First-time author Ross Tibbetts will be signing copies of his debut novel, “The Walker,” at Books & Books on July 15 at 6:30 p.m.
The signing of the fast-paced science fiction thriller will be followed by a question-and-answer session, open to the public.
In an exciting twist, anyone who buys the book at the two-hour event will have their name put in a hat. The name drawn out at the end of the evening will be used for a character in the author’s next novel.
The construction design manager, who took three years to write and self-publish “The Walker” in his spare time, found the literary process cathartic.
As Tibbetts explained, “I was in Cayman for Hurricane Ivan and in the aftermath there wasn’t a lot of entertainment. No TV, no Internet … so I would tell people my stories every night to pass the time. Friends and family liked them and told me I should start writing, so I did.
“These story ideas weigh on an author’s mind, and I find that writing them down is a way of off-loading that weight,” he added.
Location, location, location
Set in the quiet beach town of Gulfport, Florida, Tibbetts’s hometown, the book’s plot centers on a 20-something single mother, Jennifer, whose life gets turned upside down when a strange visitor offers to walk her dogs. Genetic engineering, conspiracy and global threats compete with murder, betrayal and romance in what is touted to be a fast-paced page-turner.
He said that the novel’s location was primarily chosen because he grew up there. “I have other stories set in Cayman already and it just didn’t feel right to set [it] here,” Tibbetts said.
“I had the story for ‘The Walker’ before I had a setting for it, and for some reason when I thought to set the story in Gulfport, suddenly everything [worked] perfectly. I also liked the scale of Gulfport. I think that fitting a story into a manageable sized world makes it easier on the author and the reader.”
During this time, Tibbetts found his family were very supportive, “I think that without the help of my brother Clinton and my wife Selina I would not have been able to accomplish this novel. They were very encouraging and supportive.
“They gave great feedback, which helped me work out the kinks and challenged me to make it better and better,” he said.
The 34-year-old said he still has a lot of other book ideas he wants to work on. As well as writing science fiction, he enjoys reading other genres. Some of his favorites are Dean Koontz’s “Frankenstein” series and more recently, Ernst Cline’s “Ready Player One.”
Asked from where he drew inspiration, the writer said, “I listen to a lot of audio books. I think that the rhythm of Koontz’s audio books was what I tried to mimic, but I have my own writing style.
“I think that you can capture character, feeling and emotions and a lot of other things like scenery better than if the same story were made into a movie. So I try to remember that while I write and take advantage of it,” he added.
Self-publishing and juggling priorities
Writing and self-publishing a book while having a demanding full-time job was, unsurprisingly, a huge learning curve for him as a husband and father of two. When speaking of the writing process and how he managed to fit it all into an already busy work schedule, Tibbetts said his free time for writing was pretty narrow, but having a mobile device helped.
“I think that smartphones are great because you can literally work at any free moment you get, do research and edit your manuscript etc. I didn’t have a routine necessarily. I just wrote whenever I could squeeze in the time.”
One of a growing number of first-time writers who turn to self-publishing to get their work to the public, Tibbetts said he took his time in finding the perfect fit. “I spent a lot of time researching which publisher to go with before deciding to go with Create Space, which is one of the only dot-coms that lets you self-publish for free.
“Also, Create Space is owned by Amazon and its distribution channels are probably as good as it gets.”
The writer, who did the cover art for his book, is working on his next novel “Don’t Read the Book,” a sci-fi horror story.
Available at Books & Books, “The Walker” is also available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.