Sanibel Island author Dan Perkins recently put the finishing touches on the third book in his "The Brotherhood of the Red Nile" trilogy, yet the real story was how he went from having no interest in writing to producing three, full-length thrillers in 18 months.
For Perkins, it all started in November 2011 at BIG ARTS center when he decided to register for a class on learning how to write mysteries and thrillers, something different from the classes he typically took in painting or glass fusing.
"I had no formal training as a writer," he said, explaining how for the last 40 years he was a registered investment advisor. "At the first class the instructor said you'll know in two weeks whether you'll be a writer."
Dan Perkins presenting an archive copy of his book to Margaret Mohundro, executive director of the Sanibel Public Library. PHOTO PROVIDED.
Perkins went home that night, sat down in front of his computer, and typed out 1,000 words, including a storyline and characters.
"I could see, in my mind's eye, the last sentence in the last paragraph of the last page," he said.
The class had flicked a switch in his mind, he said, allowing him to finish his first 400-page book in 90 days, a 500-page sequel in another 90 days, and the last page of his third installment on Sept. 6, 2013.
What: Interactive book signing event with author Dan Perkins
When: Monday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.
Where: Sanibel Public Library at 770 Dunlop Road
Details: Visit danperkinsatsanibel.com
"The Brotherhood of the Red Nile: A Terrorist Perspective" presents a burgeoning terrorist group named the Brotherhood of the Red Nile who plan on refurbishing two outdated nuclear bombs from the Soviet Union to attack the United States. The sequel, "The Brotherhood of the Red Nile: America Rebuilds," picks up where the last novel ended, post-nuclear explosion.
Perkins said readers have been enjoying his books and his online reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble have been positive. The trilogy was also optioned for adaptation into a film by Producer Chase Chenowith from Back Fence Productions in Atlanta, Ga.
Although he had no training as a writer, Perkins understood the importance of conducting research to make the novel as real as possible. He said his analytical experience as a money manager prepared him for the tedious aspects of researching all the specifics about explosives and the Middle East.
"I did an incredible amount of research," he said. "I found myself amazed at what information is available on the Internet."
During the research process, Perkins was able to find detailed schematics of suitcase bombs, comparative reports on different explosives, and even a layout of Andrews Air Force Base. When he wrote about characters in Syria, for instance, he used Google Maps to find real street data to create fictional addresses and phone numbers.
Readers have compared him to heavy-hitters like Tom Clancy in terms of his use of detail, but Perkins said he wants the characters to drive the story.
"It's the attention to detail that helps paint the picture. But, in many respects, it's also a story about people," said Perkins.
Publishing the trilogy has given him the opportunity to network with organizations in ways he never expected. He is working with the USO and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to create a foundation called "Songs and Stories for Soldiers," which will allow wounded soldiers to download books or music through MP3 players, including Perkins' trilogy.
On Monday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. he will be hosting a book signing at the Sanibel Public Library, yet his appearances are very different from the typical author's event, he said. Perkins hosts an interactive storytelling session with the audience, asking them questions, and building story ideas to get them engaged in the process.
The Sanibel Public Library is at 770 Dunlop Road.
For more information on Dan Perkins or "The Brotherhood of the Red Nile" trilogy, visit danperkinsatsanibel.com.