Ethan Jones Books

10 Questions with Jon McGoran

McGoran-1621-cropped-2My guest today is Mr. Jon McGoran, author of Dead Out, a thriller that came out on August 5. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview.

1. Mr. McGoran, thank you for stopping by on my blog. Your newest thriller, DEADOUT, came out in August 1. Tell us a bit more about this book.

Deadout is the sequel to Drift, and it continues some of Drift’s themes of corporate biotech and the increasingly strange science of food today, but it also focuses on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the mysterious syndrome that is causing the disappearance of billions of bees each year. On the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, Philadelphia Detective Doyle Carrick confronts a scheme involving genetically engineered bees that aren’t quite what they seem. But the bees aren’t the only thing being modified, and as he closes in on what is really going on, he must foil the plot before it can succeed, and spread to the mainland, and the world.

2. How did you come up with the character of Detective Doyle Carrick?

Doyle’s voice and personality came to me very organically, but I had very specific initial ideas about who he would be. There are a lot of themes and ideas in these books, but I wanted to make sure that above all else the books were good stories, good reads. I wanted to make sure that Doyle didn’t have any preconceptions about the issues he was going to confront, because the last thing I wanted was a thriller that read like a lecture. I also think that discovering new things is more fun for the reader if they can learn them at the same time as the protagonist. Still, though, I wanted Doyle to have relevant and useful skills. I think I found the right balance by making him a smart detective, but plunking him down into a world he knows little about, so he’d be dynamic and effective, but unsure of himself and learning as he goes.

Deadout cover_HiRez3. What is one of the most interesting things you learned during the research for this thriller?

I’ve learned so much while researching these books! There is a lot about CCD that is not just scary, but creepy. Since 2006, when it first struck in a large way, billions of bees have disappeared. That’s scary on a very real and practical way — it is a very serious threat to our food supply. You will hear people say the honeybees are ‘disappearing,’ but many people don’t realize that they aren’t just dying — they are literally disappearing. Millions and millions of them. They fly off one day and just don’t come back. And no one ever finds them. They vanish, and they leave behind their queen, their eggs and their honey. Usually, a hive that is left undefended like that will be scavenged in hours — first robber bees, then mice and rats — they’re in there almost immediately. But hives that have been hit with CCD — they’re called ‘Deadouts,’ by the way — they are left alone. No one goes in there. In Britain, they call CCD ‘Mary Celeste Syndrome,’ after the famous ghost ship that disappeared in the 1870s, then reappeared weeks later under full sail, but missing the crew.

4. How is DEADOUT different from other thrillers in the genre?

I think Deadout is unusual in several ways. Most notably, I don’t think many thrillers are addressing the types of issues I am addressing in Drift and Deadout. Also, I write them in first person, which makes it a lot easier to do some things and a lot more difficult to do other things that a thriller does. Hopefully, it puts the reader much more inside Doyle Carrick’s head than if it were third person, but it also means the story unfolds in different ways than it would if it was third person. I think it is more challenging, in ways, but I like the way it works.

5. Why do you write?

At this point, it’s not even a choice anymore. It’s just part of me. I do like the idea of getting ideas out there and stimulating conversation, but ultimately, I write because I want to tell a good story. I have one of those brains that is constantly turning out ideas, more than I could possibly ever write, so partly I feel compelled to get as many of them out there as possible.

6. What are your favorite pastimes?

Reading, watching TV and movies, cooking, and spending time with my wife and with my son.

7. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not? How do you go from the idea for a book to the finished manuscript?

I’m a big outliner. I spend months on an outline before I start writing the first draft, and I also spend a lot of time researching, so I’m not none of those writers who has a mandated target word count per day, because so much of the work that I do on a given project does not produce any pages, it is preliminary work. For me, it is idea -> expanding the idea -> outline -> draft -> revisions, with lots of research, especially at the beginning, but throughout the entire process, really. And I usually change the outline fairly substantially two or three times during the first draft.

