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A Woman’s Work (Saving the Country) is Never Done

The Big Thrill Interviews J.M. Adams

By R.G. Belsky

SECOND TERM Book CoverA violent mob of angry political supporters descends on Washington just before the transfer of power to a new president. The lame-duck president claims election fraud and will do anything to stay in the White House for a second term. The vice president and leaders of Congress are put in grave danger.

Sound familiar? Well, J.M. Adams’ debut novel SECOND TERM is a fictionalized account of an even more nightmarish scenario than the real-life events which took place on January 6, 2021.

“I was despondent while watching the events of January 6th unfold in front of me on the television screen,” says Adams, a longtime journalist, about his ‘ripped from the headlines’ story. “It occurred to me the next morning that what took place at the U.S. Capitol was likely the first domino to fall, and there would be more days like this to follow. Although SECOND TERM is a work of speculative fiction, I intended it to be a warning of what direction our country might be headed.”

J.M. Adams

J.M. Adams

The heroine of SECOND TERM—the person who must save the country from disaster—is former intelligence operative and single mother Cora Walker.

We first meet Cora at the beginning of the book when she bravely thwarts a terrorist plot to kill Americans in Benghazi. Now, 16 years later, she is the press secretary for the woman who is Speaker of the House, and she is forced to spring into action again to save more Americans from another catastrophe.

Here’s how Adams describes her:

“Cora Walker is what happens when Carrie Mathison from Homeland meets Rayland Givens from Justified. She is a loving mother and a brilliant analyst. She’s also a hard-charging warrior who does not shy away from violence and does not suffer fools. She comes from a broken home, but it does not define who she is as a person. She’s devoted to her daughter, fiercely protective, and loves the country she’s shed blood for.”

Why choose a woman as his protagonist?

Fifty-nine countries have had women leaders, and the United States is NOT one of them. A little less testosterone and a measured approach might help our country right the ship.

“I have surrounded myself with strong women throughout my life, and I found it difficult to put a man into the spotlight role of the story I wanted to tell. Fifty-nine countries have had women leaders, and the United States is NOT one of them. A little less testosterone and a measured approach might help our country right the ship.”

As a journalist, Adams says he definitely drew upon his own experiences in the media to write the book. “Real events are my inspiration,” he said.

J.M. and Buddy

J.M. and Buddy

“I drew on a great deal of my journalism experience from my time in Kuwait at the Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base and the “Tip of the Spear,” Ali Al Salem Air Base, 23 miles from the Iraqi border. I also got to cover multiple military training exercises all around Virginia after the 9/11 Terror Attacks, as well as spending time at sea with the George Washington Carrier Battle Group.”

Adams said it took him 14 months to write SECOND TERM, but the handful of chapters about Cora Walker’s battle through the Capitol Building were written in January 2021.

He explains that he also did a great deal of research for the book:

“I watched more than 80 hours of footage from January 6th. Much of the material I used to research came from those who participated in the riots and live-streamed their actions from inside the Capitol Building. As far as the Benghazi attacks, I read and watched all the footage I could find, but the most pertinent information came from scores of government documents gathered to investigate what happened during that very short time period.”

J.M. Adams and Friends

Paneling at Bouchercon with (from top left) A.J. Tata, Adam Sikes, Taylor Stevens, Bill Rapp and J.M. Adams

SECOND TERM is set after the 2028 presidential election—and Adams said he used that timeline because he feared where our country was heading in the upcoming years with all the political battles.

“When millions of people want a single person to direct them instead of a three-tiered form of government, we run the risk of ending the American experiment. The United States was formed to break away from a monarch, not to throw away the will of the majority and trample the Constitution to let an autocrat seize the country and use it as his personal plaything.”

We pointed out to Adams that some authors avoid expressing their own political views in novels—they feel it will alienate a portion of the readers who disagree. Did he think about that at all in SECOND TERM?

“The funny thing is, I don’t feel I express any political views in SECOND TERM. SECOND TERM illustrates the shortcomings on both sides of the political spectrum.

“I don’t support either party, but I vehemently oppose any form of an authoritarian government and political extremism. I grew up in a time when Russia was absolutely viewed as the enemy. I still believe that Russia is the enemy, and I don’t want the United States to follow in the Russian bear’s footsteps.”

J.M. Adams and I.S. Berry

J.M. and I.S. Berry at Bouchercon

If this were to become a movie or TV series, who does he see playing Cora Walker? “Emily Blunt is choice number one followed by Florence Pugh, Chloë Grace Moretz, or Rebecca Ferguson. They’re smart, ruthless, and methodical in completing their mission.”

Meanwhile, Adams says he is hard at work now on a new Cora Walker adventure.

“Cora is already off to the races on another mission that’s brought her to the border towns between Texas and Mexico. I spent March and April border hopping between the United States and Mexico. I walked with families looking for a gap in the Border Wall, spoke with ICE and Customs officials in the U.S. and then listened to the stories of the Federales in Mexico. I’ve already enlisted Cora Walker to go down there and straighten this mess out. She has another story to tell, and she is once again hip deep in current events.”

The Big Thrill Interviews J.M. Adams

R.G. Belsky
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