IndieView with Miles Watson, author of Knuckle Down

I’ve also worked extensively in the video games industry. You need someone else to see what you’re missing. Martial arts are a hobby of mine and so is collecting old-time radio programs like The Shadow. With some, I go more by instinct, and with others, I try to follow more of an outline. That’s a story in itself. So my target audience is anyone. Writing a novel is like rehabilitating an injury. I was also very busy working on the television show True Blood, and I graduated from Seton Hill University with an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. And the smog. I jot down snatches of dialogue, scenes with no context, scraps of ideas, character sketches, and situations, and from that mess I start to see a coherent shape, the shape of the story. It really was a helluva year. At the time, I had only published short stories and nonfiction pieces in boxing magazines, and the idea of a novel scared the hell out of me, but you have to obey the Muse. I’ve had a very diverse working life. Then, when I’m finished, I run another edit or two. I was born in Chicago (actually Evanston) but raised primarily in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. There are things you are going to miss no matter how many times you read it through. It’s been a real challenge because my experience as a novelist is mostly with crime stories or historical fiction, not horror, but as frightening as this experience has been, it’s also been liberating. Then, I moved to Hollywood and have worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade now. About a year and a half. About the book
What is the book about? I love to read, but I probably read four nonfiction books – biographies and history books and such – for every novel. But as a rule, my imagination is the source of most of the people in my books. For my short story collection Devils You Know, I hired a book cover designer who did some remarkable work, but for the individual short stories that comprise the collection, which are also available for download, I designed the covers myself. In Knuckle Down, Mick returns from exile to New York City in hopes of pursuing his dream of obtaining a title shot, only to find himself in the middle of a Mafia war that involves his old friends, his old enemies, and his ex-fiancée. I firmly believe that no writer can edit their own work past a certain point. I finished a complete rewrite of Cage Life, wrote another novel called Sinner’s Cross, and finally got my black belt, which was a lifelong dream for me. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) This may sound absurd, but when my book debuted at the Book Expo America in Chicago in 2016, there was a Tarot card reader there, and for the hell of it I sat down with him and got a reading. Yes. I stopped for some months right in the middle of the project because in 2013 I got embroiled in what can only be described as a bad romance. One of the key decisions I made was to make Mickey, the protagonist, an MMA fighter rather than a boxer. All you have to do as a writer is give them a direction, a task, a quest. I went to college in York, Pennsylvania, which is arguably where I finished growing up, though some would say I have quite a bit more of that left to do. To tell you the truth, different writers will manifest their influences on me depending on what I myself am writing. I now almost exclusively use book promotion services that conduct day or week-long marketing campaigns by e-mail. If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? I have an artistic background too and have a lot of fun trying my hand at it. And most of the people. What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Modern writers could learn a lot from the radio writers of old in terms of brevity and atmosphere. In the case of Knuckle Down, my private life got in the way and tripped me up pretty badly. That was quite a busy year for me. Luckily, as a writer, you learn to use things like pain, frustration, and anger in your work, and I harnessed a lot of what I was feeling in “Knuckle Down.”
