Debbi Mack interviews thriller author Jamie Freveletti on the Crime Cafe podcast.
Check out the show notes below. Or, if you’re in a rush, click here to download a copy.
Debbi: [00:00:12] Hi everyone. This is the Crime Cafe, your podcasting source of great crime, suspense, and thriller writing. Before I introduce my guest, I just want to mention that there are some great new perks and features for readers who support the Crime Cafe Patreon campaign. You can access the Patreon campaign from my website DebbiMack.com.
Debbi: [00:00:41] Today, it’s my great pleasure to have on the show an award winning and internationally bestselling author of thriller novels. Specifically, the Emma Caldridge Series, which is totally awesome. I’ve read one of them, and they’re absolutely fantastic. She has also written novels in the Robert Ludlum Covert One Series and, as the author of both crime fiction and true crime, I’m thrilled to have on today Jamie Freveletti. Hey, Jamie. It is so good to see you.
Jamie: [00:01:18] Good to see you again. Even if it’s virtual.
Debbi: [00:01:22] Even if it’s virtual. Yeah. Virtual beats no contact or falling apart. Well, I’ve read the first book in your series, and Emma Caldridge is just the most awesome protagonist. So smart, so resourceful, so kickass. Tell us about her, how you developed that character, and how she has developed over the course of your series.
Jamie: [00:01:53] So, she’s a chemist right. She’s kind of like a female MacGyver. She came about, because I had written a novel, a manuscript I should say, and nobody had picked it up. And it’s called BLACK MONEY. So I wanted to write something else. I love thrillers. I was at a 24-hour race with my husband. He’s an ultramarathon runner, and he runs 24 hours at a time. So I went to this race. I was a handler. I used to go to make sure he didn’t die. So, it was in Colorado. We had a freak snowstorm in the middle of the night. It was 70 degrees when they started. It was minus whatever and snowing on them. So one man passed out on the trail and got hypothermia. So I was in charge of dragging him to the hospital when I did that, and I started thinking you know he didn’t know where he was, he didn’t know his name. And that gave me the idea for a lot of things, because I thought, “This is kind of frightening.” You know you “what if” and that always starts every novel, right? What if this happened to me? What if I got hypothermia or I was somewhere where I didn’t know where I was. He was from England. You know, he was in a strange location running this 100-mile race. He was obviously in fantastic shape. But something happened. So that’s why I put her, in RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL, I have her down in the Colombian jungle. I was thinking what would it be like if your plane is down. You don’t know the east from west. You don’t know where you are. You know the jungle in Colombia is landmined at the time. Since then, there’s been a peace agreement. Treaty. But that’s how it started.
Debbi: [00:03:41] That’s really amazing. It’s just … the story is just riveting. I mean that first one that I read, the first in your series? Just a page-turner. Totally.
Jamie: [00:03:52] Thank you. Yeah. RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL started my career and got the awards and got everything rolling. That was really … That’s really the book that I still look back on with great fondness.
Debbi: [00:04:05] That’s awesome. That’s wonderful. You have degrees in law and a postgraduate degree in International Studies. I take it that you’ve drawn upon your legal practice experience in your writing to a certain extent?
Jamie: [00:04:21] I do all the time. When I was a lawyer, I did a lot of food, drug, and medical device, both regulatory and litigation. White-collar defense. And since Emma’s a chemist, she’s kind of fashioned on a bunch of the expert witnesses from the pharmaceutical companies that I used to work with. I love the experts. I love the chemists that kind of … all that scientific stuff, and I thought it would be cool to make a protagonist who is pretty logical, who was involved in STEM science, and she’s an ultrarunner. I love running. So that’s something I like, and really I use everything. Every Emma Caldridge novel has an unusual disease or chemical or something, because she’s a chemist, and I find them through the research I still do because I love it. Through FDA stuff. I do love that stuff. So. that’s all. Every one. They all involve, you know, pandemic flu is one. The latest one BLOOD RUN is smallpox virus. That has an interesting story.
“I thought it would be cool to make a protagonist who is pretty logical, who was involved in STEM science, and she’s an ultrarunner.”
Debbi: [00:05:27] Wow. So how much research do you generally do for your novels?
Jamie: [00:05:35] I do a lot. More than I think I would like sometimes, because it takes away from the writing. Obviously, you can only research … you know how it is, right? You really have to write. You have to make concessions to what you want to do. But I end up researching a lot. I do a lot of in-depth clinical research. And then that takes me off on another whole tangent. Usually, I use Google Earth, since I usually put at least the Emma Caldridge series is … usually I place her in failing nations. Not always. But, you know, places that are completely … running dark the second she’s in Somalia. She ends up in Somalia, near Somalia. THE NINTH DAY was the only one set in America. Partly in America. The rest are set elsewhere. So I do a lot of Google Earth. I went to Columbia, of course, but the danger was there but wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Somalia I was unable to visit, although I did have an invitation from a family to go there which would have been nice to take. My husband nixed that completely. I agree. I agree. Totally okay. We got the young kids, we can’t take those kind of risks. So I do a lot of Google Earth and a lot of other research. I speak to journalists, things like that.
