I met you once at a book signing a few years ago. I brought you a Yoo-hoo and was going to give it to you to prove my true “fan”-ness, when I realized that everyone else had the same idea. Can you ever go to an event without someone bringing you some chocolate milk?
Uh rarely. I wasn’t smart. I should have made Myron drink twelve-year old Scotch.
You are my “go-to” author – someone that I can always refer a friend to and I know that they will also love the book. When I refer a friend to your books, I have them start with “Tell No One”. Which book would you have a new reader start with?
I’m the worst person to ask. Today my answer is HOLD TIGHT. But yeah, TELL NO ONE is a good pick too.
Tell No One was made into a movie in France and things are in motion to make a TV series with the Myron Bolitar series. Do you currently or plan to get involved in the casting decisions? How much remains in your control and how much do you hand over?
I have almost no control. They do sometimes listen to me though.
Who do you think would be the most difficult to cast – finding the perfect Myron or the perfect Win?
Perfect Myron. He’s the lead and very difficult to cast.
There is a shift in your writing between “Darkest Fear” and “Tell No One”. To be honest, the language in the books was cleaned up a bit. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
To some degree. Some people get offended by four-letter words and I challenged myself to write a book without them. That’s how it started.
You always have interesting stories about how books come into your mind. How did “Hold Tight” come to exist?
Friends of mine confessed that they’d put spyware on their 15 year old son’s computer. At first I was aghast, but then I saw the gray line. I wondered what would happen if a message came up that not only changed their lives but reverberated throughout the community, tearing into the lives of five families. That was the start.
How different is each book that you write from the one you had in your head when you began writing?
Pretty different. That’s a good thing. Part of writing is trying to reach a stage of Nirvana you can never achieve – and thus, you want to try again.
How do you try to top yourself with each book? Do you feel pressure?
Always. The pressure is self-inflicted though: I want to get better. I want each book to be my best. When I stop wanting that – when I don’t feel that pressure anymore — I think I will be in big trouble.
How can you get any writing done while simultaneously raising four kids?
The negatives are obvious, but there are positives too. When I do get the time, I have to focus. I have to concentrate. The kids also understand that this is my job. Other fathers may travel farther to work, but this is what I do. They get that and are pretty understanding.
Is one of your books closest to you personally?
This may sound self-serving but HOLD TIGHT is probably my most personal book. The issues that Mike and Tia have to deal with are ones that my own family is beginning to face. I love the fact that HOLD TIGHT is not only a compulsive page-turner but a story that will linger and that will make you think.
When are we going to see Myron Bolitar again?
Can you keep a secret? I think he may be back next year. Shh.
What are some of the keys to writing thrillers that are so absorbing readers stay up all night to finish them?
To paraphrase Elmore Leonard’s wonderful quote on writing: “I try to cut out all the parts you’d normally skip.” On every page, every paragraph, every sentence, every word, I ask myself, “Is this compelling? Is this moving the story forward?” It doesn’t mean you can’t have descriptions or themes – I do – but even those have to draw the reader in and grip them.
What literary character do you most identify with?
Myron Bolitar. That may sound self-serving, but the truth is, most of our series lead characters are us with wish-fulfillment – at least, at the start. As the years have gone by, Myron has become less an alter ego and more a friend. He has also gone through hell and back. I don’t think I’d want to change places with him.
What books have changed your life?
Doesn’t every book, even crummy ones, do to some extent? Or is that too existential an answer?