This week on Reade and Write I welcome James Callan, author of the Crystal Moore Suspense series as well as numerous other books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Tell me about your new book.
A Silver Medallion highlights the problem of slaves in the U.S. today. These people are held, not by chains, but by threats to family members left behind in a foreign country. My protagonist, Crystal Moore, discovers a woman forced to work for no money. Should she leave or even tell anyone of her situation, her two small girls held in Mexico will be killed.
Crystal would like to forget she ever learned this. But her conscience won’t let her. She finds she cannot sleep without hearing the children crying for their mother. But since the mother won’t admit her predicament, and the man holding her is well-connected in Dallas, Crystal realizes the only way to free the mother is to go to Mexico and rescue the two young girls first. If they are free, then the mother will be willing to escape.
Crystal is not an adventure seeker. But she is determined to help this woman and her two girls. Crystal goes to Puerto Vallarta where she is put in touch with Juan Grande, a mysterious man who agrees to help. If they succeed, both mother and children will be free. But Crystal will have two powerful and ruthless men, one in Texas and one in Mexico, who want her dead.
This is a contemporary fiction book.
Who is the audience for A Silver Medallion?
Anyone who likes a good suspense book. Of course, I think everybody should be aware of the problem of modern day slaves. If enough people realize this is happening, they might help eradicate this practice.
Tell me about the setting of your book–how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?
A Silver Medallion is set in Dallas and a small east Texas town, and in Mexico. I wanted the slave to be in a major Texas town with thousands of people around, but no one notices. Crystal’s grandmother, an important part of the plot, lives in a forest of east Texas. This is the second Crystal Moore Suspense and book one had established east Texas as the home of Crystal’s grandmother. The two young hostages are held in the jungles of Mexico, near San Sebastian. This is a mountain town not far from Puerto Vallarta. Since I spend a good bit of time in Puerto Vallarta, this is an area I know well. I was raised in Dallas, and I currently live in the middle of a forest in east Texas.
What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
Facing the fact that this type of slavery is widespread in the U.S. today. When I first read a small piece in the L.A. Times about this, I didn’t really believe it. But as I did a little research, I discovered this crisis of virtual slaves is a very large problem here, today. An editor suggested I write a non-fiction book on the subject. I decided that would be too difficult emotionally for me to come that close to the problem. A fiction book would allow me to highlight the problem, without actually meeting those enslaved. Even with the fiction approach, I still found it pretty emotional.
If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?
That’s a tough one. But there are some choices. For Crystal, Jennifer Connelly. For Brandi, Leighton Meester. For Eula, Meryl Streep. And for Mark, Clive Owen.
Have you written other books?
A Silver Medallion, A Crystal Moore Suspense, is my eleventh published book. The first Crystal Moore Suspense was A Ton of Gold. I also have a cozy mystery series. I have written two books on the craft of writing, requested by a publisher who liked my characters and my dialog. Plus another five books.
Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?
I have been in several critique groups. Currently, I am in one. Partnership? I wrote one adult mystery with my youngest daughter, a multi-published writer of middle grade books.
Do you write every day?
Yes. I write something every day. Frequently that is a blog or some marketing piece.
When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?
I always enjoy David Baldacci. Caleb Pirtle is another favorite. I like mystery and suspense, but my wife insists I read an occasional romance because it will help me with the female characters I write. I like Nora Roberts.
Where would you like to go more than any place else on earth?
I’d like to float down the Amazon. And I haven’t been to Russia yet, but now doesn’t seem to be the best time to go there. We’ve visited six of the seven continents. So, it would be nice to visit Antarctica, but I wouldn’t want to stay very long.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write, and write some more. Let someone else read your work out loud while you listen. Join a critique group which has some serious writers in it and who are not shy about pointing out weaknesses.
What is your favorite movie and why?
Cyrano de Bergerac with Jose Ferrer. This is an old movie. Ferrer won an Academy Award for his title role. Why? Perhaps because Cyrano was such an exaggerated character. Or maybe because he said, “When I write a line that sings in my heart, I pay myself a hundred times.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Remember your successes; forget your failures; learn from both.
Describe yourself in three words.
Energetic, didactic, unfocused.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?
What do I need as a writer? Answer: More readers.
Where can readers connect with you?
I have a website at: www.jamesrcallan.com and a blog at: http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog/. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My Facebook Page is at: https://www.facebook.com/james.callan.33865
Where can readers find your book?
The best place is Amazon. All my books are in print and digital. The Father Frank Mysteries are also published as audio books. My Author Page is at: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
Thank you, Amy, for inviting me to your site. It has been a pleasure working with you.
It was a pleasure having you on Reade and Write, James. I hope you’ll come back!
Until next time,