Troy Lambert Author Interview

Troy Lambert is a freelance writer, editor, author, and all around storyteller. He loves writing mysteries, history, and dogs of all kinds.

His latest novel, Teaching Moments was pubished earlier this year and it’s the second book in the Max Boucher Mystery Series.

Troy is a master plotter and education lead over at Plottr, which is the software I use to create my outlines and highly recommend the app.

Connect with Troy

Latest Book

More Books from Troy Lambert

Show Notes and Resources

James Patterson Teaches Writing

Writing tools mentioned: Plottr. Scrivener.

Thursday’s with Troy (Troy’s informative videos about plotting over on the Plottr YouTube channel).

My segment on Thursday’s with Troy


Please note, transcript is software-generated, and it’s only lightly edited by a human, so there might be errors or read clunky/weird here and there.

[00:00:00.070] – Alan Petersen
You are listening to Meet the Thriller Author, the podcast where I interview writers of mysteries, thrillers and suspense books. I’m your host, Alan Petersen, and this is episode number 190. In this episode of the podcast we’ll be meeting Troy Lambert, who is a freelance writer, author, editor, and publisher living in Boise, Idaho. He’s written over 25 novels, including The Max Boucher Mysteries. I had a great time talking to Troy about his novels and his writing process. Troy is an outline and plotting expert. He’s also the education lead over at Plottr, which is the software that I use to outline my novels. So this is a good segue to tell you about this episode sponsor, which is Masterclass.

[00:00:43.920] – Alan Petersen
And in particular, I want to let you know about the James Patterson Masterclass. You can check it out at ThrillingReads.com/patterson and it’s an amazing Masterclass. The folks over there at Masterclass are top of the game when it comes to creating fantastic Master classes with experts in many fields, like acting, cooking, even basketball, and of course, writing. If you want to see how I incorporated what I learned from the James Patterson Masterclass in my own writing process and how I create my outlines, you can check that out at ThrillingReads.com/MyJamesOutline. And so you can see it, it’s a video. I’ll walk you through my entire process showing you how I outline the James Patterson way for my thrillers. And speaking of thrillers, today, September 6, is the pub day of my second thriller, The Past Never Dies. It’s in my Elijah Shaw thriller series. Really excited about this novel. The first one, Gringo Gulch, came out in July. The second one, the third one will be coming out in October. You can check it out at ThrillingReads.com/Past. There you’ll be able to read the first three chapters for free and learn more about the book. That’s ThrillingReads.com/Past. All right, thank you so much for your support I really do appreciate it. And here is my interview with Troy Lambert.

[00:02:09.630] – Alan Petersen
Welcome to the podcast, Troy.

[00:02:11.110] – Troy Lambert
Well, thanks. Good to be here.

[00:02:12.560] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, we’re talking a little bit offline before I started recording. You wear a lot of hats in the writing publishing community. Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you got to that?

[00:02:21.110] – Troy Lambert
Oh, my goodness. Well, before I started writing full time, I tell people I had a series of careers and hairnets and name tags, basically because from a very young age, I wanted to be a writer. But all those people that know, school counselors, all those people all told me it was impossible. It was just an impossible dream. And so I believed them and I went off and tried to live my life some other way. And that did not work for me, clearly, and it just never did. So when I came to the writing world, the first thing I did was I started writing full time and I needed to make some extra money. And so I had a friend of mine who started a publisher, and he’s like, do you want to work as an editor while I had done editing before in a journalism more journalism capacity? And so I said, sure, I’ll jump in and learn this from the book. End of things. I need to learn about it anyway from there, I guess when I first started indie publishing, everybody, there was no roadmap. And now there’s kind of several roadmaps. You can choose which one you follow, then there was no roadmap.

[00:03:23.200] – Troy Lambert
None of us knew what we were doing. As I evolved as a writer, my thought has always been, I want to help other writers avoid the many mistakes that I made when I started out. And that’s really where all these hats start to come from, is that somebody will say, can you help with this? And I’ll be like, yes, I can, because it’s something that’s important to me and it’s a passion of mine. It’s helping other writers. So it’s kind of where it comes from.

[00:03:55.000] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, for our listeners. I met Troy in the real world at a conference last year in Las Vegas. And the nature that you have in you, you volunteered to do the meet up for the Thriller authors, which ended up being kind of a lot more work than you thought it was going to be, right?

