Let Me Introduce You To…Rick Jones!

One of my favorite things to do with this blog, as many of you know, is introduce fresh, new writers to all of you whenever one presents him or herself. In many ways, I consider it a mission of sorts. In a world where the publishing industry is in such a state of flux and the ebook market has opened up an almost infinite supply of authors, it would be easy to become overwhelmed. 
When I go to Walmart, one of the first places I almost always find myself drifting is to the electronics section to check out the latest DVD selection. Invariably, my eyes catch sight of that huge bargain bin in front of the electronics section where one might find that golden prize of a movie for only $4.99! But it never fails…there are just so many movies in that bin, that is next to impossible to find anything that catches my eye. I’ll dig and dig and dig, but typically, the only thing it accomplishes is an avalanche of DVDs and a touch of frustration. Because of the flood of new books and ebooks by indie authors (both self-published and those who publish through small presses), as well as the regular stream of authors from the Big 6, it’s next to impossible for an author to be seen or heard above the din. In many ways, they become like those DVDs in that bargain bin and all too often, they are overlooked completely. 
So, it’s this blog’s mission to give voice to some of these up-and-coming authors. Like some literary “Love Connection”, I make it my task to connect readers with their perfect authorly match. And so today, I’m going to introduce you to a man you should definitely get to know…Rick Jones, author of THE VATICAN KNIGHTS series, as well as the EDEN series. 
Here’s his bio taken from his website

Rick Jones was born and raised in the Boston area and moved to Las Vegas in the early eighties where he graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in English. Currently, he is employed with the state of Nevada in law enforcement, and enjoys traveling, especially to Rome and Vatican City where many of the settings for his novels take place.

He lives in Las Vegas with his two mini schnauzers, Wrangler and Hobo.

Well, I tell you what…instead of me going on and on about Rick, how I bet I let him tell you about himself. Recently I got a chance to ask him a few questions about his books, writing, and life in general. Here’s what he had to say:

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1. At the moment, you have two series and one stand alone thriller. Would take a little time and tell us in your own words what these series are about? 
Sure. My main action series, The Vatican Knights, having published four books to date, is about a team of elite commandos empowered by the Vatican to protect the interests of the Church, its sovereignty, and the welfare of its citizenry. In Book #1, The Vatican Knights, they are sent to the United States to save the life of the pope who has been kidnapped by an alleged team of terrorists. However, things are not what they seem. Below is the synopsis: While on a visit to the United States, Pope Pius XIII is kidnapped by a terrorist cell calling itself the Soldiers of Islam. If the United States and its allies do not meet their demands, they will execute the pope. So when FBI Specialist Shari Cohen is called to duty to track down the terrorist cell responsible, she learns that she is not alone. Deep behind the Vatican walls a secret order dispatches a clandestine op group of elite commandos known as the Vatican Knights. Their mission: bring the pope back alive. As Cohen and the Knights work in tandem they uncover a White House conspiracy involving high-ranking members on Capitol Hill. When she begins to get too close to the truth about the pope’s kidnapping, she becomes the target of indigenous forces trying to keep the conspiracy safe. However, in order to get to her they must go through the Vatican Knights.

In Book #2, Shepherd One, which is a cross between Air Force One and Executive Decision, takes the pope’s plane, which is actually referred to as Shepherd One (in real life), is used as a weapon of possible mass destruction. Here’s the synopsis: While traveling across the United States during the Papal Symposium, the papal plane, Shepherd One, is commandeered by a terrorist cell calling itself the Muslim Revolutionary Front. On board: a nuclear payload with half the yield that destroyed Hiroshima. Their demand to the U.S. government: assassinate the five leading principals of Mossad. While the American leadership is forced to follow through with a proposition that would cripple the intelligence network between the allies, Pope Pius XIII is not without his own weapon. On board Shepherd One is his personal valet, a man who is the leader of a clandestine op group of elite commandos known as the Vatican Knights. His mission: retake the plane and remove all hostile opposition. Using his very particular set of skills, Kimball Hayden must neutralize the situation before thousands of lives are lost

Book #3, The Iscariot Agenda, is a personal favorite of mine that deals more in-depth with the main character, Kimball Hayden, the Chief Commander of the Vatican Knights and one-time assassin for the United States government, who now seeks redemption through the Church. This is a storyline about how a man’s dark past comes back to haunt him. Here’s the synopsis: Kimball Hayden is the Commander of an elite commando group known as the Vatican Knights, a black-op force that works for the Church to protect its sovereignty, its interests, and the welfare of its citizenry. But Kimball is being stalked by someone from the past, a soldier that is stronger, faster, and far more brutal–an assassin so deadly not even the Vatican Knights can stop him. This Alpha Assassin has set Kimball within the crosshairs and is systematically destroying his old team of elite fighters, the Force Elite. Kimball is then sent to confront this killer who leaves behind lettered clues carved into the flesh of his teammates: ISCARIOT. Not only does Kimball have to battle something far more dangerous than anything he has ever encountered, but he must destroy this Alpha Assassin before this killer brings his personal war to the Vatican.  

