Saturday, October 8, 2011

Meet Jeffrey S. Stephens Author of Targets of Opportunity (Q&A)

Jeffrey S. Stephens
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Jeffery Stephens 1st book was Targets of Deception which was published in 2009 to rave reviews. Born in New York City, he now lives with his wife, Nancy, not far from their sons Graham and Trevor. *

If you haven't checked out either of his first two books, you are sadly missing out. This is an author to watch. I'm sure we'll be hearing more of Jeffrey S. Stephens, and his main character Jordan Sandor in the future.

 Targets of Deception

When Jordan Sandor resigned from active service with the Central Intelligence Agency, it was before 9-11, before the fall of Saddam Hussein, before the world had so dramatically changed. He is reluctantly drawn back into action, when a series of violent events leads him to search out a new al-Qaeda conspiracy to initiate a new wave of cataclysmic assaults with poison gas.

Sandor follows the deadly trail from New York to Florida to Paris and, ultimately, to the small town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera. Never sure who he can trust and who may be an enemy, Jordan relies on his experience, instincts and skills as he risks his life to uncover plans for attacks against the United States and its allies. The terrorist strategy is cunning and far-reaching, with the lives of millions of people at stake. When Sandor discovers a rogue agent behind the plot, he realizes he is the one man who can prevent the catastrophe.

TARGETS OF DECEPTION is a fast-paced thriller that moves from one suspenseful action scene to the next in a contemporary story of the real and present perils of the modern world. (Description found on Goodreads)

Targets of Opportunity

In Targets of Deception, which suspense master Robert K. Tanenbaum called “a fast-paced thriller,” Jeffrey Stephens introduced CIA agent Jordan Sandor, whom bestselling author Steve Alten praised as “terrific.” Now Sandor is back, playing for bigger stakes and facing deadlier challenges. 

Whisked from his Manhattan town house to a gabled CIA safe house in Virginia, Sandor faces off with a top terrorist agent from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In exchange for protection from his own side, Ahmad Jaber is offering the CIA explosive information: word of a secret, unholy alliance forged among operatives in the Middle East, a ruthless South American, and Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea. Jaber claims not to know specific details, only that the strike will target the heart of America. 

The fanatics stage a stunning diversion in the Caribbean, mercilessly downing a passenger jet and unleashing an assault on a French intelligence installation. Sandor, however, has already moved in a different direction. Leveraging Jaber’s infor-mation, he assembles a small strike force to penetrate North Korea. The team knows they will not all return, but the intel they gather will be vital to American security. What they ultimately discover plunges Sandor into a frantic race against time, struggling to defeat a shadowy figure—a master terrorist with a plan of destruction so perfectly disguised that even with the new knowledge he has gathered, Sandor cannot guess where or how he will strike. 

As a storm rages in the Gulf of Mexico, word comes that two submarines have penetrated U.S. waters. With the U.S. military hampered by the hurricane, Sandor turns to a few daring U.S. Navy SEALs to duel with the enemy they cannot see . . . for now they know only that there are two nuclear weapons aimed at a target of opportunity whose destruction would change the world order forever.
Brilliantly conceived, electrifyingly paced, Targets of Opportunity captures a terrifying twenty-first century reality: terrorists can—and will—try as many times as they need to attack the United States. For the brave men and women who defend our country, failure is not an option.
(Description found on Goodreads) Click Here to see my review.

Q & A 

Lisarenee: Jeffrey, I noticed there isn't much background information on you. I was curious if you could tell us a little bit about yourself - do you have any military background and/or literature background? Hopefully, this isn't one of those questions where you could “tell me, but then you'd have to kill me”. :)

Jeffrey S. Stephens: How about this—if I told you they might kill me? I am an attorney, have always written, and have numerous contacts in government and military. Enough said.

Lisarenee: What inspired you to write your first book? Have you always wanted to write but never found the opportunity before?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: As I say, I have always written, including plays that were performed by classmates. I simply love the process, even if not everything is for publication.

Lisarenee: You've written two or is it three books now? I wasn't sure if 'The Portofino Deception' was retitled 'Targets of Deceptions' or not. The description on Amazon made me wonder if they were the same book?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: I have written numerous novels which have yet to be published. Yes, PORTOFINO was edited and re-released by a second publisher as TARGETS OF DECEPTION. Then Simon & Schuster bought the next book, the current novel TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY.