[00:04:15.550] – Troy Lambert
Yes, it did. I mean, it went from a small group of authors to a very large group of authors in a very large venue. Because I thought when I first took it over, there only 30, 40 people. And I thought, how hard can it be to find a venue for 30 or 40 people in Las Vegas on a Wednesday night? It turns out that’s harder than you would think, oddly enough. But what I loved about that was that everyone wanted to come. There was just a certain amount of the whole idea of camaraderie and spending time together in a place, and it turned out to be just an absolutely wonderful event. I was exhausted when it was over, but it was absolutely fantastic because there was so much of people meeting other people, some of them meeting people who they really admire their heroes other than just meeting with peers. It was great. It was fantastic.

[00:05:08.770] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s really something good now, especially now that things are opening up more after a couple of years of lockdowns, is if you’re being able to meet other people. And I’m an introvert like most writers, I’m not a big extrovert type of person, but it’s just nice to meet people face to face. And like you said, there are some pretty big hitters at your meet up, too.

[00:05:32.210] – Troy Lambert
Yeah, well, often I think when we talk about writers being introverts, I think we’re kind of a mix. Most of us are kind of a mix. And a friend of mine describes it as like, there are people that are social field mice. They need to eat every 30 minutes or so, or they’ll just shrivel away and die. And many writers are more like pythons, we’re social pythons. We eat one big heap of social at a conference or something like that, and we’re good for six months.

[00:06:00.650] – Alan Petersen
I love it. Yeah, pretty good way of putting it.

[00:06:02.920] – Troy Lambert
It works that way.

[00:06:04.240] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. Okay, I’m trying to get hungry again. You’ve done a lot of things. You’ve done ghostwriting and everything. And I think that’s important to talk about because for aspiring writers of other ways, they’re out there to supplement your income while you’re getting your books out there. How do you recommend that for people who might be thinking of doing that, of maybe supplementing their income by editing, for example?

[00:06:33.510] – Troy Lambert
Well, I would say this. There are a surprising number of authors that have a side hustle that’s usually writing related. That’s kind of how they supplement their book income. And sometimes they keep doing it even after their books are making money because it’s fun and we’d like it. And so I would say yes. If you’re going to have a side hustle when you’re bringing your books up and your books are finally making it and stuff like that, have it be something that’s publishing and writing related because you’re going to learn lessons in those areas and those jobs that you wouldn’t learn somewhere else. In editing, I learned a lot. Like, I had an editor over me when I first started, obviously, because I didn’t know what I was doing except more from a journalistic standpoint. And fiction is very, very different. And the things that I learned from that person helped me not only in my own writing, but in helping other writers along the way. And there’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from that. And then there’s a certain amount when it comes to ghostwriting and things like that. There’s a certain amount of what I tell people, what I really am as a storyteller author, editor, book coach, ghost writer, all those different things. All I’m doing is I’m either telling my own story or I’m helping other people tell their stories. But in the end, all of it is really storytelling, right? And for me, that’s where the passion really lies, in that storytelling. So if I’m going to do a side hustle, with a few exceptions that I’ve had along the way, it’s usually something that’s publishing and writing related.

[00:08:17.790] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, it’s a great way of looking at it and great idea to kind of keep your post in the industry, too, as you’re coming up. So you mentioned before you always wanted to be a writer. Could you tell us a little bit about your starting out? Like, who were your authors that influence you? What kind of books did you start writing? How do you get into the thriller mystery world?

[00:08:36.390] – Troy Lambert
Well, it’s actually kind of interesting because when I was a kid, so I wrote my first book when I was six called George and the Giant Castle. It was a fantasy. It was horrible. And you’re never going to see it because I illustrated it too, myself. And I didn’t have funds for illustrator at the time. But when I was growing up, my biggest influences were scifi and fantasy for the most part. I mean, especially hard scifi. Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, all those guys. That was my influence. And I read a lot of fantasy, too. I read a lot of Terry Brooks and things like that. But as I started writing my own stuff, I tried to write Sci-Fi, and it just kind of didn’t work for me. I don’t know how else to put that. It just didn’t work for me. But what I found was that every story I was writing was in some way a mystery or thriller. And if I tried to write Sci-Fi, it was a mystery thriller, Sci-Fi. I tried to write fantasy. It was a mystery and thriller with dragons. If I tried to write something else. At one point I was a managing editor of an erotica series, a steamy romance series. And so I wrote one of the books in that series, and it’s a steamy romance, mystery thriller. There’s a detective, his wife, there’s a dead body, the crime gets solved. So I’m like, I just found this was my voice. This is where it came from. But also Stephen King and Dean Koontz and people like that were very much they were very much my happy place as far as the reading, as far as reading goes, and still is to a certain extent.

