My guest today is author Jim DeLorey, author of the explosive thriller Scream Cruise. Jim is here to answer a bunch of my questions, because, as most of you know, I love to ask questions! Before we get to that, let’s meet the man behind the words:
I am a Made In Detroit guy. A boomer, born after my father’s return from WWII, I came of age in the Sixties. I served in the army during the Viet Nam era and, thanks to the GI Bill, was able to attend and graduate from Wayne State University. While in school I began diddling around with writing stories and poems, and continued to do so afterwards, but without taking it seriously. After university I knocked around at a variety of jobs before getting into computers and networking, which I then did for about 25 years. A decade or so ago, I wrote my first novel – a rather misguided attempt at literary fiction – but was unable to get an agent interested. I retired in November of 2011 and since then have devoted myself full-time to studying and writing genre fiction.
My debut indie novel, “Scream Cruise,” is the first in a projected series of McCoy Johnson thrillers. There are two more McCoy books currently in the tube and I’m also working on a couple of YA projects. No rest for the wicked!
Here’s a look at the book we’re discussing:
Every August over a million people converge on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue for the annual Dream Cruise – when a massive array of colorful hot rods, muscle cars, sports cars and classic autos go rumbling up and down a miles-long stretch of steamy asphalt.
But as this year’s Dream Cruise approaches, a pall of terror hangs over the Motor City. A crazed explosives expert sets off a series of horrific car, bus, and truck explosions that soon claim hundreds of innocent lives. Then local authorities receive a demand for a multi-million dollar payoff to stop the carnage – or else.
With the body count rising almost by the hour, FBI agent McCoy Johnson finds himself in one white-knuckled race against the clock after another to identify the bomber and halt the killings. But with time running out, can he stop the Detroit-hating psychopath from turning the Dream Cruise into a holocaust of almost unimaginable slaughter?
On to our chat:
What inspired this particular story?
That’s easy – the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise, which is this monster car event that’s put on in Detroit every August. You have 40,000 or so hot rods, vintage, sports, custom and muscle cars cruising up and down an 8-lane thoroughfare, and a million people showing up to watch or cruise along with them. During one Cruise day a couple of years back, I found myself asking the question: what if a psycho were intent on committing mass murder at the Cruise? What would be his motives and how would he go about doing it? The idea grabbed me and in time it turned into the novel I call “Scream Cruise.”
I was impressed with the realism and detail, particularly involving your bad guy who likes to blow up stuff. What kind of research did you do for this book? Do you have a background in explosives that helped with the detail?
My only experience with explosives was throwing a single grenade in my army basic training, a lifetime ago. Fortunately, the Internet is a treasure trove of information and I was able to locate and incorporate enough detail to make it sound credible, at least to the lay person. I’m pretty sure a true explosives expert would not find it particularly credible.
Tell us about your main character, McCoy Johnson. How did you go about creating him?
After I came up with the idea of a madman attacking the Dream Cruise, I started asking myself who would be the person most likely to be able to identify him and stop him. That led to him being an FBI agent. For whatever reason, I started to see him as a black guy, much bigger, tougher and younger than myself. I then began asking myself what made him into the person he is. I brainstormed some backstory and that’s when I started to see him as having had a sister who was murdered. A sister who now speaks to him and shows up in his dreams. I leave it to the reader to decide if Ofelia’s a spirit or just a somewhat intuitive component of McCoy’s mind.
What attracts you as a writer to the Suspense/Thriller genre?
I’m sure it’s because the stakes – life or death, destruction or survival – are the highest of all. In real life we have to deal with our own mortality and that of those we love. It’s normally a more pedestrian type of death of course, due to age, disease, accident or whatever. And there’s generally not a lot we can do about it. Our identification with the thriller’s protagonist puts us in the position of being able to confront, thwart and even “slay” death. And I think that’s what makes the thriller genre one that’s satisfying to read – and also to write.
I should also mention that I find vengeance stories, and stories in which the bad guys get their just deserts in the end quite satisfying. Which is probably why I enjoy and find it easy to identify with the lead character in your Michael Sykora novels.
You’re working on the next book in your McCoy Johnson series. Can you give us a hint about what’s to come?
The next book has McCoy continuing his investigation of Bill La Borgia, the mafia-connected Internet porn magnate known as Willie the Pimp. A Russian-American mafia gang attempts to coerce La Borgia into selling his business to them, and when he refuses they start trying to kill him. McCoy, Oprah, and a person from McCoy’s past (whom I’m not going to reveal, heh-heh) find themselves in the middle of the gang war that results.
I’m already hooked!
Is your ideal writing environment silent or noisy?
Somewhere in between. I do most of my composing work in cafes, working on my laptop, because I like to have a certain amount of activity going on around me. However, it can’t be too much. If the place I’m working at becomes too crowded and noisy, I head off to one of my other spots. I have about three locations convenient to me that are good work spaces. I actually have a small home office where I live, but I use it for just about anything else BUT writing.
You have three choices for a weekend away: Disney World, a mountain retreat, or a beach resort. Which do you choose and why?
Hmm. That’s a toughie. If it were summer, I might well opt for the mountain retreat. But after a long, cold Michigan winter, a hot, sunny beach sounds like utter paradise right now.
color? I really don’t have one.
animal? Chipmunk. (There are lots where we live, and my wife and I love watching them.)
word? Far too many to mention. (Although due to the war on them in “how to write” books, I must confess to having developed a rather perverse fondness for nice, ripe, juicy, luscious adverbs.)
Thank you, Jim, for hanging out with us here today!
Scream Cruise is available on Amazon, in both print and Kindle format:
I hope you’ll take the time to connect with Jim and explore his fictional world.
Thanks for reading.