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Friday 14 October 2016

ℚ The Judas Game: Shepherd [4] - Ethan Cross

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Judas Game (, The Story Plant, 400 pages), a Suspense, book four of the Shepherd series.

“Welds the balletic brutality of Lee Child at his peak to the cerebral chicanery of David Ely’s SECONDS.”– Matthew Quinn Martin, author of NIGHTLIFE

Synopsis | Teaser: Excerpt | The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Ethan Cross; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"I think that James Grippando hit the nail on the head when he stated, "Someone you know, something you did, some abstraction you fear, some desire you hold, some piece of news you heard and interpreted through your own moral prism—in short, the person you are at the time you put pen to paper—goes into those characters."

For me, that's what it means to "write what you know." That definitely doesn't mean that I advocate inserting yourself into your story. I'm not all that interesting. And I think we all cringe a little when we read the dust jacket of a book that contains a writer as the heroic protagonist. However, I think that characters become especially real and interesting when the author has given them a quirk, passion, hobby, flaw, emotional baggage, etc that is personal to the writer. This familiarity and first-hand knowledge comes across on the page, and as a reader, I find those moments to be truly captivating. You can deeply feel that person's pain, their need, their desires.

I guess what I'm saying is that I would never (or at least try not to) insert myself into a story, but I do think that there is something to be said about channeling a small aspect of yourself into a character when you breathe life into them. The trick is to do so and then let them live their own lives and be their own person."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for The Judas Game - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"Funny you ask ;-) I actually design most of my own covers, and I’m really pleased with the way this one turned out. It’s always a bit of a balancing act between having a cover that is eye-catching, fits with the genre, and has a connection or meaning to the events of the book. In this case, all of those factors seemed to come together well."
Why should we read The Judas Game and the Shepherd series; what sets it apart from the rest?
"Without quoting another blurb or running through the standard book description, I would say that my goal is always to write a book that I would want to read. And I love books that are fast-paced with a lot of action.

With my Shepherd series, I’ve tried to take the serial killer genre but put a slightly different spin on it. There are a lot of books out there that feature the hunt for serial killers; after all, these men are like aliens among us. They think and act in ways that most of us cannot begin to comprehend, which in turn makes them fascinating. But while most novels of this type take the police procedural approach and the following of clues to find the killer (and my books do have some of this), the series is designed to get the reader into the killer’s head and wonder how the other characters are going to escape.

In other words, it’s not a “follow the clues to unmask the killer” type of book. It’s more a “oh my God, he’s in the next room…and he’s got a shotgun” type of book."
Who would you recommend The Judas Game to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I believe that my books would be greatly enjoyed by the fans of authors such as Lee Child, James Patterson, Dean Koontz, David Morrell, David Baldacci, Thomas Harris, and Jeffery Deaver."
If you could / wished to turn The Judas Game and the Shepherd series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I’m going to run down my list of current actors and actresses who could possibly fit the bill for each character and briefly explain why….

Marcus - Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman (if he were younger), Stephen Amell, Sam Worthington, Chris Evans, Jensen Ackles, Henry Cavill

Marcus is my main protagonist. He’s a tortured soul with the frightening ability to get inside the head of a killer, a memory that’s both a blessing and a curse, and a gift for hurting people. The actor playing him would need to be physically intimidating, but also have some acting chops. I think Hugh Jackman could definitely pull it off, but he would be quite a bit older than the actual character. I would also love to see what Jensen Ackles (Dean from one of my favorite shows—Supernatural) could do with the role. He could definitely pull off the smart-ass part of Marcus, but I’m not sure if he could capture some of the character’s other traits. So the most likely candidate would probably be Chris Pine.

Ackerman - Michael Fassbender, Dan Stevens, Michael Keaton or Brad Pitt (when they were younger)

This one is probably the toughest call, but also a role that a talented actor could really have a lot of fun with. He’s been described as a less-cultured Hannibal Lecter by a great number of people. He’s cunning, ruthless, extremely intelligent, charming, handsome, and completely insane. I think Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Prometheus) or Dan Stevens (The Guest) could really shine in this role. And just for a bit of a wildcard… Michael Keaton. He’s way too old now, but if the movie was made 15-20 years ago, he could have been great. Don’t believe me? Check out Desperate Measures ;-)

Maggie - Amber Heard, Julianne Hough, Ali Larter, Charlize Theron, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rose McIver

Maggie is the primary love interest and a member of the Shepherd team. She’s strong, but not tough. She’s beautiful, but not girly. She also has deep-rooted personal issues and suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. Any of the actresses mentioned above could do an incredible job with it, so this one is too close to call."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I write crime thrillers. I’m not sure where my fascination first stemmed, but to give perspective, I’ve only read one fictional book where no one was killed or no crime was committed. It sounds pretty morbid when I read those words, but honestly, I think it all comes back to what’s at stake. The more that’s at stake, the higher the level of excitement and tension. My goal with writing is to create a book that I would want to read, and crime/action thrillers are the type of books that excite me because they have the highest stakes."
What is your writing process?
"I usually only have a vague idea about the ending and the events in the second half of the book. I’ll brainstorm a bunch of thoughts about plot points and the characters and their stories and motivations. Then I’ll usually do an outline of the first section of the book and try to channel that down into the first few chapters. I then let the story unfold in a pretty much linear fashion. Outlining further and refining ideas as I go. I consider my process to be a bit of a hybrid between outlining and pantsing. I like to think of it as linear story sculpting.

I typically start at 8:00 or earlier and don’t quit until 6:00. My usual spots for writing are either in a recliner, in my office, or a lounger, sitting in what I call “my secret garden.” If I’m writing in my office, I’ll typically have all the lights shut off. I read somewhere that we’re more creative neurologically in a darkened room. I find it helps me to focus."
What is in store next?
"The next book in the Shepherd series will take place in San Francisco and features a killer known as the Gladiator. And Ackerman, Marcus, and the rest of the crew will all be back as well. And I’ll let you in on a little secret… I’m thinking of killing off a character who’s been in the series since the beginning.

In addition to that series, I’m also developing two other series with some very talented co-authors. They will both be pretty unique adventures that are a bit of a departure for me, but I think that Ethan Cross fans will still really enjoy them."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I have two Shih Tzus name Gizmo and Snickers who are pretty much with me all the time. Typically, when I’m writing, I have both of them laying beside me, between my legs, or right on top of me, which sometimes makes it hard to reach the keyboard ;-)"
Absolutely brilliant! Good fur-babies, Gizmo and Snickers, helping your human ;-)
My cats do the same (I have one right next to me this very moment)... but they are a little smaller than your little ones ;-) Thank you for sharing :-D

The Judas Game
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Unknown said...

Awesome interview!
"I actually design most of my own covers" - I love that!
Hugh Jackman - woot woot! I'd watch it (even at his age now! lol)

I plan on reading this one after Christmas, can't wait. It sounds great!

CMash said...

Fantastic interview. I read this book, which was incredible, so really enjoyed this post.

Ethan Cross said...

Thanks for a great interview!