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

I actually just dipped my toe into the world of self-publishing, with a short story called “Appetite.” I think more and more, traditionally published authors will become hybrids, self-publishing as well. As with most things, I think the rise of self-publishing is a mixed bag. It is great in many ways, democratizing for sure, and it’s another way for writers to make a living writing. Absolutely it allows stories to get out there that otherwise wouldn’t. I also think it is forcing the publishing industry to be a little more reflective and self-aware, which is healthy. But I do think that between the downward pressure on price and the vast amount of self-published content — some of it great, some of it not so great — in some ways it ultimately makes it harder to earn a living as a writer.

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

Having people tell me they really enjoyed my book is the greatest satisfaction, although being a part of the amazing community of writers is truly wonderful in and of itself. It’s hard to say what my greatest disappointment has been — there have been so many. Every little rejection, every time you send something out that you think is going to be huge and it is greeted with indifference, there are so many disappointments large and small that must be endured to get where you are going. But that’s part of what makes each little success so special, to be savoured and enjoyed.

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

The as-yet-unnamed third book in the Doyle Carrick series expands further on the themes of the first two books. Set largely in Haiti, it widens the focus, exploring the role of big biotech corporations on the international stage, and how the clashing interests of countries and corporations can hurt the people stuck in the middle.

The Lost Key by Catherine Coulter and J. T. Ellison

THE LOST KEYThe Lost Key is an intriguing international thriller.

The prologue takes the reader to England in 1917 and we learn of the sinking of a U-boat, which carried Germany’s Kaiser’s gold and a formidable weapon. Fast forward to chapter one in present day New York and the first day of Agent Nicholas Drummond with the FBI. Along with his partner, Mike Caine, they begin to investigate a stabbing death on Wall Street, a case is everything but usual.

Ms. Coulter and Ms. Ellison had weaved an excellent story. Most famous writers grow lazy and dull as they climb the ranks of their career and their books become bestsellers even before their release date. That is not the case with this novel. The dialogue is engaging, the plot well-thought and executed, the twists and turns as shocking as unexpected. Nicholas and Mike are characters that will remain with the reader long after they have enjoyed this book.

As the FBI agents investigate, they realize they have a very bizarre case in their hands. The man stabbed to death, Mr. Jonathan Pierce, died while muttering: The key is in the lock. At the same time, in Berlin, Germany, an army of scientists and analysts realizes something is seriously wrong with their operation in New York. An operation involving Agent X and Z, advanced technology, and micro-nuclear weapons.

What will it take for Nicholas and Mike to uncover the truth? Who is Dr. Manfred Havelock and what does he truly want? And does it mean that the key is in the lock?

10 Questions with André Baby

The Chimera SanctionMy guest today is Mr. André Baby, author of THE CHIMERA SANCTION, a thriller that came out on October 1. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview.

1. Mr. Baby, thank you for stopping by on my blog. Your newest thriller, THE CHIMERA SANCTION, came out on October 1. Tell us a bit more about this book.
First of all, I’d like to thank you, Ethan, for this opportunity to talk about my latest novel, THE CHIMERA SANCTION.
It kicks off with the kidnapping of Pope Clement the XXIst from his papal apartments in a daring and bloodless coup. Interpol is called in to help the local police and veteran inspector Thierry Dulac gets the nod. He arrives at the Vatican only to find the local authorities disorganized and overwhelmed. Critical decisions must be made, so Dulac bends Interpol’s support-only protocol and takes charge.
Dulac knows time is running out when the kidnappers, upon receiving only part of the ransom, send to the Vatican’s Secretary of State the Pope’s severed left ear.

2. How did you come up with the character of Thierry Dulac?
The character of Inspector Thierry Dulac grew out of the story’s plot, which involves a series of crimes committed in various countries. I needed a policeman with cross-border authority and investigative powers in many jurisdictions, unimpeded by the geographical limitations of local police. Enter Interpol’s Dulac, with his baggage of faults, habits and somewhat controversial methods, but who gets results.

3. What is one of the most interesting aspects of your research for this thriller?
I would say the discovery of the Cathars, one of the early branches of Christianity which thrived in southern France between 800 and 1250 AD. It had an extremely simple and democratic structure, with a minimum of hierarchy. Unfortunately, that simplicity led to its eventual downfall and near- annihilation by the royalty- backed Catholic Church.
I thought this bit of history might make an interesting premise for my story, set in modern times.

