Ethan Jones Books

10 Questions with Richard Phillips

OnceDeadCoverWebMy guest today is Mr. Richard Phillips, author of an excellent thriller, ONCE DEAD, which came out yesterday. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview, where we talk among others about the RHO AGENDA trilogy, his experience with self-publishing and his switch to traditional publishing.

1. Mr. Phillips, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. ONCE DEAD, your newest novel, came out on August 19. Tell us a bit more about this book.
I am very excited about this first of three Rho Agenda prequel novels. Although there are several subplots that play out over three books, unlike my Rho Agenda trilogy, each of these novels is a complete story in itself.
In ONCE DEAD, readers learn that Jack Gregory revived on a Calcutta death-bed, sharing his mind with a dark entity that has previously inhabited some of history’s most notorious killers. One year later, plagued by terrible compulsions, Jack is no longer the man he once was. As he struggles to regain self-control, Jack reluctantly agrees to help the NSA’s Janet Price as she attempts to prevent a nuclear attack on the United States.
2. Who is Jack Gregory, and how did you come up with his character?
In THE SECOND SHIP, the first novel in my RHO AGENDA trilogy, Jack Gregory enters the story about a quarter of the way through. In that trilogy, he becomes such an important and mysterious character that I was asked to write three prequel novels that reveal how Jack becomes the man we encounter in the RHO AGENDA.
Because of the young age of the three protagonists in THE SECOND SHIP and due to the fact that they had gotten themselves in such bad trouble that it was destined to destroy their ultra-comfortable lives, I needed a character with the toughness and world-experience to help them survive the maelstrom they had unleashed. I created Jack Gregory to fill that need.
Deeply scarred by his near-death experience in Calcutta and plagued by dark desires, Jack struggles to understand what is happening to him. Either his deathbed experience was a hallucination and its lingering side-effects mean he is crazy, or he revived sharing his mind with an alien mind parasite. Jack finds himself amped up, with the same old desires and hates, just much hotter than before. And if he doesn’t get a handle on it, this new adrenaline addiction is going to get him killed for good.
3. How is ONCE DEAD different from other thrillers in the genre?
The primary difference between ONCE DEAD and other thrillers is the conflicted nature of the main character, Jack ‘The Ripper’ Gregory. Prior to this book, he was the same type of character found in most other thrillers. But having been pronounced dead on a Calcutta operating table, he revives a changed man, sharing his mind with an alien entity that amplifies its host’s emotions and stalks his dreams.
What makes a hero? For Jack Gregory it’s a serial killer’s soul.
4. What kind of research did you do for this book?
ONCE DEAD is primarily set in Germany, Austria, Poland, and Khazakhstan. During my years as a U.S. army officer, I lived and travelled extensively in the region and I drew upon that experience, along with web searches, to fill in the details. The most detailed research I had to do for the book was about the Baikonur Cosmodrome. That setting is used throughout the novel and is the principal setting for the climax so I needed to be familiar with the layout of the Baikonur Control Center and launch-pads, as well as the entire Proton Rocket launch procedures and trajectories.
5. What is your greatest satisfaction as a writer? What is your greatest disappointment?
I just want to tell stories that provide readers with entertaining diversions from the worries of day-to-day life. My satisfaction comes from creating the characters that populate these stories and in discovering what they do when confronted with all that the plot and subplots throw at them. Very often they surprise me.
My greatest disappointment occurred several years ago when I was trying to launch my writing career. It’s an old story that I’ll discuss this in more detail in my answer to question 7.
6. Why do you write?
I’ve always had a love for reading and for story-telling. I write for the same reason I was writing before I made a penny. I like telling an exciting story. It’s a lot of work making everything come together but that’s where the satisfaction lies.
7. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of the self-publishing?
I originally self-published the first two novels of my Rho Agenda trilogy, so I will begin with my experiences there. Two years ago, I gave a talk to the Arizona Authors Association about the daunting path independent authors face in trying to bring their work to a broad readership and why I believe self-publishing for the Amazon kindle offers the first significant break from that rat-race.
When I finished writing The Second Ship, my first Rho Agenda Novel, I encountered the typical obstacles independent authors face. You can’t get your books in bookstores, other than a few local stores, without a major traditional publisher. You can’t get a major publisher without an agent with a working relationship with that publisher. When you try to get an agent, your manuscript is buried in tens of thousands of other submissions to that agency. You might get lucky in this process and have a great agent read your work and like it, but most likely you’ll never make it past the electronic trash receptacle.
After beating my head against that wall, I decided to try self-publishing on the kindle, publishing The Second Ship and Immune for the eBook reader. At first, I sold only a few copies per month, but that continued to rise and as it did, something happened that I believe is due to the advantages only publishing for the Amazon Kindle offers authors, a categorization system that helps people find works by new authors. My books began to break into the top 100 bestsellers in a couple of the sub categories under science fiction, specifically the techno-thriller and high-tech sci-fi categories. When that happened, a lot more people started finding my novels and they continued to rise in those best seller lists.
