No, we much all bend the knee to Mr. Born because it was he, and he alone, who cured me of my insane fear of public speaking. I’ve told the story far and wide (and, as some of you know, in the wrong forum, to the wrong people, using Mr. Born’s exact words – ahem), but I will sum it up here in less colorful language.
Nashville, 2007. The Southern Festival of Books. After his own panel, Jim was walking me to mine. It happened to be my very first time on a panel. I was scared. Actually, scared doesn’t even come close to describing the overwhelming fear and anxiety and panic I was experiencing (My palms are sweating just thinking back to it).
Jim saw my hands shaking as I opened a bottle of pills to take something to calm myself. He inquired why. I told him I was totally freaked by the idea of public speaking. He looked at me like I was a loon, and said something to the effect of, “What are you afraid of? The audience will rush the stage and beat you up?”
When I said, "Well, yes, that’s exactly it," we had a good laugh. He told me I was the expert, and I was the one who knew the most about my book. That the audience won’t know if I make a mistake or say something wrong. And they would forgive me if I did, because readers are wonderful people made of unicorns and puppies (I don’t’ think he said exactly that, but you catch my drift). I still took the pill, but it was the beginning of something for me. Every time I’ve ever spoken since, I remind myself that I’m not about to get mugged. It helps.
Jim has a new book out, which I highly encourage you to purchase immediately, and share among your friends. Any guy who will take pity on a scared girl and offer her succor is a prince among men, and deserves all the good things.
Welcome to the Tao, my friend.
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
"Night Moves" by Bob Seeger
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
Today I'm traveling to New York for the release of SCENT OF MURDER. I will be making a few notes on a co-authored book with Lou Dobbs. It is the sequel to last year's BORDER WAR.
What’s your latest book about?
Three K-9 officers and their relationship with their dogs. They end up on a task force on the trail of a kidnapper that forces them each to consider how far they're willing to go to catch the suspect. It explores the relationship between dog handlers and their super talented partners.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
Usually all my porch overlooking the water on a simple laptop. The only thing unusual I use is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It takes extra editing, but I've probably saved myself carpal tunnel syndrome.
What was your favorite book as a child?
THE LIVING SEA by Jacques Cousteau, and a young reader's version of MOBY DICK. I memorized the first page of MOBY DICK from my father reading it to me every night. I would then tell people I could read when I was only a couple of years old by looking at the page and reciting it by memory.
What’s your secret talent?
I am an excellent chef.
What book are you reading now?
WORDS OF RADIANCE by Brandon Sanderson
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
In my late 20s. I remember seriously starting my first novel (unpublished) in June of 1989.
Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?
Elmore Leonard. Yes, I worked for him for many years. Now it would probably be Bernard Cornwell, whom I have not met and will nerd out when I do.
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
Keep it in perspective. No one is shooting at you, and you're not putting a roof on a house in the middle of summer.
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
Go for a run.
Are you creatively satisfied?
Generally yes. All things being equal, I have a giant fantasy novel that would take six years to finish that I would like to write.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Good kids who have their heads on straight.
Alright, now for the really important questions:
Beach or mountains? Beach
Coffee or tea? Neither. I don't think I've ever had an entire cup of either. In my whole life.
Skydive or bungee jump? Skydiving
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Vanilla should be outlawed.
Winter or summer? Summer
Cake or pie? Cake. Pies are meant to be thrown.
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Pens or pencils? Pens
Truth or dare? Dare
Print or ebook? Print