4. How was your experience as a prosecutor and a lawyer helped you in your writing?
At ThrillerFest a couple of summers ago in New York City, I happened to attend a conference given by Steve Berry, world -renowned author and “reformed lawyer”, as he calls himself. As an introductory remark, he asked: “all right, how many lawyers are there out there?” A forest of hands shot up in the air, to the amusement of all. I was surprised to see the number of lawyers- turned-crime writers. Natural affinity? Perhaps, but I think a lawyer has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to writing a good thriller. Training in logical thinking, especially when piecing together the various aspects of the story, is certainly a plus. Also we lawyers are taught to be concise, and that every word counts. Authors should emulate this. On the negative side, the conveying of emotions to the characters is rendered more difficult, as lawyers are trained to suppress all emotions. I took me awhile to think about and put down on paper what my novel’s characters actually felt.

5. How is The Chimera Sanction different from other thrillers in the genre?
I think the plot, if it doesn’t break entirely new ground, harbors within it the potential of being read on more than one plane. At least that is what I’ve tried to convey. At some point in our lives we come face to face with moral issues and dilemmas, the consequences of which we must live with for the rest of our lives. Such is the case of Dulac and others in THE CHIMERA SANCTION.

6. Why do you write?
For the intellectual challenge. Also, writing crime novels for me is a form of escapism from some of the brutal realities of our time.

7. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not? How do you go from the idea of the book to the finished manuscript?
I’d like to think my writing habits are slowly improving with experience and time. I’m currently writing HIJACKED, my third novel, but I still find it difficult to write every day. Life manages to invariably get in the way.
When undertaking a new project, at first I try to take a synoptic view of what I’ll be writing about: choice of protagonist, type of crime, location(s), and primary antagonist. At this moment, I have nothing more than a vague idea of the ending. Initially, I tried making outlines, but they changed so much during the course of writing that finally I gave up. At best, I’ll draft a few lines and bits of dialogue to give direction to the next few chapters.
My first draft is invariably a skeleton, usually in the form of dialogue. My only goal at this time is to get the story down on paper: a bare minimum of setting and description holds the skeleton together. During the next five or six revisions, I’ll have fleshed out my characters, added narration, descriptions of settings, made my dialogues more vivid, punchy and credible. I’ll have cut out extraneous bits, rendered the story more fluid, and connected the scenes. With any luck, my manuscript can then be submitted to the publisher.

8. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of self-publishing?
I am both traditionally published and self- published. I self- pubbed DEAD BISHOPS DON’T LIE with CreateSpace, and THE CHIMERA SANCTION is published by Robert Hale Books. The French versions of both thrillers are traditionally published.
Although I enjoyed the process of self-publishing with Amazon’s CreateSpace, I, as author, marketer and distributor, rapidly found myself facing the biggest hurdle of self -publishing, namely a limited scope of distribution to bookstores. Due to the problem of returns, one can only hope to place one’s novel within a small geographical circle from one’s home. To market the book outside that circle quickly becomes economically unjustifiable. In contrast, a traditional publisher usually enjoys the benefits of a country-wide distribution network. Of course the e- version has no such distribution limitations, although the e-sales of my books are still lower than those of hard copies. In time, that may change.

9. What is your greatest satisfaction as a writer? What is your greatest disappointment?
There is no greater satisfaction for a writer, I think, that to open one’s computer and to find an e-mail from a reader saying how much she/ he enjoyed his book. That invariably makes my day. What I found most disappointing in the publishing world is the rejection process, to be more precise sometimes the lack of basic civility in the form of an acknowledgement on the part of the recipient, following an author’s query. Even a form letter is better than a total lack of response.

10. What is your next book, HIJACKED, going to be about?
HIJACKED is about terrorists hijacking a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic.

