A Lifetime of Terror - Pete Grondin
In all honesty, this is not a genre that I typically pick out to read. While I enjoy suspense, I tend to lead more towards the detective, docudrama, or paranormal suspense books as opposed to government/terrorist/military suspense.
But Grondin has woven a plot that teases you along those lines, leading you to believe you understand what's going on when you're really still in the dark.
I appreciated the multiple perspectives and found myself connecting with individuals on both sides of the line. Even people with bad intentions can rationalize their actions, and A Lifetime of Terror does a great job of showing this.
Well written. Well executed plot. If this genre is one you enjoy reading, I definitely recommend A Lifetime of Terror.
Some Bio Information
Pete ‘P.J.’ Grondin was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1956. He is the seventh of twelve children born to Nicholas and Patricia Grondin. The family moved a number of times when Pete was young; from Sandusky, Ohio to Bay City, Michigan, then to Maitland, Florida, finally settling in the small, rural community of Zellwood, Florida. At age 22, he moved back to Sandusky and worked at a retail department store where he met his wife, Debbie. They were married in January, 1984 and have two children. He joined the US Navy in the Nuclear Power Program and served on the ballistic missile submarine, USS John Adams (SSBN 620b). After being discharged from the US Navy in 1989, he moved his family back to their hometown of Sandusky. He was elected to the Sandusky City Commission, serving a single term from 1993 to 1997. He recently retired from a major regional electric utility where he worked as the technical lead in the IT department.
His current novels in the McKinney Brothers suspense series are A Lifetime of Vengeance, A Lifetime of Deception, A Lifetime of Exposure, A Lifetime of Terror, and A Lifetime of Betrayal.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
This is actually the fourth book in the McKinney Brothers series. The brothers, Pat and Joe McKinney, started out in their teens on the wrong side of the law in an illegal business. They began to feel guilty and more than a little frightened about how quickly they were being pulled deeper into this lifestyle. Wanting to get out of the illegal business, they told their business partners that they were pulling out. Their business partners took exception to this and did something quite heinous to the brothers’ family. Pat and Joe left for the military, planning to return and take revenge on their business partners, only to find that their plan was being executed by someone else. At the completion of the first book, the brothers believe that they have successfully resolved their issues and put their lives back on track.
During my own military and civilian career in the nuclear industry, I met a large number of folks from all walks of life. Many of the stories that were traded while in training, while deployed on the USS John Adams, and while working in union and non-union jobs at a nuclear power plant gave me sizable library of ideas. People have all kinds of motivation to hate. We can’t possibly know what makes them tick or what makes them explode. I tried to use two completely fictional people with their own motivation to do harm on a large scale to people that had little to do with the source of their hatred. One of the characters, Victoria Garcia, ultimately does focus her hatred on the actual persons who were the catalyst for her hatred.
2. What does being an indie author mean to you?
First, it is quite an education. This particular book was a beginning to end project. I did everything from writing to formatting to sending the finished draft to the printer. I even took the cover picture, the Davis-Besse cooling tower, which I could see from my office window (I worked at Davis-Besse for FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company). Second, being an indie author has given me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Finally, I came to understand that I have still have a lot to learn about the book industry, especially since the industry is undergoing such profound change.
3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I start with “the big idea,” the main plot. I write a paragraph or two about the plot. From there, I have a spreadsheet with five tabs (though this can change from book to book). The first tab is broken into about 45 lines which I use to write a few sentences about each chapter. Also on this tab I describe the viewpoint for each chapter. I try to keep the number of viewpoints to that of seven major characters. I also keep track of the open points for each chapter so that I can make sure they are addressed prior to the end of the story. The second tab is for character descriptions. This is where I write information on the particulars for each character, both major and minor. The third tab is for an overview of the viewpoints, location information, and other notes. The fourth tab is strictly to track word counts. I shoot for between 100,000 and 120,000 words, ideally somewhere in the middle. The last tab is a very brief synopsis of each chapter (first tab boiled down to a single sentence. I use this spreadsheet as my roadmap. It also helps me maintain an easy reference to see where I am in the story. It is easy to get lost in the midpoint of a manuscript so I like using this process to keep myself on track.
4. Who is your favorite fictional character?
My favorite at the moment is Lucas Davenport, the primary character in John Sandford’s “Prey” series. I am also a big fan of Kinsey Milhone from Sue Grafton’s alphabet books. Ms. Grafton was my inspiration to use “A Lifetime of. . .” in the title of my series. I’m also a big fan of Harry Bosch, the detective in a series by Michael Connelly.
5. Describe the perfect writing environment.
The perfect writing environment would be a locked, quiet room with a computer that has internet access for research, with a white board and no windows. Unfortunately, I haven’t found this ideal room for a number of reasons.
6. How would you describe your writing style?
Great question. I try to write in such a way that the reader forms their own motion picture in their mind. I try to touch arouse each of the reader’s senses so that they feel like they are there, in the scene, with the characters in the story. I’m not sure that I always succeed.
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
I hope that, one day, one of my stories is picked up for either a television series or a motion picture. I’ve had a number of people tell me, after ready one of the McKinney Brothers novels that they could picture the story unfold on the big screen. I was pretty pumped at the time, but I came back down to earth and realized that there is a lot of work involved before that happens. The good news is that I am now retired from my day job, and at fifty-eight, I still have a few good years in me to work towards that goal.