Welcome Jon. It’s so nice to host you on your tour through the blog-verse with Partners in Crime Virtual Tours. Thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions. How did you start your writing career?
You know, interestingly enough I actually didn’t know I even wanted to be a writer until around sophomore year when I was at Brown University where I was pre law at the time.
That’s when I realized how I much I enjoyed the process of writing practically anything, including magazine articles which I cut my teeth on writing for magazines like People and the Saturday Evening Post while I was still an undergraduate. But it was also at Brown that I fell in love with reading, and you can’t be a writer if you don’t love to read. That’s where I started to learn about structure, character, theme, setting—you name it. And not from writing classes either; I’ve never taken one of those. I learned everything I know about writing from reading, but was also blessed at Brown to have some great professors who really believed in and mentored me. I actually wrote my first novel as a senior thesis at Brown. It was around 600 pages typed on a Smith-Corona typewriter—think I must have gone through about 20 ribbons! The book was god-awful, but I finished it and before me or anyone else can publish a book, we have to finish it and that stops more would-be writers in their tracks than I can count. Bottom line here is that the Brown University curriculum allowed me to do something I could never have done anywhere else and it’s not an exaggeration to say if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be a writer today. I wrote my first published novel, The Doomsday Spiral, my first year out of school.
Tell us about your current release.
It’s called PANDORA’S TEMPLE and I’m thrilled to report it features the return of my longtime series hero Blaine McCracken after a 15-year absence. This time out he’s on the trail of the deadliest force in the universe with the potential, quite literally, to destroy the world. Of course it wouldn’t be a true big-scale thriller without a big “What if?” question and in PANDORA that question is, What if Pandora’s box was real?
Did you have to do a lot of research to get the details of the book just right?
Oh man, did I ever! The biggest challenge in writing a thriller like this with so much high technology is getting that technology right. This book has dark matter, underground caverns, killer robots, oil rigs a giant squid, a legendary temple—the list goes on and on, and it all has to be spot on or you risk losing the reader. It’s not that I’m getting everything perfect, especially because so much of the plot is speculative to begin with. But I’ve got to get it right enough so that the reader maintains confidence in me. Thank God for Google, that’s all I’m going to say!
What books have been the most influential in your development?
Well, THE EXORCIST was the first book I read cover-to-cover in a single day, a single setting actually. Reading Robert Ludlum’s THE HOLCROFT COVENANT taught me more about what makes a great thriller than anything else. THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL taught me the importance of a great “What if?” question. THE STAND showed me the wonder of taking the reader out of his or her world and into the world we fashion on the page. MARATHON MAN made me realize just how much caring about the characters means. I can quote portions of that book, just as I can from the others I mention here and far more.
But what book has impacted you the most?
That’s a tough one, maybe impossible to answer. Let’s see . . . If I was religious, I’d probably say the Old Testament, but I’m not so so much for a cop-out answer. I’m going to have to say the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming. I read them all one summer at camp, after becoming obsessed with the Sean Connery films, and came away loving the action-dominated form. I tell people every book I’ve ever written is a combination of those ten or so books and 101 Dalmatians which was the first film I ever saw. Think about it. Has there ever been a better villain than Cruella Daville? Has there ever been a more fiendish plot or more heroic characters rushing to the rescue? Everything a great thriller should be is encapsulated in that film and you might well be able to say the same thing about any Disney classic. They’re almost all quest stories and quest stories have helped define the thriller form.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I don’t because I don’t get and I don’t believe it exists. Writer’s block is an excuse not to write, not to do your job. But when you’re a professional you learn to get past that. Is there such a thing as doctor’s block, cop’s block, teacher’s block, lawyer’s block? Of course not and there’s no such thing as writer’s block either. The key to avoid needing to use the excuse is to let your characters do the work for you. Let them dictate and proact, the heavy lifting in other words, and you just write down what they say, see and do. Write from the inside out, in other words, instead of from the outside in.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your characters?
That it’s okay to fail. That it’s okay not to be perfect, to have flaws. Strength and success are not defined by not having problems or issues, they’re defined by how well you cope with those problems and issues. I write big-scale thrillers where there’s a lot at stake and, by nature, incredible pressure on my heroes. But their plights are essentially microcosms of the everyday challenges we face every day. Blaine McCracken is racing to save the world in PANDORA’S TEMPLE while some months I need to figure out how to make the mortgage payment. Everything is relative, I guess.
Do you have any future projects in the works?
Oh man, how about too many to count! Caitlin Strong returns next August in her fifth adventure, STRONG RAIN FALLING, and I’ve got a great idea for number six, STRONG BLOOD. But before I write that, the sequel to THE SEVEN SINS is up, along with a project for which I’m teaming with the great Heather Graham. And that doesn’t even count all the film projects I’ve got in the works. I guess you could say it’s going to be a very busy year!
Any advice to aspiring writers?
Let me answer that question the way the cantankerous H.L. Mencken once did: “Write!” More specifically, though, never forget that first and foremost, no matter what your field or genre, you are a storyteller, an entertainer. Equally important is to understand the nature of structure: of having a beginning, a middle and an end. Sounds simple but it’s amazing how elusive it is. Beyond that, I always refer to how the brilliant John D. McDonald defined story: Stuff happens to people you care about.
What if Pandora's box was real. That's the question facing Former Special Forces commando and rogue agent Blaine McCracken who returns from a 15-year absence from the page in his tenth adventure.
McCracken has never been shy about answering the call, and this time it comes in the aftermath of deep water oilrig disaster that claims the life of a one-time member of his commando unit. The remnants of the rig and its missing crew lead him to the inescapable conclusion that one of the most mysterious and deadly forces in the Universe is to blame—dark matter, both a limitless source of potential energy and a weapon with unimaginable destructive capabilities.
Joining forces again with his trusty sidekick Johnny Wareagle, McCracken races to stop both an all-powerful energy magnate and the leader of a Japanese dooms-day cult from finding the dark matter they seek for entirely different, yet equally dangerous, reasons. Ultimately, that race will take him not only across the world, but also across time and history to the birth of an ancient legend that may not have been a legend at all. The truth lies 4,000 years in the past and the construction of the greatest structure known to man at the time:
Now, with that very weapon having resurfaced, McCracken’s only hope to save the world is to find the temple, the very existence of which is shrouded in mystery and long lost to myth. Along the way, he and Johnny Wareagle find themselves up against Mexican drug gangs, killer robots, an army of professional assassins, and a legendary sea monster before reaching a mountaintop fortress where the final battle to preserve mankind will be fought.
The hero of nine previous bestselling thrillers, McCracken is used to the odds being stacked against him, but this time the stakes have never been higher.
Jon Land is the critically acclaimed author of 32 books, including the bestselling series featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong that includes STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, STRONG JUSTICE, STRONG AT THE BREAK, STRONG VENGEANCE (July 2012) and STRONG RAIN FALLING (August 2013). He has more recently brought his long-time series hero Blaine McCracken back to the page in PANDORA’S
(November 2012). He lives in TEMPLE . Providence, Rhode Island
Websites and Links:
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