As a veteran broadcast journalist, Glen Carter (above, NTV photo) says he has been writing "true and compelling stories" for years. Now he is producing his first major work of fiction.
Or, as Carter puts it, "This is my first pack of lies."
A senior reporter with The NTV Evening Newshour, Carter is about to release Angels of Maradona, with Breakwater Books. It might best be described as adventure and suspense, sprinkled with some international intrigue.
Carter takes to heart the first rule of good writing write what you know by making a broadcast journalist the central character in his story. But he leaves that comfort zone in the dust as he plunges into a maelstrom of murder, narco-terrorism and politics in the jungles of Colombia.
"Essentially the story is about three people, though primarily about a network news reporter who in his zest for a story travels to Colombia and loses one of his crew, a producer," Carter explains. "Through his guilt and misadventure he returns to Colombia and tries to find her, after receiving a pretty astonishing message from somebody that spurs him on to this mission. He journeys through the Colombian jungle, running up against various rebel forces and bad guys until he gets a line on this woman and essentially the stories of the three people come together in a small village called Maradona
"It's a very involved plot and it's very difficult for me to say what the book is about because it is about so many things. Essentially, it is about a guy's search for a woman, a woman's search for her mother and another woman's search for her sister. It's just all intertwined."
There is a longer plot outline here, at the Breakwater site. It sounds like a suspenseful page-turner of a read.
You might wonder where a full-time broadcast journalist finds time to write a book. However, Carter cranked out most of the manuscript whilst off for a year and living in Calgary. "I spent a lot of time writing and doing other things essentially the body of it was written before I got back to Newfoundland about two and a half years ago."
He presented the manuscript to Breakwater who were quite interested and a two-book publishing contract was signed. Carter went through an intensive editing process, working with Annamarie Beckel of Breakwater, though he says the text did not change dramatically. "There wasn't a lot of tweaking to be honest with you. In terms of the plot, character development, stuff like that, it was pretty well already a done deal."
The plot outline reminds me of the promotional blurbs you read on the back of a DVD case, and it isn't the first time Carter has heard this observation.
"I think any author dreams about the notion of their book becoming a movie," he said, adding that an editor with another publisher in New Brunswick wrote a 15-page assessment of the book. "And she did say that this would make a wonderful blockbuster movie and asked if I would consider writing a screenplay for it."
This is not a surprise for Carter, given that he writes in a "visual" way. "In the television news business, everything I do is driven by pictures and in the process of writing, that was driven by my mental pictures. I am told that it is very descriptive; when the scenes are laid out, you have no doubt where you are, what you are smelling and what the characters are feeling. So I was really driven by the visual elements."
Carter said he is pleased with how the novel's main character is represented and feels that he has achieved a reasonable level of authenticity.
"A lot of the dramatic treatments of the news business, you and I both know how foolish they can be sometimes. This is a pretty dead-on depiction of what television network news is all about, the imperatives of network reporters, what drives them and that kind of thing. So I am kind of proud of that I think whoever reads this book will get a sense of being there, and being within the mindset of a network news crew."
Now the job of promotion begins for Carter, who is in the process of planning a book tour with his publisher. "Writing the book is only one part of it, and some might even say the easiest. You've got to make sure the book does well and that means creating a buzz. I hope to be able to do that Breakwater is excited about the book and the tour, and so am I."
Carter's second book for Breakwater will be a sequel to Angels of Maradona, he said. "It's already well underway. It has an even bigger plot a sexier plot I like to think and more challenging for me. I'm really getting into the second one now basically I picked it up again six weeks ago and now I'm going furiously at it."
Carter said he likes dealing with Breakwater because it is a local company with a national reach, in terms of distribution. "I like the notion that you can hop in your car and drive down and be face to face with them. That's nice."
Carter does, however, have some advice for those people and their numbers are legion who long to write a book someday. It is wise counsel, coming from someone who has been down that jungle path.
"In my dedication and acknowledgement in the book, I thank someone who told me to stop talking and start writing'," he said. "How many times have you heard someone say, Gee, I'd love to write a book.' Well, you write it one word at a time, one paragraph, one page (I wrote for) two or three hours every morning, right after I got out of bed. The morning is a good time. I also enjoy writing at night, when you aren't so edgy. You're a little more calm in your own mind so thoughts and words come a little more freely. I had a word count that I had to do, two or three pages had to be done, all very mechanical that way. But eventually it started to look like a manuscript. I remember the first time I printed it out I had a pile of paper about two inches high. It struck me that, My God, this is a book!' That was a real incentive to keep going with it."