Category Archives for Interview

Author Spotlight: James Chandler

SRP: This is your debut novel! How does it feel?

James: I am excited at seeing Misjudged published. The entire project started several years ago with a sort of off-handed comment to my wife after I’d read a particularly poor novel: “I could write a better book than that,” I said. “Well, why don’t you?” And it was on. The process of writing, revising, finding a publisher and working with the SRP team to bring the book to readers has been eye-opening—you have no idea the amount of work that goes into publishing a book until you go through it. It has been both challenging and exhilarating, and it will be fun to see everyone’s efforts come to fruition. I hope readers will enjoy themselves for a couple of hours.

SRP: Where did you come up with the idea for Misjudged?

James: When I decided to write the novel, I had a very rough outline in mind. Misjudged is admittedly a character-driven, rather than plot-driven, novel. Because I’m not trying to make any points or drive home an agenda in my books, and because trials are structured, linear affairs, the plot beyond the initial outline evolved from the characters: “How would a guy like Sam handle a situation like X?” “What would Judge Daniels do if confronted by Y?” and so on. The key players are composite portraits of men and women I have known, mostly inspired by military officers I encountered during my career (trust me when I tell you the Pentagon was a rich source of material). I had some procedural and forensic twists I wanted to introduce, so I outlined and revised until I felt like I had a solid idea for a novel I could sit down and write.

SRP: What can you tell us about the plot?

James: Misjudged introduces the reader to Sam Johnstone, a disabled veteran who went to law school after being discharged from the Army. After struggling at a law firm in Washington, D.C., a down-on-his-luck Sam accepts an offer from an old friend to relocate to rural Wyoming to practice in a last-ditch effort to save his career—and himself. Against his better judgment, Sam agrees to defend a veteran accused of killing a prominent local attorney. Misjudged follows Sam and the other key players as the case develops and is tried in front of a jury. Along the way, Sam struggles with his demons while he and the various participants find their assumptions about the actions and motives of others are not always accurate.

SRP: Why did you choose Wyoming as your setting?

James: I’ve been fortunate to have been around the world several times—and yet, here I am! I love Wyoming like only someone who has been everywhere else can. Custer, Wyoming is a fictional place, but I think it represents what Wyoming, its people, and its legal practitioners are all about. I gave serious thought to basing the novel elsewhere, but decided I was most comfortable with Wyoming people, places and law.

SRP: What’s next for Sam Johnstone?

James: The next novel in the series, One and Done, follows Sam as he defends a star athlete charged with the murder of a gay college student. While the facts alone are problematic, outside pressures and Sam’s internal struggles complicate an already difficult situation and threaten to interfere with Sam’s defense of his client. I’m already mulling some general ideas for the third book. There’s a minor character—a woman—who was introduced in One and Done. I think she might merit a closer look. I could see some interesting things happening in her life, and her interaction with Sam could get complicated.

SRP: Have you read any good books lately?

James: My reading is heavily weighted toward non-fiction, especially military history. Right now, I am reading several books dealing with the Great Sioux War and the Army of the West. As a retired Army officer formerly assigned to places like Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth, and Fort Bliss, I have a fondness for the old Cavalry posts. It must have been an amazing experience to be garrisoned at one of those posts at the relevant time. My fiction reading is rare and leans toward dated detective novels, police procedurals and thrillers. I’m a huge fan of Robert B. Parker (who could say more in fewer words?), Evan Hunter a/k/a Ed McBain (talk about page-turners!), and Alistair MacLean (the breadth of subjects he dealt with in his thrillers is unmatched). I am not as a rule a big fan of legal thrillers, and purposely and with malice aforethought have read but a single legal thriller since I started writing Misjudged in 2016: Anatomy of a Murder, by Robert Traver, the pen name for John D. Voelker.

SRP: If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island with all your physical needs taken care of—such as food and water, what two items would you want to have with you?

James: I would need a fly rod to keep me busy and some way to communicate with my wife and daughters. Although I tend toward the misanthropic, I love the women in my life and would need to communicate with them—if only to send them pictures of my catch.

Misjudged releases November 10. Pre-order today for just $0.99 here.

When a disabled veteran takes a new job as an attorney in a small Wyoming town, he is thrust into a mysterious murder case.

Sam Johnstone was hoping for renewal when he took a job at a boutique law firm in rustic Wyoming. The mountains and streams of the west would be a refreshing, quiet place to start over after years of war and turmoil in his personal life.

