Jon F. Merz is the author of the Lawson vampire novels (The Fixer, The Invoker, The Destructor, and The Syndicate, all Kensington), as well as Danger-Close (Five Star Mystery) and several Rogue Angel novels under the name Alex Archer. He has a new book out, Parallax, which he has released as an ebook. (Instructions on how to purchase Parallax can be found at the end of this entry.)
Jon is a busy bee these days, with a TV series in the works and the rerelease of the Lawson novels fast approaching (which I am eagerly awaiting, I can tell you!), but I still had the opportunity to pick his brain recently, and I thought I would post some of the questions and answers here for you guys to read. I’m going to strart with the cover for Parallax. It’s a beaut, too:
And here is the plot, as described on Amazon:
What happens when two professional assassins – one a Mafia hitman and the other a former German terrorist – kill at exactly the same moment in time? For Ernst Stahl and Frank Jolino the result is a psychic bond that slowly blossoms in each man’s mind, enabling them to see into the other’s world. Frank Jolino doesn’t like what he sees, especially when he realizes that Stahl is headed to his home turf of Boston to kill a scientist who may hold the key to solving the world’s deadliest diseases. But for Stahl, there’s no other option. Virtually bankrupt and with his son in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, he’s got little choice but to take the assignment. Jolino has other ideas. On the run from his crime syndicate for refusing to kill his ex-girlfriend-turned-government-informant, Jolino sets a plan in motion that will bring the two men face-to-face and gun-to-gun…with no guarantees either will survive.
OK, call me crazy, but that sounds like my kind of book! Now that you’ve read the blurb, onward and upward, as they say. Here is my conversation with Jon F. Merz.
Hello, Jon. Thank you for doing this interview.
Q: How long have you been writing fiction?
A: I’ve been writing for close to 20 years now, but it was only after I got out of my military/government work that I started really trying to improve and get a sense of what it took to be a professional writer. So, with that in mind, I’d say somewhere between 1994-1996 is when things started getting serious. It took me two years of hard work to manage to get my first short story published. It took another four years before I landed my first agent and got a book deal. It’s obviously a long process. I’m not an overnight success, by any means, which is fairly indicative of my character. I choose activities that are difficult and then work my ass off to get very good at them. If I want to accomplish something-once I set my mind to do it-I do not stop until I achieve my goal.
Q: Do you have a favorite among the books you’ve written? If so, which one and what makes it special?
A: The Invoker is special because Lawson has to deal with a small boy in it. I wrote it while my wife was pregnant with our first son and I used that excitement to help flesh out the character of Jack in the book. I also dedicated The Invoker to “the real Jack” since we named our son that as well.
-note- The Invoker is my favorite of the Lawson novels, as well. 😉
But I’d also say that my favorite books are the ones I haven’t yet written. I can’t wait to get all the craziness out of my head and down onto paper.
Q: Any favorite authors?
A: David Morrell’s Brotherhood of the Rose made a huge impact on me when I was trying to learn how to craft a thriller. I absolutely love that book and think it is probably one of the finest books written in the 20th century. It’s a master class in itself of how to plot, pace, and populate a novel.
Aside from that, I don’t think we’ve got enough time to list all the authors I love to read, but what the heck: Robert B. Parker, Poe, Maupassant, Asimov, Tolkien, Sun Tzu, Musashi, Winston Churchill, Jim Fusili, tons and tons more…oh, and here was this great book I really loved growing up called “Alan Mendelson & The Boy From Mars” (or something like that-been so long I can’t recall) by Daniel M. Pinkwater. A great, hysterical, zany book. Wish I still had a copy of it.
Q: What book, or books, are you currently reading?
A: I currently reading some very old books on Japanese martial arts and strategy. I’m on a big non-fiction kick lately.
Q: Parallax is an interesting premise. Where did you come up with the idea? (I should note that I have not read it yet, but in the spirit of this interview, I have moved it up to #1 on my TBR pile, so a full review will be forthcoming shortly.)
A: A lot of my experiences in life have brought me close to people who are experts at the more lethal side of things and I enjoy exploring the mindset of people like that. As with most of my other ideas, I had this thought about a Mafia hitman and an ex-German terrorist and knew I wanted to bring them together, but how? The “what if?” factor entered and I found myself wondering what would happen if two trained assassins killed at the exact same moment in time. The result is PARALLAX.
Q: I love the cover for Parallax. Did you design it yourself?
A: My cover artist Arianne D’Entremont is fantastic. I told her the idea of the book and then asked her to throw some ideas out. I had something very similar in mind to what the cover looks like, but I always try to let creative people express themselves first before I impress my own ideas. Ari came up with the idea and we refined it a little. The rest is a gorgeous cover I couldn’t be happier with.
Q: Why did you decide to release it as an ebook?
A: Parallax has been sitting on my computer not earning me any money. It’s been in front of editors who loved it but in their words, “couldn’t sell it” because it’s not a straight thriller but blurs the genre lines a bit with the psychic suspense thing. I got tired of not having it out there, so I simply decided to put it out myself.
Q: I understand there are at least four more Lawson novels. Care to tell us a little bit about them?
A: The Kensei (book 5) involves Lawson traveling to Japan for a much-needed vacation. But he soon finds out there’s no such thing as downtime when you’re a Fixer.
The Ripper (book 6) deals with a serial killer in Boston and involves a lot of Arthur’s backstory. He’s a character I haven’t really explored yet and look forward to doing so.
The Wraith (book 7) is about an enemy long-thought dead and gone. Lawson’s got to figure out if he really is.
The Guardian (book 8 ) exposes Lawson to a super-secret group of vampires and their goals for Lawson.
-note- Those sound excellent. I can’t wait to get my hands on them! 🙂
Q: You are working on a pilot for a Fixer TV show. Care to tell us a little bit about that? Is the pilot based on The Fixer or is it a separate storyline?
A: When I started batting around the idea of doing a TV show based on Lawson, I knew I wanted it to run alongside the novels, not be an interpretation of them. So the TV series will feature independent adventures happening at the about same time as the novels. That way fans can get right into them.
Q: I know Lawson will be in it, but will we see Talya, as well?
A: Oh yes. Talya is in the pilot and at least four episodes the first season. I have a well-known actress in mind to play her, but don’t want to reveal it until we finish negotiations.
Q: You also write under the name Alex Archer, any particular reason?
A: I was hired on to the Rogue Angel series after it had already been established. The use of a pen name was the publisher’s idea and one that could either be a man or a woman’s name. Harlequin is a master at marketing, ha!
Q: Do you have any other pseudonyms?
A: You mean aside from the profane ones? No. I write under Jon F. Merz and am happy to do so.
Q: Wow. Novels, chapbooks, ebooks, television…what is next for Jon F. Merz?
A: Oh, just a very simple goal of world domination through kick-ass multimedia entertainment properties. 🙂
Thanks, Jon, for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you the very best in your quest for world domination, or at least for large numbers of JFM books to fly off the shelves.
There you have it, folks. Jon F. Merz, a heck of a guy, and a ninja, to boot! Dang it, I knew there was a question I left off! I shoulda asked him about being a ninja…maybe I’ll save that one for my next interview. If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of Parallax, they can do so right from Jon’s Website, Amazon, or, if you want, just click the link below:
You can also get it for your Kindle right out on Amazon. Click Here to Buy PARALLAX at Amazon.com
That’s all for now, folks. Coming up in the not too distant future, my review of Parallax, and maybe a few other cool things. Stay tuned!