If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? It is almost never the letter E. If you think about that long enough, the wisdom will reveal itself.
When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? I’d like to look back with the contentment of having tried everything at least once. Most things, anyway. I don’t want to have many instances where I think “I wish I’d done this” or “I should have tried that.” I’m aware of that goal now, so when I have the opportunity to do something that would be easy to decline, I tend to jump on board just so I can say I’ve done it. From the author’s perspective, I want to look back on a huge volume of work. I mean, I want to have written books that I’ve forgotten entirely. They won’t all be great, of course, but I hope a few of them are, even if it’s just one or two. I’d like to write something that will withstand time and short memories. I want to leave my mark, I suppose. Since I probably won’t be the first guy to step foot on Mars, I’ll have to write some really great books.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I really just want my readers to have fun; to have a ball, in fact. That’s what I always want. But larger messages do tend to reveal themselves. In the case of “Guys Named Jack” the message is probably that there are many, many things about the world and about the human brain that we don’t understand. Some of it is good, some of it is very bad. The Jacks will discover some of those things – the dark parts of humanity which they were called together to fight. But mostly it’s meant to be entertaining. When all is said and done, I always enjoy hearing from the readers themselves what they took out of it. As long as they use words like “couldn’t put it down” and “more fun than bubble wrap” while they’re telling me.
How much of the book is realistic? Quite a lot. The Jacks in “Guys Named Jack” develop their special skills for a reason. I don’t want to give much away about that, but the history of things like government experiments with mind control are very real. I researched a lot of that while writing my earlier novel, “Worumbo.” The things that have been attempted in the name of national security are rather frightening. Readers may think “all that background is surely fiction” but it’s not. The more you read about government groups like MKULTRA, the more jaw-dropping it becomes.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Oh, sure. It’s hard not to. In “Guys Named Jack,” I’m writing a great deal about teenagers, how they act and how they relate to one another. I’m not a teenager anymore, but I remember what it was like to be one. Even the smart and responsible kids (I wasn’t one of those) were still teenagers at heart. They were apt to get up to no good when their friends were around. It was fun writing those scenes and remembering the hedonistic, uncertain times of my own youth. The characters in “Guys Named Jacks” are great kids, but you can never forget that they are also teenagers, and teenagers are a wily, rambunctious lot.
How important do you think villains are in a story? Very important. Without bad guys, how would you know who the good guys are? Without darkness, how do you come to appreciate the light? It’s all balance, good and bad, right and wrong, yin and yang. There are a lot of villains in “Guys Named Jack.” Some of them are right up in your face (Jack Gordon will take care of them, don’t worry your pretty head) and others are only glimpsed from the corners of the eye. Discovering who the real bad guys are in this novel may surprise and horrify you. There are also are different levels of bad when it comes to bad guys. Some you just despise from the get go. With others, you may discover redeeming qualities. In my novel “Vegetation,” the antagonist, Betram Luce, is a pretty vile human being, but by the end of it, you can’t help but to appreciate his tenacity. That poor dude goes through hell, but he stays on his feet. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due.
What are your goals as a writer? To entertain. To mesmerize. As trite as it sounds, I always want to create something in which a reader can lose him or herself for hours at a time. I want people to be so absorbed by what I’ve written that they forget about the bills, the grades, that unpleasant clunking sound the car has been making lately. I want to steal chunks of your life and keep you up at night. The biggest thrill for me is when a reader contacts me and says something to the effect of, “you weasel! You made me late for work because I was up reading until the dawn’s early light!” I used to suspect it was nothing more than lip service when I heard these kinds of answers from other authors. Now I know that it’s not.
Jack Carnegie has developed a head for numbers – a true savant who was just an average teenager a day before. Jack Deacon builds things, from self-propelled drones to goggles that can see through walls.
Jack Van Slyke awakes with an ability to speak a half dozen languages.Jack Gordon discovers he is a master of the martial arts, just when he needs it most.
All over the country, young men are finding that they have special skills, areas of expertise that appeared out of nowhere. They’re confused. Baffled. Maybe even dangerous.
And they’re all named Jack.
After experiencing adventures on their own, the Jacks will come together in the deserts of Arizona. There, they will set out on the quest to find out what has happened, becoming a multi-talented task force with not a single clue why.
But answers are coming – chilling revelations about their own minds and about new terrors that imperil the world. Together the Jacks will have to make a decision: drift apart and return to being careless teenagers? Or band together and fight a rising evil that threatens not just the Jacks, but the world.
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Genre – YA / Thriller
Rating – PG
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