Dr. James Stone has a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering, and numerous international certifications in computer security. He has worked at NSA, NASA, and the Department of Defense in various capacities, as well as having been a professor of engineering at a major university. He recently retired from engineering and plans to devote himself to writing.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Crypto. What was your inspiration for it?
A: Decades working in the intelligence community. I just didn’t see books that portray life as I had experienced it.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.
A: My protagonist is a late-20s female LAPD Homicide Detective. She decides to make a move to the National Security Agency and takes a job as a Special Agent. She goes through all the wickets of background checks, polygraph test, and indoctrination and reports to her new office. Within an hour, she’s given her first assignment to investigate why NSA controlled cryptographic chips are showing up in boxes hanging on the backs of highway signs. She knows literally nothing about cryptographics and is tossed into the deep end with essentially nothing more than a few ‘good lucks.’ To make it worse, there’s already a multi-agency task force headed by the FBI that wants to crawl all through NSA, even though the law prohibits it. How she copes makes up maybe the first third of the book.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A: I thought about this book for several decades, but didn’t want to write it until I retired from active participation in the security business. By the time I was ready to write, the book was full grown in my mind and just needed to be keyboarded.
Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?
A: I see the story as a full-(extra?) length movie, scene after scene. If the scenes still excite me after all this time, then I figure it will others. Only the readers will be able to determine how well I’ve done.
Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?
A: No. The keyboard excites me. I approach it with anticipation.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A: It’s just my wife and me, she is very supportive, and I am otherwise retired. I write when I want, sometimes most of a day, unless something like doing taxes interrupts.
Q: How do you define success?
A: I’m already a success! My first book has been published, and the second (a SCI-Fi this time) is half written and moving along smoothly.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
A: I think my situation and life-experience is so different from most, my advice would not fit others.
Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?
A: No – emphatically.
CRYPTO is available on AMAZON and from Twilight Times Books