[00:10:23.110] – Alan Petersen
Yes, that’s funny. So no matter what genre you’re writing in, there’s always like a little thriller mystery going on in the background. I might as well just get into it.

[00:10:32.700] – Troy Lambert
Might as well just do it. I found out with my author voice, and I’m like, I tried to not do that and it never worked. So I’m like, well, I guess I might as well do what works. If I’m going to make a career out of this thing, I might as well figure it out and could tell.

[00:10:50.610] – Alan Petersen
Can you tell us little bit then about your latest novel. Is that the Mac Boucher series that you’re working on?

[00:10:57.070] – Troy Lambert
Yes. So my latest one was the second, and it’s the Max Boucher series. Cliche is basically French for butcher. He’s the detective. He’s a good guy. He’s a good guy, at least for now. But my latest one was one of my favorites, and it’s called Teaching Moments. And I wanted to do something unusual with the serial killer. That was something that was out of the norm. And I’ve done a lot of psychology research and stuff about serial killers. There’s a book called The Mask of Sanity, which is basically still the textbook that they use for the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit that was written in like, 1943, updated in the 60s, but still when it comes to psychopaths and sociopaths, it’s the book super. Enjoy it, but so I wanted to do something that was a little bit out of the norm, and so Teaching Moments was the result. And it’s a story where it tells Max’s story, Max Boucher, and basically he accepts a case to find a stolen horse. There’s a murderer in the process. He thinks the tour related all in the way. And then there’s a parallel story of a confession that we don’t know who’s making that confession. We actually don’t know who they’re talking to until the very end. And those two things tied together at the end of the book. And it’s one of my favorite books that I’ve written, actually. And then the one I’m writing, I’m working on right now is the sequel to that one called Compelled, and it’s another serial killer I’ve wanted to write for a while. So this guy has been roaming around in my head. It’s time for him to get out on the page and all that stuff.

[00:12:36.870] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s wonderful. You’ve had in your head for so long to finally get it out. It’s like so satisfying.

[00:12:42.770] – Troy Lambert

[00:12:49.610] – Alan Petersen
I know that you’re a master potter. I know you do plotting, and you actually the education lead right, for a great software that I use called Plottr. So can you tell us a little bit about your process before you start to write, what your process is like?

[00:13:05.580] – Troy Lambert
So usually, like, if I’m starting a new series or something, it usually starts with character. Even in my series, it starts with the characters. Who is this character? So even in the Max Boucher series, usually I’m starting with whoever my killer is. Like, who’s my killer? What are their methods, and what’s the psychology behind it? And then I say, okay, so as a result of that, what happens? So I kind of say, this is the character. If I put them in this situation, what if this happens? What if this happens? What’s next? What’s next? That type of thing. And so usually that’s the way it starts. And for me, usually that character is something that comes to me at some point along the way. And then when I plot, even though people think, you know, I’m a master plotter, I’m an architect, all that kind of stuff, and I can be. But for my own plots, most of the time, the scene descriptions that I come up with for the plot along the way are actually pretty simple. They’re really just writing prompts for what I’m going to write that day. So I try not to over plot so that it really impacts my creativity. But I know that if I under plot, which is what I used to do, I used to under plot a lot, then I would get stuck. I wouldn’t know where I was going. So this process that I developed over time, essentially enables me to write all the way through. And then when I’m in the writing process, if I write something different that day than what I planned, I go back into plotter in my outline, and I change it so that I know when I go back to revise my book, I go, oh, that’s where I took that left turn. That’s why this is a little bit different. And I can go back and make sure it still works. When I go through the revision process, it makes revising way faster, which is probably the most important thing for me. It’s making that process faster.

[00:15:08.510] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s a great point. And that’s what I tell people. Also, if right about the seat of their pants is working for somebody, then that’s great. But if not, people get afraid. They don’t want to try plotting because the thing is too rigid. But it’s like we’re not machines. If something no, I’m the same way. I outline everything. But then things change, and characters do different things, and you just go with it. It’s all part of the process.

[00:15:34.430] – Troy Lambert
Yeah. You get to know your characters along the way. That’s the way I feel like at first, you’ve got an introduction to them, and you kind of know some things about them, but you can’t know everything about them until you start writing about their life and the things that they do. And once you start that process and you go, oh, okay, that’s a little bit different than what I thought, but it still works, so it’s okay. So you just make sure that the story continues to work. I do more stringent plotting in the revision process than I do in the initial plotting process, just to make sure that the draft is tight, that it works. There’s no plot holes, no unresolved clues, all those different things.

