It was used before – in another interview (January Magazine/Anthony Rainone) – as a title for an interview – but ‘A STAR IS BORN’ so aptly fits Jim Born, that I had to steal it. And thank God -‘Write What You Know’ – is being taken seriously these days – else we may never have met so many fine writers – and Jim Born is a perfect example. He knows for sure from where he speaks. His first book – WALKING MONEY – was an instant hit. Jim followed up with SHOCK WAVE – and secured his place in the firmament. ESCAPE CLAUSE made his star shine brighter – and now – Ladies & Gents – put on your shades – FIELD OF FIRE is on the way!
One of the best perks about doing these interviews – is the opportunity to offer both the serious and not-so-serious side of my favorite writers and friends. If you’re gonna do one of these things every week, you might as well have some fun, right? At least my guests and I obviously think so. If you do too – then come along and have some fun with us. But if you’re looking for one of those no-nonsense, heavy into the mechanics of literati – the pulling of hair, the suffering for your ‘art’, the angst searching for that perfect paragraph – or that hidden key to the best seller list – this ain’t the place.
So – if you’re still with us – come along and meet Jim Born!
JIM BORN http://www.jamesoborn.com
EE: Rumor has it that the head man at the FBI – Bob Mueller – would look kindly upon you if in your next book you’d make the Feebs look like they were on the ball instead of – well – you know. Uh, your are mulling this over, right?
JB: I am a graduate of the DEA academy, which used to be in the same facility as the FBI at Quantico. I’ve heard jokes about the FBI since my first days as a cop. If you keep saying you’re the best and the brightest, you better prove it every day. Individual FBI agents are great. I’ve met a number I count as the smartest, hardest working cops in the country. But the agency continues to frustrate our desire to hold them in the esteem in which they believe they deserve.
My first two books made jokes about the FBI but in the end – FBI agents helped save the day. In last year’s ESCAPE CLAUSE – the FBI is not even mentioned.
Well, guess that should satisfy Mueller, huh? I’ll let you know after he calls me later today.
EE: I know you to be a devoted husband and father, Jim – but how on earth do you manage to remain a vital member of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, write intricate thrillers, go on book tours and attend cons? I mean, that is one very heavy schedule!
JB: I pretty much ignore my family. I steal most of my novel ideas, that’s a real time-saver. I have a mountain of leave time built up at work and I travel easily. All in all it works out.
Steal ideas? But…but…you’re a cop! Stealing is a crime! But I like it! Let’s talk, okay? Maybe you can help me find some antiques dealer sleuths to copy.
EE: And speaking of writing – what’s the scoop on the Tasker/Chin connection? That’s one dynomite lady. Hmmm?
JB: She is wholly fictional. Most of my characters are based, at least physically, on someone I know. It helps to visualize them when I write. Renee Chin is the exception. I liked her sleek, aggressive nature. She can learn from mistakes but not admit them. That’s talent.
Talent? No – that’s being a woman. Ohhh….I can already hear the screams from women out there now!
EE: How much teasing do your law enforcement friends give you now that you’re damn near a household name?
JB: I do take some – but I’ve never had anyone say anything nasty. All the people I work with are supportive. I get a huge kick out of being on a scene and having a cop there ask, "Hey, are you the guy who writes books?" And now it happens a lot more frequently.
It’s nice to know you’ve got a great cheering section – you’ve done a lot to honor your profession.
EE: What thematic plans are itching to get out from under that Kevlar? Is FIELD OF FIRE the beginning of more standalones?
JB: It started as a standalone – but Putnam has purchased the sequel to it. BURN ZONE will be published next year and follows Alex Duarte to New Orleans and Panama where his informant has been killed, sparking him to find the killer.
I have another, tender, coming-of-age story about a dull boy from St. Louis who moves to LA to be a screen writer and hits it big. Really big. I mean JUDGING AMY big. Then chucks it for the simple life back in the mid-west. It’s titled ARE YOUR FREAKING CRAZY?
Congrats on the new series! But, uh – the coming-of-age one? Sounds like a downer to me. I mean, this is the age of ‘I wanna be a star’ – who the hell is gonna cheer for a guy who left fame and glory behind? But – who am I to second guess you? So – who inspired this new tome? Anyone we know?
