Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Jack Daniels Novel Q & A with Jude Hardin

The first Jack Daniels novel in four years, LADY 52, is now available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99.

What do Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels and private investigator Nicholas Colt have in common? 

Billiards, bourbon, bad jokes… 

And murder. Several, in fact. 

A homeless woman’s remains are found near Chicago twenty-six years after she disappeared. Her daughter—now retired in Florida—suspects foul play, and she hires Colt to fly up there and check it out. 

A prominent Chicago physician is slain outside a convenience store, horribly mutilated. A senseless street killing? A robbery gone wrong? Or something much worse?

As the homicide cases and those involved converge, it quickly becomes apparent that Jack Daniels and Nicholas Colt are in for the most challenging—and deadly—time of their lives. 

Filled with humor, suspense, and mystery, LADY 52 is sure to satisfy longtime Daniels and Colt fans, and is a perfect introduction to both series. It's approximately 250 pages long. 

Q: Why the collaboration? Why now?

Jude: When Joe started talking about franchising the characters from his Jack
Daniels series, I knew it was something I wanted to try. I’ve been a fan since WHISKEY SOUR, the first book in the series, came out in 2003. I started thinking that Jack and my PI character Nicholas Colt might make an interesting team, so I started putting together some scenes for them. I think it worked out pretty well.

Joe: Jude was one of my first blog commenters, way back in 2005. When he wrote his first novel, POCKET 47, I read it and enjoyed it. Very much in the Robert B. Parker/Robert Crais school of action, mystery, and humor. When we did the Colt/Daniels short RACKED, our styles blended very well, our characters had chemistry, and the fans liked it. Doing a novel was a no-brainer.

Q: There’s violence in LADY 52, yet there are moments of hilarity as well. Why mix the two?

Jude: Joe was one of the first authors to do that kind of thing with mainstream thrillers, and I wanted to try to match the tone of the previous books in his series. Plus, Colt has always had his own brand of humor, and I tried to maintain some of that as well. 

Humor’s tough, because you never really know what’s going to work and what isn’t. But if I’m amusing myself along the way, I figure I might be on the right track.

Joe: I laughed at a lot of Jude's jokes, and he's told me he's laughed at mine, so I think we found a good balance.

I really try to make the reader experience as many emotions as possible in a book. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them nervous, make them frightened, turn them on. Fiction is an entertaining way to give the limbic system a vicarious work-out.

Q: There’s a hot sex scene in LADY 52, in a car no less. Why include something like that in a thriller?

Jude: Well, like our friend Ann Voss Peterson says, a sex scene in a novel should really be about emotion. Sometimes the emotion might be love, but often it’s fear. It’s about adding to your characters’ challenges and vulnerabilities, taking them into an intimate moment and ideally revealing an emotional side of them that the reader wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

Joe: I didn't write my first explicit sex scene until the sixth Jack Daniels book, CHERRY BOMB, and I really thought it added to the book. The Codename: Chandler series I write with Ann (three novels, three novellas) have a lot of sex in them. Along with revealing character, I think a well-written love scene is just plain fun, like snappy dialog or a cool fist fight. Which is why I write erotica under the name Melinda DuChamp.

This sex scene, however, was all Jude. I think maybe I added a comma.

Q: There are a couple of major twists near the end, some things most readers probably won’t see coming. How did those come about?

Jude: I don’t want to reveal too much, so I’ll just say that a good mystery usually involves a backstory that remains offstage for most of the book. It’s that backstory that sets the wheels in motion and motivates the characters to do what they do. I never outline, so some of the plot elements were a surprise to me as I composed them. That’s a good thing, I think. If I can surprise myself, maybe I can surprise the reader as well.

Joe: Jude came up with a really fun plot that seems to be going in a certain direction, then takes a 180 degree turn. But it is a mystery, and the clues are there for readers to solve it before Colt and Daniels do.

Q: How many books does Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels appear in? Nicholas Colt?

Jude: LADY 52 is the eighth novel featuring private investigator Nicholas Colt. He’s a world-class guitarist who gave up on music when his wife and daughter and all the members of his band died in a plane crash. He was the sole survivor, so he carries that weight around along with everything else. LADY 52 is brand new, but in the Nicholas Colt universe the events in the book occur between those in my novels COLT and POCKET-47. So while it’s the eighth Nicholas Colt book I’ve written, chronologically it’s book #2 in the series.

Joe: This is Jack's tenth novel, and it fits in between BLOODY MARY and RUSTY NAIL.

Q: So how did the collaboration process work?

Joe: It was a breeze for me. Jude knocked out the first draft, and then I fleshed out the main bad guy and some of the mystery elements, added a few scenes and jokes, and tweaked my characters. Jude did a good job writing Jack and company, so it was fun to build off of his framework. It's a 60k word book, and probably 15k-20k of it is mine. So I got off easy. :)

I think anyone who is a Nicholas Colt fan will enjoy this, and anyone who is a Jack Daniels fan will enjoy this. It's a fun merger of their respective universes, and hopefully our fans will cross-pollenate and buy more of our books. Readers who like SNUFF TAG 9 will like FUZZY NAVEL, and vice-versa.

I also wrote many lines, and a whole scene, in Colt's POV. Jude will have to comment on how I did, there.

Jude: Joe has a lot more experience with collaborations than I do, and he’s written at least twice as many novels, so I pretty much let him take the reins once I turned in the first draft. I was really impressed when I read his approach to Nicholas Colt and some of the other characters I created. The goal is for everything to be seamless, and he nailed it! As for the actual mechanics of working together, we passed the manuscript back and forth via DropBox, and we addressed any questions and concerns through email. He changed some of my stuff here and there, and I changed some of his, and we bounced ideas back and forth until we were both happy with what we had.

Q: Will you collaborate again?

Joe: My schedule is crazy busy… I sat on LADY 52 for more than three months before I could find the time to work on it. But I'd work with Jude again in a heartbeat.

Jude: Writing a novel is a lot different than, say, writing a TV show, in that it’s generally a solitary affair, so it was a pleasure to work with another author for a change, especially a seasoned professional like Joe. I had a lot of fun with it, and I would absolutely do it again. I could see Colt and Daniels together at least one more time, maybe at a nine ball tournament somewhere between Florida and Illinois. Hmm…

Joe: If the fans want it, I say let's do it.

Q: What's coming up for both of you?

Joe: I've got a huge list of collaborations coming up. We just released the next Jack Daniels/AJ Rankowski thriller, BEAT DOWN, that I did with Garth Perry, and THE SEXPERTS: GIRL WITH A PEARL NECKLACE, which is a Melinda DuChamp funny erotica novella. Blake Crouch and I are still doing LAST CALL, wrapping up the Jack Daniels/Luther Kite story, and this month HOLES IN THE GROUND, a sequel to ORIGIN, will come out, co-written with Rob Iain Wright. And more. Lots more.

Jude: I’m working on a brand new series called iSEAL, a trilogy of techno-thrillers about a failed Navy SEAL candidate desperate for a second chance. As a pathway back into the program, he volunteers for a research study, allowing himself to be a human guinea pig for a revolutionary new brain-computer interface. I’ll just say that things don’t go so well for him after the surgery. The first book is out now, and the second is on the way.