Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest release.
Hi folks, my name is J.E. Taylor – JET for short – and I’m an author, a mother, an editor, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a business analyst by day. I’ve got four books out on the virtual shelves, two of which were released November.
On November 1st, Vengeance - my second novel featuring FBI agent Steve Williams - was released by FIDO Publishing. Here’s a little teaser to whet your appetitie: After an undercover bust goes to hell, Special Agent Steve Williams becomes the target of an assassin and his wife’s visions escalate, forecasting a brutal assault on their family. Escaping from the city and armed with scant details from Jennifer’s dreams, Steve trudges through a litany of past connections, searching for the key to stop the course of fate. A brother with a grudge, a serial killer and a mafia assassin are all on his trail and the hunt begins . . .
On November 29th, Mind Games was released through eXcessica. This is the second book in the erotic thriller Games trilogy and here’s the short blurb for Mind Games:
Chris Ryan doesn’t understand why he’s alive. If it wasn’t for a miracle, he would have died in the prison his step-brother created and five years of nightmares hasn’t erased his passion for Jessica Connor. Haunted by visions of her daughter’s death, he runs to her doorstep, but all his good intentions fall short when they realize he led the vengeful spirit of his step-brother right to her.
Have you ever had an idea for a story that scared you after you began writing it?
Yes. The fourth book in my FBI series gave me nightmares when I wrote it. I’m sure when I get around to editing it, I’ll have to deal with those demons again.
It’s a very dark walk into the mind of a true psychopath whose victim of choice is children.
As a mother, this really freaked me out – every mother’s nightmare is having their kid harmed at the hands of a nutcase - and usually getting the story out of my head and on the page cleanses me from the nightmares, but in this case, it just increased them.
Have you incorporated actual events from your own life into your books?
I’ll never tell :)
Seriously, no - not in these books, although there are some of my idiosyncrasies built into one or two of my characters that surface from time to time, like my fear of needles, or my favorite colors.
However, I did write a short story called Pollywogs and Watermoccasins, which is available on Smashwords and is a cut right out of my youth.
I also started a book that my daughter has begged me to write – about being the target of a bully in high school - and that is a true story. As I said, I started it but it’s slow going. It’s a tough sell to put my time into because I’ve distanced myself from that experience for so long and part of me doesn’t want to open that wound back up. So I do a little here and there and eventually I’ll finish that one.
How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?
I write first but usually the story dictates the research and I have to stop and do a little digging before I go on. An example of this is within Vengeance, I needed to know more about cocaine, from how it’s produced to the side effects of the drug. I did a fair amount of research into both and originally had a scene where Steve’s “boss” walked him through his cocain processing plant and explained in detail what was happening. The excrutiating detail found in the original scene didn’t make it into the final version of Vengeance because it didn’t move the story forward but I learned a great deal.
Besides cocain production, I’ve researched things like surfing and chess, and England, Europe and the Middle East in Medieval times. I’ve also reasearched forensic blood splatters, blunt trauma, how long it takes to bleed out, how far blood will shoot from an arterial cut, firearms and even explosives. It’s scary what information exists on the web and I’m sure with all the google searches I’ve done in the name of research, I’m on some FBI watch list.
Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?
Remember it’s just fiction and not necessarily a reflection of my beliefs.
It’s a walk into the darkest corners of my imagination where my nightmares fester until something living and breathing escapes onto the screen of my laptop.
Enjoy the ride.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?
I’m not a plotter. I don’t put together outlines or summaries or anything like that. I get an idea and let it go wherever it wants. Yes, I have had a story take on a life of it’s own and when it does that, I’m sometimes surprised at what comes out. It’s an exciting and sometimes scary jouney but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I usually have either a beginning or ending in mind and go from there.
How long did it take for you to be published?
