Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

I'm very excited to wish Taylor Zajonc a happy pub day!  His book, RED SUN ROGUE, comes out this Wednesday, so you still have some time to pre-order your copy!  RED SUN ROGUE is the sequel to his debut, THE WRECKING CREW, which received a starred review from PW!!  When I first sent out THE WRECKING CREW, I described it is as "an Indiana Jones, underwater adventure," so if you're looking for fast-paced action, check out Taylor's interview below and both his books!

Tell us a bit about this book and its prequel, THE WRECKING CREW!

My first book in the series (THE WRECKING CREW) was about deep sea salvage diver Jonah Blackwell's release from prison to search for a lost scientist in the pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa. When his expedition was attacked, he was forced to assemble an unlikely crew to take on a billionaire industrialist and an environmental disaster in the making. Jonah is forced to transition from a loner to a leader over the course of the novel; enlisting a crew that must overcome mutual distrust and self-interest to survive. 

RED SUN ROGUE picks up right after the first book ends, with the crew smuggling refugees out of North Korea on behalf of a Japanese organized crime syndicate. But soon they're ensnared in a greater conspiracy with roots in the secret Axis weapons programs of World War II. With the adventure as a backdrop, Jonah and his crew learn just how much they'll risk for one another, in the process changing from a crew to a family.

How did you come up with an idea and where did you draw inspiration for character and plot?

RED SUN ROGUE was a deeply personal book. The inspiration came from an expedition my father participated in during the late 90's, where he accompanied the Russian deep sea submersible program to explore a World War II-era Japanese submarine lost at sea while participating in the secret Axis technology exchange program. Through my job I also have a lot of exposure to deep sea tech and the people who use it. I love to draw inspiration from real people who've done really amazing things.

From a character standpoint, in some ways Jonah follows my own journey as a new father. He now has this "family", his crew, and he has to figure out who he is and who he needs to be for these people that have come to depend on him. Jonah and his crew have a tough time in this novel; they're exhausted, nobody is sleeping, and nobody quite knows what they're supposed to do. I think any new parent could probably relate to that.

How was writing this book different than writing the first?  Now that you are writing under contract, do you have to think differently at all?

So different! First off, I'm a new dad, and I wrote the bulk of this book in the six months after my son was born. As any parent will tell you, those months are a sleepless mess and your brain doesn't always hit the "record" button. Suffice to say, I ended up with a finished novel in hand but no real memory of actually writing it. My words to my publisher were something along the lines of "it's finished, but I'm not totally sure what's in it." All I can say is, thank the gods of fiction for extremely thorough outlines. Getting it done wasn't a pretty process, but the novel was the better for it and I'm so thrilled with how it turned out.

Writing a sequel is an interesting process, so many readers and reviewers shared what they liked (and in some cases, didn't!) about the first book. I think that kind of feedback will distract an author if they let it. I had to actively tune out what other people wanted from the sequel and write the book that I wanted to write all along.

What is one of your favorite plot twists in the book?

As with any good adventure book, every chapter is a new twist and nothing goes to plan. My favorite source of these plot twists is a new character, Freya Weyland. She an environmental terrorist and anarchist, and a true foil for Jonah. In some ways they're so alike; both are ruthless, cunning, unpredictable and (when the situation calls for it) violent. Freya represents everything Jonah could have become if he stayed a loner or thought a cause was more important than the people around him.

What is some fun promotion that you've done for RED SUN ROGUE--anything in particular we should keep an eye out for?

This isn't exactly promotion, but Atavist Magazine is releasing a longform story about my work as a research director for a company that looks for historic shipwrecks in the deep ocean. The shipwreck we discovered has an incredible, untold backstory of heroism and leadership on par with Ernest Shackleton and William Bligh. If anyone wants an inside look into who I am and what inspires me, I think this magazine article will do the trick.
Beyond that, my favorite promotional activity was a "book tour" of the local Little Free Libraries in northern Portland, Oregon. My one year old and I stocked the libraries with advance copies of RED SUN ROGUE. My wife (who is a professional photographer) took a few photos of us and posted them in a neighborhood facebook page. The post blew up (mostly because my little man is such a cutie!) all the books were borrowed within the hour, and people now recognize me as the 'writer guy' when I walk the dog around the block. It was an amazing experience.

Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process (e.g. do you have to write at night or while wearing lucky socks)?

I can't get beyond the first few chapters in a new novel without finding the right soundtrack for the project. The music has to capture the tone and the attitude of what I'm working on. For RED SUN ROGUE, I listened to hip hop artists like Run the Jewels, Kendrick Lamar, Die Antwoord, M.I.A., and soundtracks from composers like Brian Tyler, Paul Leonard-Morgan, Michael McCann. The one down side of this quirk is that when I'm done with the novel, I 'burn' the music lists and can't ever listen to the songs when I write ever again. I don't know too many other writers who blast hip hop and FPS shooter soundtracks when they work, but I can't concentrate to anything else.

Now fun question!  If these books were turned in to a movie (or movies ::salivates::) who would you cast to play the main characters?

I love character actors and actresses who bring a special level of physicality and intensity and creativity to their roles, really make them their own - here's a few off the top of my head: 

Jonah Blackwell, expert salvage diver: Sebastian Sam
Dr. Hassan Nassiri, ships' surgeon: Dev Patel
Alexis Andrews, chief engineer: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Dalmar Abdi, former pirate: DeObia Oparei
Vitaly Kuznetsov, ships' helmsman: Liam Aiken
Sun-Hi, communications officer: Grace Huang
Marissa Hildebrand: Alexandra Daddario
Freya Weyland, anarchist: CrossFit champion Annie Thorisdottir (in what would be her Hollywood debut!)


  1. so exciting!! happy early pub day to Taylor!

  2. Congratulations, Taylor! Many sales to you!

  3. Congrats, Taylor! Sorry I'm late to the party!