Readers ask great questions about the process of writing and about my books. Here are some of your most frequently asked questions.
Q: Is starting a new book difficult for you?
A: No, that's the best part. Nothing is more exciting and challenging than bringing to life for the first time a new story and characters. It's like exploring a new world each time.
Q: Can you describe your typical writing day?
A: I do have certain code that I attempt to stick to: write every day, read every day. I am fairly regimented in my writing: I get up and go immediately to the computer. I will write for two hours, then I take a two-hour break, then back again for two hours. Then I print up what I wrote and hand-edit it in the evening, giving it a polish, then enter those edits, so I can start fresh the next day. I’ll do this 5-6 days a weeks.
Q: How do you handle a writer's block?
A: The wry answer: With two books a year to complete, I don't have time for writer's block. But more seriously, when a story begins to bog down and I feel blocked, something is intrinsically wrong with the scene or character or point of view I'm working on. Sometimes I have to backtrack and search for where the story had gone astray and edit things back into proper alignment. Once I correct that error, the story flows with more vigor again and we're off and running.
Q: Why is the price of the Kindle editions of your books so high?
A: The price of ebooks is one of the most controversial matters to hit publishing in years. Recently the Department of Justice sued the nation's top publishers, including mine -- HarperCollins -- over this very issue. The publishers were accused of collaborating with each other, and with Apple, to set prices artificially high. As you can imagine, with the Federal Government suing my publisher over ebook prices, the author is the last guy to have any say. I could only be a spectator as these two elephants fought with each other.
The lawsuit was recently settled but it could be a long time before we see what its effects will be. What's true today may not be true tomorrow, so I will come back to this space from time to time to keep my answer accurate and up to date.
As I understand this new settlement, ebook retailers like Amazon will soon be free to set the selling price on ebooks. The publisher will set the retail price, but it's up to the retailer to decide what kind of discount to offer. It'll be like hardcover books, where the list price might be, say, $24.95, but it might sell for various lower prices depending on which store you visit, how recent the book is, how well it's selling, and whether there are any special sales or promotions that week.
The good news is that the Federal suit is expected to bring lower ebook prices. The bad news is that with the ink barely dry on the settlement, no one knows precisely how it's all going to work. Prices may change from day to day or hour to hour. If you think the price is too high, try again tomorrow -- it might be different.
Authors have very little influence in this area. However, I believe in low ebook prices and I have always urged my publisher to keep prices low. An author wants to be read more than anything else. Any obstacle to that, like prices that are higher than they need to be, is something I will always be opposed to. My publisher has heard this from me loud and clear.
Q: How would you describe your larger philosophy of writing?
A: My goal when I set out to write is not to examine the human condition or explore the trials and tribulations of modern society. When I set out to write, I aim for pure balls-to-the-wall adventure, pure escape and entertainment. I follow the three M’s of storytelling: murder, magic, and mayhem. But with that said, I don’t think any adventure story will work unless you do indeed engage the reader on a level deeper than pure popcorn-entertainment. He must care about the characters, or why join you on this journey? She must be invested in the characters to care about their fate. So though entertainment is the goal, it is equally important to craft characters who will live, breathe, and bleed in your reader’s heart and mind. As such, the human condition of your characters must be addressed and examined. They must be brought to life with all the frailties and quirks and problems and nuisances that the reader brings to the books. For the reader to relate, he must find something in which to relate. This must not be neglected. I strongly believe that character and plot must be tightly interwoven, especially in adventure fiction. One will not work without the other.
Q: Do you have a recurring detail that appears in your books?
A: One of the recurring themes in my novels is the exploration of how advancing technology affects us. Technology is not all cogs and wheels. There is a human cost to every bit of technology. It regularly tests society’s moral compass. Is human cloning good or bad? What about stem cell research on aborted fetal tissue? What about the escalating realism of the violence in video games? Can and should we engineer our children in the womb? At every turn, in every facet, technology tests a society — morally, spiritually, and economically. And at the pace in which technology is leaping and bounding, we are quickly outstripping our abilities to rein in our advancements or to adequately judge where these technologies will take us.
So what do we do? Where are we heading?
Such questions are wonderful fodder in the modern scientific adventure. Through the vehicle of the adventure story, I can explore not only the physical threat of unchecked advancements but also the spiritual and moral dangers. Because fundamentally, the true terror of technology is not the cogs and the wheels, but how it will change us.
