Our interview today is with Ethan Jones author of Artic Wargame (thriller, 4.0 stars, 29 reviews). Before we get to the interview a brief book description: Canadian Intelligence Service Agent Justin Hall–combat-hardened in operations throughout Northern Africa–has been demoted after a botched mission in Libya. When two foreign icebreakers appear in Canadian Arctic waters, Justin volunteers for the reconnaissance mission, eager to return to the field. His team discovers a foreign weapons cache deep in the Arctic, but they are not aware that a spy has infiltrated the Department of National Defence.
The team begins to unravel a treasonous plan against Canada, but they fall under attack from one of their own. Disarmed and stripped of their survival gear, they are stranded in a remote location. Now the team must race against time not only to save themselves, but their country. Artic Wargame is an action-packed spy thriller in the bestselling tradition of Portrait of a Spy, Rules of Betrayal and The Bourne Identity. Readers will enjoy a great tale of courage, fear and betrayal.
Interview with Ethan Jones
1. Who is Ethan Jones?
I’m a lawyer by trade, working on international trade and investment-related matters. I live in Canada, with my wife and my son.
2. Your first spy thriller, Artic Wargame, came out in May and your second book, Tripoli’s Target, comes out on October 9. Tell us a bit about these stories.
Artic Wargame is the first book in Justin Hall series. Justin has been demoted because of a botched rescue operation in Libya, which was not his fault. Now he’s a desk jockey. Eager to return to field work, he volunteers for a reconnaissance mission, when two foreign icebreakers appear in Canadian Arctic waters. His team discovers a weapons stash, along with a plan that threatens Canada’s security. At the same time, the team falls under attack by one of their own and is stranded helpless in the Arctic. It is now a race against time for Justin and his team to save themselves and their country.
Tripoli’s Target is the second book in Justin Hall series. Justin and his partner, Carrie O’Connor, are sent to meet with the Sheikh of the largest terrorist network in Northern Africa, to receive some high-value intelligence. They learn about an assassination plot against the US president, which is to happen during a G-20 summit in Tripoli, Libya. Justin and Carrie inform the US Secret Service about this plot. Then, new intelligence comes in, and they realize something is very, very wrong in their plan. Against all odds, they must stop the assassination before the summit forty-eight hours away.
3. What’s the background of these novels?
I wrote Arctic Wargame in 2008-2009. When I started, it was just before the global crisis, when the oil prices were skyrocketing. There was a lot of talk about discovering new resources, mainly in the Arctic, since that’s the last unexplored frontier. Newspapers were buzzing with plans of the Arctic powers to militarize the region and to claim these riches for themselves. I set up my story against this background, imagining a scenario when one of these Arctic powers would go beyond tough rhetoric and actually begin armed actions on the ground.
I wrote Tripoli’s Target in 2009-2011. The Arab Spring had not started yet, and this area of the world had received little attention in numerous spy thrillers, which focused mostly on Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran. The “mad dog of the Middle East,” Qaddafi, was still alive and in very good terms with the Americans. The US Secretary of State Rice visited Tripoli and met with Qaddafi in 2008. I imagined someone in the terrorist networks may not like this coziness and may try to derail their improved relations. I had to change my storyline a lot as a result of the events taking place in 2011, with Qaddafi dethroned and then killed.
4. How did it happen that you became a writer?
I have always liked to read and I tried my hand at writing when I was 13-14. I would read a story or watch a movie and then go to write how I wanted the story or the movie to continue. Then life happened. After finishing law school, I also continued my graduate studies and got a Master of Laws degree. As a part of my degree, I had to write a 150-page thesis. The process of research, writing, rewriting and editing inspired me to return to my childhood passion. I was blessed with time and I learned things as I wrote.
5. How do you write? Outline or no outline?
I wrote Arctic Wargame and Tripoli’s Target without an outline. I just planned the main storyline in my mind and went on writing. There were a couple of places where I really stumbled and had to think hard to come out with ideas and solutions. I have a somewhat flexible outline for Fog of War.
6. What part of writing do you struggle with?
I usually struggled with the middle. I establish the beginning of the plot quite easily, but then after the first fifty or so pages, I need to ensure the story doesn’t become boring. I love dialogue, as it gives the characters the opportunity to talk directly to the reader. Descriptions sometime are hard, since most of my stories are set in exotic and remote locals, for which I need to paint a clear picture to the reader but with only a few strokes.
7. What kind of research do you do for your stories?
I do extensive research, since that’s necessary for the spy thrillers. The setting of the locals needs to be true and factual. The same about weaponry, gadgets and other equipment used by the characters. I learn about the geo-politics of a certain region, the main players and the relations between the different countries. I explore the background of current and past developments in that area, so that the storylines I create do not appear in a vacuum and do not come across as contrived.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on Fog of War, the third book in Justin Hall series. This time, Justin infiltrates some of the most dangerous spots in the planet. Iran, Somalia and Yemen, the hotbeds of terrorism in the making. Fog of War will come out in spring of 2013.
9. What is your advice to new writers?
I learned as I wrote, so my advice is to begin writing and learn as you go.
Read a lot of books in the genre where you are writing or thinking of writing, so you can see what works and what doesn’t for other authors. Learn from them, how they create their storylines, their plots, their chapters.
Be patient and keep writing. Eventually, you’ll have something good.
10. Where can your readers contact you?
I would love the readers’ feedback. They can get in touch with my via e-mail at this address: email@example.com I promise to write to each and every one of them.
My blog – http://ethanjonesbooks.wordpress.com – is the place to learn about my future works, to enjoy exclusive book reviews and author interviews.
I’m also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ethan-Jones/329693267050697
Follow me on Twitter: @EthanJonesBooks
Thanks for this opportunity. I truly appreciate it.
See Artic Wargame on Amazon.