I started seriously writing in February of 2007 and Survival Games, the first book I wrote, was picked up by eXcessica on October 30, 2009 - so a little over two and a half years. Considering I wrote for eighteen months straight and produced eight books in that timeframe. It took me another year of edits to get Survival Games, Mind Games and End Game in publishable condition. Since then, I’ve been working on polishing my FBI series and gone through two of the four books sitting on the shelf, while working on the partial manuscripts I have floating around.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything when you first began your writing career, what would you say?
Be patient and start figuring out your marketing strategy as early as possible.
Laptop or pen and ink?
Laptop. I’m lost without it.
Who are your favorite authors? Who would you say influenced you the most?
Stephen King - master of the macabre – his writing and brilliance in telling a story is what influenced me the most.
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a collasal klutz.
A walking disaster.
I’ve had so many broken bones that I’ve lost count and I wish I had some cool stories to go along with the situations like a skiing accident (I don’t ski) or got tackled in football (never played) or my parachute malfunctioned (never jumped out of a perfectly good plane).
But no, I’ve got lame stories like I did a cartwheel and landed on my ankle, breaking my leg or I swiveled on a radiator at school and fell off, breaking my arm,or I got my heel caught in a sewer grate in Chicago and sprained both my knee and ankle in one fell swoop.
Oh yeah, I’m a klutz.
Favorite Thanksgiving memory?
The year my brother and his girlfriend came up from South Carolina and joined us for Thanksgiving at my house. My entire family made that event and it was wonderful to have everyone under the same roof.
Pumpkin Pie or cake?
Neither – Apple pie or Apple crisp.
Thank you for being here today! Please tell us where we can find your books.
On my website:
At FIDO Publishing:
Blurb for Vengeance:
Living large in New York City as a corporate lawyer for the most savvy drug lord on the East Coast, Special Agent Steve Williams carefully plots Charlie Wisnowski's downfall. His plans go to hell when his wife Jennifer survives an attack by a serial killer. With her life in jeopardy and his undercover guise threatening to unravel, he orders Charlie’s arrest. But the sting goes woefully wrong and Steve becomes the target of a mafia assassin hired by the biggest crime boss in America.
Escaping from the city, Steve and Jennifer settle back into their quiet life on the banks of Mirror Lake. Their peaceful existence shatters with a crippling loss and Jennifer’s visions escalate, forecasting a brutal assault on their family.
Armed with scant details from her dreams, Steve trudges through a litany of past connections, searching for the key to stop the course of fate.
What he uncovers chills him to the core - a brother with a grudge, a serial killer and a mafia assassin are all on his trail. The hunt begins . . .
Excerpt for Vengeance:
Dice in hand, he rolled.
“So, the question is, hypothetically, of course, do you trust me enough to take that kind of gamble?” Steve went to take a step out of the office.
“I trust you enough to handle my money,” Charlie answered turning toward Steve. “And you’re damn good at it.”
“Trust accounts, S corporations, LLCs. It’s just moving money from place to place Charlie. A shell game, nothing more.” Steve shrugged, his adrenaline kicking into high gear as he charted the path through the dangerous minefield he just stepped in. Charlie’s last lawyer had been found shot dead in the park, the police report tagged it as a robbery gone wrong, but Steve knew better. If he wasn’t careful, he could end up with a similar fate.
Charlie laughed. “Yes, but what you’ve done is slick. In the years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had a lawyer quite as creative with my money.” He leaned closer. “Who didn’t skim a cent off the top.”
“I’m not here to steal your money Charlie. You pay better than most firms in this market.”
“Come, let’s celebrate the success of the contract.” Charlie put his hand on Steve’s back, leading him through the empty office.
Steve figured he either scored big or was being led to his death. He kept his game face on, not showing a hint of the apprehension pulsing through his muscles.
“You’ve got alcohol in your office?” he asked when they crossed the threshold.
“Not exactly.” Charlie closed the door and flipped the lock. “Have a seat.”
Steve tensed when the lock flipped but took a seat on the couch as directed. His eyebrows creased. “If you don’t have alcohol . . .” He trailed off, meeting Charlie’s direct stare.
