Hoboken Author Jason Pinter Debuts The Hide Away + Shares His Local Favorites

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Writing is, to put it lightly, not easy. It seems simple enough to put words down on a page, but when you have to weave those words together to create something beautiful, intriguing, or something that can create a major impact, that can be tough. For Jason Pinter, however, all of that is simply part of his daily routine. What’s even more exciting, however, is that Jason’s newest book, Hide Away, is being launched at Hoboken’s very own Little City Books on March 4th {way to keep it local, Jason!}. We got the chance to sit down with this local author + publisher {he’s the man behind Polis Books} to learn more about his current projects, find what inspired him to write his books, discover some of his top writing tips, and more. 

jason pinter

Tell us about yourself. 

I work as both an author and a publisher. I’m the Founder of Polis Books, an independent publishing company with our office in Hoboken. And I’m also the best-selling author of seven novels and two children’s books. I love being a part of the Hoboken literary, bookish community!

What inspired you to start Polis Books?

I had worked in publishing since graduating college, at three of the big five and one of the bigger independent presses and, for lack of a better term, I wasn’t a big fan of paying dues. I wanted to run the show, to be able to publish what I wanted to publish, design them and market them how I saw fit. But I had spent over a decade in the trenches so I wasn’t going in blind. I felt I had a good sense of the market, for cover design, and hopefully taste. Then it was a matter of just pulling the trigger. When I started Polis, I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, and didn’t want to wake up and suddenly find myself 50 years old and wish I’d done it.

How did you get into writing?

It really came from a love of reading. I was that kid growing up under the cover reading with a flashlight when my parents thought I was asleep. And the more I read, the more I fell in love with storytelling. I started writing short stories of my own — but at first, they were all just pale copies of whatever I was reading at the time. It took a while for me to find my voice and to think of stories that I wanted to tell.

What was the inspiration behind your first book, The Mark?

I started writing The Mark when I was young — maybe 24 or 25 — and my main character, Henry Parker, was around that age. Henry was a bit like me — young, ambitious, an idealist, maybe a little naïve, and wanted to do the right thing even if he didn’t really know how all the time. And I knew I wanted to write a thriller since I loved reading them. But most of the thrillers I read tended to be similar in that anyone under the age of 30 was either a drug dealer, killer, transient, or thug. Nobody was writing about my generation with any respect. So, I wanted to write a book with a compelling plot, featuring a character who was young with a good heart, who got himself into heaps of trouble and then had to rely on his instincts, perseverance, and maybe a little luck to get out alive.

What is The Mark about?

It’s about a young journalist named Henry Parker who moved to New York City from across the country to take a job at a prestigious newspaper {hey, the book came out 10 years ago when newspapers were still a thing}. He dreams of being the next Bob Woodward, but instead is assigned to write obituaries. But when he’s finally given his first real reporting assignment, he goes to interview a subject but finds a man being beaten and his wife chained to the radiator. Henry intervenes, someone winds up dead, and all of a sudden Henry finds himself accused of murder and on the run from both the cops and a hired killer. It’s The Fugitive for a new generation.

What are your tips for getting started on writing a book?

For fiction, you have to start with character and plot. Your main character—and prominent secondary characters — need to be well developed. Who are they? What are their hopes and dreams? What motivates them? You need to be able to describe them without mentioning what they look like or their vocation.

Then you need a story. What is the central conflict? What causes these characters to go outside of their comfort zone? Is this a story deserving of 300 pages?

Then you have to read. Read, read, read, read, read. If you can’t make the time to read, you won’t have the tools to write. For non-fiction, you need a proposal, which is generally an outline, three full chapters, and a synopsis. And you need to answer one important question: why are you the person to write this book?

Where to you get your book inspiration from?

For Hide Away, it was the birth of our oldest daughter a little over two and a half years ago. I became obsessed with writing about a character who was smart, strong, and could handle herself — but was also a single mother. That’s where Rachel Marin, the protagonist of Hide Away, came from. How would she balance an incredible acumen for investigating crimes with also protecting her family, who were victims of a horrific trauma? I thought that was a conflict right there, both internal and external, that would be fascinating to write.

jason pinter hide away

Tell us about Hide Away — what is it about? 

Rachel Marin is a seemingly normal single mother living in the small town of Ashby, IL with her two young children. But Rachel has a secret: seven years ago, a horrific crime tore her family apart, and she moved with her children to start a new life. Since then, Rachel has honed both her mind and body to protect herself and her children from a world that has let them down. She has every intention of staying under the radar—but when a woman is found dead by presumed suicide, Rachel knows it was murder. She becomes obsessed with bringing the killer to justice, but in doing so might expose the shocking truth about her own past, and put her in the crosshairs of a killer.

How many books have you written to date?

