Archive for August 2016 | Monthly archive page

One question that I get asked more than any other is, “What is your process when writing a novel?” My answer might surprise you.

One question that I get asked more than any other is, “What is your process when writing a novel?” My answer might surprise you.

~ IE ~

Every Iron Eagle novel is plotted out on a single return envelope. That’s right! The entire novel—the characters and the key story details—is written on a plain white envelope like you receive in the mail to pay a bill. I write linearly, which means I write all of my novels from start to finish, and in that exact order. When I start a new book, I have the subject matter that the Eagle and other characters are going to deal with, but I never know who the bad people are.

“How can you write a novel if you don’t know who the characters are?”

I write out a list of my main characters, like this:

John Swenson aka The Iron Eagle Sara Swenson Jim O’Brian Barbara O’Brian, and so on.

I then work from the prologue from the previous novel to start to build the next book. In most cases, the bad guys (and girls) reveal themselves through the course of the writing process. I don’t know who they are, or, in many cases, just what they are doing when I start a novel. The characters reveal themselves and their motivations as I write. And in ALL cases I am just as surprised by the content and the bad people who enter a new novel as you are. My wife always says, “No surprise for the writer no surprise for the reader.” I can’t tell you how many times through the past several years a character revealed him- or herself as I was writing and blew me away.

Why I Write Fact-based Fiction

While The Iron Eagle Series is fiction, it is reality-based fiction. I would be bored to tears if I were to try and be a true crime writer, having to stick to the facts of a case and the players and their roles. Every Iron Eagle novel is based in reality, and most of these crimes REALLY have happened. By fictionalizing my series, it allows me to weave fact with fiction, and it gives me creative license to write compelling prose. As I always state to readers, things that happen in the Iron Eagle Series can happen to any of us if we are in the wrong place at the wrong time (or have let our guard down).

Here are a few pictures of my desk during the writing process. The photo of the open black folder shows where I store each envelope after a novel has been completed. The envelopes you see on my desk are for books 18–20, and there is a stack of blank envelopes waiting for future books.

~ IE ~

I hope this gives you a little insight into my writing process and answers some questions about how the Eagle and the novels come to life. I really enjoy sharing the behind-the-scenes look at how novels come to life, and I hope you enjoyed this little trip into my world as an author.

Until next time,

Roy A. Teel Jr., Author

Out of horrific tragedy the Iron Eagle was created

Greetings to all,

In this week’s installment of the justice files, I shared just how Special Agent John Swenson aka The Iron Eagle was birthed in my imagination. I am now sharing that same message with all of my additional readers here on the blog.

~ IE ~

An Atypical Fictional Hero Inspired by a Real Life Tragedy

It was Friday before the long Memorial Day weekend in 1979, and I was in ninth grade in junior high school. I was getting lunch in the cafeteria when Thomas (Tommy) Glenn Lundgren  popped up in the lunch line next to me sporting a cast on his arm that he had painted with a rainbow in art class a few hours earlier.

Tommy was a redheaded, freckle-faced kid who loved skateboarding, hanging out at our local skate park, and occasionally got into trouble as did I. He was a small part of a group of fringe friends who I hung out with and one hyper little guy.  He was a year younger than me, but we had been in the Boy Scouts together and had known each other since elementary school.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

Tommy showed me the cast and said, “Cool, huh?”

I laughed and said, “You’re crazy, Tommy. Aren’t rainbows for girls?”

He laughed, and we got our food, sat, and ate. He told me he was going to have some pictures taken of him at the local skate park, “Skater Cross,” as I recall. He said that he was going to be in magazines. I laughed it off, and when we finished lunch, he made one of his usual comments, which got him punched in the arm—a punch that he reciprocated as he laughed and ran off.

That was the last time I saw Tommy alive.

The weekend went on without any major drama. My old man was an abusive alcoholic, and my late mother was an alcoholic and speed abuser. My two younger brothers lived in their own world. I ran a small business mowing yards for a couple of local realtors, and I had a few neighbor kids who worked for me. The bucks we earned went toward pizza and sodas. We were nerds and not into drugs.

Tuesday morning was uneventful until lunch when one of my female classmates ran up to me in the cafeteria and asked, “Hey! Did you hear the news?”

“What news?”

“Your little friend Tommy is dead!”

I told her she was full of crap and started asking around school, but there were mixed messages. When I got home I opened the newspaper to see a snippet news story about the day before.

“Body of teen found on hiking trail in Agoura.” The small article described what the male child had been wearing when found, and then my blood ran cold.

“The boy had a bright multi-colored cast.”

The body was Tommy’s, and he was the first victim of William Bonin aka The Freeway Killer who would terrorize Los Angeles for over a year, raping, murdering, and emasculating teens and young men then dumping their bodies alongside the freeways of the San Fernando Valley and other locations. What little innocence I might have had left was gone with Tommy’s murder. I grew up fast as did everyone who knew him. There were no counselors for kids in those days. Shit happened, and you just had to deal with it.

A Protector and Punisher Is Born

Growing up the way that I did in a massively dysfunctional and abusive home leaves its mark. And contrary to what some people think, people can not only survive trauma, but they can also thrive and use it to their advantage in life. I started to write about a character who would bring justice where justice could not be brought and give closure to those living in the darkness of abuse and neglect.

I wrote story after story through the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. I had the protector but didn’t know who he was. He wasn’t a superhero. He was flesh and blood, smart and well trained, and had compassion—a trait not found in a killer.

In the winter of 2013, I was up late writing on an unrelated topic when I saw him in my mind’s eye. My dog Chester was sleeping on the floor next to my desk, and our cat Oscar was up in my loft as well (rare in winter). My wife was sleeping downstairs in the bedroom. I opened a new Word document and typed the words, “What is an Iron Eagle?” and as I navigated the first several chapters of what would become the first novel in my series, I came face to face with John Swenson—a handsome, well educated, at that time LAPD homicide detective with clear blue eyes and a strong build.

As I wrote, he said, “You came to kill me?”

I shook my head and said in my mind, “No. I’ve come to give you life, so that you can protect the people of Los Angeles and beyond.”

It was 3:45 a.m. when John Swenson came into my life, and the Iron Eagle was born.

~ IE ~

Until next time,

Roy A. Teel Jr.

PS: Evil and the Details: The Iron Eagle Series Book Two is dedicated to the memory of Tommy.