WAYNE STINNETT: JESSE MCDERMITT EMBODIES A LOT OF MY OWN MORAL
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Wayne Stinnett developed very well his Jesse McDermitt series. Six weeks ago, Fallen King, Book 5 of the adventures around Caribbean, was released. Once again the story finds a lot of fans and currently has great feedback from readers with average 4.8 Amazon stars from 70 reviews. We’ve got a great pleasure to host the next interview with Mr. Stinnett, who went very deep into the origins of his amazing character Jesse McDermitt.
– What the readers will find in Book 5 of Jesse McDermitt Series Fallen King?
– Thanks, for inviting me to be interviewed, Ognian. Fallen King is actually the sixth book in the Jesse McDermitt Caribbean Adventure Series, but the fifth novel. The first book, Fallen Out is more of a long novella. In Fallen King, Jesse is doing his best to live a simple life on his secluded island in the Florida Keys, reunited with his teen daughter, who he hasn’t seen since she was a baby. He fishes, dives for lobster and grows fruits and vegetables. But an adversary from his past wants to find him again. Locating one man among the 1700 islands that comprise the Florida Keys proves difficult. So the bad guys attempt to lure him into the open, by doing the one thing that will certainly get his attention. Using explosives on the fragile coral reefs that dot the back country of Florida Bay. Readers familiar with the Florida Keys will immediately recognize the tranquil setting, miles of crystal clear water, and the easy-going, laid back attitude of island life. Those unfamiliar, will be checking airline prices to Key West. But, fly into Miami and rent a car, the drive through the 113 mile chain of islands and 42 bridges, is very relaxing. The Keys don’t end in Key West, though. That’s just where the road ends, in the 170 mile long archipelago. You’re gonna need to rent a boat to see it all. A boat or helicopter is the only way to get to Jesse’s remote island in the Content Keys. That’s content, as in relaxed and satisfied.
– How did you decide to write the story of Jesse McDermitt Series?
– The first two novels, Fallen Palm and Fallen Hunter are based on a series of short stories I wrote thirty years ago. In those stories, Jesse was a young man, fresh out of the Marine Corps after a four year hitch. These shorts never got published, though they were submitted to nearly 40 publishers and agents in the late 1980s. Discovering Kindle Direct Publishing a few years ago, I decided to try my own hand at publishing. It took a while to locate the old floppy disks the short stories were saved on and even longer to find a computer that could run those old style floppies. I merged the best of the three short stories and made Jesse into a 43 year old retired Marine after 20 years of service and living the last six years on his boat and on his own island in the Florida Keys. My original plan was to publish only those two and use the extra income to buy some tools to outfit a woodworking shop, so I could quit my job as a long-haul truck driver and be home with my family more than one day out of two weeks. When I realized how much readers liked the stories, I decided to write a third, then a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and now I’m working on Fallen Honor, the seventh book in the series.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– After exhausting the material from the short stories, I found myself on my own, with nothing to guide me. At first I thought this was a problem, writing the first two was nothing more than updating and expanding the stories I’d written decades earlier. Then I realized it was a blessing, I was unfettered by the limits of those stories. I’ve always loved to tell stories to anyone that would listen, about my own experiences as a dive master, working in the Keys and other places around the Caribbean. So, I chose one of my favorite places, Cozumel, Mexico, and gave Jesse a course to follow. However, Jesse’s the boat’s captain, not me. So, he of course took a detour and a good bit of the action takes place in Cuba, before going on to Cozumel and finally a manhunt on the streets of Key West. Knowing these places very intimately, there was no challenge in describing the scenery, both above and below the water’s surface. Probably the biggest challenge thus far has been learning how to adjust to a totally new lifestyle. I quit my job nearly a year ago and have been a full time writer since then.
– Tell us something more about your main character Jesse McDermitt? Is he 100% fiction or it’s close to someone from your real life?
– Jesse embodies a lot of my own moral attitudes about right and justice. He’s the kind of man who would like nothing more than to live a simple life without the complications of modern society. He’s constantly leaving his cellphone in a tackle box, or the engine room of his boat, even in the refrigerator. He has very little use for the internet, air conditioning, or even reliable land transportation. When he needs to go somewhere, it’s almost always by boat, or his antique seaplane. Nearly all of my characters are based loosely on people I’ve met all over the Caribbean, through many years of living, working, and traveling there.
– How much time you need to finish a book and to publish it?
