September 15, 2011

Guest Author Jeffrey S. Stephens

It is both a pleasure and honor to be host to today's guest.  Melissa from Simon & Schuster contacted me and there is no way I was saying no to an author who received rave reviews on his previous novel, Targets of Deception, and wanted to visit and tell us about his latest book.  So, without further ado, please help me welcome, Mr. Jeffrey S. Stephens.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeffrey Stephens was born in New York City and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science at the age of 16; he completed a B.A. in Creative Writing from Pennsylvania State University at 19. Jeffrey began his first novel in 1970, which would not be completed for several years as he entered the Fordham University School of Law. His private legal practice has included extensive civil and criminal courtroom experience, and he has represented a wide range of celebrity clients. Continuing to practice law while completing several novels, he only recently decided to pursue his career as a novelist in earnest, with the encouragement of his wife, Nancy.

Nancy and Jeffrey live in Greenwich, Connecticut, where they raised two sons, Graham and Trevor. All avid skiers, golfers and tennis players, they have traveled extensively as a family throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, including a fateful trip years ago to Portofino, Italy, the setting for the climax of TARGETS OF DECEPTION.
You can visit Jeffrey at his website.

GUEST POST
WRITING THRILLERS IN THE MODERN ERA
 Jeffrey S. Stephens, author of
TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Someoneonce said that timing is everything. When it comes to creating relevant suspense novels in the twenty-first century no truer words have recently been uttered. As events occur around the world and are reported with lightning speed, they often lead to responsive activities and more media coverage as communication and action intertwine and seem to feed off one another. Markets crash, people panic, riots in one country lead to civil unrest in antother. For the good and the bad of it, we live in the age of instant access media.
         
Meanwhile, the creator of a contemporary novel—such as an espionage thriller—may take months or even longer to complete a first draft. By the time the story finds itself in its final version and makes it to print, it is likely a year or two since the writer first hatched the idea for his or her plot.

Now, just take a moment to recall everything that has happened across the global landscape in only the past two months. Then think back over the past two years! Suppose you had been writing a book about terrorism in North Africa featuring the Qaddafi regime of injustices. Today, as your book is reaching the stores, the dissidents have taken control of Libya and Muammar has become yesterday’s news. Or what if you had a grand notion for a plot centered around the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Sorry, but you’ve just wasted a lot of time and energy. The real-life account of his discovery and demise is far more compelling than any novel could be.

This is the tyranny of timing the novelist faces in the current age of our fast-paced world. When I began writing TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY I had the thought that our oil industry in and around the Gulf of Mexico might be a vulnerable point of attack for our enemies. As I neared completion of my first version of the book I awoke one morning to the news of the horrific BP oil spill. You know the expression “You can’t make this up?” Well I certainly had made it up, but reality intervened. I was obliged to go back, tear apart my draft, re-invent the plot and also change the story to incorporate mention of that environmental disaster.

 Interestingly, when I revised the terrorist plan being launched against our shores, I envisioned the villains using a hurricane to help cover their actions as they undertook the assault. I am no fan of damaging storms, believe me, but it turns out that TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY was released last week as nearly half the country was reeling from the awful impact of Hurricane Irene. Not something I had anticipated when I began the novel two years ago, but the ironic relevance has been noted by more than one interviewer.

Writers are not engaged in the business of predicting the future. Quite the contrary, a good writer deals with what has already been in an attempt to portray people and depict events in a way that will resonate with readers and hopefully make sense of this crazy life we live. If you choose current events as your palette then you certainly had better stay current. 
ABOUT THE BOOK
TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY


by

Jeffrey S. Stephens©

The CIA’s top covert operative is pressed back into service to uncover a secret alliance and to prevent the catastrophic assault these terrorists plan to unleash on the United States in Jeffrey Stephens’ exciting new ripped-from-the-headlines thriller.


Jordan Sandor is the CIA’s most effective agent—as well as its most dangerous—and he is on the move again. A former Iranian assassin has fled to Washington, seeking safe haven in exchange for information about a cabal of international terrorists working out of North Korea. It is clear their intentions are cataclysmic, but their target is unknown, and Sandor is assigned to lead a team into Kim Jong-Il’s fortress nation to uncover the details of this lethal scheme, then somehow get himself and his men out alive. Yet even as Sandor works to prevent this impending attack, two seemingly unrelated acts of mass murder are visited upon the sleepy, sensuous islands of the French West Indies. Now, as Sandor makes his dramatic escape from North Korea, carrying with him his dead and his nightmares, it is up to him to piece together everything he has discovered, knowing that the Caribbean strikes were only the beginning and that his mission has just started—the worst is yet to come, and it is racing towards the shore of the USA.



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