Author Interview – Jake Needham

Posted: March 15, 2013 in Author Interviews
Tags: , , ,

Debra: Good morning, good morning!  How is everyone today?  So, exciting interview today with Jake Needham and I am so nervous!  While we wait for him to arrive, I just want to show you these awesome covers:


Here’s some background as well, did you know that Jake Needham is an American crime novelist who has published six popular novels set in contemporary Asia: THE UMBRELLA MAN, THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE, A WORLD OF TROUBLE, KILLING PLATO, LAUNDRY MAN, and THE BIG MANGO AND the print editions of Jake’s novels are distributed only in Europe, Asia, and the UK, where they have all been bestsellers?  Ladies and gentleman, we are about to interview a best selling, world reknowned author today!  That’s why I am nervous for a change!  Oh, cool, I am just reading my notes and it says here that e-book editions of his novels are now available worldwide – that’s great news because I know a lot of folks have turned to eBook over paper these days and certainly these are must reads for everyone!  Oh wow, more from my notes here, Mr. Needham has lived and worked in Asia for over twenty-five years. He and his wife have two sons and they divide their time between Washington DC and Thailand.

<startled gasp and deep breath> I hear a car pulling up, be right back, let me see if that’s him….

There is a huge limo pulling up out front, now I am not nervous at all – HA!  Wow, what a strikingly handsome man, oh wait, that’s the driver?  He is getting out of the limo now… I knew he has some security with him when he travels overseas but I wonder if he brought security with him today just because he had to come out to the middle of nowhere to my studio?  Nah,surely  not, its just a long drive for him, if I could have someone drive me I would!  We’ll see!

<opens doors to studio just as he is about to knock and startles him>

Jake: Oh! Well good morning Mrs. Hartmann and how are you today?

Debra: Oh please Mr. Needham, just call me Deb, I’m well thank you and please won’t you come in and make yourself comfortable?!  How are you, how was the trip?  Did you have any trouble finding it?

Jake: Well, Deb, its just Jake, Mr. Needham was my father!  I am good thanks and glad to be here with you today!  I have been looking forward to this interview.  The trip was good, I was able to get some work done on the ride and of course I didn’t have any trouble, George here did all the driving!

Debra: Hi George!  Why don’t you relax a bit, the other end of the studio has a stocked bar, pool table, TV, make yourself comfortable while we do our show?

George:  Thank you, if it pleases Mr. Needham of course?

Jake: Oh stop that George, you never call me Mr. Needham! <laughs> He is putting on a show for you Deb, I must admit we agreed to play it up when we arrived.  I have known George for years and I only have a driver abroad, I usually drive myself in the states!  Saw the chance to have a little fun and get some work done so asked him to go along with it today.  Lose the wide eyes about all this fuss, you’re giving him something to go on about and I just couldn’t keep it going any longer and you be a nervous wreck!  <turns to holler across the room towards the entertainment area where George is wandering around now> Stay out of the liquor George, we will be leaving in an hour or so and I don’t want to be driving you back!  <laughs again and settles into my favorite chair>

Debra: Oh you!  You are used to people gawking a bit when you arrive aren’t you? <settles for the other chair, not daring to ask for her normal seat!>

Jake: Yes and I’m sorry, kind of, for having a little fun at your expense!  I knew when we chatted about doing this interview, I could tell you were a bit impressed by my world travels and best selling status but, seriously, I am an every day guy and not some celebrity to be worshipped, I hate the attention!

Debra: Good for you, though your hard work on these amazing books means you deserve the attention!  So, shall we get started then?

Jake: Well thank you and yes, let’s.  <sits huge coffee travel mug down and kicks back in my chair>

Debra: Let me know if you need a refill, Jake, I keep a fresh pot on for guests.  First question, <interrupted>

Jake: Oh, thanks, I’m good!

Debra: Ok, so first question, why did you start writing?