Charlie sat at the desk for a minute, a serious expression on his face. “Ever experiment with drugs Steve?”
“Excuse me?” His already pounding heart nearly tripled its rate and he swore Charlie could see his shirt move with each frantic beat.
Calm your ass down!
Sweat saturated his palms and he wiped them on his trousers.
“Have you ever used drugs?”
Steve looked at the door and back to Charlie with his mouth hanging open, debating on how to answer. “Hasn’t everyone at least once?” He sent the question back after regaining composure.
Charlie smiled. “What have you tried?”
He looked at his hands. “The usual.”
“Marijuana. I tried it a few times in high school.”
“Anything else?” Charlie pushed.
Steve stared at his boss for a moment and nodded. “I don’t see why this is relevant. It was a long time ago.”
“What else have you tried?”
“I’d rather not answer that.” Steve shifted in the chair doubting his chances of leaving the office alive. He took a deep breath calming his nerves.
Charlie shook his head and reached under his desk, drawing the gun out and pointing it at Steve.
“Shit Charlie, what the fuck are you doing?” Steve jumped to his feet.
Ah fuck, he knows!
“Are you a mole?”
“What? No.” Steve shook his head. How the hell do I play this?
He stared down the barrel of the gun and actually felt the blood rush out of his face and shifted his gaze to Charlie. The man was grinning at his reaction. “And this isn’t funny.”
Charlie raised his eyebrows. “At least you didn’t piss your pants like my last lawyer.” He pulled the hammer back. “Now tell me what other drugs you’ve experimented with.”
Steve pressed his lips together and glared at Charlie. “Put the fucking gun away.”
Charlie laughed and shot a round into the floor a couple feet in front of Steve.
He jumped backwards. “Jesus!” He didn’t have to manufacture any hint of fear. It was real and alive in his veins.
Blurb for Mind Games:
Chris Ryan doesn’t understand why he’s alive. By all accounts he should have died in the prison he and his step-brother created. Dying screams and the ring of gunshots still haunt his dreams and to make matters worse, five years hasn’t erased his passion for Jessica Connor.
She left him bleeding on the cold concrete floor, escaping the prison that held her for close to a year. Semi-conscious and close to death, his gaze fell on an apparition of her son and white light filled his skin, healing his wounds and giving him a second chance . . . and to this day that power still rages within him.
Haunting visions of her daughter’s death drive him out of hiding and he shows up at her doorstep with the intent of giving her the power he safeguarded all these years. But his good intentions fall short when they realize he led the vengeful spirit of his step-brother straight to her.
Cancer is no longer their biggest worry, now Chris and Jessica must battle a ghost hell bent on destroying all of them.
Excerpt for Mind Games:
“Jess?” He looked up at her, squinting.
“Did you love me?” He asked her sunlight framed form.
She squatted so he could see her eyes. “You have to ask?” She stood and walked away.
Chris jumped to his feet, turning toward her. “Yes, I have to ask,” he called after her. She turned in surprise and he took the opportunity to cross the distance. “Did you love me?” He saw the turmoil in her eyes as she debated whether to answer him or not.
“Yes, Ty, I loved you.”
The sigh that came with the words tempered his impulse to take her in his arms and the doubt and underlying fear in her eyes struck him like a dagger in the abdomen. “But?”
“But I chose to marry Tom. I love him very much and I don’t want to hurt him any more than I already have. So you moving close to here may not be the best of ideas.”
“How long before you do something you’ll regret?” She asked, striking him silent.
The sharp pang in his stomach twisted and he shook his head. “I don’t know.” The plea in her eyes belied her words and he stepped closer, the electricity between them increasing as he towered over her, trembling against the urge to touch her, to reach out and run his hands into her hair, to feel her lips under his, to taste her again. “How long until you give in to your feelings?”
She was quiet. “A million years,” she finally said and walked away.