As The Second Ship and Immune broke into the top ten in those sci-fi subcategories, they also broke into the top one hundred best sellers in the larger Science Fiction category for the kindle, followed by an appearance in the top 100 best sellers in Science Fiction on all of Amazon. Once again, this brought a lot of new readers, such that in January of 2011 I found myself with the #1 and #2 bestsellers in the broader Science Fiction and Fantasy category on Amazon.com.
With the draft of my third book in The Rho Agenda trilogy complete in February of 2011, I had a difficult decision to make. Should I continue to utilize the approach that had been so successful or should I try again for an agent with big connections to the publishing industry? There are costs with making that change: I would have to give up control of the publishing schedule, I would have to take a much smaller percentage of royalties than the 70 percent Amazon pays kindle direct publishers like myself, and I would have to pay a percentage of those royalties to my agent. On the plus side, the traditional arrangement offered me much broader distribution channels, a world-class editing staff, some of whom had New York Times bestsellers of their own, and a world-class marketing platform. After weighing my options, I selected the traditional route to have a chance at bringing my novels to a much larger international market and elected to sign on with a well-known literary agency, Janklow & Nesbit, who were now interested in representing me.
Then the waiting game began as my agent pitched the trilogy to multiple publishing houses, reaching agreement in principle with 47 North and then waiting again as the attorneys worked out the fine details of the agreement. This culminated with me signing with 47 North in March 2012, granting them the rights to publish the entire Rho Agenda trilogy in print, eBook, and audiobook formats in the U.S. and internationally. For me, the unique marketing advantages and support that 47North offered were the key factors in my decision to publish with them instead of with a big five publisher and it was the reason I signed a follow-on deal to publish the three Jack Gregory – Rho Agenda prequel novels with 47North. I’ve been very happy with both the relationship and, more importantly, the results that this partnership has produced.
Is there a successful publishing path an independent author can take, other than relying solely on luck? I believe there is. Even though I self-published in multiple eBook formats, publishing for the kindle was by far the most successful. There are reasons why Amazon’s system works far better for independent authors.
#1 Amazon pays its kindle self-published authors a royalty of 70 percent and the author retains all rights to their works!
#2 Amazon has a great system for allowing readers to find your eBooks, a system of categories and subcategories plus the biggest eBook marketplace in the world. You may not be on any Barnes & Noble bookshelves but your work is on the shelf in the biggest bookstore in the world.
#3 It doesn’t cost you anything. Authors just set up a kindle direct publishing account and enter some bank account information to let Amazon make direct deposits and you get paid two months after the month in which the sales occur. You can track all your sales through Amazon’s online reports.
#4 It’s easy. You can follow the online instructions for converting a Word document. Upload it. Then use the available tools to preview how the book looks as an eBook. Set your pricing, publish, and a couple of days later it shows up as available. People worry about making mistakes, but don’t. If you need to update something or change your pricing, you can do that at any time. (NOTE: That doesn’t mean you don’t need to use the best editor you can afford before publication.)
#5 Through the free Kindle App, kindle books are available for almost every mobile or computing device.
If you’ve written a work of fiction or non-fiction, I encourage you to take the plunge and self-publish your work for the Amazon Kindle.
8. What are your favorite pastimes?
Happy to be writing full time, I live in Phoenix with my lovely wife of 33 years, Carol, where we periodically threaten to record a sub-100 round of golf. It has taught me that some threats should be taken more seriously than others.
9. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not?
I have to admit that I am a seat of the pants writer, yes a pantser who loves to look around the next corner and discover what’s there. That said, I do plan out the three act structure of each novel at the beginning of the process. Before I begin to write, I have to know the major plot points, the major turning points, and the climactic events. It isn’t a complete outline but it provides the framework. I also flesh out each of my major characters, their personality types, and the goals and desires that will drive them into conflict.
I always try to learn something at the start of every new writing project. As such, I’ve attended the fabulous Robert McKee’s story seminar multiple times, have stayed at Bob Mayer’s place in Knoxville, Tennessee to participate in his Write on the River seminar, and I’m a big fan of how succinctly K.M. Weiland distills the writing process in her books, STRUCTURING YOUR NOVEL and OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL.
Once I’m done with the research and planning phase, I start a spreadsheet that tracks my daily starting words, ending words, words written, and words per day needed to reach my estimated ending word-count. After that, I may write zero words on a given day, but my spreadsheet doesn’t lie when it comes to pointing out the havoc those zero or low word-count days inflict on my schedule.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
I’ve delivered the draft of the second of three books in my Jack Gregory series, BANE’S DOMINION, and it is scheduled for release in January of 2015. In it, the ex-CIA assassin, Jack Gregory, has been hired for a singular mission: to journey to South America and rescue an imprisoned shaman. Beloved by the struggling masses and feared by the ruling elite, shaman Tupac Inti is destined to unite Bolivia’s indigenous people and bring down the corrupt government. But Jack isn’t the only one trying to track down the shaman. For only Tupac knows the location of the immeasurably powerful Sun Staff, and both the National Security Agency and neo-Nazis are hot on his trail…and neither group plans to let him live. Right now I’m working on KILLER ANGEL, the third and final book of the Jack Gregory-Rho Agenda prequels and plan to deliver the draft to my publisher by the start of October.

