Meet The Partners
By Carin Chea
Author, realtor and former surfer Jack Polo exemplifies the adage, "write what you know."
Clear-sighted and committed to delivering page-turning fiction, Mr. Polo's writing funnels his personal and professional experiences into his books.
I had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Polo who (pun intended) is indeed an open book. We talked about writing, the release of his newest book The Partners, and everything in between.
You are a real estate agent by trade. How did you become a writer?
I've always been a writer. I started out as a screenwriter, and at one point had a script optioned, so like every naive screenwriter I thought "this is it!" After that, I won a couple of contests, but it didn't lead to much.
As you know, it's so hard to get into Hollywood. I also always thought I'd like to try and longer form, so the book kind of just evolved from that. For a long time, I thought, "How did people write novels? It's such a long format." Once I started, it just seemed to flow naturally.
But, what's similar between the screenplays and books is that I like to be a verbal camera. As I write, people can see what's happening. I like writing novels because you have more control over what the elements are.
With screenplays, you can start off with an idea, like a young couple, and then end up with a young guy and his dog. I mean, that's an exaggeration, but it's true to some extent. You have to be very objective and distance yourself from the work because ultimately the producer or studio is buying your script.
With books, it's you and the editor, which I find to be a little more of a give-and-take relationship.
What drew you to writing mysteries?
I've always loved mysteries. I've always loved when a character gets involved in a situation that is not his or her making, and they have to navigate through it.
I've always liked the "what if" aspect of them.
The Partners is your newest novel. Where did you get your inspiration from?
Everybody's had their heart broken. I thought what if I suddenly had to work with a former girlfriend? What if we were detectives and I had to now trust her with my life?" That's where it came about.
Then I added other characters and the bad guys. I don't outline. Zero. I like to make things spontaneous. It's like taking a trip from Los Angeles to New York, but knowing how we'll get there. We might go through Albuquerque or we may go to Canada, but we will get to Manhattan. And if I can make it a wild and exciting ride, I've done my job.
Detectives Molly Simmons and Cole Trane are the protagonists in The Partners. Are they based on people you know in real life?
No. I always take characteristics of some people I know and idealize them or make them really bad. If there are people whom I have experiences with that weren't good, I put them in the book disguised under a different name; or sometimes their real names, just spelled slightly different.
Molly and Cole aren't necessarily based on real people, but most of the villains are. Villains are based on people I know and ramped up to the extreme. I think every writer puts a little of him or herself in their characters. There is no real life Cole or Molly out there.
I always like to put intrepid characters who become embroiled in a situation not of their choosing - like when Molly leaves Cole for another woman, it's a surprise to Molly and obviously it's a surprise for Cole. And he then has that whole masculine adjustment thing to go through.
If you were to cast The Partners, who would you cast as the leads?
As Cole, I'd probably get Bradley Cooper because he has that attitude. Or Leonardo DiCaprio. Pretty easy choices.
For Molly, I like Gal Gadot or Jessica Alba.
How about the villains?
That's kind of tough, because there are several. But, for Nikolai Voronov, the Russian oligarch, I can see Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He'd be great because he could be that brutal kind of guy, but still charmingly deadly and slick. He's patting you on the back looking for a place to put the knife.
Do you have any upcoming projects you're working on?
Yes. I'm writing an entirely new series, not a stand-alone novel. It's very different from The Partners. It's two men, not a man and a woman. It's first person, not third.
I got the idea when I sold a home to one of my clients who shall remain nameless (but you know who you are Charlie) broke a law and when I reminded him, he said, "What's the worst that can happen?" 76,000 words later, Trouble in Paraiso happened.
This series truly does combine my real estate experience and my talents as a writer. Matt Singer and Jamal Wade are two detectives who decide to sell real estate on the side. They get a $15-million-dollar listing, and they think, "Okay! We're on easy street!"
But, then the wife gets killed in the mansion, and Jamal becomes a suspect because we discover he was her secret lover.
I'm very excited about the Paraiso series. So far, it's a trilogy - two written, the third almost finished. And I've got several others in the pipeline. I think it's a long-sustaining series because it's unique.
What do you want your readers to take away from your work?
When they reach the end I want them to think it was a helluva ride and worth their time. I'd like them to think, "I like the heroes and I also like the bad guys." Like in screenplays, they say that if you don't relate to the villain, you're not going to have a movie.
Henry Ford said, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale." And that's how Nikolai Voronov feels: Everyone has a price. You just have to find out what it is.
What did you learn writing The Partners?
Bleep the naysayers. You can't outthink the negatives, there're too many. So full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes. And if we hit something, hope you brought your water wings.
To keep up to date on Mr. Polo's current and future writing endeavors, please visit: JackPolo-Writer.com.
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