Writerly Lifestyle

Writing Action Scenes with Author Aaron Philip Clark

March 06, 2023 David Season 3 Episode 8
Writerly Lifestyle
Writing Action Scenes with Author Aaron Philip Clark
Show Notes Transcript

5 Minute Writer
Last week's interview with Ausma Zehanat Khan
Aaron's Website
Connect with Aaron on Twitter
Connect with David on Twitter


  1. How to write action scenes
  2. Using our unique experiences to drive our stories
  3. Developing your craft

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, you’re going to use have to write movement into your manuscript. So how do you pull off those all-important action moments in a way that helps to reveal character and inform theme? 

Aaron Philip Clark is here to help us!

Aaron Philip Clark is a native of Los Angeles, CA. He is a novelist, poet, and former Los Angeles Police Department recruit. His first novel, THE SCIENCE OF PAUL: A Novel of Crime (New Pulp Press), was published in 2011. The debut was met with interest and acclaim. Clark followed THE SCIENCE OF PAUL with A HEALTHY FEAR OF MAN (Snubnose Press) published the following year. Both novels featured the morally plagued and emotionally damaged protagonist, Paul Little, as he fought to escape the perils of Philadelphia street culture and return to his deceased grandfather’s farm in North Carolina. Inspired by the works of French existentialists, Clark’s prose reverberated with ideas and philosophies put forth by Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean-Patrick Manchette, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

After leaving his career in law enforcement, Clark returned to higher education and continued his work as an educator teaching college-level English, Creative Writing, and Humanities. During this time, Clark completed THE FURIOUS WAY, a stand-alone thriller, and UNDR COLOR OF LAW, inspired by his experiences with the LAPD. The novel centered on Det. Trevor “Finn” Finnegan, a Black LAPD detective, who is tasked with investigating the murder of a young Black academy recruit amid protests against police brutality and calls for reform. The novel was nominated for an International Thriller Writers Award in 2022, and Clark has more books planned for the series. BLUE LIKE ME, the second Trevor Finnegan novel, will be published on November 8, 2022, by Thomas & Mercer.

Clark is completing ALL THE SMOKE, a modern psychological thriller that explores racial identity, Black male trauma, and psychopathy. The story is set in the music industry and takes inspiration from THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY and other works by Patricia Highsmith.

Tweet me @DavidRGwyn


Aaron Philip Clark: [00:00:00] stories exist everywhere. and, as writers, it's not just about sitting down and, pounding on the keyboard it's more about a mentality and we have to always be looking and be curious about the world around us.

 And you kind of have to be a little crazy. You gotta be a little mad, you gotta be , you know, you really have to engage fully commit to what you're writing. And you also can't care about what people think.

David Gwyn: No matter what kind of writing you're doing, 

you're going to have to write movement into your manuscript. So, how do you pull off those all important action moments that will help reveal character and inform theme at the same time? Author Aaron, Phillip Clark is here to help us. I'm David Gwyn and newly agented writer and navigating the world of publishing. 

During this season of the podcast, I'm asking agents, book, coaches, and authors about the best way to write a novel. If you want the experts secrets, this is where you're going to find them. 

Last week on the podcast I talked to Ausma Zehanat Khan about writing [00:01:00] tension to your story, to propel readers from beginning to end. 

Ausma Zehanat Khan: I think I ultimately write, not that I want to write message books, but I want my books to matter and be impactful and meaningful. So I always begin with themes that I'm interested in it. 

David Gwyn: If you're interested in hearing more from that interview, all blanket in the show notes below. Aaron, Phillip Clark is a native of Los Angeles, California. He's a novelist poet and former and former Los Angeles police department recruit. 

After leaving his career in law enforcement Clark returned to higher education and continued his work as an educator, teaching college level English, creative writing, and humanities. During this time. Clark completed under color of law, inspired by his experiences with the LAPD, which we'll talk about in this interview. 

That novel was nominated for an international thriller writers award in 2022. Blue like me. The second Trevor Finnegan novel was published on November 8th, 2022 by Thomas and Mercer, Aaron and I talk about his writing process, how he found his [00:02:00] agent, what he's working on next. And of course, 

How he plans and writes his action scenes. Let's go to the interview now. 

