Payne & Jones Need Your Help

Today marks the official release date of The Malta Escape, which is the ninth book in the Payne & Jones series and quite possibly the funniest thriller ever written. Not just by me, but by anyone.

Of course, I might be
slightly biased.

So, how did I come up with such an awesome book?

Two years ago, I asked readers on social media what I should work on next, and the overwhelming majority said, “your résumé”. After narrowing the focus of my question, most fans requested a new Payne & Jones novel, which didn’t surprise me at all. Based on book sales, it is by far my most popular series. Then again, the duo has been around for six more books than
The Hunters series, so it wasn’t exactly a fair fight. Not that Payne & Jones care about fighting fair. Those crazy bastards will exploit any advantage they can get.

On the surface, it seemed like a straightforward decision: I should give fans what they wanted, right? Unfortunately, what readers want and what publishers want are often two different things, and that’s when things get complicated.

As crazy as this sounds, I won an ITW Thriller award for
The Prisoner's Gold in July 2016, and less than a month later, I was dropped by my main publisher, who explained to me in no uncertain terms that the action-adventure genre was dead. I was tempted to have Clive Cussler give them a call to let them know otherwise, but I figured he was too busy writing five action-adventure series per year and selling millions of books to actually find the time to do anything but write and work on his awesome cars.

Anyway, their decision put me in a difficult position. Most publishers are reluctant to take on an established series—let alone
two. My agents thought I would be better off writing a standalone novel that they could sell to publishers. Several of my author friends suggested the same thing. But after many sleepless nights, I decided to take a chance and write the book that my fans were asking for: a brand-new Payne & Jones novel.

Of course, that decision was loaded with risk. In order to release the book, I was forced to publish it myself. That meant no guaranteed money from a publisher. No one to design the cover. No one to market the book. And so on. Not only did I have to write the novel, I had to hire experienced personnel to do all of the things that I couldn’t do myself. And since I have very little talent or expertise, those expenses added up quickly.

So, why am I telling you all of this?

First and foremost, to guilt you into buying my new book. I mean, you were the ones who begged me to write the damn thing, so now I’m hoping you’ll do your part by buying a copy or ten. Keep in mind: the holidays are right around the corner, and nothing says, “I love you” like two ex-MANIACs who make fun of each other while searching for treasure and killing bad guys.

Secondly, to save the lives of Payne & Jones. You might think I’m kidding, but their very existence is directly tied to the success of
The Malta Escape. Unless I sell a ton of copies, it simply doesn’t make financial sense to keep the series going. So if you like Payne & Jones, please help me pay their salaries and medical bills.

And last but not least, I’m hoping that you will prove my ex-publisher wrong about the action-adventure genre. Believe it or not, this is your chance to help an author stick it to Big Ink (or whatever the hell major publishers call themselves behind closed doors)!

Okay, that's all I have to say. Time to work on my résumé.

New Book Covers

While updating my website for the upcoming release of The Malta Escape, I noticed that one of my publishers had changed the cover art for six of my ebooks. Here's what they look like now in the UK:

UK - Ebooks

Movie News

As hard as this is to believe, it's been half a decade since I signed the movie option for The Hunters. During the first few years, there was a lot of forward momentum with the project―including an incredible cast and a massive marketing deal with Nissan. But as time went on, I started to have my doubts about the film. The budget kept getting smaller and smaller, and the script kept getting further and further away from the book. Eventually it reached a point where it wasn't my story or my characters anymore.

At the end of the five-year deal, the producers wanted to extend the agreement, but after several sleepless nights, I decided to turn them down. As tough as that was to do, I know it was the right decision.

Believe it or not, I'm actually excited about this development. Now that I have the rights back, my agents are free to shop for a better deal, and so far there has been a lot of interest. That said, I'm not in any rush to sign a new agreement. Now that I've seen the good and bad of Hollywood, I'm going to patiently wait until I find the right studio and/or production team to work with before I sign my next movie option.

Double Rainbow

Last night I spotted a rare double rainbow in Florida. I safely pulled off the road then snapped a picture of it with my phone. Obviously it was more impressive in person, but the photo is pretty cool, too.

Rainbow

Football Memories

Over the holiday weekend, I was watching a documentary on ESPN called “Catholics vs. Convicts”, which details a classic football game between Notre Dame and Miami. To build the drama, they showed a brief clip of Pitt playing Notre Dame during my freshman season, and I spotted myself (#74) on the Pitt sidelines. We won the game (30-22), so it rekindled some great memories of my football career.

Pitt-ND