But after a local woman is brutally murdered, Sam realizes that things aren’t so quiet in this rural American town. The accused is one Tommy Olsen, a known delinquent who had been sleeping with the victim. Sam is repulsed by the crime and wants nothing to do with the case, but meets with Tommy to make sure he has legal representation.

Yet things are not as they seem.

What begins as a cut-and-dry case becomes infinitely more complicated as new facts are uncovered, and Sam agrees to serve as Tommy’s defense attorney.

With the killer’s identity still unknown, Sam is enveloped in the small-town politics and courtroom drama of a murder investigation that keeps getting more shocking.

But if Sam can’t uncover the truth, an innocent man might be punished…while the real killer watches from the shadows.

Author Spotlight: J.D. Allen

SRP: Where did you come up with the idea for Sin City Investigations and Jim Bean?


J.D.: I knew I wanted to write a Private Investigator series. I crushed hard on Rockford as a youngster (and still do!). At about the same time I was plotting through it, a good friend of mine was falsely accused of a serious crime. It devastated his life in more ways than I would have ever imagined. He had to start over. New job. New friends. New city. I found his experience, as bad as it was, made an excellent backstory for a PI. He gave his blessing and Jim was born.

SRP: What can you tell us about the series?


J.D.: I want to see characters in a series change over time. It makes them seem more human. With 19 Souls, Jim Bean starts the series dealing with a life-changing incident in his past. He’s gone to Vegas to lick his wounds, changed his name, and is happy to exist with minimal clients, his cat, and a good bottle of scotch. I’d like to think that after a while, he’ll get out of his own way and move past his anger. I’ve started the third book in the series, and he’s still a combination of Dirty Harry and Jim Rockford.

SRP: What was the most difficult part of writing 19 Souls, the first book in the series?


J.D.: I loved writing that book! Female serial killer? What’s not to love about that. Smart villains are super interesting to create, and Sophie Evers fits that bill! I had to take Jim to some pretty dark places though, and I sort of felt sorry for him at times.

SRP: What’s next for the series?


J.D.: Skin Game is next up in the series. In it, Jim and the woman who broke his heart in college have only a few days to rescue several young girls from a human trafficking ring.

SRP: What are you working on now?


J.D.: Wrapping up the next adventure with Jim. I’ll just say that I did some research with a taxidermist.

SRP: What are you reading now and/or what good books have you read lately?


J.D.: Wow. Right now, I’m reading this weird Sci-fi my hubs gave me. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. It’s an entire novel in journal entries and interviews. It’s fascinating!

SRP: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


J.D.: Go big. Stories need to be large, not in word count, but in scope. Big characters, big setting, big themes. You can always back it down if needed, but making a thin story work is difficult.

Her bloody finger left a translucent smear on the phone screen as she glanced through the list of private investigators in Vegas. Her stained nail came to rest on Sin City Investigations.

Jim Bean would serve her well.

Private investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. He likes his cases to follow suit. But when his latest client, Sophie Evers, asks him to find her brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.

As he falls deep into a manipulative game of cat and mouse, Jim uncovers the horrible truth about Sophie. Now he must set things right before her plan leads to the loss of innocent souls . . . even more than it already has.

19 Souls releases October 27. Pre-order today for only $0.99.

Author Spotlight: Don’t Look In Author Tom Saric

With Don’t Look In, the debut in his newest series, Tom Saric pens a twisting novel of psychological suspense, introducing a psychiatrist trying to save lives while battling his own demons.

We talked with Tom about writing his new series— from the inception of main character Gus Young to what his writing weakness is. Read the interview below!

SRP: Where did you come up with the idea for Don’t Look In, and what can you tell us about the plot?

TOM: Don’t Look In started with Gus Young. The idea of a grizzled looking man, with a thick beard, wearing work boots and hunting jacket while being an exceptional psychiatrist spoke to me. In the years after I finished my training in psychiatry, I realized that working as a psychiatrist wasn’t the idealized version I had fantasized about. In addition to seeing patients, my day was filled with paperwork, managerial pressures to see more people more quickly, and therapy was something psychologists did while psychiatrists seemed to be expected to prescribe medications only. So, the idea of this pure, genuine psychiatrist who wasn’t afraid to buck the trend and do his own thing in his own way appealed to me.

The seed for the plot came from realizing that in order to maintain the purity of his work, confidentiality of his patients would have to be absolute. And he would have to take this duty further than the average therapist would.

