The Next Challenge Is Right Now

Author Interview Chris K. Jones

Headcase Book 1: Shock & Denial follows an elite sports psychologist whose gambling addiction entangles him with a dangerous crime boss. What was the inspiration for your story?

I’ve always been an avid sports fan and was once a competitive athlete. I competed in Judo for twenty years until my 40s and played and coached soccer. I am in my 50s now, so I mainly compete against myself by setting endurance goals to keep up my fitness. What I always loved about athletics wasn’t just the physical part but the psychological side.

I wasn’t the fastest, the strongest, or the biggest Judoka, but years of meditation and mindfulness practices from my Buddist teachers helped me stay calm when I stepped on the mat. I got really good at seeing tells in my opponents when they were nervous. I also used my meditation practice to put myself into a “flow” state. This heightened awareness helped me capitalize on my opponent’s mistakes and find my “perfect throw.” I  was so focused and acting rather than thinking that I didn’t realize what technique I was using. I had to look at the video to see what throw I used to win the match. On the other hand, it was often a mental mistake rather than a physical one when I lost. I wasn’t mentally ready, or I got distracted, or I was thinking rather than acting.

I’ve always had a fascination with failure in athletics. How do elite athletes recover from an epic failure when their fame, fortune, and complete sense of being are on the line? They seek a sports phycologist to help them work through their issues and get back to performing. But as a writer, my favorite question is “what if?” So…what if the sports phycologist had more emotional issues than the athletes he treats? From that thought, Dr. Andrew Beck was conceived.

Dr. Beck appears to have it all together, but readers soon find out about his traumatic past. What inspired your character’s development?

It was interesting that Dr. Andrew Beck could diagnose and treat athletes with significant emotional issues yet be blind to or compartmentalize his issues. As Andrew’s issues emerge, we see the wreckage he creates in his life every time he tries to cover up his mistakes or fails to deal with the issues from his traumatic childhood. He always thinks he is the smartest guy in the room, until he meets Fergus. His hubris gets him in big trouble.

What were some important themes for you to explore in this book?

The overall theme of Headcase is if you don’t discover your demons, they will destroy you. And it doesn’t matter if you are a rich and famous athlete; your demons will emerge and wreck your life.

I’m constantly appalled at the lack of empathy for pro athletes who are courageous enough to go public about their mental health issues. During my research, I came across a study that showed that pro basketball players experience the same anxiety levels as men and women on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lack of care for their well-being from some fans and teams really disturbs me. Many athletes had horrific childhoods and came from low-income families, and now that they have resources, the pressure to keep “earning” so they can take care of their families is extreme. The average pro athlete’s career is four years or less. So you need to earn a lifetime of income in just a few years. So part of my objective with Headcase, besides writing an entertaining novel, was to expose the dark side of sports and show readers that athletes have real issues too, just like you and me. Wealth can solve some problems, but deep emotional scars and traumas need therapy and support, not the “rub some dirt on it and toughen up” approach of people who have never competed at an elite level.

What is the next book about, and when will it be available?

I’m working on the second book in the Headcase series as we speak. I’ve finished the outline, and I’m ready to write scenes. I learned a lot of valuable lessons about my writing process while writing my first book in Barbados. That was a wonderful experience. It was inspiring to peer over my laptop to look at the turquoise sea 50 feet away from my desk. Every once in a while, a turtle would pop its head up to breathe the salty, cool breeze. Now, I’m back in Tarrytown, New York, and my view from my window is the mighty Hudson River which is also inspiring. Being around water centers me and helps me find my creative flow state.

I’ve received such wonderful and supportive notes from my readers asking me when Book 2 will be ready. I’ve also received a 5-star review and Golden Book Award from Literary Titan, so I’m feeling a little pressure to finish my next book and make it better. But I like the challenge! I’ve developed good habits from a lifetime of athletics and a career as a serial entrepreneur. I love to set goals and push myself to achieve them. I kept myself accountable by keeping a timesheet. It took me 714.5 hours to write Book 1. For Book 2, I hope to learn from my mistakes and finish Book 2 by the fall of this year. Winning the Golden Book Award from Literary Titan has been a wonderful experience and boosted my confidence. However, even when you win the big game, you still have to go to practice tomorrow. Celebrate and enjoy your victory, and then get back to work. The next challenge is right now.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Dr. Andrew Beck is the go-to sports psychologist for troubled pro athletes. There isn’t a head he can’t fix—except his own.

Whether it’s a violent hockey pro, reckless power forward, or drug-addicted major league pitcher, Andrew’s therapeutic strategies get players out of their heads and back to their winning ways. His status, wealth, and privilege afford him box seats for every game, flying private, an office overlooking Central Park, sports cars, country clubs and a Greenwich mansion. Andrew and his brilliant PR executive wife, Sandra, enjoy a life most would envy.

But Andrew has demons of his own.

A former golf prodigy and the son of a Masters Golf Champion, he knows firsthand the stress of topflight competition. Ted Beck taught Andrew everything he knows about being the best, but his father’s emotional and physical abuse pushed him past a breaking point. At 18, as the country’s top amateur, he walked away from golf to pursue psychology. The father and son bond was destroyed.

But while Beck quit the game long ago, the game won’t quit him.

Years later, the drive to win at all costs still burns deep in his soul. He gets entangled in the world of illegal high-stakes gambling—and a dangerous relationship with Fergus Mackenzie, a ruthless operator of an underground club that caters to the vices of the ultra-wealthy.

Andrew uses his insider access to athletes in a wager which leads down a path of blackmail, a mysterious murder, and life-or-death bluffing.

With his livelihood, marriage, and life on the line, Andrew finds himself playing the ultimate mind game and risks losing everything.

And now the only way out is ALL-IN.

Posted on May 16, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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