10 Questions with Linda Davies

My guest today is Ms. Linda DLinda Portraits 7-9-13-117avies, author of a fantastic thriller, ARK STORM, which comes out today. Please scroll down to enjoy her interview, where we talk among others about what Atmospheric Rivers are, how ARK STORM came to be published and the “democratisation of publishing.”
1. Ms. Davies, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. ARK STORM, your new thriller, comes out today. Tell us a bit more about this book.
It’s about a brave, beautiful and brilliant meteorologist, Dr Gwen Boudain, who thinks she’s just landed her dream job but has in fact just walked into a conspiracy that stretches from the oilfields of Saudi Arabia to the private equity billionaires of Silicon Valley and the corrupt insider traders on Wall Street.
It’s about a morally compromised but ultimately heroic Navy SEAL, Dan Jacobsen.
It’s about a brilliant invention that can create rain.
It’s about the one in 200 year storm that is due to hit California.
It’s about a terrorist attack on US soil using drones.
It’s about risk, bravery, belief and love.
Here’s the synopsis:
Ark Storm – What if you could control the weather?Full US AS less than 1MGB
The ARk storm is coming, a catastrophic weather phenomenon that will unleash massive floods and wreak more damage in California than the feared Shake Out earthquake. One man wants to profit from it. Another man wants to harness it to wage Jihad on American soil. One woman stands in their way. Dr Gwen Boudain, is 28, a brave, beautiful and brilliant meteorologist and big wave surfer. She is used to all the violence that nature can throw at her, but is she finally out of her depth?
Standing in the shadows is journalist Dan Jacobsen, a former Navy SEAL, war hardened, cynical and handsome; a man with his own hidden agenda.
ARk Storm brings together the worlds of finance, scientific innovation and terrorism. Boudain and Jacobsen, battling their growing feelings for each other, play a pivotal part in attempting to foil a terrorist attack that is as darkly ingenious as it is evil.
2. Who is Dr. Gwen Boudain and how did you come up with her character?
Gwen is my big-wave surfing, meteorologist heroine – I needed someone who could understand and explain the science in the novel so I gave her a Doctorate in Meteorology. She just kind of strode into my novel, all glorious six foot of her. It is from her point of view that I frame the novel. Her interactions with journalist and former Navy SEAL, Dan Jacobsen, push that narrative along in a number of interesting directions.
3. How much of what you describe in ARK STORM is real and how much is fiction?
Ark Storm has a massive factual content. I did a ton of research that brought me into contact with many fascinating and helpful people in the worlds of science, finance, counterterrorism, military hardware, surveillance, counter surveillance and close quarter combat.
I’m going to give you a little background specifically on the true science that underpins Ark Storm.
ARk Storms take their name from “Atmospheric Rivers.” Most people looking up on a clear day would never think that just a few miles above their heads a huge ribbon of moist air hundreds of kilometers wide and over two thousand long could be coursing through the atmosphere at speeds in excess of 12.5 meters a second.
Small atmospheric river storms hit around the world every year. But every so often, a monster emerges. In California they are preparing for the next one. A team of 117 scientists, engineers, public policy and insurance experts under the umbrella of the Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project worked for two years to create the hypothetical scenario of what such a storm could be and what damage it would wreak across the state of California. In an ARk Storm 1000 scenario, this river, described by the head of the ARk Storm Unit as “like Forty Mississippis,” races from the tropics toward the west coast of the US, then hits, and keeps on hitting. The Storm Door opens and fails to close. Rain falls in feet instead of inches. There would be major landslides across the state, 1.5 million people would need to be evacuated out, 9 million homes would be flooded and damage would be up to $1 trillion. This is a storm so intense it has been described as “like Hurricane Katrina pushed through a keyhole.”
Major ARk Storms have hit California on a regular basis, roughly every two hundred years. The last huge one was in 1861–62 when it rained continuously for forty-five consecutive days. Witnesses describe a “flying river” washing away livestock and humans. That storm turned the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys into a lake. And bankrupted the state. And it gets worse. . . . The geological record shows six megastorms more severe than 1861–1862 hit in California in the last 1800 years. History suggests the next one is due…
The technology where rain can be created is also real. Let me give you some background:
