To tease the very best out of May, the Media Team brings a refreshing and honest interview with Jack Silkstone. Jack writes incredible military ops novels which sends you on one hell of a gritty and edgy ride. His latest novel Seal of Approval adds a bit of romance in the mix but still delivers in action, hitting the adrenaline sweet spot.
In the states, May is Military Appreciation month and with Jack having a background in Military Intelligence, Counter Intelligence, and Special Operations made him an awesome choice for this interview.
Without further ado, here’s our Featured Guest Interview with Jack Silkstone!
Hello, Jack! Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions today.
My pleasure. I’m sorry it has taken so long. I’ve been running around jacked up on caffeine trying to get things squared away.
When did you first decide you wanted to write?
I always enjoyed writing as a child, and I penned a lot of different stories about my family and experiences. College took the fun out of writing for me, and I didn’t start doing it for enjoyment until I was well into my military career. On one of my deployments to a central Asian country, I started using writing to clear my head during down time. It was in this environment that I conceived the idea for PRIMAL, a vigilante organization manned by former members of the world’s elite police, intelligence, and military units.
Do you have a process you follow when you write? What is it?
I’ve got a real problem in that I always want to charge in all guns blazing. I found out the hard way that, when it comes to writing, this simply doesn’t work. I now employ a process to make sure I don’t charge down the wrong story thread and subsequently have to delete it. I start by crafting a rough outline of the story plot. Then I break it down into scenes and shuffle these scenes around until I think I’ve got a gripping read. That’s when the writing process starts.
Where is your favorite place to write and why?
I’ve got a little cubbyhole in my house that looks out over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range in New Zealand. It’s an amazing place to work. Although, sometimes the call of the mountain is a little strong and I find myself packing gear in my truck instead of writing.
Aside from writing, what do you do in your downtime?
I love getting outside with my dog. We spend a lot of time mountain biking and hiking through the mountains around Queenstown. The terrain up here is magic, and I find it’s an awesome way to clear my head. In the wintertime, I spend every moment I can on my snowboard. I also enjoy traveling, lifting iron, shooting, drinking and reading.
Are there any characters from your books who you identify with?
I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a little bit of my character in Bishop. He’s hot headed, and I’m not one to wait around for the perfect solution to a problem. Better to bash it with a hammer than get bored waiting for a screwdriver.
How much of your career has shown through your books?
A lot of people ask me if my writing reflects my military career. The answer is always a resounding, sort of. What my military career has given me is the ability to write realistic situations stemming from contemporary issues…. That sounds a little dry. Let me rephrase it. I can write cool shit because I’ve been able to do a lot of cool things in my career and worked with fascinating characters.
How do you feel social media and self-publishing has helped you as an author?
Without social media and self-publishing, I wouldn’t even be an author. Every major publishing house knocked me back and then when I did get a deal it was because I was doing well as a self-published author. That deal quickly turned out to be a lemon and now I’m back self-publishing again.
What was the inspiration behind your latest novel?
Hmmm, this is a sore spot for me. I’m a little like my lead character ‘Mike’ in that I always choose the wrong women. In fact, the only time I’ve been in a positive relationship was when a girl chose me. So, when I decided to write a romance/action novel, I drew on what I knew. Additionally, I had only just had the pleasure of working with some SEALs. Their camaraderie and team ethos is something I admire and wanted to capture.
How did you prepare your thought process with adding romance in your latest novel Seal of Approval?
My editor always joked that my best scenes were the romance scenes between Bishop and Saneh, in the PRIMAL series. So, it wasn’t that big a jump to make the love part the key driver behind the story.
After writing your latest novel Seal of Approval, do you think you’ll continue to branch out with more romance in your books?
The feedback I’ve gotten from people who have read the novel has been very positive. I’m already planning for a second and third in the SEAL series. I’ve also just finished turning it into a screenplay.
How often do you get writers block and what do you do to combat it?