 Aaron, welcome to the interview series. Thanks so much for being here. Ah, thank you for having me. Yeah. So your newest novel Blue, like Me, is out now and it's the second in a series. So can you tell us a little bit about what the series is in general and then maybe more specifically about, about this book?

Aaron Philip Clark: Sure. So the series center's on Trevor Finn Finnegan, who in the first book and under color of law, he is a rookie detective with the LAPD. and he is tasked with having to solve the homicide of a y young black recruit who, or essentially was in the police academy and ends up being murdered. And so that's the first book.

And at the same time, he's going through a plethora of, of drama within his life, and many issues that he has to navigate. But this murder of this young recruit brings up a lot of feelings and a lot of. Questions that he's [00:03:00] had about the profession as a police officer. By the end of that book, he's no longer a cop.

And, and for folks who have read it, not to give anything away, but you know, he essentially can't be a cop by the end of that. So he decides in book two, which is picks up three years later that now he's this private investigator and he is working for the civil rights attorney. And what they've gone and done is kind of set up this tip.

But really it's email address for people who don't feel comfortable, essentially going to the police and reporting other police officers who have done things you know, within their community that go against their sworn oath. And so this tip line. Basically he filters this thing out. He takes certain cases that may or may not be that he feels, you know, maybe he could substantiate and kind of justify and see what's going on.

And then that leads him down this path of essentially doing surveillance on Potentially crooked cops. And so that's how Blue like me opens. And he finds [00:04:00] himself kind of embroiled in this mess when he's surveilling two police officers who are narcotics detectives and one happens to be his old partner.

And he witnesses the murder of his old partner's partner, , and now goes from private investigator to eyewitness. And when that partner comes calling because he was a witness and she sees him and she essentially comes calling and asking for his, for his help and he becomes more reinvested in the case when a close family friend who was retired lap d ends up murdered.

And he believes the two deaths are. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, I, it, it's such a fun read. I, I recommend people checking it out. It, it's really, really, really great read, and I know we're gonna talk a little bit about your action scenes later, so I'm, I'm excited to chat about that. But did you know going into the first book that it 

Aaron Philip Clark: would be a series?

Yes. Yeah, so with Thomas Immerser, I mean, I have the, the, the two book deal. And so originally I, I had kind of planned it all out to be a series and I [00:05:00] kind of planned it up until book. . So you know, I have one more book that I'm gonna work on and, and I'll see where the story goes at at the end of that, you know.

And at the end of Blue, like me, I kind of foreshadow, you know, where we're headed. I mean, book three will be a missing person case that connects directly connects to his, to his family. . That's kind of, I think the overall theme for the books is because when I set out to write a cop drama, you know, a police procedural, I really, really wanted to shy away from doing, you know, some of the typical things that I've seen, which is, you know, serial killer or you know, certain crimes conspiracy, big, vast.

criminal enterprises that, you know, they take down and things like that. And I was more interested with the personal aspect of police work and how it impacts one's family and, you know, Having been in the police academy, having police officers in my family, you know, a lot of the stories that were told always kind of related to things that happened within those officers' families.

You know [00:06:00] a cousin who did , who was a criminal, you know, but yet you got a detective over here, you know, and, and there's elements within their family where they have to kind of keep a separation from, you know? Cuz you can't control the people who are in your family and what they do. And sometimes that can have a huge impact on your.

David Gwyn: Yeah. That's so interesting. I, I kinda leads into my next question, which is where, I mean, did you always know you wanted to write police procedurals? Is this something that was, has been interesting to you? Like where do these ideas come 

Aaron Philip Clark: from? Well, once I got out the police academy, I told myself I really wasn't gonna write a cop book, you know?

I was like, yeah, I'm just stay away from cotton novels. I, you know, it was just too close to home. And so time passed. . You know, I, I had this story that was kind of marinating in my mind and I said, you know what? If I'm gonna write it, I want it. I wanna write it from the standpoint of this rookie detective.

And I want it to be centered around the police academy because I hadn't [00:07:00] read that before. I mean, a little bit, you know, obviously Womba you know, last Centurion or the new Centurion is, you know, has elements of the academy and things like that. But, I really felt like it was a, it was a hotbed for for problems, , you know, it really was, because, the thing with the academy is that some training officers are there, not because they're great, actually, they're there because they can't work on the street, and that's a good place to hide.

so they can collect their pension and, you know, a firearm. Mm-hmm. . So if you're being trained by individuals who actually got in trouble and now they're serving out their time , you know, as instructors, right. You know, what is, what does that say, and so in terms of training, it just becomes this problematic.