Jake: It was an accident. Seriously, it was.  I had practiced law for a couple of decades, doing mostly international corporate work, and I found myself involved in a complicated and not particularly pleasant corporate merger. When the smoke finally cleared, I ended up with the responsibility for looking after a modest little Hollywood production company that was making cable TV movies. In an effort to turn the company profitable, I tried to focus it more tightly on what I thought it could do well and I dashed off an outline of the kind of movies I wanted the company to try to make. A copy of my outline accidentally got sent to one of the cable TV networks we worked with and they called up and asked us to make it for them. “Make what?” I asked. “The movie you wrote that treatment for,” they said.  And that, girls and boys, was how I became a screenwriter…

Debra: Wow!  That’s a completely new twist on that question.   Let me ask you this, where did the inspiration for your first novel, THE BIG MANGO, come from?

Jake: It was primarily the realization that movies had begun boring me to death. I reached a point at which I couldn’t stand sitting through another one. I still can’t, really. So if I wanted to keep writing, I knew I had to find a way to do it other than through screenplays. I had no idea whether I could write novels or not, but I thought I’d give it a try. I guess that’s worked out okay for me.

Debra: I guess so, Jake! <sarcasism followed by WOW and a giggle> I was sharing some of the book covers with our audience before you arrived, they are amazing and I love the way your organize your eBooks and include so much information!

Jake: I try to give the readers what they want.  I think learning about the author creates a connection between the writer and the reader that makes the read more enjoyable.

Debra: Oh, you’re so right, that is definitely key for me to enjoy a new book, “meeting” a new author in the process.  So, tell us about your latest book?  What’s it called and could you explain to us what it is about?

Jake: Sure, I just published THE UMBRELLA MAN. It’s my sixth novel and the second book featuring Inspector Samuel Tay of Singapore CID. Sam is a character I like a lot. He’s a little lonely, a little overweight, a little grumpy, and he has a way of pissing people off, but he’s a fine detective and a good man.  THE UMBRELLA MAN combines a character-driven police procedural with an international thriller. It’s a small-scale story that plays out against a large-scale background.

Debra: Sounds interesting, consider this my official invitation to send that to me for a review!  <whispers-“another free book, yes!”>

Jake: We’ll see Deb, we’ll see! <shakes a finger at Deb and laughs>  Hey, Deb I noticed an ashtray over there, is it okay to smoke in here?

Debra: Sure, let me get that for you and I’ll join you actually.  So, tell me a bit more about the new book, its part of a series isn’t it?  How long will the series be, do you know yet?

Jake:  THE UMBRELLA MAN is my second Inspector Tay book. The first Tay was called THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE and it did very well for me. It even got to #1 on Amazon UK.  I have a completely different series featuring Jack Shepherd, an American lawyer who swapped Washington for Hong Kong and hasn’t looked back, and it’s fans are demanding more books, too. So I’ve got a bit of a tug of war going between Tay and Shepherd for my attention. I like Sam Tay quite a lot and I really do plan to continue the series, but honestly I haven’t a clue for how long.

Debra: Wouldn’t it be fun to have the two merge someday? Tay and Shepherd cross paths…hmmm.

Jake: Hmmmm indeed!

Debra: Oh, what kind of cigar is that you’re smoking, it smells wonderful!

Jake: Its a Cohiba.  Love these!

Debra: Smells delightful!  So now I am really curious about this because you have travelled so much, are experiences in your books based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Jake: My books are well known for being drawn from real events. A lot of reviewers have even remarked on it. CNN said my books have a “ripped from the headlines” feel, and The Wall Street Journal said that “much of the fun in reading Needham’s books is trying to decide how much of what is in them is based on fact and how much is the product of the author’s imagination.” THE BIG MANGO was based on the disappearance of huge amounts of money and gold when Saigon fell to the invading North Vietnamese in 1975; LAUNDRY MAN drew on the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce in the 90’s, a bizarre Middle Eastern bank that was also known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals. A WORLD OF TROUBLE grew out of a military coup in Thailand that drove a popular prime minister into exile in Dubai and led to upheaval in the streets there. And so on. I tell a story in the foreword to A WORLD OF TROUBLE about a retired intelligence officer who tried to get me to admit to him how I had found out about a secret operation that turned up in one of my books. I told him that I hadn’t found out about anything, that I had simply made up the events that he was talking about. I don’t think he really believed me. That’s the thing about writing crime thrillers set in Asia. You can’t make anything up. Whatever you think you made up, one of these days someone will come up to you and tell you it really happened. Or maybe that it’s about to happen.