And even more frightening…will we even have a voice in this evolution?
Q: How do you use Sympathy Builders?
A: (1) Have the character demonstrate exceptional skill at his/her profession or some other task.
(2) Have the character be funny/humorous.
(3) Have character treat others well.
(4) Have the character demonstrate kindness to pets/kids/elderly.
(5) Have the character afflicted or suffering from undeserved misfortune.
(6) Show other people demonstrating affection for the character.
(7) Give the character some physical/mental/educational handicap, or make them a massive underdog.
Q: How do you approach a new novel?
A: I start with the three main tent poles to the story: the historical mystery, the science behind the story, and the exotic locales. I research those elements while constructing the skeleton of the plot. After that, I’m ready to write, to put the flesh on that skeleton.
Q: How much research do you do for a novel?
A: I love to research — love it to a fault! So I try to restrict my research to a set period of time both before I begin a book and while writing it. I do the bulk of my research before I set the first word to paper.
I usually have four to five books that are my research bibles for a particular novel. Then I branch off onto the Internet or libraris for additional tidbits and also do phone interviews with experts in their respective fields of study.
It is surprising how open and helpful people are in this endeavor. While researching details on the space shuttle for Deep Fathom, I was lost among the volumes of information on NASA’s web site. Finally frustrated with labyrinthine layout of the site, I contacted the webmaster of the site and asked for information. Two days later, I found on my doorstep the entire technical manual for the shuttle, hand-delivered and dropped off. That's just one of countless examples of folks who have gone out of their way to help an author. It's also a great way to create new fans!
Q: Do you need a set level of comfort from your research before you begin to write, or do you do research as you go?
A: When I do my initial research — and this all applies mostly to the thrillers — I’ll research until I have a good feeling of place, and I have the dynamics of the scientific mystery established. Then I’ll construct the plot. Once this is accomplished, I’ll begin to write, and what I’ll find is that I’ll have a score of niggling details to research during each writing shift. This is minor stuff: street names, a bit of detail on a gun, some snatch of foreign language. If the needed detail will set some tone that I want to establish in the scene, then I’ll pop on the Internet right then and grab what I need. If not, then I’ll wait until the day’s end when I’m polishing and line-editing.
Q: There are a lot of scientific facts in your books. How much are you interested in those topics? How do you research all of that?
A: As a veterinarian, my schooling concentrated on the sciences. I’m fascinated by all aspects and all fields. I continue to subscribe to many scientific magazines: Discover, National Geographic, Scientific American, New Scientist, Archaeology. I get many great ideas from these magazines.
Q: How on earth did you - a vet - start writing thrillers?
A: I blame my mother. She read while I was growing up, so I read. And that’s where all the insanity started. Sure, I was interested in animals and science and knew since third grade that I would be a veterinarian — but I also loved to read. Reading was like throwing gasoline on the fire of an overactive imagination. Growing up with three brothers and three sisters, I was the storyteller of the family. (What my mother called The Liar.)
So fiction writing was in my blood from a very young age, but I never considered writing as a real career. I thought you had to have some literary pedigree to be a successful author, the son of Hemingway or Fitzgerald. So instead, I turned to my other passion for a career: veterinary medicine. But I made one mistake. I continued to read – and that little twisted corner of my imagination never fully died away. Eventually I began to write.
My clients would ask me all the time, “So, Dr. Jim, why aren’t you writing something like James Herriott, something like All Creatures Great and Small?” My answer was simple: not enough people die in those James Herriott novels. I wanted adventures and thrills. I was working 14 hours a day as a vet. I didn’t want to go home and write about a vet. So instead I wrote about historical mysteries, scientific intrigue, and adventures set in exotic locales. I basically let that twisted corner of my imagination loose on the world. Sorry about that.
Q: Have you had any special adventures when researching your books?
A: I went to Cambodia to research the ruins of Angkor Wat and tried fried tarantula. I’m not sure that classifies as adventure, but it was an experience that I’m not looking to repeat.
Q: How do you view the element of suspense in your work? As a practical question, how do you structure it and manage it in your plot?
