The Thriller Zone

In this 179th episode of The Thriller Zone, host David Temple interviews thriller writer Joe Reid, also known as Parker Adams, about his latest book, The Lock Box.

The conversation covers various topics, including the inspiration behind the book, the use of pen names, and Reid's background as a marine biologist and patent lawyer. He discusses the process of writing fiction and how it relates to his work as a litigator.

The discussion also delves into the character of Monna Locke, a female army vet turned safecracker, and the possibility of a sequel, plus Joe discusses his writing journey and the influences that have shaped his career.

Joe (aka Parker) talks about the importance of accumulating experiences and listening to your instincts as a writer, and also emphasizes the need to finish what you start and not be afraid of criticism.

Some highlights include the themes of complex characters, the influence of personal backgrounds on writing, and the importance of starting a story in the right place.

The interview concludes with a discussion about the impact of COVID-19 on storytelling plus an upcoming speaking event at the Carlsbad library with Christopher Reich on May 17th at Noon.

Learn more at, and as always, be sure to visit us at, follow us on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook  @TheThrillerZone and you can catch us on all the podcast channels, like @applepodcasts  @Spotify  @iHeartRadio and more.

Award-winning Green Beret, Steve Stratton, is the author of the Shadow Tier Series and the novella, A Warrior's Path: the Lance Bear Wolf Story. Learn more at

What is The Thriller Zone?

Podcast host and thriller author David Temple gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

Hello and welcome to The Thriller Zone. I'm your host David Temple. And on today's 179th episode as we approach the end of season six, it is my honor to welcome thriller writer Joe Reed, AKA Parker Adams, to discuss his latest, The Lockbox. And as you're gonna quickly learn, this guy's not your average Joe. Instead, he has a wide background covering a variety of professions, all of which serve him handsomely to craft some terrific thrillers.

And before we get to Joe, please allow me to give you just a little sneak peek of what you can expect for the month of May. Covering the next three weeks, we have three of the very biggest thriller writers in the world today, starting with next week's guest, James Cox, author of Grand Theft AI.

Imagine this, The Matrix meets Blade Runner. Oh yeah, and that's followed by the enormously talented Eric Rickstad and his amazing book Lilith. And folks, I dare you not to read this book. And finally, we wrap the month with one of the supreme thriller writers in the entire world, the lovely, the talented, the ever so kind and gracious Edgar winner Jeopardy champion and my dear friend.

Meg Gardner. She'll be here to launch her latest in the unsub series, Shadowheart. Now that's a may. All right, now let's get to it with our new guest, Joe Reed. Welcome to the Thriller Zone, Joe Reed. Thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here. I want to say Parker Adams. Yeah. And I want to drill down on that. Sure. We're talking about, of course, The Lockbox, which is a fun read and so novel. Thank you.

You don't often see a female, I don't want to diminish it by saying locksmith, because this goes well beyond that, who's a vet, veteran, and can stand around. So when I saw that premise, I went, well, I'm in. Thanks. Yeah. That's great. So I want to know, and I always say to myself, oh, don't, you know, I kind of pride myself on not asking the stupid questions.

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But because people will go, hey, where do your ideas come from? Well, they come from all around us because that's what we do. Yeah. But that's specific. It's such a specific idea. Yep. Where'd that come from? A variety of different places. So this book is my fourth book. I was coming off the Seth Walker series, which is all about an air marshal. Yes. Takeoff was the first book. It came out in 2018.

but Air Marshall, sort of masculine character, high action, that kind of stuff. Three books, third book comes out about a week after the world shuts down. And so I've got a main character who's all about flying on planes and being in big crowded airports and that doesn't exist anymore. And so I'm sitting home, you know, what do I do now? And so I was a big heist movie fan.

Ocean's Eleven, Thomas Crown Affair, all that stuff. And so I'm watching empty freeways and people running around in masks. I'm like, you know, if you were gonna pull off a really big crime, now would be a great time to do it. So what does that look like? And you start ruminating on that, right? And okay, if it's gonna be a heist story, who's involved? And so who's the main character? And I like having main characters who are a bit,

outsiders to their industry. Walker, the air marshal, he's not former law enforcement. He was an electrical engineer. And so he came kind of sideways to this career. And that makes him sort of an outsider. And he looks at things differently. And MONNA in this book, I mean, she's a safecracker. And she's a woman in a very male -dominated industry. She was a vet in a very male -dominated industry. And so she's got some unique outsider status because of all that.

When I saw her name, Mona Locke, Locke, I went, now did Joe, AKA Parker, plan that? The fact that the name is synonymous with the profession. Yeah. I mean, as you read into the book, figure out that it's an assumed name that she's got. She's protecting her real identity. It is very on the nose, but it's on the nose on point. Yeah. Yeah. Well,

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I also want to ask you are now the first, second, third pen name author that has been on my show. Oh really? Inside the last 60 days. And we're quickly approaching three years and I think only a pen name occurred one other time. So it's kind of, it's kind of odd, which always launches this great conversation about, oh, pen names are not pen name. Right.

And what was your thinking, Biden? I'm just curious as a profession. It was really, it was publisher's choice. They wanted it. Oh. I think the rationale is that it's a very different series. It's a very different character. It's a very different world than the Seth Walker series. And so give it a fresh start, give it a different launch. I think it really comes down to something like that. Scott Carson was on a...

a couple of weeks ago, maybe last week, and he was talking about a similar thing. And he said that his real name, he was writing this one genre going this direction, but he wanted to dance in this genre. And such a great point was made. He said, publishers need to be able to find the shelves on which to place the books. So if you're, oh, well, you were, I'm gonna make this up, you were a Western guy.

