JONAS SAUL: SARAH ROBERTS IS THE KIND OF WOMAN I RESPECT
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Jonas Saul is veteran in thriller and horror genres with 19 novels behind him. Last month he published The Unlucky, part 13 of Sarah Roberts’s series.
Once again the tense action forced the readers to put some comments like “Fasten your seat belts and get ready for the ride of your life”, “Marvelous characters and plot”, “The only problem with the books in the Sarah Roberts series is they are addictive”.
The feedback was more than perfect with average 4.9 Amazon stars from 50 plus reviews.
Our next guest has very interesting story around his writing adventure. He followed his dreams and currently enjoys a well deserved respect by the fans of books.
– Jonas, what is your last book The Unlucky about?
– The Unlucky is the thirteenth book in a series starring Sarah Roberts, a female vigilante with a twist. Sarah’s dead sister speaks to her on occasion and often takes over her body—if needed—to keep Sarah alive. Here’s the synopsis for The Unlucky:
When a young Toronto woman steps onto the edge of the CN Tower and prepares to jump to her death, Sarah Roberts is already there, waiting for the jumper with a parachute and a solution. As the woman teeters over the edge and is about to fall over a thousand feet to the cement, Vivian channels through Sarah, takes over her gun hand and shoots the jumper in front of dozens of witnesses. It turns out, Vivian had prepared the parachute for Sarah’s escape.
With a manhunt for Sarah underway, she is overwhelmed with an anger at Vivian she has never felt before.
While staying under the radar, Sarah heads to a cottage in Northern Ontario and commits murder again, this time using a police-registered weapon that the Toronto Police know she has stolen.
Parkman flies in from California and teams up with Sarah’s on-again-off-again boyfriend to learn why Sarah has lost control. What has happened to make her wander the streets of Toronto murdering whomever she deems guilty?
How far will Sarah go for justice? How far will the police go to stop a murderous vigilante? Has Sarah lost her mind, or has Vivian gone crazy, using Sarah in ways never seen before?
When more bodies are discovered and the police have eyewitnesses and camera footage proving Sarah is responsible, they have no choice but to hunt her down using all means necessary.
But Sarah is The Unlucky pawn of a dead sister channeling through her at will, a sister who won’t stop until all those who are supposed to be dead have been killed.
They’ll have to kill her to stop her as she takes the authorities on a journey through a tortured hell to a shocking conclusion that will leave Sarah scarred for the rest of her life.
– How did you decide to write the Sarah Roberts Series?
– Dark Visions, Book One in the series, was the second novel I wrote. It began in 2003 with the idea that a group of fake psychics, trying to make a fast buck, would gain notoriety by dealing with a kidnapping ring to snatch young girls, hold them for a week or so and let the psychic “locate” them through the use of his “ability.” Once the media caught wind that the traveling psychic fair was involved in saving kidnap victims, the line ups would never cease and the money would flow like water gushing out of a broken tap.
But then these “fakes” meet Sarah Roberts, a psychic with her dead sister whispering in her ear on how to deal with the kidnappers and stay alive at the same time.
As a reader, it was something that I would love to read, which is the barometer for me when coming up with an idea. It spawned a series that sees Book Fourteen, The Abandoned, coming out this summer and Book Fifteen, The Cartel, coming out in August.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– At that time in my life, the biggest challenge was finding the time to write. The ideas always flowed. My notes were extensive. In 2003 I owned two retail stores and had two young daughters at home. I loved doing homework with them and driving them to their activities after school. I had ten staff members in the stores, stocking responsibilities and I was in a marriage that at the time was breaking down. It was a difficult period in my life, yet whether it was noon, midnight, or four in the morning, I eked out as much time as I could and wrote the words that needed to get onto the page. I didn’t start Book Two, The Warning, until after my divorce in 2008 when time was all I had.
– Tell us something more about your main character Sarah Roberts. Is she close to someone from your real life?
– In the beginning, Sarah was absolutely imaginary. She is the kind of woman I respect and look up to. Attractive, confident and self-assured. When someone disrespects her, she can hold her ground. When needed, Sarah’s tough and unrelenting. During the writing of the past four to five Sarah novels, my wife Brenda has inspired several Sarah quotes, which brings me back to the kind of woman I’m attracted to—my wife.
