Today I have an interview with Jordan McCollum, author of the recently released I, Spy.
What books have influenced your writing?
I’m sure everything I’ve read has influenced my writing in some way, but since I’m reading Ally Carter’s latest release right now, I’m especially aware of how her writing has influenced mine. Her YA Gallagher Girl series, about an all-girl boarding school for teenage spies in many ways was a semi-subconscious inspiration for the style of I, Spy, and the idea of a spy novel that deals with not only the villain’s plot but also the inner lives and relationships of the characters.
What kind of research did you do to write this book?
I was lucky enough to accompany my dad on a business trip to Ottawa when I was 15. While he was in meetings, I had free rein of the capital. (Can you imagine letting a teenager roam the streets of DC in the late ’90s??) When I couldn’t remember a detail—like how to get from the front entrance of the Château Laurier to Wilfrid’s, one of the restaurants inside—I asked my dad. (As a computer engineer, he’s also a great technical advisor.)
For an insider’s look at the real life of a CIA spy, I turned to a dozen CIA memoirs and references. Naturally, they can’t tell you everything, but after reading so many, you do start to get a good picture of the “spy life.”
Do you read reviews written about your book?
I promised myself I wouldn’t. I’ve heard from so many published author friends that reviews can really mess with your head—the negative ones are depressing, obviously, but even the positive ones can come back to haunt you, either giving you a big head, or making you worry you’ll never live up to those reviews!
In real life, however, I read reviews all the time, especially those posted on book review blogs when I’ve sent a copy to the reader. Fortunately, they’ve been mostly positive, and they usually make my day a little brighter.
What types of prewriting activities do you do? (i.e. research, outlines)
Once upon a time, I was a “pantser” (I wrote “by the seat of my pants”), but when I wrote a pair of parallel novels with a friend, we had to coordinate the events of the stories to keep them straight. Now I’m an inveterate plotter. My outlines aren’t too in-depth, but I follow my “plotting roadmap” (it’s also a freebie for subscribing to my email newsletter!).
I love research. I find the best little factoids to make things feel authentic, create great images and even plot and character twists through research. I don’t always start a lot of the research before I write—sometimes it comes in after I’ve finished the first draft. I typically research a lot on the Internet, and read everything I can get my hands on at the library.
What input, if any, did you have in the cover design?
I had a lot of input! My cover designer is awesome—but I knew that before I hired him, since he’d done some gorgeous covers for my friends. He made a cover according to my original vision, using the cover model I specified . . . and I didn’t care for it after all. Two revisions later, it just wasn’t working for me. I was consulting with a few close friends about the cover, and one of them told me what she’d envisioned for the cover. It was perfect. I described that to my designer, and he came back with this. It was love at first (fourth) sight!
I, Spy (Spy Another Day #1) by Jordan McCollum
Published by Durham Crest Books on Jun 5, 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Humour, Romance
Find the book: Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads
Canada is probably the last place you’d expect to find an American spy. But even idyllic Ottawa has its deadly secrets–and so does CIA operative Talia Reynolds. She can climb through ventilation shafts, blend in at the occasional diplomatic function, even scale buildings (small ones). But there’s one thing she can’t do: tell her aerospace engineer boyfriend Danny about her Top Secret occupation.
It worked for a year, keeping Danny in the dark, keeping him away from danger, keeping her secrets. And then Talia finally catches a hot case: Fyodor Timofeyev. Russian. Aerospace executive. Possible spy?
She can make this work, too–until Danny needs her at the same time her country does. And when Fyodor targets Danny? Suddenly her schedule isn’t the only thing suffering. Now to save her country and her secrets, Talia must sacrifice the man she loves.