Now you want to race sci -fi. The guys who come to you for sci -fi may not like Westerns. And he goes, that was kind of also decided for him. Makes total sense, though, which is the whole reason. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's, I think, like you said, it's in this day and age, I mean, there's all kinds of issues around.

men writing female characters and things like that. I think we wanted to be, I wanted to be very sensitive to that. And yeah, distancing it from the Walker series and giving it some space to be its own thing was kind of important. Let's drill down on that for a second. The sensitivity of a guy writing as a woman. What are you referring to, Your Honor? I mean, I think we are now...

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a savvier culture, a more aware culture. And we realized that I, as a 50 -something white guy, come to my books with a certain perspective and a certain life history. When I'm writing about a character who's of a different age, different sex, a different background, I need to do everything I can to be honest and faithful to...

how she would see the world. And that means working harder than just writing an amalgam of me or my experiences. It's really doing the work to put myself in her shoes. If I can talk about myself for a second, sure, because I just had this experience.

Two weekends ago, a friend invited me to come to her home and invite a gaggle of her girlfriends to have a book club and asked if I would speak at it because they had read my book, one of my murder mysteries. And I had read some critiques before, some reviews, which are not always very nice. And they were saying, you know, what's a guy got any business doing a writing a woman's role? Because I wanted to.

And I asked the women and there was probably a dozen of them. Hey girls show of hands. Anybody have a problem with the old white guy writing about a young white woman? They're like, we didn't even think about it. And that was such a compliment because I was expecting to get skewed. Well, how, how can you write this way? And a lot of times people would have a beef with the fact that I would. And this comes back to you. It's a woman in a man's world.

detective in Hollywood, third shift to the last of the line, male dominated family. But it was just a lark almost to be able to jump out of that. So I applaud you because I didn't, at any point in Lockbox, I did not go, you know, Joe, kind of missed the mark on this part. Well, thank you. Yeah, no, I hope that.

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female readers feel like it's a true perspective. I worked really hard to have a lot of female beta readers, not even so much for the big issues, but for the little issues that you just trip up on. I mean, how a single mother sees something, right, is different than how I'll see it, right? And so, you know, you hope you hit all those moments and you graph them out, but then part of the editing process, as you well know, is...

is getting people other than you to give you feedback and see what you missed. What's interesting because when, uh, Ethan, right? Evan. Evan. The son. Sorry. Okay. Yeah. Thank you. Evan. Yeah. Yeah. I read a lot of books. Uh, Evan, the way you nailed the relationship between the mother and the son, dead on. Oh, thank you. And I was like,

That's where I got lost or lost myself in the fact that it was a guy writing this, just to make a finer point. And so the sensitivity and the yearning and the way he's kidnapped at one point, and that's not giving anything away, and gets reunited, it had a very strong, and I hope this is the right thing to say, a very strong feminine feel to it. I hope so. Yeah. I mean.

It's one of those things. I mean, I think, and you'll know this as well as anybody, as a writer, I think you're most successful when you can tap into the stuff that's really universal. I love my daughters, right? I may love them slightly differently than a mom would love their son, but like there's that parental love is something we all can understand. And so it's taking that big concept.

and then sort of narrowing in on that little piece of it or figuring it out. You were saying as you showed up that you are still practicing law. Yes. So here's a couple of points here, because I'm fascinated with your background. So you're a son of a Navy helicopter pilot. So we got a little bit of history there, a little digging into that I wanted to do. You've chased great white sharks as a marine biologist. All right. We could.

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probably spend about a half hour there. And now you're a patent lawyer who litigates big buck cases for high tech clients. Let's go in reverse order. What's your daily, because you showed up in a suit and I'm like, oh. But you said you went and got dressed up for the event. Yeah. So California law firms, we're sitting here in San Diego, right? Right. As I learned 25 years ago when I came out here to be a lawyer, California law firms are more laid back than New York and DC.

Um, we don't wear, when I started, we were suits four days a week, business casual on Fridays, right? Has gradually loosened over the years. And now, yeah, it's, it's jeans and golf shirts and stuff like that. I, uh, when I want to go see a client or, or when I do book events, frankly, like I want to be respectful of the folks that I'm talking to. And so I dress more like I'm going to court. So next time you're on the show, you can, you can do more.

And usually I'm in flip flops, but I had to move around. So I had 10 issues today. Um, and so what's a day in the life, like when you're doing the corporate job or the real, I don't want to say real job because writing is a real job, but you know what I'm saying? Yeah. Um, and there's a balance there. So the way I make it work in, on a generic day is I get it before and I go to the office and I write from,

415 or whatever time I get there, till about 7, 730. Then I run home, grab a quick shower, get changed. I usually take one of my kids to school. I only have one kid at home now because the other is in college, but I take one kid to school. Then I go to the office. I'm in the office all day and that's – I'm the office managing partner for my firm. So that means I do law work. I do depositions. I go to court.

I interact with clients. I teach young lawyers how to do stuff. And I'm also sort of the administrator for the office. Like if there's an HR problem or something like that, that gets referred to me. And I do that all day. And then I go home at night. And if it's a light day, I'll do some writing stuff or some PR stuff at night to try and set myself up for the next day. If it's a heavy work day, my morning time and my nighttime will be lawyer stuff.

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Cause you know, I, it can, it can swell to fill the whole day. Like if I'm in trial or something like that. Well, you look fresh as a daisy to be up since four o 'clock. Thanks. I appreciate that. But you know, it's so funny. You mentioned Don Winslow, which we did our interview right in that room over there when he was here. And he is one of the first guys that he said, uh, I remember hearing this several years ago before became good friends that he gets up five o 'clock every day and sits down to write at five 30.

