Why is The Campaign different than other thrillers?

Read my novel because it’s different!

My thriller is unique!

You’ve never experienced a book like mine before!

The truth of the matter is, while some books are truly different than anything that was ever produced before it (The Bible, for one; Oh, The Places You’ll Go, for another) most books are pretty similar to other books out there. Most “chick-lit” titles are pretty similar – girl is in love or wants to be in love, girl finds love and invariably is in jeopardy of losing said love, in the end girl either saves that love, discovers that love was a bad love and finds new love, or makes out with a quart of Ben and Jerry’s with her true loves of her life – her friends.

Most thrillers are similar as well – someone, either the main character or someone he/she is helping, is in trouble, commence car chases, assassins trying to kill them, planes almost landing on them, uncovering shocking truths and about 250-300 pages later our “broken” hero either saves the world or saves the girl, as well as saving themselves on some kind of spiritual level. In books, especially thrillers, we know the hero wins, because, well, the hero always has to win. Or why would we read it, right? Right?

In my books, the hero never has an easy way to his or her conclusion. There is always a sacrifice, and a pretty heavy one, that he or she must pay in order to do the right thing. In Five Days in Dallas and The Brink, Danny Cavanaugh is the typical broken hero. He’s raged a lifetime of war against the bottle that is far from over. ( BTW, Many detective/crime fighter types have this type of problem, and that could be a reflection more on the author’s penchant for the bottle as well, but that’s for another post) However, I think that Danny’s a refreshing character in fiction because while he does pretty good in a fight, he’s not an expert in Judo or a retired ultimate street fighter. And while he can put two and two together, he’s not a savant or some kind of soothsayer. And while he’s a cop, he’s not above doing a little wrong to get a lot right. The reason why people like him is that he’s a regular guy. He may have flaws, he may act like a frat boy a lot and he may screw up sometimes, but he’s that friend of yours that would do anything for you if you asked him. And, here’s the main thing about him, he will never give up. Ever.

Scott Turner from The Campaign is the same way. Here’s a guy who is the youngest police chief in the history of Dallas, Texas and he’s trying to keep it together as he literally watches cancer ravage his mother every day. He knows her life is now only measured in days, and then he gets something like a presidential candidate murder dumped in his lap. Then the other two remaining candidates are killed within the next 2 days. His mind is trying to make heads or tails of his investigation, while his heart is telling him to dump it all and sit by his mother’s side in her final hours.

While it’s not an earth-shattering NEW and DIFFERENT story, I think that the premise of Scott’s dilemma is one with which we can all identify. While most of us haven’t been in such a dire situation, we have been in those situations where we wished there was two, or even three of us to handle everything that life throws our way. We want to be there to care for our kids, but we need to put in overtime to put food on the table. We want to celebrate with friends, but work gets in the way. That’s why I think people read novels, especially thrillers. The main reason they read them isn’t for the judo experts or the explosions. They read them to figure out what normal people like them do in extraordinary situations. The difference in a thriller isn’t made in the story, it comes from what’s inside the character. Like James Carville told Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  For us thriller writers, if we want our stories to be different, we need to remember, “It’s the characters, stupid.”