We are happy to have Dony Jay join us today as he talks with Laura about his writing inspirations, his research process, and a few of his future projects.
Laura: Who or what first inspired you to write?
Dony: Well, I’ve always loved writing, but what first inspired me to write a novel? I can point to two books that I’ve read that really had a powerful influence on me. At least in prompting me to seriously consider writing my own spy thriller series.
Pursuit of Honor by the late Vince Flynn and Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. It was the first Flynn book I had read and I was mesmerized by the character, Mitch Rapp. Still am. I quickly read all of Flynn’s book. I’m a huge fan of his. I was very sad to learn about his passing in 2013. It almost felt like I lost a member of my family. He had that much of an influence on me. Never met the man, but I hear he was a real class act.
Lone Survivor just drove home everything I had always known about American warriors. And yet revealed so much more. That book personalized them for me in a way that you don’t often see. After I read that book, I really started considering writing my own warrior spy thriller series. Of course, I didn’t have the title for my book at that point, but I knew I wanted to write about warrior spies in such a way that honored them, personalized them.
One other book I must mention here. Fearless: The Adam Brown Story by Eric Blehm. This book didn’t inspire me to start writing. This book inspires (present tense) me to keep writing. It inspires me to be a better man. To be a better father. Please, please. Tell readers to read this book. Even before they read my book. Read Fearless. It is a powerful book. While I had been writing up to this point, this book changed everything for me. It gave me direction. It gave me confirmation. I suddenly realized that I wanted my book series to capture (if that were in some way possible) the essence of Adam Brown and all the warriors like him. Christ would be a central tenet of my warrior spy’s life. Of my own. I began to read the Bible like I had never read it before. So I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Blehm’s book. It should be assigned reading for every high school kid in America. Just a phenomenal story.
Laura: Wow! I love that authors have the power to do things like that. Inspire people to write and to be a better person. Since this was a subject that you were so invested in already, how much research did you do for this book?
Dony: Simple answer: a lot. I’ve read many books about special operations, intelligence, etc. They fascinate me. But as you can imagine, books only take you so far. I’ve tried to apply what I’ve read to the book, with some added knowledge I have from my “day job.” I filled in the gaps by using my imagination, and thus any errors in the book are solely mine. One of my goals going forward is to meet people who have been or are involved in special operations and intelligence work. Because at the end of the day, I want the books I write to honor them and be accurate. As accurate as they can be without giving away any real secrets or jeopardizing the men and women who are still serving. So, if you’re someone out there who is reading this and you’ve “been there,” shoot me an e-mail. I’d love to talk with you.
Laura: I really enjoyed the names you came up with for your characters and some of them were very unique. How did you choose them?
Dony: Believe it or not, I spend quite a bit of time mulling over character names. I use an all-source method to select them, which is just my fancy way of saying that the names can come from anywhere: names I’ve heard through my life; names I’ve seen in the news; names in phone books, online, on TV. Or historical figures. One of the names in The Warrior Spy is actually an anagram for a historical figure (I didn’t say a good historical figure). Can you guess which one? I mentioned this in the January edition of my newsletter, the Reader Intel Bulletin. (Readers can sign up through my website: DonyJayBooks.com.) I pull names from everywhere, thus “all-source.” Reagan’s name was the first one I came up with followed by Job Jackson’s and Maddie’s. Here is an example of the type of thought I put into a character’s name: Reagan Rainey is named after President Ronald Reagan. Rainey came from a character that the Gipper played in the 1951 film, Storm Warning. Though some names I choose because I just like how they are pronounced or look in print.
And one more thing with respect to character names. They are subject to change at any time, even right up to the day I publish. Well, almost. That’s the benefit of being an indie. I can break the rules.
Laura: When and where you do like to write?
Dony: With my work schedule and family life such as they are, I write whenever I get the chance. I have no set routine. I would love to be able to have a routine someday, but for now, I try to adapt and overcome. Coffee helps. I write in a quiet room on the top floor of my own private and very huge library. With a wrought-iron, spiral staircase. Ha. Kidding. My writing cave is the opposite of that. It’s usually noisy and a hurricane of activity. My son has his Matchbox cars set up in a city around me at this very minute. He’s making car noises. My daughter often is in the room, too, singing or working on a school project at a nearby desk. Usually there is music playing as well. Hawk Nelson or Abandon or Skillet or Kutless. It’s not easy. Trust. Me. But I just can’t bring myself to lock the door and tell them to stay out. Yet…lol. That’s something I struggle with. Being diligent with the writing, but also making the time to do things with my wife and kids. Being a father is my most important task in life. And I take it very seriously. So sometimes the writing has to wait. I’m just thankful for the time and space I have. Maybe someday though I’ll have that nice, quiet office.
Laura: What projects are you working on or looking forward to working on?
Dony: Right now, I’m working on book #2 in the Warrior Spy Thriller series, titled Artifacts of Conspiracy. My goal is to have it out sometime in late 2016. It’s a story that welcomes back Reagan Rainey and a cast of special operators and CIA sorts. The bullets most certainly fly, but this story is shaping up to be far more personal than that of book #1. Hopefully, readers will be pleased.
Regarding future projects, I would love to someday write a Hardy Boys-type series for pre-teens/teens, but right now I’m content to write the Rainey books. They’re all I have time for, frankly. And I know Maddie is a popular character from The Warrior Spy, so she may need to have her own book/series at some point. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.