A: Suspense is the true heart of all good adventures, the proverbial cliff hanger. You take your character (and reader) to the edge of disaster, have him peer over, then push him from behind when he least expects it. And the crux of a good thriller is to make those cliffs higher and higher throughout the novel. Strive for tightening that noose notch by notch. Each level of suspense should build upon the previous one. Each situation must be unique, each outcome more inventive. Lester Dent (author of most Doc Savage novels) once suggested: “Never kill characters the same way twice.” He was right — always strive to be unique. Finally, let the reader rest between events, then just as they think they’ve caught their breath, hit ‘em again and again and again. And one last note on the practical side, always end a chapter with a note of peril, whether physical or emotional. Make that reader want to turn that next page to see what happens.
Q: How do you choose the names of your characters?
A: It does take some thought. I often take half a book before I even discover my main character's real name. I don't know if I have any specific process. I look through phone books, or if I hear of any unusual name, I note it. Then it's a matter of mixing and matching, trying a name on for size, playing with it, then finally settling on one that fits best.
Q: What character from your writing stays with you the most?
A: Depends on the day. But most often it is not past characters that influence me, but the current ones in the work-in-progress. I so get under these folks' skins that it can take me up to an hour to shake loose of them and return to reality. I'm often dazed and incoherent for a bit while coming up for air after writing for a spell.
Q: Has a character from your writing ever influenced your real life in a surprising way?
A: I can't say any specific character changed my life, but by exploring the human condition of various characters and living in their skins over the course of a book, I think my own appreciation and patience for the quirks, foibles, and eccentricities of my fellow man has grown.
Q: Have you ever put yourself into a story?
A: I think there is a part of me in every character I create — good and bad. That’s one of the best parts of writing: to explore those dark corners of your own psyche, to fathom the depths of your own character, and to challenge yourself. What could be more fun?
Q: Have you ever put a friend or real person in your books?
A: Anyone who has heard the stories about what I did to my brothers and sisters should know better than to ask to be in one of my novels. But they ask anyway! The deal is: If I put you in a book, I get to kill you in some horrible, horrible way.
Q: How do you go about the writing process?
A: The actual writing process — the routine – is very left brain. Perhaps this goes back to my background in medicine and science. But the birthing process of the story, developing plot and character, that is all right brain. I accumulate tidbits of facts — intriguing pieces of science, interesting threads of historical mysteries, colorful scraps of exotic lore — and at some point in my mind, all these fragments begin to connect in unusual ways and a story forms. Like many authors, perhaps it’s best if we don’t explore this method too closely. That’s territory even an adventure writer fears to travel.
Q: Where do you write? Do you have an "inner sanctum" or cabin in the woods, or do you write anywhere and everywhere? Do you have any rituals involved in the writing process?
A: I do about 70 percent of my writing in my office, but sometimes I get a bit stir-crazy being cooped up there, so I’ll grab my laptop and write somewhere else: another room in the house, out on the patio, or even Heaven forbid: a trip to Starbucks. I also write on the road. Oh yes, and in that cabin in the woods...
I’m pretty disciplined in order to keep the momentum of a story going by writing every day, even if it’s only a couple paragraphs or a page or two. I stress the importance of writing regularly in the Hawaii Writer’s Retreat. To practice what I preach, I get up at 5:00 every morning in Hawaii — both to watch the sunrise and to get some writing done.
Q: What about procrastination?
A: The worst and most insidious procrastination for me is research. I’ll be looking for some bit of fact or figure to include in the novel, and before I know, I’ve wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written. It can be a trap for writers: thinking they’re working, when really they are just entertaining themselves with research. I also have to watch the amount of time I spend reading e-mail or surfing the Internet. Both are insidious time traps.
Q: How long does it take to write a novel?
A: I spend 90 days researching and constructing the story. This is a very intense, immersive period. Then on Day 91, I must start writing. I set this goal because I truly enjoy researching and could keep researching and actually never start the book.
Q: Some authors say that the plot tends to free itself and that they are sometimes astonished by this. Does that ring a bell?
A: Definitely. Some authors outline to a great degree. I know where my story starts, I know where it ends, I know several stopping points along the way. But that’s about it. I know the skeleton, but what I enjoy most about writing is the discovery along the way: new characters, new plot twists, etc. Characters are always surprising me, taking stories into unexpected territories or ideas. I swear sometimes my characters have come up with elements all on their own and I'm just the chronicler.
Q: Is there a difference in the way you approach the novel writing now as opposed to your earlier books?
