Meet J.T. Patten, Author of Safe Havens: Shadow Masters
While writing primarily fiction and using a pen name, all of J.T. Patten's writings have been properly submitted to the appropriate federal entities for professional security review and authorization under true name to mitigate risk of information breech. The importance of this is significant. While readers may get a feeling that situations in the book are beyond contrived, that is the fun of the books. But the stark reality is there are limits and boundaries of national security that will not be crossed. Even in fiction.
Patten's intent in writing is to give readers a reality escape if only for a few minutes, hours, pages, or chapters at a time. Ideally, the situations are close enough to reality where readers can see themselves in scenes if "they" were "that" person. Patten's style, prose, and twists are less linear than many authors in the same genre, but with a pace and action of those readers expect to entertain. It ends up being a cross of a Clancy, Ludlum, Flynn, DeMille, and Higgins. Five in one like a Porsche crossover---speed, style, performance, functionality, and a kick ass ride. (Amazon)
BBB: What inspired you to become a writer?
JTP: I've been writing for years as a professional thought contributor sharing ideas and concepts in many articles and features for the special operations and intelligence community, but the aspect of becoming a published writer happened through a dare. A friend and I had been discussing a number of lack-luster thrillers, and thinking we could do better, he simply dared me to write a novel. I traveled a lot at the time, and found myself with a lot of evenings away from home, so to use an hour or two here and there in a hotel or airplane didn't seem like a very daunting task. Once I embarked on saving face to pen a novel, I found that I absolutely loved it. I also found that writing a book was much harder than I imagined. When I thought that I had finished the manuscript, I learned that I had only just begun. I won't be so quick to judge another authors' work in the future. I've certainly found new humility through the process.
JTP: My job has been in understanding safe havens or discovering illicit actors' safe havens. The safe havens in my world can be front companies, safe houses, operational platforms, cover legends, trusted assets, etc. To create a fabrication around a world that I am familiar with was easy, as long as I could do it without disclosing anything inappropriate or classified. Even in real life, the job requires imagination, so to come up with another fantasy idea was not much of a risk. The real shadow masters are often the quiet guys coming up with the ideas that are passed to superiors or mission planners. Most often they end up on a cutting room floor, or they are too dangerous to implement.
I haven't read too many novels where the roles in operations and intelligence were closer to reality, and I read a lot. You either have an espionage novel with the classic cocktail party and meet and greet backdrop, or you have the action military thriller that is chocked up with requisite hardware and unbreakable hero. I believe that the two are inseperable, so to create a character like Sean Havens, who ironically worked in that same space, and who could also become sucked up by other shadow masters seemed like a fun story to tell. I wanted the story to be a classic cat and mouse where hunter could become the hunted, and vice versa with many struggles for an upper hand.
BBB: Tell us about your main character, Sean Havens.
JTP: I think the best way to describe Sean is through the eyes of many of the readers. They see him as a righteous man caught up in an extremely dirty business, but who also has to maintain a grip on family affairs. Sean knows the danger of his business and wants to have the trills and satisfaction of that adventure-type job, but he also wants to be married with children. Naively, he thinks he can manage both, and keep the two very different worlds seperate. Sean, as a hero, personifies that unrelenting desire to see a mission through, but like a human, there are times that he just wants to quit, curl up in a ball, grab a beer or coffee and wish it away. The hero part comes in where he can overcome his own fears and doubt to step up regardless do what is the right thing to do. That "right" can be a patriotic duty, a family obligation, or any other compelling moral compass call. Sean is that broken fighter knocked down on the mat who will always get up before the bell rings, even if it means he'll be knocked back down again. He is a classic underdog like the original Rocky. Some have likened him to the first season of 24 with the introduction of Jack Bauer. I think Sean Havens is more of a regular guy, but I certainly see some of the similarities.
BBB: What do you think readers will enjoy most about your book?
JTP: I know a book can't be everything to everyone, yet I think many different readers will find a little something that they like throughout the book. It really is a beach-bound book that you can pick up and enjoy to escape your reality even if it isn't your usual genre brand. Feedback so far has been that the fast and furious action lovers like the pace and brutality of the military side. Espionage lovers will enjoy the tradecraft but will also be drawn to the portrait of Cold War Jerry who trained Sean Havens to be more like the OSS. Dad's who enjoy a thriller will be drawn to the father and child relationships that personalizes the failing movie hero guy like Liam Neeson where Sean Havens is a bad-assed character we all want to be but who isn't too far out of reach for the average Joe to relate to. I know many women who have enjoyed the view into the emotionally scarred minds of the warriors in the story, and how even a moderate tough guy like Sean deeply loves his wife and family, yet we know he's going to forget to take out the garbage before he deploys. It's the falibility, vulnerability and blind patriotism that makes the characters real, so even if you hate them, you can feel empathy for them. Someone like Sean will relate to many as the guy on the screen that you yell at not to do something stupid, but you know he will, and you know you will be cheering him on moments later since he will come out of that fire saving someone.
JTP: I actually have two books going. In Mister Mortimer, I have a 90 year old Nazi hunter who has almost completed a life long mission when a young boy enters his life creating a real problem for Mister Mortimer, his Mossad handler, the CIA, and a still active Nazi SS Waffen legacy. That, however, will have to be put on hold as I knock out the second Safe Havens thriller, Black Smoke White Smoke (I may change the title). As a newbie, I need to keep up the momentum with a growing fan base before they forget who I am. There is already a small following of Sean Havens enthusiasts who want to see what happens next. A writer's got to give the people what they want, right? Who knows, maybe a publisher will even call so I can pay my editor. Hint, hint, Thomas & Mercer.
You can find out more about J.T. Patten by visiting www.safe-havens.com.