It was the summer of 2010. I was living in Dubai. I read that dramatically heavy rains were falling in the deserts of neighbouring El Ain in the United Arab Emirates. The historical average number of rainfall events for June through September is 2. The National Weather Service forecast zero rain events over that period. But it did rain. On 52 separate occasions. And it hailed and galed and thundered. It made the international news.
There were rumors of masts in the desert, of scientists and computer models.
It sounded like something out of a James Bond movie. And then I read an article which explained what had been going on.
It was the work of scientists. Technicians were mounting ionizers on masts, producing electrons which attached to dust particles in the atmosphere. These dust particles rose by convection till they reached the right height for cloud formation where they attracted water molecules floating in the air which then started to condense around them. Billions of droplets of rain formed and fell…
So far, so Bondian. Then I heard about the latest twist where the ionisers are sent up on drones… Which made me think of terrorists…
4. What separates ARK STORM from the avalanche of thrillers in your genre?
Ark Storm is unique in that the science behind it has never been used in a novel before. I am also told by readers (and I’ve heard this before with reference to my other books particularly Nest of Vipers, Wilderness of Mirrors and Into the Fire) that the way I write appeals very much to male readers of thrillers (who are often not so keen on thrillers written by women) as well as to female readers. Also, possibly due to the way that I have woven in a lot of factual content into my thriller, I’ve been told that the book appeals to many readers of non-fiction who do not normally like fiction. I’ve heard that from one of the scientists behind the whole Ark Storm project which was a fabulous endorsement.
5. How did ARK STORM go from an idea to seeing the light of publishing?
That would be the work of my brilliant agent, David Vigliano. I was in New York having lunch with him and I told him about my idea for the novel. I also mentioned various other ideas I had for other novels. He loved the concept of Ark Storm and basically said go away right now and write it!
6. Why did you decide to write? Why thrillers?
I have always loved to write since I was a little girl. All through my childhood I wrote stories. I think it was a way of entering another world and making that world as fascinating and exciting as I possibly could. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie so it was natural that I would write thrillers. I loved them then, I love them now.
Apart from the excitement of both writing and reading thrillers I love how you can analyse characters by putting them in extreme situations, stripping them of all the props that surround us in our daily lives and make us feel safe. You can really drill down to the core of a character that way. I think the other thing is that we are all curious about ourselves, about how we would react in extreme situations, in extreme peril. I like to explore how characters rise to that challenge. Hostage_CoverBizarrely I ended up having to do that myself when I pretty much stepped into the pages of one of my own thrillers when I was kidnapped at sea by a Iranian Marines when I was sailing in the Persian Gulf (in international waters) and then flown to mainland Iran and held in captivity. The story of my experience: Hostage, kidnapped on the high seas the true story of my captivity in Iran, has just been published. It’s non-fiction but it reads like a thriller.
7. What are your favorite pastimes?
I love to surf, small waves unlike my heroine from Ark Storm, Gwen Boudain, who is a big wave surfer and rides 35 foot monsters. I also love to swim in the sea and walk beside it with my dogs. I love to hang out with my husband and three children, playing games, eating delicious food, watching sport on the television, watching movies, going for walks with the dogs. Obviously, I love reading!
8. What is your greatest satisfaction as a writer? What is your greatest disappointment?
My greatest satisfaction is shared by most writers I think: holding my physical book in my hand. That is just the biggest thrill. Close to that is when people say nice things about my books! As a writer you labour away for years, alone in an office or at a desk and to hear somebody say that they have loved one of your books is wonderful!
My greatest disappointment is when any of my books are turned down by publishers. Then I remind myself of JK Rowling and Harry Potter. It just takes one brilliant publisher to support you and you’re away.
9. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of the self-publishing?
I like to think of it as the democratisation of publishing. I have been lucky enough to be published by mainstream publishers but I think self publishing is wonderful. So many of us have stories to tell and this gives people a way of getting their stories out there. The Internet gives them a fabulous chance to connect with readers all over the world.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
Watch this space!