EE: What’s your greatest indulgence since you’ve become a successful published writer?
JB: I eat out all the time. And I bought a new truck. Is that indulgent?
Oh, you spendthrift, you!
EE: Time for the Walter Mitty Dream segment, Jim. What’s yours?
JB: To rule a South American country with an iron fist. To smash opposition and instill fear in all who know me. OR – To be a scuba instructor in the Florida keys.
I like your first choice better. How about starting with Venezuela? And after that…
EE: It’s widely known that you have a terrific sense of humor, but would you say it is your most marked characteristic?
JB: Along with my large nose, yes.
Awww, come on! You have a very aristocratic nose. Besides, you know what they say about men with an interesting nose, don’t you?
EE: Okay, you’re moderating a panel at ThrillerFest – and you get to select your panelists. Who would they be – and why?
JB: Donna Moore for the cool accent and humor. Paul Guyot for his experience in TV and humor. Peter Speigleman for some class and Jeff Shelby so the rest of us look good.
Uh, Jim? That’s only four panelists. You can have five, remember? I, uh…well…I know I need to work on my sense of humor, but I could bring age and wisdom. Think about it, okay?
EE: If you could change one thing about yourself – what would it be?
JB: That’s a tough question. It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable with myself. I wouldn’t mind having a range of emotion. People tell me it can be fun. I like being ‘even tempered’ but wonder what it would be like to let go. To get really excited or really bummed out.
Oh, that’s easy, darling! Just do it! But really you need to be Italian first to do it first rate. Call me, okay? I can help you there.
EE: Scuttlebutt Station reports Al Pacino misses Florida. He hasn’t been back since SCARFACE – and he wants you to get rid of Derrick Sutter and write him in your next book as Tasker’s new sidekick. What does Sutter think of that?
JB: Sutter wouldn’t give him a second thought. A miniature Italian man from New York wouldn’t last eight seconds with a Miami cop like Sutter. The city alone eats up and spits out guys like that all the time. I get a kick when I hear Pacino or Joe Pesci described as "tough guys". My daughter would kick their ass.
Speaking of ass – I’m laughing mine off now. Now you know why I married an Irishman.
EE: Who are the six living writers you’d like to have a night on the town with?
JB: I’ve already had a night on the town with a couple of them. Whenever we’re together, Reed Coleman, Ken Bruen, Jason Starr and I have a fine time. Throw into that mix Michelle Martinez, Christine Kling and Jonathan King and it’s a party where someone will get hurt. Wild, unpredictable and not too serious.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall. Might produce good On The Bubble material?
EE: My favorite spy tells me that many of your female fans went ballistic when you shaved off your beard. Seems there will be no more hotel room key cards thrown your way at cons anymore. Maybe you should rethink this, Jim? I mean, women buy a lot of books, darling. It would be a shame to lose all that adoration and sales to Eisler and Child.
JB: I gave my extra keys to Eisler anyway. By the way, he makes a cameo as himself in FIELD OF FIRE. The beard was a little scratchy and gray. I grew it for my police job but then had to keep it when that was the only way anyone ever recognized me at Bouchercon. The new look is easier and more professional. That’s a word you don’t hear in connection to me very often.
What word? Easy? So Barry’s in FIELD OF FIRE, huh? He’ll be my guest next week here – Hmmm. Wonder what he’ll have to say about that? You were kind, I hope.
EE: Who is your favorite fiction character?
JB: Harry Bosch
Ohhh…I love that guy too!
EE: What book do you wish you’d written?
JB: MEMORY OF RUNNING by Ron McLarty or, of course, the KITE RUNNER – by some guy. Both, I might add, are part of the Penguin family of fine books available at book stores everywhere. Always the company man.
That ‘some guy’ is Khaled Hosseini – and I’m very much taken by your choices. I think they say much about you as a person – and one I’m pleased to say – I admire – even if you didn’t include me on your panel or night out. But hey, I’m a big girl – I’ll get over it. Snif.
Thank you, Jim – for playing with us today. Please do come back again – and I promise to have a photo of you sans the beard. But it was just so…so…devilish looking, you know?