Interview with Tj O’Connor
Author of The Consultant
Author Tj O’Connor is here on the Blog, and I am so pleased to introduce him and his recent Action Flick The Consultant, which released earlier this year. Click here for my full review. Scroll through and read through the session where O’Connor talks about his characters and how he makes them too dangerous to touch, his real life Consulting Job in Washington DC, his next project! There is also the details of his book and the link to enter the Giveaway – You could WIN a copy of this fantastic book if you enter! All best!
Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Labrador companions in Virginia where they raised five children.
Dying to Know, Tj’s first published novel, won the 2015 Gold Medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY) for mysteries and was a Finalist for both a 2015 Silver Falchion Award and the 2014 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Mystery Book of the Year.
Tell us about the characters of your book. Which of them was the hardest Character to Write?
In my novels, in particular The Consultant, I always have a lot of characters. I’ve been both criticized and praised for it. The difficulty in writing some characters depends upon their role. Peripheral characters tend to be easy to a point—until I need them to do something significant and boom, they become a major character and I have to go back and rewrite some of their development.
In The Consultant, the hardest character was Caine—a dangerous, duplicitous, nomadic assassin who tips the scales on the story back and forth. Not until the end of the story does the reader find out what his motives are.
In the interim, I had to be very careful to keep track of his deeds and misdeeds and ensure that in the end, they were accounted for so that the reader would understand who he was and why. That’s tough when you have a character that is so integral to the story yet has to be shadowy and keep a lot of his motives and backstory a secret. I knew what his deal was. But I had to be careful the reader didn’t get too close to him or they’d figure it out before I was ready. Thus, it was a tightrope for me to walk and still makes him a great character to hate. All in all, I love characters that readers grow to hate. That’s why I write them.
Do You Have Another Profession Besides Writing? How do manage between both?
Yes! Regrettably, I’m still rather unknown and have to work a real job. Most authors do. Although at times, writing is more work than what pays the bills.
When not at my keyboard or researching a novel, I’m an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, threat analysis, and investigations. My books, as you might imagine, come from my world—both the mysteries and the thrillers.
In my life’s work, I’ve been a military federal agent in anti-terrorism and counterintelligence, a criminal investigator, and a senior executive in an international consulting firm. Today, most of my time is spent consulting with a Washington DC think-tank working in anti-terrorism with Homeland Security. The work that is both interesting and satisfying—working with the private sector to help defend the US against terrorism. That, and it pays the bills so I can relive my life vicariously through my characters.
What are you currently working on? When can we expect your next Project?
I just completed a sequel to The Consultant, what may be Book II of The Jonathan Hunter Thriller series. It’s tentatively titled, Provocateur.
Hunter is accidentally entangled with Cuban Intelligence operatives and ends up south of the border in Nuevo Laredo trying to locate a rogue Cuban assassin headed into the US for an unsanctioned, nefarious mission. Along the way, he encounters a mysterious stalker, an overly energetic NYPD detective, and a sophisticated and dangerous Cuban named “The Suit.”
Provocateur is with my publisher now for consideration. I’m also penning out a third book in the Jonathan Hunter Thrillers and a standalone suspense novel. Every spare moment not working in the real world is spent either promoting The Consultant or writing another novel.
What is your Inspiration for your Novels? How do you find them?
Finding inspiration for my novels is not difficult. Finding time to commit them to paper is the issue. Since leaving home after high school, I spent years as a military cop and military federal agent in the anti-terrorism and investigative world. After more than fourteen years, I became an executive of a private consulting firm that specialized in risk, threats, investigations, and a host of other fiduciary and fidelity crimes. Now, and for the past fifteen years, I’ve worked as an independent anti-terrorism consultant supporting Homeland Security.
All of these positions have given me a treasure trove of plots, characters, settings, and inspiration. Trust me. There are more evil plots in my head and in outlines on my computer than normal people might understand.
I’m really not a bad guy. Not demented or evil. Just creative. Really.
The other source of inspiration is the daily news cycles. Politics, corruption (aren’t they the same thing?), international intrigue all run rampant through the headlines. When I see the news and think back to my life’s work, I easily get ideas and inspiration for yet another novel to write.
Sometimes, my outlines for new thrillers and mysteries seem to be predictions of the future. Plots that could easily splash across the headlines at any time. I hope not, though, because in The Consultant, Jonathan Hunter is chasing a murderer and lands in the middle of a plot to reignite the Middle East into another war. In the first Jonathan Hunter Thriller sequel, tentatively titled Provocateur, Hunter goes head-to-head with Cuban intelligence and a plot to bring fire and fury down on our heads of state. Both plots started with my past experiences and were fueled by real-world events of today. My evil mind just put my own characters into the plots and boom (bad metaphor maybe) a thriller is born.
In the end, I doubt the world will calm down or that my life’s work will get boring. Until those two things happen, inspiration and plots won’t be far from my fingertips.
Tell us about your Hobbies. Do you have pets?
Working and writing near 100 hours a week doesn’t leave much time for hobbies. But, I love riding my Harley Davidson motorcycle, reading, and good film (I’m a big fan of 40’s-50’s film, the early science fiction and monster genre like the Creature of the Black Lagoon, The Thing, and the original Mummy movies). I also love hanging with my Labs, Toby and Annie Rose. Oh, toss in a good bottle of wine and a quiet evening becomes bliss.
What a lovely session that was! Thanks O’Connor for your time – really appreciated!
When a rogue CIA consultant goes AWOL from his Middle Eastern post in response to his brother’s plea for help, he arrives just in time to witness his brother’s murder. For years, Jonathan Hunter and his brother Kevin Mallory had not spoken―until Kevin’s final words, “… Khalifah … Not Them … Maya.”
Pursuing his brother’s killer, Hunter stumbles into a nest of horrifying terrorist activity by Middle Eastern refugees, which sparks a backlash across America. In the shadows, Hunter’s mentor, the omnipotent Oscar LaRue, is playing a dangerous game with Russian Intelligence. Neither Hunter nor LaRue realizes that a new threat―the Iranian threat―has entered the game. Stakes rise as two shadowy players are one step ahead of Hunter and LaRue―Khalifah, a terrorist mastermind, and Caine, a nomadic assassin who dances with the highest bidder.
As attacks escalate and the country drifts toward another Middle East conflict, innocent refugees become trapped between the terrorists and the terrorized. Prejudice, hate, and fear vent everywhere. Is this who we’ve become? Before the country explodes, Hunter must find Khalifah, learn the next terror target, and pray he’s in time to stop further annihilation.