Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trouble In Tropical Paradise: An interview with adventure author J.D. Gordon

Today, I'm talking with action adventure author J.D. Gordon about Dartboard, his latest novel of tropical adventure.

1) Please tell us about your book.
One of my favorite authors recently offered up a blurb for the story. The fellow's name is Paul Kemprecos. Paul is wonderful author in his own right but he's also the bestselling author of Clive Cussler's NUMA Files. Paul summed it up best when he said "Dartboard is a rollicking adventure by any measure. Writing with amazing energy and wild imagination, J. D. Gordon has churned out a tale that’s a cross between Carl Hiassen and Treasure Island. It's loaded with zany and deadly characters. Exotic locales. And pure fun!"

The story starts out with a historical sequence set in the Caribbean during the late 1700s which tells of the sinking of the Lorraine, a British treasure ship. The story moves to the present day where Jimmy Quigley, a small town cop inherits a boat from his Uncle Jackson, a reclusive Museum man for the Field Museum in Chicago. On the boat he finds a treasure map. Hot on his tail is another nutty museum man, Jackson's old assistant, the Ratman. Ratman has hooked up with a pair PIs and some displaced candy queens from Wisconsin. There are pirates too. Its the Caribbean, there has to be pirates right? Everyone of them has their sights set on this lost loot buried on a remote island in the Caribbean.

2) What inspired this book?

Prior to Dartboard, I had written three books centered around a protagonist named Eddie Gilbert. Eddie is a firefighter from the Midwest. He's a reluctant hero as well, caught up in deadly sparring matches with the Crows, a family crime syndicate operating in the Caribbean. So, we see a Caribbean theme here. I love the islands, a mysterious and exciting location for sure, anything can happen down there making it really easy to fiction. Well, it was time to set Eddie aside. I wanted to see if I could write a new character so I came up with Jimmy Quigley. I did want to keep it in the Caribbean, I'm kind of big Jimmy Buffett fan, you see my stuff is littered with quite a bit of booze and other such intoxicating substances. I'm also a big fan of action adventure, a big fan of Clive Cussler, that being the case, I do like to keep the bullets flying and the bombs blowing up, say a fluffy boat drink in one hand, an assault rifle in the other. I think it works. I like to add humor to my stories, nothing too serious or difficult to read. Its great beach reading or by the pool or on the plane.

3) Boats are a major aspect of your stories. Can you tell us about your own sailing experience?

Well, I've been on few in my time, pleasure boating mostly but honestly, growing up in Chicago I have to admit I haven't much practical experience. I do love boats though, especially old classics like the yacht featured in the story, and sail boats rock too. There's one of those in the story as well. That's one of nice things about writing fiction, if you don't know something, look it up, if that doesn't work, make it up. I'd like to say that one day, or someday, I'll live that old school, life long dream many have and sail around the world. Unfortunately, my wife gets sea sick just looking at a boat. I'll think I'll be stuck with my feet in the sand just writing about the stuff and not actually getting out there for any real time under sail.

4) What is it that continues to appeal to people over the decades and centuries so much about treasure hunt stories?

Who doesn't want to strike it rich? Beyond that, I think many people just like the idea of getting away from their desk, leaving all that stuff behind, getting out on the ocean and just seeing where the tides take them. Its something very few people will ever have a chance to do in real life, but at least we can read about folks who do, whether they're real or not.

5) Many of your previous books, such as Island Bound, were also tropical adventure stories. Why do you find such settings so intriguing? Will Eddie Gilbert or Jimmy Quigley end up in the Bering Sea and a heavy coat in a future book?

Wow, Island Bound, someone has done their homework! My first book ever! I've recently opened that book up just to take a look at it. I hadn't done so in years. I was amazed to see the difference in the writing and embarrassed that I ever tossed that one out there. But we all have to start somewhere right? I'm thinking Island Bound needs a rewrite and then another toss out, we'll see. Anyway, to answer your question, No freakin' way will any of my writing end up in the Bering Sea, at least I hope not. It's too damn cold up there. I am considering a Chicago-based story that would include some time out on the freshwater. But you can be sure it will be summer time and that Caribbean feel will somehow be stuck in there.

6) Your protagonists are firefighters and police officers. How did your own background as a firefighter influence your writing? 

Well, when I first decided to try my hand at writing I recalled reading somewhere that one should write what they know. So what did we get? A firefighter protagonist, Caribbean locations, a few cocktails and plenty of guns, bullets and bombs. I spent fourteen years as a professional firefighter/paramedic. I left that gig after an injury ended my career. That's when I tried to get more serious about writing. Anyway, so a main character with a similar background just seemed natural to me, that, and no one else had done it. It seems like every adventure hero is some sort of secret agent or with some government in someway. They are always larger than life. I kind of wanted to write about a regular guy who really just got caught up in the role of being the hero. I switched over to a cop in Dartboard just because I was ready to give Eddie a break and try something new. A cop isn't quite like a secret agent so I figured it still fit in with that regular guy thing.

7) You've been compared to Clive Cussler. Was his work an influence at all? If not, is there any other author who influenced your writing?

Wow, compared to Clive Cussler, what an honor!!!!! His work was and still is a huge influence. I love the action adventure stuff. I feel my stuff is really much different than Clive's. Clive is a master at writing those intricate plots. He goes with the whole government agent deal and the future of the world is always hanging in the balance. I go for writing the adventure stuff but that's about as far as the comparison goes. We already know I steer clear of the government agent deal. My stories are not very complicated and rarely affect anyone beyond the main characters. I'm ust looking to entertain with some stuff that just fun to read. So I do look to Clive where the combat is concerned. I do look elsewhere for some of the other aspects in my stories. I love to add humor along with colorful characters and nutty locations. For that I look to folks like Carl Hiaasen and Christopher Moore. There are others of course but those are the big ones.


Thanks, J.D.

If you'd like to see more from J.D., please check out his website at

Dartboard is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for having me folks! Jimmy G

J.A. Beard said...

Thanks for stopping by.