Who is Linda Davies

Bio

I’m an economist by training, a novelist by nature. I spent seven years as an investment banker, being exposed to more potential plots than was decent. Money is a great catalyst, bringing out the good, and the evil…..

I escaped before I became seduced/corrupted, depending on your standpoint. I’ve also taken inspiration from where I lived. I have my European books, my North American books, my South American books and my Middle Eastern books.

I also have my Iran book, Hostage: kidnapped on the high seas, the true story of my captivity in Iran.

Thrillers for adults

Nest of Vipers – PB and E books – Vigliano Books

Wilderness of Mirrors – PB and E books -Vigliano Books

Into the Fire – PB and E books – Vigliano Books

Something Wild – PB and E books – Vigliano Books

Final Settlement – PB and E books -Vigliano Books

ARk Storm – HB and E Books – Tor Books, Macmillan US

Non-fiction – Hostage: kidnapped on the high seas, the true story of my captivity in Iran – PB and E book – Vigliano Books

Thrillers for Young Adults

Sea Djinn – E Books – Vigliano Books.

Fire Djinn – E Books – Vigliano Books.

Strom Djinn – E Books – Vigliano Books.

King of the Djinn – E Books – Vigliano Books.

Weekly Intelligence Briefing

Friday was a day off and I spent some time that day and during the weekend tending to my gardens. Its harvest season and we are blessed with a good crop of beats, beans, spinach, spearmint, zucchini, patty pans, and raspberries. Tomatoes and grapes also seem promising.

But I also found some time to work on SHADOW AGENTS. The first one-third of the early draft is now complete and my beta readers are working hard on improving it. I’ll review their comments as they come in and make any necessary changes to the text, the plot and the storyline. I can say that Justin and Carrie are on their way to Tel Aviv, Israel and some interesting surprises are waiting for them.

EthanJones_RogueAgents_Amazon1400ROGUE AGENTS is the thriller preceding my work in progress. I hope you’ll be able to check it out soon. It’s available on all major book retailers: iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and GooglePlay. In ROGUE AGENTS, Justin and Carrie face an almost impossible mission as they have to infiltrate North Korea and assassinate two operatives of the Canadian Intelligence Service, one of whom is a good friend of Justin.

Have you seen my COLLECTORSCollectors' Edition’ EDITION? It contains the first three books of the Justin Hall series: ARCTIC WARGAME, TRIPOLI’S TARGET and FOG OF WAR. This is a wonderful opportunity to have all three thrillers in one file and also save money, since the collection costs less than buying the books individually.

If you’re not on my Fans Mailing List, you’re missing out on a host of exclusive news about my next book in this series or maybe another series, advance readers copies and much more. Go to this link to join now.

At the end, THANK YOU for buying my books, writing reviews about them and telling your friends. My personal e-mail account is authorethan@yahoo.com, if you’d like to share your thoughts about my books. I promise to answer every one of you.

10 Questions with Stephen Leather

white-liesMy guest today is Mr. Stephen Leather, author of the renowned Dan Shepherd thriller series. His newest book, WHITE LIES, comes out today. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview, where we talk among others about his greatest satisfaction as a writer, self-publishing, and his favorite pastimes.

1. Mr. Leather, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. WHITE LIES, your newest novel, comes out today. Tell us a bit more about this book.

The blub pretty much says it all! Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd is used to putting his life on the line – for his friends and for his job with MI5. So when one of his former apprentices is kidnapped in the badlands of Pakistan, Shepherd doesn’t hesitate to join a rescue mission. But when the plan goes horribly wrong, Shepherd ends up in the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists. His SAS training is of little help as his captors beat and torture him. Shepherd’s MI5 controller Charlotte Button is determined to get her man out of harm’s way, but to do that she’s going to have to break all the rules. Her only hope is to bring in America’s finest – the elite SEALs who carried out Operation Neptune Spear – in a do-or-die operation to rescue the captives.

It’s a book about responsibility, and loyalty. And as always Spider has to do what is right. Or at least what he thinks is right.