A: Definitely. My first novel was Subterranean. The first draft was 640 pages long. Once we were done editing it, the novel was 480 pages. Since that book, I’ve learned to write tighter. But I also challenge myself with each novel to push my craft to a higher level.
Q: You use two pseudonyms - James Rollins for your adventure/scientific thrillers and James Clemens for fantasy. Why did you choose to publish under pseudonyms, and why two different names?
A: The pennames came about because my real last name is too hard to pronounce. Since word-of-mouth sells books, you want those mouths to be able to pronounce your name. The different names came about because I sold my first thriller and my first fantasy within a week of each other to two different publishing houses. Both publishing houses preferred that I have a unique name for each genre to not confuse readers.
Q: What happened to the James Clemens fantasies - the Banned and the Banished series and the Godslayer Chronicles. Will there be a follow-up to Shadowfall and Hinterland?
A: I have more plans for the Godslayer books. The working title for Book Three is God-Sword. Besides continuing the storyline, we’ll be discovering much more about Laurelle, her past, and her perilous journey to a god hidden in the heart of a volcano. God-Sword will finish the first trilogy. And there may be a second trilogy with many of the same characters.
Q: How do you write thrillers AND fantasies?
A: I tried writing both simultaneously, but it was a disaster. I basically switch from thriller to fantasy and back again. The thrillers sell strongly in the United States, but the fantasies are very successful abroad.
Q: You've written some astonishing, adventurous, and extremely fast-paced thrillers. They have ingredients of mystery-thrillers, action-thrillers, adventure-books, and spy fiction. What do you call it?
A: I generally classify the books as scientific thrillers or adventure thrillers. I’m always looking to blend a bit of historical mystery and a bit of scientific speculation, and setting up a large adventure story to wrap all around it.
Q: "Sigma Force" is a covert operation unit. Have you ever thought of writing spy fiction?
A: I’d love to write spy fiction one day. But presently my plate is very full. There are a score of genres that I’d like to tackle some day, including a book about a veterinarian.
Q: Does writing a series get easier with each new novel, or harder?
A: I find writing a series to be harder. Sure, you have a cast of characters that you don’t have to create out of thin air, but it also is a challenge to have those characters change and grow, to keep each book self-contained enough to be read in any sequence, and to adhere to a world-view that is consistent between the books. It’s tough.
Q: Sometimes I feel like I know these characters.
A: I firmly believe it’s important that the characters be real and the subject matter be relevant. That’s one of the reasons I set my thrillers in the real world and embroil them in threats and dangers that could truly arise.
Q: What was the idea behind your books when you started writing? What was your goal and your influences?
A: My main goal is to entertain, but I think the best entertainment also strives to make us think and to challenge our view of history or the world around us. It’s important to leave readers with something to contemplate after they turn that last page. When I hear a reader say that a certain novel intrigued them enough to explore a detail raised in a book, I know I’ve done my job well: to entertain, to intrigue, but also to leave something to explore afterward.
Q: What prompted you to select the type of fiction that you did as you became a novelist?
A: I think most novelists write what interests them ... which was a quandary for me, as my reading interests were wide and varied. Though I’m an avid reader of all the current thriller writers, I also love horror, scifi/fantasy, and mysteries. When I first began writing, I dabbled in short fiction, trying various voices, styles, and genres. It was all terrible, stuff now buried deep in the backyard. But it did serve to find the voice that most spoke to me and allowed me to tackle my first novel-length project, Subterranean. This first book, like Excavation, is really a cross-genre novel, a mix of ALL the tropes of my favorite genres: a mainstream thriller at heart, but with a bit of mystery and a dark current of scifi/fantasy coursing throughout it.
Q: Do you deliberately construct some of your stories within the narrative tradition of the lost world adventure?
A: I did indeed construction Excavation in the tradition of lost world/lost race adventure as found in H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs (with a wild ride at the end thrown in for good measure). My editor even classified my early books as “lost race” novels. The germ of this specific novel came from two ideas that merged together:
(1) A lost Incan tribe still surviving up in the Andes, and
(2) The possibilities of nanotechnology being used to evolve the human species.
I love merging the ancient and the modern, then stirring that pot and seeing what develops. You’ll see this blend in each of my books.
I also like to peel back ancient myths and search for the hidden truths behind these stories. In Subterranean, it was Aboriginal mythology. In Excavation, it was Incan mythology. In Deep Fathom, it was Polynesian mythology.