And I think at that time I was like, oh, I'll get around to it at eight o 'clock. But for some reason, when I heard that, I started instituting that into my regime. And it was the very best thing I ever did because it just, I used to do morning radio, so I was up at 3 .30 anyway. So I just recalibrated the clock. And I came to find that the clarity and quiet at that time of day is the perfect time. No, it is.

Number one, it's having the peace and quiet and knowing no one is looking for you and having that separation. And then also I do, I have found I can't write from scratch at night. I can edit, but I can't sit down and be very creative at night. It's been too long a day. Like I need the energy and sort of the magic of like waking up and you're still kind of like a little out of it.

I go to bed trying to think about what I'm gonna write the next day. And like, while you're sleeping, your brain's turning and stuff, and then you wake up and you're all like, wow, I wanna, let's get going. The fact that you said that, I wanna drill down on that for a second, because I am a proponent, generally speaking, of erasing as much thought as I can when I hit the pillow. And this comes from doing morning shows. I knew that if I cycled anything as I was going to bed,

I was going to be screwed. Okay. Because my mind is, is like a dog chasing this girl. So I taught myself just to go blank. Okay. Which is why now I can fall asleep in 60 seconds. So my question to you is, because it's based on a theory of basically it's intention. So if you come up with an idea for a story and you place that intention in your subconscious, this theory says, excuse me,

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that as you sleep, your subconscious works it out so that when you wake up, you're ready to roll. Is that kind of what you're talking about? Yeah. It's that moment when you go to sleep, you're like, what should I dream about tonight? What dream do I want to carry me off into sleep? And instead of thinking about Disney World or Christmas or something with my kids, it's, OK, the chapter I got to write tomorrow, what's going to happen? What's Mauna doing tomorrow?

Um, and so I go to bed, sort of just letting, letting that movie play in my head. Right. And then you wake up and, and like you said, it's interesting. I mean, a lot of times, you know, we all hit stumbling blocks in the plot. Oh crap. How is she going to get out in this moment? Right. Um, or how am I going to write myself out of this thing? Right. Um, and a lot of times if you go to bed stuck, um, thinking about it, you will wake up and you'll know the answer.

Like I just found, I mean, I think your subconscious does tend to process on all that stuff overnight. Wow. Cool. All right, because I brought this up, tell me, my wife and I were talking about our greatest fears the other day for some reason. Hers is snakes. She hates snakes. Mine is probably sharks. So when I read that you were chasing great white sharks as a marine biologist, it made me say two things.

Why is he chasing a shark? And number two, you were a marine biologist before you became a patent lawyer. Yeah. So you mentioned earlier, I was, my dad was in the Navy. After he got out of the Navy, he was a management consultant. So basically my life as a kid was moving place to place. When I was leaving kindergarten, I was leaving one school, going to go to a different school. My classmates gave me a little gift. There's a little book on sharks. And I read it and I was like,

this is the coolest thing I've ever seen. And like, I'm a kindergartener. It's no different than kids with dinosaurs or whatever. But I just, I took that and ran with it. And it was my whole life, it was growing up, I'm going to be a biologist. So I watched all the National Geographic shows and I had studied all that stuff. And I went to college. I got a biology degree at Duke and went to the Marine Lab and spent a semester there and did shark projects there. And then I came out here,

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I was at the University of California, Davis, getting my PhD. I came down here to do a bunch of my research work through SeaWorld, HubSeaWorld, their research arm. We were doing white shark tagging and things like that. And so yeah, no, I was very committed to being a research scientist using sharks as sort of my model and stuff. A couple of things happened. The tech wasn't quite where it needed to be.

for me to do the things I wanted to do. Do you know what Osearch is? No. They're the guys that have a show on, I think, Nat Geo or something now. But they got this special boat. They got this giant platform. And they catch gray whites or giant sharks. And they lift them out of the water. And they do all these measurements. And they stick a tag on them. And then they follow them. The tag sort of beams up to the satellite. And they've got a website that you can go on. And you can follow your favorite shark.

That's the kind of stuff I wanted to do. I mean, I was very interested in how physiology, how the body systems interact with the natural world. So why can a shark swim to the depths it can? How does temperature influence where it goes and what it eats and things like that? But you couldn't answer a bunch of those questions because the tagging technology just wasn't there. That and the whole lack of jobs and pay.

science is why I got out and became a lawyer. But now, 20, 25 years later, I watch this stuff and I marvel at the stuff they're doing. It's like, oh my God, I would love, I would have loved to have been doing that kind of stuff. So the obvious question is you have no fear of sharks. No, I wouldn't, I wouldn't say no fear. I think I have healthy respect. Yeah, that's a good point. I have scuba dove and I have snorkeled with sharks and stuff and it's fine.

they are wild animals. And so if you go out into the forest and you know, you know, you might come up to bears, you should know what to do, right? Same thing with sharks. I mean, they, they're bears of the ocean, right? They're in their habitat. And that said, I don't think you need to be irrationally afraid of them. I've, I've had a shark swim between my legs. I've, I've seen, you know, sharks be very beautiful and very graceful and just do their thing. Yeah.

