SRP: Where did you come up with the idea for The Enemies of My Country?
Jason: Many heroes of military thrillers have no family—a fact inconveniently pointed out to me by a reader of my first book, shortly after I’d committed to writing about a military thriller hero with no family. At the time I was fresh out of the Army, and didn’t think much of it.
But since then I’ve become a father myself, and my adorable daughter has succeeded in making me very, very soft and weak. I just couldn’t write about a lone mercenary killer anymore; at the same time, I was far too ruined for a normal job to pursue any other line of work.
So for this book, I decided to flip the normal convention on its head. This time, my hero would have a family—and he was going to find them in grave danger.
SRP: What can you tell us about the plot?
Jason: David Rivers is an elite-level assassin. He’s an expert in the art of violence. Honing his skill first as a Ranger, then as a mercenary, and now as a CIA contractor conducting covert action around the world.
But in his secluded mountain home in Virginia, David Rivers lives a double life. There, Rivers is known as a caring husband to his new wife, and the doting father to his young daughter.
Soft targets to his enemies.
Half a world away, on a mission to assassinate a foreign operative, Rivers uncovers his worst fear.
An imminent attack on US soil will occur in four days.
The target is in his hometown.
And his wife and daughter are mentioned by name.
SRP: What were the easiest and most difficult parts of writing The Enemies of My Country?
Jason: The easiest part was the premise—a man finds his family in danger, and has four days to uncover and stop an imminent terrorist attack. Simple, right?
The catch was figuring out how to turn that promising foundation into a full storyline, and packing all the events and characters into one cohesive and fast-paced book. THAT was the hard part, and I quickly wondered if I’d bit off more than I could chew.
Several months, many hours of weeping at a keyboard, and untold bottles of bourbon later, the result is this book.
SRP: The hero of this book is former Army Ranger David Rivers. What would he say if he met you in person?
Jason: First and foremost, he’d probably shame me for being a cat owner—rightfully so. Then he’d slap me for all the trouble I’ve put him through in this book—once again, fully justified.
After that, we’d probably sit down and enjoy our shared favorite pastime: drinking bourbon.
And I’d try not to make him angry.
SRP: What’s next for David?
Jason: The Enemies of My Country kicks off a ten-book series outline that will take David to the world’s most dangerous corners, as he uncovers a sinister conspiracy with global implications. The second book will be released later this year.
SRP: You’re known for engaging with your readers, from answering emails to chatting on your Facebook reader group. What’s it like interacting with them on a daily basis?
Jason: There’s an Eastern saying that “the teacher and the taught together create the teaching.” I think this applies equally well as “the author and the readers together create the books.”
If no one read my work, I’d still write every day—but my stories wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Feedback from readers helps me improve with each book, and their support keeps me going no matter how difficult a manuscript gets. As any author can tell you, the writing process is filled with dizzying highs and crushing lows. It helps a lot to know the readers have my back, and no matter how many books I write in this lifetime, I owe them a lot more than they owe me.
Also, I vividly remember starting out and having no readers at all. The world is a cold and lonely place for a struggling writer, so it’s hard for me not to be deliriously grateful today.
SRP: What good books have you read lately?
Jason: Confession time—I’ve never been big into zombie movies.
When a friend of mine recommended World War Z, I reluctantly agreed to check out the first few chapters.
Three days later I’d not only finished the book, but was ready to wrap a baseball bat in barbed wire and go battle the undead hordes. If you haven’t read that book, check it out!
SRP: You’re stranded on a desert island with all of your basic needs taken care of (food, shelter, clothes). What three items would you bring?
Jason: All the bourbon I could take with me, obviously. Then a baseball bat. And finally, some barbed wire to wrap around the bat, just in case the zombies come.
The Enemies of My Country launches January 15. Pre-order here.