Monday, August 25, 2014



Where do I get all those characters I write about?

I recently joined several writing groups like the Independent Author Network better known as #IAN1 for new members and those wishing to connect and spread their wings. They created a web page and new presence for me. The link to my new page is:

I also joined several other groups that included Author Marketing Club where you can grab some unique information and help on an entirely different platform from IAN. The difference is amazing and thus the reason you join both not just one. Author Marketing Club helps with book covers, free book markets, reviews and more. They too have an hashtag #amcbuzz I add to Twitter and Facebook.

Interesting how you can add your site on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or LinkedIn include your username and add these hashtags. Your audience goes right to things you've written, tweeted, posted or can see the books you have available, and read about them.

Right after joining came the questions, so I sat down and gave it some thought. I started hearing questions never asked before, lots of emails from fellow writers and new scribblers asking for details, and filmmakers wanting to know the how and why things happened as they do.

Looking back, I had a wonderful grandfather who taught me many things. I grew up in a totally dysfunctional family where learning and listening was painful at best. My parents were too busy with their lives to pay much attention to their kids. Grandpa, feeling the stress, would take me outside to get away from the commotion. In the beginning, he read to me. He didn't read children's books; he read novels and at times just the newspaper.

When I was old enough to read and write, grandpa would spend hours sharing a story from a book or reading what he had asked me to write. It was all gibberish, but he read every word and then we would talk about what I had written.

When I got older, he started telling me personal stories about his youth. He colored the trouble he ran into and detailed the vivid explanation of the travelling he did around the country. His memory was full of color and excitement, and I heard enough to fill hundreds of books. I questioned him about a few stories as they were hard to believe, but the more he spoke the more I realized my grandfather was an encyclopedia from the past. His street life stuff was what most people never talk about, and seldom share in their written experiences.

Today one of the first questions people ask is – where did I get the idea to write that book, TV script or motion picture screenplay? How do I come up with all the characters, the plots, the sub-stories and the background for my characters? I usually answer by explaining we all have a past to pull from, even if some of it is on the dark side, and that's where I get most of my material. When I feel tapped out, which seldom happens, I visit a local mall. Just buying a cup of coffee or tea and sitting in the middle of the food court can provide information you'd never get asking questions from strangers. It's an excellent source of material.

My dad was this mysterious guy who never talked about his youth. The only way I learned a little of who he was or what he may have done was to sneak into our dark dining room, hide under the table and listen to what he said to men visiting. My mom and grandpa always disappeared when dad got visitors, so I knew it was important stuff. Dad did some accounting for a crime boss named Al Capone. Al and my dad were never close friends because all I heard them talk about was business. Dad didn't mow people down or carry a gun that I knew of, he used his brains to move money around, start businesses and make investments. He helped them figure out how to loan money legitimately. Not everyone listened, and eventually big Al was caught cheating on his taxes. The IRS got him for tax evasion when law enforcement couldn't touch him for committed crimes. I heard some great material while hiding under that table.

When I decided I wanted to be a singer, turned actor, turned writer and then developed into a full blown filmmaker/author I met with people from all walks of life. One man in particular was my mechanic. I owned this old Mercedes Coupe and it needed special care and constant repairing. My mechanic was from Italy and a real character with endless stories just as my grandfather had been. One day my mechanic said his cousin had a great story that should be a movie. He said he'd make the repairs to my timing chain free if I listened to his cousin's story. Even back then the repairs where hundreds of dollars so I agreed to meet the cousin. This became one of the best meetings I ever attended. His name was John, and it turned out he was an active FBI Agent. I soon learned he had been a cop, worked for the CIA, became a Secret Service Agent for a "tour" as he called it, and then joined the bureau. John became a plethora of material, and more stories came right from some of his cases and arrested records. I learned the ins and outs of major crime investigations, and heard stories about crimes so off the charts I could never have thought about creating them for a story.

