For our first Authors Welcome spotlight, we’d like to welcome suspense author Samuel Jay. Samuel Jay and his wife, Joan, live in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. The suspense author is a public relations professional who has successfully handled major public issue campaigns.
AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.
Samuel: My novel, Shadow of Guilt, which was called “a powerful reading experience” by a member of the National Book Critics Circle, finds prominent PR man Chip Keller on top of the world, but it’s about to come crashing in on him. On a night he could’ve been home, he puts business first, which leaves his family at the mercy of a vengeful arsonist. Stricken with guilt by the outcome, Chip drops out of life, then slowly begins a monumental struggle to reclaim it, trying to rescue a woman who also is drowning in guilt.
AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Samuel: My intended audience covers a wide adult swath since it focuses on the family — including married mothers and success-driven males. They should read the book because it dramatizes the importance of close-knit families and the loving relationship of man and wife.
AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?
Samuel: I came up with the title, Shadow of Guilt, by focusing on the theme and picked its title because it captures the essence of the story.
AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?
Samuel: I’m a public relations professional fortunate enough to have a very good artist. Carol Mealy did a graphic search and provided me with several choices.
AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?
Samuel: It took two and half years to write the novel.
AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published? About how long did it take?
Samuel: Getting my book published was tough. After getting more than a dozen query rejects from literary agents, my mentor (via a Writer’ Digest correspondence course) advised trying a small publisher in Philadelphia. The publisher liked the story but said it was too long, 160,000 words. I had to cut 40,000. I did so and then the wait began. Nine months later, after being in business for 30 years, the publisher went belly-up. I then self-published via a POD (Print-on-Demand) publisher, which took only a month.
AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Samuel: My favorite character is Chip Keller. He made a forgivable mistake, suffered the consequences, and then recovered to recapture his life.
AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?
Samuel: His PR partner. Less appealing because he is focused on the smaller aspects of life.
AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series
Samuel: It led to writing and publishing the sequel, Shadow of Love, continuing the hero’s eventual recapturing of his life.
AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?
Samuel: Eye of the Needle and Lie Down with Lions, both by Ken Follett inspired me. They are alike in that they set the scene and get the action going right up front, then move along in action and suspense.
AW: What made you decide to become an author?
Samuel: I always wanted to become an author but never had the time in the PR business. It was a goal I was not about to give up, so I just made the time, as demanding as it was.
AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?
Samuel: The toughest criticism came from getting query reject after query reject from literary agents.
AW: What is the best compliment?
Samuel: My best compliment came from a Writer’s Digest contest reviewer, who wrote: “Move over John Grisham. Samuel Jay is a masterful storyteller who has created compelling characters that leap off the page in a suspenseful page-turner.”
AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?
Samuel: I’m also president of a family-owned water utility, selling the PR business to do so after my father unexpectedly passed away.
AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?
Samuel: You can expect more novels from me in the future. I just finished another suspense novel, Deception, a love story triangle of action and romance.
AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Samuel: My tips to others: Never give up! It is a tough road and it’s getting tougher, but the satisfaction of producing something you believe in is a better alternative. Do your best at getting an agent, stick with it, but if you fail, only then would I self-publish, since that avenue has its rewards.
AW: How to you market your book?
Samuel: I have a website www.samueljaynovels.com. I also market my books on social media, and do occasional small, local ads, press releases, library talks, and book club talks.
AW: Do you have a Facebook author page or Twitter that we can give out to our readers so they can follow you?