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Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Seeley James

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Seeley James to A Bookaholic Swede to talk with me about his story, Death & Dark Money. His near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life stretches from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.

His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, the mentally unstable veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.

His love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.

Want to blow an hour listening to me pontificate on the craft of writing and my journey? The incomparable Simon Whistler interviewed me on his industry-leading show Rocking Self Publishing Podcast.

Seeley is a proud member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

How did you discover indieBRAG? (question for B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees)

Via a posting in the forum for ALLi, Alliance of Independent Authors.

Can you tell me what Death & Dark Money is about?

Flourishing greed and corruption under the new electoral financing reality force heiress Pia Sabel and mentally-questionable veteran Jacob Stearne to take on colluding terrorists and lobbyists to save the country. Matters become exponentially more complicated when someone begins killing off all the bad guys.

A lobbyist with a cryptic request is murdered in Jacob Stearne’s driveway. The cops try to pin the murder on Jacob forcing him into a race to find the real killers. When Pia Sabel researches a suspicious overpayment of $20 million to her company, assassins descend on her, killing everyone she talks to. The two follow parallel trails leading to political bribery, traitors, and backstabbing financiers until the bad guy makes a fatal mistake that brings the wrath of Sabel Security down on his mountain stronghold.

Can you tell me more about Pia Sabel and Jacob Stearne, they seem like a quite an odd team?

Pia Sabel, 26, was forced into premature retirement from Int’l soccer by her billionaire adoptive father and given his company’s security division to run. Unable to shake the memories of her parents’ murders at age four, nor her stabbing of the man who killed her mother, she is driven by an unseen force to succeed at everything she does. In the first book, The Geneva Decision, a mass exodus of veteran employees sets her on a path to failure, forcing her to prove herself. She becomes an over-confident avenging angel, taking on rogue officials and errant governments with her team of battle hardened veterans.

Jacob Stearne is either completely insane or gifted beyond measure. He survived more tours of duty in the Afghan and Iraq wars than anyone alive by listening to the advice of Mercury, winged messenger of the Roman gods. In the first book, he’s just an employee, anxious to brown-nose the boss. In the second, he saves her life and falls in love with her (she doesn’t notice). In the third, he realises “we weren’t star-crossed lovers, we were fragments of the same shooting star” when she confesses she suffers from similar afflictions to Jacob’s. Together, mad or gifted, they can take down the world’s evil masterminds.

I had never heard of Citizens United before, can you tell me more about it and what's the problem with it?

In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money to support candidates in US elections. The Supreme Court restricted donations to entities called Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs) and required them to name every donor and amount donated. Immediately, wealthy donors began lining up to back their favourite candidates, but instead of revealing who was financing whom (so that voters would know who holds a politician’s leash) they gave money to “social welfare groups” such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, or … brand new ones set up for the sole purpose of giving anonymous money to Super PACs. Thus subverting the Court’s requirement to reveal donors.

The Super PACs have to reveal the source of their funding—but social welfare groups do not. Suddenly, huge amounts of money began flowing into American elections from sources listed as “American Freedom Association” or “Crossroads of America”.

The net result is that the most dangerous military in the world is headed by a person whose funding could be from any person or company in the world. For all we know, Vladimir Putin is financing Donald Trump right now. Or maybe the Taliban is funding Hillary Clinton. We simply do not know – and have legal recourse to find out.

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Watching the odd machinations of a small number of American congressmen over the last few years brought these odd financing problems to light. EG: why would anyone elect Ted Cruz when everyone he’s ever worked with in his career hates him? Answer: He was given overwhelming election funds by unnamed donors with unspecified aims. Why is the Republican party choosing to run Donald Trump, a man clearly unqualified? Answer: because the rank and file want someone to represent them who wasn’t bought by these ‘dark money’ peddlers. (Theoretically, the Donald is too rich to be bribed…) I wanted to demonstrate for readers how dangerous Dark Money is for the world, not just the United States.

Any authors that have influenced you in your writing?

All authors influence my writing. I read a book a week usually. Many are non-fiction on arcane topics. My most recent non-fiction list includes books on dark money, global droughts, oil piracy, 21st Century spying techniques, and European history 1946-1970. My recent fiction reads have been: The Silkworm by JK Rowling (dba Robert Galbraith), ~meh; Make me by Lee Child, Excellent!; The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carr?, also excellent; Dark Room by Mary Maddox, chilling to the bone; Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta, predictable. Most influential overall: Lee Child and Zoë Sharp.

This is book four in the Sabel Security Thrillers series. Can one read this book without having read the previous books?

They will easily stand alone, but do have ignorable references to events from earlier books. That said, several characters have pre-planned arcs that span the first seven books (only four have been released, three more to go). I also have a pre-planned sub-plot about the murder of Pia’s parents that runs 8-9 books with ripple effects lasting even longer. On top of that, astute readers enjoy seeing my growth as a writer from my first good-but-strained attempts to my fluid-funny-and-thrilling fourth book. My fans recommend reading from the beginning, but I’ve written them so you don’t have to.

How did you come up with the title for your book? 

The term “Dark Money” has been used in the US for the last several years in reference to the influence bought by billionaires, unions, and corporations that shield their donations by using social welfare organisations to launder/hide their identity. Since it’s a thriller, adding “death” to the beginning was a no-brainer.

Who designed your book cover? 

Jeroen ten Berge

Links: 

Contact Seeley James:
Email: Seeley@seeleyjames.com
Facebook: SeeleyJamesAuth
Twitter: @SeeleyJamesAuth


For more books featuring Pia Sabel and Jacob Stearne, visit the BOOKS page. Be sure to join the mailing list for updates, new releases, giveaways, and prizes! If you would like to try his first book for free, join the Readers’ Group.

We are delighted that Magdalena has chosen to interview Seeley James who is the author of, Death & Dark Money, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Death & Dark Money, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.