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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Interview with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)



Official Preston & Child Website
Order Cemetery Dance HERE:

Mihir Wanchoo, our intrepid interviewer here at FBC had a chance of asking his favorite authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child some questions about their latest novel "Cemetery Dance" as well as about their extensive work in general. Mihir also managed to catch the "Cemetery Dance" tour and get us a bus picture as well as pose with the authors at a signing. Read Douglas Preston and Lincold Child's joint answers next:

1.It's been nearly 15 years since your first book Relic came out, since then you have jointly written 13 books and written 3-4 solo books each. How it feels, the journey so far, any special things you would like to mention?

Lincoln: It’s been a great journey so far. Writing is a marvelous career. I’d recommend it to any poor English major trying to figure out how to make a living upon graduation. When I first quit my job to become a writer, my parents were worried I’d become a financial burden to them. Fortunately it didn’t turn out that way.

2.The books which you have written, since the release of Relic, Riptide, Thunderhead, almost have made a genre of your own. How do you classify your books as they are quite hard to pin down in one specific genre?

We don’t bother to classify them. It’s too hard and these classifications are too limiting. We wouldn’t even call them strict techno-thrillers. Every book has a bit of science, a bit of history, a bit of archaeology, code-breaking, computers, engineering, planetary geology, paleontology… you name it.

3.In the “Writing section” on your site, Mr. Child has mentioned that writing Reliquary was a very tough thing to do & has given quite some detailed points in his explanation regarding “Sequelitis”, since then you have written a trilogy concerning Agent Pendergast and how did you deal with the sequel problems while writing the books “Dance of Death” & “The Book of the Dead”

The difference is that when we wrote Relic, we had no plans to write a sequel. That’s what made Reliquary so tough. On the other hand, “Dance of Death” and “The Book of the Dead” were actually conceived as one book which, because of its complexity, we had to split in two. It was a completely different situation.

MW: For more information about the writing about Reliquary, Here’s the explanation given by Mr. Child http://www.prestonchild.com/books/reliquary/art21,138

4.I have enjoyed your Agent Pendergast books but have to say that your earlier adventure, stand alone stories, like Relic, Ice Limit, & Riptide had a certain charm of their own. Do you plan on writing any more of these stories soon? Will you be writing any more standalones in the future?

Our solo novels are our standalone books now. But we are discussing launching a new series featuring a series character that has not yet appeared in any of our books.

5.What’s the one book idea which either of you wanted to write but couldn’t due to the time or constraints?

Douglas: I have long wanted to write a modern day, high-tech retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo.

Lincoln: For the longest time I tried to persuade Doug that we should write a thriller set in a fictitious theme park. Ultimately, when we started writing solo books as well as joint books, my own first project, UTOPIA, ended up being precisely that book.

6.Its not widely known but D. Preston is credited as a writer for a disaster movie called “Superfire” [IMDB.Com] along with his brother Richard Preston, how did that come about to be? Do you have any aspirations to write screenplays & scripts for the small & big screen currently?

Douglas: I have no desire to write a screenplay or script. I wouldn’t be able to stand the process of writing by committee. “Superfire” came about because my brother and I had a great idea and wanted to see it made into a movie. But we didn’t actually pen the script—we were co-executive producers instead. We created the story, helped the writer with his research, read and critiqued his screenplay.

7.Mr. Child, in your biographic timeline it has been mentioned that there have been certain books that you gave up on. What’s the current status quo on them & have there been any more additions/deletions to the list?

Lincoln: Books that I tried to read, you mean? There are other books I've given up on but in fairness to the writers (they're still alive and presumably well) I have to be coy about the titles. I find that I am much less patient with books now than I used to be and will put them aside if they don't strongly hold my interest. I'm not sure if this is a result of curmudgeonly old age, or a side effect of being a writer myself.

8.How is your daily writing schedule, do you write best in the morning or evening? Or do you have a schedule like a certain Dan Brown who gets up at 4:30 & performs shirsasan [a yoga posture] before writing

Douglas: I find my mornings are best. I start at around 7:15 a.m. and knock off at around 5:00, but not all that time is spent writing. I never work at night, but I will often work early weekend mornings.

9.Its been close to 9 years since Ice limit got published & since the fans have been clamoring for a proper sequel to Ice Limit & you have dropped hints in your books [IL-II in Still life with the Crows, IL-III in the Dance of death & certain “ongoing preparations” when we are reintroduced to Eli Glinn in the Dance of Death] will you write a proper sequel to the book dealing with the consequences as mentioned in the book and the Web-only epilogue on your site

Yes, some day we will certainly write a sequel to The Ice Limit. Patience is a virtue, you know…

10.Both of you began writing your solo books as standalones however now your books have started having serial characters who after having smaller roles in earlier books, have become more central characters. [Jeremy Logan for LC & Wyman Ford for DP] how did this come about, intentional or coincidence?

Lincoln: I guess you'd call it coincidence. I wrote a chapter in DEEP STORM that was meant to be a one-off, a scene in which a researcher (Jeremy Logan) stumbles upon something very interesting that ultimately moves the main story farther. That was the only chapter in which Logan appeared, but many people were really taken with it, including my editor, who suggested that I “grow” the character. In the next book, TERMINAL FREEZE, Logan had a much larger but still subsidiary role. It's only with the solo novel I'm working on now that Logan will be the true protagonist. I've always been fascinated with supernatural sleuths and so having an “enigmalogist” as a hero is very rewarding.