2. Who is Dan Shepherd, and how did you come up with his character?

Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd was an SAS trooper who is persuaded by his wife Sue to quit and become a policeman. His job as an undercover cop proves to be even more dangerous than his life in the SAS but his world is turned upside down when his wife dies in a road accident and he is left to bring up his young son alone. By the time we get to White Lies, Shepherd is working for MI5. How did I come up with the character? Difficult to say. He is based partly on an undercover Customs agent I know, but I have added characteristics from several other people. He is a real straight-shooter, a man who believes in doing the right thing. He has a strong moral compass, and I enjoy testing that from time to time. I don’t describe him too much physically – brown hair, average height, average build – and I have difficulty picturing his face. That’s partly deliberate, the less you describe a character, the easier it is for the reader to identify with him.

3. How is WHITE LIES different from other thrillers in the genre?

The setting, rural Pakistan, is very different. And the plot is as up-to-date as it’s possible to be, the story could easily have come from the pages of a newspaper.

4. What kind of research did you do for this book?

I spent a lot of time hanging out with guys in the SAS, picking their brains. I also talked to several British-born Pakistanis about their lives. I also had an up-close look at a Predator unmanned drone, which was very helpful.

5. What is your greatest satisfaction as a writer? What is your greatest disappointment?

Finishing a book is always very satisfying. I’m always thrilled when one of my books gets into the Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller list. Probably my most satisfying moment was when my book The Basement topped the Kindle bestseller lists in both the US and the UK. I was the first British writer to do that. I was also the first British writer to have the top three places in the UK Kindle bestseller list with my three self-published books The Basement, Once Bitten and Dreamer’s Cat.

6. Why do you write?

I’m a writer, and writer’s write. It’s what I do. I would write even if I didn’t have a publishing deal, I write because I enjoy it but it’s more than that. I HAVE to tell stories. No ifs or buts. I’ve heard some writers say that writing is akin to pulling teeth. They find it painful. They find it difficult. That’s not how real writers feel. Real writers live to write, it’s as much a part of their life as breathing. Asking why I write is like asking why I eat. I just do. I’m very lucky in that I’ve been able to earn a living from my writing for more than twenty years, and for ten years as a journalist before that. But even if I didn’t earn enough to support myself, I’d still write.

7. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of the self-publishing?

It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. It means that any writer can reach and grow an audience and a fan base without having to go through the filters of agents and editors. A writer can produce a novel, offer it for sale on various platforms, and within weeks start receiving money for it. That is a serious game-changer. When I started writing you needed an agent and you needed to persuade an editor to give you a publishing contract. Those days have gone.

8. What are your favorite pastimes?

Writing. Watching TV. Drinking wine and whisky. Horse riding. Flying small planes. Watching people. Plotting books.

9. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not?

I rarely use outlines. I generally have a theme – assassination, betrayal, serial killer – and then tend to write from start to finish. I usually have a rough idea what I want to happen but generally the characters decide their own fates and often the ending is a complete surprise to me. I tend to write late into the night, and usually with the TV on. I’ve always worked that way. I used to write one book a year. Since the eBook revolution, I have tended to write three novels a year, plus several short stories.

10. What is your next book going to be about?

I’m working on two books featuring my supernatural detective Jack Nightingale. I’m also getting ready to start the 12th Spider Shepherd novel, Black Ops. Spider will discover that his boss, Charlotte Button, has been less than honest with him as he works to prevent the assassination of a Russian politician visiting London.

The Night Heron by Adam Brookes

The Night HeronThe Night Heron is an intriguing debut.

It starts with a labor camp scene, when prisoner 5995 is readying for his escape. Peanut, as they called prisoner 5995, is successful in his attempt. And Peanut is not a common political prisoner. A former spy for the MI6, with the code name Night heron, he reaches to the British Embassy in Beijing with an offer of secrets in exchange for help.

Mr. Brooks writing is very detailed. He uses a smooth flowery language that is a notch or two above the average for thrillers in this genre. The novel is a game of smoke and mirrors, with plenty of twists but without the explosive actions found in most spy stories. And the story moves forward at somewhat slow pace at times, the author taking his time to get to the main points of the story.

What are Peanut’s secrets? What is their value and who else is interested in getting their hands on them?

Rogue Agents – Chapter Seven

EthanJones_RogueAgents_Amazon1400Enjoy Chapter Seven of Rogue Agents, the newest spy thriller in the Justin Hall series, which came out on June 29.

You can also read the Prologue, Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five and Chapter Six.

If you like what you are reading, you can buy Rogue Agents on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and GooglePlay.

Chapter Seven

Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

April 28, 12:05 p.m.

Justin stifled a sigh and glanced at Hong, who was sitting across from him on the earth green sofa, nervously sipping a cup of tea. His hands were shaking, causing the cup to rattle against the saucer. Hong looked at Justin, frowned, and, almost dropping the cup and saucer to the carpet, placed them on the coffee table between the two men.