[00:16:15.110] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. And then once you’re ready to start writing, what do you use, like Word? Do you use Scrivener?

[00:16:23.690] – Troy Lambert
I’m a Scrivener guy. When I converted to Scrivener, before there was a plotter, when I converted to Scrivener, I found that my writing speed went up about a third, about 30%. When I switched over to Scrivener, it was just faster. I felt like I was more organized, and it allows me to concentrate. It’s almost a psychological trick for me. Now. I do editing and, like, technical writing, blog writing and stuff like that in Word, and I only write fiction in Scrivener. So when I open the Scrivener, my brain goes for fiction writing. I’ve been doing it long enough. My brain realizes, oh, this is what we’re doing. We don’t do anything else in this program. So it’s got to be fiction writing. So it helps my muse show up faster, basically.

[00:17:14.740] – Alan Petersen
That’s interesting. You trained yourself, Scrivener… Fiction. That’s cool.

[00:17:17.900] – Troy Lambert

[00:17:21.350] – Alan Petersen
With all these different things that you do, what’s a writing day like? But what’s a day for you. How do you get organized yourself?

[00:17:32.990] – Troy Lambert
So usually I try to my best writing time is in the morning, as early in the morning. And that’s because I told you my first novel, I was in the military, so I learned to get up early anyway, because for some reason they didn’t give us an option. Which is weird, right? The military makes you follow orders and stuff. It’s strange. But anyway but I had little kids at home and I figured out that if I stayed up late to write, my kids are wondering, hey dad, how come you get to stay up and I don’t? But I also found that little kids don’t get up at 430 in the morning for things they want to do, let alone things they don’t want to. So, my best time to write was 430 in the morning because my kids would not interrupt me. So I had a little office. It was under our stairs at the time. It used to be a closet, I think it used to be a pantry or something. But I converted it into an office and I wrote under the stairs from 430 to 730. So still, my best time to write is in the morning. I don’t get up quite that early anymore. I don’t have kids, I have dogs instead. So usually I get up around 5:35-5:45 and I do some writing. Initially I take a break and do some typical admin stuff like that and usually hope that doesn’t take me too long. And then I get back to writing for as long as I can in the morning. And then usually some administrative tasks and things like that start to take over and I kind of get to that point where I have to do those things. And then in the afternoon I try to schedule in another writing session, if I can. And then usually it’s marketing or other things that I’m doing, various editing, coaching and things along that line. Editing takes up a large part of my time as well. So depending on what projects I have at hand

[00:19:29.090] – Alan Petersen
And when you’re writing a project, do you like have goals for yourself that you said, I want to do X amount of words per day, or how do you gauge that?

[00:19:37.970] – Troy Lambert
I try to do between two and 4000 words a day, depending on if I can squeeze in a second writing session. But if I’m towards the end or something like that, I will schedule days where I’ll do a sprint and I will cancel everything else except for writing. And I’ll do seven 8000 word day. I’ve done 10,000 word days before. They are really, really hard. And what I felt like was that towards the end of the day, the quality of my writing suffered. And so I don’t do those as much anymore. Try not to put myself in a deadline position where I have to.

[00:20:19.130] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I’ve had a couple of 8000, 9000 more days, and they really drain you. It’s kind of weird because you wouldn’t think about draining, like, everything.

[00:20:31.490] – Troy Lambert
Yeah. Well, then it’s also hard to work the next day. Part of the deal with writing is just consistently the thing Nano does for people is it helps you develop a consistent writing habit, whether that’s daily, three times a week, whatever it is, you just need a regular, consistent writing schedule. So I think the consistency is really important. When you do a ten K day, the next day, you’re not following your normal schedule because it’s almost impossible to follow that up with just a normal day and act like everything is fine because your brain is trash, your creativity is trash. So if you’re trying to finish a book and kind of just put something to bed, that’s a fine method to sprint and finish something up. But don’t expect that to help you with your consistency.

[00:21:28.530] – Alan Petersen
So what are you working on? So you’re working on the second book on the third book?

[00:21:34.190] – Troy Lambert
Yeah, the third in the Max Boucher series, which is titled Compelled. And I’m actually working on finishing up a ghost writing project as well. That’s going to be really fun. It’s actually more of a co written project for my neighbor will actually be on the cover of the book, but it’s a true story of a haunting and demon possession of a house in England. And the house was actually on. Help. My house is haunted. Program on Discovery. And it’s just been a really fun and fascinating story to work on. So I’m almost done with that one. That one’s almost put to bed.

[00:22:07.800] – Alan Petersen
All right, great. Is that coming out this year, too?

