Author Interview with Brian Gallagher
ULM: What lead you to becoming a writer?
I’m not sure I know. Years ago, I started a novel, but never finished it. Sometime in 2011, I grabbed my computer and started writing. The Vatican Protocol, more or less, wrote itself. When I’d come to a new thought or direction, I’d halt the writing and do extensive research. Whenever I came to a crossroads, I’d stop and do more research and my writing had new stimulation. It never felt forced or stagnated. I do take pride in the detail and accuracy throughout the novel. I even went to the granularity of checking the menus of the restaurants described, so items ordered by the characters were on the menu of that establishment.
The creative process is what draws me to writing new stories. I almost feel like a spectator, wondering what will happen next. It’s like a movie unfolding and I’m a participant. That makes it fun.
ULM: You’re first novel, The Vatican Protocol, had many interesting themes. Can you with us, readers, share why you choose to write about government conspiracy theories?
I was a huge fan of Ian Fleming in high school and later, Robert Ludlum. Ludlum has been the biggest influence to my writing and everything he wrote seemed to revolve around conspiracy, governments, and religions. The Vatican is such an interesting entity that I was drawn to it. The institution portrays itself as infallible, all knowing and dictates how its’ followers should live their life. I find this so interesting because any student of history knows how corrupt the organization has been. Multiple Popes have been assassinated, the Church conducted genocide during the Inquisition, and they were in bed with the Nazis. Yet, their true believers will not accept that any of these historical facts could be true. There is so much documentation about Church deceptions, but they have remained Teflon to their followers.
When I discovered the amount of detail written about the Black Pope, I had a Ludlum-like moment.
ULM: I noticed that you have a new novel coming out soon, called Serial K. This one has a completely different direction than your previous novel. What are your plans for this series?
Serial K has been fun to create. I’m a fan of recurring characters and as I continue forward I’ll have many of the same characters show up. I’m a fan of Michael Connelly’s Lucas Davenport/Virgil Flowers novels and John Sanford’s Harry Bosch series. They are both in the crime genre and it felt natural to go in that direction. There is more to come in this series.
ULM: Out of all your characters which one is your favorite?
In Vatican Protocol, it was Father Battalini. I liked that he was in the inner circle of the Vatican’s clandestine operations, but battled his inner conscience of right and wrong and became the hero. I particularly liked the ending.
For those that think this novel was about Church bashing they should recognize the hero was a priest who ultimately adjusted his moral compass and represented what people of great moral character should do.
In Serial K, it is Lea Pucci. I wanted to create a female lead who could compete and outperform her male counterparts. I wanted her to be strong, a bit of a smartass, unafraid of anything. I wanted her to think, have a swagger and act more as a guy would.
ULM: In Serial K, the serial killer, is unique. What was it like creating him?
It was interesting to create Craig Breedlove. As the novel and its sequel progressed, the character evolved and grew. Much of his evolution came from the research I had to do into real-life serial killers. He started as a meek, demented individual and gradually became stronger and smarter.
When I started Serial K I didn’t plan a sequel. As the character grew, I started to think about him becoming a recurring killer, sort of like Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes.
The creation of the novel’s serial killer, along with the research into real serial killer’s, takes one into some dark places. Since Breedlove was emulating his hero’s, I had to research what the emulation would look like. That meant I had to learn what these sickos did and how they did it, to be historically accurate. Just like in Vatican Protocol, I was true to documented facts. Where I deviated from that, I had the character state what the real serial killer did and why they didn’t want to follow an exact replication.
ULM: Will the FBI couple, in Serial K, be featured in your next novel?
Yes. Serial K will be out in both Kindle and print in January 2017. Its’ sequel, Serial K-Returns, is done and ready to go to the publisher. I’ve held off submitting it so I don’t create confusion between the two. I’m guessing it will be in print in March 2017.
The FBI couple and the serial killer are back. In another twist, Sean O’Shea, from Vatican Protocol, becomes a prominent character. That was fun. I also think the serial killer’s vulnerable side at the end of the story will surprise readers. Again, I liked the ending. I think it’s critical to have an interesting start and a strong ending, to make sure the reader isn’t left disappointed.
My fourth novel is underway. It’s called Shapeshifter, and will bring the supernatural/horror genre into this one. It will also return to Europe. The regular characters will be back and I might bring back Battalini, but I have to watch it unfold.
ULM: What was it like connecting the Vatican, the Nazis, and the UFO’s into one novel (The Vatican Protocol)?
It was actually seamless. When I started the book, I hadn’t figured out the whole plot. As I learned more details about the UFO crash in the Black Forest and that the remnants of the craft were taken to Wewelsburg Castle it all came together. My research, also uncovered the relationship between the Nazis and Vatican, which I hadn’t known about, and will likely show up in future novels.
I like exposing readers to hidden facts and relationships they’ve never heard about. That’s an element I try to have in every novel and will continue in the future. I like to leave the reader with this question in their mind: could this really be true.
ULM: You mentioned having a radio show. What was that like?
It was great fun. I had the wake up show from 7:00 to 9:00 during the week and a once a week political show. I did that for two years, while in college. I’ve been fortunate to do many “Walter Mitty” type things in my life.
ULM: Traveling to Europe inspired you to write The Vatican Protocol. What specifically in Europe would you say triggered the idea?
I write about things I know and places I’ve visited. It’s far easier to describe actual experiences instead of making everything up. I think visiting the castles, driving throughout the European countryside, all contributed to a desire to write about it. I had a lot of detail about Strasburg, France that I had the cut out to get my word count down to 100,000.
ULM: What advice would you give to others writers?
Keep writing. Go to write’s conferences. Meet people and network. Everything I’ve done has been without a literary agent. I was fortunate to meet a publisher at such a conference and was able to shortcut the process. I don’t think vanity or self-publishing is the best answer. I also don’t think paying someone to publish one’s book is a good choice. If an author has a quality book, small Indie publishers are great options. They do most of what the big guys do, they don’t charge the author to publish and are easy to work with.
ULM: If your novels became big motion pictures, who do you see playing the leading roles?
Interesting question. Two producers asked to write a treatment and pilot for Serial K. I’ve finished both and submitted each. We’re having continued discussions on the characterization of the FBI agents.
The treatment included suggesting characters for the different roles. Here’s what I submitted:
Ryan O’Callahan -Lea Pucci -Craig Breedlove -Butch Johnson
Timothy Olyphant- Mila Kunis- Walton Goggins -Nick Searcy
John Cusak -Mia Kirshner- Edward Norton
Bradley Cooper -Alexandra Daddario- Michael Pitt
Ryan Reynolds -Kate Beckinsale-Elijah Wood
Rachel Bison-Ryan Phillipe
I’ve also had contact with Nick Searcy and sent him the manuscript so we’ll see if it goes anywhere.
The Vatican Protocol would have many interesting options for characters.
ULM: What are your other hobbies besides writing amazing thrillers?
All sports. I’ve always been an avid golfer. Love fishing and the north woods. I mentioned I write about what I know about and the Lac Du Flambeau homes in Serial K and Serial-K Returns have been my homes. I’ve written much of my novels at the lake.
Huge Cubs and Blackhawk fans and I hate to admit Bear fan.
ULM: What are your future projects that you can share with us, readers, if any? When will Serial K be coming out?
Serial K: In print January 2017
Serial K-Return: March 2017
Shapeshifter: In process
Night Sweats: Horror genre (will follow Shapeshifter)
ULM: Where can readers find you and your work online?
Amazon, Barnes& Noble, Book World, etc.