Posted by on February 22, 2020

I’ve finished a draft of the new Thorn novel (#15) and, I admit, it has an odd title.  Usually I’ve opted for titles that have some nautical aspect or hint at its Florida locale.  But this time the title uses the name of a small town in Michigan, a place where some of the crucial action takes place.  I liked the puns that come to mind as well.  I’ll leave that to you to figure out.

When I say I’ve finished a draft, I mean that the manuscript has been rewritten literally hundreds of times during the two years I took to write it.  Then when an early draft was done, I give it to my number one reader, Evelyn, my wife.  She always spots some crucial weaknesses in plot, but more often in characterization.  People that just don’t convince her as real or turn her off so much I realize I need to go back and tone them down a little.

Then I send the book to my buddy Les Standiford.  Les and I were grad students together back in the early 70’s at the University of Utah and became friends then and began to read and critique each other’s manuscripts.  Eventually Les and I became colleagues at Florida International University where he took a few creative writing courses I’d been teaching for years and turned them into an MFA program that is now one of the most respected in the country.

Were it not for Les making extremely helpful suggestions in an early manuscript of Under Cover of Daylight, that book would never have seen the light of day.  He suggested, among other things, that I should combine two characters into one, a challenging task for the writer I was back then.  He and I used to believe that if a manuscript was flawed in some way the only thing to do was toss it in the wastebasket and start another one.  It is mind-boggling now to consider how silly and unprofessional this habit was.

After Les has had his say, I send it on to my agent in New York, Ann Rittenberg.  She inevitably spots issues and flaws that have gone unnoticed, and fixing them gives the book a far more polished feel.

I loved writing it and getting back to Thorn after a couple of books with Harper McDonald who circles the globe looking for justice and retribution.  I’d always wanted to try my hand at an international thriller, and I’m certainly happy with how those two books turned out.  But Thorn was calling to me and I stumbled on a tantalizing idea a couple of years ago during a few months’ stay in Key Largo.  More on that in a later blog post.

But this book drags Thorn out of his peaceful days in Key Largo and sends him on a journey that leads to Arizona and eventually to Michigan.  Farther from home than Thorn has ever been.  Since he lives in paradise already and trouble seems to find him frequently without even leaving home, it’s never been necessary for him to travel.  He’s a little grumpy about having to do it this time, but the stakes are too high to resist.  Immigration, nerve gas, and a faraway island in the Pacific all play central roles.  Bad Axe galore.  I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Comments

  1. Buz
    February 22, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Looking forward to it…Buz

  2. Art Herriott
    February 22, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Look forward to reading it.! I still have my Thorn T-shirt from your reading at Books and Books about 15 years ago.

  3. John Criswell
    February 22, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Love the history! I hope the new Thorn is published soon and does well. Take care and say hi to Evelyn for us. We’d love to see you guys if you’re ever in the neighborhood!

  4. Glenn Saiger
    February 22, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    It’s like looking forward to seeing an old friend.

  5. Jeff
    February 22, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Great news! I just got drugged out of retirement in my little piece of paradise New Smyna Beach, but I don’t have to leave and hopefully my girlfriend stays healthy.

  6. Neil Crabtree
    February 22, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Excellent news for all us Thorn fans. Looking forward to the book.

  7. Eunice Simon
    February 22, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Love Thorn. Can’t wait. I

  8. Fred Green
    February 23, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Great news, lOoking forward to another Thorn trip!

  9. Doug Teel
    February 23, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    I’m pretty certain I’m excited here.

  10. J DuChemin
    February 23, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Looking forward to Thorn’s return!

  11. Ken Moshier
    February 23, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Great news, Jim. Just can’t get Thorn out of my system.
    Hopefully, there will be more that include the Keys as the main site again.
    Any chance of somehow having Darcy Richards return?

    • JWH
      February 24, 2020

      Leave a Reply

      Sorry, Ken. I’ve lost track of Darcy. I remember her fondly, but she’s out there drifting somewhere new.

  12. lsguttshap
    February 23, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    I think the story about the evolution of the Under Cover of Darkness manuscript could be the beginning of a great article for aspiring writers. I look forward to reading the newest book.
    How do I get an autographed copy? Will you be doing any book tours?

    • JWH
      February 24, 2020

      Leave a Reply

      Publishers are using book tours less and less these days. It’s expensive to keep a writer on the road for a week or two (and not as glamorous for the writer as one might think). These days writers usually do a few events locally or nearby, not bookstores so much anymore, but conferences and library events where the audience is guaranteed to be large.

      Autographed copies can be acquired through Mitch Kaplan, bookseller extraordinaire, by emailing him at Kaplan296@aol.com . He’s the owner of Books and Books in Miami, one of the great bookstores in the U.S.

  13. John Fleming
    March 5, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    I have greatly missed Thorn. Can’t wait for this to be published. You are this native Floridian’s favorite mystery writer!

  14. MaryLou
    March 8, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    As an old neighbor from your Key Largo days I’m excited to read Thorns new adventure . You always seem to make a connection with me. Having a sister in Arizona and a niece in Michigan you did it again, My interest is peaked !

  15. Lane Rider
    March 26, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Well this is a nice surprise. Definitely looking forward to more adventures with Thorn. Hope all is well with you and Evelyn. Best,
    Lane

  16. Sharelle Turner
    April 26, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    What wonderful news !!!
    Looking forward to Thorn’s new adventure.

  17. Ron Mexico
    May 8, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    I am so excited! I love all of your books, but the Thorn one’s hold a special place in my heart. After the last Thorn book I was not sure if you would write another one, but you did! I look forward to reading it. I am your biggest fan in Sharpsburg, GA.

  18. Walt Wise
    May 17, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Wow! Great news! Thorn is one of my all time favorite characters. Thanks for the many great reads over the years. Best to you and yours, Walt

  19. Jim Finerty
    May 26, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    This made my day! Thanks JW!

  20. Carol W. Seiler
    June 1, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    James W. Hall, you have been for several years, on the top of my FL Fiction Favorite Authors. I’ve traveled to hear you speak a few times, and have missed you so very much. Looking forward to the newest installment- Thorn is my very favorite. With all the craziness now, I bet it’s hard to stay focused, but , we need you so very much now. I’ve been watching you for so many years, and as an 8th gen, Floridian, I can’t wait till this one comes out! I’m from Clearwater, but have lived in Brevard Co- Melbourne area for 35 years, and still love it. I love your work, and encourage you to write what t is in you heart. We have old friends in common, and when you do your tour, I will be there.
    Love you, love your work, and so pleased that a new book is in the works! And, Thorne? Well, Double Yay! One of your biggest fans, Carol Wilcox Seiler (Palm Bay, FL)

  21. Heidy
    June 13, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Finally the waiting will come to an end! I have been looking forward to read more about Thorn for sooooo long! And now that we can’t even travel to the Keys (no overseas flights at the moment) it is even more important to be there at least in your imagination. I have been reading all of the Thorn books and found a lot about the changes in the Keys over the last decades, which we have been detecting as well while visiting at least twice a year for 30 years now.

  22. garritt
    June 24, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Yahoo….I need to be vigilant & scoop up an early release……..thank you for the hours of entertainment your books have given me….g~

Leave a Reply


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*