✨ Guest Post / Interview ✨
A few things I learned while writing this book:
For this book, I learned to make sure pronouns were correct as I am dealing with trans characters, at the beginning, middle, and end of their transitions. I had to make sure my pronouns were spot on and this was much harder than it seemed with one character in particular, because we are lead to believe one thing about them and it’s not true, and it affected how I used the male and female pronouns (and for writing purposes, using they/them is a nightmare because in an action story, when people are fighting together, who the they/them is – whether the person or that person and another, can be confusing.
I learned (more) about weapons. Guns and knives especially. I know what I wanted and I often had to find the correct weapon that worked for that scene.
I versed myself on torture (my lead character was in the military and used torture to get information. He brings those skills back to the States.
I learned about Havana, since two of my characters end up there at the end of the book. And now I really badly want to go there. Do yourself some favors and do the virtual walking tours they have of different cities, they are amazing.
I realized that I always write about family. Even in this book, family is a huge theme, be it the one you’re born into, or the one you create. That theme has followed me through most of my writing.
I also learned how much I really enjoyed writing action. It was kick-ass fun! I always glom onto big emotions and huge turns in my writing, and while I’ve written action for films, and a little bit in my prose, really doubling down on action as I had to in this book and in this series, is a flippin’ blast!
Five random facts about this book:
My lead character is dealing with his sexuality and orientation.
It’s set in Chicago and Palm Springs, two cities I love but have never lived in.
Two of the major characters in the book are trans women, at different points in their transition.
One of the characters in the book that I love ends up dead. And even though the book is finished, I still regret having killed off this character (I won’t spoil it).
The book is violent and bloody and a few of the deaths in it are gruesome.
About the characters:
Cordon – a 6’4”, 240 pound man with a disturbed past and the ability to inflict pain. Who is also dealing with his sexuality and his attractions. He’s deeply flawed, deeply damaged, but despite what he does and what he’s been through, he’s loyal and loving to those in his small circle. This is a man who would give up his life for someone he loved. He’s a strange dichotomy of world-weariness and regressive innocence.
Lucious – Smart, capable and probably the most together person in the book. A young trans woman starting a journey, who isn’t going to be told who or what to be. Lucious knows how to get what she wants and undoubtably capable of getting it.
Annie – Bad men and bad choices, but still optimistic, Annie, accepts responsibility for herself and her decisions. She’s salt-of-the earth, and loves her brother Cordon more than anyone else in the world. Responsible and direct, Annie serves as a bedrock for Cordon, she grounds him. And is always there for him, especially when things get bad.
Gio – Street smart, self-aware to a fault, and edgy, Gio is a survivor. He doesn’t rely on anyone but himself, and accepts that his body and his youth are commodities in Palm Springs. And still, there’s still a little bit of boy left in this young man who had to grow up very quickly and make his own way in the world after being thrown out of his family.
Nelson – A cockroach of a human being. Abusive and narcissistic, the control over his adult children is heinous, and his manipulation, while weakened, still draws them in. When you meet Nelson, you understand why Cordon and Annie are the way they are.
Fu – Clever and ruthless, Fu is Lucious’s father, and he despises his daughter because he feels that she’s brought shame on the family, but most especially him. He is also manipulative and knows how to find someone’s weakness and exploit it. His vast wealth only gives him that much more power and control over people, and is also the thing that makes him most vulnerable.
I write out of character. Always have. In this case, Cordon Finn started developing in my head and I’d been itching to write in action – I have in the past, for film. And as Cordon developed as a person, and I knew his strengths and his secrets, which are his weakness, I knew that I had something that not only would be fascinating to read, that I as a writer could keep going, and keep the character growing, for books to come. The vengeance angle is pretty simple. We all know what it means and what will happen. But using these characters, who aren’t usually represented in the action genre, I wanted to marry the two, bring something new to the genre that you don’t normally get to read. Who knows how successful this series will be, but I think readers who are open to new things, younger readers, readers who simply don’t give a shit about sexuality, will really dig this. I will probably have more people complain about the gruesomeness and the foul language.