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And it's like watching other kinds of nature. If you let them do their thing, generally, they're not that interested in you. There are a couple of species that I would carve out of that. Tiger sharks, if I saw a tiger shark in the water, I'd get out. There's no reason to mess with that. Right. And see, I always saw great whites. See, I think great whites are less scary than tiger sharks in the sense that they're

Great whites are more predictable about what they eat. They live in fewer places and if you know sort of how they hunt and stuff, I mean, they're mostly out after seals and sea lions. So if you are not out looking like you were a seal or a sea lion, the odds that a great white is going to attack you, I think, are relatively small. Which is why they're more attractive to surfers and...

wetsuits than just you and some board shorts. Right. Yeah. If you, they are ambush predators. They like to like be down low and come up and hit you. Yeah. And so if you look at the silhouette from underneath and like now with jaws and stuff like that, you can see those kinds of shots. Sure. Yeah. A surfer on a board, right? Paddling. Right. Looks a lot like a sea lion at, at, at, at the surface. So yeah, you kind of can't blame.

a shark for like thinking, oh, it's a sea lion all by itself. Now, it always makes me laugh because you read these articles, right? And it's like, brave surfer escaped, brave swimmer escaped great white sharks. It's like, no, the shark let you go. Yeah. OK, you didn't escape so much as they let you go. So one of my major professors in grad school had this paper and it was all about how great whites hunt.

by basically hitting a prey, taking a giant chunk out of it, and then circling it while it bleeds out. Like that's energy -wise, that's the most efficient way they can hunt. And if you're only gonna eat once a month, you don't wanna waste a whole bunch of energy. So when you think about what happens with surfers in the attack stories you see, they get hit, usually they get bit in the chest or in the legs, something like that. And then the shark,

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kind of disappears and they swim away. That's kind of, it's completely consistent with his hypothesis about how they work. That's fascinating to me. It's terrifying and fascinating simultaneously. Yeah, no, I get it. I was flying back from Monterey this past weekend and I was sitting next to someone and she was talking about, she's a surfer. Okay. And she was up in Delray Beach and a great white.

came right, slithered right between a bunch of them and didn't bother them at all, but it petrified them all. They get out of the water. I said, but you went back in to surf later. She goes, oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean, I think the drone, you see the drone footage now, right? You know, people fly drones over the ocean here a lot. Oh yeah. And from above, you're finally seeing like, oh, yeah, there's a lot of sharks out in the water. They've always been there. It's not like it's new.

Right. It's just now that we know and now we can see it from a different angle. Yeah. But like, no, they've always been there. And the idea that, you know, going in the water is some, you know, massively risky proposition. No, like a ton of people go in the water, a ton of people come out of the water just fine, right? It's one of those things. They're wild creatures. You're in their environment and they're entitled to it. And then the news stories of like, you know, sharks seen in the ocean, like it's like, yeah.

Really? Is that news? Oh my goodness. Well, that's fascinating to me. Folks, we're going to take a short break. And when we come back, we're going to be talking with Parker Adams, AKA Joe Reed about, of course, the lockbox. This is not Jacques Cousteau Great White Shark show. Although, you know, you know me, I like to go off the page a little bit. So stay with us. Our sponsors, we thank you and they're going to talk to you about something right now. We'll be right back. And now a quick word from our new sponsor.

We'll be right back.

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And we're back with Joe Reed, AKA Parker Adams. And the book is, as you see the lock box. I'm going to start and I'm going to let you finish. A female army vet turned safecracker is forced to be a part of a dangerous heist. And it could be the heist of the century. And how is she going to, how is she going to avoid participating in that or escape or save herself and her son? Golf club. I loved.

She was, she was, she's a fun character, but I also love all the crazy whacked out characters around that lead antagonist who is at one moment kind of, you kind of, oh, you kind of like him and then you really hate him. And then you're like, is he that bad of a guy? Yes, he is. And the way you spun him was interesting. Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah. I mean, you know, as well as anybody, like,

books need good villains. Oh yeah. And hopefully he's a good villain in the sense that he wants something. He's willing to do just about anything to get it. You can understand what he wants and you can understand why he wants it so badly, but you probably don't like the lengths he's willing to go to get it. Yeah, there is a certain mercilessness about him. By the way, another thing caught my eye, Duke University. Yes.

My undergraduate institution. My dad went to Duke. Oh, great. OK. Go Blue Devils. Yeah. Great school. Which degree was that? Marine? No, no, no. That would have been. It was undergrad. So it was a biology degree and a concentration in marine biology. Got it. Yeah. So. Which do you, or rather, what of your past studies, careers?

most influences your writing today? Probably law, probably litigation. Oh. People ask me, I get two variations on the question. I get one question, which is, how does being a lawyer influence your writing? And then I get the question of, how does being a fiction writer influence your litigating? And the answer is fiction writing and litigation are kind of

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the same process, just in reverse. So if your audience has ever watched Law & Order or any lawyer show ever, the idea is we go out, and this happens in real life, we go out and we gather little bits of evidence, a document here, a witness statement there, and when we get to trial, and I'm a trial lawyer, we go in front of a jury or a judge.

and we take all these little bits and we put them together in kind of a mosaic and we present this picture and we say, here's what happened, right? Here's why there was a murder or here's what happened in this patent case or whatever. Writing fiction is the opposite direction. So I start with the end picture. I know who did it. I know why they did it, all that stuff. I get to take that picture and take a hammer and smash it into tiny little pieces. And I get to scatter those pieces.

through the book and have the main character find them and react off them and then have to assemble them at the end. But I know what the picture is. So it's, I like to say it's the same process in reverse. Mana Locke. Yeah. Two questions, two part question. Where did she come from? There's bound to be some great influence in your past that helped create her. And secondly, will this spawn a sequel?

Yeah, I sure hope so. Yes. Yeah, I have great plans for what we can do with her. I think she's a really fun character. And I think the idea of having a high end safecracker in and around LA just lends itself to lots of good stories. As to where she came from, I mean, it's a variety of things. Her name, the name Mana, she clarifies the pronunciation at the start of the book. And.

That comes straight out of my first day at grad school. One of my best friends is named Mana. And so we're going around introducing ourselves or the professor's asking us who we are. And he's going down the roll and he gets to this woman and he calls her Mona. Which is exactly what I was gonna do until she clarified. Right, and she has the line, no, it's Mana, like Donna with an M. Right. And I wasn't writing at that point. I had no idea I was ever gonna write books.

