When an Artist Gives Birth to a Novel

Frank C. Etier’s portrait of the mysterious Mount Pisgah Steps in the North Carolina setting for “The Tourist Killer.
Frank C. Etier

On the elitist Eastern Seaboard, he would be called a Renaissance Man.

Down South, we would call him a Jack of All Trades.

Most people are Masters of none.

Frank C. Etier masters them all.

I have known him for a long time, but I never knew him as Frank C.

To me, he was always Chip, or maybe just the barefoot boy down the street.

Then he became a big-time photographer.

Then he became an artist.

And he became Frank C.

Frank C. does have a more professional ring to it.

Anybody with a name like Chip would probably be a football official.

And he is one of those, too, first in his home state of Louisiana, down in Cajun country, and now among the Appalachian beauty of North Carolina.

He has a day job.

On Thursday and Friday nights, he blows whistles, marks off penalties, and makes fans mad at high school football games.

Chip just grins about it. He’s down where he can see what they don’t see. Of course, he’s not looking through prejudicial eyes either. Doesn’t care who wins. Doesn’t care who loses. Just keep it fair.

When the lights go out, he trades his whistle for a camera and wins awards for his photographic art. His work has been compared to the magical photographs of Ansel Adams.

And now he is putting the final touches on a novel, a thriller, the tale of a reluctant assassin that he calls The Tourist Killer.

I have been fortunate enough to be there at the birth of the novel. I have watched the aches and pains, the frustration and anger, of a story moving in one direction, then another, moving forward, backing up, stopping, starting, then moving ahead on a dead run.

Frank C. Etier is a perfectionist. I knew he was a perfectionist.

He asked for my ideas, and I gave him my ideas, and Etier always smiled, said thank you, and then cursed me for the next two weeks. In the beginning, he was merely placing words on a page and trying to fill up three hundred pages. He was stubborn, he defended every page like it was the Declaration of Independence, he cried over each lost sentence as though it were his firstborn. He still speaks to me but mostly through clenched teeth.

Etier had a brilliant idea. He had a brilliant story. Over the last few months, he has whittled out the excess and is turning out a page-turning thriller that has one of the most fascinating characters in fiction. What happens when an assassin suddenly has a conscience and the blood doesn’t run cold like ice water anymore?

You’ll certainly want to find out. And you won’t have to wait long. The Tourist Killer is scheduled for release on Black Friday. The assassin knows just how black a Friday can be.

For a sneak preview, check out the wonderful trailer created for Frank C. Etier and his novel, The Tourist Killer, by the talented Art Hoffman. The first thing you notice is that Etier left Louisiana, but he didn’t leave his Louisiana accent behind.


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  • Cool. I was lucky enough to read the first hundred pages or so in the first draft. I look forward to the release of Frank C.’s book.

    • Thanks Stephen,
      You won’t believe it’s the same book now. Thanks to your partner’s efforts, I’ve learned a lot.

      • I learn something every time I sit down to write. Good luck on the book.

    • You will see a different novel, and a strong one.

  • Fascinating trailer! How I love that soft drawl Southern boys have! I’m certainly intrigued already, and will fall all over myself to get that book when it launches! I’m a big fan of Chip’s photography already. The Mount Pisgah Steps piece is beyond words. I’m thinking Art Hoffman is one to watch, also. Maybe I can hire him one day! Thanks, Caleb!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Jo.
      Art if great to work with — interesting guy to get to know and a consummate professional artist.

    • Because of the drawl, Southern boys only have to write 100 pages to have a 300 page novel.

  • A lovely tribute to your friend.Touching.

  • Pingback: Photography leads to novels | Books Literature For Writing()

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