Today we sit down for a chat with JadeAnne Stone from author Ana Manwaring’s JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures series.
What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I remember well that evening as the fog poured over the shoulder of Mt. Tam blotting out the setting sun, and my office took on the damp chill of summer in the San Francisco Bay Area. I shivered as I closed the windows and turned on the lights. It was almost eight and I still had reports to transcribe, bills to pay and the week’s payroll to compute—that is, if we had enough money to pay anyone. My job as managing partner of Waterstreet Investigations and Marine Salvage (WIMS) had become tedious, boring actually, especially since my boyfriend and business partner, Dex, was again diving a shipwreck off the coast of the Sea of Cortez, and I was stuck in the office. Maybe my folks were right—I was wasting “that expensive Stanford education” on a dead-end job and a slacker to go with it. Then someone started pounding on the [locked] entry door.
What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I don’t think about it much. I’m generally a quick thinker—intuitive, and I often recognize connections between seemingly random facts. Also, I never forget a face. I guess in the world of investigations, these are good traits to have. But secretly, I love my hair.
What do you like least about yourself?
I sometimes fall into the pits of insecurity. It’s a holdover from my upbringing. I was born during the fall of Saigon in 1974. My mother, a university student, was killed in an air strike on her village. My father was an American serviceman in jail at the time of my birth. His best friend, my adoptive father, got me out through Operation Babylift in 1975. Mom and Dad had always wanted a baby and as soon as I arrived, Mom got pregnant with my sister. It’s an old story. I was pretty well forgotten once the little princess came along. I grew up with every advantage, and the knowledge I was not wanted. It was like standing outside a picture window watching a family be happy. Wah wah wah. Falling into the “past pit” and what it does to me is what I hate about myself. If I were truthful, no one in my family was happy. I didn’t miss anything!
What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
And you don’t think driving alone four days and 2,232 miles to the resorts of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo in a tricked out VW pop-top camper with my dog and a gun, which, by the way, is totally illegal to carry into Mexico, straight through the heart of drug cartel country was pretty strange? To find a missing wife? I was so naïve, I thought I’d have a lovely holiday with my best friend, Sally, in Zihua. Anyway, the VW is easily repaired in Mexico—they’re a million of them there, and Pepper is a trained bodyguard. What could happen to me?
Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
Do Ana and I argue? Not since the shark head incident. She thought she knew how the story went until I pulled that stunt. Yeah, a bloody shark head was pretty gross, and I had to burn half my clothes (wardrobe wasn’t happy about that!) but Ana recognized it was the right plot point in the right place. She backs off if I have another idea now. But at first? I hated what she was doing. Can you believe she changed my name three quarters through the first draft? Looking back, it made sense. When I stepped onto the page, I was the sidekick from her boyfriend’s thriller. Change is hard, and I liked the name Laura. I whined and refused to cooperate until we compromised with a first person point of view. Anyway, The JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures are hardly Tomb Raider. FYI, I look just as hot as Angelina in a swimsuit.
What is your greatest fear?
This is a serious question. I fear many things. It’s one of my problems. I used to be afraid I’d never belong anywhere, that I’d never fit in and remain an outsider watching everyone else surrounded by family and friends, successful occupations and, well, having a life. Sometimes I fall into this sad way of thinking, but mostly I fear the vast quantities of tacos I consume are going to make me fat. That and retribution from Los Zetas. Senator Aguirre, Quint and I really messed up their plans to take control of trafficking in Mexico City, but you can’t shut those cartels down. It’s like the mythical Hydra—you know the one: a nine-headed monster in the form of a long, writhing water snake that attacked, killed and ate anyone who ventured near its swampy abode. When Hercules succeeded in cutting off one of its heads, two grew in its place. To triumph, each neck stump had to be immediately cauterized to prevent regrowth. In the case of the swamp of Mexico’s organized crime, I sure hope we burned that stump, because I’m praying nothing comes after Z—or me.
What makes you happy?
I was pretty happy that day Anibal took me to the Miguel Caballo store and bought me that hip suede jacket. It was rated to withstand an Uzi shot at close range, like in a restaurant or something. I didn’t exactly believe Ani at first, I mean, who shoots an Uzi in a restaurant? But when he had Pepper outfitted with a matching bulletproof vest, I was all in. I do love stylish clothes! But what really makes me happy? Sitting on the deck of my houseboat, the Sarasvati, with Dad and dear friends, amid my orchid collection on a balmy day watching the sailboats glide by on Richardson Bay. Add Pepper at my feet and Cumbias playing on iTunes, oh! and a pitcher of my own Meyer lemon and rum margaritas to go with a steaming plate of quesadillas (or tacos al pastor) and guacamole—I’m in heaven.
