Somedays ago I read a book named Red States by Anthony P. Jones. I enjoyed this book so much that I decided to interview the author behind this entertaining read. Like the book, his answers to my questions were interesting as well. Let me introduce you guys to Anthony first and then I will let you read his mini spun answers. 😀
Tony was born in a small rural town Kenbridge, Virginia. He studied biology at Xavier University of Louisiana, medicine at Meharry Medical College and creative writing at the University of Virginia. He has spent twenty-five years in corporate America, fifteen as an Associate Vice president with Morgan Stanley. Tony has written for twenty-four years and has published two novels, Operation Smokeout- Allen Publishing and D8 With F8- Self/Brown Bag Books. He has a collection of seven additional completed novels as well as two screenplays.
Questions regarding Red States:
- What made you choose the title “Red States” for your book?
The story is taking place during an election year, when there is talk about Red and Blue states. The antagonist, Zhang Ju wants to make the US all Red States, China Red.
2. The government and mafia conspiracy and them trying to one up each other was something that I most enjoyed about the book. What level of interest did you have in the topic before writing the book?
I have always had an interest in politics, though, my taste has soured with the division we’ve seen over the past twenty years. With regard to conspiracy, I once told someone that I choose topics that make the average person say, “No fricking way” and makes the government say, “Humm.” When my first novel, “Operation Smokeout” came out, the Detroit Free Press questioned the plausibility— the book landed me a six-month stint on the NSA’s watch list, I had to meet with the NAS and it generated twelve calls from intelligence sources. Ten to twelve things I wrote came true— the book was a creation of my imagination.
3. There’s a good balance between action and description, neither one of the sides over power the other, which I really appreciate. How difficult was it to find the balance?
This is an interesting question. For me, the characters tell me where to take the book. I am simply telling the story “they” tell me to write. If it comes out balanced, it’s due to the story my characters tell me to write.
4. Were there alternate endings you considered?
When I begin writing a book, I generally know the beginning and where I expect it to end. As I get into the thick of things, the ending may vary a bit, I simply follow where the story leads me.
5. Which character from the book did you find the easiest to write about?
Wow, this is a tough one. I believe there are elements of the writer’s personality in each of his characters. Cole is sarcastic and uses off-beat humor to deal with difficult situations— much like yours truly. Zasha is strong, compassionate and on task, much like people I appreciate. Zhang is ruthless, driven and is focused on the task at hand, while disregarding any potential pitfalls to achieve what he wants— I recognize this guy too. As a writer, you have to have an appreciation, if not love for all of your characters. You have to be able to get in the head of each of them. Learning their complexities is something that comes as you write. Easiest? Cole and Zasha because they represent the Yin and Yang. IN Martial Arts, we learn to seek balance, Cole and Zasha represent this balance.
6. What got left out in the final draft?
In this book, nothing got left out. This story plays out as it was written. The changes happened internally. I wrote this book fourteen years ago, I did have to update technology to reflect things that have changed during that time.
These questions and Anthony’s answers gave me more insight about the book that I enjoyed reading. So, I asked him questions about being an author.
- Are you a plotter or pantster?
My stories are plot driven. Thrillers should never be planned, they are free-flowing and what happens in one seen dictate where the story goes. If you use an outline writing a thriller, your readers will know that you are trying to force the story. Thrillers should be free flowing, the characters will tell you where to take the story.
2. What’s more important for you: characters or plot?
For me, plot drives the story, but the characters tell you where the plot has to go.
3. How long on an average does it take you to write a book?
Every book is different. I put a lot of research into my stories. My first book took about five years and the last one I wrote took only a month and a half. Every story unfolds in its own timeline.
4. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write about than others?
Sex scenes are the most difficult! Sex is different in everyone’s minds— too graphic, not graphic enough, just enough to get the point across.
5. Which other genre would you want to try your hands on?
Thrillers are my stronghold. I have dabbled with drama and even a religious based screenplay, but I always come back to thrillers. Other genres cause you to think in different ways, I could do that, but I like the natural fit, I’m good at home.
After all these serious questions, I had to ask some fun questions as well. What better way to get to know a person than to ask them weird questions?
- Do you have any scars? What are they from?
Scars? My back looks like a runaway slave’s. The wrong relationships, trying to help people, who only wanted to use you, trying to be a good person in a world that doesn’t give a damn… and through it all, my daily goal is to make at least one person smile a day! I may not be able to effect the world, but I won’t let the world bring me down!
2. What do you want your tombstone to say?
Shoot your best shot— there is no way to stop me!
3. Characters often find them in situations that they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Five years ago, divorcing an attorney after twenty years of marriage. I am going to win! Not because I’m entitled, or deserve it more than anyone else, but simply because I refuse to give up!
4. Share a fun fact with us before signing off.
When this book becomes a hit, some will say that I’m an overnight success. They’re right, 9,132 overnights!
This is one of those cases where you can truly see how much of himself an author as put in a book. I wish all the very best to Anthony and his book Red States and also all his future endeavors.
If you guys enjoyed this interview and would like to check the book out and support Anthony then go get the book.
Buy this book: Red States (Amazon)
Watch my review on the book-