Jack Connor's lives an idyllic life by the Portsmouth seaside married to Caitlin McAllen, a stunning billionaire heiress, and working at his two jobs as the Head of Radar Engineering of Marine Electronics and as the Director of Engineering of McAllen BlackGold, his powerful father-in-law Douglas McAllen's extreme engineering company in Oil & Gas. He loves his two sons from his first marriage and is amicably divorced from his beautiful first wife Marianne Connor. Their delicately balanced lives are shattered when sexy Michelle Williams, with whom Jack is having a secret affair and who is pregnant with his child, is found dead and Jack is arrested on suspicion for the murder.
Jeremy Stone brings London's top defence attorney, Harry Stavers, to handle his best friend's defence.
While Jack is charged and his murder trial proceeds in the Crown Court under barrister Harry Stavers’ expert care, Jeremy runs a race against time to find the real killer and save his friend's life, if he is in fact innocent, in a tense tale of love, power, and ambition. (synoposis from Jac Wright website) http://jacwrightbooks.wix.com/jacwright#!books/cnec
In the classic scenario of good guy turned sleuth out of necessity, Jeremy is held in my highest esteem. He is an appealing character who is smart and honest but still underhanded enough to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Much attention is given by the author to details along with an in depth look at each character which really piques the readers interest. Just when you think you've got it figured out you are thrown a curve ball and array of possibilities that open up to make the story an intriguing and entertaining one.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have loved English literature since I my mother enrolled me in weekend Speech & Drama classes when I was 3 years old. My mother had this rack full of books like The Pickwick papers, The Tale of Two Cities, Lorna Doone, The Animal Farm etc. stacked on it along with piles of Readers’ Digests. My mother used to read to me from them when I was too young to read; and soon I was reading them myself. That sparked my interest as a reader and a spectator very early.
I started writing seriously when I took my Freshman English during the first year at Stanford, and then I kept writing over the years. I first thought about presenting my work for publication only from about 2007.
How long does it take you to write a book?
With all my other life commitments a full-length book takes about a year to write, and then it goes through a couple of months of editing with the publisher during the publishing process. I write in spells. There might be a spell of several weeks when I do not write, and suddenly a spell I write avidly.
What do you think makes a great story?
I love suspense. I like to combine it with thrilling action that requires my heroes and heroines to be firstly very resourceful and secondly, cerebral. And I love the big unexpected twist. I grew up watching Tales of the Unexpected featuring Roald Dahl’s work, and Mission Impossible, Perry Mason, and MacGyver. I also loved reading Dhal, Agatha Christie, and Earl Stanley Gardner alongside my classics – Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Dickens, Somerset Maugham, .
My stories are character-centric. In true Virginia Woolf fashion I figure out the character’s primary psychological need and I keep him or her true to that psychology. So they are not all good or all bad. My heroes have faults and do wrong things sometimes, and my villains do good things; but they all remain true to their psychology and struggle against it because of demands from other characters and from their own conscience.
And then I love to build a world for them even if that is a little corner of the contemporary world that we live in.
Suspense, action, characters in an interesting setting – that’s a great story.
What inspired you to write the book(s)?
I got the idea for my short story, The Closet, in 2007. I was already well into my poetry collection, Shades of Love, and the idea and the image of someone trapped in a closet listening to one he loves passionately planning his murder just came to me. I knew I wanted it to be a short story that explores him having to grapple with the conflicting emotions of horror, fear, love, desire, and sadness alongside the instinct for survival in a short, intense period of time.
For The Reckless Engineer, I first knew the setting: I knew I wanted to set the story in Portsmouth because the first stories I loved were Dickens’ stories that my mother read to me. And so I took the steps to move to Portsmouth. I try to do justice to the beautiful seaside town that is the birthplace of Charles Dickens. I explore the city’s industries, the beautiful beaches, the hospital, the pubs, and so on in some detail.
I also knew that the series was going to be a series around a cerebral and resourceful engineer that is something like a cross between MacGyver and Barney from Mission Impossible series. I modelled the hero after my own personality. I built two “Dickensian” characters purely to honour the great author - the bumbling solicitor Magnus Laird, and the character I am developing as the hero Jeremy Aiden Stone’s sidekick, the gay and black London West End actor, Otter.