Sarah’s character has found a following that has fueled the sales to hit over 800,000 Sarah Roberts books sold since Book One, Dark Visions, debuted on Amazon, February 2011.
As an author, I’ve sold over one million books when you include my Mafia Trilogy, standalones and short stories.
– How much time do you need to finish a book and to publish it?
– The process is different for every author. I’m usually working two to three books ahead. I work five days a week writing a minimum of 4,000 words per day, often pushing past that to five or six thousand words.
If I was to write the nugget of an idea for a Sarah novel down and add notes to where I want the book to go on the first of a month, I would continue making notes for at least two weeks. Then I would pick a certain Monday—I always begin a book on a Monday—and write the first 4,000 words and carry on from there. I write the novel as it happens. I usually know the beginning, a few things about the middle and how it will end, but that’s it. I have no idea when I start a novel how I’m going to get to the end.
The first week would see me finishing with 20,000 words completed. Week two, 40,000 and finally, week three, 60,000 words. By week four, I write until I’m done the novel. After a break of a week or two, I do a reread and then send it to my editor. When he has it—my editor takes a month per novel—I usually begin writing the next book in the series.
Once I get the manuscript back from the editor, it takes me a few days to perform the edits and then off to the beta readers. While they’re reading it, I do another reread myself to make sure I didn’t introduce new errors during the editing process.
Finally, the book is ready once I fix what the beta readers might have found.
All told, this is a two-to-three month process per book. But since I’m ahead by a book or two, I’m able to release at least six books per year working Monday to Friday at my desk, writing 4,000 words per day at least three weeks per month.
– What will the readers find in The Mafia Trilogy books?
– I once read an article in the news about John Gotti. His son was involved in a car accident where the son was killed. The son’s death was ruled an accident. According to the article I read, John Gotti had the driver of the car that killed his son abducted and murdered.
Let me add that I have watched every episode of The Sopranos and loved it. The Gotti story and The Sopranos influences me to write The Mafia Trilogy.
I introduced Darwin Kostas, a 26-year old man living in Toronto, Canada, who accidentally hits and kills a made man of a Toronto Crime family. (Like Gotti’s story) But in my story, when the Mafia come to collect, Darwin fights back. He’s a unique character in that he has two fierce phobias. He suffers from aichmophobia, an irrational fear of sharp or pointy objects. And he has a fear of the dark, so he generally stays in after dark.
Lastly, Darwin has an extreme temper when faced with his fears. He becomes so enraged that he only sees red and damn the consequences.
So when the Mafia kidnap his wife and then threaten him with a knife, all hell breaks loose.
I wanted a story where the Mafia doesn’t always win and the little guy triumphs. This is David and Goliath meets The Sopranos. Even his name was chosen—Darwin—after Charles Darwin, for a reason.
– Give us some insight about your standalone novels, The Specter and The Threat.
– The Specter is a dark novel starring Aaron Stevens. He’s on the hunt for his sister’s killer and almost gets himself killed in the process. Aaron later enters the Sarah Roberts Series in The Victim, Book Five and eventually becomes Sarah’s boyfriend.
The Threat stars Drake Bellamy, a man being terrorized by an unknown person who frames him for murder and keeps killing the people he runs to for help. He eventually puts all the pieces together and is shocked by what happened twelve years before that set everything into motion. Drake Bellamy is also featured in the Sarah Roberts Series in Book Four, The Hostage.
– Who are you?
– I’m a father, a husband, a family man. I value honor and respect and have a hard time finding those things in the world outside my home. So I write about the underdog, the person who wants to set things right and does what’s necessary to do so.
– What are your writing habits?
– I basically write Monday to Friday, a minimum of 4,000 per day. Between books I take a few weeks off and start the next book on a Monday. Whether inspiration strikes me or not, I produce my word count every day because that’s what a professional author does.
– Are you satisfied with the sales of your books?
– Extremely satisfied and very grateful to the readers. My sales have allowed my wife to retire. We’re in our forties and we’ve been traveling the world for four years now as I write each book from hotel rooms and houses we rent. We lived in Italy for a year, Denmark for three months, Greece for more than a year and several other places. Life has become a pleasure to live and not a burden and I have the readers to thank for that.
