Welcome everyone to another great week of the Writer's Revolution. I am your host, the author of The Phoenix Blade, Andrew Hess. My guest this week is author and doctor Peter Hogenkamp. Read his journey listed below in his own words.
I read my first thriller, an old paperback copy of Alistair MacLean'sFear is the Key, when I was ten years old, and I have been hooked on the genre ever since. A few years later, in the summer before I began high school, I decided to try my hand at writing a thriller and I finished a good hundred pages before depositing it into the bottom drawer of my bureau. It would make a good story to say that I discovered the manuscript thirty years later, polished it up, and attracted dozens of literary agents with its magnetic power, but the truth is I have no idea what became of the notebook—I recall it was dark green—in which I scrawled a story about a maverick MI5 agent trying to save the world from a warped genius armed to the teeth with nuclear missiles.
I didn't write another word—of fiction, that is—for twenty-five years, mistakenly thinking that the writing bug had been eradicated from my system. But it hadn't been, and on a Saturday night ten autumns ago I picked up the pencil again and started writing novel number two, which I later titled The Lazarus Manuscript. It took me three years and a gross of Dixon Ticonderogas to complete the book, and several more to query the project, revise it, re-query, re-revise and query a third time. My lovely (and did I mention supportive?) wife Lisa, assuredly thought I was having an early mid-life crisis, but smartly concluded that a few writer's conferences and twelve dozen pencils were cheaper than a BMW convertible.
I still maintain the manuscript wasn't half-bad, and I almost hooked a literary agent with it—but in the middle of yet another revision (which the agent had requested) I learned she had left agenting to write 1920's erotica, and I took this as a sign and tossed The Lazarus Manuscript into a shallow grave and shoveled dirt over it. But I didn't remain on the sideline for too long; a premise had been germinating inside my head and I felt an urge to write it down somewhere (this time without the pencils). And whereas The Lazarus Manuscript had come haltingly, Absolution poured out of my fingers, largely, I think, because I had stumbled upon an idea for a main character that was not only truly unique, but truly conflicted as well—with a visceral conflict impossible to bypass.
All I needed was the right setting, and, as luck would have it, my pre-med advisor exiled me to Europe for three years before allowing me to attend medical school. (True story.) In my travels I found dozens of great places for scenes in a thriller: castles perched on cliffs, monasteries tucked away in alpine valleys, villages built above rocky coastlines, cities soaked in history, etc. I hope you will accompany Marco as he lays ruin to many of these places, beginning with Monterosso al Mare, Italy, whereAbsolution opens, and stay with him for Doubt, the second book of the Jesuit thriller series.
When I am not writing I like to enjoy the beautiful landscape of central Vermont with my family (my wife, two sons, two daughters, and dog, Hermione Jean Granger Hogenkamp). And I practice medicine as well, in an office with Dr. Lisa Hogenkamp—who does most of the work. (Thank you Lisa!)