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But the second I started writing books, I was like, that's a great line. I need to use that at some point and some way. Yeah. And so that's where her name comes from. In terms of her as a character, I mean, like we were talking about earlier, I like outsiders. I like people who've come to their industry sort of sideways. You know, I'm a military kid. And so I have very strong affection.

for the military and the things the military can do for you sort of growing up. I built some of that in here. She has a mentor figure in her life who sort of directs her to the army and that's why she ends up being a veteran. She's an orphan. At one point her mother dies suddenly and unexpectedly. And I think you look at a tragedy like that and you wonder,

you know, how somebody rebounds from that and how they rebuild their life and how they go about building, you know, a life out of their skills and things like that. I mean, it's a lot of these books, I mean, you know, a lot of these books are therapy, right? It's asking, putting yourself in different places and asking yourself questions, but some of it is, is thinking about yourself and how you got to where you are. How...

I'm on my third career. I think on your website, you say you're in your third phase. How did I get here? Well, I did this thing and then that led to this thing and then that led to that thing. And I think when you're building complex characters, you try and do that same process. It's interesting how much homework you've done on me. Because you just referenced, that's about the third reference you've made that shows me that you did some homework on me. Well, yeah, no, if I'm going to come on your show, I want to know about you and...

what we have in common and stuff like that. And I think that was one thing that certainly caught my eyes. We both, we've both migrated through different phases, doing different things. And I think to that very point, I think that's what makes us, I hope, I hope makes me, makes you a more interesting writer because you get to dabble in the military upbringing, which you made a really good point that influence.

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has helped create who you are and given you a perspective, a lens through which to look and see life. I grew up as a preacher's PK, so you can be sure that there's plenty of, um,

coloring through my lens, then you go on to do, you know, chasing great whites. I'm chasing a Hollywood dream. You end up litigating cases. I end up interviewing people. But it colors the influence of our writing. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I think no matter what job you're doing, there are universal things that come out of it. Sure. I mean,

Um, as a lawyer, I'm a service provider, right? I have clients, they have certain expectations. They want me to show up and do a job. Um, that's kind of what Monna does. Monna is a safe cracker, but she gets hired. She goes and shows up and does a job and then gets paid. I mean, it's in some ways it's, it's the same process. It's just, you know, I have a briefcase and she's got a toolbox. I'm going to let you in a little secret. When I was a kid, for some reason,

I don't know why, I was fascinated with locks. Okay. Just a random fascination. And I was always trying to pick them. Okay. And I would send off to these mail order clubs where you could buy picks and figure out how to do locks. And I was always just trying to pick locks. So when I saw that cover, it fascinated me. And then what really fascinated me and shows me that you really did your homework.

Tumblers are so specific. They have a certain weight and a rotation There's a feel a lot of the good guys do it by feel or sound right which you nailed but Mostly it's feel Because the tumblers have a way to fall and set and reset and so forth and there are built -in hazards within locking mechanisms That if you know what you're doing, you know, oh, I can't go that way right so

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (34:51.438)
You're, I really appreciate when somebody drills down. I'm not a guy who goes, hey, Bob walked into the room and you described the room for 14 pages. But you can certainly take 14 paragraphs scattered over a period of a chapter and tell me the intricacies of a lock because to me it's just fascinating. I don't know why. Yeah, I mean, I write thrillers. Yeah.

I write what I think are techno thrillers. I mean, I grew up reading Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy a lot. Yeah. And those guys were very down into the tech. Yeah. And I mean, Red October, how many paragraphs are there about how the sub works and why it's quiet? Yeah. And that's what made those books special. Yes. Like you said, it's a character story, but you also learn something in the process of it. You can't not learn.

Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. And then when you find out like in Jurassic Park, like, oh, wait, people are really doing this? Yeah. That's just that's so cool. My job as a lawyer, I'm a patent lawyer and I go into court and I explain technology to judges and to juries. That's kind of what the books are. I mean, I I take, you know, in the Air Marshall case, there's a bunch of electrical stuff in here. It's locks, but it's it's yeah, let's let's break it apart and explain it. Usually there's some hook in the plot.

of you kind of have to know how it works for the whole thing to make sense. So I don't ever want it to be, you know, somebody takes three pages and just flips, right? Like, let me skip that whole thing. I don't want that. I want it to be part of the exciting page turning process. But yeah, that you get exposed to a little bit of it and you can understand it and it's clear. And then, you know, it helps enrich the story.

One more thing back to Mana is the fact that she, I love the way she stood her ground, even facing harm and or death and or injury to her son. She still stood up and like, oh really? No, no, no. I can't get into that. I can't break that law. I can't get into that law. Now some of that was bravado. Some of that was bluffing to buy some time, but. Yeah.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (37:13.166)
I appreciated that. Oh, thank you. I like that moment. She's, you know, she's an interesting character because she is proud, you know, she has a temper. But at the same time, when she's in this vulnerable situation, she knows she can't fully unload, right? Right. She has to be careful around these people because of herself and her son.

Um, and so there, there is a certain amount of like biting her tongue that she has to do, um, where she wouldn't otherwise in real life. Um, but yeah, she's, she's complex and, and hopefully that comes through. I'm curious about something, having listened to you talk about three different careers. If tomorrow, let's say lock box, the lock box becomes a New York Times bestseller just skyrockets or the, or the sequel does. Yeah. Yeah.

and you're able to make the kind of living that you go, I'm not going to do a patent attorney anymore. I'm just going to let that go. Would you miss that or would you be completely happy going, Oh, I get to do this not 24 seven, but eight, eight, 10 hours a day. I get to write. I mean, writing is fabulous. It is the most fun thing and that's why I do it. Yeah.

