Getting your audience to identify with, and perhaps even sympathize with, the terrorist main character of your first novel is a tall order; but Mount Pleasant Police officer Brian Eisel wants readers to do exactly that.
Eisel is a 16-year veteran of the MPPD, serving as an evidence technician and as a senior traffic investigator.
He has written Spiders in the Sand, a story about a young Iraqi man who as a child watched his father get murdered by an American. He joins a terrorist organization that encourages the young man's hatred of all things American, but when it comes time to getting his revenge, there's a choice to be made.
"The main character is really the bad guy, and I'm asking readers to get inside his head so by the end you want him to turn to redemption," Eisel said. "He has to choose between terror or turning his life around."
Eisel said he's always loved reading, and being a writer naturally evolved until it was time to put pen to paper so to speak.
The idea of Spiders in the Sand was born in 2004, first as a screenplay because he thought he really wanted to write a movie. Eisel went out to Los Angeles to take a seminar on the right way to write screenplays and entered his work in competitions, but he never made it past the quarter-finals.
"Hollywood just didn't want to talk about terrorists so I just couldn't get any further," he explained. "Eventually, I decided to turn the story into a novel."
That was in 2011 and after connecting with writers through his wife, Germaine, Eisel self-published the book.
"I know there are authors who start with self-publishing and that leads to agents and bigger deals so this is where I'm at," he added.
Spiders started out as an e-book in December and is not a fully realized paperback. So far, Eisel has sold almost 80 copies. He notes the number is small, but he set a goal of 25, then 50 and now it's 100.
Eisel held a book signing Tuesday night at Starbucks on Washington Avenue. Friends and family came by to buy a copy and get a personal inscription, including Beth David from Racine Uncovered.
"I totally love this book," she said Wednesday. "I'm completely enthralled, and this is so interesting to get inside this guy's head and see things from the other side."
While the book signing was nice and copies continue to move, Eisel is already planning his next book, the first of what he thinks will be a trilogy. The subject matter this time heads into Russia just a few years into the future with a former Soviet general plotting to return his country to what he thinks of as its former greatness.
Both Spiders in the Sand and his new novel entail a lot of research, which Eisel said he really enjoys.
"I get lost in it," he admitted. "Hard days when words are slow coming I would think to check just one little thing, but then hours would fly by. It's easy to get sucked in."
Finishing Spiders was like finishing a marathon, Eisel said.
"I wrote 'The End' and just was like 'Yes! I did it!'" he added. "It was like running and finishing a marathon but without all the sweat."