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Evolved From A Pirate

J.C. Fields Author Interview

J.C. Fields Author Interview

The Fugitive’s Trail centers on the skills of Special FBI Agent Sean Kruger as he must track down a fugitive that apparently doesn’t exist. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

Dropping off the grid and disappearing has always intrigued me. How would someone do it? What skills set would a person need to accomplish such a feat? So the book started with a basic, what if.

The character of Sean Kruger was conceived in 2006 when I was involved with an online writing blog. The original character was just, Kruger. A scallywag, a nefarious individual with no moral scruples. During the blog, he became Sean Kruger. My laptop hard drive is littered with discarded stories about him. Gradually, over the years, as I developed the character, he evolved from a pirate to a person of moral integrity. And finally an FBI Agent, the character we find in the Trail series.

As the concept of a story concerning dropping off the grid started to grow, I decided it was a great venue for introducing the reincarnated version of Sean Kruger. One thing led to another and The Fugitive’s Trail was born.

JR Diminski appeared in an early draft of the story, originally conceived as a throw-away character. The more I wrote more about him, the more intriguing he became. I know it sounds weird, but as you write, some characters become more important to the story. Such was JR’s future. He is now as important to the Trail series as Kruger. After a comment by my oldest son, I am planning a standalone novel with him as the main protagonist.

Sean Kruger is an FBI agent and I felt that the daily interactions of the agency was well handled. Did you do a lot of research to maintain accuracy of the subject?

A lot of research, reading and a chance encounter with an FBI agent on a plane bound for California.

I have more experience with corporate bureaucracies than I care to discuss and the FBI is a huge bureaucracy. Looking back on my business background, it was easy to extrapolate how a huge entity like the FBI would function.

The Fugitive’s Trail is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a crime, drama, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

A passion for reading was a gift from my mother. Authors like, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Daniel Silva, David Baldacci, James Rollins, Lee Child, Frederick Forsyth, Craig Johnson, Ben Coes, and numerous Indie Authors were consumed before I started The Fugitive’s Trail. The adage of ‘write what you enjoy’ is how I approach novels. As you can see from the books I read, my influences include various genres.

I don’t outline, but I know where I want to start and I have a general idea of where I want to finish. The exciting part of the journey is the middle. So, to answer your question, it happens organically.

I have zero qualms about cutting wholesale sections of a manuscript if it stops working. The Fugitive’s Trail took five years to write. But during those years, I learned a lot from numerous starts and stops encountered along the path. The original manuscript is nothing like the final book.

A good editor is essential to a good novel. I was lucky, I found a good editor. It also helps to have an active critique group.

This is the first book in the Sean Kruger series. Where will book two take Sean Kruger?

Book two of the series will find Kruger pursuing homegrown terrorist. A third novel, planned for a summer 2017 release, will feature Kruger confronting the return of a serial killer introduced in my short story titled “The Forgotten Brother Affair.” This story is available for free on my website.

The original plan was to write a trilogy, but a fourth novel, with Sean Kruger as the protagonist, has over 40,000 words in a first draft. I am not sure about the title at this stage, I haven’t decided if it will be a “Trail” book or not.

I am striving to write distinctly different books with each installment. So many authors write the same book over and over and after a while it gets boring. My goal is to keep from going down this path. If I do, the Trail series will conclude.

For now, I have a few more Kruger stories up my sleeve.

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The Fugitive's Trail (Sean Kruger, #1)

In the lobby of a prestigious Wall Street investment firm, one man is dead and another seriously injured. The man accused of the crime now a fugitive.

When the Director of the FBI personally orders Special Agent Sean Kruger to New York City to find the fugitive, Kruger questions the reason. Told to shut up and do his job, he starts looking into the case. What he finds is troubling. Eye-witness accounts seem contrived with little variance between individual testimonies. The more he hears, the more he feels someone is manipulating the story.

As the investigation unfolds, he discovers the only information known about the fugitive is a HR file from a former employer. Public records of the man do not exist.

The fugitive is a ghost. A ghost who has disappeared.

When Kruger unearths information the investment firm lied about the incident in the lobby, he learns there is a possibility the fugitive was defending himself. He also discovers another individual is searching for the fugitive. An individual who has no interest in allowing the truth to be discovered.

When the cat and mouse game turns lethal, Kruger must use all of his skills and experience to find the truth, protect the fugitive, and ultimately stay alive.

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Finding and Convicting the Killer

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

The Tenth Nail revolves around a homicide detective Nate and his new partner Manuel as they work together to solve the murder of a beautiful young woman. Where did the idea for this novel come from? 

I spent several years in law enforcement both as a civilian and military. I carry a deep pride and love for the officers of today and respect what they have to survive. Much of that challenge is to survive the emotional impact of witnessing just how ugly and cruel people can be to each other, day after day. I don’t think the story of the true impact this has on officers has ever been told. Over my years in law enforcement I witnessed too many officers die emotionally. This death could be seen through sexual affairs, abusive drinking, physical violence, reckless behaviors, and even stealing. A quick tally to illustrate this is I knew five officers who died while “on the job.” Two of them died in the line of duty, and three of them died by their own hand. The Tenth Nail is an attempt to introduce the stress of being a cop to those who don’t know.

One of my primary goals when I write a story is to get the reader emotionally involved. Via, the victim of this book is introduced as a common street walking prostitute. A kind of victim that is easily forgotten relatively quickly in our society. In these days of limited budgets and overstretched manpower, she represents the kind of crime that is soon to be a cold crime if not solved in the first few days. Nate, the lead detective assigned to the case, shares a private moment with the dead girl and due to a shared injury promises her he will bring her killer to account for her death. This sets up conflict from many directions. The fact is, if it’s not another girl, who killed her, or her pimp, the odds of finding and convicting the killer of a prostitute is difficult, at best.  The department wants Nate to shelve the case to free him to handle cases with a higher possibility of solvability. Manny, Nate’s new partner, and new to homicide, wonders if he should request another training officer. The more he is pushed to release the case, the more resistant Nate becomes.  He refuses to break the promise he made to the dead girl.

The Tenth Nail is a edgy crime novel that throws readers right into the action with a murder in the first pages. How did you balance mystery with answers with crazy twists?  

I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and I was determined to solve the case before the “great detective.” My mother and I watched hours of Raymond Burr as Perry Mason and we discussed the cases as the show progressed. To balance the mystery without giving the story away to soon requires work. Truthfully, I hope I got the job done.

Detectives Nate and Manny are entertaining and intriguing characters that I felt were well developed. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?

Nate and Manny are combinations of several police officers I have known over the years. I admit that both carry a little bit of me in them, as I have been in both positions as senior and junior partner.  I wanted officers (in all cases) who represented more than just the stereotype of cops. I also expected the same from the other characters. One of my favorite scenes is when Manny arrives home after a day much too long and he is still adjusting to his first murder, his first victim, his first expose to Nate and all the rest. Selma, his heavily pregnant wife allows him to lay his head on her lap and stretch out on the sofa.  When he kicks off his shoes, she scolds him for wearing socks with a hole in the toe. To me, that is the center of the Tenth Nail, trying to balance extreme violence with complete love.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

My next book is called Dead Men Walking and it is a continuation of the story of Nate and Clare. Several of the characters from The Tenth Nail will return though the are many new ones as well. The plan is to release the book by early summer.

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The Tenth Nail by [Griffeth, Kwen]“Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.
Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.

The big detective looked over the body, careful not to touch or disturb her. He had one of the best crime scene technicians, Winston Rawls, and he did not want to make his job harder.”

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