By Ethan Cross
Brad Thor named Marc Cameron “one of the hottest new authors in the thriller genre” and called his new book “an engrossing, non-stop tale of action, deceit and international intrigue.” With TIME OF ATTACK—the fourth book in the Jericho Quinn series—Marc Cameron has raised the stakes yet again for Quinn and the world.
Fear Is Contagious
In a small town in Utah, people are contracting a horrific disease with alarming plague-like symptoms. The CDC quarantines the area but outbreaks are already being reported in China, Japan, and England. Evidence suggests this is not a new strain of superbug—but an act of war, an orchestrated deployment of unstoppable terror…
Special agent Jericho Quinn, hell-bent on finding the sniper who attacked his family, steps into an even bigger, and deadlier, conspiracy: a secret cabal of elite assassins embedded throughout the globe. Infecting the very fabric of the free world.Exterminating targets with cold, silent precision. For Quinn, it’s as insidious as the virus that claims new victims each day—and he plans to wipe it off the face of the earth…
Tell us about TIME OF ATTACK in one line.
TIME OF ATTACK follows Jericho Quinn moments after STATE OF EMERGENCY ends, with the release of a deadly plague and the snap of a sniper’s trigger.
Do you have any marketing advice for your fellow authors? Any techniques that you feel have worked especially well for you?
Nearly thirty years in law enforcement molded me into a very private person so getting out front with these books has been a journey.
I never had a Facebook account until a month before the first Jericho Quinn Thriller came out in November 2011. In my line of work, quiet anonymity was the key to success so I’ve had to get past that, at least a little bit.
So far I have gone the way of the guerrilla marketer. Jericho rides motorcycles so I stay active in the motorcycle message boards—something I would do anyway. I host free giveaways of my books on a couple of Adventure Riding forums in order to build buzz.
Rather than doing a lot of talking about my books on social media, I try to lead an adventurous life and then post a photo now and then, letting readers see what I’m up to. I’m lucky enough to live in Alaska, a place where adventure is just out the back door, so it’s not like I have to go very far. I write every day, so my wife usually snaps a photo of me with my computer or writing pad at some point along the way—by a fire on the banks of the Yukon, in a remote cabin nestled in the Chugach mountains or at a camp on a motorcycle trip from Anchorage to Texas. Most recently she got a photo of me writing under a coconut palm on a beach in Rarotonga in the South Pacific.
One of my closest friends is a 9th degree black belt in jujitsu. We walk through many of the major fight scenes in the books. I post photos of that now and again. I think readers get a kick out of the process—as long as I don’t give them too much of the minutia.
One of the things that really seemed to help was the motorcycle trip I just mentioned. Again, it was something I’d always planned to do—not just a publicity stunt—but it allowed readers to follow me in one of my adventures and maybe get to know me a little better.
What kind of research did you conduct for TIME OF ATTACK?
Many of the locations and settings for these stories are places were I’ve spent time on work assignments over the last couple of decades.
I walk through every big fight scene in the mat room to make sure it will work.
I have the additional benefit of having a rolodex full of friends from the U.S. Marshals, AFOSI, Army EOD, Secret Service, ATF, etc.—as well as experts in weapons, knife fighting and other martial arts. That makes the research a heck of a lot easier.
I was in Las Vegas on business while I was writing STATE OF EMERGENCY, the previous book in the series. The casino floor and indoor gondola ride in the Venetian seemed like they would be the perfect setting for a Quinn to have a motorcycle chase but it didn’t fit in that book. I made diagrams and took a bunch of photos so I could get the details correct once I returned to Alaska and started the next book, then went back again when TIME OF ATTACK was just about finished.
Much of TIME OF ATTACK is set in Japan. I’ve been there before but that was more than thirty years ago. Luckily, I had a friend over there who agreed to show me around and act as my translator since my Japanese is pretty rusty. I was able to stay at the home of a Fukuoka police officer, interview him and his colleagues, and tour their department and training hall. The three weeks I was able to spend in Japan gave me a much more nuanced view of the culture and people than I would have gotten from memory or reading books.
And, of course I ride a BMW GS, which means every trip I take is research in its own way… At least that’s what I tell my wife.
Describe your typical writing day. How do you balance your writing with marketing, editing, plotting, and all other commitments?
I put the writing first, but I do try to carve out a few hours each day for email correspondence, publicity/marketing and research.
