Brian Eulenstein is a West Australian author, who released his debut novel Dark Road, Dark Souls in July 2013. I really enjoyed the thriller, which is self-published, and can be purchased as an eBook, Paperback or on Kindle. Perth readers can get a signed copy of the book direct from Brian if they would like, by contacting him through his Website. Read on to find out about Brian and Dark Road, Dark Souls, or check out the Facebook page for more!
When did you first become interested in writing?
Though I loved writing short stories in High School English, I had never seriously considered the possibility of writing novels or having my work published… life was way too busy for that sort of indulgence. But then, about six years ago, life threw me an opportunity out of the blue.
That opportunity came about in rather odd circumstances. First time authors, generally, start out with an idea. They put pen to paper and their ideas take shape in written form. My beginnings as a writer were a little different. I had decided to write… without a single idea of what I was going to write about!
It all started with a meditation! My wife, Ragani, meditates almost daily and every now and then I like to join in, although sometimes it’s just an excuse to close my eyes and have a snooze.
But, on this particular day, Ragani picked a guided meditation about ‘focusing on a virtue’. I really enjoy drawing and playing guitar, so I decided I would focus on the virtue ‘creativity’. It was during this meditation, that a crazy notion came to mind – I was going to write!
We came out of the meditation and, before I could say a word, Ragani turned to me and said ‘you’re going to write a book’! That stunned me a little. When I admitted that that was what I was told, she became very excited! She asked me, ‘What are you going to write about?’
And I said, ‘I have absolutely no idea!’
Tell us a little bit about your first novel Dark Road, Dark Souls.
Dark Road, Dark Souls is the story of a distraught father, Daniel Williams, who travels from Western Australia to Scotland to identify the body of his estranged son, Ben, the victim of a brutal murder. But Daniel’s journey becomes a search for redemption, as he battles the demons of his self destructive past. His search leads him to a confrontation with Edinburgh’s most powerful drug lord, and the appalling realisation that his son had been connected to a major drug trafficking empire. It is a story about an ordinary man confronted by extraordinary violence…
It is a thriller, with action and mystery, as well as a touch of the spiritual and, of course, a dash of good lovin’ thrown in to the mix.
What inspired Dark Road, Dark Souls?
For a few weeks after the meditation, I struggled. Nothing inspired me. I began to feel a little foolish, having decided to write without having any ideas for a story. Ragani, though, would come to me with scenes that she had glimpsed during her meditations. One was of a car chase…. that certainly pricked my interest. It was sounding very much like a bit of a thriller and I love thrillers. So I decided that would be the genre for my book.
Another scene she ‘saw’ was of people being chased through a forest. Again, this fitted into the thriller genre. Now, we’d only just visited the UK not long before, and I thought to myself, there’s lots of forests in the UK… why don’t I use places we had been to as locations for the story.
So, I had the genre, a couple of scenes, and I had locations… but no story!
It was about this time that Ragani and I saw a movie called ‘Taken’ – with Liam Neeson playing the role of a father who’s daughter is kidnapped by some nasty slave traders, while she’s holidaying in Paris. Little did the kidnappers realise was that her father was an ex-CIA ‘specialist operative’… someone with the skills to hunt down bad guys and despatch them rather brutally. He of course saves his daughter and all is well in the end.
I enjoyed the movie, but it occurred to me that the heroes in these stories usually have skills, training, or some special talent that allows them to deal with criminal types. They’re usually CIA operatives, or ex-cops, or SAS Commandoes, or some action hero type!
And I asked myself, what if that was my daughter? How would I have dealt with that sort of horrifying violence?
And that was the spark I was looking for – a story took seed and grew from there.
So I created a character, Daniel Williams, who is an ordinary, everyday Australian bloke who unwittingly becomes entangled in a life and death race for survival. This guy is no Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne… he is frantic and out of his depth, forced to resort to the same unspeakable violence that has him so terrified.
Where did you go for creative inspiration throughout the writing process?
In creating this character, I wanted to make his emotions and feelings as authentic as possible. I wanted to make the character someone that readers could relate to. So the whole time I was writing I kept imagining myself in Daniel’s place… I kept asking myself, what would I be feeling, what would I be doing, how would I be reacting to the situations he finds himself in?
