Opening Scene in 3 WISE MEN

“A few passengers glanced at Jak’s tortured expression before he slinked low into seat 21, anxious for the train doors to close. They gathered speed out of Antibes and he wiped away perspiration, taking care to avoid the purple-red wound over his right eye. With a shaking hand he sipped water and shaded the outside glare to search a vignette of fleeting images—a crowded car park blurring into splotches of grass and graffiti, and the rustic bastions of Fort Carré towering proudly above the headland.
“What happened to my wife?” he wondered.
The train swayed parallel to the coast, its rhythmical ‘cli-clack’, ‘cli-clack’ keeping beat with his thumping heart. On the horizon, the sun’s rays gathered into a fiery orb that sank abruptly into the tranquil Mediterranean.
He watched spellbound.
Streaks of tangerine flamed across the bay, and the numbing fear that had stalked him all day subsided. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and dozed—until a woman’s voice startled him.” (Extract from Chapter 1, 3 WISE MEN)

Why does 3 WISE MEN begin with Jak, the protagonist, on a train journey? It is somewhat ironic that this is how my writing began – on a train trip along the same coast (although mine was in the morning and Jak’s was later in the day). The concept for 3 WISE MEN began some two years earlier and I had planned to write the draft manuscript before visiting the south of France. However, I was not inspired to write until me train left Nice. So, what better way to start the novel than with a similar train trip – one that also gives a sense of going somewhere; a sense of intrigue as the story unfolds. Read more in 3 WISE MEN!

Could it be The Vatican?

“Who do you represent?” I asked him.
“That was a good question, Pierre. Did you find out?”
“He said it did not concern me. I asked him if it was the church.”

David was even more curious, “And?”

“The priest said I should ask no more questions, but that he represented sovereign monarchy—one who had absolute power. Well, it got me thinking. Who has that kind of unfettered control?”

David looked puzzled and asked,  “Who, indeed?”

“Yes, an absolute power who would not give up their secrets or allow anyone to steal or copy them. I wondered if he meant the Vatican, but was too scared to ask. Who else could it be? Then he told me to stop all my research in Florence. His exact words were, ‘Halt all investigations if you value your life.’”

The extract above is from 3 WISE MEN and suggests that other groups are also after Jak’s secret formula. But, who are these religious zealots? Does the priest indeed represent The Vatican – a state that has absolute power and doesn’t want it to be lost to meddling researchers like Jak and his friends? Read 3 WISE MEN to read more about this mysterious and unexpected meeting.

And those other names?

3 WISE MEN features real locations, real cafes, and real hotels , etc. in order to give authenticity to the novel. The plot is also plausible and based on a genuine ancient document.

The sense of place – places that reader have heard about or visited – was essential for me as a writer. In fact, one idea for the story was dropped – simply because it was a far-fetched possibility that our protagonist would be able to circumvent the security in place. I had checked it out carefully and realized that there was a slim chance of getting past the guards, but this was highly unlikely.

I hope the exotic locations and real places give 3 WISE MEN that touch of reality that I was looking for. Even the airline and train schedules needed to be correct. Some research took a while!

Finally, I was grateful to Galimard in Grasse for allowing me the rights to use their company name in 3 WISE MEN.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name – a character’s name, that is? In 3 WISE MEN the protagonist, Jak Daniels, was a very simple name to think up – a name, like the author’s, that causes confusion and mistaken identity. Jak meets a woman on the train – and her name is Sasha. In the early draft she had a different name – an older name, and one less fitted to her young looks and outgoing personality. ‘Sasha’ fitted her persona better and it was a name that worked well alongside ‘Jak’. But I wanted to mention another name used in 3 WISE MEN – Ambrose. His name was, in the first instance, ‘Ambroise’. One reader commented that he found it difficult to say ‘Ambroise’ correctly. Therefore, I reverted to the simpler spelling – ‘ Ambrose’. Again, this small revision made the text much easier to read. Finally, and one that I struggled with, was the name of Jak’s dog. I laugh thinking about it, because the first manuscript had a glaring error – I had given Jak’s dog three different names! Yes, names in a novel are important and need to provide – for a thriller at least- a measure of contrast and good (or bad) character-fit. The names of our 3 daughters also appear in the book, which was a nice touch to honor them. Another name – Andrea – was used (with permission) following a very special tour around Milan by someone of the same name. It took quite a while to come up with names that matched, but I do hope you find the names used in 3 WISE MEN appealing.