The plot really developed from there. It follows Gus as he is working in the small practice that he operates out of the back of a hardware store in a rural town. When a patient of his is murdered, he seeks to find out who did it, but in doing so it will put him in conflict with many of his deepest held values.

SRP: How did you choose this setting?

TOM: The story takes place in a fictitious town in Maine. I decided against using a real place in part to make my life easier by giving the setting flexibility for future books. But the town itself has elements of a few different places I’ve visited, worked in or lived in in Eastern Canada and the Prairies. On top of this, I love the East Coast, I love Maine. I find the entire region rich, and atmospheric. The rain, the fog, the hurricanes, the history just give it so much richness that I couldn’t see the book being set anywhere else.

SRP: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

TOM: I think the most difficult part was trying to describe psychological processes without the jargon in order to make it accessible to people. Psychoanalytic writings and theory is its own language. It took me years to become comfortable with the language and nuance of the differing theories. That’s my biggest criticism (and Gus’) of psychoanalysis: It is largely inaccessible and can come across as elitist. But, in fact, it should be anything but. It is likely the richest understanding we have of the human mind.

So, in keeping with Gus’ character, I was mindful that he would be able to avoid jargon and explain complex theories simply. So it required constant iteration to get it right.

SRP: What’s next for the series?

TOM: I’m already working on the second book in the series, titled Believe In Me. In this book a young woman is found wandering on the outskirts of Bridgetown with no memory of who she is. Gus is called in to help police recover her memories. As he works with her, she begins to show abilities that verge on the supernatural. I don’t want to reveal much more than that at this point, but it will test Gus’ abilities in a way that he hasn’t yet faced.

SRP: What are you reading now and/or what good books have you read lately?

TOM: I started reading a couple of books by C.J. Box recently because after I submitted Don’t Look In, my publisher compared it to his novels. I hadn’t read his books previously, though I’d known about them. I picked up Bitterroots and loved it. He has a masterful way of creating setting and atmosphere. So what I said about Don’t Look In not being able to be set anywhere but Maine, perhaps Montana would be a close second.

SRP: What is your writing Kryptonite?

TOM: Social Media. I have a real love hate relationship with social media. On the one hand, it allows me to connect with readers, and other authors. On the other hand, I have spent 4-5 hours mindlessly thumbing through Instagram photos when I meant to be writing. I’m always telling my kids to set limits with screen time. Maybe I should take my own advice.


Don’t Look In launches October 6.

Click here to buy Don’t Look In. The e-book is $.99 for a limited time!

Author Spotlight: After Dunkirk Author Lee Jackson

SRP: Where did you come up with the idea for After Dunkirk?

Lee: I have to give my publisher credit for pointing me toward writing World War II historical fiction. I had recently seen the movie “Dunkirk” and one element of the story that I had never heard before was the question of what happened to the roughly 200,000 left behind.

SRP: What can you tell us about the plot?

Lee: The story is as intriguing as the evacuation at Dunkirk itself. To evacuate 330,000 troops, Great Britain needed a rear-guard to provide protection as the evacuation progressed. Many of those troops composing the protective force, were green troops, just arrived in France. Others were non-combatants suddenly thrown into a combat role. I wanted to know what happened to them. My research revealed stories that were not only intimate to individual players, but also on a grander scale—i.e. small details led to a huge impact on the war. In the case of the Dunkirk, the effort to rescue those left behind led to Britain’s biggest maritime tragedy of all time eclipsing the Titanic. How that came about is detailed in After Dunkirk.

SRP: How did you choose this setting?

Lee: The story chose the setting, and it is larger than Dunkirk. The French Resistance (a term that describes loosely affiliated and independent groups) started up even before Germany crossed the Maginot by intelligent people who read the tea leaves of world events. Immediately, they were faced with hordes of British soldiers left behind who needed help to stay alive, healthy, and get home.

Getting home meant evading capture in sometimes overland treks across France to other places south of Dunkirk. Without food or shelter, those soldiers had no choice but to ask for help from French families, who aided them in abundance at great personal risk. And, as it happens, Winston Churchill had foreseen that this might occur and set up an organization to assist. The cooperation between those elements of British intelligence and the French Resistance is a large part of the story.