Miles Watson – 24 September 2018
The Back Flap
When mixed martial artist Mickey Watts returns to New York after three years in exile, he just wants to forget his bloody days with the mob and do what he does best — fight. The moral is that there is strength and practical value in pain. You’ve written a great novel, fine, but who knows it exists? These never really hold up in practice, but they give you a good idea of where you are going and how you’re going to arrive. We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you? But when his ex-fiancee is threatened by the same vicious gangsters that ran him out of town, he gets a chance not only to win her back but to settle some old scores in the process. As I said above, it really depends on the book. Where do you live now? What are you working on now? Who knew? Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know? As I said, I got the idea of Mick from Eddie Melo, but I knew very little about Melo’s story; I just wanted a tough street guy with some brains and heart, but very bad judgment, who gets embroiled in a bad situation that will require a lot of fancy footwork to escape. With some, I have very clear ideas of what I need to do in a chapter, and with others, I’ve no bloody clue and have to see what happens when I sit down at the computer. Books are like children or pets; they have their own individual personalities and peculiarities, and what works well for one may not work at all for another. As Eddie Van Halen once said, I’d rather fail doing things my own way than succeed running someone else’s playbook. When did you start writing the book? Maybe I’m oversensitive to it because I’ve worked in Hollywood for more than a decade, and I see this kind of hijacking take place every day with screenplays and story ideas, but Cage Life generally gets four or five-star reviews, it was well-reviewed by critics, and it has won two awards. I’ll say that Derek Robinson, the English author, influenced me with the ruthless way he treated his characters – no one was safe, which kept the audience guessing. Luckily, as a writer, you learn to use things like pain, frustration, and anger in your work, and I harnessed a lot of what I was feeling in Knuckle Down. At that point I usually begin a very broad outline, just a page or two. Hemingway reminded me that less is often more, and Frank Herbert taught that unconventional approaches to writing can be phenomenally successful. I began toying with the idea of writing a novel along similar lines, since I knew the fight game pretty well and, being in law enforcement, was also comfortable writing underworld characters. Were there any parts of the book where you struggled? The back-and-forth was not a very pleasant experience because while I feel like I’m a pretty good team player and a professional (I understand that changes often need to be made to a manuscript, even big changes), I can’t tolerate someone trying to hijack the project and change the plot, the characters, and the tone until the final product is basically a completely different animal than the story I was trying to tell. After I graduated from college, I spent 10 years in law enforcement, social work, and private investigation. Lawrence Sanders influenced me with his beautiful prose-writing. Do you have a target reader? There are a large number of these services, and while some of them aren’t very good, there are a few which have produced some pretty remarkable results in terms of e-book sales. End of Interview:
For more from Miles, like his page on Facebook. As a rule, I try to avoid music with lyrics because they can be distracting, but there are exceptions. Writing a sequel has the great advantage of feeling very much like walking into a bar where everybody knows your name. I haven’t updated my credits on IMDB in ages, but I suppose I’ve worked on over a dozen television shows and a number of feature films. I got embroiled in what can only be described as a bad romance. I moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and presently reside in Burbank, across the street from Warner Bros. I have learned, and am still learning, the very complicated and tricky process of marketing novels in the age of Amazon. Knuckle Down is the sequel to my award-winning 2016 novel Cage Life. Get your copy of   Knuckle Down from Amazon US or Amazon UK. Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? The truth is, if you write characters and dialogue well, you can draw in just about anyone who takes the time to glance at the first page of your book: their genre preferences won’t matter if the world you’ve built is intriguing enough. I’ve discovered that every book is different in terms of how you deal with it and it with you. About You
Where did you grow up? It follows the life of Michael “Mickey” Watts, an MMA fighter from the wrong side of the tracks whose skill at brawling is exceeded only by his ability to get into trouble. That and the traffic. About Writing
Do you have a writing process? Where did you get the idea from? My editor is very good at suggesting ways to make the framework of the story stronger and the pace faster. If something just grabs and compels me and won’t let go, I usually start thinking in depth about how I’d write it and where I’d want the story to go. I told him I wanted a cage and an silhouette of a fighter and he did the rest. Studios. What would you like readers to know about you? Originally, I was traditional publishing all the way, but as I said above, the process turned me off. There’s no need to create a universe or a set of characters because they already exist – they’re waiting for you, so to speak, on their respective barstools. Mickey is stepping into the middle of a Mafia civil war, which I based loosely on similar wars fought between factions inside the Lucchese and Columbo Families, but he’s also navigating the so-called legitimate business world that finances mixed