It's one of those things that I have come to like, I can't live without, like I have to do it. I have friends who are runners, right? Who are marathon runners. And they say, they joke like, I can quit anytime. That's the way writing is. Like I do it every day. There are certainly things I would miss about being a lawyer if I wasn't a lawyer anymore. There's things I miss about science, not being a scientist anymore. A lot of the best parts of being a lawyer,

our camaraderie. It's about relationships. It's about you go into trial and you're with this team and you're up against this other team and how do we win? I mean, we're fighting each other literally and figuratively. How do you work with your team to get the right result? There's also a certain amount of in the adversarial process, just

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (39:35.086)
squaring off against a witness, squaring off against opposing counsel. There's a certain competitive adversarial thing that you work out doing those things. It can be negative and it can be destructive and it can be too much at times. But there's a certain amount of, I don't know if you play sports or something like that, but I think there's a certain amount of that competitive itch that - Oh, sure.

the lawyers miss when they're not doing it. Yeah. If that makes sense. It's so coincidental, or is it, that this past weekend, my wife works for an attorney. OK. And so we went to a convention. It was nothing but a room, 170 attorneys. And that's an interesting energy to be around. I can't say that I've ever been in this situation. But there is the camaraderie. I noticed a couple things. The camaraderie, the competitiveness,

And then the analytical nature of their minds. I was sitting around a dinner table, and they were talking about this. This is based upon fire, California fire. So these are fire attorneys. And listening to the analytics, the way they can walk into a situation and see it, analyze it, break it down, research it, then go into court, represent it, was fascinating to me. And I see that in you.

And I can imagine how that analytical nature does such great service for books. And of course it then says to me, based upon the question I just gave you, you could spin off an attorney, I mean, I think John Grisham, he had a pretty good career that way. He did okay. Yeah, he did all right. Where you could utilize some of this background in an attorney's world.

Besides Mana, of course, in case you needed to do another series, when you get that huge check and get to do this full time. Yeah, from your lips to God's ears. You know what I'm saying? By the way, I've been trying to place the accent. I was either going Chicago or New York. My accent changes is the short answer. So, I was born in New Jersey. My extended family is from New Jersey outside New York City. There you go. I lived all through the South.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (42:01.23)
and I lived that West. And so if I'm in the South a lot, more of my yalls come out. Yeah. So yeah, it's sort of all over the place. Well, I would catch a little hints of Southern, because I'm from North Carolina. OK. So if I get around my family, everything just slides into like this. And it's just very easy. And you slowed everything down. All of a sudden I sound like Matthew McConaughey.

But it was that Jersey. And I'm like, I had a radio show in New York City. And so I had a lot of friends in Jersey. And I'm like, there's the accent. All right. So here's what I want to do as we start to wrap. I want you to go back in time. You're going to sit down to lunch with a young Joe Reed. Maybe he's sitting there being fascinated by great whites. Maybe something in his head is tickled about the legal profession. I don't know. But knowing the circuitous route that you've taken.

What if anything would you can encourage him to do differently knowing today what you know? If you could go back and talk to that young Joe.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (43:14.414)
I don't know. I think it's a hard question to answer because like you said earlier, a lot of, a lot of writing is accumulating experience. Yeah. Right. And, um, some people could look at like, well, you know, you kind of washed out of the scientist. You really finished that. Yeah. Um,

But it's an experience, right? I don't know that I would be the writer I am, the person I am without all those pieces, parts. I think if I was gonna give myself advice, it would be more...

it wouldn't be, instead of a, don't do this, it's more of a proactive thing. Listen to your instincts, listen to your gut, stick with things. It's gonna work out, that kind of thing. I was listening to your interview with Winslow and he talks so extensively about all the rejection he faced and all that stuff. And the persistence and determination he showed is just, I mean,

And so I think we all need voices in our heads sort of encouraging us to keep going and stuff like that. That's more of the advice I think I would give myself. I love that. I might start writing sooner. I start writing later in life. Yeah. Because it wasn't something I really thought about doing as a career. I was just a fan. I just read a lot of books. Sure. And I thought I was a good writer in...

the careers that I did. I was a good writer for a scientist. I was a good writer for a lawyer. Yeah. Um, but I kept reading these novels and being like, wow, like that's like the Olympics of writing. Like, can I write like that? Yeah. Um, and, and that's when I finally gave it a try. I mean, you know, maybe I, maybe I would have started earlier, something like that. Uh, going back to that Winslow conversation, that was a highlight of my career and he gave so much solid advice and such.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (45:23.054)
great insights and his tenacity is what is so impressive. And I, you know, and he would say, what did he say? You know, it only took me, you know, 40, 50, 60 years to become an overnight success. It was an Arctic night. Anyway, it was interesting that the people around him, like the people around us gave us the encouragement we need. And,

back. The reason I ask that question is because I like to see where if you knew it's a little bit of if you knew then if you knew then what you know now, but it's also a little bit because I believe in that we have to I don't know if you're hard on yourself, but I'm very hard on myself. I'm like the reason I didn't want to write early on is because I would see a red pen go across my page and I would have this thing in my head that would go. I'm not good at that.

So I shouldn't do that. It wasn't until much later. Yeah. It's so funny you say that because I mean, as a parent, like one of the things I try to do is take lessons from like my life, right? And give it to my kids. Right. The biggest change that happened for me as a writer, the moment I got on the right path was when I stopped.

having people tell me what was good about the book and tell me all the things that are bad about the book. And I talked to my kids about that. We're so, as human being, we're so scared of criticism and scared of hearing negative things, right? But that's how you grow. That's how you get better. And I think if you really want to develop in anything, like my daughter's a volleyball player and plays in college,

My younger daughter's a dancer. If you want to do anything like that, you have to seek out the criticism and own it and want it and build it into everything you're doing. I mean, I got to a point, like I'd written two books, they'd gone nowhere. I was like, is this, you know, like Winslow was saying, like, is this ever going to happen for me? Am I just going to like toil in my basement and stuff? Right.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (47:46.414)
And I was getting close, like I was sending off queries and sending off pieces of books and like getting little responses, back little nibbles, but nothing serious. And so I was like, I know I need something, but I don't know what the something is. So I started going out and I would, I'd bid on like a critique from an agent or an editor, like for charity, like sometimes they'll, they'll offer it up like, you know, for, you know, for this blindness charity, like I'll, you know, I'll.

