Today I have the privilege of interviewing the author, Will Dresser.
About the Author:
Will has had an eclectic career, which included work as a Counselor in the late ’70s and early ’80s, a long career in Silicon Valley with Philips Semiconductors from the late ’80s to 2003, and most recently a five-year stint as a paralegal in a patent law office in Palo Alto, California. He is now enjoying semi-retirement in Las Vegas, while pursuing his passion for writing. As he puts it, “I had to retire just to keep up with my workload!”
Will’s creative expression in writing over the years was primarily applied to writing music and lyrics, a passion which he has enjoyed since about 1965. The instrumental “Persian Dreams – Aryana’s Theme”, used on the home page of this site, was written in the early ’90s. Will and Ron (see below) actually began their artistic collaborations way back in 1963, when they helped each other learn to play guitars, subsequently forming various singing groups during that time. Will had always intended to be a novelist, though, and in 2003 turned his attention to that genre with the work “Sacrament of Fear,” his first ‘Wes Franklin’ novel. Since then he has written “The Methuselah Man”, and, together with Ron, turned both those stories into screenplays. Will is currently working on the third ‘Wes Franklin’ installment, “Terminal Rock”, which brings both of his creative loves together – Rock’n'Roll and literature!
In his spare time, Will still enjoys a round of golf every-so-often, though not as frequently as he did in the past. He says, “I used to have a very low handicap…Now, I just have very low expectations!” But, like all golfers, the occasional good shot suckers him into coming back for more!
TM: What gave you the idea for the character of Wes Franklin?
WD: I wanted to write intelligent action thrillers on a variety of topics and global settings but I
also wanted a common thread to hold all the stories together. In my mind the lead character
needed to be of superior intelligence because I intended to weave a lot of factual material
through the stories to make them more believable and contemporary. Much of that information
would come through the lead character, so the reader would need to believe that that character
could reasonably be expected to know the material. Thus I made him a child prodigy with an
extensive educational background. For mobility purposes I made him independently wealthy,
though eventually the reader learns that this wealth came with a cost. And I wanted this character to be an “action figure” but not in a parochial machismo mold. The character’s name came following some intense meditation and reflection on the nature of the character I had in mind. And so Wes Franklin was created.
Wes Franklin could be likened to a synthesis of Jack Ryan, Indiana Jones and James Bond in
that he is an action hero with a superior intellect and a lust for adventure. But where many
protagonists are the most interesting characters in a book, Wes has a slightly different role: Wes Franklin is more like the glue that holds a story together and the light that shines on other
characters in his adventures. Wes Franklin is an important character but he is not the only hero;
he is more of a catalyst than the center of attention, a pivotal character who shares the stage with others, thus giving the reader a familiar anchor while meeting a wealth of new characters in each story.
And Wes Franklin is not “complete” in and of himself. To compliment any of his
shortcomings, I created the recurring characters of Ashley Jordan and Rouzbeh Aryana, who
hold special relationships to Wes, at the same time standing out as strong persons in their own
right. This too brings variety to each story. Ashley Jordan—or A.J. — is the singular love
interest of Wes Franklin, and as such, can be seen as someone like Nora to Nick Charles in the
Thin Man movies, or Marian to Indy. She is strong, intelligent, resourceful, and fully capable of
handling herself in a tight situation, which makes her an even stronger love interest to Wes: she
is with him because she chooses to be!
Rouzbeh Aryana, Wes’s “Persian strongman” generally referred to simply as Aryana, has
been with Wes for nearly fifteen years as a dedicated side-kick. He is a private investigator for
Wes with a multi-cultural fluidity; fluent in several languages, able to blend in to the crowds in
many of the most violent regions in the world, and has proven time and time again to be willing
to place his own body in between Wes and danger.
Together, these three characters take the reader into varied regions of the world, bringing
their own perspectives to bear on each situation. Their complementary strengths make them a
great team when their individual strengths aren’t enough. They are the microcosm of cooperation in a world that needs to learn greater cooperation as a whole. And each story can take the reader into a new world and still retain a sense of familiarity: in Sacrament of Fear the reader sees the violent world of terrorist revenge; in The Methuselah Man it is the world of ultimate redemption juxtaposed with political assassination; Terminal Rock is the clash of rock’n’roll and the Russian Mafia. But always at the heart of the story is Wes Franklin—with his dedicated friends A.J. and Aryana.
TM: Where do you look for inspiration?
WD: Waxing philosophical for a moment, I would say inspiration is not something you need to
look for as much as stay open to. Inspiration is all around us if we tune into it. Everyone has a
story to tell, it’s just a matter of telling it in an interesting way. That said, it also helps to have a
skewed perspective on life!
I try to look for the unusual angles in a story, avoiding the expected, mundane, or trite paths a
story can take, and instead catch the reader by surprise in little ways. [Hopefully, by the time you
finish reading The Methuselah Man you’ll know what I mean.] It helps that I come from a long
line of movie lovers so that I tuned into that medium early in my life. Interesting characters can
be thrown into any kind of situation, and, on the flip side, interesting or unusual situations can
bring out the most compelling aspects of an otherwise common character.