Situation, right? Where you're exposed to some good training officers and then you're exposed to ones who they can't even work on the street, but you're supposed to learn from those individuals. [00:08:00] So I really wanted to explore that a little bit and kind of how the academy. is potentially a to very toxic, can be a very toxic environment.

Mm-hmm. Especially if you're, you're a new officer and that's the first taste of law enforcement that you get. That could be really, really damaging to a young officer's psyche. And they can pick up behaviors and attitudes that they then want to take out on the. . And they can find themselves in a really bad, bad way.

 The training officers always, once you actually start, you know, they always say like, unlearn all that crap in the academy. That's not gonna work. You know, that stuff is just for there. And you do that stuff out here with that attitude and you don't make enemies.

David Gwyn: Wow. Wow. That's so interesting. So, so when you were going through the academy, I mean, was this book idea at all, like in the back of your mind and you were like suppressing it? Or does it really take you a while to get the kind of full scope and then look back on it and on that experience and then start to think through a, a story 

Aaron Philip Clark: like this?

It took a [00:09:00] while. When I was in there, I wasn't thinking about anything except the next training exercise and what I had to do. And, you're in a, a world it's purposely done, but you're, you're taken out of the real world and you're put into this paramilitary environment.

And so there is no room to think about anything. In fact, when I was there, when I was in there, I was afraid that I was actually going to destroy whatever creativity I had because it's such a shift in your mentality that, I couldn't even sit down and watch a television program. I couldn't even think, oh, I, I think I'll read, I'll read for leisure.

Like, you can't do that. Your mind is in a completely different. And there's no room for anything else. And so, once I got out and I was able to kind of detox a lot of that, then I had to work at it. But the, I guess what you could call the writer voice came back and that's when the [00:10:00] story started to, I guess, come into being and

I didn't rush it, I just kind of sat with it, you know, and then probably like a year or two went by and that's when I actually started writing. And around that time when I was close to finishing the first book that's when George Floyd happened. So I was almost, I was like the last, like two chapters left to.

And that's when that happened. And, what I'm writing about definitely people need to understand and need to, read because I had, there hadn't been another novel to my knowledge that really tackled that time period. I mean, there's novels that play with it, but to make it the centerpiece of the.

I hadn't read. and it was a controversial book and I think that a lot of it is timing, a few years ago, I don't know if people would've jumped to publish it because of George Floyd. It was a wake up call for a lot of people who thought that these things were myths and thought that, [00:11:00] this was a very small.

Segment of the population of law enforcement that thought this way or behaved this way. And when, when George Floyd happened and it was beamed on television, to millions of folks, and they were able to actually see that I think that that became the catalyst for a lot of publishers to say, oh, you know, these books are necessary and that these stories are important.

And that it's time to start giving voice to folks who may be deemed marginalized who are experiencing these things and are writing about about them. So it was a lot of, I think it was a perfect storm in some ways cuz there's a lot of things that were happening in publishing at that time.

David Gwyn: Yeah, I think it's so interesting. And, and one of the things I, I wanted to ask you a about because your, your books do take on that, that like really socially relevant themes and social justice. And so , when you're writing them, do you think at all about what you want people to take away from reading your books?

Aaron Philip Clark: Well, I think a lot [00:12:00] about the characters. So I always, I started there and I think there's a universal quality to Trevor Finnegan. While folks may say, well, I don't identify cause I'm not a cop, or I don't identify because I'm not a black male.

Or I didn't grow up in California, Southern California. But I think there's universal quality that exists within how. interacts with his father and how he deals with past trauma and the death of his mother, and all these things that people can understand and relate to. And that's kind of where I start.

And then the themes, I think, emerge from in his case, how he operates as a character that he's trying to do better, that he's trying to be a better. . And that's hard because when we think about law enforcement, we like to think of them as these like perfect individuals, , that they, they're all, you know, they're perfect all the time or that's what we expect of them.

But he's, he, in many ways, he's a [00:13:00] broken guy and he's slowly just trying to put the, the pieces back together. And the, and the struggle is, is that within his work is to. . It's to not take that with him when he's investigating. It's not, it's, it's to be able to compartmentalize. But that's very hard.