If readers have any comments or questions, I’d be glad to discuss same. They can reach me at andrekbaby@hotmail.ca

Thanks again,
André K. Baby

PRIORITY TARGET Cover Reveal

EthanJones_PriorityTarget_800I’m extremely pleased to reveal to you the cover of PRIORITY TARGET, the first novella in my new CARRIE CHRONICLES series. What do you think? What do you like/dislike about it? Feel free to share this cover with all your friends in your social media, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Librarything, wherever you have an Internet presence.

Justin’s partner in the Canadian Intelligence Service, Carrie O’Connor, will be the main character in the series. I might refer to Justin Hall in Carrie’s novella or have him make a cameo appearance, but the story will be told from Carrie’s point of view. I might even write it in the first person. We’ll see. But she’ll be on a solo mission in Somalia. If everything goes well, Lord willing, I’ll release this novella right before Christmas, on December 23. A Christmas present to all my readers.

As with SHADOW AGENTS, the newest thriller in the Justin Hall series, my loyal readers will have the opportunity to read PRIORITY TARGET before it is released to the general public. Simply drop me a note to indicate your interest, and I will add you to the list of readers to receive the first three chapters of this special preview in early December. Then, if you can post a review on Amazon before the novella is released, I will send you the final retail copy of PRIORITY TARGET free of charge. My e-mail is: author.ethan.jones@gmail.com.

Weekly Intelligence Briefing

Winter is just around the corner and our days have gotten cooler and shorter, with darkness blanketing the land at around 7:00 p.m. But my Schnauzer puppy truly enjoys this time of year and demands we go out for more and longer walks. How long until winter comes to you part of the world?

EthanJones_ShadowAgents_800I spent the most part of last week working on SHADOW AGENTS. I passed the 70,000 words mark and I’m now focusing on the last few scenes. It’s time to figure out how to resolve all plots and make sure everything is wrapped up to the complete satisfaction of the story and of the readers.

Do you know that you can pre-order SHADOW AGENTS? Many readers have done so and now it’s your turn. Go ahead and pre-order it today from this link. Pre-ordering means more readers will be able to see my book, as it will climb through Amazon’s ranks. So you’ll be giving me a great support by this gesture. And you’ll enjoy a discounted price for pre-ordering and the book will be delivered to your Kindle upon the release day.

Time is running out to sign up and enjoy a special preview of the first five chapters (65 pages) of SHADOW AGENTS. Starting in November, I will be sending this preview to my most loyal readers. If you’re interested in checking it out, please drop me a note at author.ethan.jones@gmail.com to indicate your interest in receiving a copy of these chapters, if you are able to read them and post a review about them on Amazon between November 15 and December 15, 2014. As a token of my appreciation, after you post a review, you’ll receive a final retail copy of SHADOW AGENTS free of charge.

If you are on my Fans Mailing List, last week you enjoyed the first glimpse at the cover of PRIORITY TARGET, which is a novella and Book 1 in CARRIE CHRONICLES, a new series I’m launching in December. If you haven’t joined my Fans Mailing List, you’re missing out on a lot of exclusive news about my books and my writing, like this cover reveal, advance readers copies and more. Go to this link to join my Fans Mailing List now.

As with SHADOW AGENTS, my loyal readers will have the opportunity to read this novella before it is released to the general public. Simply drop me a note to indicate your interest, and I will add you to the list of readers to receive the first three chapters of this special preview in early December. Then, if you can post a review on Amazon before the novella is released, I will send you the final retail copy of PRIORITY TARGET free of charge. My e-mail is: author.ethan.jones@gmail.com.

EthanJones_FogOfWar_1400How many of you have enjoyed FOG OF WAR, the third thriller in tEthanJones_DoubleAgents_1400he Justin Hall series? How many of you have posted a review about it? Reviews are extremely important as they inform potential readers about my style of writing and the quality of the book. So please take a few minutes today to post a review and let people know of your thoughts. And then you can continue with the fourth thriller, DOUBLE AGENTS.

At the end, THANK YOU for buying my books, writing reviews about them and telling your friends. And if you’d like to contact me, you can always drop me a note at my personal e-mail account, author.ethan.jones@gmail.com. I promise to answer every one of you.

