Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon ~ Friday Fiction Finds

Jul 17, 2015 by

Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon ~ Friday Fiction Finds

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that grabs me by the throat, shakes me hard, and won’t let go until I’ve read the very last page. Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon is one of those books. Published earlier this year, Finding Jake is a psychological suspense story of a school shooting. It is powerful, gripping and terrifying (especially if you are a parent). Bryan Reardon is a brave and brilliant writer who deftly handles a delicate subject matter in a compelling way that keeps you flipping pages to find out what happens next. I loved this book, and Bryan Reardon is now firmly entrenched on my Must-Read-Any-Book-by-This-Author list. 5 stars for Finding Jake, one of the best books I’ve read in years.


* * * About the Book * * * 

For sixteen years, Simon Connelly’s successful wife has gone to her law office each day, while he has stayed home to raise their children. Though Simon has loved taking care of Jake and Laney, it has cost him a part of himself, and has made him an anomaly in his pretty, suburban neighborhood—the only stay-at-home dad among a tight circle of mothers. Shepherding them through childhood, the angst-ridden father has tried to do the best for the kids, even if he often second-guesses his choices. For sunny, outgoing Laney, it’s been easy. But quiet Jake has always preferred the company of his books or his sister to playdates and organized sports. Now that they are in high school, Simon should feel more relaxed, but he doesn’t. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. Then, on a warm November day, he receives a text: There has been a shooting at the high school. Racing to the rendezvous point, Simon is forced to wait with scores of other anxious fathers and tearful mothers, overwhelmed by the disturbing questions running through his head. How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are reunited with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone. Laney has gone home with her mom. Jake is the only child missing. As his worst nightmare unfolds, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for the mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought? Jake could not have done this—or could he? As rumors begin to ricochet, amplified by an invasive media, Simon must find answers. But there is only one way to understand what has happened . . . he must find Jake.


* * * About the Author * * * 

Author photo, Bryan Reardon, Kathleen Irene Paterka, Friday Fiction Finds

Author Bryan Reardon

What inspired you to write this book?

There are so many answers to this question that I can’t point to a single inspiration. So I’ll list a few:

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn – About ten years ago, a publishing deal for the third YA novel I’d written (none published at that point) disappeared right before my eyes. I was heartbroken and I decided to give up writing fiction, at least my own. I began work as a ghost writer and found some success there. I received co-writing credit on two of the book I was hired to write and I saw them on the shelf at my local bookstore. I thought that was enough for me until I read Gone Girl. The second I finished that book, I began writing Finding Jake.

JUNE 30, 2004 – the day I left my last office job and stayed home with my kids. The journey has had ups and downs but what a ride. Kind of crazy that someone actually let me be responsible for little humans, but it all turned out okay… I think.

COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen – Amazing and thought provoking book. It started my thoughts about tragedy and the multiple perspectives that often get lost in the aftermath.

INTROVERSION – I’ve made so many excuses for it over the years but, yes, I’d rather stay home and sit on my couch than go to a party. And I’m okay with that, most days.

How did you pick the title?

I never really picked a title. I wrote the book untitled. When I decide to submit the manuscript to agents, I needed one. So I took the title from one of the first stories I ever wrote – Lost Son. The publisher changed it to Finding Jake. I am truly awful at titling things.

While writing the novel, did you relate to any one character more than the others? If so, which one, and why?Finding Jake, Bryan Reardon, Kathleen Irene Paterka, Friday Fiction Finds

I related most to the main character, Simon. There are people out there that think he and I are the same. I don’t, but I get it. I stayed home with my kids. I’m introverted. And I can worry at times. I don’t think I’d have reacted the way he did throughout the book, though. So on a situational level, I related to the moments of his time with his kids.

Do you plot out a book in advance, or do you allow the story and characters to dictate how the book will play out on the pages?

I try to plot out the idea in my head but I don’t outline. I tend to write up a sentence or two after each writing session that tells me where the story will go next. Often, the plot changes as I grow to understand the characters better. In the end, I try to put them in the situation and do my best at guessing what they would do. Oddly, the stories never truly end as I intended. I think it is important for me to avoid roping the story in too tightly. I definitely need space to allow things to happen in the moment.

If you could meet any author (living or dead) for lunch and a one-on-one chat, which author would you choose and why?

I’d say JD Salinger but could you imagine. I imagine that would be a very quiet lunch. So I have to go with someone else. Maybe George RR Martin, but only if he’d tell me when book 6 will be coming out. Or maybe Ayn Rand, but no talking politics…. Wait, that would be a quiet lunch, too. If I had to pick one, though, it would be Michael Chabon. I’d love to speak to him about his process for writing Wonder Boys. I have struggled beyond my expectations in writing my next book. I think his insights would be wildly helpful.

How many books have you written? If more than one, do you have a favorite? If so, which book and why?

I’ve written a number of books. The first few were unpublished fiction. Then a few nonfiction books. Finding Jake, however, is far and away my favorite. Not just because it is mine and it got published, but because it touches me even now, after reading it so many times. I’ll never write another one just like it.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? Do you write every single day?

I am a full-time writer, but I don’t only write fiction. I’ve slowed down ghost writing but I still do a good bit of medical writing. So I do write every day, it’s just not always a book.

Who are some of your favorite authors, and do you feel they’ve influenced your work?

I listed a few already – Salinger, Chabon, Martin, Rand. I’d also add Donna Tart, Bernard Cornwell, and John Steinbeck. I guess they influenced my work. I actually think everything I read and/or watch influences my work in some way. I never find myself trying to emulate any of them. They are all amazing writers. But I write because the idea of giving to others what these authors have given me is a lofty goal.

What writing project are you working on now?

I am finishing up my next book which has taken me two years to write. This is crazy considering Finding Jake took me about three months. I’ve had to do some serious growing and learning and, in the end, convincing myself to turn off the outside noise and remember why I love to write.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to write a book?

Never stop writing new things. I am definitely learning the true value of editing, but every story I wrote in the past is a stepping stone forward. I learned what worked and what didn’t. Rejections, although painful, provided invaluable lessons. It’s all worth it if you never give up.


* * * Connect with Bryan Reardon * * * 

Buy the book:    Finding Jake



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