When you attend any writer’s workshop or conference, you meet lots of interesting people including other writers, publishers, agents and presenters. It was during one of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conferences that I just love attending each year that I first met the very talented and personality plus writer, Brad Hecht and we’ve been friends ever since. Brad has his first book out, called Struggs and he was kind enough to be a guest on my blog.
Marie Gilbert: Thank you so much for taking this time to tell us about your book, Brad. Before we talk about the book, tell us a bit about you.
Brad Hecht: Well that’s a tough question, I was born somewhere between the mid 1960’s and the late 1980’s the month and day I remember, December 13th, the year, well now you have me on that one.
I am married and I have three amazing children. I still can’t believe that someone would let me be a father. It’s funny in the United States we need a license to go fishing but children, heck anybody can have one of those.
I have been a sportsman and a reader my whole life. Hockey, mountain biking and Jet Skiing being my passion, while reading and writing being my love.
As far as reading I never remember a time where I did not end the day with a good or sometimes a horrible book in my hands. The first book I ever read was Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline. I was eight years old. Although that was not the type of book an eight year old should be reading, Sidney Sheldon and Harold Robbins were the only books we had in our home. I also learned at a young age that third person omniscient were the types of books that I liked best. I found that first person books were too limited.
I have been taking writing class for as long as I can remember even back to grade school. I remember an incident where my second grade teacher (Mrs. Baker) made me write a scary Halloween story. I of course, wrote the whole story in third person. The teacher made me rewrite the story to first person. I did what I was told and received and A+ for the story. On my way home from school, I took my time and ripped the whole thing up. Unfortunately, Mrs. Baker had called mom to tell her to read my A+ story.
My mom walked me all the way back to school and made me retrieve all the ripped pages. When we got home the second time, I was forced to tape all the pages together so my mom could read the story. When my mom was finished reading the story, she agreed with me that the story was better in third person. My uncle a few years later read my story and asked if I did a book report on John Saul’s Suffer the Children. My mom immediately bought that book for me and I was amazed that our stories were so similar.
Marie Gilbert: Brad, tell us what your book is about.
Brad Hecht: STRUGGS is written for adults as well as young adults. It’s a fast paced, character-driven action/adventure story. STRUGGS Takes place in the year 1775. The book is a coming-of-age story for five quirky orphans ranging in age from 13 to 15 years old. By chance, these orphans meet two Irish privateers who risk everything to help them. Can these orphans and privateers work together to beat the British and save the Patriot cause? This is how it is written on my book cover:
John is a 13-year-old boy who stumbles into the opportunity to fight for the Patriot cause. He is clumsy and has a knack for messing things up. Is someone like John capable of helping Henry Knox bring the cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to the Boston Heights? Melba is a 15-year-old girl with dazzling fencing ability, can she use her skill against British-trained soldiers? Red & Knuckles are impressed sailors stuck working as lowly ship-hands for the British navy. Can they escape to become privateers for General George Washington’s secret navy? O’Neil is a former British naval officer, former pirate and one of the best ghost storytellers on the waves. Would he help a nation with no navy? These are only a few of the courageous characters in STRUGGS.
Marie Gilbert: What was the inspiration for STRUGGS?
Brad Hecht: The inspiration for this book was my own death. I wrote this book while I was dying with cancer. I wanted to prove to my kids that ‘no matter where you are in life you can always achieve.’ I wanted to write a book about life’s lessons without writing life lesson number 1, life lesson number 2. So I weaved lessons into each character and every few pages, they aren’t difficult to spot but you do have to ask, why did the author write that? If you just read the book you will enjoy a good story. If you read ‘into’ the book you will see the messages I wanted my kids to learn.
Well anyway, luck or fate was on my side because I lived. Best of all, I will be able to call myself a former cancer patient on May 12th of this year.
Marie Gilbert: I’m so happy for you, Brad. Since we met at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, I wanted to know if you felt that writers’ conferences are helpful when writing a book. What did you gain from attending the conference?
Brad Hecht: YES, attending a writer’s conference is wickedly important. Most writers will say hanging around with other writers is important, but it’s really the knowledge you gain that is most beneficial. For instance, what should the protagonist’s age be on a Children’s book, YA book or a Teen book? What should their page count be? What are the ‘Common Core State Standards’ for New Jersey? These are three questions I bet most writers don’t know the answers to.
Marie Gilbert: How do you go about marketing your book and has this been successful?
Brad Hecht: The first thing I tried was Facebook that was a failure I think I sold three books via Facebook. Twitter and Pinterest were a waste of time also, finally I went to the BookExpo in NYC that was helpful. Then I called libraries and schools and sold a bunch more that way. Finally I started interviewing and blogging. My first month on Amazon I sold around 80 books and downloads which made me number one in my category. It’s been selling nonstop since November of 2013.
Marie Gilbert: That is so exciting. So tell me, are you working on another book?
Brad Hecht: Yes, I am working on my next two books, one is a coming of age set in 1777 at the Battle of Saratoga. The other is in present times and is a thriller/terrorist and action/adventure story.
Marie Gilbert: Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog, Brad. I’m looking forward to reading STRUGGS.