Twenty-four Days – A Thriller by J. Murray


I am delighted to be part of Jacqui Murray’s book launch of her latest exciting thriller, Twenty-Four Days.

It is only nine months since Jacqui Murray released her first book, To Hunt a Sub, which I featured hereTwenty-four Days promises to be an even more intense and thrilling read.

Some familiar characters return in this sequel novel including the ever popular albeit quirky Otto,  a sentient artificial intelligence robot. Along with its handler, Kali Delamagente and brilliant scientist, Zeke Rowe, the unlikely team becomes America’s only chance to stop a terrorist attack that threatens the nation.

First here is some information about the book itself before Jacqui kindly answers some questions that came to my mind whilst reading this and the sample first chapter.

‘World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.

At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.

In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.

But the second, Otto can’t locate.

Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi–the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.

And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.

As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war, but payback against the country that cost him so much.’

To the interview – Jacqui’s answers are in italic.

Firstly, I am interested in the research you must have undertaken for this book? It is technically, scientifically and militarily detailed. What did your research entail? Do you have a background in the Navy/submarines/AIs? Have you any personal experience of submarines?

I have been onboard a submarine, but (of course) couldn’t visit many of the parts I had to describe because they are classified. For that sort of info, I turned to working submariners. They shared what they could without crossing the security line. I also did a ton of Googling under the assumption that if I could come up with it in a Google search, it probably wasn’t classified. Any time I worried I might step over the line of revealing secret details, I stepped back, either obfuscated or deleted. This was true not only for those few sub scenes, but the many cruiser scenes.

Next, I’m interested in your writing process? What is it like writing a fiction book as opposed to your factual tech books? Did you write it whilst still editing the first one? How long did it take you to write this?

My first effort at fiction (called Born in a Treacherous Time–it will come out next year–it has been a long long process) was inspired as an effort to humanize dry facts. I wanted to present real-world events in a way people would enjoy rather than a textbook which tends toward the pedantic. So, I used fiction’s traits of developing characters, story arc, and crises-resolution. This is typical in historic fiction and creative non-fiction, but I didn’t know that when I started twenty-five years ago. I am a devotee of that approach now. 

This book is the sequel to To Hunt a Sub. When I finished that book, I sent out query letters, waited, got nibbles and waited some more. To keep myself busy, I wrote Twenty-four Days. I finished it before the query process for the first book ended. That’s frightening to think about. When I went through the same slow, tedious process (which included acquiring and losing an agent) for Twenty-four Days, I decided I’d prefer to self-publish. The material in Twenty-four Days (a partnership between North Korea and Iran, a North Korean nuclear weapon, and an attack on a US warship by North Korea) is somewhat time-sensitive and spot on for today’s geopolitical events–I didn’t want to miss that opportunity!

Following a discussion with another blogger, do you prefer to write straight on the computer or in longhand first? Do you think it makes a difference?

I have rheumatoid arthritis so I definitely must type. I’m looking to the day when I’ll replace typing with speaking. Anyone out there write their book entirely with vocal commands? I’d love to hear how that goes.

How do you find the editing process? Did you write many drafts first?

I like the editing process. I probably read through the entire book a dozen times, to be sure of flow, pacing, that sort of stuff, but in between, I edit in chunks. I find it very effective to have my editing software (I use Autocrit) identify pieces they have a problem with and then dig into it to fix it. There will be thousands of those–too many passive sentences, repeated words, or any number of other reasons. 99% of the time, after I’ve fixed these and then reread the entire draft, I am much happier with the story.

I was wondering if this book can be read as a stand-alone or best after To Hunt a Sub? Are you planning a sequel to Twenty-four Days? Are you working on any other fiction book?

It is a stand-alone though I’ve peppered in details from the prior book where needed. I am planning the sequel. I want to feature Otto (the sentient AI) more centrally and move away from warships and submarines. I’ll know more in a few months!

I’m also working on a spin-off series that revolves around the ancient female Lucy who appeared several times in To Hunt a Sub. Her story of resilience, strength, and pain is motivating. This will be historic fiction rather than thriller. The first is titled Born in a Treacherous Time and is due June, 2018.

With reference to the title – Is there any particular significance of 24 days?

The story starts with the good guys having only 24 days to save the world. Typical thriller fashion, innit? I count down the days as the reader moves through the book, to build drama and keep the action centered.

What is the hardest part of self-publishing? Are there any elements in indie publishing that were easier than you originally thought?

