JJ Cooper's novel, The Interrogator, will be published in 2009. This exciting thriller about a military interrogator who knows too much was, amazingly, JJ's first novel. He very kindly agreed to this interview:
1. Could you tell us a bit about your book, The Interrogator, please?
I like to think of it as an ‘Aussie fast-paced thriller’. I’ve converted my experiences as an interrogator into a work of fiction.
Here’s the short synopsis – THE INTERROGATOR is a story of betrayal and nightmarish conspiracy firmly rooted in the highest levels of government across international alliances. Jay Ryan is an interrogator with a dark past and a tortured soul; he’s also the keeper of secrets Israeli spies will kill to get their hands upon. Renowned for his skills, he is used to commanding a certain level of respect amongst his peers. Then one day Jay is drugged, tortured, tattooed and accused of rape. He is forced to reveal information that could further destabilise fragile Middle East relations and plunge the entire region into war. The story rockets toward a shattering finale that will leave the survivors changed forever.
2. Did you write with a particular audience in mind or mainly to please yourself?
I started out with the goal of just writing a novel. After seventeen adrenaline-filled years with the military, I needed a creative outlet and I found it in my writing. So, it started out for me and what I enjoyed reading – thrillers. It certainly ended up an ideal read for thriller and/or crime fiction readers.
3. What is your writing process?
I have a full-time job, so my writing time is limited to evenings. Maybe a couple of hours of a night. Generally, I write ten chapters (around 15,000 words) then edit. This process helps me to identify areas to strengthen the plot and look at sub-plot elements as I go. It allows me to check the flow and ensure the right characters are doing the right things. Mostly, it helps me to review and strengthen the writing early.
I don’t outline. I stick to a linear type of story that I find allows me create a realistic plot following a logical sequence of events as seen through the eyes of my main character. So, there’s no author intrusion and readers discover the twists and turns as my main character does. My writing is third person point of view in past tense. These are the stories I like to read and I enjoy writing in this method.
4. What are you doing to market your book?
Thankfully, my publisher, Random House Australia, have plenty of experience in the marketing and publicity area. I also believe authors should be active in promoting their books. All of my marketing at the moment has been online. I’m active on local and international writing-related forums, have a blog (website coming soon), am a debut author of International Thriller Writers, have a group page and own page on Facebook and am active on several other sites. It’s a tough balance because I have limited time for writing and maintaining an active presence on all of these sites. But, I see it as necessary and at the moment I’m maintaining a balance.
As I move closer to publication, I’ll be working with the Random House marketing and publicity department in planning on whatever is needed of me to promote my novel.
5. Do you find that internet marketing is helpful? I noticed that you've joined Facebook and International Crime Writers?
Certainly. It’s exposure to an audience that you may not reach through other means – a global audience. Because of the internet and online promotional activities, I’ve met writers, readers, agents and editors throughout the world who all share a passion for writing. Even if it doesn’t convert to sales, it still allows for a wonderful exchange of information with other like-minded individuals.
6. Finally, what tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Stay determined. Start with goals that lead to your dreams and believe that you can do it. If you believe you will never be published – you won’t. Beliefs drive thinking, actions and results. Accept constructive criticism and use it to improve.
(I couldn't resist that title - sorry!