* * * *
Chris sat in the library combing through ghost folklore but her words kept coming back to him and each time the phrase echoed in his mind, the rock on his chest pressed down. Being near her again just increased the pain, and the knowledge of the futility of his actions.
This isn’t a game I’m destined to win.
He huffed and stared at the open book in front of him, not seeing the text, only a jumble of letters that didn’t compute. “I never lose,” he mumbled under his breath and glanced out the window at the bank of woods surrounding the town library.
With a deep inhale, he closed his eyes, wiping his face. “Focus asshole.”
This time he saw the words on the page clearly and he scanned the passages, trying to find a hint of a way to send the ghost of his step-brother back to hell. There was nothing useful to address their particular situation in any of the dozen books he had stacked on the table and he left in frustration.
As quaint as the rest of the town, the center was lined with little ocean-side gift shops and the delicious scent of boiling lobsters reached his senses. His stomach growled and he followed the smell into a roadside market, ordering a lobster roll for lunch. Taking a window seat, he ate scanning the street until his eyes landed on a small sign advertising a fortune teller. He raised his eyebrows and exhaled. That’s an avenue to consider.
Inhaling the rest of his sandwich and leaving the money for lunch on the table, including a hefty tip, he exited and crossed to the shop, standing outside and debating for a fraction of a second before he wandered inside. The foul stench of incense and sweat accosted him and he breathed through his mouth to quell the sudden lurch in his stomach. Removing his sunglasses, he scanned the scant room. A small table covered in black fabric with glow in the dark stars flanked by two rickety chairs graced the room and in the center of the table stood a hazy crystal ball. Fog permeated the crystal, swirling, creating patterns that coincided with periodic infusions of smoke. A stack of tarot cards sat on the table, almost hidden from view behind the glass sphere. This room had all the cheesy trappings of a hoax with one exception. The fortune teller herself.
A shiver tried to take hold of him but he dismissed it.
The fortune teller’s beady eyes narrowed and she studied Chris with black eyes that peered out from her wrinkly skin. Her white hair provided a stark contrast to her dark skin and brightly colored sari. She stood, circled him, sizing him up and returned to her seat, her robes settled and she leaned on the table, waiving her hand at the opposite chair.
“What ails you boy?” Her voice was scratchy, like she had just smoked a case of cigarettes.
Pulling out his money clip, he peeled five twenties off the stack of bills and laid them on the table. “I need to know how to get rid of a ghost.”
Her head cocked and she closed her eyes, her hand slowly caressed the crystal and then stopped. A gasp slid from her lips and her eyes flew wide like a broken shade. “Boy, you’ve got yourself one evil sidekick and he’s out for revenge.”
Chris nodded looking frankly at her. “So how do I send him back to hell?”
Some of the luster faded from her cheeks and hand gripped the glass sphere like she was holding on for dear life. “He found a way to reach into the physical world.”
“Yes, through mirrors.”
Her hand relaxed and she turned her wide-eyed stare toward the crystal ball, staring at the swirl patterns. He could almost hear the whisper of the air moving around in the sphere and this time, when she spoke, he did shiver. “You must kill his spirit in the physical world.”
“Take away his power and he will fall.”
Irritation crawled over his skin. He needed an answer, something he could work with, not this cryptic mumbo jumbo. “How?”
“You must lure him into the physical world and take his path away.”
“How?” He asked again and the slithering sensation on his skin made him shift in the chair. Uneasy didn’t begin to describe the feeling, it was more of a gripping dread itching at his balls but he ignored it, focusing on obtaining information he could act on.
“She is the key, but you need to take the stand without her,” she said. “You must make him think he has won. That is when he will be most vulnerable.”
The picture she painted in his mind formed clearly in the crystal ball and Chris’s eyes strained in their sockets. Dread turned into icy terror layering deep into his core and he trembled, understanding exactly what was expected of him. He shook his head, slowly at first and then much more adamantly. “No,” he whispered. “I’m not gambling with her life.”
The fortune teller stared into his eyes. “You must or all will be lost.”