SRP: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

Lee: Boiling down the individual acts of courage and self-sacrifice in the context of the “big picture” was a challenge. For example, Neville Chamberlain is reviled for his appeasement of Hitler at Munich. However, much to my surprise, I found that a credible argument can be made that precisely that action bought Great Britain time to develop an advanced defense system that saved the country in its darkest hours. Simultaneously, they developed an intelligence system that, although it did not predict German actions regarding the invasion through the Netherlands and Belgium, it might have supplied information that led to the notion that the invasion at Dunkirk was feasible, with limited time to execute.

SRP: What’s next for the series?

Lee: The story, as I have written it, centers on a family of British subjects whose home is on Sark Island in the English Channel Islands. The Germans did, as a matter of fact occupy those islands for PR reasons—for bragging rights over taking British territory. The family on whose story I based this series has three sons and a daughter, all engaged in the war effort.

Jeremy, the central figure and youngest son in the family, finds himself on the beach at Dunkirk when the evacuation there is complete. His middle-brother, Lance, is only a few miles away. A very different personality, he relished the army and the thought of combat. Claire, their older sister, is a decoder for British Intelligence in London and struggles with national secrets that she cannot divulge which affect her brothers. Paul, the eldest son, is also in British Intelligence. He is diligent, intelligent, inquisitive, and does not hesitate to prod superiors to take action where it might shed light and assist with his brothers’ individual plights. Their parents, still on Sark Island, confront a different kind of Nazi threat— one that is more subtle.

The next book in the series, Eagles Over Britain, is a progression from After Dunkirk as the family continues to hold together as best they can while Hermann Göring unleashes the full might of his bombers against British airfields, and “the Few” struggle against overwhelming strength to fight. They fight for king and country, not knowing that the stakes are much higher than just losing England to a tyrant.

SRP: What are you reading now and/or what good books have you read lately?

Lee: Writing this series required an enormous amount of research, but I find it rewarding. The challenge then becomes incorporating salient points into a story that is as historically accurate as possible without burdening readers with pointless detail. To that end, these are just a few of the books I’ve read in recent months researching for After Dunkirk:

Dunkirk: The Men Left Behind by Sean Longden
A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm
When the Germans Came by Duncan Barrett
A Man Called Intrepid by William Stevenson
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

SRP: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?

Lee: The American Eagle

After Dunkirk by Lee Jackson is available now. Get your copy here.

Interview with Chris Bauer: Binge Killer

Author biography:

Chris Bauer wouldn’t trade his northeast Philly upbringing of street sports played on blacktop and concrete, fistfights, brick and stone row houses, and twelve years of well-intentioned Catholic school discipline for a Philadelphia minute (think New York minute but more fickle and less forgiving).

Chris has had some lengthy stops as an adult in Michigan and Connecticut, and he thinks Pittsburgh is a great city even though some of his fictional characters do not. He still does most of his own stunts, and he once passed for Chip Douglas of My Three Sons TV fame on a Wildwood, NJ boardwalk. He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, and his work has been recognized by the National Writers Association, the Writers Room of Bucks County (PA), and the Maryland Writers Association. He likes the pie more than the turkey.


SRP: Where did you come up with the idea for Binge Killer, and what can you tell us about the plot?

Bauer: “Binge Killer came to life when I was looking for a way to showcase the growing number of vocal women who, paraphrasing Peter Finch as Howard Beale in the film Network, are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. A group of small-town female bowlers, quilters, and bingo players with similar ideals have taken to solving matters like violent crime, slow or ambivalent legal processes, and impotent politicians, into their own hands quietly and effectively, careful not to draw attention to themselves. The problem is their town is outed by a national publication as the “Safest Town in America” for its impressive no-crime record, and the anti-heroines (plus one male anti-hero), who all simply want to be left alone, find themselves in the middle of a fugitive recovery effort stemming from the town’s new notoriety. Protagonist Counsel Fungo, female bounty hunter, looks to capture a bail-jumping sexual predator with a history of aliases and identity thefts, and who is now more dangerous because he’s been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and has nothing to lose, with their chase reaching Rancor, a quiet, anonymous small town in upstate PA. The novel’s bones are from a short story I wrote years ago and submitted to local writers groups and a few select noir ezines. The peer writers loved it but the magazines didn’t pick it up. So I made some revisions to the characters when deciding to double-down by turning it into a novel, fortified by feedback from a content editor. Lots of mystery and violence, some twists, colorful language, gore, and dark humor.”

SRP: How did you choose this setting?