martial arts, which is not necessarily less dangerous. Funny you should ask. I have, yes, in the past. If and when I move from California, the heat is one thing I absolutely will not miss. I’ve done book signings and book giveaways as well, but I’m still looking for the formula to take me to the next level, where I run a promo and sell 300 books in a day instead of thirty. I very much enjoy listening to Mazzy Star because that music just relaxes me and puts me in a place very conducive to creativity and productivity. Just understand that finishing the book is the beginning of the battle and not the end. Because the city that never sleeps, never forgives. And, of course, there are characters in the book who definitely have the fingerprints of real people on them – cops I worked with, criminals I encountered, ex-girlfriends and so on. But the first book, Cage Life, was mainly about establishing the character and the universe he inhabits. It’s a crime story and a thriller, but it’s also a mystery. Everything else, sadly, is just prelude. Mick is a romantic. One of the main reasons I became an Indie author was to avoid having to “brand” myself, i.e., confine myself to a single genre. That gave the story a contemporary edge. But there’s a saying here in Hollywood: the more troubled the production, the better the outcome. I suppose I used myself as a model in the sense that I am a disaster at the practical side of life, just like Mick is. Some stories will try to kill you if you let them. The more the merrier. That will take the starch out of anybody. And in my particular case, I need someone to address the principal weakness I have as a writer, which is structure. Stephen King influenced me with his sense of humor, which is something very few people comment about in regards to his work, and Clive Barker with his fearlessness. He has a background in artistic design, and I told him what I wanted as a general theme – something stark and simple, rather reminiscent of The Godfather in tone but specific to my story. If so, can you please describe it? Did you hire a professional editor? And the wildfires and earthquakes and mudslides. When I finished Knuckle Down, I realized I’d written a better book than Cage Life, which took Book of the Year honors, because my emotions were so raw and what was coming out was so honest. Too many to mention. Insomuch as I have a uniform system, I turn ideas over in my brain for a while to see how fertile they really are. A horror novel which is based on a script I co-wrote. Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? You have good and bad days, and you have periods where you question everything you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how, and you wonder if you’ll ever get to the end of the process. Maybe my attitude will change someday; I don’t like to speak in absolutes or burn bridges, I just gradually came to the conclusion that I needed to start my career as captain of my own ship. That will take the starch out of anybody. I rather like Burbank except for the heat in the summer, which will fry the skin right off you. Do you listen to music while you write? He said, “You’re going to go through a lot of trouble doing things your own way, but that’s the way you’ve got to do it.”
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? This is a guy who has to duck fists, bullets, and bombs almost from the first page, but his real dilemma is whether he can win back the heart of his ex. Often. Do you outline? The short version is that many years ago, when I was in law enforcement, I heard the story of Eddie Melo, a tough, talented Canadian boxer who got seduced by the criminal life, fell in with the mob, and was ultimately murdered. Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? I edit as I go along. About Publishing
Did you submit your work to Agents? That’s the real fight. Later, if I’m feeling secure, I’ll do a chapter outline. I think that’s a pretty strong endorsement of my instincts as a writer, and a pretty strong indictment of the people who wanted me to make it dance to their tune. When I started writing in this vein, I assumed my audience would be mostly male, and probably middle-aged men at that; but women read more than men do, and the Amazon and Goodreads reviews I’ve had clearly show that they make up a large and vocal part of my audience. Getting attention, letting the world know you’re there and you’ve got something to say and to sell. Covered in blood. Trouble is, Mick’s not the only one with vengeance on his mind. Knuckle Down is a story with a much more complex plot. My book covers for the Cage Life series were created by my editor, Michael Dell. I began the first draft in 2012. The central ideas for the story were inspired by real-life events involving the Japanese mob’s infiltration of MMA and by the relationship that the American and Sicilian Mafias have with each other vis-a-vis the heroin trade. Those movies where everyone gets along, the picture comes in on time, and under budget, nearly always fail at the box office. It’s the real dumpster fires, where everyone is fighting and the producers are pulling out their hair and you’re on day 58 of a 40-day shooting schedule with no end in sight that often create movies like The Godfather, The Empire Strikes Back, and Titanic. Was it a particular event or a gradual process? Ultimately though, writing a novel is like fighting: you can train and make plans, but the fight will unfold the way it unfolds, and it’s up to you to adapt or get your lights turned out. What came easily? I want the freedom to write in every genre that interests me, to paint stories on every type of canvas, and this latest book is my attempt to act on that freedom. At first, I concentrated very heavily on social media adverts, but I found the results were lacking. If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? How long did it take you to write it? Both.