New Canaan author’s thriller focuses on cell phones
It lives in your pocket and is often glued to your hand, but smartphones take on a new importance in a New Canaan author’s book, “Die Next.”
Jonathan Stone’s latest thriller revolves around smartphones, or what happens when Zack, a millennial, and Joey, a hitman, accidentally swap phones at a coffee shop.
“Suddenly, you have all their information and they have all of your information. Suddenly, it’s a nightmare in real life,” Stone said.
With technological advancements and society’s increased reliance on cell phones, Stone’s characters find themselves in quite the predicament. Zach doesn’t know how to contact any of his loved ones without his phone as he doesn’t know any of their numbers or his personal login passwords for his social media accounts. Joey, on the other hand, works exclusively from his phone, which has enough photographic evidence of his criminal exploits to bury him. While technology comes across as a nefarious element in “Die Next,” Stone said, “In general, technology is a wonderful thing.” He credited technological advancements with helping him keep in contact with his children, who are scattered about the globe and noted it eases his writing and research processes. “Like anything there can be too much of a good thing,” Stone said. “Technology here gets away from the characters.”
Stone isn’t a novice when it comes to penning a thriller, in fact “Die Next” is his ninth novel and it was published on April 14. He said writing “Die Next” wasn’t too different from his previous novels.
“With all my books, I begin with a simple premise that captures my imagination. ‘Gee, what if?’ This one has the addition of the technology of the cell phones which involved knowing enough about them,” he said. Stone noted that he reached out to his children to make sure he had a proper grasp of the techier side of smartphones and the Cloud.
“This book is a little bit different because it really is only these two main characters, it’s really cat and mouse. The book never really goes into the space much beyond these two characters, what they’re thinking, what their next chess move is, so I really liked that compact nature of it,” Stone added.
When asked what Stone thinks makes for a perfect thriller, he explained that logical but big plot twists make the story all the more engaging.
“When I read a thriller, I love the unexpected twist that makes perfect sense. You don’t see it coming, but when it does you say, ‘Ah ha, I should have seen it all along.’”
He added that a good thriller has a more than one twist as the story moves along.
When working on a book, Stone said he’s not the type of writer that can sit down and crank out pages all day long. Instead he prefers to write for a few hours every day and said that it takes him about a year to churn out a rough draft for each book and an additional six months for the editing process.
While Stone has retired from his career in the advertising world a year ago, he explained that he wrote his first eight novels while riding the commuter train from New Canaan to Manhattan.
“‘Die Next’ is actually the first novel I’ve written from the comfort of my own home and not a bumpy commuter train into New York,” he said.
Stone, a Yale graduate, said he first began writing fiction when he was in high school and college. “I was walking home one day, I was on 23rd Street and Lexington Ave. and an idea for a novel just came to me, a premise that I really loved. I said, ‘Gee, let me try that’ and it wrote pretty easily and sold pretty quickly and that started me on the path of writing multiple books.” His first book, “The Cold Truth” was published in 1999 and kicked off his Julian Palmer series, which followed the cases solved by a young NYPD officer.
Stone advised aspiring authors to avoid getting bogged down during the writing process.
“The big secret or advantage for me has been not to feel cornered or stuck when a story slows down, believe in the story, push your way through the parts that aren’t really working, you can always come back to it,” he said.
For more information about Stone and his books, visit jonathanstonebooks.com.