If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
Well, without any spoilers—you’ll read all about it in my “memoir” The Hydra Effect—I’d have not let myself be lured in by Anibal Aguirre. Like brother, like brother—isn’t that what they say? Anibal’s brother (yeah, yeah, half-brother) Senator Polo Aguirre was the one that hijacked me off the highway in Michoacán to his marijuana plantation. And there was Aguirre’s cousin—the lovely missing wife of the banker—and her charming and muy guapo younger cousin, Anibal, lounging by the pool. Anibal was ready to comfort me when Dex broke my heart. I’m such a sucker for a cute guy with a tan and a six-pack. But I digress, what happened a couple of weeks later in Mexico City changed me. I don’t care that Ani was in mourning; he acted like the devil’s hand. But that aside, I might have married Dex when he asked that time in Venice. I miss him; he was like a second skin. We were together for almost ten years and built WIMS together. We’re still partners in the business—he made it possible for me to discover my superpowers! I’ll always be grateful for that.
Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
I don’t even have to think. Señora Perez, hands down—thumbs down! She bugged me from the moment I met her. Always sneaking around listening at keyholes, or where ever. I feel kind of sorry for her. She lost her entire family in the big earthquake in Mexico City in 1985. 10,000 people were killed, including Sra. Perez’s children and sister. That’s when she got mixed up in all of this. But really, it’s been almost 20 years. Why does she stick to Senator Aguirre’s mother like a burr? She snitched to “Aunt Lidia” on everything that happened at Anibal’s house and now she’s at the new house creeping around. I can’t get rid of her. I’m certain Lidia is at the heart of the trafficking ring. I’m shivering just thinking about it.
Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
That’s easy! I’d trade places with Pepper. Dogs are the best. I plan to reincarnate as a dog with a loving human (like me) to shower me with love and groceries in my next life. Dogs have figured life out: look hungry and wag, and humans will obey their every command, fulfill their every desire. Pepper is a super dog: smart, loyal, highly trained and fun loving. I can count on him. He either knows exactly what to do, or he’s willing to accept my command without quibble. He has saved my life. I’d like to be like that—strong, sure and ego free. Just wag and be waited on.
Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Ana Manwaring is her name, and she lives next door to two goats and a Barbados sheep with her husband and a cat who looks like a feline Holstein Friesian cow. Beyond ghostwriting my adventures battling organized crime in Mexico in Set Up and The Hydra Effect? She teaches creative writing and autobiographical writing through Napa Valley College and she founded JAM Manuscript Consulting, where she wears several hats. She reviews books on her blog, Building a Better Story. Ana particularly loves to review debut novels and is always happy to hear from new authors in time to review before publication date. She’s the Treasurer for Sisters in Crime Norcal, a member of SINC Guppies and Capitol Crimes, and is stepping down from the board of the California Writers Club Napa Valley Branch to finish the third installment of my Mexico adventures. It’s about time. She says to tell you to checkout her website to learn more about us, to read Building a Better Story and to keep up with my latest adventure.
What's next for you?
I’m so excited! Book 2, The Hydra Effect has just published on Amazon and will be available on Nook and Kobo soon. Both Set Up and The Hydra Effect will launch on iTunes this summer to great fanfare, I’m sure. And we’re talking about audiobooks—I’m dying to be the reader! After all, who knows my story better than me? But I doubt we’ll get to the audio edition before Ana finishes ghostwriting book three, Nothing Comes After Z, which I have to deliver to our editor in August. Right now, I’m madly boning up on digital marketing. It’s a beast! Shouldn’t marketing be the writer’s job? Shouldn’t I be in Mexico on my next adventure?
The Hydra Effect
A JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventure, Book 2
Reeling from her break up and dreading the emptiness at home, JadeAnne Stone and her dog, Pepper, head to Mexico City at Anibal’s aluring invitation. Anibal reveals he is undercover with the DEA, and enlists JadeAnne in his alleged investigation—a terrifying maze of human trafficking, double dealing and violence. Help comes from Senator Aguirre's associate, Jackman Quint, but at the cost of everything JadeAnne believes about her own life. Can she trust Quint? She uncovers the truth, but not before facing the ultimate betrayal.