Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

Ten Questions About Broken Shield, By J.D. Rhoades

J.D. Rhoades is no stranger to terribleminds, so I hope you’ll welcome him back so he can talk about his new book, Broken Shield. Ten questions, ten answers:


Damned if I know, man. Some days I have trouble even remembering which name to use. I write thrillers as J.D. Rhoades and science fiction and fantasy under the name of J.D. Nixx. I practice law in a small town in North Carolina as Jerry Rhoades. Under the name of Dusty Rhoades,  I write a column for my local newspaper that’s won two North Carolina Press Association awards. Most of my friends know me as Dusty, though, since that’s the name I grew up with.

I’m a reader, a writer, a husband, a dad, a lover of classic American cinema and cheesy Hong Kong action films, a music fan whose iPod features tunes ranging from Mozart to Motorhead, Albert King to Antonio Vivaldi. I have an ego big enough to have its own zip code, and enough personal demons to staff a new level of the Inferno.

As for the “who I am” that brings me here, I’m the author of the Kindle Book Broken Shield, which is the secret to my bestseller Breaking Cover. I’ve also written several other tree-books and e-books, like the Jack Keller series (The Devil’s Right Hand, Good Day In Hell, and Safe And Sound); my first e-only thriller Storm Surge; the legal thriller Lawyers, Guns And Money; and my military thriller Gallows Pole.  As J.D. Nixx, I wrote the vampire space-opera revenge tale Monster and the Taras Flinn medieval fantasy/mystery short stories found in the collection The King’s Justice.

As you can tell, I have a little trouble sticking with one genre.


FBI Agent Tony Wolf returns to the NC town of Pine Lake & teams up with his former nemesis, Lt Tim Buckthorn, to help find a kidnapped girl.

140 exactly. Boo-ya.


Shortly after Breaking Cover came out, my friend David Terrenoire observed that it was as much Tim Buckthorn’s story as Tony Wolf’s. And he was right. Buckthorn started as a bit player,  but he quickly grew to fill a much larger role, first as Wolf’s nemesis, then as his reluctant ally. I always love it when a character who was originally just a walk-on takes on a life of his or her own.


I practice law in a small town in North Carolina. Nice place. Pretty. Has a lot of really fine, decent, friendly people in it, the kind of people you think of when you think of small-town America.

But my work also brings me into contact with the mean, the greedy, the venal, the mind-numbingly stupid, the drug-addled, the bat-shit insane, and the just plain fucked-up, from all walks of life and all social strata. A lot of them aren’t particularly evil, they’re just kind of hapless. Nothing they plan seems to go the way it’s supposed to, even their crimes.

The job also brings me into contact with their victims, especially children, since a big part of my job for the last 13 years has been representing the interests of children in abuse and neglect cases.

So a lot of my work, including Broken Shield , is about people trying to protect good people from the bad people they may not even suspect are right outside their door. There’s also a common thread of criminals whose plans go awry and spin wildly out of control, with disastrous results for everyone.


As always, the hardest thing is just sitting down and doing it. Facing the blank page, even if there are a couple hundred pages behind it. Dragging myself back to the computer or notebook after a long grueling day in court or in the office can be sheer torture. There were times I found myself thinking, “you know, I remember this as being a lot more fun.” Thankfully, the fun did arrive, but it took a while.


I mentioned writing in a notebook in my last answer because there were so many times I just couldn’t face the screen again, so I wrote long stretches  f the book in longhand, just for a change of pace. I think that worked really well. It jolted me out of my rut. Plus, when I went back to transcribe it, I was already doing a second draft. So one lesson is, if you’re stuck, change your medium for a while. Write in purple crayon on the walls if that’s what it takes to get your mind where it needs to be to create. Just don’t tell your spouse, significant other, landlord, roommates, or parents I said that.

Also, I’ve never been much of an outliner. The most I’ve usually done before is sketching out a few chapters ahead of where I was. In fact, the first time I did a detailed outline for my editor, I discovered that I’d completely lost interest in writing the book, because I knew how it ended. I eventually did finish that one, but I’ve avoided outlining ever since. But about halfway through Broken Shield , I picked up a copy of Scrivener for Windows, which has really changed the way I work. Scrivener allows you to write chunk by chunk, scene by scene, then visually see where everything is, either in outline form or on a virtual “corkboard.” You can run on ahead and write the scene that comes to you in the middle of the night, then move it and the other stuff around to where they need to be. So I’ve started plotting out a couple of potential projects using Scrivener, saying “okay, this goes here, this needs to come before that. No, after…but not before this…” So when I sit down to write it, I’ll won’t have to decide every day which way the story’s supposed to go. We’ll see if it works.


I love the character of Leila Dushane, Wolf’s new partner. She’s brilliant, outspoken, and perfectly capable of kicking a bad guy’s ass without help from anyone. She idolizes Wolf, but she’s willing to call bullshit when she thinks he’s wrong. She also has anger issues, which I can relate to.


Like I said earlier, I’m moving towards a more deliberate, planned outline rather than the seat of the pants composition I’m used to. Not that there’s anything wrong with the other way. I’ve done some good work that way.  I just think there’ll be less tearing out of hair if I have some idea what I’m doing each day before I sit down to write. I’m getting to an age where every hair is precious.


This is a scene where Wolf, Dushane, and Buckthorn have been following up on a lead in the investigation of a kidnapping that Buckthorn has found evidence of, but which for some reason has never been reported. They go to a nice suburban home and find to their surprise that the lady of the house is being held prisoner by a couple of sleazy looking biker types. This is the aftermath of the confrontation:

She looked down at the bald man, who was looking up at her, fear in his eyes, like a rabbit hypnotized by a snake. He turned to Wolf. “Keep that bitch away from me,” he said in a high, pleading voice. “She’s fucking crazy.”

“Believe it, motherfucker,” she snarled. She stomped past Wolf into the house.

“She kicked me in my fucking knee,” the man whimpered. “I think she broke it.”

“You want to know why she did that?” Wolf said.

The man looked baffled.

“Because fuck off, that’s why.”


I’m not sure, really. I have a number of projects that I’ve been thinking about. The one I’m leaning towards now is, once again, something completely different: a comic heist novel in the vein of Donald E. Westlake. It’ll be the first time I’ve tried humor in a longer form. I try to bring humor and satire to the newspaper column, but for some reason, all the awards seem to be for serious writing. On the other hand, I’ve never written humorous mysteries, but I always seem to end up on humor panels at conventions. So, I’m going to play with the mix yet again. Maybe I’ll get another pen name.

Thanks for this opportunity, Chuck!

J.D. Rhoades (at least that’s what I’m calling myself for now): Blog/Twitter/Facebook

J.D. Nixx: Tumblr

Broken Shield: Amazon (US); Amazon (UK)

Breaking Cover: Amazon (US); Amazon (UK)