What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
Beyond getting the pronouns correct, and why you pay an editor, it was being true to the journey of the characters. When you’re doing a series, characters either have to stay the same all the way through, the steady anchor of the series, or they have to grow and chance through the series. I am big on emotions in my projects, and this series will be no different. Cordon and the other characters are going to go through a lot, both physically in the stories, and emotionally. That’s hard to get right, but I love it and I’m up for the challenge.
My writing style:
I’m a pantser by nature. My first draft of something is more like another writer’s outline. But I prefer to figure it out as I go. I often know the ending and some big moments in the along the journey, but I let the characters lead the way, and I’m the arbiter of I’m going on that path with them or redirecting them to where I need them to go for the sake of the story. Often they coincide, but sometimes they butt heads. But I want to be surprised by where characters take me. I’ve just been doing this long enough to know that I am writing a book or a screenplay or a play and structure to those is important for the reader. And I respect that.
And I schedule time. Writing is how I support my family. So, I treat it with the respect and diligence that paying for college demands. I treat writing like a job.
Why you will fall in love with these MCs:
Physically, Cordon Finn is something to look at. He’s big and handsome and has a lethal charisma. There’s no doubt he’s tough and mean, sometimes cruel. But he’s a broken man. A man who we understand. And to those he loves, he’s loyal and would do anything for them. Even if it cost him his life. There’s a true nobility to Cordon Finn. Marry that with his hard-edged empathy, that pops up in surprising ways, he’s one of those characters that fills the space and you can’t take your eyes off of him. He’s not a man of many words, but what he says matters. I think readers will bond with Cordon because of the blend of physical and emotional. He’s a character you’re going to root for.
Advice for new writers:
Treat it like a business. Because if it’s not, it can be.
Write and write and write, and unlike me, write in a genre and get great at it. When you’re great at anything people will pay you for it.
Enjoy the process of writing. Because if you don’t (a lot of writers like having written but they don’t like the process) you will probably quit. There are easier ways to make a buck, especially in the beginning.
Live life. Experience things. Where else can you draw from in your writing?
You’re not in a race with anyone else. Your process is yours, don’t compare. It’s easy to look around and see someone doing better, either at the pace they publish or in the money they make. There will always be someone “doing better” but the opposite is true as well. This one of the businesses where focusing on your work, and accepting your process is perfect for you, is not a bad thing.
I Promise You Pain by Bart Baker
Series:The Cordon Finn Vengeance Series, Book One
Publisher: Big Muddy Books
Release Date: May 11, 2023
Genre: Dark Action
Tropes: Damaged hero, surprising sidekick, duplicitous villain
Themes: Finding One’s True Self, Fighting for Who You Are, Coming Out, Found Family
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: Novel / 67,345 words / 203 pages
I Promise You Pain is the first book in a series and does not end on a cliffhanger.
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When the only course of action is revenge, only the most damaged man is capable of maximum destruction.
Hired by a Chicago billionaire to pluck his runaway son from the Palm Springs compound of a wealthy pedophile, former military extraction and information specialist, Cordon Finn, believes it will be a simple snatch and go job with a big payday. But after grabbing the kid at a Pride Week party, Cordon discovers that nothing is as it seems. His quarry isn’t underage, and isn’t the billionaire’s son, but rather his trans-daughter who goes by the name of Lucious. And her father wants Lucious dead, putting Cordon, who is dealing with his own sexual identity, in the crosshairs as well. After fighting off a cadre of assassins, Cordon vows to keep Lucious alive. But when the billionaire kidnaps Cordon’s girlfriend and comes after his family and friends, Cordon takes the fight back to the billionaire’s door. With the surprising help of Lucious, as well as his sister, Annie, Cordon battles the billionaire’s small army, until he’s face-to-face with the billionaire. And in this battle, there will be only one man left standing, the one who is capable of maximum destruction.
Turning, he finds the young guy, smiling cheekily, standing behind him.
“Even?” Cordon asks, unsure.
“You enjoyed the show I put on for you inside, I enjoyed the show you put on for me as you sashayed across the parking lot,” the kid says.
“I don’t sashay. And I didn’t take off my shirt for you.”
The kid giggles, rolling his eyes dramatically as he says, “Liar. That’s the only reason you took off your shirt. Hoping I’d notice and come running up to you.”
“And here you are.”
The kid’s face squishes up like he’s eaten rotten lemons.