I’ve written seven books for adults — five in my Henry Parker series, the standalone The Castle, and Hide Away. The second book in the Rachel Marin series, A Stranger at the Door, will be out next year. I’ve also written two books for children, including the picture book Miracle, which was inspired by our struggles with infertility, and how we felt like we went to the ends of the earth to find our miracle baby.

Do you draw any writing inspiration from living in Hoboken?

Oh, without a doubt. I wanted Ashby, which is a fictional town, to have a very “neighborhood-type” feel. The kind of place where you know the people you see on the street, everyone is, for the most part, friendly and there isn’t much crime. But sometimes there can be darkness behind those veneers — Hoboken has it too! The famous plot to murder John Gotti was hatched at Casella’s restaurant at 1st and Jackson. I loved the idea of writing about the kind of small town everyone would want to live in — but that maybe, like Rachel Marin, also holds a few secrets of its own.

jason pinter author

Who is your biggest source of inspiration?

Right now, it’s my daughters. We have a 32-month old and a 15-month old, and every day with them is a revelation. Working to provide for them and, hopefully, to make them proud one day, is enough to get me going every morning. And there are some early mornings.

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What are your goals for this year? 

I just finished edits for the second book in this series, A Stranger at the Door, which will be out in early 2021, so I’d love to write another book, whether in this series or a standalone.

What’s a typical day look like for you? 

I’m up with our youngest daughter any time between 4:45AM and 5:30AM. My wife and I then spend the morning simultaneously getting ready for work while also feeding and taking care of the girls. I’m at the office by 8:30AM, a little later if I’m dropping our older daughter at school. There I work on Polis Books titles and whatever book of my own is on the docket. I try to be home every night by 6:00PM to spend some time with the kids before they go to bed. Then once they’re in bed, we clean the apartment and prep for the next day. If there’s any time left before we pass out, I’ll do some work, read for pleasure, or watch something. I’m currently reading Long Bright River by Liz Moore, and we just finished watching The Stranger on Netflix, which is based on the novel by Harlan Coben, who is one of my all-time favorite writers.

jason pinter hoboken

What has been the highlight in your career so far?

My first book deal, for my debut novel The Mark. There was no feeling quite like getting a call from my agent to say a publisher—a real publisher—wanted to publish my book. It was absolutely surreal. There are others for sure: all subsequent book deals, the time The Mark got optioned for film, and when books I’ve published at Polis were nominated for major awards. But that first deal is something I’ll never forget.

Tell us about another business in the area you admire.

I love love love Little City Books. They opened about four or five months after my wife and I moved to Hoboken. Spending time in local bookstores is one of my favorite pastimes, so it’s such a joy to have watched the store open up, expand, and become a central part of this community. It’s a privilege to be launching Hide Away with them on the night of March 4th.

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Hoboken + Jersey City Favorites

What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?

Amanda’s is our go-to date spot when we have a night to be grownups. We die for the chicken noodle soup from La Isla. And when we’re in the mood for pizza, we have Napoli’s bookmarked!

What do you love most about Hoboken?

The sense of community. I’m a native New Yorker who was hesitant about moving to Hoboken, but I fell in love with it almost immediately. I love running along Sinatra Drive — it helped me train for two half marathons — and taking our girls to the park in the summer is just perfect.

How long have you lived in Hoboken?

We’ve lived here for just over five years. My wife actually lived in Hoboken when we started dating, then moved in with me in Manhattan when we got engaged. When my lease was coming up, she said, “Let’s look in Hoboken. Trust me.” We submitted an application on the first day we looked here.

What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken?

We live uptown, so the promenade and Maxwell Place Park are where we spend most of our time.

What is your favorite place to work out in Hudson County? 

I love to run outdoors, so when it’s warm you’ll see me running along Sinatra Drive and, depending on what kind of shape I’m in at the moment {since [having] two little kids don’t leave much time to work out}, down to Jersey City or up to Weehawken.

Where do you go out with friends in the area? 

When we go out with friends it’s usually other families with kids, so we’ll go to Hudson Tavern, The Madison, or La Isla, which have good food and are also very family-friendly.

What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken?

More pizza {kidding}. I’d love one more great cozy date spot. And someplace uptown that opens early.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

We love living in Hoboken and are proud to be raising our daughters here. And it’s been such a pleasure to see the Hoboken/North Jersey literary community expand with the opening of both Little City Books locations. There are a lot of readers here in our little city.

Keep up with Jason on his website www.JasonPinter.com, via Twitter + Instagram @JasonPinter, or via Facebook @JasonPinter.

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Arielle is a born-and-bred Jersey girl and like a true NJ native, half her diet consists of bagels and the other half pizza. As a graduate of both American University and City, University of London, she’s been a passionate writer ever since she wrote her first “book” in the first grade. When she’s not furiously typing away at her keyboard, she spends her time ticking places off of her “to travel to” list, trying any and all new foods, and trying to stop herself from spending too much money at Zara.


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