Jake Needham is the author several crime novels and legal thrillers, including Killing Plato, which is FREE today and tomorrow.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
” A lot of the fun in reading Needham’s novels is in trying to guess how much of the story is based on fact and how much is the product of the author’s imagination.” – The Wall Street Journal Asia
” Jake Needham has a knack for bringing intricate plots to life. His stories blur the line between fact and fiction and have a ripped from the headlines feel.” – CNNgo
For example, A World of Trouble, the third book in my series of Jack Shepherd legal thrillers, is based on the current civil unrest in Thailand brought about by a military coup that drove a popularly elected prime minister into exile in Dubai. The Ambassador’s Wife, the first book in my series of Inspector Samuel Tay crime novels, was drawn from the outing of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, as a deep-cover agent for the CIA. The Big Mango, my first novel, was based on the legends about the disappearance during the fall of Saigon in 1975 of a fortune in gold and currency belonging to the Bank of Vietnam.
I could go on, but you get the idea…
What is your writing process like?
I was a screenwriter before I was a novelist so I tend to think in scenes rather than longer narrative structures. I just try to write a great opening scene, then I come up with another scene to plug into that, and so on. When I run out of scenes, I know the book is finished and I stop writing.
Sometimes I do a short list of story beats that take me out five or six scenes from wherever I am in the narrative, but I’ve never been very successful in looking any further ahead than that. And I have absolutely no clue at all how the darned thing is going to end until I get there.
I always write in Scrivener, which is the best piece of dedicated writing software any professional writer can possibly own. It’s a totally non-linear word processor and it gives me the complete freedom to rearrange the order of scenes after they are written in any way I like. I probably couldn’t work the way I do without Scrivener.
What are some tips you have for other writers out there?
To be honest, I’m not great at tips. And I’m not even sure there’s any such thing as a useful tip about writing. How do you write a novel? You put your butt in a chair and you write 1000 to 2000 pretty good words every single day for 60 to 90 days. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It’s just that easy. And that hard…
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
Fiction: Innocent by Scott Turow. I don’t know how I missed this when it was first published, but I gather almost everyone else did, too. It’s an extraordinary novel. The best structured contemporary narrative I can remember reading in…well, more or less forever.
Non-fiction: The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gomley. If you want to understand how we got to be what we are today, and I’m not sure you do, this is the book that will tell you.