Friday, May 29, 2015

Interview with crime thriller author J. Frank James

Crime thriller author J. Frank James is here today to talk about his novel, Dead Money Run.

J. Frank James is the author of crime thriller novels. His crime fiction books are gripping and suspenseful with readers being unable to put them down once they get into them. Jim has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thriller novels, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation.
Jim’s experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. Not only that, Jim has traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thriller novels from his travels. Some of the countries that Jim has visited include Peru, Brazil, Italy, Greece and countless others. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with.
Jim's novels have the elements necessary of good crime novels that keep readers glued to the pages from start to finish. Although Jim’s crime novels are fiction works, they are exciting to read because of their authentic nature. They are written with the backing of Jim’s experience in law, so they are believable situations that have the readers wanting to find out what happens next just like they would in any crime situation.
They offer the readers just enough information to keep them guessing and trying to solve the crimes until the end of the books when they are actually revealed. Jim’s books are also fresh and unique takes on crime as well, though. They are not the same whodunit type books that have been done over and over again. By infusing his personal travels into his books, Jim creates characters and atmospheres based on just enough truth to be relatable.
Plus, Jim’s books have everything in them from robbery to prison to family. They have hard and soft elements simultaneously to really capture the life of a hardened criminal who is still very human and struggles with the same human emotions as the rest of society. At the same time, Jim gives the reader perspectives from private investigators to balance out the story.
Jim’s books even have a hit of romance when his characters come to care for each other as more than just friends. Then, crime and love mixes to create a dynamic atmosphere that is even more complicated than ever before since characters care not only for each other but for their other family members as well. Jim has an amazing way of incorporating various elements into his latest crime novels to create thrillers that readers cannot get enough of, which is perhaps why all four of his books so far carry on one from the other to continue the same story concerning the hardened criminal who did 15 years in prison, Lou Malloy and who comes to be his partner, private investigator, Hilary Kelly. The two of them go it together to create gripping stories that keep readers coming back for more.
Jim is an artist and creates all of his own book covers.

Welcome, Jim. Please tell us about your current release.
Dead Money Run is the first book in the Lou Malloy crime series:

Lou Malloy learns of his sister's death right before he is released from prison, having served 15 years for the theft of $15 million from an Indian casino. He wants two things: to keep the $15 million, which no one has been able to find, and to track down and punish whoever killed his sister.   

Lou Malloy teams up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator. In no time, Lou has found the hidden $15 million, recovered guns and ammunition hidden with the money, and murdered two low-level mobsters and fed them to the crocodiles.

As the body count rises, the story grows more complex and his sister's death becomes more mysterious.   

"Dead Money Run is a hard-boiled thriller. It is a book of short chapters and almost unrelenting excitement as Lou and Hillary Kelly avoid cops, kill mobsters, and try to unravel the mystery of who killed Lou's sister and why.” - Reviewed by Wally Wood at

“Fans of James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard are going to love James’ ingenious capers, devious characters and wry humor. The entire book goes down like a strong yet smooth shot of bourbon.” - Reviewed by

What inspired you to write this book?
One day I was at an art gallery and someone asked me if I was a writer. I have always enjoyed writing, but had never published anything. They said they were a publisher and would like to see one of my manuscripts. Not having one, my wife told me to write one and so I did. In the course of that effort, Lou Malloy was born along with Hilary Kelly.

Excerpt from Dead Money Run:

