Get Lost in a Story welcomes James M. Jackson

Get Lost in a Story Readers, James M. Jackson is the author of the Seamus McCree Mysteries.  A few weeks ago, he played a mean trick on me--well a lot of people actually.  I was heading home from Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California.  Jim had provided readers with the first four chapters of his second Seamus McCree Mystery, Cabin Fever.  I was stuck in an airport, and at the last chapter, as I'm sure Jim intended, he left me shouting, "Nooooo." Worse than that, the book wasn't out yet.  So, I've been anxiously awaiting this very excellent book.  But I'll have my revenge.  I'm going to put Jim through GLIAS fun questions.  Please welcome James M. Jackson (and since he's not really in trouble--just devious and talented) Jim Jackson.
Cabin Fever

Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree returns in this thrilling sequel to Bad Policy. With his house in Cincinnati in ruins, Seamus retreats to the family cabin for some well-earned rest and relaxation. But his plans for a quiet, contemplative winter in the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are thrown out the window when he discovers a naked woman on his porch during a blizzard. The mystery woman is suffering from hypothermia, frostbite, high fever, amnesia—and rope burns on her wrists and ankles. 

Snowbound at the cabin, without transportation or phone coverage, Seamus struggles to keep the woman alive and find a way to get an SOS message out. What he doesn't know is that a domestic paramilitary organization is hunting for an escaped female prisoner—and closing in on his isolated refuge.

 Bad Policy

When private financial investigator Seamus McCree returns to Cincinnati after a routine business trip, he discovers that his home has become a crime scene for a brutal murder. The victim in his basement is an acquaintance from a previous corporate investigation-and endured bullets to both of his ankles, knees and elbows before the final shot to his forehead put him out of his misery. No one has seen an "IRA six pack" victim since the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

Now the primary "person of interest" in the murder, Seamus must use his talent for logic and hard work to prove his innocence. Soon he uncovers a trail that leads back to his Boston roots-and a poisonous family feud dating from the divorce of Boston's Irish mafia and the Provisional IRA in the 1970s. Driven by the chilling realization that there was more behind the death of his policeman father than he ever knew, Seamus ignores warnings from the police, friends and enemies and continues to dig for the truth. As the body count climbs, all trails seem to lead back to him, and Seamus is forced to go underground to find out who is framing him - and why - before he becomes the next victim.

Let's get to know James M. Jackson:

DONNELL:  Okay, just reading the blurbs of Cabin Fever and Bad Policy, I want to read these books.  Imagine, coming home to find a naked woman on your porch.  Here’s a question for you.  How would Seamus McCree handle the situation as opposed to James Montgomery Jackson?

JIM:  First, if I’m being called James Montgomery Jackson, I have a problem. Only the IRS and my mother—when I was in deep trouble—call me by my full name. It does distinguish me from all the other Jim Jacksons in the world. My publisher thinks of me as James M. Jackson, and I think of myself as Jim.

This event in Cabin Fever happens deep in the woods, eight miles from the nearest neighbor. Seamus and I would have initially reacted the same way and tried to stabilize the woman’s health. Because there is no cell coverage and neither of us have snowmobiles to get into town, we’d both try to attract attention. The main difference is that Seamus is a better athlete and can contemplate cross-country skiing eight miles to his nearest neighbor (and back) to try to get help. I’d be stuck waiting for someone to spot my SOS signals.

DONNELL:   What the heck is an IRA Six Pack?  And tell us how you came to create Seamus McCree?

JIM: During “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland the IRA had a particularly gruesome method of treating suspected informants. Rather than killing them outright, they would shoot the person’s ankles, knees and elbows destroying the six joints, leaving them a cripple. That was the IRA Six Pack.

The name for the protagonist came about as a play on words. Shamus is Yiddish slang for a private investigator. It is pronounced the same as Seamus, the Gaelic equivalent of James. With a first name like Seamus, he needed Irish roots, so I made him a Boston native and gave him an uncommon last name, with the hopes that if someone Googles him, my Seamus McCree will pop up.

DONNELL:  Sounds like you know your history.  I love the incorporation of histories in novels.  Was this something you wrote out of personal interest or did the story evolve as part of your research?

JIM:  I do enjoy reading history, but of course I was alive during the most recent spate of violence in Northern Ireland. The linkages occurred to me during one of the numerous rewrites for Bad Policy. I had placed Seamus in Boston, decided his father had been a Boston cop, and as I explored the motivations of several of the characters that particular sub-plot fell into place well-formed and tying up a number of loose ends.

DONNELL:  When you say financial crimes investigator, explain that, please. 