That's hard for even, you know, mentally the strongest folks who, who think that they can do that. Some of that is going to seep into, who you are when you're working. No matter what your, your job is, some of that is gonna show up and. I think the themes of social relevance emerges from the psychology of the character and how Trevor sees the world.

And what I want people to do truthfully, is just hopefully, is to think, I write 'em first person for a reason, and that's so that the reader has this vicarious experience. I want them as close as they can be to Trevor as he's going through. These things. These, [00:14:00] these challenges and these different types of conflict so that they could feel what it's like.

And I think maybe that's the, the filmmaker side, of me. Yeah. But when I sit down and, and write, I really do see, see those books I guess cinematic. And, and I, and I hope that that kind of is what , you know, what comes into the, the the pros, you know, and, and the narration.

But I, that's kind of how I, how I see it. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, I definitely see that. I think that was one of the things that when I was reading, I felt really immersed, like right off the bat. And I mean, this, the blue like me opens up and like there are, there's really like, Like cinematic scene I think is, is a good way of putting it 

where are you with book three? What's, what's going on? 

Aaron Philip Clark: It's outlined. Okay. Well, half of it, half of it is outlined, but I actually had haven't had the opportunity to really get to it because I, another book project came up. Oh, nice. And so that was more of a, I guess a more of kind of a work for hire thing. [00:15:00] And that so far has kind of eaten up a.

Time. And then the part of it too is that I wrote the script for the, a, a pilot for the under color of law. Oh, wow. And so how that went is that, essentially I, I submitted it to book pipelines adaptation contest. And so I submitted the book and then when I won the contest, they basically work with you to develop this, this pilot.

So I was able to develop a pilot and then I was able to get a manager. And so I signed, and so now, some of my energy is kind of going to, is going to that whole process, and who knows, right? I mean, , we, we may see it in a year. We may see it as five years.

Right. You 

David Gwyn: know, . But 

Aaron Philip Clark: I feel like the pilot is really strong. I mean, it's tricky cuz you're taking a novel and you're basically having to write this pilot in a way that is gonna hook people and want them to continue onto episode two.

So it's a little bit daunting, but I think because I was a screenwriter writer before I, I wrote fiction. . I think [00:16:00] writing fiction has made me a better screenwriter in, in many ways. But the thing is, when you're writing noir, it's very similar to writing a script, you know writing slug lines because you gotta get to the point.

 There's not a whole lot of room there. They kinda wax poetic about stuff. You know, Yeah, that's 

David Gwyn: so, that's so cool I think it's interesting that that noir style that you have, is that, where does that come from? Where does that fit in? And are you kind of conscious of that while you're writing or is that something that just kind of comes through in the work that you're doing?

Aaron Philip Clark: I think the only thing I'm conscious of is this desire to. . Like I, I tell people in another life I was supposed to be a poet or something because I'm really obsessed with , with poetry in the sense that you could have one line that is so powerful and encompasses so much and just really delivers this, this punch.

And I think that maybe early on, like when I was in getting my mfa, you know, I took a lot of poetry classes and I was like, man, like, you know, a poet. Can get you there [00:17:00] and really, really bring you into this moment so quickly. And it seems like so effortlessly, you know, that I thought I would love to be able to do that and bring that into fiction.

And so I've always been a lover of, of crime fiction. And, and one of my favorite writers, Walter Mosley, he can do that. Like some of his lines, like, you know, and I'm not talking about just the crime fiction, I'm, I'm talking about, you know, his literary words. and I read Ariel's Dream when I was younger and I remember thinking like, oh man, like this is, you know, basically it's about, you know, Robert Johnson, but it's like, you know, this blues guy, but his lines just get you in.

The metaphors get you there so quickly where you're like, you feel like you're in the south, like you, you know, you feel it. And. . I think that that's what I'm always chasing when I sit down and write, is how to get at the heart of something. Cause poets are so good at it you know, just kind of like brushing away all the fluff, right?

And saying like, exactly, essentially using [00:18:00] the words that are gonna get that reader to feel what you're feeling in that moment. And I think that that's the, that's the challenge. And that's what I try and do, . I've had editors who've said like, oh, just cut this stuff, you know, , because I'm try, you know, they feel like, oh, you're trying too hard.