“What’s wrong?” Hong asked as the corners of his eyes crinkled.

“Something came up, and I need to meet my partner.” Justin put his phone away as he stood up. He had just finished talking to Carrie. “Wait here. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“I thought we were going to talk.”

“We will. But this matter takes priority. Don’t go anywhere. And order me a cup of coffee.” Justin smiled, trying to calm down Hong.

He studied Justin’s face for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, okay.”

“Great.”

Justin jogged through the sunlit lobby with limestone walls. He got into one of the elevators and impatiently tapped the panel. His mind was in overdrive as he considered various scenarios about how to dispose of the body.

The elevator doors opened, and Justin darted through the corridor until he found the right room. He stood very near to the door then said in a low voice just above a whisper, “Carrie, it’s me.”

“Watch your step,” Carrie said from inside then slowly opened the door.

Justin noticed a few small stains on the beige carpet two feet away from the door. Shin’s body was lying on his back two steps away. Carrie had placed towels and a housecoat around his body and his head to soak up the blood.

“How are you doing?” Justin asked as he checked on her.

“I’m fine.” Carrie massaged the sides of her neck. “Unhappy about having to kill him, but he left me no other choice.”

“What happened here?” Justin said.

Carrie gave him the abbreviated version. “I had to shoot him,” she said as she ended her story.

Justin nodded. “I understand. Do you think anyone heard the shots?”

Carrie shook her head. “I had my suppressor on. Not many people are in their rooms at this time of day, and someone would have knocked on the door if they heard the commotion or his screams.”

“All right.” Justin walked to the nearest twin bed, then to the large window. It overlooked the Sheikh Zayed Road—the main artery of Dubai—and the impressive Burj Khalifa Tower, the centerpiece of downtown and the tallest skyscraper in the world, standing at over 2,716.5 feet high. The likelihood of anyone’s noticing the struggle from the business towers across the street was probably nil, because of the reflective, mirror-like exterior surface of the windows. The traffic noise from the sixteen lanes of Sheikh Zayed Road did not penetrate the thick windows, and Justin wondered if the call to prayer at 5:00 a.m. would be loud enough to wake the hotel guests. He turned around and said, “Assuming there are no witnesses, our first priority is to clean up this place and get rid of the body. We’ll need disinfectants to scrub the blood off the carpet and wipe away all stains. I’ll buy us gloves, bags, a container and other cleaning supplies.”

“And the largest heavy-duty duffel bag to move the corpse,” Carrie said in a low voice.

“We’ll also have to book this room for three or four more days, to make sure we’re all far away from this place and have completed our mission before the cleaning crew realizes what took place in this room.”

“Yes. What about Hong?”

Justin shrugged. “I don’t—”

A gentle knock on the door interrupted him. Then they heard Hong’s voice speaking in a language they did not understand. Justin assumed it was Korean.

He sidestepped the body as he walked to the door. He opened it a hair and looked at Hong, who returned a look of surprise mixed with shock.

“What . . . You shouldn’t be here,” Hong said and tried to enter the room.

“Be careful where you step,” Justin replied and slowly opened the door while pointing down at the floor.

Hong took a couple of seconds to realize what had happened and the gravity of the situation as he stared speechless at Shin’s dead body. He opened his mouth but no words came out as he paced around the room, waving his arms in the air. Then he sat on the edge of one of the twin beds and put his head between his hands.

“You . . . you killed him. You killed him,” he said in a quavering voice.

“It was self-defense.” Carrie pointed at Shin’s pistol lying near his body.

Hong did not look up. “I am . . . I am a dead man, like him.”

He stared at the body for a long moment, then looked at Justin. Tears had filled his eyes and the wrinkles on his face had doubled.

“No, you’re not,” Justin said and walked over to Hong. He sat near him on the bed. “This is okay. We’re going to fix this.”

“How? How is this okay? Shin is dead and nothing can bring him back to life. If I go back home tomorrow without him, the secret police will arrest me and my family and we’ll end up in the prison camps. They’ll torture us and we’ll . . .” Hong’s voice trailed off as tears began to stream down his face.

Justin stood up. He went to the minibar across the bed and filled a glass with a generous portion of whisky. He took the bottle with him and handed the glass to Hong. “Drink this.”

Hong looked up and shook his head.

“It will calm your nerves.” Justin held it a few inches away from Hong’s face.

Hong held the glass with both his trembling hands and took a small sip. He made a face as if he was swallowing a bitter pill.

“Take a good long swig,” Justin said.

