From his office on the 36th floor of a Dallas skyscraper, James David Jordan counsels clients and prepares cases for court as a business attorney with the Texas law firm of Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C. The Dallas Business Journal has named him one of the six most influential leaders in the Dallas/Fort Worth legal community as well as one of the top fifteen business defense attorneys in Dallas/Fort Worth. He has also been chosen by his peers for inclusion in Woodward/White’s Best Lawyers in America and Key Professional Media’s Texas Super Lawyers.
But James is not just an attorney. Several years ago, he set out to write a book of lessons for an adult Sunday school class. He soon found himself embellishing the Bible stories with details that he thought could, or should, have happened. Concerned that the Lord might not view a University of Missouri journalism degree as sufficient qualification to edit His work, James decided that the more prudent approach was to weave the stories into novels that would encourage readers to explore and grow in their faith.
The first fruit of his efforts was the well-received Something That Lasts, a novel about a family’s struggle with faith in the face of adultery, scandal, and tragedy. His sophomore offering, Forsaken, released last fall, posed a challenging question: what would it take for you to renounce your faith in Christ? “I had always been intrigued by the idea that God expects us to love Him more than anything, including our families,” James muses. “And I always thought of that in the context of my own children. That’s what led to the dilemma that I made the focal point of Forsaken: what if we had to choose, literally, between God and our own children?”
Jordan’s latest release, Double Cross (October 2009), is the sequel to Forsaken. Again, Taylor Pasbury is faced with a series of difficult situations and learns an important personal and spiritual lesson about sacrifices—most can never be earned. “This is where Taylor comes to grips with the sacrifice her father made to save her from being raped when she was seventeen,” Jordan says. “Double Cross also introduces Taylor’s long lost mother, a quirky woman with a past of her own. I think readers will enjoy her.”
A minister’s son who grew up in Alton, Illinois, James attended the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, then went on to earn an MBA and law degree from the University of Illinois. James joined Munsch Hardt in 1986 after practicing with a major Chicago law firm. From 1998 through 2005, he served as Munsch Hardt’s chairman and CEO. As litigation counsel of choice for numerous major corporations, he has represented companies ranking among the nation’s leaders in the fields of telecommunications, hospitality, restaurants, computer services, software development, financial services, engineering, and manufacturing.
James is on the Board of Directors of Christian Community Action, an organization that assists needy families in the Dallas/Fort Worth community. An avid baseball fan, he lives with his wife and two teenage children in the Dallas suburbs.
Welcome to Novel Journey! Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your latest release:
Double Cross is an action-packed story that provides thrilling twists and turns as well as a thought-provoking look at the personal and spiritual struggles of characters who are as complex as they are flawed. Ultimately, it’s a story of self-examination that describes Taylor Pasbury’s journey toward the conclusion that some sacrifices can never be earned.
Double Cross is your third novel, but writing is not your full time job. You are a successful business attorney. Tell us how and why you started writing.
I’ve always enjoyed writing and always considered it a challenge to write a novel and get it published. Like most beginning writers, I was naïve and didn’t know how much I didn’t know about writing. I knew that when I did write, I wanted to write about life’s “big” issue which, at least in my mind, is faith.
How much of your inspiration for writing novels comes from your true life experiences as an attorney?
Very little really. I don’t want to write about work because it would be too much like being at work. Writing and sports are what I do to get a break from being an attorney.
Your latest book is a follow-up to Forsaken in which your main characters were presented with what seems an almost impossible dilemma. Can you share what that situation was and why you chose to address this thought-provoking topic for your book?
In Forsaken, a famous televangelist is forced to decide between his faith and his daughter’s life. It’s a dilemma that is perfect for a Christian suspense thriller. I chose it because of the Bible verse that says that if we don’t love Jesus more than our family members, we’re not worthy of him. That’s a tough rule, and I wanted to explore what it would be like to be faced with that choice.
Double Cross continues the story of Taylor Pasbury. Tell us about Taylor and what makes her tick.
Taylor was raised by her father, a former Special Forces officer, after her mother ran out when she was a child. Taylor knows how to take care of herself and did stints on a Dallas SWAT team and in the Secret Service before opening her own security agency. She’s the person you want next to you in a crisis, but she is terribly insecure on a personal level which makes her attractively vulnerable. Her father was murdered when she was seventeen, and she’s been adrift. She’s not someone anyone would describe as a religious person which makes her an interesting narrator for a novel with a Christian theme.
You have a knack for weaving deep spiritual truths into intriguing story lines. What’s the secret to making a spiritual point without creating a plot that seems too contrived?
The trick is to find a story idea in which the characters would naturally be expected to think about spiritual angles. Let’s face it. Despite what the popular press and Hollywood would like us to believe, the average person in this country does think about spiritual issues—not necessarily daily or even regularly—but not just rarely, either. Some events in life naturally focus the ordinary American’s mind on the spiritual. Even people who don’t consider themselves religious are generally willing to consider spiritual issues as long as they’re not presented as part of an evangelical bludgeoning.
This book deals a lot with abandonment. Was there anything in your own life or in the lives of others around you that made you take on this difficult subject?
Perhaps, but Double Cross is not a book about me or about anyone I know. My characters tend to be composites, with characteristics of many different people I’ve met.
In Forsaken, Taylor Pasbury deals with the pain of losing her father. In Double Cross, she is set alongside her eccentric mother. What do you hope comes across to readers through Taylor’s relationship with her mother?
In many ways Taylor’s mother is remarkably self-absorbed, but Taylor comes to understand, at least to an extent, why it is so difficult for her mother to give unconditional love. She also learns some important things about how faith and forgiveness work. Most importantly, she learns that grace can never be earned.
Taylor, like so many young adult women, has difficulty finding men that she can trust. Talk about the connection between a young woman’s relationship to her father, and how that translates to her relationship with other men. Is there a connection there that you hope will penetrate your readers?
First, I don’t pretend to have any unique insight with respect to a twenty-nine-year-old woman’s dating relationships. I didn’t even understand that when I was twenty-nine myself. But I do know that Taylor is hyper-critical of men, perhaps because she believes that none of them can measure up to her father (who made a terrible sacrifice for her when she was young). She has difficulty identifying a good man, even when he’s right in front of her. Like many young women, I think, she’s attracted to the bad boys. For Taylor, part of dealing with the many problems her background has created for her is learning that there are some good men out there if she’ll just cut them some slack.
You write about characters who are very flawed and sometimes self-destructive. Why have you chosen to present a message of faith through such messy characters?
I don’t think anyone gets much out of reading about religious super heroes. We’ve all got our faults and our problems, and Christians don’t have to be perfect people. In many ways, I almost think God likes us better when we don’t try to act so perfect and instead acknowledge our own flaws.
Is this the end of the road for Taylor Pasbury, or will we see her again?Right now, it looks as if Taylor is going to appear again in a Michael Crichton-style techno thriller. She is going to walk the border line between science and religion when she’s hired to protect an orphan boy who has a baffling ability that causes a lot of powerful world players to want to get their hands on him. I just need to find the time to write it.
Double Cross by James David Jordan B&H Publishing Group October 2009 ISBN: 978-08054-4754-5/softcover/302 pages/$14.99