Jackson Harris’ new book, Bad Apple In The Big Apple is the highly anticipated sequel to Fully Involved.
Harris utilizes his twenty-eight years of dedication to the fire service to craft intriguing books that deliver drama, mystery, and suspense.
B2M presents our exclusive interview with Jackson Harris.
B2M: Welcome to Books2Mention Magazine.
Please tell our readers about your new book.
JACKSON HARRIS: My second installment in the Fully Involved Series is “Bad Apple in the Big Apple.” The story is set in 2011 and has a tie-in to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. Retired Arson Chief James Jackson, the family patriarch, decides to attend the event. I needed to get some of my characters to New York and since I write about firefighters, the 9/11 angle provided a very believable and timely premise.
Realizing the need for them to bond, James’ grandson, Fire Captain Nick Jackson wants to accompany James, but one dreadful occurrence after another keeps him in Atlanta. Just when you think things can’t get any worse—they do.
Family discord and dissension within the ranks turns out to be the least of Nick's problems when an old nemesis with a score to settle decides to wreak havoc on his family. As the title suggest, the antagonist has been rotten to the core in the Big Apple and is now determined to make things a whole lot less peachy in the ATL.
My biggest challenge with this book was to take the many twists involved and weave them seamlessly into the story. By all accounts—thank God—I succeeded. The easiest part was incorporating the firefighting aspects. Being a retired fire captain affords me a wealth of fire knowledge. As they say: Write about what you know about.
B2M: What was the most difficult aspect of penning your first book?
JACKSON HARRIS: When I wrote my first book, “Fully Involved,” I had the dilemma of which perspective to use. The novel covers three generations of firefighters from the same family. The one from the middle generation dies in a fire the same night his son (the third generation) is born. His son grows up, becomes a firefighter, and investigates his father’s death. I decided to let the surviving firefighters tell their stories from their own perspectives. The flashbacks of the deceased firefighter is given in third person narrative. Juggling three separate narratives gets quite tricky to say the least. And with it being a mystery, I had to decide which facts to release from which character and when—seamlessly, mind you—without spoiling anything for the reader. Really challenging. But I love a good challenge.
B2M: Once you completed your first book, was it difficult for you to release it with the uncertainty of readers being able to identify with your style of writing?
JACKSON HARRIS: Not really. I think the fact that I have my own unique style is a plus. I knew that if they read my book, they’d like it. I think a bigger issue for me was readers assuming they wouldn’t like it due to the presumed subject matter. I write books that have a wide appeal, but the fact that they’re about firefighters may keep some readers from taking a chance on them. Especially women, and they do most of the reading. For me, the fire service is a dangerous and exciting world that I can expertly bring to life. But even with that, it’s still just a backdrop for the story. What I really write about is peoples’ lives and how those lives are altered when conflict comes into play—something everyone can relate to. Conflict is much more interesting than sensationalism. It keeps the pages turning.
B2M: Was it always your plan to write a book series, or was it a decision you made based on the response of your readers?
JACKSON HARRIS: Both. I knew there was a possibility of a sequel or series. I purposely left one of the sub-plots open in the first book in case the readers embraced the characters and storyline. Overwhelmingly, I’m happy to say, my fans wanted more.
B2M: Did you have a particular character in your book that was hard to develop? If so, which character?
JACKSON HARRIS: That’s an easy one. George Cutler/Donny Grant. He was a wanted man who changed identities. I had to keep reminding myself that he not only had a new name and face, but he took on quite a bit of psychological baggage due to botched up plastic surgery and a less prominent position in life. I was careful to maintain his original personality, but I also had to determine how that personality was altered. Though difficult, I enjoyed creating the intricacies of this tormented man who was also a tormentor.
B2M: Out of the two books that you have written, do you have a favorite character?
JACKSON HARRIS: That’s like choosing between your children. But if I absolutely have to choose, I’d have to say BJ (Fully Involved) was my favorite character. Nobody gave BJ much thought. Slight of build, quiet, shy, as innocent as a child, and as country as a bushel of corn. BJ was probably the wisest character in the series. I attribute his good sense to listening more than he talked. His great instincts were important to the welfare of the main character and he was an important catalyst in propelling the story forward. BJ was the epitome of not judging a book by its cover. Everyone should have a friend like BJ. Although he played a smaller role in the second book, readers were glad to see him make a return.
B2M: What would you like to say to readers who have not had the opportunity to read your work before?
JACKSON HARRIS: I would like to ask them to give my books a chance. The reason I considered becoming an author in the first place was the lack of truly exciting books on the market. And even some of the more decent ones had dead spots and lulls that made reading a chore. I believe that every page should give the reader a reason to go to the next one. The most frequent comments I receive from my readers are: “I couldn’t put it down” and “I had to know what would happen next.”
B2M: What has been a career high for you thus far?
JACKSON HARRIS: That would have to be when my first novel was awarded along-side well-respected veteran authors’ works in the mystery/suspense/thriller category of Black Pearls Magazine Top Books of 2010. To be listed with some of my literary heroes, like Walter Mosley and John Grisham, was an honor.
B2M: Where do you hope to see yourself in five years on your literary path?
JACKSON HARRIS: At the most, I hope to be a best-selling author and/or see my stories on the big screen. I’ll continue writing and promoting and see where that takes me. At the least, to keep putting pen to paper and to bring excitement and intrigue to my fans. When you get down to it, that’s really what it’s all about.
B2M: What can readers expect from you next?
JACKSON HARRIS: I have a lot of irons in the fire right now. I’m working on the third installment of the Fully Involved Series. Diverting a little from my usual theme, I’m also developing a novel about corruption in the church. A third novel is dealing with the contrast between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. The series takes priority since it has momentum. There are no release dates on any of these projects as of yet. But I promise to deliver.
B2M: Jackson we encourage you to continue creating interesting characters and entertaining plots.
Thanks for interviewing with Books2Mention Magazine. Please be sure to come back again and keep readers informed about all of your future endeavors.
Much Success To You!
The Staff @ Books2Mention Magazine
JACKSON HARRIS: Thank you readers for taking time out to learn more about me and my books, and thanks to you, BOOKS2MENTION, for this opportunity.
You are welcome to visit the website of Jackson Harris at www.JacksonHarris.info. You may also visit him on Facebook at Fully Involved: A Firefighter’s Story.
Books by Jackson Harris include: