Alex Lukeman - Indiana Jones Meets 007
Alex Lukeman is a former Marine and psychotherapist who enjoys riding old, fast motorcycles, playing guitar and writing riveting thrillers. His The Project series, stars a covert counter-terrorism unit that takes readers on action-packed adventures that can be likened to those the Bond, Bourne and Indiana Jones books. As our Author of the Day, Lukeman reveals why he likes to write about ancient mysteries and impending nuclear war, what he does in his spare time and how his experience as a Marine and psychotherapist inspired his work.
Please give us an introduction to what White Jade is about
WHITE JADE spins a web of deceit and murder across the globe, against the backdrop of a deadly international power game.
Former Recon Marine Nick Carter is a man with a dark history of emotional and physical scars. He works for the PROJECT, a covert counter-terrorism unit reporting to the President. Selena Connor is a beautiful, strong and skilled linguist. When her wealthy uncle is murdered by someone looking for an ancient book about the elixir of immortality, she's thrown into Nick's dangerous world.
Nick is assigned to protect Selena and help her recover the missing text. It's the beginning of a life and death adventure reaching from San Francisco to Beijing, from Washington to the hidden chambers of Tibet. Someone is determined to take over China and attack America--and Nick and Selena are right in the line of fire.
International intrigue, terrorist acts and the threat of nuclear war form the core of this fast-paced thriller, the first volume in a series featuring Nick, Selena and the PROJECT.
What inspired you to write about a 2000-year-old mystery and impending nuclear war?
I'm fascinated by ancient mysteries and unsolved puzzles in history. Many of the books in the series feature an ancient artifact of one kind or another, which has some perilous significance for the present day. Nuclear war is something on a lot of people's minds.
How did you come upon the concept of the PROJECT? How was the unit conceived in your mind?
There are only a few thriller series that feature an ongoing group of characters. It's much more difficult, I think, to write about the same people and keep it interesting than it is to start off with one central character and have him go blow up things or take down the bad guys. I also wanted to write a series that featured strong female protagonists. In the Project series there are three key women: Selena Connor, Director Elizabeth Harker and Stephanie Willits.
Your book takes readers from San Francisco to Beijing, Washington to Tibet. How did you manage to describe these locations in such detail?
I have traveled extensively, and whenever I can I draw on personal experience. Washington and San Francisco are easy. I haven't been to Tibet, but I have gone trekking in Bhutan, which is right next door. The Himalayas are something that must be experienced to be believed. It was fun to write the setting into the story. I don't exaggerate much in the story. It's possible to do the things my characters do at high altitude. I admit, they are a pretty tough bunch, tougher than I am. If I haven't been somewhere, there is plenty of information available on the Internet, including articles and pictures that I can use to build a setting in my mind.
White Jade is a fast-paced thriller. What is your secret to keeping readers hooked throughout the book?
I'm not sure what the secret is. Possibly it has to do with sudden, unexpected danger, but that has to be tied into the development of the characters. They have to be interesting. It's not enough to just blow something up. The book is meant to entertain, to keep the reader turning pages to find out what happens next. My characters get in a lot of trouble. Readers identify with them and their trials. They are not superheroes, they're just people with a lot of training who can do things most of us can't. They get hurt, they make mistakes, and always they are at risk.
Did you know from the start that White Jade was going to be a series? How does the next book tie in with this one?
Yes, White Jade was intended to be the first book in a series. It's now up to number fourteen. The next book, The Lance, picks up with the continuing development of the characters. Selena has a lot to learn after her initiation into combat in book 1. A new character is added to the team. For me, it is a natural evolution of an ongoing story.
How does your background in the Marines and psychotherapy influence your writing?
The Marines gave me an understanding of the military which is obviously useful in the books. More than that, the Marines are unique. Anyone who has gone through Marine Corps training knows exactly what I am talking about. It changes your perspective on things. My background in psychotherapy comes in useful when I'm attempting to figure out how characters think and how they might behave in a given situation. I hope that it lends a touch of realism to them.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I restore and ride old British motorcycles. Not so much of a secret, but I was once a professional folksinger.
Are all the twists in your book planned out – or do some of them just “happen” while you write?
Almost all of them happen. Rigid plot lines don't work for me. I think one of the reasons people like the books is because the action feel spontaneous. I never know where the story is going to go beyond a very broad concept. If something pops out of my unconscious without thinking about it, I think it makes the story more interesting.
Tell us about your writing habits. Where and when do you write? Do you have a favorite writing spot?
If something doesn't interfere, I write in the mornings five days a week. I try to get between one and two thousand words written in a session, but there have been many days with far less than that. More than two thousand is a real bonus. I work at home and write in my office.
Readers say that White Jade is Indiana Jones meets 007. Are you a fan of either of these series?
Yes, both of them. It's a nice thing for readers to say. Perhaps not too far from the truth, although I don't imitate either of those famous characters.
Where do you like to go for inspiration?
Hawaii, if I get a chance. Unfortunately not as often as I'd like.
What are you working on right now?
I just released book 14, High Alert. I have now begun book 15, tentatively titled The Staff.
Where can readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The books are available on all platforms. I provide an email address in them for those who would like to contact me. That address is [email protected].