Vigilance v. Vigilantism: Dave Koco on ‘Operation Freakshow’ (Q&A)

Today, I’m joined in cyber chat with Dave Koco.

Dave is the debut co-author of the recently released novel, Operation Freakshow (Hannacroix Creek Books), along with Ray Fisher; he previously spent four years in the Marine Corps Infantry. Ray studied music in California. Both Dave and Ray are originally from the United States but now make their homes in Tokyo, Japan.

Praise for Operation Freakshow:

“Authors Ray Fisher and Dave Koco write in a style that not only leaves you with the most haunting images in your mind, but leaves you wide awake at night with one single thought: ‘What could they possibly do next?'”—David Tees, online reporter and reviewer

“Operation Freakshow is a mesmerizing and thrilling tale that left me wanting to learn more about these overly raw yet compelling characters in this startling universe.”—Jeff Yager, entrepreneur and author, ATOM AND EVE

“When there is little light, the only choice is to fight with darkness. Operation Freakshow is a stark illustration of that battle.”—KC Hunter, reviewer, podcaster, and author

From the publisher:

In this debut novel, a self-righteous team of vigilantes don luchador (Mexican wrestling) masks and bring their own swift brand of violent justice to anyone who would dare harm a child. Their actions however are quickly misinterpreted by the media and attention-starved online followers… and what was originally meant to halt the cycle of violence, only perpetuates it.


Now, Dave Koco reveals the inspiration and intentions behind Operation Freakshow

John Valeri: What inspired you to write Operation Freakshow – and how did the initial idea evolve throughout the creative process?

Dave Koco: When I was a child, I was abused by certain adults in my life and was around children who were like me. Not fake super villains but true scum of the earth evil. I loved reading about vigilantes as a kid. I felt at the time nothing would change unless you killed those who were responsible. When in the Marines, I found out they tracked sexual offenders on a map to see where they lived. I said we should kill them all. Everyone in the room thought I was joking. It wasn’t until my at the time wife talked me out of it and I decided to just focus on fiction. So I guess it’s better to write novels than to make headlines. I just hope one day our novel makes an impact.

JV: The story tackles timely social issues such as sexual abuse against children and vigilante justice. What kind of dialogue do you hope the book might inspire – and in what ways is the narrative enhanced by using the lens of fiction?

DK: I am happy you see it that way. I have had this story in my head and on paper in one way or another for years. I hope it gives someone the strength I never had to get help and hold the abusers responsible. I hope it opens a dialogue about how harsh punishments should be and that there are drastic consequences if you should ever take the law into your own hands. I hope it delivers the message that when you hurt a child, it hurts them much longer than it takes the bruises to heal, and they will never be the same again.

JV: Tell us about your collaboration. How did it work – and what were the unique insights and talents that each of you brought to the proverbial table?

DK: I was told in school I was a good storyteller but I needed to get better at writing.  Ray and I used to work together and then one day while walking around Tokyo I ran into him. I told him what I was up to and asked if he wanted to help me. And, bam, a novel was born. I always felt I was the storyteller and that Ray was the writer but by the end we were a great team and even became good friends. I look forward to writing more books with Ray.

JV: What advice would you give to those who have yet to write their debut novel?

DK: I planned to write books after a certain thing that kept changing in life —military, school, wife, kids— or I will when I was more prepared with this or that. The bottom line is that you just have to do it!

JV: Can you share one lesson you learned that you wish you knew at the outset?

DK: I wish I had been more prepared to market directly to readers. But I’m learning to do that. Thanks for this Q&A, John. It’s a wonderful way for potential readers to learn more about me, Ray, and our novel, Operation Freakshow.

JV: You both live overseas. What challenges does this pose to the publishing process and, conversely, how do you feel that your world view benefits your writing?

DK: Time zones. With everyone so busy, and the time difference between Japan and the United States, it is hard to have phone conversations or even text messaging with your publisher at the same time to move stuff along faster. Face to face selling and marketing is pretty much out of the question right now but we’re certainly open to figuring out how to make that work in the future. In the meantime, Ray and I are focusing on reaching readers online now more than ever.

JV: Leave us with a teaser: what comes next?

DK: We have a few books finished or near finished and we are waiting for our publisher to make a decision about publishing our next works. However, although Ray and I are of course eager to publish more of our stories that connect and look at the world in a different way we are also focusing our energy on getting the word out about Operation Freakshow! As one of the five star reviews at Amazon begins: “‘Operation Freakshow’ is a thriller and adventure novel that pulls you in and doesn’t let go …”


With thanks to Dave Koco for his generosity of time and thought and to Jan Yager, Founder/CEO/Foreign Rights Director at Hannacroix Creek Books Inc., for facilitating this interview.


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