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Meet author J. W. Zarek

In J. W. Zarek’s new epic fantasy adventure, The Devil Pulls the Strings, small town musician Boone Daniels’s panic attacks and wendigo stalking him are a daily dilemma.

But his friend’s gig he fills in for, thrusts him into a centuries old war between two secret societies, a cursed Romani immortal, Steampunk vampires, and Baba Yaga, over a sinister scheme to play a rare Paganini piece to summon the Devil.

Can this haunted musician outplay the supernatural, in a race through time to capture the cursed melody and save the soul of modern-day New York City?

Author J. W. Zarek is best known for award-winning book: Naughty or Nice - Whose List Are You On?” and bestselling The Happiness Code, co-authored with Ray Brehm and others.

In his other life, J. W. helps catch naughty folk for the Government, and now he’s turned his world-class talents to writing fiction and graphic novels. Continue reading for an exclusive interview.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey to writing your new book "The Devil Pulls The Strings?"

Thanks for asking. I'm a disabled veteran who served in two wars, and successfully ran in the Walt Disney World Marathon - as a woman. I’ve climbed to the top of Mount Fuji, and been kicked off Mount Rainier. I hunted pirates in the Persian Gulf, sailed through the Suez Canal twice, taught English Conversation in Japan, and can analyze anyone's handwriting. I'm on a personal mission to save the world through cheesecake, one-slice-at-a-time.

What is the significance of the title?

The Devil Pulls the Strings is about a small-town Missouri musician who uncovers a plot to use Paganini's music to summon the Devil and destroy New York City.

For those who don't know, Paganini was a famous Italian violinist, the world's first rockstar violinist, and rumors his mother gave the devil Paganini's soul to make him the world's greatest violinist.

And this story explores the premise - what if the rumor was true?

What was your impetus for writing the book?

I wrote this book to honor the hero’s journey, infuse Slavic myths, and show the world the many faces of Baba Yaga. Because, I grew up reading and listening to epic fantasy adventures, fairy tales, Slavic myths, and stories about Baba Yaga, and this is my opportunity to share what I grew up and experienced with the world.

Who do you think your book will appeal to the most?

This book shall appeal to folks who love when time travel, twisted history, and secret societies collide, who want to see and experience a fast moving, wild ride of a story unfold through the protagonist's point of view.

What is the main message you want readers to take away from your book?

In today's day and age, it's important to know that as bad as things can get - your hope, belief, and faith shall get through the darkest of circumstances.

The protagonist Boone deals with daily panic attacks and an evil spirit, a Wendigo stalks him since he was six, and now he almost kills his best friend, Flynn, during a Ren Faire joust on Sunday.

Boone promises Flynn in the hospital, he'll fill in for him at his Saturday gig in New York City. But Boone's never been outside Wentzville. Never been outside Missouri. Never been anywhere before. And he doesn't know if the Wendigo shall follow him or not.

But when he arrives in New York City and steps out of the taxi, he walks into a beautiful French girl holding a violin case. Then his contact's body smashes into the pavement next to them.

Then three men appear, open fire, bullets fly, and Boone and the girl escape, and Boone uncovers a centuries old feud between secret societies, steampunk vampires and Baba Yaga, and a sinister plot to use Paganini's music to summon the devil on Saturday and destroy New York City.

And Boone finds himself thrust on a wild ride through time to hunt down Paganini's music before it falls into the wrong hands, and modern-day New York City is destroyed.

Can this haunted musician outplay the supernatural to save the soul of NYC?

What surprised you the most about writing the book?

It's possible to write a book while working 14-16+ hour days, the draft is the easiest part to write, and its during the revision process, where the real work and writing happen.

How many other books have you written?

The Devil Pulls the Strings is my third book.

I wrote the award-winning book, Naughty or Nice - Whose List Are You On? as a handout during lectures.

This book came about when I worked at the FBI, after I wrote a well-received thesis on red flag behaviors found in relationships, and I was invited to present a paper at the First Annual Forensics congress in China.

My second book, The Happiness Code, a best seller, I co-authored with Ray Brehm, and other authors, where everyone shares and shows you their own personal happiness hacks you can use too.

And The Devil Pulls the Strings, scheduled to launch on September 15, 2021, has received the Literary Titan Award, a 5-Star Book Review from Chanticleer, a 5-Star Review from Book Viral, and solid reviews from Kirkus, Clarion, and Online Book Club too.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

I'm working with Pro Audio Voices to produce the audiobook version of The Devil Pulls the Strings, narrated by the uber-talented Curt Bonnem, and music recorded by World-Class violinist, Oleg Bezuglov, who created snippets of Paganini's music heard on the audiobook, including Paganini's Secret Sonata, Diabolus in Musica.

I'm working with Power Publishers & Motion Pictures to produce the graphic novel version of The Devil Pulls the Strings.

For more information on J.W. Zarek, please visit


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