10 Questions with Andrew Grant

run-225My guest today is Mr. Andrew Grant, author of RUN, a thriller that came out on October 7. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview.

1. Mr. Grant, thank you for stopping by on my blog. Your newest thriller, RUN, came out on October 7. Tell us a bit more about this book.

Ethan, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me!
Everyone knows what it feels like to have a bad day. A REALLY bad day where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. I hoped that in setting up the hero of the story, Marc Bowman, so that the bottom is torn out of his world, piece by agonizing piece, I could create a character that readers would sympathize with, and a world they would relate to. Even if I did take things to a bit of an extreme…

2. Who is Marc Bowman and how did you come up with his character?

Unlike the hero of my previous series, Marc is a civilian. He’s uber-competent in his own high-tech field, and maybe a little more comfortable dealing with computers than people. Back in August of 2012 I was walking around with a semi-developed picture in my head of how I wanted him to look when I visited the Lichtenstein exhibition which the Art Institute of Chicago was hosting that summer. I remember gazing at the trademark shading in one of Lichtenstein’s giant paintings and being hit by the realization that in a way, Marc worked with the same tools. Only instead of dots and lines he dealt in zeros and ones, and this parallel became a key theme throughout the personal and professional aspects the book.

3. What is one of the most interesting things you learned during the research for this thriller?

I was aware of the connection between covert surveillance and telecommunications from my years in the industry, but it was fascinating to discover how far things have come in the time since I left. For example, it was amazing to find out about the data storage center the government has recently built in Utah. The place is so large – five times the size of the Capitol building – that they had to extend the boundary of the town where it’s located to contain it. It can store an incredible amount of data – so much that they’re already working in yottabytes, which are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000s of bytes. There isn’t even a word for a higher magnitude. Yet.

4. What was one of the best things about working in the telecom industry? One of the worse things?

Looking back, there are many good things that stand out to me but the best would have to be the people I worked with, many of whom are still close friends even after many years and thousands of miles. The worst would be the trend which emerged over the time I spent in the industry of ceasing to value the individual and the unique blend of skills each person brought to the team and replacing this with “management by spreadsheet,” which encouraged the creation of a one-dimensional army of clones.

5. Why do you write?

I write because I’m obsessed with telling stories—and also because it’s my job! I’m very fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love.

6. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not? How do you go from the idea for a book to the finished manuscript?

I always liken the process of going from idea to finished manuscript to taking a picture with one of those old-fashioned instant cameras. When the photograph first emerges from the machine it’s blurry and indistinct, and yet you know there’s an image there. As you wait, the outline becomes clearer, until something recognisable appears before you. With writing, your initial idea isn’t clear enough to hang a whole novel on, but with time (and thought) it will solidify until you have enough to work with. The trick is knowing when you’ve reached that point…

7. Which part of RUN did you find the greatest challenge to write?

All the parts where Marc was faced with physical danger, or needed some kind of specialist knowledge to get out of trouble. As I mentioned, the hero of my previous series was a professional agent so overcoming assailants or recognizing when someone was attempting to lure him into a trap was second nature to him. This time, however, I had to work much harder to come up with cunning and innovative ways for Marc to outwit his enemies.

8. What are your favorite pastimes?

My favourite pastimes are reading (anything and everything), the theatre, and watching football (I’m a life-long fan of Aston Villa FC, from my home town of Birmingham, England).

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

This may sound hokey, but my greatest satisfaction is hearing from a reader that they’ve enjoyed one of my books. And the converse, my greatest disappointment is hearing that someone hasn’t liked what I’ve written.

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

My next book features another new character—a homicide detective in Birmingham, AL. He sets out to investigate the disappearance of a young orphan, and in the process uncovers a series of shocking discoveries about his own past.

Priority Target Cover Reveal

Today, I revealed the cover of PRIORITY TARGET, the first novella in my new CARRIE CHRONICLES series, to all loyal readers in my Fans Mailing List. If you haven’t joined the list, you’re missing out on my news about new book releases, free advance review copies, cover reveals, discounts and promotions. Click on the following link to be added to my Fans Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/HIG7r

Weekly Intelligence Briefing

We’re continuing to enjoy some warm and sunny days, unusual for our fall up here in Canada. I hope your fall is treating you well.

