Today, I have fellow eXtasy Books and award winning, bestselling author Tim Smith in the interview chair. We talk about his latest release The Neon Jungle, a contemporary, thriller, action romance.
1. Hi, Tim. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
I live in Dayton, Ohio and I like to travel when time permits. My favorite getaway spot is the Florida Keys, but I also like to visit the Lake Erie islands near where I grew up. My other interests include music (jazz and Sinatra), photography, classic movies, and home improvement projects.
2. I’ve been perusing your eXtasy Books author page, and noticed you are drawn to law enforcement romance, whether a cop, a CIA, a detective, a spy. What makes you want to write in these genres?
I’ve enjoyed mystery/thrillers since I was in high school, and they’re still my favorite. What really made me want to write in this genre was watching old private eye movies, along with TV shows like “Peter Gunn,” “Mannix” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” I got hooked on film noir crime movies and if one was based on a novel, I’d get it from the library. This is how I became acquainted with authors like Raymond Chandler, Donald E. Westlake and Mickey Spillane, among others. When I decided to take up writing, I thought it would be fun to write in that style.
3. Your latest release is The Neon Jungle, book six in the Nick Seven series that released on July 12, 2019. Can you tell me what inspired you to write this book, and also write this series?
The basic idea for The Neon Jungle came from personal experiences I had with the music business. Some of the things that go on behind the scenes are less than glamorous, and there are some shady people involved, especially where the money is concerned. The series itself began with an idea I had for a spy thriller about a former CIA agent who walked away from the espionage business but keeps getting dragged back in.
4. Can you share your writing process through The Neon Jungle? Did the plot come first or the characters for this series?
The plot came first, then I had to decide which series I wanted to work it into. My other series involves a former cop turned private eye. I chose to make it a Nick Seven thriller because Miami made a good backdrop for the type of story I wanted to tell. The flashy facade and some of the sleazier aspects of the tourist mecca added atmosphere. Another factor was my desire to write a story that sent Nick Seven undercover to run a con game on the villain. My favorite part of the process was concocting the numerous “Aha!” moments that occur throughout. I wanted to keep readers on their toes with this one, and some of the plot twists happen without any warning. They just came to me as I was writing.
5. How much research goes into your novels since you lean towards law enforcement?
I know people who are in law enforcement, from police officers to military intelligence. I also have a couple of attorneys in my family. A good portion of my research comes from online sources, and I do extensive research when I travel to one of the locations I use. When you write crime thrillers, you have to be on target with your facts. In this age of Google and “CSI”-type shows, if you get something wrong, someone will call you on it.
6. Let’s talk about the main characters for The Neon Jungle. What do you love most about Nick Seven and what makes you want to shake him?
Nick is my alter ego, because he gets to do all the things I can’t. He had the great career that he walked away from because he’d had enough, and wants to live his life on his own terms. He lives in an exotic locale with a beautiful woman, he meets interesting people, gets involved in exciting adventures, and he never loses at poker or Blackjack. If I wanted to shake him, it would be for his cynical outlook on life. He’s kind of a dark character at times, wrestling with some inner demons.
7. The same for Felicia Hagens. What do you love most about her and what makes you want to shake her?
Felicia is a great character to write because she’s independent, intelligent, sassy yet compassionate, and she can kick ass with the best of them. She’s also sex on two feet, with a wicked sense of humor. When I conceived the character, I didn’t want someone who would just hang on Nick’s arm. I wanted her to be his equal. If there’s one characteristic that would make me want to shake her, it would be her overly simplistic view of things, but that’s part of her charm.
8. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write for The Neon Jungle?
There are several scenes with Nick and Felicia that reveal a bit more about their backgrounds and personalities. Those were fun to write. This is something I do with each installment, to keep it interesting. While it isn’t necessary to read the series in order, it’s fun to drop in little things like that.
