I first discovered indie writer Ernie Lindsey after he followed me on Twitter. I was intrigued by the blurb for his book Going Shogun which looked like it could be a great read. I ended up writing him an email asking for a review copy at about the same time he was writing me to ask me to review it. I wasn’t disappointed. I will continue to “hoot and holler” about that book every chance I get. If you like humorous writing and you’re a fan of off-kilter science fiction, you will love Going Shogun.
After publishing that book in the Spring of 2012, Lindsey returned to something more like previous things he had written. His thriller Sara’s Game has been well received, rising as high as number two overall on the Amazon Kindle charts. I caught up with Ernie recently to talk about his recent success.
Wecks: So I was flipping through the Amazon rankings the other day — obsessing about my lack of book sales — when I ran across your name… sitting at #2 overall on the Kindle fiction charts. Dude! What happened? Congratulations! Sara’s Game is doing great!
Lindsey: Thanks! Sacrificing all those buckets of chicken from KFC finally paid off! (Major League, anyone?) Actually, a sequence of events over a few months led to the success. I originally published Sara’s Game in October of last year, and it shot out of the gates with very little promotion on my part, at least until I ran an ad with a popular site among indie authors in November. The novel sold enough copies in one day to reach #25 on Amazon, which almost induced voluntary dancing on my part.
Those results must have caught Amazon’s attention, because they notified me in early January that they were considering it for a promotional opportunity. A month later, Sara’s Game was the Kindle Daily Deal, which is unarguably the single best method of inducing excitement, fear, and dancing in an indie author. There’s no denying Amazon has some serious marketing muscle.
Wecks: So I have to confess, I haven’t read it. Will you give me and our readers a summary?
Lindsey: I actually wrote the blurb for Sara’s Game before I typed out a single word of the novel. I shared it with friends on Facebook and the response was overwhelming. This is what I came up with, and I’ve barely changed a thing in four months:
Two years ago, Sara’s husband left for the gym one morning… and never came back. His car was found. He wasn’t. Unbelievably, the police report said, “No foul play suspected.” There were a few unreliable sightings over the following months, but little else.
Now, on the last day before summer break, her three children have gone missing from their schools, all at the same time.
And the note under her windshield wiper asks one foreboding question: Are you ready to play the game?
Wecks: So it is a bit different than your book Going Shogun, which remains one of my favorite books from 2012. Why the change?
Lindsey: Since I started writing creatively in 1994, I’ve been all over the map in subject matter. I’ve written small-town southern fiction, stories with a mystical twist, hard-boiled crime, and action. Going Shogun was really my break from the norm in that it’s humorous, dystopian crime fiction. I went back to my roots with Sara’s Game, attempting to create that heart-pounding, page turning experience that I enjoy, and thankfully, it has resonated with readers in the same way. There were times I found myself holding my own breath while writing it, and I’m supposed to be the guy who knows where the story is going.
Wecks: So why the success? What has made the difference?
Lindsey: Honestly, I wish I knew! Sara’s Game really took off on its own and continues to reach an audience, even when I’m not promoting it. I’ve had other authors tell me that it’s a combination of the haunting cover and the blurb that immediately grabs your attention. Plus, I purposely dropped the reader (and the main character Sara) right into the middle of the action in the first chapter. I had someone equate it to a downhill ski jump… you’re on a fast-paced ride as soon as the bell sounds, and I think that type of opening hook just keeps people reading. I don’t know how many emails and reviews I’ve gotten from excited readers that said they finished the book in one sitting. I couldn’t be more grateful for so many fantastic compliments.
Wecks: Tell me about Sara. Where did she come from?
Lindsey: It’s strange where the genesis of a story comes from, but this novel and its main character came from an off-handed statement I made to my wife one morning. This was around the time that The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones were so popular last year. I basically said I was going to write a novel with a strong female lead with the word ‘Game’ in the title. The rest just sprung up out of the ether.
Wecks: I asked you about this when we did our Google Authors Hangout in December, but I’ve got to have you tell our audience your wife’s name.
Lindsey: Ha! It’s Sarah. With an H. There’s a huge difference.
Wecks: Isn’t it a little creepy to be writing a book about a woman with the same name as your wife, and isn’t it a little bit creepier to be writing a book about her kids getting kidnapped when Sarah is pregnant with your first child?
Lindsey: Creepy? Yes. Very. I tried out different names, but nothing had the same, fluid ring as Sara’s Game. As I was writing the first draft, the main character’s name was initially Sarah, with the H. The more I put this poor woman through, the weirder it got that it was the same as my wife’s. Dropping the H helped, at least enough to get through the story.
I don’t think I’ve actually told my wife this yet, but I’ve spent so much time with this character that I’ll accidentally write “Sara” when I’m spelling out her name. That’s the strangest part. And yes, it was definitely a difficult subject to write about while she was pregnant with our first child, but in a way, I think it helped with the emotional intensity of the story. I tried to picture how my wife would react in the same type of situation, and there’s no doubt in my mind she would be as strong as the fictional Sara.
Wecks: Congratulations again on your healthy baby, and I should say welcome to the “GeekDad club.” What’s his name again?
Lindsey: His name is Jack. He’s a little over two months old now. Happy, healthy, relatively quiet, and we couldn’t ask for anything more. Except for some extra sleep, but I hear that’s most likely out the window for the next eighteen years or so.
Wecks: So have you managed to get any writing done between diapers? What’s next?
Lindsey: Believe it or not, I have! I’m roughly two thirds of the way finished with a new novel, tentatively called The White Mountain, that I hope to release by the middle of March. Here’s the plot:
Private investigator Mary Walker is in a race to save her sister’s family. Her brother-in-law, a former Marine Corps sniper, is involved in a deadly game of “killer hunting killer” with ten million dollars to the winner, and death to the losers. Over the course of forty-eight hours, she must discover a way to get him out of the game, or help him win it just to keep him alive, while chasing down leads that connect all the way up to the unlikeliest of places… the White House.
Wecks: I’ll be looking forward to reading it.
Lindsey: Thanks for having me!