HOW DID YOU START OUT YOUR WRITING CAREER? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I never had plans to be a writer. The idea originally came from my brother. I would call him up and tell him the goofy things that happened to me in the NFL. Little did I know that he was collecting these stories. One day he suggested that I write a book with these stories. However, the idea of writing a book about something that I live and breathe everyday was not all that appealing to me. But then an idea struck me, what if I could combine some of these stories with subjects that I am passionate about – my faith and current events? I started running with that, then teamed myself up with a writing partner, Steve Yohn, and together we’ve turned out a couple really exciting football and terrorism thriller books.
How did you get the idea for the novel "Monday Night Jihad? Did you come up with this title? If not what was your wroking title for this book?
The idea for Monday Night Jihad came to me in about 30 seconds – seriously, it was a total “Wow” moment. Then, once I had a general storyline, Steve and I worked it through and the story evolved as we wrote it.
As far as the title, I wanted something that would be an eye-catcher – something that would jump out at the reader and speak of football and terrorism. “Jihad” is a loaded word today, very emotional and dramatic, and it clearly speaks of a radical Islamic element.
What was your favorite scene from "Monday Night Jihad? What was the most fun to write?
My two favorite scenes are the prologue and the stadium attack. Both are filled with action and emotion. We wanted to come out of the gate grabbing the reader, and never let them go. I got a good piece of advice early on in the process – “Surprise the reader on every page.” I think we accomplished that.
(Yes, Jason and Steve you DEFINATELY accomplished what you set out to do. I loved it)
Was this a hard book for you to write given the subject matter? Where were you on Sept. 11th - 7 years ago?
At times it was difficult, especially as I realized just how lax stadium security was in places. I brought my partner, Steve, to Invesco Field one Sunday, so that he could research all that takes place prior to a game. Because he was with me, he walked right past security. Then once he was under the stadium, he pretty much had freedom to go wherever he wanted. He could have been anyone.
On September 10, 2001 we played the Giants on Monday Night Football, so it was a very late night. The next morning, a friend called me to tell me to turn on the television. Thirty seconds after I did, I saw the second airliner hit the tower. I remember the strange emotional mixture of numbness and outrage. Later that day, I went to visit Ed McCaffrey at the hospital. He was one of our wide receivers and had just had major leg surgery. The hospitals were pretty much on lock down, and it was very difficult to get in to see him. It was during that time that some of the seeds were planted for Monday Night Jihad.
You mentioned a lot in this book about the Muslium Faith. What research did you do for this book?
Our research was quite extensive. I’m currently pursuing my masters degree in comparative religions and global apologetics, so I’ve done quite a bit of studying in this area. Also, I’ve traveled extensively in the Middle East – Turkey, Israel, Gaza, Jordan, Iraq. Steve used to work for Youth for Christ, International, and traveled throughout the world for them. Also, he was a missions pastor for a time, and has taught series in the past on Islam.
Discovering what people believe and why they believe it has always been a passion of mine. This book is just an outgrowth of that.
(Wow!! This explains how you can get into the mind of an Islam believer carrying out their mission - it was very believable).
I know that your second book is due to release in January 2009. How different was writing book two as apposed to writing your very first book together?
Deadlines! The first book we wrote on our own schedule, then sent it out to publishers to see if anyone would bite. When we wrote Blown Coverage, we were under contract to have another book done by a certain date. It was a whole different feel. However, we also knew a little more what to expect with the writing process.
Blown Coverage continues on where Monday Night Jihad leaves off. Riley Covington is ready to put events behind him and get on with his life. Unfortunately, the terrorist organization that he previously battled still has plans. Sleeper cells are awoken and begin wreaking havoc on America and on Riley himself. Then, tragedy strikes Riley personally, and he finds himself drawn back in to places where he had hoped never again to go and forced to do things he had hoped never again to do.
(This sounds FASCINATING - I REALLY liked the Riley character along with the other Homeland security people!! I can't wait to read the sequel!)
I know that you have written this book with Steve Yohn, how did you get your writing styles to mesh? Please explain.
Writing this book was very much a God-thing. I was told many times that it shouldn’t work like this – I should just pass my idea off to an experienced writer, then let him run with it. But I didn’t want any part of that. I wanted to be involved in the writing process. So, I teamed up with my buddy, Steve Yohn – a guy who I knew was a great writer, but had only ever written things for our church. So, here we were, two first time writers writing a novel.
My agent later admitted that initially he just kind of smirked at the idea, figuring that when everything collapsed and I got this harebrained idea out of my system, he’d get me connected with a real writer.
Then Steve and I started writing, and it was really good. My agent read the first three chapters and excitedly told us to keep them coming. We kept sending him chapters and he kept asking for more, and eventually we ended up with a book.