JIM:  Financial crimes run the gamut from the recent theft of Target’s customers’ credit card information, to money laundering by drug cartels, to Ponzi schemes by Bernie Madoff, run-of-the-mill embezzlement, Wall Street insider trading and so forth. Let Seamus loose with a bunch of numbers and he not only gets them to sing, he can tell which ones are out of tune. The thing that makes him prominent in his field is that he can explain arcane financial investments (and their abuse) to the rest of us using small English words.

DONNELL:  You also have a new release Cabin Fever.  Again with your protagonist Seamus McCree.  How much is Seamus like Jim Jackson and in what ways is he different?

JIM:  Seamus and I often think alike; we share a similar sense of humor, and we have common interests like birding. However, our backgrounds are not alike. He’s Irish Catholic and I grew up a WASP in a predominately Italian neighborhood. He's younger, taller, faster, stronger, smarter, better looking (including having a full head of hair) than I, and if that weren't enough, he's independently wealthy. He has one child, I have two; he’s struggling with his love relationships whereas Jan and I have been together for twenty years.

DONNELL:  You also are quite a bridge player, are you not?  So much so that you wrote a nonfiction book about bridge.  What level of bridge have you reached? 

JIM:  I hold my own with most amateurs and usually lose to the pros. The bridge book, One Trick at a Time: How to Start Winning at Bridge is designed for Intermediate players – folks who know all the basic stuff, but want to get better. It’s the book I wished I could have read when I was at that level of bridge expertise.

DONNELL:  You also have an educational background, don’t you?  Or am I making this up?

JIM:  That’s some deep background research you’ve done, Donnell. I graduated from SUNY Albany with a BS in Mathematics and minors in Education and Psychology. I thought I would be a high school math teacher. Fortunately, there were no jobs at the time. I love teaching people who want to learn. I have little patience with people who aren’t interested, so I don’t think I would have done well teaching high school.

I enjoy teaching bridge because the students want to be there. I try to make sure they have a good time, laugh a lot and learn along the way.

DONNELL:  I see that you split your time between Michigan and Georgia.  Any particular reason why? And which locale is your favorite?

JIM:  We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on an inland lake fifteen miles of logging roads from where you can buy anything. Although we did overwinter one time just to see if we could, it is cold and remote. The Lowcountry of Georgia provides a much nicer winter climate, but hellacious hot, humid summers. With our migration we get to experience two springs and two autumns each year. Since I like Spring and Fall better than Summer or Winter, I think we have the best of both worlds.

I love whichever place I am at the time.

DONNELL:  Jim, now it’s your turn to ask readers a question.

Jim:  As a young child we often have a favorite book we insist our parents read to us again, and again, and again. Mine was Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling. What was yours?
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  1. Welcome to GLIAS, Jim. I read to myself, but my kids had a favorite book that I read to a lot of classes: Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch
    It's an awesome story with gorgeous pictures.

    1. Thanks Angi -- isn't it great to have stories that kids are attracted to. I've always felt a bit sorry for kids who don't read for enjoyment.

      ~ Jim

  2. Happy Release week, Jim. I'm off to finish your book this weekend. One story doesn't necessarily stick out for me as a favorite childhood tale. What really sticks out is the Esop fables. I read them over and over again.

    1. For my kids it was Kermit the Hermit Crab :)

    2. Donnell -- sorry I couldn't get here earlier. I was playing bridge for the last time at the club before we head north. Gosh, Kermit the Hermit Crab -- did they already know Kermit the frog?

  3. I love Seamus's mother. From what I've heard, Jim's next book will have more about her. Secondary characters are one of best aspects of Jim's writing. Keep them coming!

    1. Yes EB, Mom gets a much larger role in the WIP Doubtful Relations. Readers also get to meet Seamus's ex-wife and her new husband.

  4. Naked woman, half-frozen woman on a your front porch in a snowstorm. Interesting way to start a book. Sounds good!

    Nice to meet you, Jim!

    You posed an interesting Question. My mom didn't read little kid books to us, but she would read books like Tom Sawyer and Heidi. Because we didn't have a TV we were enthralled with anything she'd read. My all time favorite was Black Beauty. I loved that horse.

    If I close my eyes I can still hear her reading it.

    Thanks for helping us remember our old favorites.

    1. Kathleen, you are not alone with your love for Black Beauty. That was a favorite of one of my sisters as well. ~ Jim

  5. Thank you so much for having me, Donnell. I find it interesting to see what kind of questions each interviewer asks because they are all different depending on the perspective of the interviewer.

    ~ Jim

  6. Your books sound interesting James. I love anything Irish!
    Diane Kratz