What made you decide to write a suspense novel?
After finishing my first three novels, my new agent, Natasha Kern, really determined that I should set out to become a purebred thriller writer. I had written Nobody, which was more of a murder-mystery, and also Dark Star and Full Tilt, which were definitely suspense, but perhaps not “thrillers.” So, in this new series, we have three full-throttle, hold-on-to-your-seat, fast-paced stories. I think your readers will devour them!
How much research did Poison Town require?
I did quite a bit of research about pollutants and the illnesses they can cause. Beyond that, most of the time away from writing was spent thinking about how the dual storylines were going to eventually meet up in a smooth and dynamic fashion. I also spend a lot of time on making sure my settings, locations, directions, etc., are accurate.
How much of your book is based on fact?
As with each of my books, just a tiny, tiny seed of the idea for the book is real, for example, you have a large manufacturing plant in a mid-size Ohio city that may or may not be emitting hazardous pollutants. Beyond that it is all fiction. “What if this were to happen…” or “What if this character has to face this crisis or dilemma…”
How did you choose this setting?
I grew up in Ohio and loved it there—so I’m familiar with the state. Later, I became a city hall reporter at a newspaper in central Ohio, so I based the book there. It was someplace I could easily envision in my mind. The name of the city in the book, Trenton City, has been changed to protect the innocent!
What is the most interesting thing that you learned while writing Poison Town?
I learned that I really enjoy writing some humor into my books. In Poison Town, some of Jack’s closest friends are a family of good ole boy, redneck mechanics (father and two sons). They become main characters in this book and I had loads of fun creating them and their quirks and a lot of good, humorous dialogue. In fact, I found that the subtle humor added in a very positive way to the intensity of the pacing and plot. I am extremely excited for readers to get their hands on this book.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Unless you are the very unusual exception of the novelist whose first book “breaks out” and becomes a best-seller, you have to keep writing fiction until you build up a huge following of readers in order to make a living at it. In the majority of cases, that takes a lot of time, and a lot of books. It is not easy making a living at fiction writing. Most authors have other jobs as well, and/or spouses who help supplement the income. My dream is to write fiction full-time and I’m hoping once this new series finishes coming out with Poison Town (Feb 2014) and Sky Zone (June 2014), we will be a whole lot closer to that goal.
What is the most exhilarating part of being an author?
For me it is hearing positive feedback from readers. What could be better than getting letters or emails from people in prison or rehab, or people struggling with depression or having trouble in their walks with God, who want to tell you that your book helped them draw closer to Jesus Christ? That your story inspired them to live differently, to pray differently, or to treat their fellow man differently? It is an awesome feeling to receive such feedback. That is why I write fiction. It is a ministry for me.