Friday, May 8, 2015

J. Frank James ~ an interview and his novel Dead Money Run


J. Frank James

Q: How would you describe yourself as a color? Think personality here. Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious color?
A: I think I would say I am a dark blue. I enjoy a solitary environment. It promotes the brain. I like to think of it as brain calisthenics.

Q: Are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner?
A: I know a lot of writers tell people they treat their trade like a job. They start at in the morning and work until the afternoon. I can’t do that. Sounds like riding a bus. I enjoy writing from around midnight to 5 a.m. I feel like I am wrapped in my thoughts. I call it the cocoon mentality.

Q: Tell me one thing about each of the four seasons you like. It can be anything.
A:        Winter =Nothing. The only good thing about a winter is that it is a good excuse to get warm.
            Spring  = Flowers, new things everywhere, birds singing and my dog gets to reclaim his yard.
            Summer =A good excuse to go to New England.
            Fall =Best time of all. The leaves are in full color and there is a sense everywhere of the coming Holidays. People are happy, my dog is happy, the fish are biting, like is good.

Q: If you didn’t have to clean them, how many bathrooms would you have in your home?   
 A: Four and a half.
                       How many if you have to clean them?
A: Since I live in a home with four and a half bathrooms, the answer is the same since I don’t have a choice.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have an all time favorite song?
A: Rock and roll and soft jazz. Anything sung by the Doobie Brothers.

Q: If your life were a movie would it be considered an action film, comedy, drama, romance, fantasy or a combination?
A: I think everyone’s life is a work in progress. There are no ordinary people in the world. Everyone matters. A lot of writers write about things that have happened in their lives and for some it works well. I write about events that I want to happen and seek to insert my reader into those events. Whining about ones plot in life is not my idea of a good book.

Q: Did you like school when you were a child?
A: I never thought about it. I figured it was a necessary evil. Kind of like mumps or poison ivy. Nothing but a means to an end.

Q: Favorite color?
A: Black

Q: Coffee or Tea?
A: Coffee. Preferably imported and strong.

Q: How do you feel about exercise?
A: I don’t.

Q: Texting, love it or hate it?
A: It is the future. Someday people will be able to communicate by telepathy.


Q: When did you start writing and why?          
A: It seems like most of my life. In college I worked for a newspaper and graduated with two degrees, one in journalism and another in advertising. After that I went to law school and obtained a law degree. There I was a member of the law review and had wrote articles for the law journal. In 2001, my wife took ill and I stayed home to be with her. To pass the time I began to write books.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: I am not sure. I suppose life will give them to you. Ideas are, fleeting, like reflections about life.

Q: How did you come to write your genera of choice?
A: I like action. I wanted a protagonist who was able to overcome a great hardship early in his life and survive. I also wanted a person who lived in a black and white world. To create that type of person there could be very little in the way of rules. Writing crime thrillers seemed to be the best way to do that.

Q: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a book?
A:  Writing the next book.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing?
A: Finishing a book and starting a new one. I feel like when I start a new book I am embarking on a new journey and when I finish one I have a sense of fulfillment. It is hard describe unless you have done it.

Q: Who's your favorite author?
A: Robert B. Parker, Ernest Hemmingway, and John D. MacDonald. These three writers always had a sense of why they were here. If I could just be half as good at the trade as these three, I will have made the grade.

Q: Your favorite title?
A: Catskill Eagle (Robert B. Parker), Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemmingway), and The Green Ripper (John D. MacDonald)

Q: Would you ever consider a joint project?
A: No.

Q: Which of your own releases was your particular favorite?
A: So far it is my second book entitled Dead Money Run, but I like them all otherwise I wouldn’t write them.

Q: How do you handle a writer's block?
A: Keep writing. It will come to you.

Q: When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?
A: I let the characters tell me.

Q: Do you always know how a story will end when you begin writing it?
A: Generally I do not.

Q: Have your characters ever taken the story in a different direction than you had originally planned? Do you have a for instance, for us?
A: All the time. For instance, In Only Two Cats, I wasn’t sure how to end the book and involve Hilary’s two wild cats, Pumpkin and Mojo. Then as I reached the end of the book, the cats came out of nowhere and killed the two villains. I had not planned it that way, but when it came it seemed to fit.

Q: Do you like to read the genre that you write?
A: Yes and no. I like westerns because the good guy always win and I like to read crime thrillers for the same reason.


Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?
A: I am just finishing a book entitled Finders, Keepers. In the book, my protagonist, Lou Malloy and his partner in crime, Hilary Kelly, are looking for a ghost ship carrying $400mm in South African diamonds. Along the way, they learn that on the ship is a kidnapped scientist who has developed an EMP or electromagnetic pulse device that a master criminal is seeking to acquire to sell to a large Chinese triad.

Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.
A: I am soon to introduce a new character named Indigo Marsh in a book entitled Voodoo Moon Rising. In the book Marsh is hired to find a missing wife of a professional hockey player before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the process of conducting the search, Marsh also learns of an attempt to produce a synthetic form of cocaine. As the book develops, Marsh is accused of killing the missing wife as well as the estranged husband. In order to clear himself he has to find the real killer and to put a stop to the sale of the formula to produce the cocaine by a terrorist group. To do that he signs on to help a voodoo queen who, in turn, agrees to help him. The book ends with the arrival of a hurricane on an island off the coast of Georgia and Marsh ends up fighting for his life and the woman he loves.

Q: How can we find you? Do you have a web page, FaceBook page or any buy links?
A: Yes:
And I am on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

The Lou Malloy Crime Series by J. Frank James
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

The Run Begins is the prequel to the Lou Malloy Crime Series:
Lou Malloy is 18 years old and ready for the world... but is the world ready for him? His brother Sam has left and his sister wants to move to Florida with the family. Malloy is having none of it and on a wild moment decides to hop on a rail car, unsure of where he is going. The important thing is that he will no longer be in Kansas, but the problem is that he doesn't have any money. Henry Lowe, who is in the same rail car, offers Malloy the deal of a lifetime... All he has to do is help Lowe rob a casino in Georgia. With the promise of a big payday, Malloy throws in with the scheme and seals his fate forever.

What starts off as a quick way for Malloy to get a share of $15 million turns into a run for his life. Malloy learns the hard way that nothing comes easy when you’re alone and your life is about change forever…

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.

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.

~ ~ ~ ~

 Here's what they are saying about Dead Money Run:

"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

About the Author:
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.
To learn more, go to
Click to connect with J. Frank James on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook

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