Debbi: [00:06:57] That’s fantastic. I have to talk you when we’re done here more about that kind of research, because you know that kind of thing fascinates me. And I’m always looking for good sources of information. You say you like thrillers. What is it in particular that you like about thrillers? What drew you toward that genre?
Jamie: [00:07:17] I don’t know. I have to be honest with you. I love mysteries, too. You know, mysteries are somewhat different. I grew up with Edgar Allan Poe. So at nine, I remember, I don’t know, my Mom had this type of … I don’t know if it was margarine at the time. I don’t know what that stuff was called. But on the back, you could get five books for a dollar. Something crazy. And I remember cutting it out. I was 9 years old, and I said to my Mom, “Can we mail this in?” And we did. And she’s like fine. Well, they sent all this stuff that was in the public domain. So I really cut my teeth on it. So funny. I loved Edgar Allan Poe, which was pretty brutal for 9-year-old, but I loved it. Yeah. And then THE THREE MUSKETEERS, Dumas. So I started reading a lot of action-adventure with the Dumas and Edgar Allen Poe and mystery. And that’s kind of where my interest … I was very young. I loved the Walter Farley Black Stallion books. I loved horses. Every girl, I think, most girls love horses. I got kind of a taste for action-adventure and thriller, and that’s kind of where I’ve stayed the whole time. Now I love, I will admit, I read everything as you can imagine. I read non-fiction, fiction, romance. Love romance. I read mystery. I read everything sci-fi. I loved Heinlein. I read everything I can get my hands on. So I’m a very broad reader. And so far I’ve been writing thrillers and one mystery.
” I loved Edgar Allan Poe, which was pretty brutal for 9-year-old, but I loved it.”
Debbi: [00:08:58] Well, I have to tell you this sound so familiar. I mean I hear this from all writers that they read everything you know? And I think that’s so important if you’re interested in writing. To just read as much as you can. Let’s see, when you were at the C3 conference you mentioned something about a song list associated with your work?
Jamie: [00:09:25] Yes. Oh God. I was just on the phone about that this morning.
Debbi: [00:09:29] Could you talk about that? Because I love music and I just like the idea of associating music with a series.
Jamie: [00:09:37] I know I got my idea … my mom who has passed away was a jazz singer and an actress. So she was in movies. She was in Pet Detective, The Truman Show, Recount, big movies. She was in movies, but she started out as a jazz singer in Chicago. And I had this idea for this and I can’t really talk too much about it, but I’ll tell you as much as I can. For this story that I’m preparing to give to my agent. It’s a contemporary. I have a historical I’m delivering to my agent next month. And this one I’ll deliver to her in two months. But this second one is a contemporary involving a band. It’s a mystery about a band. Music band.
[00:10:19] So I thought, well, wouldn’t it be cool to tie that up and have the band have actual music that the band plays. So I got this idea that I would tie in with a real life band, and I would commission some songs that match the story the guy in the band or the women in the band. In this case, there’s a woman producer and a male guitar player and that’s deliberate, by the way. I wanted to have a woman guitar player, but I thought women producers in music are … it’s like women directors. I really wanted to have a woman producer. Really up in front and more of that aspect of things. So she’s the producer. And I have some ins with Berklee College of Music. So I have contacted some family members who are able to create music. At the time I spoke at the C3, I was really discussing the Jack Reacher music. I don’t know if we discussed that. So Lee Child has the same idea, and he has this Jack Reacher music.
[00:11:31] When I saw it, I went, “Yes. That’s exactly what I wanted to do with my book.” Now, I wouldn’t do it with Emma Caldridge. He’s doing it with his main character, but this new book I know is coming out. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to have some songs tied in, some videos. I would love to do an enhanced [interactive, multi-media] e-book. So he’s singing a song in the story and maybe in the column, you press a button and you’ll hear the song he’s singing, but that’s down the road because that kind of stuff can also be a bit of an issue for a reader. You know, as I mentioned I’m a reader, and sometimes I don’t want too much cluttering up my experience, but I think that would be cool if we put it off to the side or maybe in footnotes or something like that. You know it just gets is getting started May 1. I expect to have some real answers on that one in September.
On music and other ebook enhancements: “You know, as I mentioned, I’m a reader, and sometimes I don’t want too much cluttering up my experience, but I think that would be cool if we put it off to the side or maybe in footnotes or something like that.”
