Saturday, November 2, 2013

Interview with James Hayman, Author of Darkness First

Like his fictional hero, Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, James Hayman is a native New Yorker. He was born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan.  He was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA and at Brown University.  After Brown, he returned to New York and took a job as a cub copywriter for one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, Young & Rubicam.  For the next twenty-five years he wrote and produced print and television advertising for clients like the US Army, Time Magazine and Ford.  He left the agency business in 2001 and, shortly before the 9/11 attacks, moved to Portland, Maine to begin a new career as a freelance writer. For the next five years he wrote literally hundred of articles, white papers, marketing brochures and two coffee-table books for corporate clients. In 2006, noticing more than a little gray hair, he decided to scratch a lifelong itch and try his hand at writing fiction. His first McCabe/Savage thriller, The Cutting, was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in 2009.  Darkness First from Harper Collins new Witness/Impulse imprint is his third novel.  He lives in Portland with his artist wife, Jeanne O’Toole Hayman.

You can learn more about James at his website:
You can also go to the James Hayman Thrillers facebook page
His blog, Musings of a Murderous Mind, can be found on his website and two or three times a month at

When did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a writer.  As a child I spent a lot of time in my room making up imaginary stories.  Sometimes I wrote them down, sometimes not.  I did a lot more writing in high school and college and when I graduated from Brown I looked for a job with a company that would actually pay me to write.  I found one as a copywriter with a large advertising agency. 

What is this book about?

Darkness First is a story about a young woman named Tiff Stoddard who is just a little too eager get rich quick.  She makes a deal with the devil… a sociopathic drug dealer named Conor Riordan…to help him smuggle a massive quantity of illegal prescription drugs by sea from Canada into Washington County, Maine.  When Tiff finally realizes just how dangerous Riordan is, she tries to break away from him and takes with her what she thinks is “only her fair share” of the haul.  Riordan disagrees. He tracks her down and takes sadistic pleasure in killing her as brutally and painfully as he can.  In the process, he critically injures a local doctor who just happens to be Portland PD detective Maggie Savage’s oldest and dearest friend. When Maggie hears about her friend’s injuries she heads downeast to Washington County to help the Maine State Police and her father, the 4 term Sheriff of Washington County, track down the brutal killer.

What inspired you to write it?

My first two books, The Cutting and The Chill of Night, were set in Portland and featured Maggie’s partner, Detective Sergeant Mike McCabe.  I wanted to write a story with Maggie as the key protagonist and I thought it would be fun to set it outside of the Portland area in a rural part of the state. When I read about the epidemic of illegal prescription drugs in Washington County, I had the seed of the idea.  When I interviewed a Maine Drug Enforcement agent who told me the DEA’s worst nightmare would be the smuggling of Oxycontin by boat from Canada into Maine, I just took it from there.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I have a major crush on Maggie.  My wife isn’t even jealous as she can deal with fictional fantasies. In any case, I really enjoyed telling the tale from Maggie’s point of view.  My other favorite character in the book is eleven-year-old Tabitha Stoddard, who is the semi-fat and wholly nerdy little sister of the slain Tiffany Stoddard.  Since Tabitha is the only person who can identify Conor Riordan, when she disappears, Maggie knows she must find the child before the killer does.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Amazingly smooth.  When I finished my first thriller, The Cutting, I sent it to exactly one agent, a woman named Meg Ruley who represents some of the top mystery and thriller writers including names like Tess Gerritsen and Lisa Gardner.  Meg loved the book and agreed to represent me.  Within weeks, we’d sold The Cutting, in a two book deal, to St. Martin’s/Minotaur.  For the third book, Darkness First, we decided to change publishers and agreed to become the lead title for Harper Collins’ new ebook first Witness/Impulse imprint. 

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

At the moment, it’s only available as an ebook for an introductory price of $2.99.  Readers can download Darkness First on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo and any other tablet or smart phone device.  Using Amazon’s Kindle app, it can also be downloaded on to PC’s and Macs.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Read a lot.  Write a lot––every day if you possibly can.  And don’t listen to that little critical voice inside your head that keeps telling you that what you’re writing is crap.  Maybe it is.  Maybe it’s not. But wait for several qualified agents or editors to tell you that.

What is up next for you?

I’m working on the 4th McCabe/Savage thriller. No title yet. But it’s set back in Portland.  Number 4 tells the story of two identical murders in the same family that take place more than one hundred years apart. Scenes that take place in the Portland of 1904 are my first stab at what might be called historical fiction.

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