Hong brought the glass to his mouth and drank another small sip.

“This is what we’re going to do.” Justin stood in front of Hong. “As soon as you’ve calmed down, you’ll call home and talk to your supervisors at the Yongbyon Center. Then they’ll have you talk to people from the Ministry of State Security.”

Hong frowned and shook his head. “No, no, no, no, no,” he said and almost spilled half of his glass.

Justin held him by his arms with a strong grip. “Hong, listen up and it will make sense. You’re going to tell the MSS that Shin defected to the Americans. He asked you to join him, but you refused. You love your country and that’s why you’re calling home to report him.”

Hong’s jaw dropped. “But he did not defect. You killed him.”

Justin sighed. “True, but you cannot tell that to the MSS. Remember that Shin suspected you were going to betray your country, and he was not going to think twice before killing you with his own hands. But now he’s gone.” Justin pointed at the body to emphasize his words. “And you are safe.”

Hong said nothing and swallowed the rest of the whisky.

Justin reached over and refilled the glass. “The MSS is aware of Shin’s suspicions of you. Maybe they expected Shin to call them and report on you tonight or tomorrow before your return flight. If you call them now, they may conclude that Shin made up the entire story to draw away attention from his own plans of defection. And especially since you’re reporting it and you’re planning to return home even without Shin, it will cement your cover story and remove any doubts that you were ever going to leave.”

Hong gave a small nod. “Because if I had such plans I would have run away with Shin and never returned home,” he said slowly, unsure if those were the right words.

“Yes,” Carrie said. She leaned against the curved desk with a large flat-screen television set on top of it. “Exactly. You’re proving to them you’re a patriot.”

Justin said, “And once you’re inside North Korea, you’ll prepare your family for the trip out of the country. Hong, this is good. Now we don’t have to look over our shoulders, but we can plan and prepare our next steps.”

Hong shook his head and more tears flowed from his eyes. “I’m . . . I’m so scared for my family. If the secret police as much as suspect I’m lying to them, I will be killed. And my family, my wife and my kids too.”

“Hong, you have to help us help them,” Justin said in a warm but firm voice. “You’re all they have, and you’re the only one who can help them escape the daily misery and the nightmares of their lives.”

He wanted to add that Hong had no other options. If he chose to tell the truth, the regime would most likely believe he had orchestrated or at least not prevented Shin’s death. Especially considering that Shin had already harbored suspicions about Hong’s loyalty toward his country.

Hong’s head swung back and forth as his body rocked involuntarily. His left foot was tapping nervously on the floor. His eyes were still dark and undecided, and his face was covered in tears. “I’m . . . I guess I don’t have another way out.” He studied the dead body for a moment, then looked at Justin. “Okay, tell me what I need to do.”

Weekly Intelligence Briefing

Over 23,000 words of SHADOW AGENTS are finished in the first draft. That a little over 1/4 of the book. I was able to figure out those few elusive pieces, but I can’t give more details without spoiling the surprise. However, I can say Justin and Carrie will be travelling to the Middle East and its neighboring regions as they try to piece together the truth about the operation and the terrorist attack in Berlin.

EthanJones_RogueAgents_Amazon1400If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy ROGUE AGENTS yet, I hope you’ll pick it up this week. It’s available on all major book retailers: iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and GooglePlay. Justin and Carrie face an almost impossible mission as they have to infiltrate North Korea and assassinate two operatives of the Canadian Intelligence Service, one of whom is a good friend of Justin.EJones_ArcticWargame_800

ARCTIC WARGAME, the first novel in the series, is 99 cents for two more days. Please tell a friend about this or pick up a copy of this spy thriller for them. They’ll love you for it.

If you’re not on my Fans Mailing List, you’re missing out on a host of exclusive news about my next book in this series or maybe another series, advance readers copies and much more. Go to this link to join now.

At the end, THANK YOU for buying my books, writing reviews about them and telling your friends. My personal e-mail account is authorethan@yahoo.com, if you’d like to share your thoughts about my books. I promise to answer every one of you.

Make your opinions count

Please let Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch, know what your think of their price dispute with Amazon. His e-mail is Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com And you can also reach Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos at jeff@amazon.com to share your thoughts.

Make your opinions count.

Amazon/Hachette Dispute

Letter

 

 

A lot has been written about the ongoing Amazon/Hachette disagreement. The position of a group of authors siding with Hachette is found at this link.

Amazon/Hachette Dispute

hachette_vs_amazonA lot has been written about the ongoing Amazon/Hachette disagreement. This link gives you accurate information about Amazon’s objectives.

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