– What are you doing to promote your books the best way possible?
– I can sum that up in one sentence: I write another book.
In the beginning, I was on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I did so much social media that I wasn’t writing enough in the day. Sales remained mediocre. That was early 2011. I wrote two books that year.
Then I calmed the social media down to the bare minimum and focused on writing book after book. Now I produce at least six books per year and spend less than 10% of my time on social media. Sales shot straight up. By mid 2011, my wife left her job and we headed to Europe.
– When will we see your next novel, The Abandoned, Sarah Roberts Book 14? Would you unveil something more about it?
– The Abandoned comes out June 24th. In it, Sarah Roberts boards a plane in Toronto to Amsterdam. Sarah knows the plane will crash during the flight. She’s powerless to keep the flight from taking off and powerless to prevent the crash. But per her sister Vivian, she boards anyway.
With Vivian’s help, Sarah survives the crash and her actions save nearly a hundred people.
The Netherlands authorities arrest Sarah as witnesses on board claim she knew about the crash beforehand. The Netherlands police, a division of the Ministry of Defense, don’t appreciate Sarah Roberts in their country and decide to bring her up on terrorism charges unless she complies with an undercover sting operation underway that day.
During the eight-hour flight and subsequent incarceration, Sarah tries to get a message out to her boyfriend Aaron back in Toronto about someone following him. Someone extremely dangerous. But the message doesn’t get through.
Sarah’s after a black book held by a mysterious Chinese man. He has links to a trafficking ring that forces women to work in Torture Clubs in Amsterdam, Athens, and Moscow. This black book filled with names, dates and incriminating evidence could put a lot of people behind bars. This book will also free hundreds, if not thousands of girls being trafficked around the globe. These girls are The Abandoned ones and Sarah is determined to locate the book and liberate them.
But what she doesn’t realize is that in the process, she has abandoned the people who need her the most. While she traipses around the world, Aaron is drugged, bound and gagged and taken on a days’ long journey to a remote, makeshift prison near Tijuana, Mexico, where his life will be changed forever.
Sarah has more than she can handle in The Abandoned, and Vivian is afraid for her in ways she won’t speak of, knowing it would be too much for Sarah to handle.
Just doing her best won’t be good enough anymore.
– Do you remember the moment when you decided to start writing and publish a novel?
– This was when I was ten years old. I had read all the Hardy Boys novels by this time and was reading Clive Cussler’s, Vixen 03. I grabbed a binder, a pencil, and began writing my first short story. I called it Frankenstein versus Dracula. When that twenty page story was done, I knew I would be writing novels one day. Throughout my youth I continued to write. By 2003 I had written over fifty short stories, many of them published in a cottage country magazine in northern Ontario, Canada. I had also written two novels. It would be eight more years before Dark Visions, my first published novel, hit the bookshelves of Amazon, but I never lost the faith.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview, what would it be?
– I would ask who inspired my writing. Who was pivotal in motivating me to sit in front of the blank screen and write all hours of the night, burning that midnight oil.
The short answer is Stephen King. I’ve read almost all his work, watched every movie adaptation of his work and followed his career since I was twelve. Clive Barker helped steer me to horror. John Saul and Clive Cussler were also helpful in keeping me on the author path. I’ve always loved reading stories, watching stories unfold on the TV screen and creating my own stories. It’s my passion and I’m fortunate enough that I get to do it every day.
Take a look at his books:
The Sarah Roberts Series:
1. Dark Visions
2. The Warning
3. The Crypt
4. The Hostage (*Featuring Drake Bellamy from The Threat)
5. The Victim (*Featuring Aaron Stevens from The Specter)
6. The Enigma
7. The Vigilante
8. The Rogue (*Featuring Darwin and Rosina Kostas from The Mafia Trilogy in a cameo appearance)
9. Killing Sarah
10. The Antagonist
11. The Redeemed
12. The Haunted
13. The Unlucky
14. The Abandoned (Coming Soon)
15. The Cartel (Coming Soon)
1. The Threat (Starring Drake Bellamy)
2. The Specter (Starring Aaron Stevens)
3. A Murder in Time (Starring Marcus Johnson)
1. The Burning
2. The Numbers Game
4. Twisted Fate (Tales of Horror)