I'm an editor, so I'll do a 50 page critique or something. I love that. I would get those. What a great idea. Tell me all the things that don't work. And gradually it was about, no, I don't, I mean, tell me the things that work so I don't, so I'm trying to change them. Right. But I want to hear all the reasons this stinks. I want to hear all the things that don't work for you, because that's what I need to fix. And if I don't know those things, I can't fix them.

Like the biggest thing you've got to copy my first book. One of the big critiques I got, I think I know a lot of writers do this at the start. I'll be interested to hear if you did it too. The first page, first line, first chapter, like where you start, right, is so critical. Yes. Are you starting in action? Are you grabbing the reader? And I was always starting too early. I was like, oh no, you want the context of who this person is and all that stuff. Like no. No. And, and.

finally, like I got enough critiques to like slap me upside the head and we're like, don't start there dummy start over here. Yeah. The very first line in the book that sold was it's like in the literally in the middle of a gunfight and like blood hits the main character's cheek. And I was like, when I wrote that, I was like, I never going to get the criticism. Like you're starting in the wrong place or you're not starting with action. And so yeah, you can open up to the first line.

Um, everything changed when the blood struck my right cheek. No. And that was like, I was so tired of hearing, Oh, you know, you're not grabbing readers with the first line. You need to start with action and stuff. I was like, okay. Um, but, but, but that's what I mean. Like I had to hear that and I had to absorb it and I had to take it. And that's what made that line work or that book work and stuff. Start in the middle of some of action.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (50:09.07)
So that's takeoff, but yeah, let's, let me pull out the lock box and, and get this opening line folks. So hang with me. Although neither cop had drawn his gun yet, Mana Locke figured that he'd become that that'd be coming soon. That's how shit usually went down when police learned what she did for a living.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (50:32.654)
a little bit different twist, but still, what? What? Yeah. If it makes me go, huh? Wait, what? Yeah, first lines are like everything. Yeah. Did you hear my interview with Christopher Reich in the book with Matterhorn? Yes. Yeah, and I'm actually doing an event with him in a couple of weeks up in Carlsbad. So yeah, no, I'm not. Oh, you are? Yeah, yeah. Adventures by the Book up in Carlsbad. He and I are doing a conversation. Dude.

Send me a reminder. I want to be there. Oh, sure. I love that guy. I think his writing is, I think he is quite possibly, like he's in the echelon of John Le Carre. He's that, have you read the book? I haven't read it yet. He's sending it to me and I just don't have my copy yet. Dude, it is, I think I listed it as my number two favorite book of the year. Oh, wow. Yeah. Okay. It's just stunning. Yeah. And, and,

You have, I would encourage folks, if you haven't heard that interview to go back and listen to it because it's a masterclass and the way he breaks it down and the way there is not a wasted word in that book. And I cannot say that about very many books. Um, this is about you. So don't let me veer too far, but I'm bringing back to the point of that. It really is just about, and he does that, that opening line.

was so good, if it makes me do this, turn the page, I'm in. If it makes me rush to that next chapter, you have really done something. Okay. So we're down to my, I always end up with three questions. So number two, you get a chance to sit down to dinner with two people, living or dead, and have complete access to their worlds. Who would those two be and why? Two heroes. Dr. Eugene Clark, who was like a very big shark scientist.

If you watched all the National Geographic shows, I watched. Okay. He was very prominent on that. The Moat Marine Laboratory down in Florida, she founded that and was very involved with that. So I'd want to talk to her and Teddy Roosevelt. I mean, I grew up sort of reading about him, studying him. He was so fundamental in, I think, the way our country changed and grew and...

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (52:58.958)
Um, he had so many interesting chapters in his life, like, like you and I were talking about, uh, you know, a guy who is, you know, a rough rider and, you know, secretary of the Navy and like president. And I mean, all these different things, um, that, that, that would be very cool. Not to get political, but you, you just said something that sparked an idea. Don't you miss the days? I'm sure there's going to be somebody going to give me some kind of grief about this. The days when your presidents.

had a vast history of a multitude of backgrounds. I'm thinking of a couple of people right now in our recent past that... I mean, well, like for example, I was in high school, college when George H .W. Bush was president. Yeah. And I mean, same kind of thing. Like when you look at his resume of all the different things he had done in government, I mean, headed the CIA and Navy pilot and...

you know, on down the line. I mean, you know, talking about preparation for a big job. I mean, he had done kind of everything. Yeah. Is that what you mean? Yeah, that is what I mean. I was going to go a drill a little bit deeper, but I don't want to give this one particular former president who I don't very much agree with any airtime. So we'll just move along. Okay. All right. My standard close, as you very well know, here in the show, what's your best writing advice?

J. Michael Straczynski, who's written books and screenplays and comic books. I used to go see him at Comic -Con here in San Diego. His advice, and I think it's the best advice there is, is you have to finish. Everybody who, or a lot of people who fail, fail because they don't finish. They don't finish because they're scared of the criticism of finishing. They're scared of having to have it judged.

