Q&A With RJ Jacobs

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Q&A With RJ Jacobs 

One of the many Q&A’s this week is with mystery thriller author RJ Jacobs. RJ is the author of And Then You Were Gone, Somewhere In The Dark, The First One To Die, and coming out on September 12th This Is How We End Things. 

Q: So you’ve practiced psychology since 2003. Did your experiences help with you writing your mystery thriller books?

A: If anything, the directionality is reversed: Being a writer makes me a better therapist because it’s a perfect refuge. I love being a therapist, but the process obviously involves a lot of time with people and sometimes I look forward to working in solitude. There’s a psychotherapeutic technique called narrative therapy that helps patients transform difficult experiences by re-imagining them, by seeing the contexts differently, and by encouraging greater sense of imagination and creativity in developing outcomes. I think writing has given me a clearer sense of how to guide a process like that. 

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an author? 

A: I started out as an English major as an undergraduate at University of Florida then switched to Psychology in my Sophomore year. I really enjoyed writing and tried to some when I had time, usually on breaks. Back then, I had no idea how to construct a story but the early experience in finding a rhythm to my writing and creating a habit of putting words down became really helpful later on. 


Writing went on hold when I was in grad school. After a while, I realized that if I was ever going to write, I needed to get started again.


Q: Would you like to tell the readers of the blog a little bit about This Is How We End Things, which comes out on September 12th and how you came up with the concept for the idea? 

A: Most of the research involved reminiscing and talking with people in my grad school cohort. I work as a clinician now, but my Ph.D. training mostly involved experimental methods and procedures, and a lot of statistics. For this book, I went back and read through a lot of classic psychology experiments on concepts like obedience and conformity—the types of studies that got me interested in psychology in the first place. 


As an undergrad, I helped out with a social psychology experiment for extra credit that involved a level of deception. Some of the subjects were people I recognized from other classes. It was my first experience in having to keep information confidential. 


For psychologists, the ethical code is designed to protect patients, the occupation, and then the practitioner, in that order. It’s designed to maintain the sanctity of the profession so that it can be trusted by the public. I’ve always loved that.   

Q: If you were to write in another genre that wasn’t mystery thriller, which genres would they be and why?

A: Romance, hands down. No, I’m kidding, I get too embarrassed writing about sex and I admire authors who make it seem effortless. I have a sketch of a literary novel that I might dust off at some point. 

Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to your work? The entertainment industry is lacking in creative content. 

A: I hope so. Do you know anyone?

Q: Where is your favorite spot to plot, write and edit your work? 

A: It’s definitely my home office, but I’ve written everywhere because time is so scarce. I have a vivid memory of typing on my iPhone in a middle school hallway while my daughter cheered for a basketball game because it was the only way to get my words in that day. 


Q: If you’re writing a new novel right now, can you reveal any details?

A:  I’m working on a novel about a mysterious energy start-up, a con artist, and a historic observatory. Stay tuned.