Interview with thriller author J.T. Patten

Today’s guest is J.T. Patten. He describes his novel, Safe Havens: Shadow Masters (A
Sean Havens Black Ops Novel),
 as a military thriller that takes on traits of noir or pulp fiction.
Bio:
J.T.
Patten has worked with the intelligence and special operations community in
support of national defense and policy. He has a degree in Foreign Language, a
Masters in Strategic Intelligence, graduate studies in Counter Terrorism from the
University of St. Andrews, and numerous expertise certifications in forensics,
fraud, and financial crime investigations. Patten shares these unique
experiences with readers to give them a taste of “the black.” But
he’s also a dad and husband. If you read his books, that part can’t be hidden,
nor does he try.
Welcome J.T. Please
tell us about your current release.
Safe Havens is a black
operations thriller series that blends aspects of crime, terrorism, war, and
espionage. While that sounds cross-genre, it’s really how many actual conflicts
are fought today. Especially in the shadows. I further twist things by adding
in the family aspects of these warriors as they battle enemies foreign or
domestic, and demons in their battle weary minds. In the story, the main
character Sean Havens has done a pretty decent job keeping his government black
ops work separate from his family world in Chicago. Unfortunately, there is a
conspiracy unfolding that has Sean caught in the middle. Whereas most books
within the same sub-genres would have the guy hunt down enemies guns blazing,
Havens is an intelligence operative, but most importantly his is a father and
husband. So, as much as he may want to do certain instinctive action hero
things that we as readers have come to expect, the truth is he is a regular guy
forced to draw upon unknown inner strength and critical thinking to make
impossible decisions and find safe havens for those dear to him. That’s not
saying that he may not lose his mind from time to time.
What inspired you to
write this book?
I
am an avid reader of military fiction. I love espionage novels and a gripping
assassin thriller. I found that most writers were so focused on researching the
type of weapon that a character had and the speed that an ammo round traveled,
that the actual character was left as an afterthought. Similarly, the plots
were so linear that I could predict the outcome within the first number of
pages. Since I have a background in the genre that I write, I took a challenge
to write what I know. At first, I wanted to write it for my friends who are in
the military and intelligence community to see if they could also appreciate
the difference. I just wish that I was a better writer. 
Excerpt:
He
continued along the route that he had reconnoitered the morning before. And the
morning before that. He needed to change his route some to see if he was
actually being followed. His instincts said he was clear, but his training
ordered him to make sure. Havens took another panoramic view of his
surroundings for potential threats. His mind rapidly processed with
hyper-vigilance a mentally engrained checklist of feasible sensory alarms.

What exciting story
are you working on next?
I
am juggling between two novels currently. I have written about seven chapters
of the next Safe Havens book, which adds new twists and has some familiar
faces. I was going to wait, but some early fans are saying they are pretty
attached to the story and need to keep it going.
I
am also in the process of writing a thriller entitled Mister Mortimer. Mister
Mortimer is a ninety year old Nazi hunter who has just about completed his kill
list when a young boy enters his life and complicates the master plan. True to
my writing style, the story is dark, has a huge underdog component, and plenty
of unexpected twists. It also has the family story sewn within the
multi-layered plot, which has resonated with many women fans of the Safe Havens
book. I’d say that has become a bit of my emerging style: dark hearts with
wanting minds, violent conflict, and the protection of family.  
When did you first
consider yourself a writer?
I
used to write a number of articles in intelligence and special operations
magazines or journals, and in my day to day, I had to write many detailed plans,
overviews and scenarios. Being able to break out and let my imagination fly in Safe Havens was really the first taste
of being a writer. Of course the six months of editing and re-writing is when I
considered myself an author. Painful. Just painful.  
Do you write
full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than
write and how do you find time to write?
My
writing has typically been while I was traveling for work. Hotels, airplanes,
airports, and lonely solo-flight dinners away from home. I would try to knock
out a few hours when I could. I have about one more month of marketing Safe Havens: Shadow Masters, and then
regardless of sales and uptake, it’s time to hammer the keys some more. I can’t
wait.
What would you say is
your interesting writing quirk?
That’s
funny. Some editors, readers and agents may say I have a number of quirks. I
have to say that it is probably the inner monologue or the random acts that
occur during the story that often have to do with food, which are most
noticeable. I also throw in some weird tidbits for friends and family like
their street name or favorite coffee. In Shadow
Masters
, Sean Havens is in full operational mode completely attuned to his
environment, yet he can compartmentalize the urge for breakfast. He could be
getting the pulp beat out of him, and it is quite possible that he may smell
bacon or fresh brewed coffee. Havens may be a tough guy, but he’s also a foodie
with a lot going on in his head.
As a child, what did
you want to be when you grew up?
I
think like most dreamers, that has changed quite a bit. By and large, however,
I’d say the interest in unconventional warfare and intelligence has stayed with
me. From fifth grade through high-school, I am quite sure that my teachers had
enough of the Viet Nam conflict and special forces being the topic of my
research papers. I wanted to run a Phoenix program by eighth grade. Kinda’
twisted. I got my wish to a large degree for a number of years. Alas, government
budget cuts and a skewed approach to intelligence collection has pretty much
taken me out of that game for good now, at my age. I hope I can spend more of
my professional time writing, in the near future.
Anything additional
you want to share with the readers?
They
say don’t judge a book by the cover, which is perhaps why I shouldn’t have put
helicopters on the front of it. I think it scares off some readers as being
pure military. There is certainly violence (quite a bit of it), swearing, and
some really dark, pulpy aspects of the book. 

HOWEVER, it’s really a book about
a regular guy who dearly loves his family, and has a passion for his job. Like
most guys, Sean blows it. His heart is in the right place and he spends most of
his time fixing a situation gone bad than having the presence of mind
domestically that he has in the field. I think readers will see the characters
as real people. They are going to beat on the book because they are mad at
Sean, they will cry when he is scraping and clawing to hold what is dear to
him, and they will cheer him knowing that Sean Havens will get up every time
that he is knocked down. The house may be on fire, the reader is shaking their
head telling him not to go in, but at the same time, they know he will save
someone. They want him to do it. I think that is because Sean Havens has a bit
of all of us in him, and yet he is they guy many of us would like to be. It’s
attainable and we can touch him, even though he lives in a world that many will
never see, and most all will never want to. Follow me into the black.

Thank
you, so much for your time, Lisa!

You’re very welcome,
J.T.!

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