After the release of The Savannah Project, I was enjoying the glow of my first released book. You know, book signings, a little shameless self-promotion, etc. I hadn’t really given much thought to book 2 in the Jake Pendleton series except that one had to be forthcoming, and soon, because the story really wasn’t finished. And several readers let me know it, too.
The original plan was a two-part prequel, if you will, to get Jake where I wanted him for the rest of the series. So, I had to grow him. Some growth in The Savannah Project, but, mostly in The Toymaker. The Savannah Project and The Toymaker are best read back-to-back, as if it were one big book. In reality, it is one long story broken into two books, with the ultimate resolve at the end of The Toymaker.
The story line for The Toymaker (in detail) didn’t present itself until in the Fall of 2010 when, on vacation in Moab, Utah, my wife and I met a man and his wife at the B & B where we were staying. To say I felt like I struck a gold mine was an understatement. This man, literally, had been involved in the intelligence business for over 50 years! Our acquaintance turned into a friendship that exists to this day. He has become my main subject matter expert for the Jake Pendleton series. He was such an interesting man with such an interesting background, I asked him if I could use his persona as the character for The Toymaker. He agreed. By the way, that persona is the character, boss man and mentor to Jake, Elmore Wiley-THE Toymaker.
After that, writing this story was a snap, except I didn’t like where my character (Jake) was headed. It felt like he was about to do a Thelma & Louise off a cliff and my story was going to crash and burn before the midway point. I should mention that instead of outlining like I did with The Savannah Project, I decided to write by the seat of my pants, as they say. Blank screen, start writing, no real plan other what was in my mind. Fortunately for me, I received an email from a local reader about the same time Jake was careening out of control. She told me how much she liked the first book. Her signature at the bottom indicated psychologist, and that was what I felt Jake needed. I mean, I really didn’t want to throw away all those words. I explained to her that it would mean spoiling the next book, but that I could really use her help. She jumped at the opportunity and has been an integral part of the team ever since. Within a few short minutes of sitting down talking to her about where Jake was headed, she gave me just enough input (psychological validity is what she calls it) to bring Jake back on track to where I needed him to be.
This is the book where Francesca Catanzaro was introduced in a very small role, but will later return in subsequent Jake books. It is also where I planned to remove Gregg Kaplan as a character in the Jake Pendleton series and get him prepped for his own series. Funny how things work out, isn’t it? Everything fell into place.
Let me tell you a little about The Toymaker:
He’s been in the business for 50 years, he makes ‘toys’ for spies.
Former NTSB Investigator Jake Pendleton faces a dilemma as the line blurs between right and wrong. After his judgment comes into question, Jake is entrusted to his new mentor, an eccentric old man who sees beyond Jake’s flaws. A man who makes ‘toys for spies.’
A man known as The Toymaker.
Jake’s first assignment reunites him with Gregg Kaplan in a daredevil mission to rescue a fellow agent held captive in Yemen. He risks his life to stop the first attack of an al Qaeda mastermind. But now, with no one to trust but himself, can Jake stop the terrorist from destroying what is most precious to the free world?
Unfortunately, more trouble comes his way as a killer from his past threatens something more important to Jake than his own life, leaving him to make the hardest decision any man ever has to make,
Who to sacrifice.