Hi, James, it`s a pleasure to have you on the show today.
Thanks for having me, Judyth.
Well you have done some amazing things. Tell us a little bit about your journey so far.
Well, I am on one of the luckiest journeys of any writer that I know out there. Before Mad Dogs " I was able to publish my first novel Six Days of the Condor " which became a Robert Redford movie. I got to work as a Senate aide during Watergate. After Watergate I got to work as an investigative reporter for syndicated columnist, Jack Anderson. And since then I`ve been able to publish a bunch of novels.
I`ve worked in Hollywood with guys like John Woo, Steve Cannell " just had a great career and a great ride, so far.
Tell us what the inspiration was behind your new book Mad Dogs. "
Mad Dogs " was literally one of those books that awoke me from a deep sleep with the characters screaming at me to write their story. Mad Dogs " is, I think, best described by the Library Journal who said, It`s the "One Flew Over The Coo Coos Nest` for the cyber generation. "
It deals with the CIA secret insane asylum and five American heroes who find themselves framed for a murder and they must live out the model that they come to realize which is: It takes guts to be nuts.
I think that`s something that all of us face. I think at one time or another everybody has felt like they`re crazy and they really need courage to get them through.
Well, I know it takes a lot of time and dedication to writing a book. Tell us about the process that you go through.
Writing every novel is a different adventure. The writing of a book, I think, is so much determined by the book itself. Usually I have a solid inspiration that I start from. Some books I do a fair amount of outlining. But many books become a very spontaneous, ongoing adventure.
Mad Dogs " was more like that. I would wake up every morning with Mad Dogs " excited about where it was going to take me that day. I was not always sure. I think the best part of any book is the writing process itself. And when it`s going well, when you`re having an adventure, then the readers can have one, too.
Well you`ve had a very successful career so far. Tell us what key quality you believe all successful people share.
I think that success in any career, in any life, comes down to staying true to who you are, what you believe and what you want to do. There`s also a huge element of stick-to-it-tiveness of perseverance of hard work. You have to honestly face the challenge you`ve laid out for yourself and just keep going, you know? It takes a lot of courage just to get through this daily existence that we have. And if you`re true to who you are and what you`re doing, that`s your best shot.
Tell us what you do in your spare time.
Well, my spare time is really quite precious to me. I love music " especially the singer/songwriter driven kind of material of like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan -- many of the new women singers who have come out.
I also spend a lot of my time practicing Tai Chi as a real deep philosophical and martial art. I love my family; I get to spend times with them. And, of course, I love going to movies and reading novels.
Tell us about your kids.
Well actually my children are delightful. My son just began his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
My daughter [Rachel Grady] is, right now, a world-renowned film maker. She`s a documentary maker. Her first documentary is called The Boys of Baraka " short listed for the Oscar last year.
Her new movie is called Jesus Camp " and it is already creating quite a buzz for the Oscar and also for a nationwide theatrical release.
Well your children are definitely following in your footsteps.
(laughing) I hope they`re making their own footsteps. That`s the best you can ask for your children.
Tell us who some of your mentors are who have helped you along the way.
I`ve been very lucky in terms of mentors. I had not only Jack Anderson for my journalism writing career, I had a Senator named Lee Metcalf who gave me a Fellowship to let me learn how to write politics.
Along the way I`ve been able to follow what, I think, are the footsteps of some inspiring writers " Dashel Hammit, Raymond Chandler, Upton Sinclair, William Faulkner. There`s just a whole list that you can go down " John Steinbeck " who`ve really reached out and touched me.
If a young person were to approach you today and say that they wanted to be a writer, what advise would you give them?
I think that for any young person, the best advice you can give them is: Be as open to life and to new experiences as you possibly can. Don`t lock yourself down in real early judgments. I would say that if you want to be in the writing business, in the movie making business, in the singer/songwriter business like Tracy Chapman " I think what you have to do is you have to try to listen more and see more and (laughing) talk less.
You should consume the media that you are interested in becoming a star in. If you want to be part of the movie making business, you should be seeing every movie you can. If you want to write books, you should be reading every book you can.
Getting ahead is a large matter of perspiration and a small amount of inspiration.
Well, I`m glad you said that about listening because I`m a communications major and the first day of class, my professor said, Okay, we`re all here to learn how to listen. " And it just opened my ears and eyes to a whole new world.
Well, I think you got some advice that will serve you well for the rest of your life. We all tend to live in a kind of isolated shell that we build around our self and in order for us to deal effectively with the real world " and to deal responsibly " I think we need to learn to look beyond ourselves.
Especially, you know, I think most people in the world today, at one time or another, feel that either they`re crazy or the world is crazy. And when you have that feeling, I think you got to remember, like they say in Mad Dogs, " "It takes guts to be nuts.` So embrace your courage and just keep facing the world with open ears, open eyes and an open heart.
What is something that someone has said to you that you always remember to pass on to others?
What I think what I did was I distilled several things into what we, laughingly, call our family motto which is: Do good, be happy and stay true.
I think that if you can make your life a blend of those three things then you`ve got a shot, not only at happiness; but, at doing something worthwhile with these very few precious years that we all get here on earth.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
Right now, I`ve been working on a lot of short fiction. I`ve been working on some Hollywood projects. Mostly what I`m doing now is hoping that I can help Mad Dogs " get out there to as many readers as I possibly can reach.
And tell our listeners how they can find Mad Dogs " and more about you.
Mad Dogs " should be in almost all book stores. You can find it on www.barnesandnoble.com or www.amazon.com.
It`s a brand new book. I certainly hope that everyone will get a chance to, at least, take a look at it. And if you`re a lover of everything from suspense fiction to fiction like Fight Club " or One Flew Over the Coo-coo`s Nest " you should find it and it should find you.
It`s been a pleasure to have you on the show today, James, and I hope that you`ll come back.
I will come back wherever you want me to. Thanks for having me, Judyth.
To Listen to the Audio Interview: http://www.thesop.org/article.php?id=2273