Author James Moushon: “Don’t hide from your readers!”

James Moushon spent most of his adult life developing computer systems—and thinking about writing mysteries. He finally took the plunge into crime fiction, and is now the author of the Jonathon Stone Mysteries: three novels titled Black Mountain Secrets (2012), Game of Fire (2014), The Cajun Ghost (2016); and a collection of six short stories, Operation Alpha Dog (2015).

And he’s launching three more Jonathon Stone stories this summer:

James is a great example of an author who goes out of his way to help fellow authors get exposure. He has interviewed and showcased hundreds of writers on his blog, HBS Author’s Spotlight, and more than 1,000 mystery writers on HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle. His eBook Author’s Corner offers writing and marketing news and advice.

James lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Q. Who is Jonathon Stone?

A. CIA agent Jonathon Stone lives in Long Beach, Calif. Belmont Shore, to be more specific. He is what his fellow agents call an Asset-On-Call; he may show up anywhere in the world. But he’s not a Bond type of guy. He uses his mind to solve the situations he finds himself in.

And like many single men, Jonathon likes gambling and drinking and the ladies.

Q. In what sub-genre would you classify the Jonathon Stone stories?

A. Murder mystery, thriller, intrigue, espionage and politics. I’d include cozy on the list, although the standard definition of a cozy specifies small-town adventures. I made a pledge when I started writing that I would not include bad language or sex scenes. I want my grandkids to be able to pick up a story and read a clean copy.

Q. Your stories cross into many genres. Is there romance in them?

A. I make references to romance, although it’s not a focus of the stories. Jonathon has an on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jill, who works as a barmaid at the casino he frequents. He also has some close encounters with FBI Agent Jodi Shannon, but business always gets in the way.

Q. James, how much of yourself is in Jonathon Stone?

A. We are complete opposites. Jonathon is tall, dark and handsome. I am…well, not that. But he does use logic to get though most of his operations, as I like to do.

Q. Do you put people you know in your stories?

A. I use the names of some people I know or close variations, but I don’t focus specific persons. I try to create characters that are tailored to the jobs they have to do.

Q. Perhaps you use situations you’ve been involved in in the stories?

A. I have lived or been in most of the locations where the stories are set so I’m familiar with them. I let my imagination do the rest.

As I said earlier, Jonathon finds himself all over the place. Some operations are in southern California, some in Arizona and some in the Far East. And I get some help from my family. I have a son living in Singapore (Operation Asian Tiger), a brother-in-law who worked at the Camp Navajo weapons and training site in Arizona (Operation Camp Navajo), and I’ve lived in southern California and Arizona for many years.

Q. How much research do you do?

A. I do a lot of research. Google helps a lot, and I use Google Earth to actually view the locations I am writing about. As a side note, if Jonathon visits an unusual location or I use a unique term, I include the Wikipedia text in the appendix for the reader.

Q. What scenes do you have the most fun writing?

A. I enjoy writing scenes with two of Jonathon’s cohorts, Chuck Chun and Wiley, his tech guy. They both like to give him a hard time, and he returns the favor.

Q. Are you a plotter or a pantster when it comes to constructing a story?

A. I am a plotter. And I like to base my stories on situations currently in the news such as sanctuary cities (Operation No Sanctuary), hacking (Operation Listen Close, to be released this fall) and missing airplanes (Operation Asian Tiger, to be released in August).

Q. Do you have advice for writers who are just starting to write crime fiction?

A. Study the top crime writers. They are successful for a reason. Spend time learning your craft; this is not an easy job.

And don’t hide from your readers. I do a lot of blogging to help other authors gain exposure, and some of the areas that need improvement are:

  • Provide a way for readers to contact you: either an email address or a website with a contact form.
  • Have an easy way for readers to interact with you on social media.
  • Develop a basic, consistent profile or bio. Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, etc., allows you to present yourself to your readers free of charge.

Q. What actor would you like to play Jonathon Stone in movie adaptations of the stories?

A. Jonathon is in his forties so an actor of approximately that age: Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest TV series), Rob Lowe (Code Black medical drama TV series), or Michael Weatherly (Bull TV series).

Thank you, James. Looking forward to more Jonathon Stone adventures!

Follow James on his website and on his blogs, which are linked to above.

About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based fiction writer.
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