Q&A With Jerome Preisler

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Q&A With Jerome Preisler 

Today’s Q&A is with New York Times Bestselling author Jerome Preisler. According to Jerome’s amazon bio Jerome is the New York Times bestselling author of over forty books of fiction and narrative nonfiction. His association with the TOM CLANCY franchise began in 1997 when he contributed to the military history AIRBORNE. He subsequently wrote the TOM CLANCY’s POWER PLAYS series, all of which were New York Times bestsellers.

His latest work with the franchise is NET FORCE: MOVING TARGET (February 2023), the fourth novel in a re-launch of the New York Times bestselling series co-created by Tom Clancy. Previous books in the current series include NET FORCE: DARK WEB (2019), NET FORCE: ATTACK PROTOCOL (2020), and NET FORCE: THREAT POINT (2021). He has also written two novellas spotlighting different characters from the novels, EYE OF THE DRONE and KILL CHAIN. 

“Genre doesn’t matter to me,” he says. “It’s all about story, and I try to write exciting stories with the sort of characters I would like to know more about. I figure that if I fall in love with them, my readers will too.”

Among Jerome’s recent works of narrative history are CODE NAME CAESAR: The Secret Hunt for U-boat 864 During World War Two, and FIRST TO JUMP: How the Band of Brothers Was Aided by the Brave Paratroopers of Pathfinders Company. His most recent is CIVIL WAR COMMANDO: William Cushing’s Daring Raid to Sink the Invincible Ironclad C.S.S. Albemarle.


Q: Jerome, when did you realize that your love of writing and that it was your calling in life?


A: There was never really one point. I wrote my first novel when I was eleven years old, a science fiction fantasy with some socially relevant themes for the time … oddly enough kind of what I do now. After that I actually wrote a couple of short stories that were published in the fan pages of two very popular (back then) horror anthology comics.

But there were long stretches when I didn’t write. Music’s always been a big part of my life and I played keyboards in different rock bands. I worked a lot of different jobs to support myself, mostly whatever I could find in the classified sections of newspapers. I worked in record stores, I was a bank teller, I was a messenger, a door-to-door costume jewelry salesman, a telephone poll caller, a glass tube cutter, a consumer hotline consultant … on and on.


I think I would always drift back to writing because I always liked to read, and I felt I had some talent for telling the kinds of stories I enjoyed. I’m very clear-eyed. The ability to see things with clarity is key to being a writer. Also, to doubly paraphrase the great rock-and-roller Ian Hunter, I felt there had to be more to life than low-paying menial jobs and had promised myself I would be somebody someday. So, I wrote because I could do it and it gave me the best shot at a better life. 


I won’t call writing something I love. It’s just what I am, what I’ve always been in my deepest nature, what I do, what I need to do. It’s like asking a bat when he first realized he loved hanging upside down in attics. For all we know he doesn’t like or dislike hanging there. He just does it all day long because he’s a bat and that’s what bats do. Maybe some days he likes doing it better than others. Maybe some days he hangs there and dreams of being a bird or an octopus or a tiger. But for better or worse he’s a bat, and the best thing he can do for himself is to be true to his nature and practice hanging to the best of his ability. Because if he tries to propel his furry little bat body around underwater, he won’t make it.


Q: What is it like writing a series created by Tom Clancy himself and writing military history? 


A: Tom was a trailblazer and a true professional. I respected him tremendously and I always felt respected in return, so we had a really easy working relationship.  Also, for the first decade or so, I worked closely with Dr. Martin H. Greenberg, who had a lot to do with the books Tom co-created and was a very good and decent man, as well as a kind of mentor to me. Also, Tom Colgan and Peter Joseph, my editors for Power Plays and Net Force. When Tom was still with us, and continuing to this day, I was given latitude to change or add almost anything I wanted, originally subject to Tom and Marty’s approval–including core characters– so it was a fully collaborative process. I’m eternally grateful to them for that and many other things.


I don’t write military history per se, but narrative nonfiction that sometimes, not always, is about subjects related to warfare. The distinction is important because when I write that sort of thing, I tell the stories of real people in wartime situations. People are at the core of everything I do. The facts of those situations are vital and it’s my job to get them right, but whether fiction or nonfiction it’s all done in service to the human stories.  


Q: What is your advice to anyone on writing the great fiction you write?


A: First off, thanks for calling my stories great

Start out by getting a cat or a dog as an office partner. Work as hard as you can. Take the time to listen to people and understand different points of view. Try not to snack too much, and if you do stay away from the cheese. Take it from one who knows.


Q: What was it like being interviewed for PatZi’s Joy on Paper podcast/radio show?


A: PatZi’s fantastic. She loves and supports books, reading and writers. She has passion, enthusiasm, and kindness. It’s always a joy to be on Joy on Paper.


Q: What genres would you explore writing next and why?


A: I understand that books need to be slotted in the marketplace, and I understand that different genres have different parameters, touchstones, guidelines, requirements … whatever word one wishes to use. But the bottom line for me is whether something makes a good story. That’s what I’m always looking for, the next good story.


Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your work? Hollywood is long overdue for creativity. 


A: My book GAME FACE, which I co-authored with the NBA Hall of Famer and former captain of the New York Knicks, is currently under option. I’ve been approached here and there by Hollywood people who are interested in optioning my work. My answer is always “Yes. Just call me with an offer.” But most of the times they vanish like ghosts. To be honest, the idea of seeing my characters on the big screen doesn’t do anything for me. Even the best movies based on books are never as good as the source material. I will, however, gladly accept the paycheck!