It's more, it's, it's like the lines that are declarative, are just more potent than if I'm going to liber, 

David Gwyn: no, that's so interesting. So, I wanna shift gears a little bit. Whenever, whenever I have authors on here, I'd love to ask them to give a shout out to their agents. And so you're up by Gina Panier of Talcott Notch.

What made you wanna work with Gina? 

Aaron Philip Clark: You know, it was Gina's enthusiasm. So I, I, I met Gina through thriller Fest, and this is when, like Covid had had happened. So Thriller Fest was completely virtual. and there was a Jason Pinter he had just started a Gloria and he basically had these scholarships for writers of color [00:19:00] and for Thriller Fest.

So like if you fill out the application essentially you could go for free. And then you also got some consultation meetings with editors and agents. And so and I wasn't gonna, you know, I was in a way I was gonna be able to get to New York anyway, at that time,

So I was just like, you know, that wasn't on my, my plan for the year. So I was like, you know what, I'm going to do this application and see what happens. And so I was, I, I, I was able to get the scholarships and so Gina was like my fourth meeting. And we just hit it off.

And I pictured the story and she said, oh, this sounds really interesting, you know, why don't you go ahead and, and send it to me. And prior to that I had, I did have two other agents who were interested. But Gina was the only one who, when she sent me the email and said, Hey, do you have time to talk?

She was the only one who had already put together a. Like she already knew. She was like, oh, I know who's looking for this sort of book. I know exactly where to go with this. And so her enthusiasm for the story and she understood it. Like she was like, oh, I [00:20:00] get this, you know? And so that's when I was like, oh, okay.

I said this is, this is where I, I, I should be. . And she's always been a champion for what, what I'm, what I'm writing and what I'm, I'm working on. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. That's super cool. That's, that's great to hear. 

Okay. Let's pause there for a second. So far, we've talked about Aaron's background, how he landed his agent and how he used his past experiences to develop his creative writing. It's really interesting to hear this perspective, because I think sometimes we forget how important our experiences can be, especially when we give ourselves some space from them. 

Think back on some experiences you've had in your life. Are there any there that you can draw inspiration from? And the next part of the interview, Aaron is going to provide some really great advice on how to write action scenes. I haven't heard this advice laid out this way, so I think you're really going to like it. If you're new here, I hope you're enjoying this interview.

If you've listened to a few episodes, I'm glad 

If you could, I'm going to ask you to do one of three things you can choose first. If you're enjoying this episode, consider [00:21:00] sharing on social media. If you do share, be sure to tag me. I love connecting with people and continuing the conversation started on the podcast. Option to rate and or review the podcast. It takes less than a minute and it will really make my day. 

Or option three, share with a writer friend, you have maybe a critique partner or just someone, you know, who's a writer. I hope this content will help people in their writing careers. And I need your help to spread the word. Do whichever of those three things you'd like to, but it means the world to me, if you would do just one. Thanks. Let's head back to the interview. So one of the things I wanna get into the nuts and bolts here of, of some of your writing style.

So one of the things that impressed me, so much with, your writing is, is your ability to write an action scene that it doesn't feel rushed. I feel like I'm there. I feel like I, I'm in the. But it's, it's still moving quickly. Can you talk a little bit about how you take on these action scenes?

I mean, are you outlining, are you kind of just writing through them? Like what, what does that feel like to you? 

Aaron Philip Clark: There's a, [00:22:00] a small, outlining process that I do, and it's basically bullet points. And so when I'm thinking. these scenes, especially if it's like a opening scene, like a set piece, then I'm really thinking in terms of kind of the structure of how it's gonna go.

So within that scene, I think in thirds, there's gonna be this beginning, middle, and end in terms of how, how it's structured. And then I also think what are we gonna get out of it as the reader, what is gonna be revealed in terms of charact? because you could write a fight scene and Yeah, it could be the greatest, thing ever.

Right. Just in terms of like the action level of it. But we should still get something out of it. As a reader, how a character engages in, in a fight or how a character uses different tactics says so much about them. And when we're talking about police Yeah. You, it is training. Some of it is just,, tactics that, you went to the academy, you took.

Courses, but there's so many ways to go about [00:23:00] it, you know you know, prime example my late uncle who was a sergeant in Lap d would always tell me the story before I had, I went into the academy, but he essentially, they got a call and there was a guy who was on the, the freeway overpass and he was high out of his mind and he's.