And it can lead you to just, you know, editing forever or, you know, rewriting forever. You have to finish it and you have to like put it out in the world. And that doesn't mean you're done with it. I mean, there's still plenty of edits to do and things like that. But you have to finish the draft. You have to give it to other people and let them do their thing. I like that on so many levels. Isn't it funny that somewhere in our psyche, in the wiring of who we are,

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (55:26.542)
as creators have this nearly paralyzing effect that what if they don't like it? What if I do it wrong? And I often think, and this is how I get through it. Do you think the people, we'll use Tiger Woods. Do you ever think Tiger Woods said, man, I'd love to practice my swing, but what if people don't like it? What if I can't make it to the green?

What if, what if didn't stop him? My point is, why do we think we can go about our ways? Oh, we can master golf or surfing or fill in the blank, but something when it gets into the cerebral artistic realm, we, we, we throw on this cloak of, uh, what if we're not good? I mean, it is.

writing a book is a deeply, even if it's the most genre fiction, commercial fiction, I mean, it is a very personal thing. It is you on the page. And so yeah, it can be scary because it's...

When the work is being judged, it feels like you're being judged. And they're separating yourself from the work. That's it. That's such a solid way to look at it. It's about judgment. When in reality, you strike me as the kind of person, being affable and intelligent, gregarious, is that there's a little piece of you that goes, oh, you don't like it? No.

All right, whatever. And you'll just move on. It might affect you a little bit, but it's not going to bind you, shut you down. Yeah, I'm more the, my stock is Irish and Italian. So I'm more stubborn. Oh, you didn't like it. Oh, okay. Let's, you know, let's do another one. You know, it's more, it's more.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (57:41.582)
that's inspirational of like pushing me to do it again. I'm with you, Joe. I am so with you. That is exactly what happens to me. Oh, you didn't like that? Oh, hold on a second. How do you like this one? Yeah. Oh, you didn't like that? Yeah. How about this one? Yeah. You're gonna find something somewhere sometime you're gonna eventually like. Right. And by the way, we're not here to please everybody all the time. Right. Right. Who said to me recently, and you've heard this a hundred times, write the book,

that you want to read or write the book that hasn't been written yet, or better yet, write the book that you want to read that hasn't been written yet the way you would write it. Yeah. Mic drop. Yeah. No, I mean, this book was very much an exercise in that. There's not a whole lot of heist books out there. No. And I said it during COVID. That was a controversial choice. Yes.

There were all kinds, I mean, I was writing this during COVID and trying to put it out there in COVID. There were a whole lot of stumbling blocks to overcome with this book, but yeah, it was about, I loved the story, I became committed to the song. And I'll be honest with you, when I very first started on it, I was like, why is he writing about something from the past of that time? And I was like, oh. And then as I got into it, I'm like, it made me relive those moments.

of that precarious time in our society. And it made me kind of appreciate that again in a different way. It's funny you say that. I mean, that's been a thing that has come up in almost every stop on my tour for this book. Someone will ask about setting it during COVID or how that influences the story. And you've read it, there's not a ton of COVID. COVID is more in the setting and it's the backdrop and it's what allows this heist.

Yes. But yeah, I said it in the very early days of COVID when yeah, it's that uncertainty, what's going on? None of us know, right? And I think, to the extent all the books are just therapy, right? I mean, I wrote it during COVID. That's what we were all living through, right? It was the whole bunch of what's going on? Am I going to get through this? Yes. Who can I trust? All those kinds of things. And

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (01:00:05.742)
And that's Manna's experience in this heist, right? I mean, she's locked away with this crew that she doesn't know. Can she trust any of them? Will they help her escape? Will she get through it? Will her kids get through it? Can she get her kid through it? And is she a failure if she doesn't? I mean, I think those were a lot of the questions we were all facing. And you don't go into a book overtly trying to put those things in, but they can't help but pop out, right? Yeah. So.

Well, folks, once again, the book is The Lockbox. And if you want to learn more about my friend Joe here, josephreedbooks .com. I like the website, by the way. Thank you. I dig the cover. You can probably find Take Off written under his real name. And this was 1819? That's 2018. Yeah. And then there were two sequels to that, False Horizon and Departure. And we are going to see Mona come back. Lord, will the creek don't rise. Hopefully.

As I say. Well, thank you for all this time. No, thank you for the time. It's a great conversation. I really appreciate you having me. Yeah, absolutely. And I'm going to come up to Carl's bed, which is just right up the street practically. And so go ahead and plug that again. The event name and date and time? Yeah, the event is called Adventures by the Book. And it is a discussion between Christopher Reich and me.

It is two Fridays up in Carlsbad. It's a lunchtime event, so I think it's at noon. Okay. And so yeah, it should be a great event. He'll be talking about Matterhorn. I'll be talking about the Lop Box, and we'll be together, so it'll be great. I'm going to try my best, because I just think you guys are both super talented. So nice guys, too. I mean, seriously, I'm going to leave it at that. Thank you. Joe, thanks so much. No, thank you for having me, really. I really appreciate it. This is a lot of fun. Cool. All right.

Thanks again, Joe. And folks, we have a heck of a May plan for you. Covering the next three weeks, we have three of the very biggest thriller writers in the world today, starting with next week's guest, James Cox, author of Grand Theft AI. And that's followed by the enormously talented Eric Rickstead and his amazing book Lilith. And finally, we wrap the month with one of the supreme thriller writers in the entire world, Meg.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (01:02:25.358)
She'll be here to launch her latest in the unsub series, Shadowheart. So until next time, remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel, Mao enjoying 1 ,055 happy subscribers. And that's a heck of a jump over the last month. Drop us an email at thethrillerzone at gmail .com. Say hello and enter our PitchFest Friday starting this month. And as always, remember you can find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at The Thriller Zone.

And you can hear us on all podcast channels. All right. I'm Dave Temple, your host. I'll see you next time for another edition of The Thriller Zone.