Sean and Dan Campbell are two brothers who have blazed a trail in the indie author world with "Dead on Demand" a taut nail biting thriller written and published in just ninety days. Already this debut novel has earned seventeen solid four and five star customer reviews in the United Kingdom, and ten five star reviews in the United States. In addition, a little self help guide based on their own steep learning curve as indie authors/publishers "Can't Sell, Won't Sell" has been an invaluable help for many novice writers and indie authors. I'm really delighted they've agreed to drop by and answer a few questions, a warm welcome to Sean and Dan - and on with the interview!
I read Dead on Demand three times, first as a spell bound reader, second because I just had to post a review, and the third time because I couldn't see any seams – the story flowed beautifully. How hard was it to co-author a story? Did you agree any hard and fast rules as to what went into the plot and what stayed out beforehand?
We had to outline the plot beforehand. With so much going on we needed to keep clear in our heads before we began exactly who knew what, when and how they knew it. There's a lot of secrecy, and both the police and the antagonists have different perceptions of what is actually going on. The forensics had to be planned carefully too as we know how jarring it can be when you spot something odd going with blood stains or entomology.
So we knew who was going to die and how very early on. In the first draft we actually had Edwin plotting every murder personally but it just seemed too contrived. In the end we went with a 'Edwin kills one person, but then needs more to die to cover up that first murder' approach.
This led to Edwin getting deeper and deeper in as the story progressed, and we hope the reader gets to go on that journey with him.
It’s a roller coaster journey for certain; the reader is certainly along for the ride. Edwin’s the catalyst, but he’s supported by a rich and varied cast of characters who have their own agenda, with chapters telling the story from their point of view. This really intrigued me – would for example you Sean write perhaps Edwin's point of view, and Dan step in with another character – say for argument's sake Inspector Morton?
I (Sean) did most of the Edwin perspective. It was quite scary to imagine how he would feel as the walls closed in. Clearly such a situation would leave him unhinged (if he wasn't already!) and his actions grow more desperate as the bodies pile up and Morton closes in.
Dan really enjoyed considering the police elements and how they would try to track down an anonymous foe. While Morton is the primary investigator he draws heavily on psychological profiling and the coroner to inform his actions, and that coming together of behind the scenes expertise with the reflexes, thoughts and hunches of a trained detective help to uncover leads that aren't readily apparent.
So yes, we did try and split up and it's very difficult to get in the mindset of both the deranged killer and the Met's (Metropolitan Police) finest at the same time.
Honest Sean – naming you as the ‘brother behind the killer’ was just a lucky guess! Dead on Demand is a sophisticated thriller, and it is mind blowing to think that Dan co-authored at the tender age of sixteen, while studying for GCSE exams. So Dan, this one's for you – why did you choose to take on such a challenge, and what was it like working with your older brother?
Being totally honest, I decided to take on the challenge to impress women (let me know if it's working ladies!).
Dan, with your looks, charm and wit, I’m certain even if you weren't one half of a successful writing duo, the ladies would still be lining up. But seriously, was it easier to write with a partner? I can imagine it has pros and cons – on the one hand there’s always someone to bounce ideas around with – or were there times when one of you wanted total control of the storyline?
We got most of the wrangling out of the way early when we outlined the plot so the quibbles were very minor (mostly of the 'Don't give him that accent! She wouldn't sit like that!' nature).
What did help is having a top tier (paid) editor to help smooth out all the logical inconsistencies that we didn't think of when plotting. Our editor went through the outline then the first draft and every draft after that. That said, any errors that remain are ours alone!
By anyone's standards, Dead on Demand has been a resounding success, especially considering that this is a debut novel by two independent authors starting from scratch. Apart from the obvious: write and produce an entertaining well edited novel, is there any one thing you would recommend to first timers?
Just go for it. Deadlines really help motivate writers. We've all got a tendency to procrastinate, and having a firm 'OMG! It's got to be ready' date really pushes you on. We committed to everything publicly which was why we sat at a keyboard for 12 hours a day seven days a week for the whole challenge.
Without that commitment we'd have just promised to do it tomorrow, and never got around to it.
I should think too that for both of you, knowing your brother was depending on a certain amount of daily output helped spur you on. I’m considering asking my sister if she’s got anything on for the next three months or so! For two novice authors, your marketing strategy has been highly professional – but is there anything you two wish you'd done differently?
We could have been a bit smarter with branding. The 90 days challenge was a great concept but we don't want to be known forever as the 90 days guys. Books take as long as they take. Our second book will take three times that (which is in part down to increased commitments outside writing) but it's nothing to worry about. Once an eBook is live it's on Amazon forever (well, as long as Amazon exists). That's a long time to earn out the costs.
Having surpassed the ninety day challenge, I think most people certainly know you as Sean and Dan Campbell, active and supportive members of the indie community and authors of a great novel! I’m sure everyone wants to know: What's next for the Campbell Brothers? Another collaboration? Can readers look forward to meeting Inspector David Morton again? Or now that you've both tasted success as novelists are you buzzing with ideas for new individual ventures?
David will be back. We're aiming for Christmas Eve as a release date but don't tell anyone, it's a secret! This time he'll be investigating a murder that sure to get everyone talking.
That is good news for Inspector Morton fans, and fans of the Campbell brothers – I know what I want for Christmas! Thank you both so much for dropping by. I’m certain Dead on Demand is going to rocket into Amazon’s free download charts when it goes free tomorrow. Thank you both so much for agreeing to this interview, I still have a ton of questions to ask, I'm sure readers are eager to learn more about forth-coming projects too - I hope you'll both drop by again very soon.
Sean and Dan will be reporting their progress on the promotion of Dead on Demand on their own blog. I’ll be watching and cheering from the side lines with great excitement.
Dead on Demand will be free from 4th to 8th September: Download from Amazon.com: Or Amazon.co.uk. Dead on Demand is also available to purchase in paperback from all good bookstores or you can order online. Or you could win a signed copy in this easy and free competition. Click on comments, and comment - even if it's just to say 'Hi' - your name will be entered into the free prize draw which will take place this coming Sunday, 9th September.