The hardest part of self-publishing is believing I’m worthy. When an agent knocks on your virtual door and says they want to represent you, that tells you you’re a good writer, You’re worthy of being published. It’s difficult to do it without that cheerleader, to put my work out there because I believe in it (and my husband–he always believed in me). 

The easiest part of self-publishing is the second book. Once I built a template for how to do it,  all I had to do was replicate it for the second book. That’s not to say it wasn’t frightening, time-consuming, and stressful. But I did have a model to follow that worked once before. That made a big difference. 

Finally, here are a couple of extracts from Twenty-four Days to whet your appetite:
'Obeid was stunned. His gut said Run! He risked his future—his life—staying a moment longer with this crazed zealot, but Obeid did little more than croak a strangled, “If I succeed, I will also die!” His University friends called it a Sophie’s Choice.

The Kenyan shrugged. “But less painfully.”


Across the yard, limned against the grey sky, towered the domed shape of the HMS Triumph, its deck slick with rain, sail glistening in the early morning light. The warheads it carried could reach the vast majority of the planet but the bustling sailors, some in oil-stained uniforms, others nattily dressed in white with jaunty officer caps, greeted each other, oblivious to the danger approaching them in the uniform of shipmates.

What had he done?

“Keep going,” the scar-faced Kenyan hissed between clenched teeth.

Obeid balled his fists to stop their shaking and forced his steps to be slow and measured as if in no rush to start what would be a three-month deployment.'

Jacqui, many thanks for your honest and informative answers in this interview. Tempted to read more,  Twenty-four Days is now available to purchase at  Kindle US,  Kindle UKKindle Canada,

87 thoughts on “Twenty-four Days – A Thriller by J. Murray

    1. Thank you so much, Christy! 😀 It’s been a delight to be part of Jacqui’s blog hop for her latest book and see all the varied approaches everyone is taking. I think ‘awesome suspense read’ sums it up perfectly…thrilling and tense from the very start!😀

  1. This sounds great – I love to feel like I’m learning something while reading and so I usually like books like this that include a mixture of facts and fiction. I’ve also always been interested in Lucy. Thank you for letting us know about this series!

  2. Great interview, Annika… and love that you spotlighted Jacqui´s book here…
    Interesting to learn about her writing process, eventually leading to her newest book. I like teh fact that, being a sequel, this books includes same characters than her previous one… An artificial intelligence robot, and scientist and brilliant scientist trying to stop an immnent terrorist attack!… It sems intriguing and quite kingly…. Also I enjoyed the submarine difression… I remember a movie I have once watched. A German epic war “Das Boot”, which basically takes place in a submarine, all in a warlike World context … Jacqui´s answers reminded me of that film… 😉 Thank you for sharing…. Sending love & best wishes. 😉

    1. Interesting that you should mention ‘Das Boot’ as I recall the original well – it ran as a mini-series here in the UK. I initially watched it as I was studying German but was quickly drawn into the claustrophobic world and the intense characters. It was ground-breaking at the time. I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview and it’s been a pleasure to spotlight Jacqui’s book here. Warmest wishes to you.😀

  3. Excellent interview and comments from Jacqui. Yes, I learn through wonderful Q & A’s like you offer us here, Annika. Jacqui, you honestly related how so many of us Indie publishing writers feel – a bit hesitant about our skills as writers. But sharing our work with so many supportive bloggers really takes the place of an agent in so many fabulous ways. Best of luck to you with this book – it’s on my TBR list and sounds well-researched and fascinating.

    1. Many thanks for your lovely comment, Pam. This was the first time I’ve written a Q&A post and I have learnt so much from Jacqui that this is a format I would love to replicate at some stage. It’s given so much to all the readers here and Jacqui offers brilliant advice to all potential writers. I’ve tested the Autocrit editing system and it’s amazing and I might go for it in the near future.

    2. I am blessed to have such a supportive blogging community of Indie writers. They get me through many rough times. Who would think that could happen–being virtual and all. But it’s true.

    1. Many thanks, JC! 😀 The questions effectively wrote themselves as they came easily to me whilst reading through all the material and Jacqui did a super job of answering them all! Luckily I cut some out!

    1. Many thanks, Julie and so glad you enjoyed the interview! 😀 I recall the day when the books I wanted to read could be counted in single digits! Now I have various TBR lists to try and catch up on! Thank goodness for holidays!