Lisarenee: When I wrote my review of Targets of Opportunity, I stated Jordan Sandor likes to work hard and play hard. Is that pretty accurate? Also, for those who haven't read any of your books, besides being extremely loyal, what kind of person is Jordan? Did you fashion the character after one or more individuals you know, after a character from a book or movie you love, or did you totally pull him out of thin air?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: Jordan is based in part on a real-life agent who will obviously remain nameless. He is irreverent but respectful, a patriot but an iconoclast, and, most important to me—he is a three dimensional character that I hope readers can relate to. He is not an invincible hero, he is someone who bleeds when he is cut and has real relationships and honest feelings—but none of that will ever get in the way of his mission, which is to protect our country.

Lisarenee: If your series were to be made into a movie, is there any actor you'd think would be perfect for the role of Jordan Sandor?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: I can think of several, but I believe it is bad form for the author to suggest the actor who might play one of his characters. After all, a large part of the fun for the reader of a novel is to exercise his or her own imagination envisioning the scenes, settings and, of course, characters.

Lisarenee: Do current events inspire your books? What sparked the idea for Targets of Opportunity?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: The aggressive positions taken against the United States by Kim in North Korea and Chavez in Venezuela helped formulate the plot, the villains and the course of the story.

Lisarenee: Are there any authors that have inspired you over the years? Do you have any favorite authors?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: My favorites, who inspired me to write, include Hemingway, Salinger and Fitzgerald.

Lisarenee: What is your favorite book? What is your favorite movie?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: Cather in the Rye. Casablanca. And a whole lot of runners-up in both categories.

Lisarenee: How much research goes into writing one of your books? I noticed in the acknowledgement section you thanked quite a few individuals for their help and contributions. Is it important that you be realistic enough that if a person in the military were to pick up one of your books they can enjoy it and not say to themselves, “That's not right”? Do people have a tendency to let you know if something is inaccurate?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: Readers today are incredibly sophisticated. You cannot fake it. You have to know your locations, your weapons, your governmental processes and so forth. It takes a lot of work and research and travel—that last part being the most fun. With all of that, we do our best to check facts and maintain authenticity.

Lisarenee: I noticed you made up a fictitious president for your book. I've noticed that is done in movies, but never really noticed it before in books. Is there a reason for that?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: Respect for the office.

Lisarenee: What is the hardest part about writing a suspenseful book that centers around an international espionage plot?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: Creating an original story line that will keep the reader engaged in the action from start to finish.

Lisarenee: What is the funniest thing about writing a suspenseful book?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: I don’t know of anything I would call “funny”, but it is interesting to me when characters become so real that they sometimes dictate the action. I may want to go in one direction, but I know a particular character could not do what I am asking, since it would be contrary to their personality or ethics. I find that amusing—arguing with fictional people.

Lisarenee: (I must apologize. I accidentally had a typo. The question was supposed to ask 'What is the funnest (not funniest) thing about writing a suspenseful book?')

Lisarenee: Do you write the main story all at once then add in the details later, or do you just start writing and the story sort of flows out onto the pages?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: I begin with an outline that includes a good sense of the climax and final ending, then embark on the journey.

Lisarenee: Did you have an easy or hard time getting your first book published?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: You’re kidding, right? There is nothing easy about the publishing business anymore, as you well know.

Lisarenee: Is there an official name for your series? Neither Goodreads or Amazon listed one. Also, how many books will there be in the series or is that number still yet to be determined?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: We do not have a name for the series, but how about ‘THE BEST-SELLING JORDAN SANDOR SERIES”? I will keep writing them as long as people find them entertaining and interesting.

Lisarenee: Do you have other books in the works, and if so, do you have any idea when they may be published or what they will be about? Can you give us any hints? I'm guessing we'll definitely see more of Jordan?

Jeffrey S. Stephens: I am presently at work on TARGETS OF REVENGE, as well as some other, non-Jordan Sandor novels. And thanks for asking J!

Lisarenee: Thank you so much for answering my questions.

Order of the series:

*Information provided by publisher.

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