The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

Showing posts with label Lee Child. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lee Child. Show all posts

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Difficulty of Writing Perspective with New York Times Bestselling Author Diane Capri

ThrillWriting welcomes the amazing Diane Capri.

Diane had long been active in Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and other writing organizations. After her publisher’s bankruptcy, while she was writing the new Jess Kimball novel, Fatal Distraction, she was invited to join International Thriller Writers at its inception and shortly thereafter, became a member of the board along with her friend, the #1 International Bestselling author, Lee Child.

At a cocktail party in New York in 2009, Lee and Diane discussed a great question: Where is Jack Reacher? The answer was unknown, which inspired Diane to write a series of suspense novels answering the inquiry with Lee’s blessing. The first of those novels is Don’t Know Jack, introducing FBI Special Agents Kim Otto and Carlos Gaspar, now available to buy or download a sample here: Don’t Know Jack. The short story singles, Jack in a Box, and Jack and Kill quickly followed, allow readers to learn even more about Otto and Gaspar. The second novel in the series opened to rave reader reviews on September 15, 2013, and is now available to buy or download a sample here: Get Back Jack.

Fiona -
Diane, I've just finished reading Girl with the Pearl Earring which was the story of the woman in a famous Vermeer painting of the same name. We know that no two people can see the same event the same way. Having studied the artist, it was interesting for me to read the fictitious accounting of the model's experience.

Psychology understands that each person presents with a different goal, different perspective, different need. The Rashomon Effect tells us that two people often have contradictory interpretations of the same event. I think your series does a marvelous way of exhibiting this effect.

Can you tell us about your series and how you applied the Rashomon Effect in developing the story line?

Diane - 

My Hunt for Jack Reacher Series is all about two FBI agents, Kim Otto and Carlos Gaspar, who have been assigned to complete a background check on Jack Reacher for a highly classified assignment not disclosed to them. 

Otto and Gaspar learn about Reacher a little at a time from people who knew him in the past. Some of those people are on Reacher's side, so they refuse to disclose information because they don't want to get Reacher in trouble with the FBI. Some are not on Reacher's side, so they have an ax to grind as well, which makes anything they do say unreliable. And many are simply suspicious and threatened by Otto and Gaspar the moment they walk in the room. 

All of this presents significant challenges to Otto and Gaspar, and to writing their stories. Of course, they Don't Know Jack. (Fiona: Book #1 is titled "Don't Know Jack") They've never read one of Lee Child's books. And they have no frame of reference for this guy. Beyond that, they're operating off the books, meaning that they're on an assignment that's not authorized as "under cover," and they have no team backing them up. They're on their own. 

And if those handicaps weren't already enough, all of Reacher's files have been removed. There is nothing in any database anywhere referencing Reacher since he left the army fifteen years ago. Of course, this could only be accomplished by someone with a lot of power working against them. So right off the bat, Otto and Gaspar are in trouble. 

Someone big is looking for Reacher, and they don't know who is looking or why. On top of that, Reacher's army records reveal that he had, let's call it a difficult career. At the end of his career, he was given the opportunity to retire instead of facing charges. Otto and Gaspar are FBI agents, which essentially means they are cops. And they're good. Which means they are suspicious by nature. 

As a result of this unusual and dangerous assignment, and because of their basic natures, Otto and Gaspar are worried about Reacher right out of the gate. And what they learn about him doesn't increase their comfort level. Quite the opposite. Readers of Lee Child's novels know that Reacher is a guy with little or no conscience about doing what he thinks is the right thing. In the original books, Reacher often works with law enforcement to handle the bad guys in ways that are far from legal. Those law enforcement officers don't want the details of those earlier operations to come out now to ruin their careers or, in some cases, send them to prison. 

The challenge for Otto and Gaspar, then, is that everyone they meet knows way more about Reacher than they do. And everyone who knows Reacher is suspicious of them. No one who has worked with Reacher before wants Otto and Gaspar to succeed. So what we have as readers, if we've been reading Lee Child's Reacher novels, is a lot more knowledge than Otto and Gaspar have or will have. The picture of Reacher that unfolds for them is like a giant puzzle that they must put together, one piece at a time -- when the pieces often don't seem to fit. 

FIona - 
How fascinating all of that is. And what a wonderful way for readers to understand what's going on for investigators in the real world. 

I can imagine as a writer that this gets very confusing. Can you talk about your approach? How do you map out a plot line who knows what when and how? It must be daunting to keep strait.

Diane - 

The Hunt for Jack Reacher novels are very difficult to write, Fiona. I'm not only trying to do all of the things I mentioned, but I need to do it without spoiling the original Lee Child novel for those readers who haven't read those books yet. 