  4. Anonymous

    Great review Annika and it was interesting to read Jacqui’s responses to you questions and the comments about self publishing

    Normally this genre isn’t on my favourites list but after reading your post I think I’m going to give Twenty Four Days a whirl.


    1. Many thanks, Mike! 😃 It was fun compiling the questions…my initial list was much longer! Self-publishing is growing in popularity by the day it seems, even more so now a professional-style standard seems to be the norm, so it’s fascinating to learn more about other writers’ experiences. I do hope you get to read the book and one I’m sure you’d enjoy. Let us know what you think when you’ve read it! 😃

    1. David, I hope your father was returned safely from his tours on a sub. I can’t imagine what it would be like to work and live on one – I have the greatest respect for submariners. Well, with such a close family connection this might be one book that interest you…although hope your father’s time was far less suspenseful and dramatic. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. 😃

  5. Annika, I really enjoyed the questions you asked Jacqui as I learned so many new things about her as a writer and researcher.

    Jacqui, It’s great to know so many things are in the pipeline for you. You know I’m a huge fan and excited to see all you new endeavors.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the interview, Sharon! 😀 Jacqui’s answers are wonderfully informative and she shared so much of her writing and research. I learnt so much about her as well which was great! 😀

  6. Fantastic interview Annika. I’m so glad to see so many bloggers having Jacqui over with her newest book. It sounds fantastic and have it awaiting my big fat TBR lol. I’ll be having Jacqui over to my blog June 9th. 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Debby and I look forward to reading your post on the 9th! 😃 This has been a very successful blog hop for Jacqui I feel with such a great variation in styles of posts…all interesting and offering new insight to Jacqui and her book. Oh, don’t mention TBR lists…I have three very long and different lists on the go!!😃

    1. Thank you so much, Jacqui and it’s a pleasure to be part of the celebratory launch of your book!😀 I feel blessed with the friends here on WP; a heartwarming community that has come to mean so much to me. Their enthusiasm for your book and you is fantastic – I hope this gives you a real boost! 😃

  7. As usual, Annika, an interesting interview. I particularly liked your question about Jacqui’s writing process and her candid answer.
    Jacqui, good luck with your idea of featuring Otto in another setting. I think that would be awesome! 🙂

    1. It seems every author has a bit different writing process. I don’t know anyone who uses mine–which, of course, is fine and makes us-all so very interesting. Thanks, Carol, for visiting!

    2. Thank you so much, Carol. 😀 I think I have an obsession about how other writers carry out their craft, so this was question was one of the first I thought of! Oh yes, I wonder where Otto will end up…it would be fun to throw around various possible scenarios…or otherwise just be patient! 😀

  8. This sounds like another soon-to-be favorite of mine. I had a relative whose submarine sank on its seventh mission. Never returned from the bottom. Wonderful that you share these good reads with us. Enjoy the weekend. 🙂

    1. Mary Ann, I’m so sorry about your relative…that must have been heart-breaking. I hope you have a chance to read this and look forward to hearing your thoughts. Wishing you a lovely weekend, too. We also have a ‘long’ weekend with Monday free! 😀

      1. Thank you. What is Monday in the UK? What kind of holiday? I intend to read a couple books written about the submarine which did several dangerous missions off the coast of Japan. I never met this relative though. I will put your book on the list of ones to read. Enjoy the next couple days reading and writing. ^__^

        1. Mary Ann, this is a Bank Holiday Monday which is a public (national) holiday which is part of four during the year when most business & schools close. If it’s sunny many often head to the coast (where the beaches are packed!) – we decided to go to a beautiful garden place nearby. A blissful day and I’ll post about that soon…I hope you find the books about the submarine.

    2. That is awful for your friend. I can only imagine how frightening that sort of death would be. I’ll give this one away: My submariners are saved and I share how that happens.

      1. Thanks for the caring comment. It must be a devastating way to die, trapped at the bottom of the ocean in a submarine. Is your book available in a paperback form as well? I only saw Kindle on Amazon. If I can borrow my husband’s Kindle, I look forward to the read. I appreciate your comment. ^__^

    1. Thank you so much, Andrea! 😀 You’re right, Jacqui has been on a blog hop promoting her latest book but with each blog taking a different approach. Whilst preparing the post I went into full journalistic mode and couldn’t help but write down questions as they came to me! So glad you enjoyed learning more about her writing – I did too and loved all her answers!

  9. Annika, I really do like the journalistic take on this interview with Jacqui. It gives details
    of the whole process and of the author herself. Fascinating such.
    E.g. Editing….at times re-reading 12 times, writing in long hand or on computer; we find that Jacqui suffers rheumatoid arthritis. many more details.