Q: You explore isolated parts of the earth - desert, Amazon, ocean, etc. Why set your adventures there?
A: From a practical standpoint, these remote locations are perfect places to stage some pretty wild adventures and plant some ancient mysteries. They are hidden corners of the world. In such places, anything can happen! Another reason I venture to these exotic locales is that I get to live in them, at least in my imagination, for the length of a novel — plus I can skip the immunizations and avoid anti-malarial medications.
Q: I'm not going to ask you where you get your ideas, but where do you get your inspiration?
A: I don’t actually have one wellspring of inspiration. Though I’m most often inspired while reading — both fiction and nonfiction. While reading articles for pleasure and interest an interesting “What If?” will pop into my head. I’m also an avid movie buff. (Often when I’m stymied by a part of my writing day, you’ll find me at the matinee with a bucket of popcorn in my lap.) For some reason, some of my best solutions and ideas are triggered in those dark theaters, usually totally unrelated to what’s going on onscreen. I also enjoy hiking in the foothills and mountains in Northern California. I always have to bring a pen and paper to jot down sudden thoughts and ideas. So inspiration arises from countless sources.
Q: How do you come with new ideas for a new book? What's giving you the "kick in the head" to say: that will be the general topic?
A: Ideas come from various sources. Sometimes they arise from a bit of history that ends in a question mark, something unknown or unexplained. Other times it arises out of a bit of science that makes me go: “What if…?” And I also have started books because of interesting locations that have intrigued me, like the Amazon rain forest. So inspiration comes from many different directions.
Q: You are an adventurous guy yourself. You love spelunking deep into caves and you are diving enthusiast. How much of your own personality goes into your books?
A: Oh, I wager that there’s a bit of me in all my characters: good and bad. It’s hard to breathe life into characters without a little of you flowing into them.
Q: Do you base some of the adventures on own experiences and research right at the location?
A: Many times. I’m often out having fun and something strange will happen or a great idea will pop into my head. Often they’ll end up in the books. This past New Year I went diving with sharks, and I suspect something from that adventure will end up in a book one day.
Q: Who inspired you - and why?
A: All writers start out as readers. My inspiration to read came from my parents. They loved to read and instilled the same passion in me.
Q: What writers and/or novels and films influenced the direction of your work?
A: I have been asked this question many times at signings, conferences, etc. And initially I would shrug. I read so avidly that it was difficult to say who most influenced my work. It actually took a reader to expose the heart of my deepest influence. After reading Subterranean and Excavation, he emailed me to tell me I was ripping off Doc Savage. After reading this, I glanced to my library’s bookshelves: sitting there were all 182 Doc Savage novels (Bantam reprints, not the actual pulps). He was right! I read these from adolescence through high school and was absolutely in love with these scientific adventure books. Sitting next to them were smaller collections of other pulp reprints: The Shadow, The Spider, The Avenger.
So at the heart, my deepest influence is the old pulps. On some unconscious level, I’ve been trying to bring back those old dime adventure stories, recast into the present, adapted to modern technologies, and given a polish.
Other early influences on a more conscious level are Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and H. Rider Haggard (as of course Subterranean was clearly a modern adaptation of Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth).
Q: Do you have any favorite authors?
A: I always hate this question even though I ask it of fellow authors. My reading habits are wide and free-ranging. So it’s hard to say I have a particular favorite, but I’ll list a few. In the classics department, I’m all about Dickens and Twain. In modern literature, I read every word of Annie Proulx. In thrillers, I love the three K’s: Koontz, King, and Crichton (okay the last does not start with a “K” but it sounds like it does). And Clive Cussler, too. In mysteries, I really love Janet Evanovich, Nevada Barr, and the new writer, P.J. Tracy. In adventure fiction, I read everything by the writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. In science fiction and horror, I love the cross-genre writer, Dan Simmons, and brilliant space opera of Lois McMaster Bujold. In fantasy, I am enamored and envious of the talents of George R.R. Martin and Stephen Donaldson. And I’m sure as soon as I turn around and look at my wall of books in my library that I’ve forgotten a thousand-and-one other absolute favorites. So let me stop here.
Q: What did you do to celebrate your first book being published?
A: I had a huge party with friends and family. But you'll have to ask them about it. For some reason, after countless bottles of champagne, I can't seem to remember the details.
Q: I've read that you are an avid scuba diver and enjoy spelunking. Do any of your experiences find their way into your novels?
