leo james

The thriller genre produces some of the most popular fiction in the market, encompassing many subgenres. The elements thrillers have in common are action, suspense, excitement, and maybe a touch of mystery. They are also all written by a curious species known as the thriller author. Who are these thriller authors? Where compels them to write such intense stories? Where do they get their ideas?

We are going to find out as we dive into this edition of Inside the Thriller Author with Leo James!

About Leo James

Leo began writing during his recovery from a serious fall into a storm drain whilst on business in Singapore. To this day, he has not solved the mystery of who pushed him. Stuck in hospital, Leo found it cathartic to write. It helped with his recovery, both mentally and physically. That was the start. Once back to work and travelling internationally, he would carry his iPad and write everywhere: on planes, trains, staying at hotels, at any given opportunity.

Leo worked for over 20 years in the global information technology sector. He is an expert in cryptocurrencies, blockchain and cybersecurity. In addition, Leo is a practicing therapist in clinical hypnosis and cognitive behaviour therapy. Born in the UK, he graduated from Illinois State University in the US. He has a postgraduate qualification in behavioural therapy from the University of West London in the UK.

1. A harrowing experience in Singapore is what compelled you to first write. Did you know from the start you wanted to publish a book?

During my recovery I found it cathartic to write. I’d never had aspirations of being a writer growing up, but I quickly realised that I enjoyed the writing process. It seemed to come quite naturally to me so I just carried on … and on! Who would have thought this would be the start of an eighty-four-thousand-word international crime thriller? Writing soon became my passion and publishing the book became the target to make the novel as good as it could be.

2. You worked for 20 years in global information technology. Now you are a practicing therapist in clinical hypnosis and cognitive behaviour therapy. How does that inform your writing?

Whilst my time in the IT industry, international travel and experiences, equipped me with many stories over the years, my work as a therapist has enabled me to study all aspects of human behavior. I specialize in treating people with issues around anxiety, phobias and trauma. We are all fallible human beings. One of the main things that therapy gives me is empathy – helping me to understand and get into the mind of the characters in my writing

3. Who was your first writing inspiration? What is it about his/her writing that stands out to you?

One of my early favorite authors is Lee Childs. When I started out writing I kind of knew the type of book I wanted to write; Very much influenced by Lee Childs novels, something that was fast-paced that had plenty of action, intrigue, twists and turns, but also a central character that readers would really feel for.

4. What books are you currently reading? Who are your favorite authors today?

I have always loved the stories written by Lee Childs, Dan Brown, John Grisham and Stieg Larsson. I recently enjoyed reading Paula Hawkins debut novel ‘Girl on the Train’. At the moment I’m engrossed in Harlan Coben’s latest novel ‘Run Away’.

5. Layers of Deception is an international crime thriller involving cybersecurity, the dark web and criminal gangs in the Far East. Tell us about your main characters? What was your inspiration for them?

I wanted a main character that readers would really empathise with, so while he’s a very successful businessman on one level, I think there’s also a real vulnerability to him, mentally at least. I think it’s this side of him that makes him stand out and draws the reader into his life and problems.

I wanted to bring my experiences of business deals and Internet security in the heart of banking systems, where you’d never expect everything to go very wrong very quickly. Combining this as a thriller where modern-day mafia and the dark net combine to corrupt the heart of the international banking system.

I think it would really appeal to people who understand the techie stuff, but my aim was to make it perfectly accessible for non technical people too. The Crypto and mafia influence came from Dan Brown‘s books (especially Digital Fortress). The small versus large company and individuals versus corrupt government / officialdom was influenced by the writing of John Grisham without the legal focus. And finally I have written the novel in a way that hopefully it would make a good film – like the Jason Bourne films from Robert Ludlum but without the car chases.

6. Did you plot Layers of Deception out beforehand, or did you fly by the seat of your pants? What is your writing process?

Basically I wanted to write the type of book (and movie) that I enjoy myself. As for where the actual story came from, I started writing about situations I experienced over the years and the plot emerged as I built it out. I found that when I’m in the zone and typing away the story just unfolded quite naturally.

It’s funny looking back – The times when I perceived that I was at very low ebbs were the times when the plot developed the most. I’ve been surprised, amused, horrified and amazed how the plot developed. After many years of planning, drafting, re-writing, editing and production my novel is available now. Phew!

7. What advice do you have for writers who want to begin writing in the thriller genre?

There are so many books out there that you have to make yours as good as it can be, so take the time to perfect it. Everyone has their own way of tackling writing a thriller, so it’s hard to give advice because there’s no right or wrong way to do it. A couple of things though; Firstly, be patient and don’t give up. Writing your first book can be a long and frustrating process so if you really want to be a writer than you have to stick with it and push yourself through no matter what. Secondly, do your research by reading and studying successful authors and novels in the thriller genre. You will be competing with these authors and many more, so you need to know what makes them so successful – what is their formulae for success.

Ultimately, when your book is written and you think you’ve taken it as far as you can, I’d strongly advise getting professional editing help before you publish.

8. What marketing advice do you have for writers who plan to self-publish?

I have enjoyed the self-publishing process but I was not aware that I would need to be an expert in marketing, a master of PR, have the patience of a saint, and the determination of a top athlete. AND a bucket full of luck.

A lot of effort is needed to properly market yourself and your book so that it sells. For the vast majority of new authors, you need to do a lot yourself whether it’s social media or festivals, or blogging or organising paid advertising. It’s all quite a minefield but the more time and effort you put in and in some cases money, the bigger your chance of catching a break and seeing your book rise through the charts. If you just leave it to chance, or believe someone else will do the leg-work for you, you’re giving yourself very little chance of success

Finally, you need to make sure you don’t spend all your time marketing your existing novel at the expense of developing your next release.

9. What is your ultimate goal as a writer? In what way do you want to serve your readers?

I’m absolutely passionate about many things, but in particular my writing. I absolutely love it!
I’d love to hear what people think of Layers of Deception. I’ve tried to bring as much of my experiences to the thriller. I hope to spark the reader’s emotions throughout the story.

10. What we all most want to know, what are you working on now?

I’m working on my second novel, a thriller set in Kuala Lumpur. It’s about a Malaysian family who illegally buy a Vietnamese child – a boy – the result of a turbulent relationship between a UK businessman and a Vietnamese woman living in Kuala Lumpur. The boy thrived in his new loving family unit, but his life and all those around him were about to be devastated when his real mother, who had since married a rich American businessman – wants him back.

In addition I have completed two more plots. A sequel to Layers of Deception where a child is kidnapped by Malaysian triads as a means to extort funds from a UK business based in Kuala Lumpur. The other novel is a thriller based on my fall in Singapore.

Layers of Deception by Leo James is available online as an eBook, paperback or hardcover. The paperback and hardcover versions are also available at all leading bookstores.

I’d like to thank you and if anyone wants to keep in touch, my web site is

Also catch me on Goodreads –

Leo James on Twitter –


Many thanks to Leo Jamess for sharing his insights with us.

Order Layers of Deception by using the links below. 


Amazon UK



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