EthanJones_ShadowAgents_800Work on SHADOW AGENTS is on schedule. I’ve started Chapter 21 and things are literally and figuratively heating up. Deserts. Firefights. A crazy plan that did work as expected. Well, kind off. If I gave more details, that would ruin the surprise of reading and enjoying the book.

Now, I’m spending some time reviewing the previous chapters and going over comments and suggestions from my beta readers. They’ve made some excellent points about a few parts in the book that need some revision.

If you haven’t pre-order SHADOW AGENTS yet, please do so today from this link. Take advantage of the discounted price and enjoy the peace of mind that you’ll receive the book the day it is released, December 16. Your pre-order is very important to increase visibility of the book before comes out, and I truly appreciate your support.

As a loyal reader (you know who you are), you’ll be able to enjoy a special preview of the first five chapters (65 pages) of SHADOW AGENTS starting in November. If you’re interested in this sneak peek at the newest Justin Hall spy thriller, please drop me a note at author.ethan.jones@gmail.com to indicate your interest in receiving a copy of these chapters, if you are able to read them and post a review about them on Amazon between November 15 and December 15, 2014. As a token of my appreciation, after you post a review, you’ll receive a final retail copy of SHADOW AGENTS free of charge.

I’m working with my designer on the cover for Book 1 in CARRIE CHRONICLES, which is titled PRIORITY TARGET. Hopefully, I can share the cover with all of you later on this week or early next week. PRIORITY TARGET will be a novella, expected to come out on December 23, if everything goes well, and if the Lord blesses me with time and abilities to write. This book will be my Christmas present to all my readers.

As with SHADOW AGENTS, my loyal readers will have the opportunity to read this novella before it is released to the general public. Simply drop me a note to indicate your interest, and I will add you to the list of readers to receive the first three chapters of this special preview in early December. Then, if you can post a review on Amazon before the novella is released, I will send you the final retail copy of PRIORITY TARGET free of charge. My e-mail is: author.ethan.jones@gmail.com.

I will start a new series, but that does not mean I will stop my current series. I’m planning to write at least one more book in 2015 in the Justin Hall series. And this series will continued in 2016 and beyond.

EJones_ArcticWargame_800ARCTIC WARGAME is the first spy thriller that kicked off the Justin Hall series. Pick it up today for yourself or a friend. Then, you can continue the adventure with TRIEthanJones_TripolisTarget_1400POLI’S TARGET, the second thriller in the series.

If you have already enjoyed them, why not let the world know about your opinion? Please share what you think about them on your social media or post a review on Amazon or other book retailers. The more reviews a book has, the greater the likelihood of new readers willing to give it a try. And your help and your support are priceless.

If you’re not on my Fans Mailing List, you’re missing out of a lot of exclusive news about my books and my writing, advance readers copies and more. Go to this link to join my Fans Mailing List now.

At the end, THANK YOU for buying my books, writing reviews about them and telling your friends. And if you’d like to chat, you can always drop me a note at my personal e-mail account, author.ethan.jones@gmail.com. I promise to answer every one of you.

10 Questions with Tony Park

My guest today is Mr. Tony Park, author of The Delta, an adventure thriller that came out on Tuesday, October 7. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview.

