Harlan Coben once said that every now and then he spends time with Lee Child, Nelson DeMille and Mary Higgins Clark. Do you have similar get-togethers with any of your fellow writers, and if so, what do you talk about?
Well, I have a few authors I knock around with every once in a while: Michael Palmer, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Dottie Benton Frank – not a mystery/thriller writer but a bestseller. Mostly we just grumble how the business has changed. I gotta tell you, if there’s one thing I hate to talk about out of the office it’s books! I’d rather talk about politics and hockey. I actually know more investment bankers than authors. But I can’t talk politics with any of them.
Do you still keep in touch with James Patterson and do you plan on working with him again in the future?
I can’t say we’re on the same circuit these days. I actually run into him every once in a while in Florida. We both have homes in Palm Beach, his is just slightly grander than mine – by a factor of ten! He goes to the movies a lot and we might bump into each other and have a bite after.
No, not sure it will work out on the collaborative front. Though I’d probably find it fun to do so once more. I mean, if the Eagles could get back together… But it’s usually not a good career sign if you have to go back to co-writing…
Your new book, No Way Back, is focused on the lives of two women in dire straits and how their lives intersect. What was your inspiration for this story?
I had three inspirations when it came to No Way Back. And for most books, for me, it’s more like a triangulation than an epiphany. First, the idea of a woman who gets into a situation way over her head by foolishly sleeping with someone who turns out to be a different guy than she anticipated, and then she gets caught in his hotel room where a murder takes place, and she’s the only witness. I loved the dilemma: Does she turn herself in, but then have to explain where she was to her husband and kids and maybe have her life fall apart. Of course, in No Way Back the choice is made for Wendy and she’s on the hook for two murders. The other two were things I read–one an editorial about a criminal who turned state’s evidence but the guy he was informing on one-by-one killed his children in retribution, and the U.S. government refused to take them into protective custody. Totally heartbreaking. The last was a very compelling article on the border drug wars between El Paso, Texas and Juarez. Each of these stories led to one of my main characters.
What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part is coming up with great initial ideas. It’s all in the set-up for me – drawing a sympathetic, everyday character into a disastrous situation they cannot get out of. Those things are hard for me; executing is easy. I come up with hopefully one per year–that’s all I need. Patterson might come up with one a month!
Are you already working on your next book, and will it feature Ty Hauck?
Well, sure, I’m midway through my next book and still behind. It’s a similarly structured book to No Way Back: A mom with a handicapped kid who’s just lost her job accidentally comes on a cache of money. And like a lot of my books–one bad or foolish act begets a ton of unforeseeable consequences. Sadly, Ty is on a beach somewhere working on his tan. Or on Naomi. My publisher likes these standalones for the moment, so Ty has had to wait. At least one more book.