Jason Dean was born in South London in 1966. He spent many years as a graphic designer before turning his talent to writing the kind of American thrillers he has always loved reading. He lives in Thailand with his wife and is currently working on his second novel.
In a tweet can you tell us what THE WRONG MAN is about?
When close protection specialist, James Bishop, is imprisoned for the murders of his clients, he plans an elaborate escape in order to find the man who framed him.
Where did the idea come from and how did you research it?
For me, it was a fairly long, drawn out process. I spent a long time filling up notebooks with ideas, characters and scenes – essentially brainstorming with myself – until everything came together satisfactorily. And I’ve continued using that system with each subsequent book, although it doesn’t take as long now.
I research as much as I can at the plotting stage, but the rest I do as I go along. I don’t have any libraries where I live, so the web’s invaluable in that respect, although I do have to double- and sometimes triple-check everything. And, of course, Google Maps and Google Earth are both superb tools for scouting locations, except in some cases, you do actually need to visit the places you’re writing about. At least that’s what I told myself when I went to Arizona to research the second book.
How and why did you first start writing?
I wanted to work for myself. And as I’ve been reading and enjoying American thrillers for as long as I can remember, I figured I’d try writing one.
How did you go about finding an agent and getting published?
Simple answer: The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. No author should be without a copy. Right from the start the Darley Anderson Agency was my first choice, but the yearbook allowed me to pick out other alternatives in case they weren’t interested. Then I submitted the first three chapters, along with a synopsis and a query letter, to my top three. To my great delight, Camilla Wray at Darley Anderson sent me an email to say she wanted to see more. And then more after that…
Where do you write?
I’ve got a small office that’s partitioned off from our bedroom with sliding glass doors. I live in a hot country, and since it’s the only room in the house with air conditioning the dogs are usually in there too, snoring away while I work.
What’s next for you? Will we see more of James Bishop?
Definitely. I spent a long time creating Bishop’s history, character and personality, turning him into the ideal protagonist for the kinds of stories I want to tell. So I plan to keep writing him for as long as people let me. He’ll be seen next in the follow-up to The Wrong Man, Backtrack, which will be out early next year. I’m on the last lap of the third Bishop thriller right now, and I’ve already got a pretty good idea of what’s in store for him in the fourth.
What do you like doing when you’re not writing?
I guess reading is still my main interest. I’ve always got my head in the pages of something or other. And I’ve always been a movie buff, so going to the cinema and/or watching a DVD. Eating out.
What are your favourite books or authors?
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Silence Of The Lambs by Thomas Harris
Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
And finally, what would be your top tips for aspiring authors hoping to get published?
I’ve always found the ‘write what you know’ rule far too presumptuous and limiting. Says who, exactly? But I do think you should write what you love. Unless you’re writing children’s fiction, the book you write should be the kind of book you’d want to read yourself.
Also, write every day if you can, even if it’s for a couple of hours in the evening after you’ve finished the day job. Try to get a regular routine going until the act of writing feels like second nature. And set yourself an achievable target, such as a certain amount of words or pages per day, and stick to it.
The Wrong Man by Jason Dean, published by Headline, is out now.