The warden was a small man, but dressed neatly. Everything about him was neat-from his hair to his shoes. He was almost too neat.
“So what are your plans, Lou?”
When I walked into the room, the warden turned over a little hour-glass full of sand. We both watched it for a few seconds and then looked at each other. This was the first time I ever met the man. What did he care about me now? Since he never cared before, I figured the man was just looking for information. Perhaps he wanted to give me a warning. I didn’t say anything.
“Do you ever think about time, Lou?”
“After fifteen years, what do you think?” I said.
He smiled and said, “Most valuable thing we have and no one seems to mourn its passing until it’s too late.”
I had nothing to say to that. Conversations with a prison warden came with a lot of maybes. While in prison I trained myself to watch a man’s hands. If he rubbed his hands in a washing motion, he was lying. If he messed with his fingernails, he wasn’t interested in the conversation. The warden was rubbing his hands as if he had touched something distasteful.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought, Warden Edwards.”
“Call me John, Lou. We’re friends now,” Edwards said while rubbing his hands in a determined kind of way.
So now we were friends. I wanted to tell him he was a liar, but my better judgment stopped me. Probably a good way to delay my release-things get lost, papers go unsigned. Things happen.
“Okay, John,” I said.
“You know, we never found the fifteen million,” he said.
“I didn’t know you were looking for it.”
I watched his eyes flicker briefly. I seemed to hit a sweet spot.
“No, Lou. You misunderstand,” he said as he caught himself. “There is a reward for the recovery of the money. Did you know that?”
Edwards said it more as a statement than a question. I said nothing and waited. Edwards shifted in his chair and started to rub his hands again.
“It would be in your best interest to tell them what you know.”
“Who’s the ‘them’ John?” I asked.
“They’re the people looking for the money.”
I thought about that for a few moments. The statement covered a lot of ground.
“Since I didn’t take the money in the first place, I don’t have anything to tell them. They need to ask the people that took it,” I said.
Edwards was smiling now and he stopped rubbing his hands.
“There are some people that think you do.”
“I can’t help what people think.”
“Ten percent,” he said.
“Ten percent of what,” I said.
“The money, Lou. Ten percent of fifteen million is a lot of money.”
“I hadn’t heard about that,” I said.
“Yeah, it seems the Indian casino had insurance. The insurance company that paid off on the claim put up a ten percent reward for the return of the money. A million five is a lot of money.”
“I hope they find it,” I said.
Edwards blinked his eyes signaling he was moving on to something else.
“Sorry to hear about your sister,” he said. “I understand they are doing all they can to find her killer.”
Edwards was a real card and running out of things to say. On any other day, in any other place, he would be dead or wishing he was.
“Thanks, John. Your words are real comforting,” I said and returned my gaze to the little hourglass and the sand as it accumulated on the bottom.
I had nothing else to say except make him happy. Make them all happy. Just one big happy group sitting around smiling at each other; happy, happy, now let’s just get the money and spread it all around and we can go on being happy. In the meantime my sister lies in a hole feeding worms. I had money on the worms being real happy. No word on how my sister felt.
Edwards looked disappointed when I didn’t add to our conversation.
“Lou, it might be a good idea for you to help them find the money. It could be a big windfall.”
Now we were getting somewhere. Just like all the rest of the treasure hunters, the miserable bastard was just in it for the money.
“Windfall for who, John? Me or you?”
As if tasting a lemon, Edwards twisted his face and, at the same time, waived his hands at an imaginary fly.
“I’m not sure what you mean, Lou. I’m just trying to give you a head start. If it was my decision, you would still be with us. Fifteen million dollars is a lot of money to lose.”
“It still is,” I said.
I sat and watched Edwards shift in his chair some more. We had nothing left to talk about. I could feel him working out in his mind how he was going to present his failure to get a lead out of me on the money.
“So, what are you going to do now?” Edwards said.
Finally, I had enough.
“Leave. Isn’t that what we all do?”
His smile vanished. He knew he was wasting his time on someone who had maxed out. He also knew he couldn’t hold me. There would be no parole violation with the threat to re-incarcerate me. No work release effort to rehabilitate me. Just a new suit made in the prison cut and sew area and a hundred bucks was the sum total of it. That probably hadn’t changed since the 30s. I wondered if Al Capone wore the suit they gave him when he got out.
We were both looking at the little hourglass of sand now. The sand had drained from the top of the glass to the bottom. Suddenly, as if being shot out of a cannon, we both stood up. Edwards stuck out his hand. I turned and left the room. I didn’t shake his hand. I didn’t want to touch him.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have just finished my eighth book in my Lou Malloy Crime Series. It is entitled “Finders, Keepers”. As is the case in all of my Lou Malloy novels, Lou is off again on an assignment by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The events are triggered by Hilary Kelly’s desire to take a vacation to Italy. When Max Reynolds from DHS learns of the planned trip, he comes and gives Lou and company an assignment to find what is called an Electromagnetic Pulse Device or EMP. This is a device that is capable of knocking out the communications in whole segments of countries making it impossible to use their banking systems, energy systems, internet and so forth. To make matters interesting this device was developed by a scientist who has been kidnapped by the tenth richest person in the world, Igor Dracka, and held on a ghost ship called the Artic Queen.

Lou’s assignment takes him to such places as Sardinia, off the coast of Italy, Iceland, South Africa and the islands in the Arctic Ocean, as he searches of the missing professor, the EMP device and missing diamonds. Yes, diamonds hidden on the Arctic Queen.

The good news for Malloy is that if he and his team can find the diamonds, he can keep them. The bad news is that a team of Israelis are looking for them as well and a team of terrorists, one from Syria and a tong from China led by a notorious outlaw called Henry Li of the deadly triad known as the Deadly Flower Triad or DFT.

I am also in the process of developing a new character for a series named Indigo Marsh. Where the Lou Malloy series is more of an action/adventure, crime series, Indigo Marsh is a pure detective ‘who-done-it’ type of series in the Phillip Marlowe-Mickey Spillane genre.

My plan is to write 20 novels in the Malloy series and 10 to 15 in the Indigo Marsh series and then I have plans to write a Christian mystery series and then a series of western novels.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I am not sure, really. I like to think of myself as a story teller who reduces his stories to writing. Calling oneself a writer covers a lot of ground. I tend to be a bit of a daydreamer and when my mind wonders I come up with plots for stories and the rest is history, as they say.

Whether or not I am a writer, I will leave to my readers to judge. My hope is that I will always be able to reduce my thoughts to words and then reduce them to a published format. I love to write and as long as I can do that, like Popeye said to Olive, ‘I ams what I am, Olive.’

Do you write full-time?
No, I do not. I am a consultant and I specialize in the field of Mergers and Acquisitions. I have been doing that for almost 20 years. However, having obtained a degree in journalism and one in advertising from the University of Florida, I figured that one day I would use the skills I learned in college. In addition, I was a reporter/photographer for a local newspaper when in school. Hence, writing is not foreign to me. Besides, I obtained a law degree and while in school was on the Law Review and published an article there as well.

As far as finding time to write, that is an easy one. I love to write and because of that, most often or not, writing finds me.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love to write at night when the house is quite and I feel like I am in a cocoon. My wife and I have a boxer named Jake and Jake likes to sleep in the room where I write and every once in a while I have to get up and give him attention. I think that’s why he comes into the room to sleep.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My father was killed in WWII and he and I never knew each other. My mother remarried a man who was little more than another man in our house. I never thought about what I was going to be or why. I was packed off to boarding school when I was 13 years old and I never returned home, so to speak, after that. So, from a practical standpoint, I never gave any thought as to a future. I was too busy trying to figure out what I was on a day to day basis. How I got to where I am today is somewhat divine intervention.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Reading a book is meant to be enjoyable. I realize that there are some writers who feel the need to make a social statement. That is not what I am about. I want to take the reader on a trip to places that are both imaginary as well as put the reader in the story.

Website | Amazon | Connect with J. Frank James on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Thanks, Jim! Happy writing!

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