Debra: That sounds a bit dangerous!  I hope you don’t end up in a room getting interrogated!

Jake: Ah, the thought has crossed my mind! <laughs, puts out cigar and gets up from chair…>

Debra: Oh, what can I get for you Jake <follows him>

Jake: Nothing, just heading for that refill, want me to fix you a cup while I do?

Debra: <sits back down> Oh, well, um, sure, a cup of coffee would be good right about now, thank you, just black is fine.

Jake: Oh good, no sense ruining it with milk and sugar!  This travel mug has gotten a bit cold….

Debra: <accepts the cup Jake offers upon his return> Thank you very much!

Jake: You’re welcome, thank you.

Debra: So, Jake, I did some research before you came today and was reading some of the reviews that have been published on you, your books, I wonder do you have any favorites, there are so many?!

Jake: I’m fortunate that my books are popular in Asia since the major news outlets there still publish a few book reviews and my books have always gotten a fair amount of press. Some of my favorite lines are “Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.” – The Bangkok Post, “Needham is Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction.” The Singapore Straits Times, “Jake Needham has a knack for bringing plots to life. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!” – CNNgo, “Needham certainly knows where a few bodies are buried.” – Asia Inc, “Mr. Needham seems to know rather more than one ought about these things.” – The Wall Street Journal

Debra: Very cool!  A couple of those really make you wonder!  I was sharing with the audience before you came in that your books are now available worldwide in eBook formats, smart move because its the trend these days and opens your target audience up so much more, I am wondering which eBook seller has been your most successful outlet?

Jake: Almost all of my e-book sales are through Amazon, certainly more than 95% of them are. I sell at least a couple of thousand copies every month through Amazon, a few dozen copies through iBooks, a handful more through Smashwords, and one or two through Barnes and Noble. I’ve always wondered why that’s the case, since I certainly make no effort to promote one outlet over another, but that’s the way the cards consistently come down.

Debra: Good to know and thanks for sharing.  My novel will be releasing later this year and I am going to go eBook first so your input certainly helps in my decision where to start with that!  We are running out of time Jake, so I just want to open the floor to you for the last few minutes…where can we learn more about you, your books, anything you want to add before we go off the air?

Jake: Well, thanks so much for having me today.  Its absolutely beautiful in this part of the country, cold today, but beautiful and I am glad I got to make this trip and get away from the city for a bit.  Also, thank you to all my fans and those tuned in today especially!  There is quite a lot about my books, and a bit about me too, at my website, You can even browse the first few chapters of each of my titles there almost like you were standing in a bookstore and flipping through them. Just go to the page at my site for each book, click on ‘Excerpt’ in the upper right-hand corner, and you’ll find a PDF of first 15-20% of the book.  Here’s the Sales links to the Kindle editions of all my titles – 







Thanks again and everyone have a fantastic day!

Debra: Thank you very  much for coming today, Jake it was an honor to have you here, you stop back anytime you need to escape the city!

Jake: Thanks, Debra and goodbye for now!  Come on George, its time to go!

George: Ah now?  I was winning this pool game!

Jake: Against yourself George, really?  <they laugh together as they head out the door>

Debra: WOW, there you have it ladies and gentleman!  Thanks for tuning in and “talk” to you next time!

Here’s a link to the book review of “The Ambassador’s Wife” written by Roger Gerald Scott for this site: The Ambassador’s Wife Book Review

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  1. Impressive interview. I put The Ambassordor’s Wife on my “to read” list.


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