How Many Words Should a Thriller Have?

This is a very common question and one that I have looked at many times. 3 WISE MEN was originally around 68,000 words when I thought I had finished it. I say “thought” because this was the word count when I told my wife (and friends we were staying with) that “I had finished the novel.” What I should have told them was that I had finished the plot. When I advertised this fact, my writer friends informed me that the long period of editing would follow and that completing the draft was the “easy part.” They were correct, but it was still a real joy to have the draft done. Several months and many re-writes later, 3 WISE MEN was up to a word count of around 86,000. On close inspection, I discovered that there were too many adverbs and overuse of adjectives, etc. A culling of unnecessary words and phrases dropped the total work count to about 78,000 words. This period of review gave me time to clean up many sections of the book, split long chapters, etc. and generally improve the writing in sections that did not “flow” as well as I had thought. 3 WISE MEN seemed much tighter and better-paced as a novel at this stage and I was pleased to get it published. Then, helpful feedback from close friends gave me pause – especially from one who enjoyed more detail to help build up the tension of thrillers. With this advice in mind, I reviewed several parts of 3 WISE MEN and discovered that just over 80,000 words allowed better “breathing space” in the novel. This helped in describing characters and drama. I was still quite happy with my description of places, but broke up longer chapters where it seemed natural to do so. Finally, with the 2nd edition of 3 WISE MEN, I can now say that the novel is more complete! So, how long should a thriller be? It depends how long it takes to build characters, describe locations, create tension, and tell the story. But, at close to 80,000 words, the book seemed, for me, to be the right length. I just hope that you, the reader, agrees. If not, please let me know!

Why the Extra Chapter(s)?

Why the extra final chapter in the new edition of 3 WISE MEN? Answer: “It’s personal.” I made the ending more personal by returning the dialogue back to Jak’s family and posing a question about him as a character – an important denouement which leaves open the possibility of a sequel. Although the new chapter is quite short, it took a while to conceive – and was done over two distinct periods of writing – the latter adding just 18 more lines. In fact, with some restructuring of other chapters, the new version of 3 WISE MEN has six more chapters in total. Despite this, the book is still essentially the same, but enhanced slightly for smoother reading. I hope you enjoy this new version! If you purchased the first version and would like a complimentary copy of the new version in Kindle format please let me know.

3 WISE MEN 2nd Edition is Launched!

3 WISE MEN is now available in a 2nd Edition-released for 2019. This new version has approximately 10 more pages. It has the same action-packed plot with a few typos fixed and more detail added in a few places; plus one more final chapter. At over 80,000 words, 3 WISE MEN continues to be a thriller that is ‘difficult to put down’ and has received rave reviews. Yours for just under a few cups of coffee, or less for the Kindle version. 3 WISE MEN, 2nd Edition, is available from Amazon at this link.

Countdown Deal for 3 Wise Men – Starts tomorrow!

Take advantage of a special countdown deal for the Kindle version of 3 WISE MEN. Click here for details and to purchase at an eye-watering price, then wipe your eyes and enjoy reading! Feedback is always welcomed. Thanks to my good friend John for ordering 2 copies and thoroughly enjoying this thriller. He is promised another copy after providing some feedback!

Spine-tingling action in 3 WISE MEN

Yes, it is very encouraging to get such great feedback on the tension and pace that keeps readers of 3 WISE MEN engaged and unable to put the book down! One reader commented that the book had no title on the spine. I agreed that this was an oversight and remedied it by making a change to the cover to include the spine. But then I discovered something very interesting – bookstores have to show the front cover when there is no text on the spine. Therefore, I decided to drop the spine text and leave it blank – an action that suits a thriller in some ways. Therefore, dear readers, 3 WISE MEN now has a blank spine – all the spine-tingling action is in the body of the book! Even the Chapters section is deleted too. Why? Since it added nothing to the plot or layout and took up space. You will notice that 3 WISE MEN is now just less than 80,000 action-packed words.

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