Hi Clint, welcome to Lost Inside the Covers and thank you so much for calling my attention to your mystery/thriller Jaidee, Out of the Ashes. I needed a genre change and it was a perfect book for my lovely vacation. I haven’t had an interview on my blog before, but after reading your book I had some questions and since I had your contact information, here we are!
My first question is: Jaidee is quite a character, she is a 14 year old hooker but she is also feisty, determined, loving, quite funny and yet sad…did you have any inspiration for her creation or did she spring like Athena from your mind?
A few years ago the government did a study of prostitution (what don’t they study?) and found the average starting age was 14. They also found that over 100,000 young people (children) were at risk of being used in the “trade” in the United States. Worldwide, the number was in the millions. There wasn’t one specific person I modeled Jaidee’s character on, but several who had been through the fire and were willing to talk about it.
The idea of family, unconventional families especially, is explored pretty heavily in this book. In fact, this is one of the parts that has stuck with me the most, that family doesn’t have to be blood, but are the people that know all about you but claim you anyway. My extrapolation anyway. Did you set out to explore this theme and does it have a deeper meaning for you?
I’m glad you picked up on that, Elisa. I think family is very important and I intentionally tried to develop that theme in the story. A healthy family (you’re right, it isn’t limited to blood relations) protects and nurtures its members. An unhealthy family … Well, let’s just point out that pimps use the aura of a family to control their girls. In looking at the stories I’ve written (novels and screenplays), families often play an important role.
Las Vegas was a perfect setting for this novel, did you stick with all real areas (besides the casino being built) or did you have to fudge things a little bit to work?
I was surprised to learn there is actually a circuit of cities that are used by people in the prostitution industry, Las Vegas being just one of them. I considered setting the story in several of those cities but since I go to Vegas about four times a year for business it was easier to set the story in a place I was familiar with. And Vegas certainly has more of a “sizzle” than Billings or Phoenix. The descriptions for the most part are real. I changed the names of some of the places (have to avoid potential lawsuits!) but based them on real locations. I only had to “adjust” a couple of areas in order to fit the story.
Do you think a crane could really pick up a car like that? Holy smokes that was a breath-taking scene, and I thought your descriptions of the Stratosphere rollercoasters were nerve wracking (I am too chicken to try those out). Also, is there really a wind tunnel in Vegas like you described and have you gone in it? Have you ridden the coasters?
Until the economic downturn, Las Vegas was one of the fastest growing cities in America. Most of that growth was straight up! High rise construction became an art form and the master artists were in Las Vegas. I was always fascinated watching from ground level as condominiums and resort hotels grew into the sky. The skilled crane operators would have no difficulty handling a car the way it was done in the story.
As for the thrill rides. The wind tunnel experience is a business called Vegas Indoor Skydiving. It used to be called Flyaway. It looks like a lot of fun and is on my list of things to do. As for the Stratosphere rides, they appear to be terrifying. They are not on my list of things to do. Ever.
I am with you on the coasters! Are there current plans for Josh and his crew to have a series, or is it a stand-alone work?
I designed the book to be the first in a series. This first novel tells how the team (family) of Lyons Investigations comes together. Future stories will have them solving mysteries as we watch them grow into a more functional family. And they all have a lot of growing to do.
What genres do you enjoy reading? Do you feel you have any major influences in your work?
I worked in a library when I was in high school (I was a shelver) and learned to love all kinds of genres. If I had to narrow it down to just a couple, it would probably be thrillers and biographies. But I love all kinds of books.
As for influences, the thriller writers who have had the greatest impact on me include: Michael Crichton, Vince Flynn, John Grisham, and Michael Connelly.
Thank you so much for your talking to me today. I really appreciate it.
It was a delight, Elisa. Thanks for reading my book.