“I’m a sucker for a muscle daddy. And you certainly got size. Hopefully, in the places I can’t see.”
“How old are you?” Cordon asks, ignoring the kid’s comment.
“Now who’s the liar?”
The kid smirks mischievously, hand on hip. “Nineteen. Five-ten. Twenty-eight-inch waist. My name is Gio. Want to know my cock size?”
Cordon doesn’t answer, which causes Gio to grin mischievously.
“Come on, I saw you looking at it. Though I imagine being a giant, yours is bigger. But for my frame, mine is super-sized,” he laughs.
“This bullshit work?”
“On other guys. Talking about your dick like it’s a 78-inch flat screen.”
“Just the ones who I think are interested,” Gio laughs, then suddenly gets more direct as he adds, “or have the money to pay.”
Cordon nods, understanding more clearly Gio’s game. “Which one do you think I am?” Cordon asks.
“You’re driving a really nice car, so you got the money. But I don’t think you have to pay men to have sex with you, unless you do it for the control, or you’re married, which I wouldn’t doubt, and you hope money will keep your trick’s mouth shut. Either way, I know you’re interested. I always know.”
“You party up at Lansing’s?” Cordon asks, tiring of the conversation.
Again, Gio’s smile fades, his head turning slightly as if looking at the Cordon from a different angle might jog his memory. “Did we meet up there?” Gio asks more of himself than Cordon. “No. I’d remember. Lansing would never invite a guy like you. All his little boys would flit around you like butterflies to bougainvillea, and he doesn’t allow anyone to steal his thunder. You a cop?”
“You know if I ask, you have to tell me,” Gio inserts.
“That’s bullshit. But I’m not.”
Gio takes Cordon in silently for a moment. And even though he knows he shouldn’t say too much to the statuesque man he doesn’t know, Gio is not adept at shutting up, even when it’s in his best interest.
“Sure, I party up at Lansing’s. Never lived there, though. Those guys think Lansing’s the answer to their prayers. Please. He has a revolving bedroom door with guys going in all young, dewy-eyed, and hopeful, and coming out all used up and sad. The man’s an emotional vampire. Sucks the life out of everybody. They all think that he’s going to help make them a star, or they’ll meet some other old queen through Lansing that will. And they all end up going back home, broke, hungry, and completely jaded, or they end up selling it to pay the rent. Hell, even when you’re up there, all that’s there are other fairies just like them or some dried-up, old, coke addict trying to get his Viagra dick up your ass. Don’t know anybody Lansing’s actually helped. Ever.”
“You don’t hold back, do you?”
“Just so I know who just insulted me, what’s your name?”
“Cordon from where?”
“You’re a long way from home, aren’t you, Dorothy? Are you here for Pride Week? I mean, I don’t get that vibe from you, that you’re down here to party with the boys. But you could be one of those sad, married men who told your wife back in Chicago that you’re going on a golfing trip or a hunting trip or something equally lame. And you’re here because you really like dick but you’re Catholic or worse, Evangelical, like my parents, and your guilt is off the charts because you married some pretty blonde, church-going girl, you have two kids, but all you think about when you’re fucking her is guys like me.”
“You hungry?” Cordon asks, ignoring Gio’s smart-ass comment.
“If you’re paying and I get to pick the restaurant,” Gio quickly tacks on.
Cordon lets a half-smile slip on his lip at Gio’s young, alpha nonsense.
“Get in,” Cordon says.
About the Author
Mr. Baker has written seven novels, including WHAT REMAINS, THE VIRGIN DAIQUIRI, and THE WEDDING GIFT. The film rights to his beloved novel, HONEYMOON WITH HARRY, were purchased by New Line Cinema. The book also spawned two sequels, A SECOND HONEYMOON WITH HARRY and THE LAST HONEYMOON WITH HARRY. Bart has also written for the theater, having eight plays produced around the world. The film rights to his play, RELAY, were purchased by Warner Bros., which led him into screenwriting. Bart has had 18 produced film and TV credits, including the feature film, LIVE WIRE, starring Pierce Brosnan, the BRIDE trilogy of films for CBS, as well as projects for CBS, ABC, FX, The Family Channel, Lifetime, The USA Network, and Hallmark among others.