Monday, February 27, 2012

Special Guest Spotlight: Dishing with J.A. Todd

Today, I have the pleasure of dishing it up with special guest J.A. Todd, author of The Boy in the Back Row, which was released yesterday. Jim is a native of California, and now calls Atlanta his home. A graduate of Duke University and former naval aviator, he now works with a Fortune 100 company as a Lean Six Sigma expert on two multi-billion dollar programs. Over the course of his lifetime, he has experienced several brushes with death. He imbues his stories with the thoughts and feelings we often ponder when the world is fast asleep and we’re alone in the dark with just our thoughts—all alone.

JET: Can you tell us about The Boy in the Back Row?

J. A. Todd: Thanks, Jane. In The Boy in the Back Row, eight year-old Danny Christopher awakens from a near death experience with the power to raise the dead. When he unknowingly resurrects one of Hell’s prized souls—a notorious contract killer—Hell unleashes the Dark One to reclaim its property and deal with the boy. But three unlikely heroes— a repentant hit man, a guilt-ridden school teacher and a meek businessman—risk their lives to protect the innocent boy whose destiny will ultimately change the world.

Meanwhile in the Negev Desert, an ancient ruin stirs with dark foreboding when a mysterious seal is unearthed and burns a timid businessman with its divine mark—powerful enough to shake the foundations of Hell but useless unless he confronts his own demons.

When Danny resurrects a politically connected attorney, a video of the extraordinary event is broadcast around the world. Her killers—members of a secret, global drug cartel—suffer intolerable embarrassment at the woman’s resurrection. Threatened by the young dead raiser, they draw him out of hiding when a high value target—the country’s beloved First Lady—is assassinated.

With brutal gunmen on their heels and Hell’s Dark One closing in, a deadly showdown climaxes between Good and Evil, but not without unexpected consequences. These events trigger the prophetic countdown toward the end of the world or perhaps a new beginning.

JET: What drew you to paranormal thrillers?

J. A. Todd: I’ve always been fascinated with the supernatural even as a child. I grew up in a haunted house, which is fertile ground for a young boy’s imagination. There’s a certain fascination about the paranormal and the possibility of something existing beyond the veil of death.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

J. A. Todd: Okay… this one’s an easy answer. It’s the discipline of writing and having the internal fortitude to shut the door and stare at a blank computer screen until the words flow. Talk about self-doubt, I’m sure every writer experiences this countless times in their career.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

J. A. Todd: Another great question. For me, it’s when I feel “in the zone”. Every writer feels it, I’m sure. For me, it didn’t come for five or six weeks after I began writing my first manuscript. But when it happens, it’s magical. I feel I’m “one” with my story and the hours of writing literally fly by.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

J. A. Todd: At the top of my list are Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

J. A. Todd: About thirty years ago, I suppose. And now that I’m writing nearly every day, I’ve discovered one immutable fact that the closest we ever come to being like God is when we’re creating something. And isn’t that what we’re doing when we write? Aren’t we creating our own worlds?

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

J. A. Todd: There is one section in my book where my main characters take a dangerous road trip from Atlanta to DC to save the First Lady. On a lark, I decided to drive the same route from Atlanta to DC, retracing my characters’ steps through the District, all the way up to the Capitol steps. It was a bit eerie to be quite honest, because I felt at times that my characters were real. What a feeling!

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

J. A. Todd: The Boy in the Back Row is my first published novel so that limits the playing field, I would say.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

J. A. Todd: Yes. Have faith in the discipline of writing and never waiver from your passion to create new worlds through your words. It’s as close as we can come to being god-like.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten…starting with…Paper or Plastic?

J. A. Todd: Paper.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

J. A. Todd: Steak. I’m a carnivore.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

J. A. Todd: My favorite would be mountains. I enjoy the serenity and the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

J. A. Todd: Geeze…I really couldn’t say. I love both.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

J. A. Todd: Most definitely coffee.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

J. A. Todd: Zombies.

JET: Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

J. A. Todd: I am especially fond of Suzanne Collin’s trilogy on The Hunger Games. Her writing is simple but she’s a master at spinning a good yarn. I love her description—not too much and not too little—that draws me into her world and makes it believable.

JET: Sword wielding ninja or Gun toting momma?

J. A. Todd: Gun toting momma, especially if she has a vulnerable side.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

J. A. Todd: This is a no brainer: Silent film classics. It was the beginning of a new art form.

JET: 2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain’t Gonna Happen?

J. A. Todd: Hmmm… I’ll give you my answer on the morning of December 22nd.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

J. A. Todd: I’m working on the second story in the trilogy of The Boy in the Back Row. I’m also beginning work on a third manuscript entitled Eddie and Esther. I might describe it as a cross between Cocoon and Night at the Museum.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about J.A. Todd over at

You can purchase The Boy in the Back Row in e-book form at the following places:
Amazon       Barnes & Noble       Smashwords       All Romance        

and in paperback here

Until Next time,



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