Steve and I mesh very well. We have similar senses of humor – he’s constantly coming up with these quirky, off-the-wall lines that leave me shaking my head wondering where in that twisted mind of his he pulled that out of. We also both hold on to our ideas very loosely. We always hear each other out, and neither of us forces anything. We feel that God has called us both to these projects, so we want the stories to be a perfect blending of our diverse experiences, perspectives, and creative mindsets.
(I LOVE what you both have written. It sounds like one voice throughout the entire book - I thank the Lord for putting both of you together. He knew what He was doing - He Always does.Ha!)
How did you make the leap from football player to author? How hard was that leap? Please explain.
Well, I got old and realized I had to do something! Seriously, I just go back to it being a God-thing. I feel that this was part of His plan for my life. He gave me this desire to tell people about who the real Jesus is, about the differences between true Christianity and Islam, about what it looks like to be a true, godly man in the midst of difficult times. Then He gave me the perfect medium to communicate those issues. What a blessing!
(Wow!! I'm glad he has sent you both to write HIS story!! Amen to that!)
You mentioned very specific aspects of football practices and game preparations. Are they accurate? If not what did you leave out that helps you get ready to play football - especially the games that are playoff games that have more pressure on your team to perform?
The football stories are all accurate with a little embellishment here and there. The events themselves have either happened to me or I’ve witnessed them happen. My goal was to bring the reader into the professional football world and let them experience the locker room and feel the game-day atmosphere. By the way, there’s a story in the book about a pre-game ball getting kicked up into the stands of a certain black-and-silver bay area stadium and drilling a particularly belligerent, beer-emboldened fan . . . one of the proudest moments of my career.
(Ha! Ha! I'm not a football watcher but I have to say that I was totally wrapped up in the football practices, games and everything in-between! I'm not kidding!)
What project are you working on now? Can you tell us something about it? Give us a sneek peak!
Steve and I are already working on the third book of the Riley Covington Thriller Series. We’re hoping to incorporate some of what I learned during my Super Bowl visit to the troops in Iraq this past off-season. Pretty cool stuff!
(Wow!! Your publicist sent me a picture of you over there in Iraq Jason that is the best)
QUESTIONS THAT YOU WANTED TO ASK JASON BUT WERE AFRIAD TO SO I DID!!!
What was the last movie that you saw at the theatre and just loved? What made it so great?
Kung Fu Panda, because I watched it with my kids.
If you had to be a super hero for a day who would you be and why?
Larry Boy. Seriously, who wouldn’t want super-suction ears?
What is your favorite fruit and veggie? How do you enjoy eating them best?
Peaches (I’m a Georgia-boy) and broccoli. I like my peaches cut up in a bowl with milk and sugar. Broccoli is best served raw, dipped in ranch.
If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money;to do anything you wanted, what would you do? Why?
I’d be a missionary in the Middle East. There’s nothing better than seeing connect with who the real Jesus is.
What is a special quality, talent or event that has happened to you or experience you have had that would surprise people?
An event would be when I visited Gaza. The trip was tacked on to the end of an Israel tour. Everyone was telling me that I was crazy to go, including Steve and his dad, Rick, who’s my pastor. I decide, “How bad can it be?”
As soon as I’m crossing the border, bombs literally start blowing up around me, and they didn’t stop the whole time I was there. I woke up one morning, and my bed had shifted several feet from the wall because of the blasts. Turns out the Palestinians were having some internal disagreements, and the Israelis wanted to make sure that it didn’t spill out of Gaza’s borders. What an eye-opening experience!
Oh yeah, and there was that time the plane I was piloting lost power and I had to put it down on a narrow Alaskan beach next to a grizzly bear, but I’ll save that for another time. (I can't wait to hear about that one Jason!)
If you could hang out with someone for 48 hours, alive or dead, which two people would you pick? What would you do?
Jesus and John the apostle, mainly because he lived the longest. I’d just sit around and ask questions.
What is the place that you most enjoy breakfast - when money is not an issue?
IHOP, pancakes with blackberry syrup.
Where would you eat for dinner?
Del Frisco’s steakhouse in Denver, just to see if Steve and I could talk our agent out of another free dinner there in the name of “research”.
If you had to pick one "Reality" TV show to be on what would you pick and why?
Amazing Race, I love the travel, and the things they experience are like no other show.
What keeps you sane? Please explain.
Prayer – from my friends and family, but mostly just my wife, Tamy, and me praying together.
THANKS Jason and Steve for hanging out with my readers today. I apprecite you taking the time to let us know the men behind these fascinating stories. They are riveting.
I can't wait to meet you at our Life Way Store at the Mall of GA next year!!
May the Lord continue to bless both of you in your writing career. Your stories are powerful and really make you think. Oh, they are very exciting - I don't want to forget that. I really like Riley. I can't wait to read what happens to him next.
I hope you drop by again soon!!