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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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The Front Line of Crime

Author Interview with Ian Patrick

Plain Dealing is a suspense novel about a group of cops in South Africa that are caught executing criminals and then must try to cover it up. This is the third book in the The Ryder Quartet series. What is the central theme that you have tried to carry through all four books?

The central theme I have pursued through the four books is about crime, justice and morality: at what point do the police (and many readers) eschew morality for the sake of retribution? What is the tipping point for officers of the law when the institutions of law and justice are unable to contain heinous crime?

The story takes place in South Africa. I enjoyed the detail of that backdrop, it seemed more exotic than most urban cities. What was the decision for that setting?

The decision for the setting of the four books in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, is that many people consider this area to be the crime capital of the world (with the dubious distinction, in recent years, of having the highest murder rate for a country not at war).

Plain Dealing addresses the emotional and ethical choices that law enforcement officials handle on a daily basis. Were there any elements in the story that you pulled from real life, or was it all just fiction?

Although the books are fiction, almost every single crime depicted in the books has its counterpart in real life. Thorough research was undertaken, including tours to the front line of crime and discussions with forensics experts, detectives, and victims of crime. Almost every crime scene was personally visited by me in order to check on the veracity of the physical descriptions.

In the story, six cops execute some criminals and Detective Jeremy Ryder must try to stop them. What was your inspiration for Jeremy Ryders character and his approach to solving crimes?

My inspiration for the character of Jeremy Ryder was multifaceted. My father was a police detective. I have interviewed many detectives. And I have been influenced over many years by characters that I have enjoyed in literature. There is in Jeremy Ryder a little of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character, a little of my father, a little of my wife, a little – I suppose – of myself. But he is in essence entirely a character of fiction. I took great care to ensure that he is not guilty of typical macho or even misogynist behavior. One way I have tried to do this is to depict his wife and other women in the stories as strong, perceptive, and original thinkers and women of action.

The Ryder Quartet is a collection of 4 books. Death Dealing being the last one out. Do you see a chance to continue the story in a different storyline or are you working on a completely new novel?

I am currently working on a fifth novel that is set in the same location. This one is based around one of the characters that we meet in the quartet, but it will not involve Ryder and his companions. I will, though, return to Ryder and his colleagues in a future work. He is now under my skin and I think of him daily.

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Plain DealingAfter midnight on a moonlit beach six policemen led by a top detective execute four criminals who have perpetrated the most heinous rape, mutilation and murder of a young woman. The police are unaware that there is a witness to the executions. The action that follows is set against dubious tactical, ethical and sometimes criminal choices faced by the central characters. The reader is left with a stark image of moral ambiguity as the police struggle to maintain courageous and precarious control of the crime that engulfs them, and the work of ‘plain dealing’ cops comes under scrutiny.

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