Douglas: In my case it was sort of a natural progression. Wyman Ford was meant to be a minor character in Tyrannosaur Canyon, a walk-on, walk-off role, but he seized the center stage and wouldn’t leave. I became more and more intrigued by him and in that way he became a series character.

11.Tell us a bit more about this book “Cemetery Dance” and also if there was any specific reason for the name to be changed [It was previously called Revenant] and why was it delayed?

The publisher thought the word “Revenant” was too obscure. It was delayed because we wanted a little more time to work on it, get it just right.

12.Name three weird facts associated with your next book [Cemetery Dance].

(i) The classic prefrontal lobotomy was performed by sticking an object not unlike an ice pick into the eye socket, behind the eye, and driving it into the brain with a mallet.

(ii) Consecrated hosts and ground up corpses are sometimes used in making Vodou charms.

(iii) In Haiti, people are sometimes buried face down if there is a fear they might come back to life.

13.Mr. Child, in your book “Thunderhead”, in the acknowledgements page you mentioned about your Grandmother “Nora Kubie”. Was the character of “Nora Kelly” inspired/based on this atavistic persona?

Lincoln: To a degree, yes it was. My grandmother was one of a kind, a true free spirit. She didn't have to do anything—her father was shipping executive—but she ended up doing practically everything: writing, painting, archeology, history, world travel. One of my greatest regrets is that she passed on too early to witness my own success as a writer.

14.Michael Crichton passed away last year, He was considered by many to be “The Father of Techno-thrillers” your thoughts on the effect of his books for authors like yourself who can be sometimes classified as writing in the “TT” genre

Crichton was a marvelous storyteller. The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park are classics, two of the best technothrillers ever written. Both of us will never forget reading the Andromenda Strain as a teenagers—what a revelation. A lot of writers shied away from science themes, worrying they might be too difficult for readers, or too much like sci-fi. Crichton showed how it could be done.

15.What can we expect next from you both, individually & jointly?

Douglas: My next solo novel, IMPACT, will be published in January. As you may imagine, it involves a meteorite impact… Or so it seems. Enough said. My nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, will be published in June.

Lincoln: I'm currently at work on my fifth solo thriller, which will follow TERMINAL FREEZE. It's still early in the development phase so I don't want to give too much away, other than that it will be a Jeremy Logan novel and that I think its underlying hook may well be my best yet!

16.What book/s have you read recently that has made quite an impression on you & what books/authors in same/other genres would you like to give a shout out to?

Douglas: I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction. Some of the really superb nonfiction books I’ve read recently are: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale, Annapurna by Maurice Herzog, Meta Math! The Quest for Omega by Gregory Chaitin.

17.Your thoughts on your growth as a writer & on the future path as well!

Douglas: Writing is like anything else in life; if you do it almost every day, push yourself, try hard, and are self-critical, you will probably succeed. Linc and I are still hoping for that Number 1 bestseller. We’ve gotten up to number 2, but the top spot has so far eluded us!

18.People whom you have met at signings have always been full of praise for you & your gracious conduct, do you have any special anecdotes to share about such occasions [the good as well as the bad]

Douglas: We enjoy meeting our readers and we are very grateful to them for buying our books. We have very good readers! I have met several Douglas Prestons at book signings and even one Preston J. Douglas, who has become a friend. As for a bad anecdote: when Linc and I were touring for Mount Dragon, I went to a booksigning in Minnesota in which the only person who showed up was Linc’s mother, and Linc went a signing in Cambridge in which the only person who showed up was my mother… That was not a good book tour.

19.After several books, what still challenges you, and what do you want to accomplish as a writer?

Douglas: Writing never gets easier. It is a daily challenge. I just want to keep writing books that get better. Linc and I have a mortal fear of going downhill, as some successful writers seem to do. We will never rest on our laurels.

20.How do you cope up with punishing schedules & stressful deadlines & what is your advice to your loyal legion of fans on the board & worldwide.

As for punishing schedules and stressful deadlines, all gainful employment features similar challenges. Our advice is be cool and be nice and don’t pick fights. Enjoy the process.


MW: I would like to thank both Messrs. Preston & Child for taking the time to answers all the questions & for providing me along with a lot of other readers with infinite hours of entertainment & knowledge via their books.

For people interested in knowing them better, kindly hop over to:

www.PrestonChild.com

which is a wonderful website & a treasure trove of information about the authors, their books & various other sundry. Special mentions go to the “rogues gallery” & “Pangea” section.

Also they will be undertaking their biggest tour yet in support of the release of their newest book “Cemetery Dance”; for specific places and dates, kindly check the tour listings over here :

http://www.prestonchild.com/books/cemeterydance/

5 comments:

Robert said...

Just wanted to say great job on the interview Mihir! I still haven't started on the series yet, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it when I do :D

The Reader said...

Thank you Mr. Robert, I hope you do read the series.

Anonymous said...

Very excellent interview and it's always great to get additional insight on the writing process by two of my favorite authors. I just finished Cemetery Dance this evening and have Child's Terminal Freeze on deck next. Looking forward to finding some more great reads on this site.

KS

journey said...

Nice to see you here Mihir.
good job with the interview.

The Reader said...

Nice to see you too Parag & thank you :)

Mihir

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