I love the research though and have to make sure I don’t spend too much time following rabbit trails around the Internet. I’ve found that I am just lazy enough that if I turn off our router, which is located in the kitchen, I’m too lazy to get out of my chair walk from my office at the other end of the house to turn it back on for some little thing I need to look up. Instead, I highlight the area so I can do the research later, all at once, then get on with the writing.
I’ve even been known to flee to a remote cabin with pages of the manuscript and a pen so I don’t have to worry about being tempted to check my email, answer the cell, etc. I just chop wood, listen to the wolves, and write.
I heard a quote once that said something like: “If Mark Twain would have had Twitter, he would have been amazing at it, but he never would have written Huckleberry Finn.” I think there’s a real danger in piddling around on the internet with blogs, FB post, etc, and letting our brain tell us we are meeting our writing goals when our work in progress is sitting neglected.
Apart from that, I make sure I tell others that even though I’m retired from the Marshals Service, writing is a real job so if they want my help with something, we have to schedule it the same way they did before. I’m not ashamed to say, “No, I have to work that day” when someone asks me for a commitment.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
My wife and I like to travel—but that just ends up being research. I like being outside. I love to ride motorcycles all around Alaska. I like anything that has to do with the water—sailing, fishing, canoeing, scuba diving—so I do those things when I have the opportunity. Sailing will eventually make an appearance in my stories. The ocean makes a great character.
There is rarely a time when I’m not thinking about a story, even between books. Lately, I’ve been spending a good deal of time at Northern Knives in Anchorage, chewing the fat about all sorts of adventurous stuff with the owners and patrons there.
I think it’s important for someone who writes about adventure to keep a toe in the rough water. I spend as much time talking to guys that are still the law enforcement/military business as I can, not just for research, but because I trust them—and they’re fun to be around.
As a reader, what are some of your personal pet-peeves? In other words, what’s your list of writing dos and don’ts?
I make all sorts of mistakes so I’m not one to point fingers.
That said, I’m generally turned off by writing where there’s an inconsistent point of view.
Not too keen on adverbs, though I use them more than my hero Elmore Leonard ever did. I like books that don’t let me take a breath. I also like books where the women are strong characters. I know plenty of women who are tough as the proverbial boot, and still remain women. I like that, and try to write my female characters that way.
What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books/authors and who has had the greatest influence upon your own work?
Reading a book called EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON by Sam Gwynne, about the Comanche Indians. I grew up in the area where much of of this story happened. Compelling stuff.
I don’t read much fiction while I’m in the middle of a book, but devour it in between. I love Elmore Leonard, Ken Follet, Brad Thor, Steve Berry, and David Morrell. I read anything Carl Hiaasen writes, and wish I had his wit.
What’s something that you’ve learned about the publishing business that you weren’t expecting?
I had no idea how much of promoting a new book would be the responsibility of the writer. I stupidly thought that once a New York publisher distributed my stuff that I could just move on to writing the next book.
I’ve also learned that editors, at least mine, are really after the same thing I am. Police officers can be a pretty suspicious lot, but I’ve really not had any bad experiences dealing with folks in the business.
Do you have any advice for aspiring (or struggling) writers out there?
Attend conferences and network before you try to hawk your stuff. The writers out there chirping about their great story are legion. Talk about your experiences instead of your story first. I realized at my first conference that every time someone asked me what I wrote, it was really just a way for them to get me to ask them about what they were writing. But, when we talked about horses, or boats, or motorcycles, or guns, or boxing, we could really get to know one another. The established writers will be a lot more likely to take you under their wing if they think you’re an interesting soul.
I had the good fortune of defending a literary agent from an assaultive drunk at a banquet one evening—and that opened a lot of doors.
Of course, you still have to be ready to talk about your book when the time comes.
Marc Cameron is a retired Chief Deputy US Marshal and 29-year law enforcement veteran. His short stories have appeared in BOYS’ LIFE Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post. His Jericho Quinn series—NATIONAL SECURITY, ACT OF TERROR, STATE OF EMERGENCY and TIME OF ATTACK (February 2014 Kensington) features an adventure motorcyclist, Air Force OSI agent and renaissance man who spends his days sorting out his life and hunting terrorists. Marc lives in Alaska with his beautiful bride and BMW motorcycle where he is working on the fifth book in the Jericho Quinn series.
To learn more about Marc, please visit his website.
Visit Ethan at www.ethancross.com