I'm not writing sequels to the original books. I'm writing spin offs from them. The first novel in this series took me two years to write. I used Killing Floor as the source book and asked Lee a ton of questions along the way. Whew! 

The second novel took eighteen months, and the third took more than a year. Now, I can write the books in about eight months, because I know Otto and Gaspar much better and I understand where the series is going. My process always begins with reading the source book several times. For Jack the Reaper, which is the fifth novel in the series releasing on September 26, the source book is The Hard Way

When I'm analyzing the source book, I'm looking for ways to spin off an Otto and Gaspar story that will suit all of my goals for the series and for each individual thriller. Of course, I want to create an exciting great read every time. So those are the big issues at this stage. For Jack the Reaper, I'm using two characters and a landmark. A private detective and Reacher's love interest from The Hard Way, Lauren Pauling. A character identified only as Brewer originally. and The Dakota, one of the most famous apartment buildings in New York City. After I find the characters, I work on the plot. I start with a skeletal outline and fill in as I go along. I also research a lot and I do that both before and during the writing. My brain enjoys complicated plotting, so that's an inherent bonus! 

Thank you.

A traditional question at ThrillWriting is: Please tell us the story behind your favorite scar or harrowing story. Would you indulge us?

Diane - 
I've done a lot of crazy things in my life, and I usually don't know they're harrowing until they're over. One of the best examples is the time I was driving from the softball field to the bar to join my team mates. This was in Detroit, years ago before cell phones, and not in a great neighborhood. A woman ran out in front of my car, waiving her arms, acting terrified. I stopped the car to avoid hitting her and she ran over and jumped inside. She was hysterical, crying, almost incoherent. She said, "I need to find a phone! I just shot my husband!" 

Fiona - 
Holy moly, that is harrowing! 

Thank you so much, Diane, for sharing about your writing. And thank you, ThrillReaders and ThrillWriters for joining us. I hope you enjoy Diane's novels when you snag your copies.

You can stay in touch with Diane Capri through her website.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Scotch on the Rocks in Abu Dhabi - Interview with Thriller Writer Seumas Gallacher


Fiona - Hi Seumas! Here in D.C. I am just sitting down to my
            lunch. Dark figs and chocolate... but I think you're
            probably having cocktail hour. How did a Scotsman
            like you end up in Abu Dhabi?

Seumas - Via London, the Far East, and now Abu Dhabi... 
             I've been a banker/corporate troubleshooter for the
             last 25 years, and it's taken me into some scary
             places, boardrooms included... there's some loopy
             creatures in some of these...

Fiona - Before I go any further, let me tell everyone that your
            name is pronounced Shay-maahss. This is very unlike
            the "See- high-pitched whistling sound- muh-sss" that
            I was tutored to say by a mutual friend (who is now in
            the dog-house for having me on).

Seumas - ... leave young Dolan out of this ... Interpol'll take
               care of him.

Fiona -  No doubt. (Look for trickster/author John Dolan in
             an upcoming interview.) "Having me on," by the
             way, is NOT something most Americans would say. It sounds mildly lewd. Are there Scottish
             phrases that have gotten you in trouble?

Seumas - When I was in my late teens and early twenties MOST of the things I said got me into some kinda
               trouble... too smart and quick on the lip, thankfully that'as toned down considerably...

Fiona -    Hard to believe.

Seumas - ... I lead a quiet sedentary existence, waiting for the next big thing to come along...

Fiona - Okay, while I have this opportunity I want to clear up
            a question I (and many of my American
            friends) have ... When I was in Scotland, I asked a
            man, "What is worn under your kilt?" (There I was
            being young and letting anything pop right out of my
            mouth) And his response? "Why nothing, lass,
            everything is in perfect working condition." Blushing,
            I went away - no better informed than before. So can
            you please tell?

Seumas - Another blush-producing answer is 'lipstick', but we
            won't go there ... if there was anything worn under the kilt,
            then it would be a skirt, not a kilt...

                                                       Fiona - Okay then!

Seumas in His Kilt - Stop it, ladies. He's married.

Fiona - You just came out with a blog book - can you tell us what it's about?

Seumas - It's the second collection of my blog posts... I do a post
               almost daily now... It's intended to be my 'brand' as
               distinct from the author 'voice' in the novels... I do it with a
               tongue-in-cheek poking of fun mostly at myself as the old
               Jurassic coming up against the absurdities of the
               SOSYAL NETWURKIN universe.
               (It's on )... many recognized
               authors follow me now, and tell me they've been having
               the same experiences all their writing lives... it gets my
               name 'out there' on the whole building the platform thing...