Debbi: [00:12:28] Huh. Well, that’s really fascinating.
Jamie: [00:12:31] Yeah. It’s gonna be fun.
Debbi: [00:12:32] It’s so innovative.
Jamie: [00:12:35] I hope so. I try these things, and sometimes I’m a little bit ahead of the curve. The worst place you want to be is ahead of the curve. You know, you don’t want to be VHS. What was the other innovator? Beta? Or BluRay. Whatever. When everyone was fighting, you want to be the one who ends up, right? So, we’ll see. But I think it’s got some very cool potential. The fact that guys like Lee Child are doing it. I know Harlan Cobin for a while had an Australian, was touring with actual Australian musicians. So I think this has been done before. I just wonder how it’s going to all work out. And since I love music so much. Whatever happens will be good for me.
Debbi: [00:13:21] Do you enjoy jazz?
Jamie: [00:13:22] I love jazz. Well, I’m like reading with music. I love jazz, blues, rock. I dance hip-hop. I just learned how to salsa dance. Thank you very much. I’m taking a class. It’s getting better. Salsa is getting better. Let’s just say that. I started out kind of embarrassed. And I have tickets to everything. Fortunately, I had tickets, I wanted to see the Stones before they were no longer available to tour. I thought, Oh God, please let everybody be healthy. Of course, Mick Jagger just canceled the Stones tour in Chicago. It’s unfortunate, but they say they may reschedule. But I have tickets to Lollapalooza every year. I just love music. I love live music. If someone says music, I’m there. I’ve got a wrist band on my wrist and I’m gone. So it’s great.
“I love jazz, blues, rock. I dance hip-hop. I just learned how to salsa dance. Thank you very much.”
Debbi: [00:14:21] Cool. Who would you picture playing Emma in the movie or TV series?
Jamie: [00:14:27] Well, I used to say Angelina Jolie, because she did Salt at the time. Remember Salt? When the first books were coming out. Now, I’ve seen so many great young actresses who are perfect for that role. I think at least now I think a lot of women are getting very interesting roles in media. So you know I really have to think about that one. I would love to see someone new, you know, start someone’s career with that, as opposed to a name that everybody knows. It’s kind of like with the music that I’m doing for the music thing. I’m looking only for people who are really getting their careers started. I feel like it’s, you know, it would be a nice thing. So yeah.
Debbi: [00:15:18] I think that’s cool. Very cool.
Jamie: [00:15:20] Yes. I think it’s important.
Debbi: [00:15:23] Yes. There was something I was going to ask you. Now it’s gone. I hate when that happens.
Jamie: [00:15:30] Whether I like jazz or blues?
Debbi: [00:15:32] Other than the jazz and blues, which is very cool. Oh, I know. White Sox or Cubs?
Jamie: [00:15:41] Cubs.
Debbi: [00:15:41] Yay.
Jamie: [00:15:42] North Sider.
Debbi: [00:15:45] I am a Nats fan, so … but I’m also a Met fan, because I’m originally from New York.
Jamie: [00:15:54] Oh my goodness.
Debbi: [00:15:55] But I applaud the Cubs, because I am always for the underdog.
Jamie: [00:16:00] The underdogs, right? We never really had money to go see … I grew up very blue collar, but my grandmother lived on the north side, and Grandma every year, once a year, would take us to a baseball game, and it was always the Cubs, because she lived near Wrigley Field and so that’s it. I was indoctrinated with the Cubs. When they won, I didn’t believe it. For the first time in a hundred years. I had the Big W in the window of the house. I was all over it. It’s great.
Debbi: [00:16:32] That is so awesome. I know the feeling. I mean, it’s just when you see them losing and losing and then they win, it’s like … yay!
Jamie: [00:16:39] Yay, finally.
Debbi: [00:16:43] Totally. Let’s see. You mentioned Edgar Allan Poe and some other authors. Are there any other authors that you find particularly inspiring?
Jamie: [00:16:53] Yes. I really, really love Lee Child’s series for Reacher. I think he does a nice job getting a voice across. It’s consistent. and it’s strong, which I like. For women thriller writers, there are so many I follow now, that it’s gotten a little crazy. But I love Megan Abbott’s work. I really try to keep looking back into earlier writing, because I feel like it, it seems to be something that will help me grow. One problem about being a professional writer now is, as I read, I have to not read while I’m writing. And I’m writing almost all the time. So I’ve been reading a lot of things that aren’t thriller, because they don’t mess up the voice. If you know what I mean.
Debbi: [00:17:53] Yeah.
