Bestselling author Jackson Coppley. Photo Courtesy of Jackson Coppley
Bestselling author chatted about his book “The Fire Starters: A Nicholas Foxe Adventure.”
Nicholas Foxe meets pyromaniac Ray Woodward, who exposes a plot dating back to the Roman Empire involving a man named Filius Egnatius. His guild of arsonists has plied its trade in secrecy for the past 2,000 years. The Incendium Artis guild is eager to remain relevant by staging fires to tamper with global markets. Foxe and his allies discover an even more destructive plot. Foxe works to wart this with the support of Ray, the FBI, and MI6.
Jackson Coppley, a consummate storyteller, illuminates in his writing what happens when technology intersects with human behavior and emotion. Coppley weaves his stories from a sophisticated knowledge of computer technology and an understanding of human behavior. Coppley’s resume includes a dynamic career with leading world communications and technology companies, and the launching of what the press called “a revolutionary software program” during the rise of personal computing.
As a world traveler, Coppley has developed an interest in and an understanding of cultural differences and nuances which play an important role in his stories. His YouTube video of him on the Hmong people of Vietnam, as an example of how he investigates other cultures, received thousands of hits. It is this sensitivity to human behavior combined with the potential of the technology that brings understanding to his writing of him a glimpse of what is yet to come.
‘The Fire Starters: A Nicholas Foxe Adventure’ has been very popular with readers and reviewers, can you talk about what inspired you to write this rather amazing book?
Tom Cruise in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ series, with a dash of Indiana Jones, inspired my main character, Nicholas Foxe. Like ‘Mission: Impossible,’ Nick puts together a talented team for a dangerous adventure. Like Indy, Nick is an archeologist who finds adventure in caves and wherever ancient relics are found.
After two novels where Nick and his team make discoveries that benefit humankind, I decided he would now uncover a plot to harm us. What could be more dangerous and destructive than fire? Hence, the story is about a guild of pyromaniacs.
In ‘The Fire Starters: A Nicholas Foxe Adventure’ you have created some fantastic characters, who keep readers engaged throughout the book, how do you create such intriguing and engaging characters?
There’s a response attributed to one famous sculptor after another: How do you carve a person from a block of marble? Answer: You simply take away the marble that doesn’t look like the person.
I started with a rough idea of who the character was and, after writing in their voice, I found the character taking over, telling me who they were. Chipping away at the marble, you might say. Nick, Rachael, Tanner, Lizzy, and the others became real to me as I began to see the world through their eyes.
A good story is all about the setting, the descriptiveness, and the raw energy that captivates, all coming together to have the reader turning the pages effortlessly. Your book includes all of them, what is one of the keys that you find is critical when getting into the writing zone?
When I begin a novel, I know how it starts and I know how it ends. I fill in the scenes in between through an outline. Then, the characters take over. When I sit down at the keyboard, the people I invented take the story in directions I could not have predicted, outline be damned.
I believe since my sessions at the keyboard end in cliffhangers, so do the reader’s experience. If the author can’t wait to see what happens next, so will the reader.
While writing ‘The Fire Starters: A Nicholas Foxe Adventure,’ did you learn anything new about yourself?
‘The Fire Starters’ was a walk on the dark side. Although I have mysterious, evil characters in my other novels, this was a chance to explore the mind of several, and one in particular, Ray Woodward. Ray is wrestling with his compulsion to start fires, especially after it harms someone near him. I’m hardly a pyromaniac, but I was tapping into the mindset of a sociopath and I didn’t know I could.
What was the most interesting feedback or question you have received from a reader about this book?
Several readers asked how I came up with these stories. I’ve thought about that question and never have found a simple answer. The best I can do is a little tale. I remember a college professor who walked into class one day, took the chalk and made a simple, round shape on the board. He asked his students what that was. I have received a host of literal answers from these college students, like ‘a chalk mark’ and ‘a circle.’
This professor did the same thing on the board of a kindergarten class, and the children provided an avalanche of imaginative answers. The moral is we lose the imagination of a child as we grow up. I guess I never grew up.
‘The Fire Starters: A Nicholas Foxe Adventure’ is clearly a hit with readers, do you have another book in the works you can tell us about?
Yes, I have another Nicholas Foxe Adventure in the works. I can tell you what my code-solving fans might detect. If they look at the broad theme of each of the first three novels in the series, they will be able to tell me the theme of the fourth, if not the title itself.
His bestselling book, “The Fire Starters: A Nicholas Foxe Adventure” is available on Amazon by clicking here.