This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. James M. Jackson will be awarding the chance to name a character who will appear in FALSE BOTTOM (Seamus McCree #6) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
My writing process is what some call “organic.” I refer to myself as a pantser—one who writes by the seat of his pants. I usually find out what issue I’m writing about only after I complete the first draft.
From the first four books of the series, readers know Seamus McCree has lived by the belief that his word is his bond. In Empty Promises I discovered I was exploring how Seamus reacts after he takes a series of actions that increasingly conflict with his core values. Like most of us, he self-justifies his decisions, but as they accumulate, they begin to wear him down. His personal consequences are wrapped inside a page-turner of a story with all the twists and turns of a suspenseful thriller. However, writing the story I really needed to write was difficult. I wanted to shout in his ear, “Don’t do this!”
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Empty Promises introduces the series to Seamus McCree’s granddaughter, Megan McCree. (She first appeared in the novella, Low Tide at Tybee, but that is set later in time than Empty Promises.) I had a blast writing scenes that included Megan. She a whip-smart three-and-a-half-year-old who is the apple of her grandfather’s eye. As they say, out of the mouths of babes . . .
Have you ever had one character you wanted to go one way with but after the book was done the character was totally different?
Just one character? I am the world’s worst author when it comes to controlling my characters. I try to pin a murder on a particular person, and they refuse to do the deed. I’m forced to find someone else with a better motive. In Empty Promises, I discovered that Seamus McCree’s son, Paddy, eschewed my plans for his earning IT riches and decided to become a stay-at-home parent. Even Seamus didn’t behave as I expected. All along he has been Mr. My-Word-Is-My-Bond, and suddenly in Empty Promises he starts letting ends justify means. But there are always consequences when characters go against my plans, and Empty Promises has plenty of them for the McCrees.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
I was a fan of Robert B. Parker. I believe I assimilated his early writing style and with modifications adopted it for my own. Parker’s style kept changing and his later novels were even too spare for my tastes. Sara Paretsky told me after a master class she taught that I had a unique voice and shouldn’t let people change it. Those words had special meaning to me because I knew she had taken risks introducing the world to her strong, female protagonist, VI Warshawski, and having her private eye investigate financial crimes (as Seamus would also do.) I felt more secure writing about a man with a strong relationship with his son after John Sandford married off Lucas Davenport and gave him a stable family life. And after meeting William Kent Krueger and reading his Cork O’Connor series, I was willing to take more risks and write a darker novel that explores what happens as Seamus deviates from his own core values.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m working on the sixth Seamus McCree novel, titled False Bottom. It takes place shortly after Empty Promises. Uncle Mike O’Malley, Seamus’s surrogate father, is gunned down. Seamus returns to his Boston roots to handle the retired Boston police captain’s estate. He discovers Uncle Mike left him more than just stocks and bonds to worry about. The secrets and intrigue put the entire McCree clan at risk.
I have a great title and inciting incident for the “G” book in the Seamus McCree series, but my plans are to put that on the back burner and turn my attention to a planned Young Adult trilogy set in the near future.
I am a social liberal and fiscal conservative. Needless to say, elections haven’t been going my way. I began imagining what the United States might look like if it became bankrupt and corporations literally bought the country and ran it for profit. The country has been split apart and my heroine will bring about the beginning of its healing—at least that’s what I have planned for her; she might have other ideas.
His client is to testify in a Chicago money laundering trial. He’s paranoid that with a price on his head, if the police know where he’s staying, the information will leak. Seamus promised his business partner and lover, Abigail Hancock, that he’d keep the witness safe at the McCree family camp located deep in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s woods.
Abigail is furious at his incompetence and their relationship flounders. Even his often-helpful son, Paddy, must put family safety ahead of helping his father. Seamus risks his own safety and freedom to turn amateur sleuth in hopes he can solve the crimes, fulfill his promise of protection, and win back Abigail. Wit and grit are on his side, but the clock is ticking . . . and the hit man is on his way.
Enjoy an Excerpt:
Dread joined us in the car. Even normally bubbly Megan grew silent.
Loggers had cut a narrow lane through the sixty-foot spruce I had watched come down at the beginning of the Grade, leaving most of the tree in place and towing the cut section to the side. They’d wasted no time on smaller branches littering the road and were opening up a one-lane path. I tiptoed the Outback over the debris and moved through the gap.
At first the downed trees were scattered, although limbs and branches dotted the entire road. But the further north we drove, the worse the damage became until the downed trees were a nearly continuous hazard. Paddy frequently left the car to remove branches with sharp breaks that might puncture a tire. I was regretting we hadn’t taken my old beater truck into town with its multi-ply tires. The Outback carried a donut spare, which wouldn’t last thirty seconds on the gravel roads. We had yet to see any other cars or people.
By the time we passed the five- and six-mile markers without any letup in the damage, tightened metal bands had taken up permanent residence around my chest. I feared for Elliot. I feared for my property. I worried whether I’d get a flat. Whether there would still be a hotel room if I had to send Paddy and Megan to Tall Pines. Megan, on the other hand, had given up her concerns and was in the back seat, singing along with a CD, a cheerful canary amidst the devastation.
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