By J. H. Bográn
While hosting the 2009 Oscars, Hugh Jackman joked about actors playing characters from other countries receiving nominations while that year he had played an Australian, set in Australia, in a film aptly titled Australia, thus being snubbed. This month I had the privilege to discover Australian author Steve P. Vincent and his novels, set in the United States—and other places around the world—and his real American hero of a character Jack Emery. NATIONS DIVIDED is the third book in this series, and Steve kindly agreed to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill.
What’s the jacket description of NATIONS DIVIDED?
Peace has been decades in the making, but chaos is just the press of a button away.
Jack Emery is happier than he has been in a long time. Nobody has shot at him or tried to blow him up for years, and he’s learned to love the job he thought he’d hate: Special Advisor to the President of the United States.
But nothing can prepare Jack for the work to come. As America continues to heal from self-inflicted wounds, an ambitious President McGhinnist draws closer to achieving the impossible: peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
As the countdown to peace reaches zero, a desperate group of hardline Israelis invoke the Samson Option, a secret protocol that will eradicate the peace agreement and pave the way for the destruction of America and the Middle East.
Jack has learned the hard way that when a crisis knocks, you don’t always get the chance to ignore it.
How did the idea for NATIONS DIVIDED come about?
Mostly it was a topic I wanted to know more about and try to twist in a fun way.
Though I think political thrillers are often reflective of the fears of the time they’re written, in this series I’ve really tried to avoid the stereotypical bad guys so common in political thrillers: Russia and Islamic terrorists. Instead, I’ve tried to find other interesting situations and nefarious antagonists to throw in Jack Emery’s way.
In this case, I wanted to explore the reaction of Zionist extremists to any deal between Israel and Palestine and, in particular, a willingness to end the world if their view of the world was disturbed. I’d had the villain in mind for a while, but it was nice that the plot that formed around him ended up being so strong.
What should we expect from Jack Emery in his third book?
A tougher Jack with a whole lot more in his face than in previous books.
In The Foundation Jack was unpicking a plot he didn’t know he was in the middle of. In State of Emergency, Jack was the little guy taking on the monster. In both titles, he had close friends to call on for help if things got too hard and, ultimately, he could have walked away from the problems he was faced with.
In NATIONS DIVIDED, Jack has an important job, high stakes problems and is one of the people calling the shots. He’s got thirty days to help avert a nuclear catastrophe and, this time, he can’t just take his football and go home. If he makes a mistake the whole world will burn.
Considering the topic and sensitive relations between Israelis and Palestinians, did you have a hard time with the research?
It’s a tough subject and one I think has potential for excellent thrillers. I don’t think authors should be afraid of difficult topics, though I did deliberately avoid the knock-down, drag-out minutiae of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. This is where it’s most sensitive and easy to get people upset. I start the book with the deal mostly resolved and focus instead on how people—and groups—react to it.
Of course, strongly worded press releases are boring, so I amplify that reaction significantly meaning Jack, and the U.S. Government, is forced into some pretty extreme action in order to defend the agreement and protect the world against some unhappy campers.
What kind of promotion are you doing for this book?
I’ll do my usual social media / blog tour / ARC blitz and a bit of a launch circuit.
Thankfully, now I have a few books out I’m building up a bit of a stable of support, which is nice. A few reviewers have been on board for the whole series, my fanbase is growing steadily and I feel like I know more about the buttons to press now I’ve got a few books under my belt.
Then there’s the support I receive. My publisher also has a great marketing team that punch above their weight. I’ve also had great retailer support for the books in the series to date, particularly from Apple iBooks, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that that continues, because visibility is everything.
According to your bio, you usually write in front of a large TV set, how often is it on?
If I’m being honest, most of the time.
I’m not someone who requires absolute silence when I’m working, so I tend to have something—music or television—on in the background while I tap away. I’ve written the entire series this way and I have the bad back to prove it.
Thankfully, my wife and I recently moved house and I now have an actual study to work in. On my newest project I’m actually splitting my time between the sofa and the desk. I’m finding the change of scenery can sometimes help get the creative juices flowing. My next job is finding a sweet new desk to write at.
Do you think that is your way of daring the devil and stand tall against temptation?
Letting my wife control the remote, mostly.
Though we share a lot of interests, for the most part we don’t enjoy the same type of television shows. No, what tempted me during the final edits of this book was my PlayStation 4. The new Metal Gear Solid and Madden NFL games called to me when I was supposed to be sweating over a keyboard. It was tough stuff.
Otherwise, I plan my books meticulously before I start, set my own deadlines in addition to publisher deadlines and sit down to work even when I don’t feel like it. This is a lonely craft, so any authors relying on others to keep them accountable and make them work are in the wrong business.
What are you currently working on?
Jack is having a bit of a break. He’s definitely earned it.
I’m currently plotting out and writing a psychological thriller. It’s a really dark book and, so far, the toughest thing I’ve worked on. The book is one I’ve had in my head for a while and it’s coming together nicely. I’m hoping that my publisher thinks so too!
After that, I’ve got the next Jack Emery starting to fly around in my head and I also want to start work on a series of novellas—about 40,000 words each—similar to the crime serials of old. I’ve got a character figured out, now I just have to place her somewhere and give her something to do.
When he’s not writing, Steve keeps food and flat whites on the table working for the man. He enjoys beer, whisky, sports and dreaming up ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to write about.
He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and History. His honours thesis was on the topic of global terrorism. He has travelled extensively through Europe, the United States and Asia.