As to subject matter, I love politics, religion, and psychology, and try to incorporate at least
some aspect of each in my stories. The intersection of the three can certainly make for some
TM: You’ve had an eclectic career. Of all the jobs you’ve had, other than writing, which was your favorite?
WD: “Eclectic” is definitely the operational term here. I’ve done electronic intelligence work in
Peshawar, Pakistan; had an audio/video production company for five years; had a role in the
conversion of TV stations to stereo broadcasting in the ‘80s [I was instrumental in facilitating the
first-ever stereo broadcast for CBS in Chicago, Dallas, and LA of the 1985 Grammy Awards];
worked as a patent paralegal dealing with new developments in the fields of chemistry and
biotechnology; spent several summers as a lifeguard and a salesman in men’s clothing stores;
and was a counselor and consultant in the areas of drug and alcohol treatment programs, as well as a Field Office Director for employment and training programs. But the job I spent the most years in was with Philips Semiconductors in California’s Silicon Valley.
The things that made my time at Philips most enjoyable and rewarding were the people, the
travel, and the international exposure to a variety of cultures, as well as having been closely
involved in some very important high tech advancements in telecommunications. Our products
were designed in San Jose, wafer fab’d in Albuquerque, packaged and tested in Taiwan, The
Philippines, and Bangkok, and headquartered in Eindhoven in The Netherlands. I got to meet a
lot of fascinating people from all around the world, people I would never have known if not for
Philips. In my first book, Sacrament of Fear, I’ve used the names of many of my international
friends for my characters as a way of saying hello to them through my writing. Of course, I
always make my friends the good guys in the stories. I give them the assurance that I will never
make them look bad. I might kill them off…but I’ll never make them look bad!
I knew that I would some day be a writer so I paid particular attention to the places I traveled
to for business. In fact, the photo on the back cover of Sacrament of Fear is one of my own that I took outside Centraal Station in Amsterdam. But of all the business travel adventures, the one
that stands out most in my mind was the around-the-world trip I took with my friend and
colleague, Jack Meylink in 1999. We visited our test and assembly plants in conjunction with a
corporate meeting in Zurich and made Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg look like a slacker! We flew
from San Francisco to LA to Osaka, Japan then on to Kaohsiung, Taiwan for a day of meetings.
From there we spent the weekend in Hong Kong before flying on to Manila for more meetings.
This was followed by a visit to our plant in Bangkok, after which we took a midnight flight to
Zurich via Amsterdam for several days of meetings. I left early, returning first to Amsterdam for
the night before catching the plane home. A mere ten days after departing San Francisco heading east, I landed once more in the Bay Area, where a limo picked me up and dropped me off at my apartment for some well needed rest! Much of this trip will find its way into the fourth ‘Wes Franklin’ thriller, The Billionaires Club.
TM:Why did you decide to collaborate on your own screenplays rather than optioning the rights to the stories?
WD: I haven’t ruled out optioning the rights but there were some special reasons for choosing to
handle the screenplay task in the way I did. My partner in this effort is a man who has been like a brother since 1962. I first met Ron Turouske when my family moved from Detroit to Bartlett,
Illinois that summer. Ron and I and a third friend, Mark Sheldon, became instant friends and
have maintained that bond for the past fifty years (fifty years this summer, in fact!). We learned
to play guitars together and formed various singing groups over time. Mark is a fantastic visual
artist whose career in Wisconsin was as a teacher and administrator. Ron’s background included photography and film studies in Santa Barbara, as well as marketing jobs around the world. The three of us were always very much into movies and it was a mutual thought that it would be nice if someday we could collaborate on some artistic endeavor. Though initially invited to work with Ron and me on the screenplays, Mark had other time commitments that worked against this. Ron and I pressed on with the projects and have so far converted the first two books to screenplays. We would both like to be as intimately involved with any movie project as possible when the time comes, whether that is in the requirement for rewrites or other technical support in the process.
TM: Tell me about your upcoming projects.
WD: I am presently writing Terminal Rock, the third installment of the ‘Wes Franklin’ thrillers.
The story is about a Russian rock’n’roll band that has become a worldwide phenomenon ala The Beatles. But from the opening chapter the reader will see that there is much more at play here than simple rock’n’roll. Political corruption, the Russian Mafia, and music all converge in a story of deception, intrigue, secret identities and revenge.
Also in the works (currently occupying various space in my head) are: 1) The Billionaires
Club, the fourth ‘Wes Franklin’ thriller that will deal with wealth, power, and greed set in
Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Bangkok; 2) Jared Kennan Cain, an extension of The Methuselah Man
character through that character’s eyes and experiences; and 3) R and R Forever: A WWII Love
Story, which is the true story of Robert and Ruth Shoenthal, my longtime girlfriend’s parents,
who met and fell in love in Pearl Harbor during World War II. I will also begin recording the
audio versions of the ‘Wes Franklin’ books this fall when I return from my month-long road trip,
which starts next Wednesday, August 8th. I’ll be visiting friends and relatives and talking about
my books across a dozen states (UT, CO, NE, IA, WI, IL, OK, KS, TX, NM, AZ.
You can read more about Will Dresser and his books at WillDresser,com