[00:22:10.770] – Troy Lambert
Yeah, that’ll come out this year as well. It’s called Satan’s Portal. The Demon House of Nuneaton is what that one’s titled. And that will be out this year, too.

[00:22:21.870] – Alan Petersen
How do you like working with as a co author? How does that work? Do you enjoy that or is that different challenges by doing solo?

[00:22:30.990] – Troy Lambert
I’ve done co authoring things before that worked well, and some of them didn’t work well. This particular one worked really well because I’m actually primarily the author. It’s the other person’s story, but I’m the one that’s putting it in story format. They’re not a writer per se. Even though it’s technically it’s a joint project, most of the writing part of it is actually me. So I’m good with that. Co writing is actually really fun. If you get the right person and you’re on the right project, it can be really fun. But you need to that’s a whole topic, like, in and of itself on making sure how compatible you are and that you’ve got the writing style and also the same idea of the writing speed and things like that. Otherwise you can cause yourself a lot of frustration.

[00:23:15.930] – Alan Petersen
I can imagine. So, Troy, I always ask my guests about advice for spring riders that are listening to this podcast, because I know I have a few out there, and you’re great because you’ve done a lot of things. What’s some advice that you would have for us? Brian, a thriller mystery writer.

[00:23:33.450] – Troy Lambert
Oh, my goodness. I guess my primary advice for someone is to find the fun in what you do if you choose to do this for a living, to write for a living. This job is really hard. There are easier ways to make money. You can buy an RV, learn some chemistry, something. You buy some car washes, something your family can really get behind. Right. So being a writer is really hard, so don’t take the fun out of it. So many times people start to write for a living, and it becomes not fun to them. I’ve got all this marketing, all these business things I have to do, and I’m writing to market, so maybe I’m writing something I actually don’t want to write that much or whatever, and I’m like, Just don’t do that. Make sure you keep the fun in your writing from the start to finish, no matter what you do with it, because it’s just something that’s way too hard not to have fun while you’re doing it.

[00:24:40.650] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that is good advice, because easy, quick burnout if you’re just doing it.

[00:24:45.520] – Troy Lambert
For yeah, if you’re doing this to make money, like, people will come to me and say, I want to make a living writing, and I’ll tell them, my first question is, what do you mean by make a living? How much money do you need to make a living? And I’m like, that may sound like a personal question, but it’s the truth is because if you’re looking for a mansion in the suburbs, a Mercedes, a couple of Mercedes in the driveway, five kids, two and a half dogs, whatever, that may be a struggle for you, especially initially. So you need to revise what you mean by making a living. Like, how much money do you actually need to make from your writing, and how plausible is that with your skill set, with what you want to do, with what your connections are, let’s say, in the traditional publishing industry, whatever, what does that look like for you? And you need to just be very realistic with yourself, because, again, it’s a very hard profession. So if you’re going to do it as a living, you really need to evaluate what the right path for you is towards doing this for a living.

[00:25:46.650] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. All right. And for the listeners, what’s the best way that they can find you? I’m assuming is that your website?

[00:25:54.130] – Troy Lambert
Yes, my website, TroyLambertWrites.com on all the socials, and I always tell people, you can Google me, and if I don’t come up when you Google me, your Internet service is down. You need to contact your service provider. Something is broken. Some of them are on the way. I’m kind of all over the place, so if you Google me, you’ll find all the socials and all the things. I’m probably on Twitter and Facebook more than anything else, although I’m not on Facebook as much as I used to be. Changing.

[00:26:27.350] – Alan Petersen
I recommend that you go check out your videos on Plottr, using Plottr and plotting because they’re really great. I picked up some nice nuggets from you on your videos.

[00:26:38.310] – Troy Lambert
Oh, well, thank you. Yes. Thursdays with Troy on YouTube. We were very creative with the name. Usually they came out on Thursdays and the host name was Troy. We really thought of it long and hard about that.

[00:26:51.600] – Alan Petersen
I was wondering how you came up with that.

[00:26:53.930] – Troy Lambert
Yeah, one of those things really using my creativity. But yeah, there’s all kinds of videos there in interviews with other authors about how they use plotter and how they plot, and it’s super informative.

[00:27:08.510] – Alan Petersen
All right, awesome. Well, thanks a lot, Troy. It was really nice talking to you about the writing and your books and all that good stuff.

[00:27:14.510] – Troy Lambert
All right, well, thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it.

Video Version of the Author Interview

About the Author
I write thriller and crime fiction novels and host the Meet the Thriller Author podcast where I interview authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense books.

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