9. What makes the Nick Seven series different from espionage romances?
I think the big thing that differentiates this series from other romantic espionage adventures is the ongoing relationship between two regular characters. This isn’t a James Bond, take-‘em-to-bed-then-leave-‘em type of series. Nick and Felicia are committed and genuinely care about each other. Their relationship grows stronger with each story, but there’s always the lingering question “Will they stay together or will Felicia decide to go back home to Barbados?” After I wrote the first one, a friend gave me some great advice—“Don’t ever let these two get married. You’ll ruin it!”
10. If a reader asked you why they should read the Nick Seven series, what would you tell them?
If you’re looking for some good old-fashioned escapism, told in a pulp fiction style with interesting characters, action, and realistic atmosphere, this is the series for you. There are also some seriously erotic encounters. Nick and Felicia generate more heat than Key West in July.
11. You can only recommend one of your novels to a reader, which would you recommend out of the books you’ve written, and why?
This will come as a surprise, but I’d have to say The Sweet Distraction (2010). It’s a romantic comedy that accurately portrays a developing relationship from both sides. I was able to show things from the man’s perspective as well as the woman’s point of view. The differences they both have to overcome, the fear of commitment, the realization that their relationship has turned the corner from hedonistic fun to genuine love—it’s all there, along with some intentional laughs.
12. Which novel is your personal favourite to write, and why?
I had fun writing all of them, but one of my personal faves is Warning Shot (Nick Seven Book 3). That one seemed to write itself once I got started. I think I like it because it shows a more compassionate side of Nick. He tries to stop an old friend from doing something dangerous that will have far-reaching consequences. Nick only does it to help one of the few people from his former life that he actually cares about. It’s a character trait we don’t see him display very often.
13. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Plotting the story and writing snappy dialogue. I enjoy creating quirky characters that step off the page, and realistic atmosphere that drops the reader into the action. I also enjoy doing research, especially if the plot involves something I’m not too familiar with. I’m really careful about accuracy when depicting locations. I don’t want someone who lives in the Florida Keys to read one of my stories and wonder “Has this guy ever been here?”
14. What do you enjoy least about writing?
The endless proofreading once the manuscript comes back from final editing. I enjoy collaborating with my editor to improve the finished product, but by the time it gets to the next step, I’ve read it so many times I’m actually tired of it. By that point I’ve moved on to the next one.
15. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
“The Great Escape”
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
“The Big Finish” by James W. Hall, one of my favorite authors.
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
ABBA. Their music is timeless.
- What song puts a smile on your face?
“Stardust,” one of the best-ever love songs.
16. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I hope people have as much fun reading The Neon Jungle as I had writing it. If they like this one, there are five more in the series. Thank you for having me as your guest. We must do this again sometime!
Title: The Neon Jungle
Author: Tim Smith
Series: Nick Seven #6
Publication Date: July 12, 2019
Published By: eXtasy Books
Categories: Adventure, Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Action
When two former spies help a friend with a problem, they cross paths with a vicious mobster in the neon jungle of Miami’s South Beach. Get ready for trouble in paradise.
Blurb: In the laidback Florida Keys, former spies Nick Seven and Felicia Hagens found a paradise far removed from the covert world of the CIA. Nick, content to run a bar on the Gulf and maintain a low profile, breaks his self-imposed exile when a friend asks for help in getting a local mob boss off his back. Popular singer Jimmie Rae wants to get free from the notorious Turk Morgan, a crooked music mogul who controls the Miami entertainment scene. Jimmie reveals that his girlfriend has gotten caught in Turk’s web, and he wants to get her out before it’s too late. As Nick and Felicia explore the neon jungle of South Beach, they encounter the dark underside of the music business. Drugs, prostitution, street thugs, and political payoffs are Turk’s stock in trade, and he isn’t one to relinquish control over his empire. Nick goes undercover as an international criminal to challenge him, but will he succeed in breaking Turk’s hold over Jimmie and his girl? Can Nick use the sting operation to solve a cold case murder he discovers by accident? What other secrets will he uncover?
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author of romantic mystery/thrillers and contemporary erotic romance. He is also a photographer, freelance writer, editor, and blogger. His novels featuring former CIA agent Nick Seven have garnered several awards and international critical praise. When he isn’t writing, he can often be found in The Florida Keys, doing research between parasailing and seeking out the perfect Mojito.