Book #4, Pandora’s Ark, has some elements of Michael Crichton, a little scientific, but deals mostly with the continuing and personal struggles of Kimball Hayden who is no longer with the Vatican Knights and once again begins to lose himself by slowly reverting to the animal he once was, a man without conscience or remorse, until the Vatican calls upon him for the salvation of the Church, humanity, and for himself. Here’s the synopsis: Thirty years ago the world was in the exploratory stages of creating a technology capable of artificial intelligence. Thirty years later that technology has been perfected. In a lab somewhere in a remote mountain region in Iran, nanoparticles, or micro-bots, have been created to be self-sustaining and self-reproducing, each day evolving and learning from experience. They have been programmed to be the ultimate predator, devouring everything in their path and leaving nothing behind. Now in the hands of a terrorist group, the Vatican has come within the crosshairs. Using the Ark of the Covenant as a Trojan Horse, Kimball Hayden and his team of Vatican Knights must stop the promise of complete destruction of Rome by combating something unseen, and something that can kill within seconds. 
My second series, one that I’m launching and very excited about, is an action-adventure series with senior archeologist Alyssa Moore and her sidekick John Savage, a one-time military elite, who were introduced in Book #1, The Tombs of Eden, where they encounter the true origins of man’s beginnings by discovering the temple of EDIN (EDEN), which also happens to be the cradle of mankind, and ultimately discover the things that walk the warrens within. Currently, since Tombs is doing well, I’ve put other projects on hold to get started on Book #2 of the series, The Menagerie. But here’s the synopsis for The Tombs of Eden, and action-adventure in the vein of Rollins: In southeast Turkey where the heads of the four main rivers once met, a magnificent temple created 14,000 years ago is discovered beneath the desert floor. Believed to have been created by lost technology, it is quickly determined by a team of archaeologists to be the centerpiece of Eden, a once illustrious civilization and the cradle of mankind. But what if Eden is not the Paradise texts make it out to be? What if it held dark secrets and unholy terrors instead? As Senior Archeologist Alyssa Moore and her team of experts discover the truth of man’s beginning, she realizes that the secrets of man’s true origins lie within the sacred tombs inside the temple. But the journey for the truth is not without its dangers or pitfalls . . . Something walks the warrens within.
My stand-alone book is a Psychological Thriller/Mystery, The Man Who Cast Two Shadows, is something I wrote a few years back about a woman on the cusp of a mental break down after she begins to see and hear things that no else does after the killer she helped put behind bars is released after serving nineteen years. And although she believes the killer to be the culprit at her doorstep, he’s proven to be 3000 miles away. Here’s the synopsis: 

How can a killer be 3000 miles away and at your doorstep at the same time?

