Book Nerd Interview
Written under the name JE Thompson, his first middle grade novel, The Girl From Felony Bay, will be released in April 2013 by HarperCollins/Walden Pond Press.
When he is not writing he enjoys the outdoors in all forms: fly fishing, biking, bird hunting, golf and tennis. He lives with his wife and daughter as well as his Boykin Spaniel (Lulu) and his Jack Russell (Mr. Bean) and spends his time between homes in Charleston, SC and Hawley, PA.
In Charleston he is something of a self-professed do-gooder and has served on a number of boards focusing on education, health care and the environment.
Storytelling is something that both entertains and educates all of us. Through stories we learn about what frightens us; what excites us; what we love and hate; we fantasize about what kind of person we might want to be; we figure out what we really care about; what we value; we learn to communicate; to create images and characters that endure in our minds and become examples of good and bad
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I wasn’t always a writer. I used to be an investment banker and sold bonds to insurance companies, pension funds, banks and the like. It was a world very far away from the one I now inhabit, and I did that for over 25 years.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I learned to love words for their power and beauty and their ability to stir our emotions
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Creative, irreverent, funny
In your newest book; The Girl from Felony Bay, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
It’s a page turning mystery filled with action, adventure, intrigue, danger and even a little bit of history, and of course, two great twelve year old characters.
What part of Bee did you enjoy writing the most?
Probably the part where she and Abbey first meet and decide to jump off the dock into the river, in spite of the fact that Bee is still supposed to be wearing a cast on her leg. Bee is a girl who has been recovering from a terrible accident where she lost her mother and brother and was badly injured herself. Part of what her friendship with Abbey helps her rediscover is the joy of taking risks, living life and opening herself up to joy again.
For those who are unfamiliar with Abbey, how would you introduce her?
Abbey is smart, soft-hearted but tough, loyal, a complete tomboy, a girl who often puts her mouth in gear before her brain, which sometimes leads her to get into things a bit over her head
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would want Bee and Abbey to meet Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Both Mark Twain and Louis Sachar (author of the magnificent novel, HOLES)
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Writing is a great preparation for life because it teaches us 1) there are very few times you will write something once when it will be the best it can be 2) the great benefit of practice and editing and the unavoidable truth that we all make mistakes and we approach perfection only in small increments and by dint of great labor 3) you can love what you produce even though is badly flawed 4) to look at people and circumstances from all sides and thus to understand more fully.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I was a wrangler on a cattle ranch in Wyoming when I was 15. I roped, broke horses, branded cattle, bucked bales in the hay field, took maybe 1 shower in 6 weeks and had an absolutely wonderful time
What scares you the most and why?
Senseless violence because so much of it is produced by ignorance, and there just seems to be too much of both violence and ignorance in the world today
What is your greatest adventure?
My greatest adventure was when I decided to quit my Wall Street job and become a writer. It was very scary leaving behind the salary, benefits and security of having a senior position at a big firm and becoming an invisible nobody who sat by himself in a room and cranked out books. But having lost my father to cancer that same year, I decided that since life can be short and there are many things we can’t control, doing what you love is the one way to make sure you have a fulfilling life. Thus, I became a writer and pursued my passion.
when was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Probably yesterday, speaking to either my wife or my daughter. That reminds me that I haven’t yet said it today!
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My wife, who is also my best friend.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
Maybe the 1950’s when America had just come out of World War II victorious and flush with confidence. We were mostly at peace (except for a little thing called the Korean War); we were innocent (at least from our jaded perspective today); we had rock & roll, Chevy convertibles; gas cost 20¢ a gallon; the dollar was all-powerful; and the world seemed to be America’s oyster. I think it was a very joyous time to be an American teenager.
When was the last time you cried?
Me cry? Please, I’m a guy! Do you really think I could cry? Well, actually, the last time I cried was when I had to put my springer spaniel, Maggie, to sleep. I sat with her on the floor at the vet’s and cried like a baby.
Where can readers stalk you?
Downtown Charleston, South Carolina
But things just got a bit more interesting. Turns out the new family that moved into Reward Plantation has a daughter named Bee, who is the same age as I am. And she's just as curious about all the No Trespassing signs and holes being dug out by Felony Bay, in the corner of what used to be my home. Seems like someone's been poking around a mystery that dates all the way back to the Civil War--and it just might be the same someone who framed my dad.
I'm Abbey, by the way. Abbey Force. And if it takes all summer, I'm going to find out what's happening out on Felony Bay, and maybe even clear my dad's name.
This fabulous mystery adventure has that natural charisma that will instantly hook readers from the start. The newly formed friendship between Abbey and Bee is simply amazing. They simply had an extraordinary connection and their courageous hearts combined helped to reveal some of Felony Bay’s secrets. Abbey has much determination and it becomes quite clear to readers on what she wants and her willingness to get it.
Author J.E. has created a world of mystery and an epic adventure that is rare and precious. The summer South Carolina setting presented the perfect atmosphere to provide a wonderful history lesson. The mystery that needs to be solved is one of the driving forces that will maintain readers’ intrigue levels at peak points. The writing style gave the characters great dialogue that moves the story closer to solving the puzzle. The interaction between Abbey and Bee is simply appealing and it’s a friendship that is purely desired. Filled with action from start to finish, The Girl from Felony Bay is a magnificent story of adventure and marvelous mystery.