We talked to Phillip T. Duck about his Shell novel called Triage...
Tell us what the novel is about.
TRIAGE is the story of Shell, a former hit man, who describes himself as "a man of honor with no honor." He's a complex character, in the mold of Richard Starks' Parker. A reader recently questioned whether she should love or hate him, and my response is both. To me, that's what makes Shell intriguing. In the novel, his former flame has gone missing under suspicious circumstances, and in his quest to find out what happened to her Shell finds himself in the middle of a mob beef, and going up against several men of questionable motives, each man more dangerous than the last. It's good, hardboiled fun.
How long did it take you to write the novel?
I worked on the novel off and on over the course of about eighteen months. Off and on because during that same period of time I also worked on several other independently-published projects and a novel published by a traditional publisher.
Did it take a lot of research?
Before I write a novel I attempt to map out some of the key situations that will take place. My research tends to focus on anything I believe is important to know in order to effectively write those key situations. I spend about a month in this research phase, but that typically isn't the end of research. I've yet to write a novel that went according to plan, and so throughout the course of writing a book I'm forever looking up details and discovering new ideas to include.
Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
First and foremost, I'm a reader. I've been inspired by too many crime novelists to count. With TRIAGE I considered my favorite series characters--Jack Reacher, Leonid McGill, Dave Robicheaux, Doc Ford, Parker, and others--and I wrote my version of a tough guy navigating through a difficult and dark world.
Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
I particularly enjoyed a scene with Shell in some serious peril down by the Passaic River. I picked an actual place in Newark, NJ. At night it's dark and almost completely deserted. I say almost deserted because if you happened upon someone down in this area that would be an unexpected development and you'd be advised to leave their presence as quickly as possible.
Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
Shell, of course. Again, I was inspired by some of crime fiction's most notable tough guys. Shell is my homage to the best of them. That said, one of the compliments I've always received throughout my writing career has been various levels of praise for my "rich characterization". I love all of my characters, lead and supporting, and they all show up on the page for a reason. I do my best to make sure their time between the margins is memorable and necessary.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?
The e-book revolution, as some are calling it, has been a boon for readers. I'm grateful for all of the traditional publishing opportunities I've had so far, but excited about the "new" publishing model that is quickly taking shape. I now have an opportunity to present my work to those that are already familiar with me. I also can be discovered by those that have never read a word I've written. And I get to present that work at a very reasonable price point. For less than a pack of cigarettes you can enjoy (hopefully) this tale of a "man of honor with no honor". I don't claim to be as good as some of the authors that have inspired me, but my price point is much more attractive than theirs, and I can definitely say they aren't four times better than me ($2.99 for TRIAGE versus $12.99 for many traditionally-published novels). TRIAGE is worth a look.