IMG_38261. Mr. Park, thank you for stopping on my blog. Your newest thriller, THE DELTA, came out on Tuesday and marked your North America debut. Tell us a bit more about this book.
It’s my pleasure to drop by. The Delta is a contemporary African thriller set in Botswana and Namibia. While purely a work of fiction the premise for the book, the construction of a dam on the Okavango River, which would seriously harm the renowned Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana is, amazingly, based on fact. There was a plan to dam the river, though fortunately in real life it was shouted down. The book, The Delta, sees the proposed dam constructed and a group of environmentalists and safari operators pays a mercenary firm to blow up the dam.
2. Who is Sonja Kurtz and how did you come up with her character?The Delta
Sonja Kurtz is female private military contractor – aka a mercenary. She was born in South-West Africa, now known as Namibia, and left Africa as a young woman for the UK (her mother was English) to join the British Army. A woman of action, she ends up serving during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and later leaves the arm to work as a mercenary. I was reading non fiction book, Against All Odds, by Eben Barlow, about Barlow’s private military company, Executive Outcomes, when the idea for Sonja came to me. Barlow mentions in the book that when he was recruiting, mostly from the ranks of ex soldiers in South Africa, a number of women who had served in the military came forward and asked to join his company. I’d wanted to write a novel with a mercenary lead character and after reading that book, I thought hey, why not make my mercenary a woman?
3. Most writers stick with a series, but you work on standalone thrillers. How do you find creating and developing new characters every time? And where do you suggest a new reader start with your books?
I generally like starting with a clean slate, as I enjoy the process of creating a whole new ‘family’ of characters. It’s like meeting new people. Two of my novels, African Sky and African Dawn, do feature the same three families, but they could also easily be read as standalone stories. Readers can start in order they wish; I find that if people have visited the continent of Africa, or perhaps lived there, they tend to gravitate towards stories set in places that they know. I’ve set books in Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Kenya.
4. Africa, its politics and its wild life are recurring themes in your works. What is it about her that you love?
It’s hard to put a finger on it. I’d classify my fascination with Africa as more of an addiction than a love Affair – the more I see and learn about this amazing continent, the more I want to explore. As a first time visitor it was the incredible wildlife that drew my wife, Nicola, and I in, on our first visit in 1995, but since then we’ve met some wonderful and fascinating people and visited some truly beautiful places. Africa is dynamic, always changing. Countries that were in conflict or recovering from civil war when we first visited are now forging ahead while, conversely, places that were relatively stable and prosperous back in 1995 – Zimbabwe in particular – have deteriorated in that period. As a writer, I find the mix of cultures and the ever changing political landscape make for an endless supply of material.
5. Why do you write?
The only thing I ever wanted to do as a child, through to adulthood, was to write a novel. It sounds corny, but I’m living my dream and there is nothing else on earth I’d rather be doing.
6. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not? How do you go from the idea for a book to the finished manuscript?
When I first started writing I tried writing an outline and failed. I worked out pretty quickly that the only way for me to write is simply to sit down, start writing and make it up as I go along. I enjoy not knowing what will happen next and I figure that if I don’t, then hopefully the reader (or, more importantly, my wife, Nicola, who is my first reader) won’t either. I’ll pick up an idea or premise for a book from something I’ve read, or heard on the radio news here in South Africa and think, that sounds like a good start and just take it from there. The characters, the plot and the theme are all strangers to me at that point.
7. What was your experience like in Afghanistan when you served with the Australian troops in 2002?
I was very lucky to serve with an extremely dedicated and professional bunch of people in our military’s Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan. I was a mere Army Public Relations officer, but I got to see our best people in action, and to meet many people from many different countries who were serving in the coalition. My war was mostly conducted from behind a desk, but I did get out occasionally to see some of Afghanistan. What interested me was how deep the wounds of September 11 2001 had cut into the psyches of the Americans I served with. Australia, like most of the rest of the world, was appalled by what happened at that time, and our military was ready to serve when asked, but for the US military men and women I met it was as though they had each been personally attacked. It’s an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life; it was probably harder on Nicola than it was on me and I think we should all remember that for every serviceman or woman serving overseas there are family and loved ones who go through a lonely, sometimes harrowing time.
8. I’ve always wanted to go parachuting but I’m scarred the parachute will not open. As a qualified military parachutist, what do you do in such a scenario?
The army has an incredible knack of turning any fun activity into something repetitive, boring and even painful. The Australian Army parachute course is nearly three weeks long and much of that time is devoted to learning drills about what to do if something goes wrong. Given our strong emphasis on checking equipment and knowing what to do if there is a problem our safety record is excellent. Twenty-five years after attending that course, and ten years on since my last jump, I could still recite to you, verbatim, the drills for deploying my reserve (back up) parachute!
9. What is your greatest satisfaction as a writer? What is your greatest disappointment?
I think they’re one in the same – finishing a new book. It’s a great feeling to type ‘The End’, and at the same time as soon as I submit a manuscript to my publisher I go through quite a ‘down’ period. I get restless and moody in between books (as Nicola will attest, I’m a pain in the you-know-what to live with at that time). It’s a mix of wondering if the book will be accepted and separation anxiety from the characters I’ve just finished with.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
My next book for the UK, Australian and South African markets is called ‘The Hunter’ – it’s about people faking their own deaths for insurance claims, a common crime in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The next book scheduled for release in the US market is ‘Ivory’, one of my earlier novels, about a gang of modern day pirates operating off the coast of Mozambique. I’m currently writing a new novel which, in contrast to my previous stand alone works, will be a sequel to ‘The Delta’, featuring my favourite female lead, Sonja Kurtz.

