It’s time for Ozarks Maven’s August Author Spotlight! Today, I’m sharing my interview with bestselling thriller author, J.C. Fields. I enjoyed this interaction and even chuckled aloud when I read some of his answers.
I would like to congratulate J.C. on retirement from his day job! I know he’ll be happy doing what he loves, which is writing compelling stories for the world to enjoy.
J.C. Fields is far more disciplined than I at killing the darlings. 40,000 words cut from one manuscript? Wow! He’s just become my hero. I feel like I’m ripping out a piece of my soul every time I try to cut more than a few hundred words. I hope he realizes that I plan to have a lengthy chat with him when next we meet.
Now, my dear readers, you are in for a special treat. I’m excited to bring you my interview with the profound J.C. Fields. Enjoy!
Some of my fondest memories as a child were the times when my mother and I visited our local library. The shelves offered wonderful adventures, new worlds to explore, interesting people to meet and new concepts to imagine. During those years, I read all the great masters of science fiction, Clark, Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, and others. As I read, I started imagining what it would be like to create and write one of those adventures myself. The desire to write has been with me ever since.
After college my career path led me into a variety of positions in sales and marketing. While I did not pursue the urge to write for years, I eventually succumbed and started writing again in 2005. I recently retired from my sales and marketing career to become a full-time author. I have published seven novels, all of which are also audiobooks, and have plans to keep writing more.
I am married to my best friend and the love of my life, Connie. We have two sons who have become wonderful young men with families of their own.
At this time, I enjoy writing thriller/suspense novels. My sales and marketing career provided the opportunity to travel extensively, which provided plenty of opportunities to read. It also provided the experience of visiting different parts of the United States and Europe.
During this period, the books I gravitated toward were mysteries, suspense and thrillers. Particularly psychological and crime thrillers.
3. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
Working out the plot puzzle and the creativity needed to finish a first draft. I also enjoy the re-writes. Re-writes offer opportunities to dig deeper into the characters and tighten the plot.
4. When did you start writing?
I wrote my first short story in high school and dabbled with writing science fiction in college. After graduation, life happened and I tucked my passion away while I lived in the real world for a while.
In 2005, I joined an on-line blog with a group of wanna-be writers. We wanted to see what a book written by multiple amateur authors would be like. The answer is: BAD. But this incident sparked my suppressed passion to write. Ten years later, I published my first novel, The Fugitive’s Trail.
5. To what or whom do your attribute your love of reading and writing stories?
My mother. If she was sitting down, she had a book in her hand. She continued to do so until she passed away. During her later years, I took great joy in buying her books by her favorite authors and seeing the excitement in her eyes when she received them. My first book is dedicated to her influence on my writing.
As I mentioned earlier, Mom constantly took me to the library. The one we visited is still there and every time I go in, wonderful memories wash over me.
6. How have your past experiences impacted your writing?
The personalities of all the people I have met along the way and the places I have visited are part of my writing. As a novelist, I have to take these events and toss them into a food processor. The results give me background for all the stories I create.
I’ve had a variety of jobs: restaurant meat cutter, a summer working for a railroad, shoe salesperson, territory manager, key account manager, branch manager, and vice president of sales. I’ve even spent fourteen years calling on Walmart as a vendor.
The success I experienced in the business world never came close to the sense of accomplishment I felt when I published my first a novel. That was a magical moment.
8. Does your past employment experience ever make its way into your books?
I chuckled after I read this question. The answer is yes, but I won’t discuss who, when or where.
9. What inspires you?
Current events lead to many of my story ideas. I don’t like to use the exact circumstance, but I do use them to formulate the story line. I try to intermix everyday life of my protagonists with the events within the story. Numerous readers, who have been generous enough offer reviews, find this one of their favorite aspects of my stories. Mixing drama with what one reviewer described as “slice of life” occurrences.
10. What made you decide to write about the subjects or themes of your books?
Good question. My main goal with each book is to entertain and provide an opportunity for my readers to escape their day-to-day circumstances.
The first chapter of any of my novels sets up the main “problem” the protagonist must solve. I don’t care for thrillers where the hero is a super-human individual who can solve everything by themselves and keep going after being shot or seriously injured. When that happens, I set the book aside.
The main theme I try to relay in each book is how my protagonists are human and subject to the same feelings and emotions the rest of us are.
11. Have you met any interesting people while researching your books?
Yes, an added bonus to my writing. I have met a retired ICE agent, a former pilot for the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, police officers, firearms experts, and a host of memorable characters.
12. What is the most difficult part of writing?
As numerous books on writing have instructed, “Kill your darlings.” This was the most difficult lesson I had to learn. But when it is the right thing to do for the story, I say bye-bye and hit the delete key.
I cut over 40,000 words from a manuscript once and the novel improved because I did.
13. Who are some of your favorite authors and why do you enjoy their work?
Daniel Silva is one of my favorite contemporary authors at the moment. His writing is crisp and full of details without boring the reader.
Michael Connelly and Robert Crais are two others I have enjoyed over the years. I found John Sanford’s Prey series excellent and used them as a model for naming my Sean Kruger series.
The author who inspired my foray into writing thrillers and suspense novels was Frederick Forsyth. He is a master at plotting and relaying the back story of his characters.
14. What writing advice did you find most useful when you were honing your craft?
When I joined my first writing group the most memorable piece of critique I received was, “It’s over written.”
Those words have stuck with me and I use them constantly during my re-writes. Thank you, Wayne for the sage advice.
15. Do you have any new work just released or coming out soon? If so, would you please tell us a little about it?
My most recent book, The Dark Trail, explores my main protagonist, Sean Kruger, facing forced retirement. At the same time, he must solve the murder of a good friend before the end of his FBI career.
During the writing of this book, my own desire to become a full-time author started to take shape. Some of the internal struggles my protagonist expresses come from my own inner conflicts while making a decision to let go of my former career.
So far, it is my favorite book within the six-book series.
16. Can you tell us a little about your current project?
I am working on the second installment for a novel I released in the fall of 2019. A Lone Wolf reached best seller status as an audiobook in March of 2020. Trying to follow up something like that is daunting at best. I anticipate a mid to late fall 2020 release. As far as the title is concerned, it has yet to be determined.
Some of my readers have asked about The Sean Kruger Series coming to an end after his retirement from the FBI in The Dark Trail. I can assure them the series is not over.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.