    The excerpts from the book and description does make it sound very dramatic indeed.
    I shiver already.

    1. Miriam, I have a feeling the whole book will be full of suspense and tension – best be prepared!! 😃 Thank you for your lovely comment. Being an ex-journalist the question route came naturally to me and there were so many elements I wanted to learn more about. Arggg…the editing / rereading answer daunts me as I’m working on my third edit!! I think by read-through 12 I might trash it all!! I’m honoured that Jacqui was so open with her answers and shared so much of experience with us all here – it will be a help to many, I’m sure.

  10. I so enjoyed the interview here, Annika and Jacqui. I am still blown away by the excellent research and how real that makes the submarine and cruiser scenes. I can tell the lengths you went to make the action authentic. I’m glad you didn’t wait (forever) for an agent. The process is broken, I think, and self-publishing is the fix. Wishing you great luck with this book and your projects ahead!

    1. Between you both, you could set up a help group for indie writers!😀 The road to self-publishing is daunting to all prospective writers thinking of heading that way – interviews like this one makes it all seem a bit more possible! I always enjoy reading about writers and the journey of their writing and publishing so it was a delight to put my questions direct to Jacqui. Many thanks for your thoughts, Diana!

    2. I had help with the warships, thanks to my wonderful Navy daughter. She got me places (all non-classified) that I wouldn’t have even had the courage to ask for a visit. I love my children.

    1. Jo, you’re right – Jill has featured this as well as Jacqui has been promoting her book recently. Everyone has taken a different angle though so hopefully all unique. So glad you found the interview interesting! 😀

  11. This seems to be an interesting book Annika. it must have invoked a lot of research and hard work to make it technically sound. I like thrillers. My best wishes to Jacqui for its grand success.
    I am happy to note that you have such a kind heart for your friends and authors, I appreciate your gesture of book promotion. Thanks for the review as it inspires the readers to pick up the book with any doubts. Stay blessed!

    1. Balroop, many thanks for your warm kind words – they’ve brought a huge smile to my face! 😀❤️ The friendships here on WP are such positive force and they’ve become a huge part of my life…I’m only too happy to help here – also it gave a wonderful opportunity to put questions direct to Jacqui!!😀

  12. hilarymb

    Hi Annika and Jacqui – you’ve certainly done your homework here … re the technicalities … and so difficult to find things out if the subject is classified. I’m sure Jacqui’s books will make great reads which I will get to sometime … cheers Hilary

    1. Hilary, many thanks for your lovely comment! 😀 In such a technical book as this one, I think everyone wants to learn more about the research involved! Jacqui’s answers to this are terrific and I love that she’s also been on a submarine.

  13. Interesting to learn more about Jacqui’s process. I haven’t heard of Autocrit. I’ll have to check it out. I don’t currently use any editing software, but it looks like it would be helpful.

    1. Carrie, this is one software I am definitely going to look at. Over the years, I’ve picked up so much excellent advice from Jacqui on her blog and as a result using various software, storage, saving processes which have aided my writing and blogging experience. Do let me know how you get on with Autocrit!

      1. It takes me at least a few weeks to go through all of Autocrit’s suggestions. I force myself not to rush, even as it goes slowly. I’m in the middle of this exercise right now, with my upcoming book.

  14. Hi Annika, thanks for sharing this review and introducing us to Jacqui Murray! I enjoyed reading your interview, especially Jacqui’s responses about self-publishing. Even though the book I helped published was my father’s, I related to much of what a self-publisher goes through. Twenty-four Days sounds like an exciting and suspenseful read! Good luck to Jacqui with all her writing ventures!

    1. Many thanks for your lovely comment, Barbara! 😀 As so many of my friends here on WP are writers and potential or actual self-published, these questions were ones that I couldn’t help but ask. I’m in awe of anyone who manages to self-publish and it’s always positive and helpful to hear from the writers’ themselves about their experience. I hope it is going well with your father’s book. ❤️

      1. Thanks Annika! As with all self-published writers, marketing is the most important but hard to do because of time constraints and inexperience. I’m hoping my schedule will let me do more promotion in the summer!

    1. Jill, it’s been a delight to help Jacqui!😀 I agree this is a book that will sell itself, so timely, fast-paced and full of suspense! Wishing you a lovely weekend too, Jill – all safe and sound here and very happy I wasn’t flying anywhere yesterday.

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