Fortunately writers block isn’t something I regularly encounter. Although, sometimes thoughts are a little slow in coming. When this happens, I use buckets of coffee to speed up the process. I’ve also set up an airsoft pistol range in my garage, and I get down there and shoot paper to clear my head.
You write under the thriller genre, but what do you actually like to read and why?
Unfortunately, the downside to becoming a full-time writer is that you run out of time to read as much as you would like. I feel guilty if I’m reading and not writing. In saying that I do read every night for at least ten minutes before I fall asleep. Recently I’ve been re-reading the original Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy novels. These men were and are masters of the art of storytelling.
Out of all the books you’ve written for your PRIMAL series, which one is your favorite?
As much as I love the Redemption trilogy, I think PRIMAL Fury is my all time favorite. It’s fast, furious and pits the team against some seriously evil bastards. The location of Japan is also a favorite. An amazing country that I want to spend more time exploring.
Is there a book or author who inspires your writing?
The early Cussler and Clancy work were the first thrillers that captured my imagination. These guys were the masters of their genres, and I still draw on them for inspiration. A couple of years ago I spent a week in Venice. Ever since I’ve been planning an epic boat chase through the canals and waterways of the ancient city. I just need to work out what novel it will fit in.
Is there anything you’ve worked on that was particularly difficult to research? For example, how hard is it to research the likes of the Secret Service (MI5/MI6/CIA?), etc…
There is heaps of information in the public domain on most government agencies regardless of how ‘black’ they are. The tough organizations to research are the Chinese. They don’t put a lot of information on the web and as such a lot of what I write is pure speculation. That’s cool in its own right, though. It means I have the ability to make them as cool or as useless as I need them to be.
Out of thriller and romance plots, which do you find the most challenging to write?
Thrillers, they’re way more complex than any love story. Romance writing is a pretty simple formula. Girl meets boy, they fall in love, insert obstacle that keeps them apart, insert problem-solving and then they all live happily after. A good thriller has intricate threads weaved through it that may well include romance and manipulation.
Who are your thriller influences?
Tom Clancy, the master of the political thriller. I learned so much from reading his work.
Who are your romance influences?
Ummmmmm, OK you got me. I haven’t really read any. My romance experience extends to, How To Loose a Guy in Ten Days.
What was one of the best things you’ve ever experienced while working in the military?
There was this one time in I was knee deep in a swamp in…. actually, that sucked. In fact, lots of my military experiences involved being wet, dirty, exhausted and miserable. However, it was the guys that I worked with that made it awesome. The greatest thing you take away from the military is the friendships…and a seriously twisted sense of humor.
What are 2 pros and 2 cons of having your books on Kindle? What are the overall benefits of Kindle?
Pro 1 = a great platform that’s easy to use. Pro 2 = exposure to a huge audience. Con 1 = getting lost in the masses of new releases. Con 2 = People who use it to scam people and rip off other authors. Overall, Kindle is a great platform that has allowed me to write for a living. It also allows me, the content creator, to benefit from my hard work.
What made you decide to also make your novels available on kindle unlimited?
The underlying factor was the bottom line. I simply make more money being ‘in’ Kindle Unlimited over having my books on other platforms. It sounds brutal, but until the other e-book platforms catch up, I just cannot afford not to take the opportunities that Kindle Unlimited provides.
If you could give any piece of advice to a writer just starting out, what would it be?
Work hard to maintain and expand your readership. Maintaining is all about regularly releasing high-quality products that meet the expectations of your readers. Expanding is by far the harder of the two. I rely heavily on social media to bring in new readers and then the quality of my work to enthrall them and keep them reading. The smartest thing any author can do to retain and find new readers is establish an email database. It gives you contact with current readers but also the momentum to punch up the rankings and gain exposure to new readers.
Are you working on anything?
I’m currently working on the latest in the PRIMAL series, DECEPTION. It’s going to be a pretty hardcore thriller. Additionally, I’ve been dabbling in a little screenwriting and mapping out the next in the SEAL series.
Where can we go to find out more about you and your works?