Raised in a politically active family, Jess Money majored in Political Science with a minor in Economics. He sold his first magazine article at the age of 16 and has since written everything from ad copy and political mailers to a screenplay for DreamWorks, which earned him membership in the Writers Guild of America. Along the way he had a career in professional motorsports, worked with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball program, managed two of the entertainment industry’s most acclaimed screenwriting programs, and worked as a bar bouncer when that’s what it took to keep the wolf from the door.
His latest book is the political thriller, Public Enemies.
You can visit Jess at www.publicenemiesbook.com.
About the Book:
After bankruptcy took away his dying wife’s medical care, Thomas Paine is on a crusade for a Second Bill of Rights using violence against politicians, banksters, and CEO’s.
How far will FBI Agent Darren Medlin go to stop the public from joining Paine’s insurgency? Forced to publicize Paine’s demands, what decisions will talk show host Crystal Dickerson have to make? And which way will the country turn?
Purchase your copy at AMAZON
Would you call yourself a born writer?
Boy, that’s a tough one. My mother was a schoolteacher and my father was always reading the newspaper so I learned how to read before I ever entered first grade. (That was back long before pre-school, when kindergarten was all play, babysitting with a fancy title.) My mother always wanted to write and did sell some stories, won a few small poetry prizes, etc. She encouraged me to read and later to write, but I wouldn’t put myself in the class of, say, a Jack London.
What was your inspiration for PUBLIC ENEMIES?
I’ve been active in local politics with a citizen’s group against over-development and one night I was riding home from yet another council meeting where once again the council had ignored the expressed will of the residents about a particular project. I realized that, just like at the state and national level, elected officials aren’t afraid of very much at all. I remember saying to myself, “And you can’t just kill them.” In an instant, the mother of all fiction — the question “What if?’ popped into my head. What if someone could go vigilante on the sellouts from both parties? Of course, in the real world folks can’t go around knocking off politicians they disagree with. But that is the only real worry politicians seem to have, and once again, in fiction, it’s “What if?” But then I had to flesh out the complete story. There had to be greater goals than just revenge. And that was the tough part. Very tough.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I have a checklist fastened to the special stand under my computer screen to get it up to my level. (I’m 6′ 5.) That checklist includes:
“Projects which are interesting by virtue of the idea along.”
“Articulate people in extreme situations.”
“Angry men driven to tell the truth no matter the cost.”
Of course, I use the term “men” in the generic sense to include all people, especially since one of the lynchpin characters in this book is a woman, Crystal Dickerson.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
Overall, six years, but that’s a deceptive figure. I got the basic idea and started the book way back, then had to put it aside to write multiple drafts of two screenplays, including one for DreamWorks. I really spent almost all of 2011 and 2012 on the book, then half of 2013 dealing with the cover, the promotional plan, jumping through all the publishing hoops, etc.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
I’m disciplined in knowing that I have to work on the project. I’ve also learned to do two things:
a) Skip portions that are giving me trouble and go ahead with scenes or chapters that are somewhat clear in my mind. I often find that in writing the sections that come easily I come up with suggestions and solutions for the parts that are a struggle.
b) Do more focused research. If I’m having trouble with a part of the story line, especially regarding the plot, I know that I need to ask myself about what the characters would do in this situation, what their motivations are, how is this section supposed to impact them?
A typical writing day is get up in the morning, feed the cats, then do one of two things:
– If I’m feeling enthusiastic about the material I am going to attack that day, I jump right in. Often I can’t wait to get started.
– If, on the other hand, I’m dealing with a tough section I will surf the web to catch up on the day’s news then finally get down to work.
In both cases I write for three-five hours then take a break. If I’m on a roll I may return for an evening session that sometimes goes until one or two in the morning.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
Whittling it down. I’m ashamed to admit that the first draft was 192,000 words, of which 86,000 went bye-bye. But getting that first draft done, getting the entire basic story down on paper, is always the hardest part.
What do you love most about being an author?
The finished product. Up ’til that point, it’s all W-O-R-K. A prominent writing teacher I used to know says that creative writing is the process of starring at the blank page until your forehead bleeds.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
I self-published and I’m incredibly happy with the result. Established writers I know, some with a history of being published that goes back two decades or more, are now turning to self-publishing because unless you are John Grisham or Stephen King, meaningful advances have disappeared and backend royalties are negligible unless you have a book that sells really well. The economics of the publishing business are all now skewed toward self-published writers.
As for the process, it was hard in some ways, but nothing a person can’t master. Most of it is just administrative stuff: getting a bank account set up for royalties to be deposited into, selecting your cover artist and doing the cover, getting an ISBN number, navigating the different processes for e-book, paperback, and hardback publishing. Fortunately I’m friends with a wonderful woman and Amazon Best-Selling author, Christiana Miller. She’s forgotten more about self-publishing that most mortals are ever going to know and I highly recommend following her on HuffPo.
Where can we find you on the web?