Ashley Quinton is on the verge of madness after the release of a killer she helped put behind bars nineteen years ago. Upon the exact moment of his discharge, she immediately receives calls from a local payphone from someone who tells her things only the killer would know. And then she begins to see items connected to her past–items that were given to her by this man when she was a child, only for them to disappear in a haze of smoke and mirrors before others can confirm her claims. As much as she points an accusing finger at the killer as the culprit, he’s proven to be three thousand miles away. Yet as far away as he is, he knows everything that’s going on in Ashley’s life because he’s also at her doorstep
2. The Vatican Knights series is probably the one you’re best known for and I’ve been hearing fantastic things about it, by the way (the first two books are on my Kindle lineup!). Tell me, what inspired you to create a series about a team of soldiers dedicated to protecting the Pope?
I’ve been reading so many books about the Church and the secrets that may bring down Catholicism that I wanted to do something different. So why not create a storyline regarding an elite force of commandos who are sent to locales beyond Vatican City to aid those who cannot protect themselves? Since the Vatican has diplomatic ties with more than 90% of the countries worldwide, and with all the skirmishes going on, this only makes sense since the Swiss Guard is the Vatican’s personal army that only protects the city and its borders. 
3. Of course with the Vatican being its own sovereign nation, it isn’t too hard to believe that the rumors and speculation would be true…that they have their own spies, their own elite fighting units, etc. In your research, is there any indication how much reality meets up with fiction (in both your own series and other fictions (books, movies, etc.) that have played around with this?
Rumors do abound, don’t they? But the underlying fact is that the Vatican has an elite security team above and beyond the Swiss Guards—who serve the Church mainly as a calling—and the Servizio Informazioni del Vaticano, or the SIV, which is an elite Intel group that rivals most intelligence agencies, including Mossad and the CIA
4. Who are your favorite authors/books? How do these authors inspire you? Do they deter you in any way (as a writer myself, I often get intimidated by how amazing their prose is and criticize my writing to the point that it blocks me from time to time…does this or anything similar happen to you)? 
My favorite writers are Vince Flynn, Richard Doetsch, Clive Cussler, Jeremy Robinson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Rollins just to name a few. But there’s actually a long list of authors that I like. And my tastes, as you can see by the listed names, quite eclectic. So inspiration comes from a lot of different sources. As for the intimidation factor—not so much. I was basically illiterate until the age of 16 with a comprehension rate of 0%. Although I could read the words, I was not a functioning literate and had to attend remedial classes for Reading. However, with that being said, I did make entry into the college ranks (small school) and dropped out a week after a professor wrote on my essay paper, “This is the most dreadful writing I have ever seen.” I was so embarrassed that I dropped out of college, knowing that I wasn’t ready. So I worked hard at reading, then writing, and finished up years later writing for the publishing ranks. So I feel comfortable in my skin and write about things that come to me. For instance: in The Vatican Knights it’s about one man’s struggle for self and redemption;  for The Tombs of Eden, it’s about the true origins of man and his beginnings.   
5. The Tombs of Eden is Book 1 of your Eden series and sounds ominous…but oh so good! Since I love hearing about the genesis of any story, I’ll ask the same question as #2. What inspired you to write this book? While most depictions of Eden show it to be paradise on earth, you’ve taken a very different tact. Seems that Eden might just be a little darker than we first thought. How did this come about in your creative process?
Eden, I believe, is literature’s metaphor of man’s rise from the cradle, marking his first true civilization, primitive or otherwise. I wanted to create something original, however, something different than what has already been written or published. So I read up on some texts regarding Eden’s origins and formulated a story where EDIN (Eden) was more than a primitive culture, but a culture that rivaled the greatest cities like Atlantis, but more factual—a place with great temples, waterways, etc. I took into consideration ancient time clocks, of sculptures denoting constellations, about a “Chamber of the Primaries” or the “Tomb of the Firsts,” and other terrifying elements to make the story move. This was fun to write. And due to the current success of The Tombs of Eden, which I originally pegged as a stand alone, I’ve decided to drop everything to work on Book #2, The Menagerie, which is coming on nicely. I now have ideas for Books #3 and #4, as well.
6. What’s next for Rick Jones? What projects are you currently working on? Tell us a little about them.
I have an idea ala vintage Dean Koontz, a few horrors, obviously more Tombs of Eden sagas, and another Vatican Knight novel titled Vatican Knights: Advent, which is about the creation of the Vatican Knights during World War II to offset Nazi oppression. Still, I have lots to do in so little time like most writers
7. When you’re not writing, what are some things you enjoy doing for relaxation and fun? How do you unwind? Hobbies? Past times.?
I love to watch football, especially the New England Patriots, since I’m from the Boston area. I love beaches and to travel. In fact, I’ve been to Vatican City, Lucerne, Paris, London, places which are settings for most of my stories. I also enjoy quiet times in pubs/sports bars, homebody, anyplace that is peaceful and quiet. And of course the obvious, reading and writing.
8. If you had only one piece of advice to give aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
Be determined and persevere. Never give up. I’ve been at this for close to thirty years and worked hard to get where I am. Determination and perseverance will get you there every time. And I’m sure there are other authors out there who will tell you the same. But if you work at it, if you truly love your craft, then it will eventually happen. Remember this adage because it’s true: Winners never quit, Quitters never win. 
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Thank you so much, Rick for your candid answers. We wish you the very best of luck!
And for you readers out there, I’m telling you…I’m hearing amazing things about this author. I’ve got a few of his books in queue on my Kindle to be read even as I type this. I have a very strong feeling that we will all be hearing much more about Rick in the future. So why not get in on the ground floor now! Go pick up a copy of one of his books today!
To sweeten the deal, Rick’s latest Vatican Knights book, Pandora’s Ark, is only $0.99! That’s right. For less than a dollar, you can check it out and if you like it, you can go back and get the others in the series. Here’s a link to Pandora’s Ark

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