– I wrote and published the first four books in less than a year. Fallen Out was the fourth one and I wrote and published it in less than two months, as a short prequel to the series. These days, although I’m no longer working a regular job, I have less time to actually write, being busy more than half of every day with marketing, promoting, and various other things. I strive now to write a thousand words a day, five days a week. At that rate, I can write and publish a new book every four months, factoring in the time it takes for my beta readers, editors, and proofreaders to rip the finished manuscript apart and then me putting it back together. My goal for 2015 is to release at least three new books, one being the first book in a new spin-off series. Fallen King was released in February and Fallen Honor is scheduled for a June release. While I’m working on it, I’m slowly building the first part of the new series. Merciless Charity should be half finished when Honor is published and I should have it finished by August. There’s a chance of getting a fourth one finished by December, but we’re planning to move this summer, so that may be delayed a bit.
– Give us some insight about your new series featuring Charity Styles as main character?
– As I said earlier, Jesse is always at the helm, I simply provide a destination. Someplace I’ve lived or visited that I think my readers might like to see in their minds. The series has gotten a little bit away from its origins, with his involvement in working with the government to fight terrorism. I want him to go back to his roots, a solitary man who seems to run into trouble and meets it on his own terms. The new Charity Styles series will let me do both. Jesse will get away from his government controllers and Charity, who is a very dangerous woman in her own right, will move away from the team and become a deep cover assassin, controlled by the same government agency that Jesse has fallen out with. Charity was a medivac chopper pilot in the Afghanistan War. Before that, she was an Olympic swimmer. Captured by the Taliban, she suffered great physical and emotional abuse. She escaped and spent some time in rehab in Israel, where she focused on the Israeli close combat tactics of Krav Maga. In the current series, she’s become the martial arts instructor for the team Jesse has been working with, having been recruited from the Miami Dade Police Department. She’s known to release the anger and emotional duress she suffered as a captive on her opponents in the ring. Working with the small, close knit team, she’s learned marksmanship from some of the best snipers in the world, small boat tactics from team members who were once with the Coast Guard’s elite Maritime Enforcement, and underwater warfare from both Navy SEALS and Marine Recon operatives. Being an avid sailor, she can move around the world by sea, almost invisible aboard an antique sailing yacht, refitted and funded by the government.
– Who are you (Would you describe yourself with few sentences)?
– Me? I’m a former Marine, former boat bum, avid traveler, dad to two beautiful daughters, step-dad to two great kids and pappy to four wonderful grand-kids. I don’t have any of Jesse’s attributes, I was a truck driver in the Corps, where he was a Recon sniper instructor. I’ve worked dozens of different kinds of jobs, from construction, to teaching and guiding scuba divers, deckhand, commercial fisherman, boat builder, taxi driver, business manager, and truck driver. I’m a family man and enjoy growing vegetables in our garden. Nearly all of my jobs, interests, and experiences are encompassed in some way by my characters, particularly Jesse.
– What are your writing habits?
– Before I start writing each morning, I read and edit the previous two day’s work. This gets my head back in the story where I left off and by the time I’m finished, the whole manuscript has been self-edited twice. Of course I still send it to professional editors and proofreaders, because I’m not a very good editor. No writer is. We know the story, so our minds skip right across the typos, missing punctuation, and grammatical mistakes. I strive for a thousand words a day and sometimes go well past that. Some days not even close. My secondary goal is 5000 words a week. If I hit that early, I reward myself with a three day weekend. If not, overtime on Saturday. Though I have an office in our home, I write in a recliner in the den by the fireplace, surrounded by books and paintings of the sea. I listen to either soft jazz (Jesse’s favorite) or island music. My dogs are lying either on the floor, or in the case of the smallest, in the recliner with me. I read dialogue to them, which they seem to find mildly amusing. Reading dialogue aloud brings out the phoniness in the prose. I try to make dialogue sound just like someone is really talking, which drives my editors nuts. I’m sorry, but the average person doesn’t speak in a grammatically correct way. “Where ya been?” “Oh, me and Jesse been down to the Seven Mile Bridge, fishing for grunts all day.” Drives them nuts, I tell you. But my characters aren’t Harvard literature professors. They’re watermen.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– Satisfied? I’m amazed! To know that there are over 150,000 of my books in print, or mostly in e-print, all within the last two years is very humbling. I’m not a writer. Not like Papa Hemmingway or Samuel Clemens, anyway. I tell sea stories. That’s a slang term used in the Marine Corps. A sea story is sort of a “tall tale” that gets taller and wilder with every telling. I’ve recently found a really good narrator who loves telling sea stories. My first audiobook will be out in about three weeks. The audible version of Fallen Out will be followed in 3-4 week increments by the rest of the books, starting with Fallen Palm in early June.
