing?
I used a chronology style when creating the overview of the story. It kept the story linear and easy to follow and I hoped that if it was easy to follow then my target audience would not be disappointed.
I was even able to use an excel spread sheet to analyze progress, chapter breakdown, daily word count, time-lines of where each character were and other aspects of the story. I started out by estimating that I needed 70,000 words. I would spread that over 35 chapters, therefore approximately 2000 words per chapter. I then surmised that if each idea, action or movement of the story took 150 words then I’d need nearly 470 separate ideas to finish the book. I know that appears non-creative but I was so excited about writing the book I wasn’t going to let the mere math of the task get in my way.
As all first time writers will know, having a plan and having the finished published product in hand has a few years in between. In fact from the time I first thought of writing Extreme Betrayal to final production has taken one year less than it took Mark
Zuckerburg and his college roommates to launch Facebook and turn it into over $100 billion. Such is the dedication of a writer.
Yes, I attended several ‘how to write courses’ but having now experienced the full process, I understand that wanting to write a book and writing a book that sells means having a professional polish and having a book that has reader appeal.
The top of the list is to learn all you can about professional editing and I’m not just referring to spelling or punctuation, I’m referring to the overall structure of story and then more specifically the tone or style. These are the areas in which I want to spend time doing some learning. Reading will also be on top of the list.
Is your book improvisational or did you have a set plan?
Unfortunately, I went the set plan route and then tried to insert spontaneity. I won’t go that way again. I can fully appreciate that the use of improvisation can bring to the work new thought patterns and story outcomes but I didn’t have the intuitive writer skills necessary to confidently use the improvised sphere of influence. In my future writing, as my skills grow, I’m sure my creative cycle will improve.
Did you know the end of your book at the beginning?
No not at the very beginning. I had a general idea of where I wanted the story to head but in saying that I didn’t have a step by step plan to get there. What tended to happen at each major point of the story I had a choice of directions in which to head. I sometime wrote the first one that came into my head and then rewrote it in an opposite or different direction. It was my way of trying to create some twists in the story. This was my first novel so I wasn’t quite sure how the journey was meant to unfold.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It’s not realistic at all, and not based on someone I know or anything that happened to me. I can clearly say I’m not a 35 year old woman that worked in Europe and had my identity stolen. But what I can say is that my research tells me that if you are someone who has had their identity stolen and has had to fight to get it back then you can have a real fight on your hands. And if it happens in a foreign country then you’re in real trouble. I was surprised to find out that identity theft effected over 8 million in the USA and cost over $13 billion.
How did you go about creating the character of Sarah Mitchell?
At the outset I knew I wanted the main character to be female, about 35, capable, confident and able to stand up for her rights without having to resort to violence.
During the writing process, when she has her identity stolen, she became entangled within the plot. I didn’t want her to give up her identity as a woman and become a thug. And when she meets François I wanted her to maintain her independence. I wanted her to be able to survive without a man. What I didn’t want was an action hero, and so her basic character developed from there. The writing process makes you understand that to create strong characters what you really need is a full appreciation of what human nature is all about and that can take a great deal of effort to acquire.
In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?
As this is my first fiction novel I’m a bit of a novice at this and had to grapple with show vs. tell right from the start. I was used to giving written advice to clients on tax and financial matters so my style has always been ‘telling.’ When you deal with clients you don’t create a character and have them deliver the information in a character-oriented way.
In dealing with readers however you have to make sure that you don’t disoriented them with too little information or bore them with too much. I haven’t mastered that yet, but when I do I hope my writing will be more descriptive and that my characters will have deeper inner lives.
It might just be like mustard, it’s a thing of taste and has to be subtle but have the tanginess.
What surprising things did you learn while writing this book?
How fast the years go by. It’s amazing how absorbed you can become in a project. I loved the research, the writing and finally the editing phase which turned the final draft into something much better. I can’t praise the role of the editor too much. It’s a much bigger task than I first thought, it’s really hard work.
On a personal note I was surprised to realize that I hadn’t read a book, other than a text book, since I left school. So I’ve now created a list of books to read which, if you can bear with me I will share,
Tolkien -The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings
Stephen King -Carrie
P G Wodehouse -The code of the Woosters
Dickens- A tale of two cities
John Grisham -Pelican Brief
I’m not saying I’ll read every word, but I’ll give it good shot. If you or the readers have any other suggestions please add them to the list.
Where can our readers find out more about you and Extreme Betrayal?
As our interview comes to an end, do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to thank them for their interest in my book and my personal story and hope they enjoy the reading of Extreme Betrayal. And I’d like to thank you Norm, for taking the time to conduct this interview.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors