Interview with Jess Money, author of Public Enemies

Publisher: Finchville Publishing

Publish Date: May 10, 2013

Order Links:  Amazon

Synopsis: Banksters, corrupt politicians, and sinister corporations aren't afraid of laws or regulators of voters. The only thing they fear is an uprising of the people.

That fear is about to be realized.

The man who calls himself Thomas Paine lived his entire life by the rules.He went to college, served bravely in combat, raised a family, and paid his taxes. Then his employer went bankrupt, taking his pension and health care down with it. After his wife died from untreated cancer, he's decided that America needs a "Second Bill of Rights", one that he is determined to bring about through an "American Insurgency."

How many among the desperate and disaffected who see the American Dream turning into the American Delusion will join him? Can targeted vigilante justice really inspire true political reform and save democracy, or will it just provoke massive government repression, and perhaps even widespread martial law? Is it possible that the insurgency will spawn a successful third party to push this Second Bill of Rights? Or will government seek to squash non-violent political action as well?

And what about FBI Senior Special Agent Darren Medlin? How far will he go to stop Paine before he draws his own line in the sand? What role will beautiful young talk show host Crystal Dickerson play? What important decisions will she face, and how will her relationship with Medlin evolve?

Interview: Q. Please tell us about your current release.

A. PUBLIC ENEMIES examines what might happen if someone tried to use vigilante violence -- a domestic "insurgency" -- to push a new Second Bill of Rights to correct where the country seems to have gone off course from what the Founding Fathers had in mind. In movie terms it would be DEATH WISH (or DEXTER) meets NETWORK. I wanted to look at all the big macro questions such as, "Would the end justify the means? How would the public respond? Could violence breed a non-violent alternative?" from the perspective of a small number of characters faced with tough individual choices.

Q. How did writing this book affect you?

A. There's been a long-standing perception that novelists tend to be a little crazy -- depressed, alcoholic, neurotic, bipolar, etc. After writing of this book I've concluded that if you're not a little bit whacko when you start a novel, you will be by the time you're done! Maybe it was the scale of this story but there were many moments when I thought I would never get it hammered into a compelling narrative.

Q. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to writing?

A. When I was 16 my mother, who had tried to get published for years, challenged me to see who could sell a magazine article first. I won, selling a feature about surfing to the Auto Club of So Cal publication WESTWAYS for $200, which at that time was big money. Of course, she embarrassed me by buying a zillion copies and sending them to everyone she had ever met. Since then I've done one kind of writing or another, everything from ad copy to screenplays.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

A. Depends on the type of writing. Ad copy, political mailers, short non-fiction stuff is usually pretty easy, especially once I come up with an effective opening. With long-form fiction like screenplays or this novel, getting the first draft done is always the big hurdle. Once I have the entire core story laid out, rewriting becomes progressively easier with each draft. Michelangelo is reported to have said, "The statue is in the stone. My job is just to get the rubble out of the way." Well, sometimes I wish there was a lot less rubble.

Q. Do you have a musical playlist you listen to while writing? If so, what kind of music?

A. No. Although traditional rock 'n roll or good country music is great for workouts, garage projects, or the beach, I find it too distracting when trying to write. However, music still does enter the process. I tend to replay portions of the current draft in my mind while driving with music on. I never cease to be surprised how often that leads me to a better line of dialogue or some other scene improvement. In PUBLIC ENEMIES I was going to quote the lyrics from the Vince Gill love song, "Whenever You Come Around". However, the process of securing the rights was too onerous so instead I just referenced the song by title.

Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

A. Not sure how to define quirk. I think that sometimes I have a pretty good ear for dialogue. One thing I do have fun with is naming characters, mixing first and last names from different lists -- athletes, actors, people I went to school with, historical figures, places, etc. (An agent supposedly crafted Rock Hudson's name by combining the Rock of Gibraltar and the Hudson river.)

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?

A. Yes. two. Later this summer I'll be starting a non-fiction book addressing some of the political and economic issues that form the backdrop against which PUBLIC ENEMIES takes place. And thanks to my editor, the esteemed Hillel Black, after that I have the jumping off point for a sequel to ENEMIES.

Q. What are you currently reading?

A. Most of what I read these days is political and economic news and analysis. Although it's not what it used to be, is still worth scanning daily and the Naked Capitalism blog is a daily must read. The featured stories are first rate and the daily Links feature is a terrific shortcut to the news of the day. Chances are that anything important that didn't make it into the Links section will be referenced in the reader comments. For more general news -- disasters, Boston Marathon saga, etc. -- I scan HuffPo.

Q. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A. Don't really have a favorite but several are at the top of my list. For hard investigative journalism Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone is terrific. Talk about turning a phrase! He's the master of colorful condemnation. Glenn Greenwald is also a hero, but his strength is ruthless, surgical deconstruction of wrongdoing. For light fiction, it's pretty hard not to want to read anything by Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen.

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).

A. My niece is going off to college in the fall not too far from me, which just happens to be all the way on the other side of the country from her parents. So naturally, I'm involved with trying to keep them sane. (Especially her mother!)

Q. Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!

A. Although I have a pretty quick droll sense of humor, at heart I'm a serious guy and I'm not sure my friends would be able to come up with anything about me that is both "fun" and a fact. Well, maybe one thing: I have two adorable cats, Big Boy and his sister Star, little silver tigers who hang out around the computer and probably should get either co-writing credit or some kind of royalty check. (At this very moment, Star is asleep about a foot away, her head resting on the telephone handset.)

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

A. Yes. PUBLIC ENEMIES will be controversial in many ways. Aside from issue of vigilante violence, it touches on many subjects of government and the economy that impact everyday people every day.  I tried to use this as a backdrop on which to craft a compelling fiction narrative driven by interesting characters. Only readers can judge whether or not I succeeded. I'm hoping that many will use the "Look Inside" widget, like what they read, and decide to take the plunge.

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