Fiona - Yes, your blog is pretty darned funny. I enjoy reading your
            posts. But it's a little bipolar as a writing style. I read
            Vengeance Wears Black - and there's not much funny there
           - it's cloak and dagger-y stuff.

Seumas - Quite so.. it's a great offset for me in my writing, that
             I can loosen up from the novel writing... I find
             the blogs so easy to write... just think of a topic, relate
             it to writing if ye can, and off it goes... the
             novels are intended to have a wee bit of an edge...

Fiona - So here at ThrillWriting, we aim to help writers write it
            right - and that often means pointing out what authors
            might be getting wrong. Can you tell me, from a
            readers point of view, what annoys you?

Seumas - I seldom get 'upset' about other people's writing, but
             I think an area that may lend itself to 'not doing stuff 
             like that, please' is where an author leaves the end of
             the book REALLY cliff hanging...expecting the reader
             to go out and buy the follow on... for example not so
             long ago, even Lee Child did it with one of his Jack
             Reacher stories, where Jack was hanging on by his
             elbows at the top of a 200ft tunnel drop after an
             explosion... that's TOO much... it's ok if some ends
             are left untied, but the reader knows that something else will obviously follow, but , they can wait
             until the next book appears... also where an author has not done even basic homework or research
             on things like the geography the book moves around in... even if it's fiction, places like London,
             New York etc, have some unmovable features...

Fiona - Since this is a peeve, what research do you do for your books
            to make them accurate?

Seumas - Great question!... with the access to Google and the Web
               and all its wonderful aspects, it's easier to find and verify
               things.. for example... the Gurkha kukri knife on the cover of
               VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK (LINK) is precisely as it
               looks in reality... in 
              THE VIOLIN MAN'S LEGACY (LINK), I researched the
              Atacama desert region and the geography into Bolivia..all
              from the Web... one South American reader from Chile
              asked me when was the last time I visited his country as I had
              pitched it perfectly... I've NEVER been there except on old
              Uncle Internet... so yes, research is VITAL, one detail out of
              kilter can ruin the book for a reader who knows otherwise...

Fiona - I'm working on a book that takes place half the time in London - and I was able to "Walk" around the streets using Google Maps - it's quite fun! (and a little nauseating - when it goes too fast).

Seumas - Excellent ...

Fiona - So Seumas, let's get personal, tell me about your favorite scar.

Seumas - ...boringly, I bear scars on my legs from some pretty savage football (soccer) boot stud tackles in
               my youth... I played semi-professionally for a while. It was a tough guy's game back then... now
               it's populated with ballet dancers.

             ...and the mental scar at having been passed over to double for Brad Pitt in his movies will haunt me

Fiona - Poor thing.

Seumas - ... indeed.

Fiona - Hahaha! - so tell me more about your newest novel.

Seumas - Same set of characters... different circumstances to handle... no spoilers allowed... but it's a grittier
             read than the first two... developing the characters a lot more as the books progress, which I like to
             see... still learning the trade, y'see...

Fiona -  Book three is called, SAVAGE PAYBACK. When does it come out?

Seumas - I try not to impose needless timetables on myself, and it has been a bit of a moving feast... I'm
              back into it now, and hope to get it on to Kindle probably before the end of September, maybe
              October, or maybe next July, or maybe...

Fiona - You've had almost 68,000 people reading you - that's darned impressive. Do your fans influence the
            story line? Do your readers ever ask for something to take place? Or want to know more about a
            certain character?

Seumas - Not so much... I DO try to write the kind of stuff that I would like to read myself... if I try to please
             all of the people all of the time... well, we know where that leads ... there are times when I re-read
             the books, and it's like reading someone else's novels., not mine.... I LUV that ...

Fiona - What was the last novel you read that you thought - WOW! That was awesome.

Seumas - SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon...fabulous translation from the original Spanish...

Fiona - Most excellent. Seumas, since I've asked what's under your kilt, and about your scars, I'm
            wondering how I can get any more personal. Perhaps you could tell me what surprises you the most
            about life in Abu Dhabi? And does it feed your writing?

Seumas - Abu Dhabi is a lot more liberal than foreigners imagine.. but it IS an Islamic society... the Arabic
             people with whom I've had the privilege of dealing when I ran part of a bank here, were almost
             'noble' in their behavior... but globally, regardless of so-called cultural differences, people are people
             are people ...there's good and not so pleasant everywhere,,, nothing much surprises me nowadays...
             my writing is a confluence of EVERYTHING I've observed in a life rich with experiences and
             characters galore.

Fiona - On that note, Seumas, I'm going to thank you for hanging out with me. I hope you have an excellent
             rest of your evening!

Seumas - You too, m'Lady.. it's been a real pleasure ... have a good one. Ciao!

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.