Jamie: [00:17:56] So I read it across the table. My biggest thing has been lately I’ve been trying, oh, I read THE HUNGER by Alma Katsu. I don’t read horror, but there I was, right? I picked it up. and then that was a really great book. She talked about the Donner Party. It’s set in the 1800s, during the march across Donner Pass. It’s a Donner Party kind of thing, and I thought she did a wonderful job keeping the suspense going, you know? Those are the kind of things I like to read. Where I can learn how another author is keeping the suspense moving along. I think it’s really important. I love Lori Rader-Day. She does a wonderful job. I love Clare O’Donohue. She has a new one called BEYOND THE PALE. Two Irish … It’s almost like a Nick and Nora, if you like classic movies.
Debbi: [00:18:49] Oh yeah. I like that stuff.
Jamie: [00:18:51] So it’s an Irish Nick and Nora. It’s called BEYOND THE PALE. You have to read BEYOND THE PALE. It’s really fun.
Debbi: [00:18:56] I’ll have to read BEYOND THE PALE.
Jamie: [00:18:59] And then Julie Hyzy. Obviously, I’m connected to Julie Hyzy. She just did VIRTUAL SABOTAGE, which is a sci-fi with virtual reality. Oh, my gosh. Have you ever put those glasses on into? I went to a place in New York City, and I put the virtual reality thing on and asked for the zombie attack or whatever. Holy Toledo! So, I couldn’t believe it. So Julie Hyzy’s VIRTUAL SABOTAGE is that kind of idea, but takes it to where it affects your brain. I won’t say any more, but your brain gets affected, and I can see it now because they’re at this place in New York City. They put the glasses on and they asked me if I wanted to walk the plank. There was a plank you could walk on a high-rise, but it’s all virtual. They said, “Go ahead step off.” You know you’re standing in a studio, you know you’re just wearing glasses. You cannot step off that plank. My heart was racing. There is no way I was going to step off and drop 60 flights off, and I remember thinking as I stood there the zombie thing had already happened, so I was already freaking out about that. And then he’s like, “Well, let’s just lower down the fear and let’s get you on a plank.” But I’m not walking off a plank, off a high-rise, and I couldn’t do it. So it kind of tells you how much technology messes with our brain. So VIRTUAL SABOTAGE is really cool for that. So that’s the stuff I’ve been reading.
Debbi: [00:20:33] Wow, very interesting. It reminds me of the glass floor in Toronto. If you’ve ever been there and gone up in the needle there, there’s a glass floor. And stepping on it is a weird experience. You feel like it’s going to drop out, but it’s very strong and people step on it, you know? But it’s funny the way people react around it. It’s kind of like they put a foot on there and take it off.
Jamie: [00:21:05] Yeah, I mean we have it at the Willis Tower, the old Sears Tower in Chicago and it’s that glass platform, right? They’re platforms. Yeah, I stepped on it. I’ll be honest with you. Some of that fear I think we need to retain in our brain. I think it’s there for a purpose. That fear and that caution. Also I didn’t want—I know this sounds really strange, folks. Please don’t think I’m strange, but I didn’t want when I was in the virtual reality thing to step off the … you know, it’s one thing to have zombies attack you. You know there are no zombies, so it’s easy. It’s like fiction. But stepping off or falling off a building is very possible. And I didn’t want that in my head. I didn’t want the image of what that would feel like in my head. You know, there are some experiences I don’t need to have. It even would feel different if I were jumping out of an airplane. And I think because, if you jump out of an airplane, you know you’re falling, but you chose it. But falling off a building. I don’t know. There was just something I didn’t like about it. So I never did it.
Debbi: [00:22:10] I can understand completely. Yeah. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up?
Jamie: [00:22:18] Well, BLOOD RUN is my latest. It involves a starting from real event, where they found some smallpox vials in a old closet. If you look at the blog post attached to this podcast you’ll see what that’s about. And I just recently did a Sherlock Holmes short story “For the Sake of the Game”. Put him in Chicago in the blues clubs, which I know well from my upbringing and my childhood and from living in Chicago. And that’s another one where music really came into play. So I love them both. Thank you for having me I really appreciate it.
Debbi: [00:22:55] Oh, it’s my pleasure. And I’m so glad you were able to come on. Thanks so much.
Jamie: [00:23:00] Thank you.
Debbi: [00:23:01] Remember Jamie has a book giveaway running until the end of April. So go to that blog post and check it out, and leave a review for the podcast if you would please. And to learn more about the Crime Cafe e-books as well as the Patreon campaign, you can go to my website DebbiMack.com. And finally one last very special guest is going to be coming up next time. It’s a surprise, but here’s a hint. Three words: Hap and Leonard. And on that note, thank you very much for listening. I will see you next time and until then, happy reading.
Here’s the guest post and book giveaway link again!