Weekly Intelligence Briefing

I hope the month of October has come with blessings and warm weather. We have enjoyed some sunny days and it looks like those will continue throughout the week.

I added another 4,000 words to SHADOW AGENTS last week. Now I’m on Chapter 20 as Justin and Carrie are crafting a crazy strategy to get to the truth. I’d love to give more details, but that would spoil the surprise of reading and enjoying the book.

EthanJones_ShadowAgents_800If you haven’t pre-order SHADOW AGENTS yet, please do so today from this link. Take advantage of the discounted price and enjoy the peace of mind that you’ll receive the book the day it is released, December 16. Your pre-order is very important to increase visibility of the book before comes out, and I truly appreciate your support.

As a loyal reader (you know who you are), you’ll be able to enjoy a special preview of the first five chapters (65 pages) of SHADOW AGENTS starting in November. If you’re interested in this sneak peek at the newest Justin Hall spy thriller, please drop me a note at author.ethan.jones@gmail.com to indicate your interest in receiving a copy of these chapters, if you are able to read them and post a review about them on Amazon between November 1 and December 15, 2014. As a token of my appreciation, after you post a review, you’ll receive a final retail copy of SHADOW AGENTS free of charge.

I announced last week some exciting news of starting to work on a new series with Carrie O’Connor as the main character. The series will open up with a short novella, the first in the Carrie’s Chronicles series. I already have the outline, and the title of this novella with be PRIORITY TARGET. I might refer to Justin Hall in Carrie’s novella or have him make a cameo appearance, but the story will be told from Carrie’s point of view. I might even write it in first person. We’ll see. But she’ll be on a solo mission in Somalia. Or maybe Yemen. I haven’t really decided yet. Some place the US has drone-bombed recently.

If everything goes well, Lord willing, I’ll release this novella right before Christmas, on December 23. A Christmas present to all my readers.

As with SHADOW AGENTS, my loyal readers will have the opportunity to read this novella before it is released to the general public. Simply drop me a note to indicate your interest, and I will add you to the list of readers to receive the first three chapters of this special preview in early December. Then, if you can post a review on Amazon before the novella is released, I will send you the final retail copy of PRIORITY TARGET free of charge. My e-mail is: author.ethan.jones@gmail.com.

I will start a new series, but that does not mean I will stop my current series. I’m planning to write at least one more book in 2015 in the Justin Hall series. And this series will continue in 2016 and beyond.

EJones_ArcticWargame_800ARCTIC WARGAME is the first spy thriller that kicked off the Justin Hall series. Pick it up today for yourself or a friend. Then, you can continue the adventure with TRIPOLI’S TARGET, the second thriller in the series.EthanJones_TripolisTarget_Amazon_1400

If you have already enjoyed them, why not let the world know about your opinion? Please share what you think about them on your social media or post a review on Amazon or other book retailers. The more reviews a book has, the greater the likelihood of new readers willing to give it a try. And your help and your support are priceless.

If you’re not on my Fans Mailing List, you’re missing out of a lot of exclusive news about my books and my writing, advance readers copies and more. Go to this link to join my Fans Mailing List now.

At the end, THANK YOU for buying my books, writing reviews about them and telling your friends. And if you’d like to chat, you can always drop me a note at my personal e-mail account, author.ethan.jones@gmail.com. I promise to answer every one of you.

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