One reviewer had described the story as ‘deeply emotional’ and Daniel’s journey as ‘agonising’. Which I was happy about – I wanted the reader to feel what this guy was going through.
And I’m a movie buff, so as I wrote I imagined and described each scene and action sequence as though they were in a movie. This resulted in the book also being referred to as ‘highly visual’. Many readers have told me that they could see this story unfolding before them like they were watching a film. And that, to me, is a huge compliment… because that was my intention.
The book was set mainly in Edinburgh, Scotland. Tell us about why you chose this location and the research process you undertook.
Ragani and I had visited Edinburgh while in the UK and we loved it. I decided on Edinburgh as I felt I could describe it reasonably easily from our experiences there.
And… I had become a mad keen fan of Ian Rankin!
How did you go about character development?
With most of the characters I started with a basic description and personality trait… the rest just unfolded as I wrote. Apart from the central character, I didn’t sit down before hand and set out their life story. Things would come to me as I wrote. If it fitted the story, or embellished upon it, I would throw it in.
Was any of the writing based loosely on your life?
I will admit that Daniel Williams and I share a love of cowboy boots, we both dabbled in motorbikes… and our wives are of Indian origin.
But Daniel was a self-destructive, womanizing alcoholic… my background is quite staid in comparison.
How did you overcome writers block? (If you experienced this!)
Writer’s block is excruciatingly painful! And it would drive me to despair…
But I learnt to just walk away. Eventually, it would come to you. It might take minutes, hours, or days, but it would come.
How did you go writing whilst working in a full time job?
I had to develop a routine, setting aside small blocks of time where possible: half an hour here, an hour there, writing on the bus on the way to work… it required a great deal of perseverance and patience!
Tell us about the book launch for Dark Road, Dark Souls.
It was a great night! Champagne and finger foods, guests dressed in red and black to match the book cover, Scottish music in the background… and me brandishing a (toy) gun while giving my talk, just to set the scene. We had one hundred and sixty people attend and one hundred and thirty books sold. I signed most of those books! I felt like a celebrity…
But I was also very humbled and overcome by the energy in the room – the interest and enthusiasm of all there. It was an amazing experience for me.
What are your plans for your future in writing?
To continue writing as long as I can.
Dark Road, Dark Souls is a self published book and, that being the case, requires considerable work to promote and sell. I have had the book promoted at major international book fairs by William Webster of the Australian Self Publishing Group. He is taking the book to the London Book Fair in April this year, the idea being to obtain the backing of a publisher, or agent, to take on the nuts and bolts of future publishing, allowing me to concentrate on my writing.
The book is also listed as a Kindle e-reader on Amazon, and that has done very well, having become an Amazon ‘bestseller’ in its category, in Australia (as a Kindle e-reader version) – it got to No. 2 at one stage and has hovered in the top twenty five for the last four months. Though I’m old school and I love the feel of a book in my hand, no doubt the digital world is upon us and it is a world in which my writing will continue to reside.
I have started my second book, a sequel, of sorts, to Dark Road, Dark Souls, in that Daniel and his wife, Shanti, return. The story is set in Perth and involves an escalating bikie gang war. It introduces a new character – an alcoholic Senior Detective who is having an affair with his best friend’s wife. A wholesome fellow! But he does his job…
A West Australian Inspector Rebus perhaps?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read… lots! Find authors, genres, styles that appeal to you. Learn what you like and don’t like.
While reading… write. Play with writing styles that you enjoy reading, and develop a style that fits you. Be concise in your writing, make every word count.
And when you have a manuscript ready… seek advice. Get someone to review your manuscript and be prepared for and open to criticism. I employed the services of a local author and script writer who provided a professional assessment of the manuscript. With his advice I was able to trim much fat from the book, make my writing style consistent and rearrange chapters to give the story more bite.
Then when you have everything in place… edit! And edit again and again! I edited several times over. But this is the fun part. The story’s written. It just has to be polished and perfected. (Though, to be honest, no author ever feels their finished product is perfect…’
So, read, write, get advice, edit and edit again.
And when you have the finished product in your hand, be aware that your work hasn’t finished. In fact, the hard work has only just started: getting your book out there!