Talk about a timely plot.
In Rigged, authors James Rosone and Miranda Watson introduce a world where America is in the midst of its most divisive presidential election in decades, and where the new commander-in-chief may change the direction of the country . . . forever.
Enter a shadow government and group of dedicated operatives, hell-bent on exposing a deep conspiracy and uncovering the truth before it’s too late.
Honestly, in some ways, this book reminds me a bit of Chris Hauty’s forthcoming debut thriller, Deep State, one of the most anticipated debits of 2020. Rigged is a riveting, relevant, relentless rollercoaster-ride of a thriller—and kicks off an action-packed series that’s already four books long and counting. Trust me, if you haven’t already, check this one out right away.
Though Rigged first came out earlier this year, I just recently caught up with author James Rosone to talk about his well-received series, which is currently averaging 4.9/5 stars on Amazon. Read the full Q&A below, where I ask him everything from how he came up with the plot idea for this one to where the series is headed in the future, then click here to order your copy today!
TRBS: Before we get into the book itself, what did you do before you were a writer, and when did you know you wanted to write your first book?
Rosone: I’ve had a few different careers, which I think has helped me in shaping the stories my wife and I write together. However, it was during my deployment to Iraq as an interrogator with the Air Force in 2006-2007 that I first thought of writing a book. When I returned home, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I decided to, put my stories to paper more as a form of therapy. Sometimes when you’ve witnessed or experienced something truly awful, writing it down makes it less impactful to you personally. Plus, I’ve found that being honest about this struggle has allowed me to help others with the same issue, and we’ve been able to pull each other through the mental battle together.
Unfortunately, that book was not wildly successful, and I needed to maintain a day job for a while. My stint as an interrogator led in a roundabout way to careers in the fields of biometrics, identity intelligence, and cybersecurity for US Central Command, US European Command, and US Special Operations, stationing me in the Middle East and Europe for the better part of seven years. I began to use this knowledge to write military and spy fiction as a hobby. Eventually, my hobby started to become a legitimate source of income, and now my wife and I do this as our full-time jobs.”
TRBS: For those who maybe haven’t read your books, RIGGED is part of a series. Can you tell readers a bit about the series and characters?
Rosone: The Falling Empires Series opens with wealthy foreign puppet masters plotting to influence the 2020 American presidential election and grows into an even larger web of devious global actors seeking to influence and control the US and global economy.
One of my favorite characters from Rigged is Seth Mitchell, who we find settling into his new position at US Special Operations in Tampa (coincidentally, I used to work there). After completing an assignment on loan to the CIA’s Special Activities Division, our hero just wants time to reconnect with his wife and kids, but world events have a way of interrupting our best intentions. Seth soon finds himself working with his old partners from the CIA, tracking down Islamic extremists in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia as they race to prevent a terrorist attack from happening on election day.
One of our other heroes is Ashley Bonhauf, a young up-and-comer at the FBI. She seeks to trace the electronic fingerprints behind social media bot farms and disinformation campaigns spreading across the internet in the lead up to the election. As she follows the money trail, she begins to uncover the interconnected web of events that have been planned to cause chaos in America are much bigger and more sinister than anyone could have imagined.
TRBS: Having just finished RIGGED, I have to say that I really loved it! It’s a timely thriller that couldn’t be more relevant than today’s world . . . how did you come up with the plot idea for this one?
Rosone: I’m glad you enjoyed the book, Ryan. A couple of years ago, I heard an interview with a Harvard professor by the name of Graham Allison, who talked about something called Thucydides’s Trap. I read the book he wrote about the topic, and it really fascinated me. This discussion of established powers and rising powers and whether or not that situation made war inevitable, caused me to dream up a scenario in which multiple powers conspire to take down America, not through brute force, but by tearing it apart from within. From there, I just had to consider how such a scheme might go down based on my experiences in the cybersecurity and intelligence fields. I’d like to think we came up with an all too real scenario of how that could happen. Of course, you have to keep in mind, this is just fiction.
TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors, and did any of them influence your own writing at all?
Rosone: Many authors have influenced my writing. Some of my favorites have been Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy. I loved their level of detail and ability to visually create a world where I felt I was right there with the characters. More recently, I’ve been reading Mark Greaney, Brad Thor, J.B. Turner, and David Baldacci. For me, I want to learn about the craft of writing. How to create compelling stories that make a reader have to turn the page to see what happened. As an author, I think it’s important to study and learn the craft and these are some of the best writers in the industry to learn from.
I also enjoy reading independent authors like Mark Dawson, and DC Alden. Those two authors, in particular, are both British, which I think broadens my perspective on storytelling. They also have been very influential in helping me to better understand the business side of writing.
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you and when can readers expect the next book in the Falling Empire series?
Rosone: To answer the second question first—book two of The Falling Empires Series, Peacekeepers, is already out and available for purchase. The third book in the series, Invasion, has already been written and is currently in edits with my wife, Miranda Watson. Normally, we would already have the preorder up for that third book, but because my wife is pregnant and set to give birth literally any day now, we just wanted to make sure that mom and baby are OK before we set that up. Provided everything goes well, the preorder will be live very soon, and we will continue our normal 90-day release cycle for the rest of the Falling Empires Series.
As to what’s next, we plan to write at least two more books in our Michael Stone series, which is a bit more directly in the spy thriller genre. We’d like to round out that main character a bit more and address some issues going on in mainstream America today. In the last four and half years, we’ve managed to publish sixteen books—so, we’re not short on ideas, just short on time to produce them all.
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.