– When will we see your next novel and what is the story inside?
– Jesse has had a big disagreement with the new Associate Deputy Director of the Caribbean Counter-terrorism Command, Deuce Livingston. Although he and Deuce have become very close friends over the course of the other books, Deuce and Julie have left the Keys and are residing in Washington DC and Jesse blames him for manipulating Charity into becoming an assassin. Jesse has severed ties with the team, quitting his occasional job as the team’s transporter, but still maintains a casual friendship with some of the members. He agrees to help a young man, a friend of a friend, newly arrived in Key West, who is in trouble with a big time cocaine kingpin out of Philadelphia. A very despicable character tries to interfere and brings Jesse’s honor into question. I won’t give away much more than that. But, readers who like Fallen Out, Fallen Palm and Fallen Mangrove, where there wasn’t much real terrorist involvement, just lots of laid back islanders trying to do what’s right in a seedy underworld environment, are going to love Fallen Honor.
– What are you doing to promote by the best possible way your book?
– Aside from informing my newsletter subscribers and an occasional mention on Facebook and Twitter, the new book has had no promotion at all yet. Published on 2/14, it’s sold a little over 1500 copies in the first five weeks. I promote Fallen Out much more than the others. Although any of my books can be read as a stand-alone novel, readers seem to get more out of them by following them in order, starting with Fallen Out. One of my readers recently sent me some hand drawn, pencil sketches of Jesse’s home and his boat. Although she’s never seen his home, mostly because it doesn’t exist, and she’s never seen a 45’ Rampage convertible, she drew both his island home and his boat in very good detail and likeness. I think that means I describe them pretty well.
– How did you decide to start writing?
– Back when I wrote those short stories, I didn’t own a computer. I was an estimator for a heating and air conditioning company in south Florida and had a computer in the office I shared with two other estimators. I created a computer program in Basic, which cut the design and estimating time by 70%. I soon found myself alone in an office with more time than work. Being salaried, I was required to stay until the end of the day and I made up stories, writing them in DOS. For those unfamiliar, Basic and DOS were the operating systems before Windows. At home, I wrote on paper. A few years ago, my wife found part of a hand written manuscript and read it. She urged me to take up my dream again, of being a writer. My wife is my biggest fan, supporter, motivator, best friend and biggest critic. None of this would have happened, had it not been for her finding those notes.
– You visited many countries around the world during your time in Marine Corps. What is your Top 3 of the best places on the planet?
– Oh geez, just three? Well, the Florida Keys would be one. Not so much Key West, many people confuse the two. Key West is one tiny town at the end of US-1 and 100 miles from Key Largo, the second most referred to of the many towns and islands that make up the Keys. But all the little islands between them and those low lying coral outcroppings, covered with mangrove and lignum vitae that dot Florida Bay are beautiful. As a scuba diving destination, Cozumel would be one of my top places to visit again. I lived and worked there for many months and the diving is simply orgasmic. After that, Roatan, a small island off the coast of Honduras and Belize is beautiful and the diving is just a matter of swimming a few yards off the picturesque, white sand beaches. I also love trout fishing the streams of the majestic Rocky Mountains, the wonderfully pleasant people of Andros Island, the ancient castles of Scotland, and the fishing villages of Japan. See? I told you I couldn’t limit it to just three.
– Ask yourself a question?
– Where would you most like to visit next? One day the Fidel and Raul Castro will be gone. I’ve flown over the northwest coast of Cuba on a Mexican airliner and spent some time at Guantanamo Bay. Remembering the landscape of Gitmo and seeing the miles and miles of unspoiled shore and reefs off the northwest coast, I hope to one day visit and dive there. I only hope that whoever takes over next will want to see Cuba and its people grow and flourish.
Take a look at his books
Fallen Out: Jesse McDermitt Series, The Beginning
Fallen Palm (Jesse McDermitt Series Book 1)
Fallen Hunter (Jesse McDermitt Series Book 2)
Fallen Pride (Jesse McDermitt Series Book 3)
Fallen Mangrove (Jesse McDermitt Series Book 4)
Fallen King (Jesse McDermitt Series Book 5)