A: Oh, I think each and every one of my novels has some character either heading underwater or underground. It allows me to live vicariously through my characters as I’m landlocked in my office.
Q: We know you have retired from full-time veterinary work. When did you decide that you were successful enough as a writer to safely move from one career to the other?
A: It was a gradual process. I sold my veterinary practice after selling my first two thrillers, but I continued to work as an employed veterinarian at the same facility. This allowed me to shed the business responsibilities and wear one less hat to work. Over three more years, I graduated down to part-time, then weekend work, and then I stepped away completely. Now all I do is a monthly spay-and-neuter clinic at the local animal shelter here in Sacramento.
Ultimately, the question most people want to know when to step away from their “regular” job? I read somewhere about the Rule of Five: You need to have five books out on the shelves, all earning royalties, before you can safely give up the day job. And oddly enough, this is about what happened to me. By the time five books were on the shelves, I had stepped away.
Q: What's your favorite curse word?
A: Please! This is a G-rated Q&A! How about this: I was once stuck down in a cave for several hours, jammed in a vertical crack, hanging from my rappelling gear. If you’d been with me, you would have heard a lot of “interesting” words.
Q: Where are the Hardcover Editions?
A: All of my books have been released as a hardcover edition. Most are still in print, thought increasingly more difficult to locate. If you are look for a long out of print edition such as Amazonia, Ice Hunt and Sandstorm. You can find these editions both new and used through a variety of online stores: eBay and Amazon as well as your independant book collector stores: VJ Books and The Poisoned Pen.
Q: Your books read like movies. Are any of your novels going to be made into blockbuster movies or TV series?
A: I wish! Hollywood has optioned many of the books, both for film and a television miniseries. But nothing has gone into full production. So at this time there are no splashy plans for Deep Fathom (which came close) or any of the other novels. Keep your fingers crossed.
Q: What book would make the best movie?
A: You wily readers — you always ask me that! That's a tough question. I live and breathe my characters' lives. Their story rolls through my head like a movie each time I write, so in my mind, they’d all make great summer blockbusters. I'd be hard pressed to pick a novel that I'd most like to see made into a movie. Each book has moments that I'd love to see on the big screen — some are heart-pounding chases or Industrial Light and Magic-worthy special effects, some are moments when characters have a flash of clarity, revelation, or understanding, and some are intensely personal, emotional exchanges between the characters (including those with fur and paws). I just hope that should any of my novels be brought to the big screen, it’s done by a team that is enthusiastic about the story and characters.
Q: What do YOU want to see made into a movie and would you want to be involved with adaptation, casting, etc.?
A: I would love to see Amazonia made into a movie, mostly just because of all the strange animals in that book. Like the piranha-frog (a mutated cross between a flesh-eating piranha and the poisonous dart frog). I’d love to see the McDonald’s tie-in for that movie: “Buy a Happy Meal, get a plushy piranha-frog!”
As to dream actors or screenplay writers, I’d leave that to the experts. For me, the characters in my head ARE the characters, so it’s hard for me to pick actors to fill the various roles. But I’d love to do a cameo in the movie…perhaps even being chased by a piranha-frog.
Q: Can I request an appearance?
A: Much as I'd love to visit every city and town in the country and beyond, I usually only tour when I have a new book out — the rest of the time I'm busy writing and researching my next book.
Because my publisher determines where to send me — based mostly on requests they receive from bookstores, libraries and other venues where books can be sold — the best way to get me to come to you area is to have your local bookstore, library, or other venue contact my agent, Russ Gallen here and make a case for me to visit.
Q: Why are you not coming to my city?
A: Tours are planned by my publicist at HarperCollins, who considers many factors in deciding which cities to include each year. These factors include whether I've visited that city before; whether there's a great local bookstore interested in hosting an event; which section of the country we've decided to target for a particular year; and whether we can plug a city into a route that will minimize travel time. We always try to mix together cities of different sizes. I try to visit new cities and regions of the country each year, but it's a big continent and there are some cities I've yet to reach. They are on my list for the future. I love all of America and Canada and I hope to keep writing and touring until I've been everywhere. And then I'll start all over again.
Q: Jake Ransom's Fate
A: Jake's fate (ie., publication date) is still up in the air. Whenever I get some concrete details--one way or the other--I'll get them posted immediately.