Jeremy Burns has the potential to become one of the greatest international thriller authors in the world, bringing his readers complex plots set in intriguing locales, filled with intrigue and hold-your-breath action.
Born in Tallahassee, he has since traveled the world but will always call Florida home. As a child, he spent his time exploring. Playing outside was always a joy for him. He rode his bike around the surrounding neighborhoods, climbed any tree he could get a foothold on, and he had his own childhood adventures through the woods, culverts, and abandoned lots that were within walking or biking distance. That passion for exploring is something that never really left him as he reached adulthood; it just grew into a much more international scope, with real-life adventures spanning jungles, castles, deserts, ruined citadels, ancient temples, cathedrals, and back streets in exotic lands across four continents.
His mind is a sponge—hungry for knowledge and quick to retain. As such, he’s always had a wealth of random information at his disposal—some practical, some merely interesting—and he plays a mean game of Trivial Pursuit. He’s also fairly good at voice impersonations, including those of Scooby-Doo and Mickey Mouse.
He has several collections: old books (including an 1847 edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost and a multiple-volume history of World War I, published in 1919), point-and-click PC adventure games (a genre that he has loved since childhood, inspiring him in his storytelling from a young age), foreign coins and bills (most acquired on his own globe-trotting adventures), rare or collectable U.S. coins (including an 1896 Liberty Silver Dollar), and a stamp collection given to him by his paternal grandfather, who recently passed. He also has a few display cabinets full of statuaries, local art, and other mementos that he’s picked up from his travels. And, being a lover of storytelling in its many forms, he has shelves upon shelves of DVDs, video games, and, of course, books.
He is particularly fascinated by history and the cultures of people both in lands abroad and in the past. If it’s possible to be nostalgic for things one never lived through, he gets that way all the time. Though he’s enamored with the wonders that the technological revolution has brought us, there’s something truly alluring about the peoples of the past and their stories—how they lived, what they experienced, and what secrets the mists of time and the powers-that-be have obscured. This passionate fascination is something that is a very big part of his life and, naturally, an integral part of his stories.
In addition to his aforementioned collections, he rather enjoys his Kindle and its thousand-plus-book library (though, to be honest, he still prefers hard copy books to digital versions, but he’s warmed up to the digital book model in the past year). He’s also very fond of his new PS3 and his not-as-new XBOX 360. He has a piece of coal that was recovered from the engine room of the Titanic and a hundred-year-old pocket watch that belonged to his great-great-uncle. And though he owns several different editions of the Bible (including a reprinting of the original 1611 edition of the King James Version, of particular note not only because of its historic merit, but also because he is a direct descendant of Lord Calvert, Secretary of State to King James I), his favorite right now is an archaeological study Bible, coupling his love of history and ancient cultures with a proper and fascinating historical context for the Word of God.
On Writing, In Jeremy Burns’s Own Words
What or who inspires you to write?
Honestly, almost anything. Exotic places I visit, intriguing people I encounter, and mysterious secrets I read about all bristle with stories waiting to be told. In my everyday life, I find myself looking for holes in airport security that my characters could exploit, historical sites that could hold untold secrets, and terrifying what-if scenarios that could erupt from seemingly commonplace occurrences. I also find myself inspired by the person, quotes, and creations of Walt Disney. A lifelong Disney fan and former employee of Walt Disney World, my sense of creativity, wonder, and chasing after—and attaining—one’s dreams were forged in the fires of Disney magic and in the story of the self-made creative genius who, through hard work, perseverance, and more than a dash of talent, created a myriad of new storytelling forms and took adventure and immersive entertainment to an entirely new level many times over.
Why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been a storyteller, and I’ve always known that I wanted to do something creative. As I was growing up, my professional dreams reflected that: I wanted to be, at turns, a singer/songwriter in a rock band, a Disney Imagineer, and a video game designer. Though I had been a passionate reader since I first started at the age of three, and though my shorter written works had won several accolades over my adolescent life, I never really considered writing a novel until college, when a perfect confluence of inspiration, talent, and determination conspired to give me the spark and nudge needed to finally pursue what all my gifts and experiences had been leading me toward: writing gripping thrillers set in the real world that enlighten as well as entertain.
Which authors inspire you?
James Rollins, Steve Berry, David Baldacci, Brad Meltzer, Mark Twain, and Umberto Eco.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Watching my characters and scenarios come to life on the page. As Norman Mailer said, “Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing,” and though I can’t comment on the flipside of that statement, I can attest that there is a certain thrill in that creative process, particularly in finally seeing the finished product. Even outside of the book itself, the characters and other elements make their way into my subconscious in other ways. When watching movies taking place in New York, for example, I often see it through the lens of “Jon did X there.” The extensive site research I did throughout Manhattan in writing From the Ashes gives me a particular affinity for the city and for the novel’s key locations in particular. Similarly, I’ve dreamed about my characters and the scenarios from my books on several occasions. Ultimately, though, it’s creating a whole world—populated by vivid characters, intricate conspiracies, and devastating secrets—that all somehow feels incredibly real that really gives me a thrill about writing thrillers. That, and that little malevolent cackle that sometimes erupts from somewhere deep within me when I concoct a really great twist that no one, least of all my characters, will see coming.
Have you experienced writer’s block? And, if so, how did you cure it?
I’ve never really had an issue with writer’s block. I’ve usually had the opposite problem: too many stories in my head fighting for a place in the next book. At present, I’m writing the second book in the Jonathan Rickner series while doing background research on the next three books and getting ideas to incorporate into countless future works. As excited as I am about how this next book is shaping up, I had to make myself create files for future projects into which I stick news articles, maps, books, photographs, and other resources. That way, I still have access to the ideas and the research when I tackle that particular project, while still allowing myself the ability to focus on the project at hand.
When is your next book due out, and what’s it about?
The second Jonathan Rickner adventure, Of Faith and Treason, is currently slated to release in late 2012. A carefully orchestrated maelstrom of terrorism, political subterfuge, and assassination plots threaten to destroy the United States as we know it unless Jon can uncover the century-old plot to bring down the nation. Involving a real-life secret society of militant zealots dating to the mid-19th century, a terrifying secret behind one of the most powerful religious organizations in America today, and an ancient artifact that may be the key to the country’s survival—or destruction—Of Faith and Treason will be an incredibly intense adventure that raises the stakes for the genre yet again. Stay tuned to my official website and my Facebook and Twitter accounts as more details are released in coming months.
Where can readers find you online?
My main website is AuthorJeremyBurns.com, and I can be found on Facebook at JeremyBurnsBooks and on Twitter at AuthorJBurns.
Please read my review of From the Ashes—then head out to learn even more about this fascinating author by following the links above.