I built the plot around the troubles that a brilliant and charismatic guy (the character Jack Connor) can get into whose character fault is that he is weak in love, someone like John F. Kennedy. Then I built the characters of the four very different women who are in his life who pull him in different directions. He doesn’t know what he wants and changes his mind at different times. I then built the plot from the troubles arising from this very intense conflict.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have two stories published, The Closet and The Reckless Engineer. I also have my collection of poetry published in literary magazines.
Two more – The Bank Job and Buy, Sell, Murder – are half written. I have started the fifth, In Plain Sight, with just the plot and the main characters designed and only the first chapter written.
I have a hunch that In Plain Sight is going to be my favourite.
What was your favorite part of the book(s)?
I was a student of drama for over a decade and hence I like dramatic scene setting. I just love the dramatic scene in chapter 15 of The Reckless Engineer in the Sitting Room of the McAllen Mansion. The billionaire McAllens are the family of Jack Connor’s wife and the scene is set in his house while he is still in custody. The scene ends with the unexpected news of Jack Connor’s fate.
I can see the scene in my mind like a stage production. Everybody has secrets and troubles they are hiding and all is not what it seems.
What was the hardest part to write in the book? (The Reckless Engineer)
I hit spells of writers’ block and I do a few things when I hit them. I hit one just before the scene I described above. One thing I do is I set the manuscript aside and read a good book. I read two Agatha Christie books at this point – At Bertram’s Hotel and Cards on the Table. And then when I returned to my writing after about a week I decided it was time to bring Jack Connor home. I had kept him in custody until this point.
I reached a second, nasty block when I needed to write the scenes with Jeremy in a Portsmouth seaside hotel, The Royal Atlantic, in The Reckless Engineer. This time I knew the plot, but the prose was not coming out right. I had moved out of Portsmouth by then. I took 3 days off and checked into The Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea. I did the same, volunteer at a back-stage to help a friend at the Gielgud theatre to write the scene in it.
When I do this I don’t write while I am there. I just immerse myself into the environment and absorb the people, the sense, the sounds and the views. I might take some photos. And then I come out of the scene do something entirely different for about a week, let it work in the back of my mind. Then when I sit down to write again the words just flow naturally.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
The Reckless Engineer:
“Love is a battlefield. The aftershocks of an affair reverberate out to those in the lives of the lovers, who will NOT take it lying down.”
Do you have a favorite place you love to write?
I like a one room space with my desk next to a king size bed, something like Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sex and the City) apartment. I like a PC and a laptop and sometimes I like to write at the desk and at other times I like to move to my bed. And I love to have kittens or puppies around vying for my attention and a beautiful scene out the window.
How hard is it to get published?
It wasn’t very hard to get a publisher, but the process is long and drawn out. The essence of the book remains the same as the initial transcript, but it transforms and grows in detail. I got responses from 6 publishing houses for the first rounds of The Reckless Engineer transcripts I sent out and I selected the best.
What do your family and friends think about your books?
Ah, they are very proud. I am a little shy about the books with my parents because there are mild romantic scenes in my books; and my parents are very conservative and don’t generally speak of such things in public.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Engineering – electronics and computer science. I am a specialist in Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence. I love to read. I also try to get out of the house and take a run.
Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
Patricia Highsmith, Ian Rankin, Benjamin Black, and Michael Connelly out of the contemporary lot.
Who designed the cover of your book?
I designed the one for my short fiction book. The publisher, Soul Mate Publishing designed the cover for The Reckless Engineer base on my write-up of my concept. Oh, they got it amazingly right beyond expectation, a cover in gold.
If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters? Feel free to add pictures.
Daniel Craig would be perfect to play the series lead, Jeremy Aiden Stone, though he would have to look 38 years old.
Desmond Harrington could play the mess that is Jack Connor really well though he would have to be made up with a darker look.
Jessica Biel had the right looks for Caitlin McAllen-Connor, Jack Connor’s wife, with a shorter haircut; and she would have to play the character a stronger personality than she is used to.
I’d love Michael Hall to play Gavin Hunter.
Jeremy Irons for Douglas McAllen, Caitlin’s father.
Where can your readers stalk you?
My web site or Facebook page.
My blog: http://mysteriescrimethrillers.blogspot.co.uk/
My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jacwrightbooks