Bauer: “Upstate Pennsylvania in and around Scranton has a rich coal mining heritage, a surplus of bowlers, and a reputation for tough-minded residents known for being able to handle themselves. Plus it has the Pocono Mountains, utilized well here during the climax. There are abandoned coalmines, a real-life geological wonder turned tourist attraction with the word “pothole” as part of its official title (Archbald Pothole State Park is renamed in the novel, although I kept “pothole”; how could I not?). Plus it has nearby Centralia, PA, where a coal seam fire that started in a strip mine in 1962 is still burning “hotter than the planet Mercury, its atmosphere as poisonous as Saturn’s,” per David DeKok’s Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.”

SRP: What’s next for the series?

Bauer: “An unsolved murder committed in Philadelphia comes back to haunt one of the town’s inhabitants whose daughter is now an FBI special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia region. The daughter’s adult relationship with her father is strained, one, because of her suspicions about the town, and two, because this knowledge goes against everything she’s ever believed in regarding legal law enforcement. I’m still noodling on this one with no words on page yet.”

SRP: What are you working on now?

Bauer: “Working on the follow up to crime thriller Hiding Among the Dead, a second novel in what I’m calling the Blessid Trauma series, title TBD (see below). A certain female mob cleaner-fixer has skipped out on Ka Hui, the Hawai‘ian mob that resurrected itself on the US mainland in Philadelphia. Ka Hui wants her back for typical macho mob bullsh*t reasons, but also because the top mob guy is in love with her. The setting is the Hawai‘ian Islands and involves a small, storied leeward island that is privately owned by a family who purchased it in the 1860s and promised to maintain its third-world culture in perpetuity, but is struggling now to keep this promise. After WWII’s Pearl Harbor attack, when a Japanese pilot crash-landed his mayday-ing Zero there and perished a few days later, the US Navy located its early missile warning radar apparatus on the island’s tallest elevation, and this current-day relationship is a major source of the inhabitants’ income, which is supplemented by ultra-expensive shell leis crafted from special mollusks found on its beaches and nowhere else on the planet. The island’s small population and its descendants are being brutally murdered one-by-one. The murders are allegedly committed by Ka Hui, but the mob denies responsibility. Tentatively titled Her Twelve-Letter Alphabet, as a nod toward the real-life Hawai‘ian language alphabet, this crime thriller will release in 2020.

SRP: What are you reading now, and what good books have you read lately?

Bauer: “Now reading a trio of books. Wool, a post-apocalyptic thriller by Hugh Howey set in a ‘ruined and toxic future.’ Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because I was told Larson’s female characterizations are phenomenal. And a re-read of one of my favorite novels, Chance, a story about the most famous baseball shortstop of all time, even if it’s only in the mind of the storyteller, by Steve Shilstone. I love the voice of Shilstone’s character’s biographer, an ‘old weird poet.’ I have to mention Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem as one of the great books I’ve read lately even though it’s been out for a while and is soon to be a movie (11/1/19) starring Edward Norton and Bruce Willis. It showcases Lionel “Freak Show” Essrog, billed as a detective, but he’s really more of a mobster. This character had a major influence in characters I created for Binge Killer. I loved Motherless Brooklyn!


Binge Killer Synopsis

A bounty hunter and a maniacal killer come face-to-face… in a town with its own dark secret.

​Counsel Fungo is a unique woman. She’s a narcissistic bounty hunter suffering from Tourette syndrome, and she’s very good at her job. Her two canine companions are officially her therapy dogs, but unofficially she considers them to be her partners. She’s suffered intense loss and has been the victim of a horrible crime. These experiences now drive her unquenchable thirst for justice. She’ll do anything to stop criminals from preying on the vulnerable.

Randall Burton is a binge-killing rapist who has evaded the law and is not long for this earth. Just out of prison and diagnosed with a terminal disease, he’s jumped bail and decides to go out in a blaze of glory. He heads to sleepy Rancor, Pennsylvania, named one of the “Safest Towns in America,” for one last depraved hurrah. A quiet town tucked away in the Poconos, its citizens are mostly widowers, bowlers, and bingo players.

With Randall about to start his bloody killing spree, bounty hunter Counsel Fungo arrives in town, hoping she’s not too late.

But Rancor, Pennsylvania is not as ordinary as it seems.

There’s a reason it hasn’t had a major crime in the past 50 years. And neither Counsel nor the killer are ready for what this quiet town has in store…