J. Gregory Smith’s first novel, Final Price, won First Place in the Fiction Category in the 2010 Delaware Press Association's Communication contest, and was selected as a Quarterfinalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. First released as a self-published work, it is now under contract with AmazonEncore, a new publishing imprint from Amazon.com. Final Price was re-released in November 2010 and is now available at Amazon.com, bookstores nationwide, and in e-book formats.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Greg worked in public relations in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Delaware, where he now lives with his wife and son. In addition to ongoing marketing efforts for Final Price, Smith's young adult novel, Prince Dale and the Crystal Mountain, made the Quarter Finals in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
I asked Greg to talk with us about his experiences during the creation, editing, and publication of Final Price, among other things. He kindly agreed to the following interview.
Weldon Burge (WB): What inspired you to write Final Price?
J. Gregory Smith (JGS): Following layoffs in the PR industry, I worked for nearly a year selling cars. The dealership and coworkers were nice enough but the nature of the industry puts salesmen and customers in an adversarial position. Anyone in sales can relate to the frustration of dealing with unreasonable customers.
I got the idea for this story during a 12-hour shift on a snowy day with no customers. What if, instead of venting about a lost sale in the break room, a salesman completely flipped out? What if he tracked down his most infuriating prospects? Shamus Ryan was born. The rest of the story built around him and his actions. For setting, I found right where I worked to be perfect. Wilmington, Delaware, is a city that feels more like a small town. Everyone seems to know everyone else, but people from every walk of life come through doors of a car showroom. For the killer, annoying victims come in all shapes, sizes, colors and religions. Because of that, it took longer to establish a recognizable pattern for the cops to follow.
WB: What was your biggest challenge when writing the novel?