Tempting of get on the railing. And so some officers would go in there and say, okay, man, get down. And they, they would physically rush him and try and grab him before he fell. But he had headphones on. So my uncle asked him, he said, man, what are you listening to? And the guy said, Michael Jackson

And my uncle was like this huge Michael Jackson fan. He said, oh man, you listen to Michael Jackson. What are you, you know? And the guy was, . So he said, man, I want to tell me, you know, tell what song is it? So he got the guy that started singing along, right? And he started dancing. So it became this dance party on the freeway, and my uncle was able to get close enough to him where he was able to get the guy down without, becoming a thing.

So it always boils down to [00:24:00] the approach, but that says something more about the character of the person. Right, because when I was in the academy, there was plenty of times. , you know, would say, Hey, policy says I could do this. I'm gonna do this. I can tase him, I can hit 'em, I can do it. You know, and it was always other options.

And so when I'm writing these action sequence, I try and think like, what would Trevor do, with his experience? How would he handle this? How would he get out of this, this situation? And I think about it just in thirds, you know, I open it with a problem. Then, you know, second part is, okay,

 there's some thought there and then it's kind of like, Hey, I'm gonna try this. This is like my hypothesis. Maybe it'll work, and sometimes it, it, it's, it's levels to that as I, as I structure it out, you know part of the plan might work and then the other plan part of it, , you know, might not work.

And then, you know, the, the end result is the end result. You know, sometimes it's successful. Sometimes it, it's not in the first book, you know, he has this, this fight with his old training officer. Who's suspected of, [00:25:00] the homicide of the recruit and it's been boiling for y for a long time, for years and, they finally go, go to blows.

And in some ways, all the things Trevor has gone through in his life, especially in his youth, prepared him for that fight. But it doesn't always go right because fights are dynamic. So in the end, yeah, he gets kind of beat up and the guy takes off, and it becomes a, a vehicle. Because he went into it thinking, Hey, I know exactly what this guy's gonna do.

 He was my training officer. I spent time with him. He thinks he knows. And then in the end there's elements there where he wasn't, he wasn't prepared. And he's like, oh crap, now I gotta . Now this guy takes off and now there's a vehicle pursuit and who knows what's gonna happen now.

So it's dynamic. And so I try and write it like that. Where it feels like the reader can't anticipate what's gonna happen. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. No that, that's so fun. It's so interesting to hear you explain your processes you're going through, even when you're thinking about action scenes in [00:26:00] general in, in a, in a book, in a genre, that, requires a certain number of, of action beats in it, are you.

are you looking at the scope of your story on your outline and trying to like nail down those places where you're like, I need an action part here, or do these things just kind of happen because of the nature of the story you're telling? 

Aaron Philip Clark: I would say it's 50 50. So sometimes it, it's, it's very organic. And then other times I'll think how does that align with the, with the themes?

And I would say the overall theme, so for Blue Like Me, it's supposed to feel like a powder keg. It's supposed to feel like from the first chapter that a fuse has been lit and that it's just slowly moving toward this crescendo kind of, you know, this explosive. Moment and like with any kind of when you light a fuse, and if, especially if it, you know, it's traveling along towards some explosion, well, sometimes it's gonna be sparks, you know, other times it's gonna quiet down, but it's slowly moving, toward [00:27:00] detonation.

 And that's what I was thinking about in Blue like me, is I was thinking, okay, how can I stack the conflict to the point where, it's constantly pushing Trevor to do something so that he's. Passive that he's not,, inactive, that he's actually having to do things. And he can't escape it.

Like I, I wanted it to feel like,, he's sitting in a room and, there's something about to detonate and, he's got to do something. And, and, and in, in every scene, I, I kind of wanted that. And so that's why I paired him with Sino. , you know, she's going through her own issues, but she, she's volatile and, you know, he has no clue what she's gonna do.

He has no clue of like, her head space,, he can only speculate what's going on, and, and he's trying to save her at the same time because he, he thinks if he does that then, , this albatros and his past actions,, he can kind of make good on that and, save himself in the process.

