J.D. Rhoades<

J.D. Rhoades

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
September 28, 2008

Q.    Who is J.D. Rhoades?

A.    J.D. Rhoades is a mystery wrapped in a puzzle inside an enigma...but with a crunchy center.

Q.    What inspired you to become an author?

A.    Mental illness.

Actually, I started writing letters to the editor of my local newspaper, which turned into a weekly column. People who read the columns (including my editor) said "hey, you ought to write a novel." So I did. It didn't get published, so I decided the thing to do was write another one.

Maybe I'll just stick with the "mental illness" explanation.

Anyway. the second one I wrote was THE DEVIL'S RIGHT HAND. That one got picked up by St Martin's Minotaur.

Q.    How did you come about the idea to write “BREAKING COVER?”

A.    It was during one of those high-profile, missing kid stories that was all over the media. I suddenly had this image of this mysterious stranger stumbling upon the kidnapped child, suddenly and violently setting the child free, and vanishing. Which led me to ask the questions: why was he there? How does he know how to do this? Why didn't he stick around? And the story took off from there.

Q.    How did you come about the idea to have FBI Agent Tony Wolf working under cover investing a motorcycle gang who was dealing in drugs and porno movies?

A.    Well, after asking the questions at the beginning of the story, I needed some answers as to why Wolf was in hiding, who he was hiding from, things like that. I'd done some reading about outlaw biker gangs and the methamphetamine trade. They often start out small and build themselves into a multifaceted criminal enterprise. and they can be incredibly vicious. So this seemed like a good antagonist.

Q.    How did you come about Johnny, Nathan and Clay’s character?

A.    I wanted someone with a real grudge against Wolf, someone with a good reason to really hate him and who wants him not just to die, but to suffer. That's where Johnny came from. I wanted some points of conflict among the antagonists, because I like there to be conflict on every page, so I needed someone in the gang who'd sometimes be at cross-purposes with Johnny. That's Nathan's role. He's ruthless, but he's also smart. Clay's there to be scary. He's a wild card, a berserker. He creates tension because you don't know who he's going to go off on next.

Q.    How did you come about Gaby and Howard’s character?

A.    I've noticed that if I write a less than admirable character in one book, a future book will have a "good" version of that same character. For example, there were a lot of bad cops in THE DEVIL'S RIGHT HAND, so the cops in GOOD DAY IN HELL were basically good guys.

Anyway, I used to work as a TV cameraman, so I met a lot of TV reporters, and they seem to be a recurring characters in my books. Gaby's sort of the flip side of the Grace Tranh character in my second book GOOD DAY IN HELL. She's smart and driven, but she's also basically a good person, unlike Grace, who's just totally amoral and self-centered.

Howard's one of my favorite characters. I wanted a sort of wisecracking mentor/guardian for Gaby, and Howard just sort of sprung up. He respects Gaby's hard work and sees her almost as a daughter. Plus, he's just cool. I'd love to see Samuel L. Jackson play Howard, but he's a top of the marquee player, so I don't know if that'd ever happen.

Q.    How long have you been writing?

A.    I started the column in 1998. I used to write quite a bit in my youth until I took a series of creative writing courses in college, which basically convinced me I had nothing to say and that the genre fiction (mysteries and sci-fi) that I was writing was crap. I didn't write any fiction for 15 years after that.

Q.    How many books have you written?

A.    Counting the first unpublished one, six. The ones published so far are THE DEVIL'S RIGHT HAND; GOOD DAY IN HELL; SAFE AND SOUND; and BREAKING COVER. I have one on submission right now called STORM SURGE.

Q.    Are you currently working on another novel?

A.    Yes, I just started a new one.

Q.    What message would you like readers to receive from reading “BREAKING COVER?”

A.    That J.D. Rhoades is a hell of a thriller writer and you should go out and buy all of his books.