The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe

Lucas Davenport, Mitch Rapp, and Jack Reacher are a few book characters I enjoy sharing time with. I recently added Thea Paris to that list.

She is one of 25 elite response consultants who travel undercover to the deadliest situations in the world to recover hostages by any means necessary. And diabetes doesn’t slow her down.

Howe’s book is a thriller that kept me up all night. I finished it in a single sitting and enjoyed every moment. I can’t wait for the next installment.

After reading The Freedom Broker, I had an opportunity to ask K.J. a few questions:

Scott – My blog is about living with diabetes and therefore draws readers touched by diabetes. We’re all too familiar with characters with diabetes portrayed in mainstream media inaccurately, but I was pleased to find this wasn’t the case with Thea. Where does your familiarity with diabetes come from (dare I assume you have a personal connection)?

K.J. – I’m very pleased to hear that you felt Thea’s diabetes was accurately portrayed. My grandfather had diabetes, and I can remember as a child him explaining why he was giving himself needles, and he showed us how he learned to inject himself using an orange. The experience made an indelible impression on me, and I yearned to write about it. I’m also a former medical writer, and I created many articles about diabetes for patient education newsletters, booklets, calendars, etc.

For me, it’s critical to get it right. Research is a real passion. I also had the incredible help of two amazing ladies: Bethanne Strasser, a mother and long distance runner with type 1 who is also an author (, and Laura Rogers, a brilliant woman with type 1 who spent a year traveling the world (, shipping medicine and supplies to herself along the way. These two spectacular ladies were beyond helpful with insights into what Thea’s life would be like.

Scott – I was also pleased to find just the right amount of diabetes peppered throughout the book. It felt like an interesting touch to an already interesting character, but not so much that it might be a turn-off. Was that balance difficult to find? How did you decide how much to include or leave out?

K.J. – Great question. I definitely edited the diabetes information, tried to weave it in with a light touch. When I originally wrote the story, I included details where they fit organically, then I came back to it later, tried to ask myself what was needed and what might be extraneous. My editor was also quite helpful with feedback on that front, coming at it from a fresh perspective. Diabetes is a huge part of Thea’s life, and she takes it very seriously, but she’s also a healthy, fit woman in her 30s who doesn’t want to let anything hold her back from her calling, which is helping hostages across the globe return home.

I have the deepest respect for how people with diabetes balance their medical condition with their hopes, dreams, and fitness/career goals, and I wanted to demonstrate that while managing her diabetes is always in the forefront of Thea’s mind, she doesn’t let it interfere with her demanding and active lifestyle. I think the key message is that people are more than their illness, and with the right commitment and drive, spectacular things are not just possible, but probable.

Scott – There were some nice seeds for the future planted, such as Rif’s discovery in Nikos’ safe and the team at Quantum pulling together at the end to openly support Thea’s diabetes. What can you tell us about Thea’s next adventure?

K.J. – Thanks for asking about those seeds, as I’m working on the final chapters of book two in the Thea Paris series, which is called SKYJACK, and it will be released in February 2018. Thea is shepherding two young African orphans to their new home in London when the plane they are on is hijacked and the action kicks off from there. The story includes secret stay-behind armies from WWII, the CIA, the Vatican…and I can promise you’ll learn a great deal about plane travel. And from a character point-of-view, Thea is still dealing with the aftermath of what happened in THE FREEDOM BROKER, coming to terms with her family issues.

K.J. also adds, “Anyone interested in reading the first chapter of THE FREEDOM BROKER can visit I’ll be sending out newsletter updates, and people are most welcome to sign up via my website as well. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity. Really appreciate your insightful questions.”

Thank you, K.J.!

I really enjoyed reading this book, and the next one sounds great, too. I’m already looking forward to it! If you might enjoy it, you can grab a copy from a bunch of different places:


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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate, and Senior Community Manager at Blue Circle Health. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent my employer’s position. Read more…

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