Life doesn't work that way. Yeah. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. That's awesome. [00:28:00] So quickly, kind of before we, we wrap up, I, I saw on your website that you do consultations for people who want feedback on their writing. Can you talk a little bit about what that looks like if someone decides to work 

Aaron Philip Clark: with you? Oh, sure. So I mean, I've been a, a creative writing professor for many years.

And so I teach at ucla and so I, I encounter many bu. authors, you know, who, who sometimes just need someone to bounce ideas off of. And so how that kind of came about was they said, well, you know, I'm, I, I give a free 15 minute consultation. And if people need more, then I will write that out and say, you know, this is how much it would be, you know, depending on what you.

But it was really inspired because I utilized Manuscript Academy , when I was working on Under Color of law and I found it incredibly helpful. And so, you know, I would book time with editors and agents and I got, actually got two agents who had given, who offered me representation [00:29:00] out of Manuscript Academy.

And. , just having someone look at it who's in publishing made a world of difference. And so, you know, I tell my students at UCLA all the time if you take my class, the lens that I'm looking at it is going to be through the lens of, the publishing industry., some people they want to take it because they just want to write and it's a hobby.

 Oftentimes after that first class. And I tell people like, this is the, this is a publishing centered class. Some people say, oh no, that's, that's too intense for me. And, they drop off. But that's what that consultation essentially is, is it's me having a discussion, a very frank discussion about the viability of the book and how to leverage as much as possible to get the interest going for what people are working.

David Gwyn: It seems like a, a really great opportunity for, and I think, like you said, you know, you took advantage of it when you were writing and, and now you see the value of it. So I think [00:30:00] that's a, a great thing for people to think about.

If, if you're listening to this and, and it seems like it. What Aaron's doing is, is in your wheelhouse, then definitely, definitely check that out. So two questions for you as we wrap up here. What's, what's one thing you think people should take away from this conversation as people are, were kind of wrapping up here.

What do you hope that people think about as, as they go about their day? 

Aaron Philip Clark: , I would say in terms of this conversation and as it relates to writing, is that stories exist everywhere and, as writers, it's not just about sitting down and, pounding on the keyboard it's more about a mentality and we have to always be looking and be curious about the world around us.

And you almost have to be a neutral figure because there's a lot of stories out there that are just waiting to be. . And we need writers. Because writers try and make sense of this chaos. We need people to tell their stories and it's a very powerful thing to do.

 It's a very rebellious thing to do. And you kind of have to [00:31:00] be a little crazy. You gotta be a little mad, you gotta be , you know, you really have to engage fully commit to what you're writing. And you also can't care about what people think. You really can't because if you do that, and, and when I say people, I'm talking about family, friends, you know, just whoever might read it, you cannot care.

And you have to just like go for it a hundred percent. , and hopefully you'll find, you'll find readership, but there's, there's readership for just about everything out there. So yeah, it really just takes time to find it. 

David Gwyn: What a great way to end this conversation. You're like making me wanna move to Los Angeles and take your course Easy.

I can go back to college. . The 

Aaron Philip Clark: cool, the cool thing is I have, I have students from all over because it's virtual. 

David Gwyn: Oh, there we go. There we go. You might see me next semester,

 My last question for you is where can people find you? Where can people look you up? 

Aaron Philip Clark: Sure. So my website is aaronphilipclark.com and it's philip with one L. So that's a common common mistake, , [00:32:00] but it's double aaronphilipclark.com. And I'm also on Instagram and Twitter for now.

 It's at underscore writemeaworld. So you can find me there. And I'm also on Facebook and if you just type in author Aaron Phillip Clark, I will. Great. 

David Gwyn: So I'll, I'll link to some of that stuff in the notes too. So if you're looking to get in touch with Aaron that, that'll be down there for you so you can have quick access to chat with him.

So Aaron, this has been awesome. I, I really enjoyed this. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. 

Aaron Philip Clark: Oh, thank you. This has been great, David. appreciate it. 

David Gwyn: Okay, so there you have it. Like I said, I really liked hearing about how Aaron goes about developing his action scenes. It seems systematic, but in a way that serves the story and the characters. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe to the five minute writer series for more lessons on storytelling. 

We'll link in the description. And be sure to share with someone. 

Who you think would find value in this episode? Next time on the podcast, I'll be talking to [00:33:00] literary agent Lori Galvin about what she looks for when signing a writer, how to set yourself apart from other writers and so much more. I'll see you next week.