John couldn't pick just one to start with because he had hundreds all recorded on approximately fifty audio tapes. Before we could pick just one story to begin with, John died from Lou Gehrig's disease. After giving his life a lot of thought, I rolled the whole idea into one character. I didn't use all of his background or name and kept it all original using only the parts that had helped him develop into such a crazy wonderful character. When the dust settled I had a new character I named Rollie Kemp. He came from a crime family but ran from it at an early age. He studied law, got married, divorced for various important reasons, and went into the police academy to try his hand at being a cop. The idea of busting bad guys instead of being one was appealing because his old man was a wiseguy. I couldn't make it that easy so Rollie's police career got interrupted by a drunk driver, so my character got a sensational settlement from an accident. I liked the fact he became well healed so whatever job I gave him wasn't for money. I also wanted him to get well enough to get around and be quick. Now that I had messed up his whole life my strong, muscular, attractive character needed to try something exciting, so he turned to acting. He wasn't about to become a great actor but had one hell of an explosive temper, and that got the attention of Drake Fargo. Pleased with the developments, I had two guys coming from entirely different backgrounds bucking heads. Drake is ex-CIA, FBI, Navy Seal and a Special Forces member. He got fed up with the system and started a superlative detective agency. Now all the studios and celebrities hired him and with the power of a couple of the computer keys he became the go-to guy for the rich and powerful. I wanted a big presence so I molded Rollie into a muscular six feet five inches of movie star handsome while Drake would be six feet eight or nine, and three hundred pounds of pure potential brutality. The two men couldn't maintain the same temperament so I gave Rollie a temper suited for anger management and messed with Drake so he could have a mixture, mild one moment and controlled-explosive the next.

When I wrote the first book Ghosts and Phantoms-I, there had to be more of the same problem. They were fun together, so I did a continuation of the original case in Ghosts and Phantoms II.
I realized Rollie was magnetic from reader responses, so he became the standout partner even though he didn't start having a clue how to hold a gun - bad enough shoot one. The third book APRIL changed all that. Rollie was force-fed into taking his first case without Drake and falling into a swirling pool of corruption, evil and death.

I took a break to write a few other books, but Rollie and Drake we only beginning their rollercoaster ride.

In the fourth Rollie Kemp Novel – BAD RAP – Rollie once again barrels right into the fire and stays there for the entire book. Why make the character have an easy time when it's more fun to keep him in constant trouble? Rollie thrives on trouble much like the real life character John did. What made John's engines churn are the same as what motivates Rollie – overcoming evil while staying righteous and towing the line. Sure a step over the line happens. It did with John as it does for all law enforcement officers, but the real guys always step back in resolution.

I remembered something John told me about a case he worked. He busted a drug dealer only to have that guy return years later with a vendetta grown completely out of proportion from being in prison with nothing else to think about. He came after John with vengeance and miraculously survival came in the form of a little unexpected help.

Keeping that I mind, I wrote book five – HOAX and gave it a sub-title Prematurely Terminated. Using a loose filament of John's experience, I took Rollie's youth and his troubled past, and brought it all together. While he does most of the work, Drake with his wounded foot new wife and pouty attitude gets totally involved. I wanted the bizarre to happen. The reader demanded to know more about the wild and crazy characters accumulated previously. I found a way to incorporate and bring some colorful characters back to life. Bits and pieces of the previous four books roll into an adventurous escapade. We travel around the world in trouble. Rollie not only has his hands full, but his personal life comes back to bite him once again.

Is Rollie done? Not a chance. He's just getting started, and I intend to pull from his confused and very complicated past to continue his journey. The Rollie Kemp mystery series will continue with the fun, the crazy and some dark moments to create a pause and enable the reader to think and recall incidents that answer questions from previous escapes and adventures.

Try pulling from the past for your book or screenplay. It's delicious fun.

William Byron Hillman © 2014

Just released:
HOAX – Prematurely Terminated a thriller
My next planned films are:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)

Book Links:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I:
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II:
Hoax – Prematurely Terminated
In editorial – Cheater

Just released:
HOAX – Prematurely Terminated a thriller
My next planned films are:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)